Graduate from MTB academy with Santa Cruz’s latest Hightower

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The Santa Cruz Hightower 3 is 29er mountain bike, positioned between the trail and enduro categories. (Photo: Santa Cruz bikes)
The Santa Cruz Hightower 3 is 29er mountain bike, positioned between the trail and enduro categories. (Photo: Santa Cruz bikes)
  • One of the world’s most celebrated bike brands has updated its best all-rounder.
  • The Santa Cruz Hightower 3 gains geometry changes and better suspension performance.
  • And you get a clever storage compartment in the frame, too. For those biltong bites or whichever trail snacks you prefer.

Greg Minnaar’s bike brand of choice has a definite descending bias.

Although Santa Cruz market some terrifically lightweight mountain bikes, that have finished strongly at the Cape Epic, the brand’s soul is steep singletrack.

Santa Cruz’s latest release is an upgrade of its Hightower. And no, that name does not relate to the famous Police Academy character, but rather a specific drink, available for order in the town of Santa Cruz.

The Hightower has always been Santa Cruz’s default all-rounder. A carbon-fibre frame light enough to conquer those long climbs, but with tremendous descending ability when you come to cash in all that elevation.

Santa Cruz bikes
Like nearly all Santa Cruz bikes, the Hightower has a very low rear-shock position, reducing its overall centre of gravity. (Photo: Santa Cruz bikes)

Each size feels 'different'

Seasoned Santa Cruz riders won’t notice much change in appearance between the second- and third-generation Hightowers. But the new version has been given improved geometry and suspension kinematics.

Santa Cruz has invested significantly in its carbon-fibre technology. With the Hightower 3 range, there are different carbon-fibre layups for each frame size, influencing ride characteristics.

Santa Cruz Hightower 3
Unlike many other mountain bike brands, Santa Cruz’s suspension system separates the front and rear frame triangles, creating greater ride sensitivity and feel. (Photo: Santa Cruz bikes)

They have made it longer 

Geometry changes see the Hightower get bigger, with its wheelbase stretching by 16mm on the larger sizes. A longer wheelbase should translate to better high-speed tracking stability on the trail.

The Hightower 3 is designed to conquer even the most challenging descents, with a skilled rider aboard. It features 145mm of rear-suspension travel and a 150mm fork, with Santa Cruz’s engineers improving the bike’s anti-squat performance by 40%.

What is anti-squat and why does it matter? When riding uphill and the rear-suspension starts bobbing under pedalling movement, more anti-squat helps prevent greater energy loss.

mountain bikes
The ‘Glovebox’ is a something that many Santa Cruz riders have been waiting for. A lockable storage area in the frame. (Photo: Santa Cruz bikes)

A place to hide snacks (and keys)

The most notable frame change between Hightower 2 and 3, is the addition of a downtube storage box.

Santa Cruz calls it the 'Glovebox', a lockable storage compartment that is ideal for keeping additional tools, spare parts, snacks or car keys.

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