With the exception of a few tweaks to the build kit, Santa Cruz's Highball Carbon S Complete Mountain Bike returns for 2016 as the same 29er that has reignited so many love affairs with hardtail riding since Santa Cruz unveiled this more XC minded version last year. The Highball lets the singletrack enthusiast take the high road, traveling hardpack and rocky trials at high speeds that full suspension DH monsters can only dream of. The changes SC opted for make a lot of sense: subbing in SRAM's GX drivetrain bits and Easton's ARC 24 rims neither of which were available until this year. Despite a new paint job, the latest frame is still the same defiant answer to the enduro marshmallow trend dominating the industry, but the carbon Santa Cruz uses for the Highball Carbon C frame is a lower modulus of carbon than that used in the top end Carbon CC models, so more material is required to achieve the same stiffness and durability. This has two effects on the bike: it weighs more around a claimed 250 grams per frame and it costs a lot less, making the Highball 29 a carbon XC missile for the masses. The whole frame is a single layup instead of a jigsaw puzzle of individually cured carbon tubes. This allows Santa Cruz to wrap the fibers continuously around structurally important junctures like the head tube and bottom bracket, strengthening the frame, dissipating the force from impacts, and more efficiently channeling pedal input. In order to accommodate its big, speedy wheels, the Highball 29's chainstays register at a hair under 17 inches, but a steep head tube brings the wheelbase to over a half inch shorter than the smaller wheeled Highball 27. The Highball 29 is nimble enough to gently pick through trail furniture and it tracks through switchbacks like a cat on carpet, but it still shines brightest when the throttle is fully open. The 12 x 142mm rear axle is the stiff rear triangle's best friend, ensuring that every possible watt goes straight into the trail,..
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