Santa Cruz Amps Up Hightower LT With 150mm Travel

by Wil Barrett 6

If you’re thinking it wasn’t long ago since Santa Cruz rolled out the replacement for the Tallboy LT, then you’re not wrong. In fact, it was just February of last year when Santa Cruz announced the brand new Hightower. Singletrack travelled to Patagonia to test the (then) new bike, and Barney then continued to test the Hightower upon his return back to the UK. For a refresher on that bike, check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of Barney’s longterm review of the versatile Hightower.

Outside of our experience with the bike, it’s been a roaring commercial success for Santa Cruz too. Such is its popularity that Santa Cruz has just announced a new additional model in the Hightower platform; the Hightower LT.

santa cruz hightower lt full suspension
Santa Cruz has been testing a Hightower LT on the EWS circuit for most of this year already.

Built for big days in big terrain. Hightower LT is designed for maximum speed in the biggest mountains. It’s truly race-bred, its design the result of the demands of racing at the EWS, Crankworx, and Andes Pacifico.” – From Santa Cruz Bicycles.

santa cruz hightower lt full suspension
Just like a normal Hightower, only chunky.

Santa Cruz Hightower LT Features

  • Long travel full suspension enduro bike
  • Carbon fibre mainframe, alloy swingarm
  • C and CC carbon frame options
  • 150mm rear travel travel
  • VPP suspension design
  • 29in wheels
  • Max tyre clearance: 2.5in
  • Designed for 150mm travel forks
  • 66.4° head angle
  • 73.7° effective seat tube angle
  • 438mm chainstay length
  • Boost 148x12mm thru-axle
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell
  • ISCG-05 chainguide tabs
  • 1x only
  • 180mm post mount rear brake
  • Internal cable routing with molded-in internal guide tubes
  • Fits bottle cage inside front triangle
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large & XX-Large
  • Bike RRP: £3949 – £6699
santa cruz hightower lt full suspension
As of now, the Hightower LT is carbon-only.

So the new Hightower LT is heavily based on the current Hightower. And just to be clear, the bikes will sit alongside each other in the Santa`Cruz lineup – this isn’t a replacement for the current Hightower.

Upping travel from 135mm on the standard Hightower, the LT model moves to 150mm travel front and rear via an updated carbon swingarm and a new upper VPP link. The front triangle is actually identical between the two.

Because of this, both bikes look very similar. In fact, you may not have noticed that the Hightower LT has actually been out in the wild for some time already. We first spotted the Hightower LT earlier this year under the likes of Loose Dog Lewis and Josh Bryceland. Small visual differences such as a 180mm post-mount rear brake (the existing Hightower runs a 160mm IS brake mount) and the fitting of larger coil and piggyback shocks gave away the fact that Santa Cruz was working on something bigger and more enduro race-focussed than the standard Hightower. And now, here it is.

santa cruz hightower lt full suspension
New VPP linkage delivers 150mm of rear travel. But no 27.5+ compatibility.

The new upper VPP link is now a single-position item. That means the Hightower LT is 29in only, with no provision for swapping in plus tyres. That’s because this is a more pure race-focussed bike, with its intentions set on slaying EWS race courses as fast as humanly possible.

santa cruz hightower lt full suspension
Brand new swingarm with 180mm post mount brake tabs.

Out back, the one-piece carbon swingarm features a 148x12mm DT Swiss RWS thru-axle along with post mount brake tabs that allow a rear calliper to bolt on directly when paired with 180mm rotors. It’s a clean setup, and one that was already shown on the MK4 Nomad Carbon frame. Expect to see the post mount brake design filter through the rest of the Santa Cruz lineup in the future.

screen-shot-2017-07-06-at-09-43-05
Santa Cruz Hightower LT geometry.

In terms of geometry, the Hightower LT kicks back the head angle to 66.4°, compared to 67° on the regular Hightower. Thanks to slightly longer chainstays (438mm vs 435mm) and the slacker head angle, the wheelbase stretches out a touch for a given size. So a Large Hightower LT frame gets an 1195mm long wheelbase vs 1187mm on the standard Hightower, which should add some high-speed stability. Otherwise many of the features remain the same, including the 1x specific frame design, the clever molded-in internal cable guides, and integrated frame protection.

For more information, specs and price details on the new Hightower LT, head to the Santa Cruz UK website.

santa cruz hightower lt
29ers are being rapidly adopted on the EWS circuit thanks to their speed and capability on super rough terrain.

Comments (6)

  1. Nice looking bike, but all bets are off until the Transition Sentinel 29er comes out!

  2. Wil, Is the only difference on the swing arm the brake mount? I’m trying to figure if the linkage can be retro-fitted to the existing HT?

  3. @Barnsley – sadly, nope. It’s an entirely different swingarm with different pivot locations compared to the current Hightower. The LT also uses a different shock size as well, so to make the change you’d need a new swingarm, VPP links and a new shock to bolt onto your current Hightower.

    Apparently Santa Cruz did consider the idea of exactly that, a sort of ‘hop-up kit’, but the cost (including the new shock) very quickly approached that of the price of a new Hightower LT frame that it didn’t make financial sense.

    Santa Cruz did test the theory to begin with with custom VPP links to get 146mm of rear travel on the current Hightower, but there were enough compromises that they saw fit to build a whole new swingarm to accommodate the extra travel.

  4. Cheers Wil, Bit of an unfortunate move for existing HT owners given the interest in running long shocked set ups – with the attendant pitfalls of tyre rub.

  5. Can’t wait for the Tallboy LT to fill the 120mm travel void.

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