2019 Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 29 Reserve

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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2019 Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 29 with Reserve Wheels
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What Does Vital Think? The New Santa Cruz MEGAtower

With a name like the Megatower, you've no doubt already guessed this bike's intentions. It's the no holds barred replacement for the Hightower LT. Vital weighs in following four days of rowdy rides near Nelson, New Zealand.

Rating: Vital Review

The time has come to unveil the latest weapon in the Santa Cruz Bicycles arsenal. Meet the Megatower – a bike that is a big enough departure from its predecessor that it deserves its own name. From some perspectives, the Santa Cruz Hightower LT was a compromise, and the race-driven brand knew they could do better. The Megatower is their answer.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Absolutely hauls in wide open bits
  • Added shock compatibility
  • Great tuning options for trail/rider demands
  • Calm, quiet pedaling response that feels very efficient for a 160mm bike
  • Uninterrupted pedal strokes over roots and rocks
  • Finish and attention to detail is top notch
  • Adjustable, up to date geometry and leverage curve
  • Excellent integrated frame protection
  • Audibly very quiet
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Added bike length

The time has come to unveil the latest weapon in the Santa Cruz Bicycles arsenal. Meet the Megatower – a bike that is a big enough departure from its predecessor that it deserves its own name. From some perspectives, the Santa Cruz Hightower LT was a compromise, and the race-driven brand knew they could do better. The Megatower is their answer.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Absolutely hauls in wide open bits
  • Added shock compatibility
  • Great tuning options for trail/rider demands
  • Calm, quiet pedaling response that feels very efficient for a 160mm bike
  • Uninterrupted pedal strokes over roots and rocks
  • Finish and attention to detail is top notch
  • Adjustable, up to date geometry and leverage curve
  • Excellent integrated frame protection
  • Audibly very quiet
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Added bike length can be a struggle in tight turns
  • Lots of rough terrain feedback at suggested shock pressures
  • Took a fair amount of tuning and tweaking to find preferred settings

Megatower Highlights

  • C and CC carbon frame options
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 160mm (6.3-inches) of front and rear wheel travel
  • Lower-link mounted Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension system
  • Coil and air shock compatible
  • Metric 230x57.5mm shock with rear bearing eyelet
  • Shorter 42 or 44mm offset fork (max 180mm travel suggested)
  • Hi/Lo flip chip in lower link for geometry and leverage curve adjustment
  • Dropout flip chip for chainstay length adjustment
  • Internal cable routing with hose guides
  • Threaded 73mm bottom bracket with ISCG05 mounts
  • Boost 12x148mm rear axle spacing
  • 29x2.5" tire clearance in short setting, 29x2.6" in long
  • Fits 36-tooth boost chainring (52mm chainline) or smaller
  • Integrated 41/52mm headset
  • 180mm post brake mount
  • Water bottle mount inside front triangle
  • Shock fender, shuttle guard, downtube protector, and ribbed chainstay protector
  • Lifetime warranty on frame and Reserve wheels

Lower-Link Driven VPP Suspension

When the Santa Cruz Enduro World Series team asked for a longer travel 29-inch bike a few years back, some links were made as a mod to the original 135mm Hightower, then a different rear triangle followed with a whole bunch of internet speculation. The Hightower LT offered 150mm of travel front and rear, but even then, some riders wanted more. Riders often modded the LT with a longer travel 160mm fork, various rear shocks, tire inserts, and on and on in search of an improved ride for their application.

Like the most recent versions of the V10, Nomad, and Bronson, the most notable change here is from the older VPP design to a new lower-link VPP suspension layout.

The new design adds progression and consistency in the suspension feel while maintaining great pedaling performance. It addresses the sometimes slow-feeling, laggy response that characterized older Santa Cruz models when pushing into the travel, plus it makes the bike compatible with both air and coil shocks – something many enduro racers seek.

The use of a new Metric shock with a bearing mount also helps with suspension performance, adding to the supple feel. Look closely and you'll also notice a geometry adjustment flip chip in the rear shock mount. More importantly (in our view), this also serves as a way to adjust the suspension's progression. "Lo" is more progressive with added bottom-out resistance, providing riders and racers with another way to fine-tune their ride.

Geometry

Though the geometry adjustment flip chip provides only a slight 0.3-degree headtube angle and 3.5mm bottom bracket height change, it can preserve bottom bracket height for those looking to bump up to a longer travel fork.

Nestled cleanly into the rear dropout you'll find another flip chip of sorts. This adjustment allows you to lengthen the chainstays by 10mm – a significant amount. The bike comes stock in the short setting, but riders looking to fine tune weight distribution or gain added stability in the wide open bits may look to lengthen things. The long setting requires a different derailleur hanger and special brake adaptor, both of which are included with the bike. It also only works with 200mm or larger rotors.

Compared to the Hightower LT, the Megatower's geometry features:

  • Much longer reach measurements (22-27mm) and wheelbases across the board. For example, what was an extra-large Hightower LT is comparable to a large Megatower with a 470mm reach.
  • 1.4 to 1.7-degree slacker headtube angle, depending on the geometry setting
  • Shorter 42 or 44mm offset fork
  • Shorter seat tubes for added dropper travel compatibility
  • Improved standover
  • Slightly higher bottom bracket height
  • Comparable chainstay length in the short 435mm setting, with a new, longer 445mm option
  • 3-degree steeper effective seat tube angle

Build Kits, Weights & Pricing

Santa Cruz offers an impressive list of 13 complete bikes, covering both the high-end CC carbon and more budget-friendly C frames, air and coil shock options, plus those with and without Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels. View complete build kit details.

Megatower C R 29
Megatower C S 29 Coil
Megatower CC X01 29 Reserve (tested)
Megatower CC XX1 AXS 29 Coil Reserve

In Action

Nelson, New Zealand offered up the perfect testing grounds for the Megatower with the steeps and exposure of Wairoa Gorge, chunky roots of the Nydia Track, and flat-out fun of a Wakamarina heli adventure:

Vital previously said that the Hightower LT’s strength was its versatility and ability to do everything with little compromise in any one spot. The same rings true for the new Megatower, though with its added travel and race-driven features the bike is now even better suited for today's increasingly rowdy enduro stages.

Visit www.santacruzbicycles.com for more Megatower details, and keep an eye out for the Megatower to make its Enduro World Series debut in the coming weeks.

Vital MTB First Ride Rating

  • Climbing: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
  • Descending: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Fun Factor: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Value: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Overall Impression: 4 stars - Excellent

About The Reviewer

Brandon Turman - Age: 32 // Years Riding: 17 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 175-pounds (79.4kg)

"I like to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill." Formerly a mechanical engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.

Photos by Sven Martin and Gary Perkin // Video by John Parkin, John Reynolds and Brandon Turman

Specifications

Product Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 29 Reserve
Model Year 2019
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S (High, Low), M (High, Low), L (High, Low), XL (High, Low), XXL (High, Low) View Geometry
Size S (High, Low) M (High, Low) L (High, Low) XL (High, Low) XXL (High, Low)
Top Tube Length 567, 568 596, 597 619, 620 646, 648 680, 682
Head Tube Angle 65°, 64.7° 65°, 64.7° 65°, 64.7° 65°, 64.7° 65°, 64.7°
Head Tube Length 90 100 110 130 155
Seat Tube Angle 76.8°, 76.5° 76.7°, 76.4° 76.6°, 76.3° 76.3°, 76° 76°, 75.8°
Seat Tube Length 380 405 430 460 500
Bottom Bracket Height 343 (29 drop), 340 (33 drop) 343 (29 drop), 340 (33 drop) 343 (29 drop), 340 (33 drop) 343 (29 drop), 340 (33 drop) 343 (29 drop), 340 (33 drop)
Chainstay Length 435-445, 436-446 435-445, 436-446 435-445, 436-446 435-445, 436-446 435-445, 436-446
Wheelbase 1178-1188, 1179-1189 1207-1217, 1208-1218 1231-1241, 1232-1242 1260-1270, 1260-1270 1295-1305, 1296-1306
Standover 702, 698 714, 709 713, 708 711, 705 708, 703
Reach 425, 422 450, 447 470, 467 490, 487 515, 512
Stack 607, 609 616, 618 625, 627 643, 645 666, 668
* Additional Info Measurements listed are in mm unless otherwise noted
High and Low geometry positions are set using two flip chips
Lower link flip chip adjusts the bottom bracket height and shock rate while a dropout flip chip adjusts chainstay length and wheelbase
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Santa Cruz Carbon CC with VPP suspension, shock fender, shuttle guard, downtube protector, and ribbed chainstay protector
Rear Travel 160mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate, 230mm x 57.5mm, 20x8mm front mount, 30x8mm rear mount
Upgrade option: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil, 400 lbs. (S), 450 lbs. (M), 500 lbs. (L, XL), 550 lbs. (XXL)
Fork FOX 36 Float Performance Elite, 44mm offset
Fork Travel 160mm (compatible with 160-180mm forks)
Head Tube Diameter Tapered, IS 41/52
Headset Cane Creek 40 IS integrated (upper IS 41/28.6, lower IS 52/40)
Handlebar Santa Cruz AM Carbon
Stem Race Face Aeffect R, 40mm length
Grips Santa Cruz Palmdale
Brakes SRAM Code RSC with 200mm Avid Centerline rotors
Brake Levers SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
Front Derailleur Not compatible
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG 05
Chainguide MRP AMg V2, alloy
Cranks SRAM X1 Eagle, 148mm DUB, 170mm length
Chainrings 30 tooth (max 36 tooth)
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB 73mm threaded
Pedals None included
Chain SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
Cassette SRAM X01 XG-1295, 10-50 tooth
Rims Santa Cruz Reserve 30 V2 29" Carbon, with BMD 34mm tape
Rim option: Race Face ARC Offset 30 29"
Hubs Front: DT Swiss 350, 15mm x 110mm, 28 hole
Rear: DT Swiss 350, 12mm x 148mm, XD driver, 28 hole
Spokes DT Swiss Competition Race
Tires Front: Maxxis Minion DHF, 29" x 2.5", 3C Silkshield
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II, 29" x 2.4", 3C Silkshield
Stan's tubeless sealant
Saddle WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stelath
Seatpost Diameter 31.6mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 12mm x 148mm
Max. Tire Size 29 x 2.5" (short chainstay setting), 29 x 2.6" (long chainstay setting)
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes (one on downtube)
Colors FS Green, Blackout
Warranty Lifetime on frame and Reserve carbon wheels
Weight
  • 30 lb 11.7 oz (13,940 g)
  • 31 lb 1.4 oz (14,100 g)
Miscellaneous

  • Lower-link mounted VPP suspension
  • Two flip chips adjust geometry and shock rate
  • Lower link flip chip adjusts the bottom bracket height and shock rate
  • Dropout flip chip adjusts chainstay length and wheelbase
  • The Low position gives a slightly more progressive shock rate and a bit more bottom out resistance
  • Grease ports and linkage pivots run on large diameter axles and bearings (free lifetime replacement)
  • Fits a water bottle and piggyback shock
  • Designed to work equally well with coil or air shocks
  • Price
    • $8,399
    • $7,199
    More Info

    Santa Cruz website

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