Words by: Tom Athey
The future comes early in the world of mountain biking these days with Santa Cruz dropping their new 2020 lineup of bikes at the beginning of July! That means we have new 2020 bikes half way through the summer including the newly redesigned Santa Cruz Hightower!
The Hightower has been in their line for a few years and had become the shop’s go to all-around bike for the Tetons and one of my favorite bikes of all time. The previous version had the right amount of travel to tackle the challenging terrain that can be found on Teton Pass but also pedaled extremely well for when you needed to get to the top of Snow King or got convinced by your friend to climb the old pass road to do Black’s instead of shuttling. The 29″ wheels rolled over rocks and roots more efficiently while also providing great traction while climbing or cornering. It jumped well, was ultra-predictable, and was made by Santa Cruz so it oozed quality with internal cable routing, grease ports, heavy duty bearings, and quality specs that fit what this was built for without compromise. So… it sounds like the perfect bike, right? What could the 2020 possibly do better? In short; everything!
The past 3 years Santa Cruz has started taking inspiration from their World Cup Downhill race bike, the legendary V10, and applying it to their trail bikes. This meant a total redesign of their VPP linkage lowering the position of the shock in the frame, which helped fine tune the suspension to improve the bike’s feel both on the climb and the descent. The first time I road this new design on the Nomad I could sum up all this technical suspension linkage jargon into one word “TRACTION!”. The bike felt planted like never before, the small stutter bumps on the trail were gone, it was supple off the top but still had a playful pop, and the wheels were glued to the ground in the corners. It felt like the perfect bike on the way down… only I had 2 complaints for the way I ride: it wasn’t 29″ wheels, and it was a bit too portly to be my everyday bike.
Thankfully though after 2 long years of waiting Santa Cruz built my dream bike: The 2020 Hightower! I’ve long preferred 29″ wheels for their extra traction, better rollover, and faster rolling characteristics. Gone are the days of 29’ers feeling “tall” or cumbersome. It feels nimble in the corners, and is designed for an “in the bike” rather than “on the bike” feel. The Hightower even takes flight just as well as bikes with the little brother wheel size. So Santa Cruz checked that wheel size box for me and then they added the new low link VPP platform that was so transformative for the Nomad. With just the right amount of squish making it a sprightly climber on the way up but a shredder on the way down! They took all the characteristics from original Hightower that made it the most versatile bike in their line-up and then sprinkled in all they’ve learned over the past few years breeding a new generation of wonder bike!
So if you’ve been sitting tight waiting for your dream bike to show up I think you should stop by and give this one a gander. They’re in stock right now! It checks all my boxes… will it check yours?