Today, Santa Cruz and its sister brand Juliana launched a new version of the Hightower. It’s the new Hightower and the women’s Maverick – its all-round 29er trail bike. First launched way back (in suspension terms) in 2016, the bike took the idea of the Tallboy LT and ran with it to give the brand a long travel, trail (and enduro-) worthy 29er.
Things have moved on since then, in terms of geometry and travel, and although Santa Cruz came out with a Long Travel version not long after the original launch, not much has changed since 2017.
Meanwhile, the Juliana brand – the women-focussed arm of Santa Cruz, has had to make do with a sole 29er, the Joplin – a 110mm rear travel 29er that was more race and recreation-focussed than the Santa Cruz 29ers. It seems that if you wanted that long travel steamroller 29er experience, you needed a Santa Cruz. As Juliana bikes are based on Santa Cruz models with more women-appropriate grips, saddles and shock tunes (and always with better colours) then there wasn’t anything stopping women from buying a regular Santa Cruz Hightower. However, with the rest of the range getting a full makeover in recent years – first the Nomad, then the Bronson and 5010, it seemed that the Hightower was due a refresh.
As Santa Cruz puts it:
The Hightower and Maverick are quintessential ‘all points in between’ bikes, ideal for days when steep, chunky descents come courtesy of a big-ass climb. The 140mm of VPP® lower-link-driven rear travel is paired with a 150mm fork, and momentum-maintaining, rock-eating, 29-inch wheels. As usual, both bikes get a swathe of material choices, spec, Reserve upgrade options, and will fit a water bottle in the main triangle.
The Hightower and new Juliana model, the Maverick, have been given the ‘longer, lower, slacker and lower suspension’ treatment that the Nomad and Bronson have previously been given. The lower shock link helps keep weight low and linkages supple, while the VPP design offers some impressive climbing for a bike that now features 150mm travel up front and 140mm out back.
Like all Santa Cruz and Juliana Bicycles, the frames have a lifetime warranty, as well as free lifetime bearing replacement. And if you upgrade to Reserve wheels, you get one more lifetime warranty – even if you’re as careless as Danny was.
It’s an obvious sign of the times that the frame reach on the medium Maverick (and Hightower) is 450mm – which was the reach on the large-size Hightower when it was originally launched.
With the low-link suspension, Santa Cruz has further signalled the bikes’ intentions as enduro-capable machines, with both bikes being raced at the recent, final, Trans Provence event. 150mm/140mm travel on a 29er is serious business, so the bike specs reflect that with chunky brakes as standard, wide Reserve rims available and chunky cockpit and wide bars.
Talking about the Maverick, the women’s bike has a few details that set it apart from being just a Santa Cruz in a nice colour. For a start the rear shock is tuned for lighter riders than the Hightower, with the lowest compression tune. There’s a Juliana women’s saddle and grips and the bike comes specced with 170mm cranks. There’s no difference to the geometry or sizing though.
Santa Cruz Hightower
And just to show that it’s not all about the Juliana, here are a few views of the new Hightower – in blue and sand colours. Riders on a budget will be delighted to hear that there’s an alloy version coming too – which looks near-on the same as the carbon version.
We’re sure that the new Juliana Maverick and the Santa Cruz Hightower 2 will start appearing in shops before the summer is out. In the meantime, stay tuned shortly for our first impressions on the new Maverick that we happen to have in the office right now.