Though the frame at its heart can be transformed to accommodate 27. 5 tires without sacrificing any of its long, low geometry, we see no reason why Santa Cruz's Hightower Carbon CC 29 XX1 Complete Mountain Bike would ever need to abandon the wagon wheel standard. That doesn't mean the plushness of 27. 5 tires doesn't appeal, but the added stiffness of Boost axles and not inconsiderable 2. 5in tire clearance means that the 29er version is an impressive off road rocket. We've seen a recent trend of low travel 29ers that ride more like trail bikes, but the Hightower may be the first model we've seen to convincingly push that trend into the all mountain world. This particular build rocks on RockShox Monarch and Pike pillows, rolls on a pair of EastonIndustry Nine burritos, and is governed by SRAM's XX1 shifting. Needless to say, race ready is something of an understatement. And while the racing pedigree of its build kit is readily apparent, the Hightower's mid range, 5. 3in travel belies its true nature. That travel and its 29in wheels may inspire initial comparisons with Mr. Moderate the 5010 or SC's equivalent of a center in basketball the Tallboy LT, but Santa Cruz instead encourages us to think of it as the Bronson's taller brother. Yep, that Bronson. Given the implied big hit aggression of this comparison, we're compelled to dip into the lore of North American ball sports again for another analogy: the Hightower isn't a gangly hoopster so much as a two wheeled version of a predatory linebacker. The frame's 67 degree head tube sits on the slack end of moderate, so it pairs with the frame's long, enduro minded reach, chainstays that are 15mm stubbier than the Tallboy, and the latest generation of Virtual Pivot Point travel for a machine that isn't afraid of trail furniture or grades. It's a helluva lot faster over light terrain and rocky climbs than bikes like the Bronson, but it's still capable of cleaning lines that would make the steep angled Tallb...
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