First Ride Review: Santa Cruz Highball 3 CC X01 Reserve

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In a refreshing change of programming, Santa Cruz is going all-XC on us for the start of 2018. Jib-specific trail bikes and Beyonduro™ shred-sleds may still whip up the majority of the marketing whirlpool, but cross-country riding and racing is quietly making a comeback, and the bikes are evolving fast. Case in point is the launch of the brand new Blur and Highball models from Santa Cruz. Announced as a pair (affectionately known as the ‘Blurball’), these two new 29in XC bikes are the contemporary reincarnations of their predecessors, equipped with new tools to deliver a more versatile and slightly looser attitude that extends well beyond the race-tape. The Bike Debuted in 2011, the Highball hardtail was already a very popular choice amongst privateer XC and marathon racers everywhere. Apparently the only negative feedback coming through from testers and customers over the years was that there was perhaps too much literal feedback through the frame. A comfortable and springy bike for all-day pootling it was not. And so for the third generation Highball, Santa Cruz wanted to create a more comfortable and compliant ride, while refreshing the geometry to improve the bike’s handling on increasingly challenging XC racecourses. But there’s another story with the new Highball, and that story is weight. Going all-out, Santa Cruz has produced its lightest hardtail yet – in the top trim with Reserve carbon wheels, a SRAM XX1 Eagle groupset and Fox 32 SC Factory Series forks, Santa Cruz claims you’re looking at a svelte...

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