Introducing the Santa Cruz MEGATOWER 29 - Ridden in NZ

Words Cam McRae
Photos Sven Martin and Gary Perkin
Date Mar 19, 2019

The biggest complaint about Santa Cruz’s two most recent long travel bikes wasn’t about geometry, kinematics or even paint; the issue was wheel size. Now that wagon-wheelers have taken over almost every sphere of mountain biking, aside from slopestyle, dirt jumping and freeride, many discerning riders have lost interest in 27.5” wheels. Santa Cruz EWS riders Iago Garay and Mark Scott could have ridden the new Nomad or Bronson when they were released, two well-received and high-performing platforms, but instead they stuck with the Hightower LT, which is a bit of a frankenbike. They preferred the right wheel size on the wrong platform over the wrong wheel size on the right platform. Aaron Gwin, despite not having access to a big wheeler for much of last season. has conceded that 29” wheels are seconds faster on most downhill courses.

Downhill speed isn’t everything, but when you factor in climbing prowess, stability, and safety, the big hoops start to become pretty attractive for those of us who are Danny Hart-sized or taller. Many riders have been waiting for Santa Cruz to release this platform with big wheels, including this one.* To the chagrin of Luddites everywhere, the age of the 29er is upon us.

*The Bronson was an exception, keeping me perfectly happy on 27.5 wheels


I'm partial to the murdered out version, but the green is certainly sweet as well.

Why did it take so long for Santa Cruz to release a V10-inspired, low-shocked 29er? I didn’t really get that answer. The HTLT apparently sold quite well, despite its limitations, and there are kinematic complications involved when 29er travel exceeds trail bike numbers. Why now is a question that may remain unanswered, but sometimes arriving late to the party has strategic advantages.


The name was well known within the industry long before any announcement and it was assumed this was a code name. Sometimes code names gather momentum and nothing better comes along to replace them, which seems to be the case here. After what many felt was lacklustre performance and compromised geometry ( particularly the slack seat angle) from the HTLT, this couldn’t have been the Hightower XL or some other close derivative and “Megatower” is a nice balance of irony and reality. I would have been disappointed if the name remained merely a placeholder. The name also suggests pushing things a little far, despite travel settling at a relatively modest 160mm front and rear.


Mark Scott adds some style to EWS. Photo - Sven Martin

I wondered if the new bike would be called the Bronson 29 or Nomad 29 but it seems the MT splits the difference between those models, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Santa Cruz shoehorn in a new bike with slightly less travel and less aggressive geo to replace the HTLT in the future and then another to replace the original Hightower. As Josh Kissner told me, “we just make as many bikes as we want.”


Thanks to Geometry Geeks for the numbers. (I added the MT with photoshop rather than directly into the database)


There aren’t any big surprises here with a nice steep effective seat tube angle and a properly modern slack head tube mated to a low BB, all bouncing on 160mm of travel at both ends. And there are a couple of flip chips to allow you to customize things further. You can push out the head angle - slightly - and lower the BB with the shock mount chip and stretch the wheelbase 10mm with chips at the rear wheel. We began in the shorter and steeper position and I decided to keep it that way after swapping to the coil shock on our final day of riding for the sake of consistency. I was surprised that Santa Cruz staff had the bikes set up with the flip chips in the high position. The difference is slight, with the low position sinking the bike by 3.5 mm and slackening out the head tube by 0.3º, but with changing to a coil on the final day I decided not to mess with anything else and while I wouldn't have objected to the front end pushing forward a little, 343mm is already among the lowest BB heights in the category. Considering the technical trails we spent most of our time on, the short position of the rear stays seemed right as well.


Geometry numbers in both high and low positions.

Test Tracks

Originally the plan was to do a couple of days at Wairoa Gorge bookending two days riding the network above the town of Nelson, New Zealand. Recent fires and a complete absence of precip’ kept the forests closed so the Nelson portion was scratched. Fortunately we managed to get special permission to ride Wairoa. Days 2 and 3 were instead replaced by portions of Sven and Anka Martin’s NZ Enduro course, which was a rare and splendid experience.


The Wairoa shuttle rig is pretty sick. Our crew of 18 or so fit without any trouble. Photo - Gary Perkin

On the trail

Day one on a fresh bike is rarely trouble-free as the shock and fork break in. Unfamiliar and challenging terrain makes matters worse. To truly screw things up put yourself on the wrong size. After finding my happy place on the 485mm reach of the XL Bronson and the XL YT Jeffsy’s 490mm, choosing the 490mm Megatower XL (in hi setting) seemed obvious. On the steep and tight switchbacks of Wairoa Gorge I found myself too stretched to weight the front wheel when the bar was turned sharply and I was struggling. Wairoa’s trails are incredibly well made and consistent, but the terrain is rough and rocky and the steep slopes mean exposure is a virtual constant. The Mega felt great on the little climbing we did on day one and on less abrupt curves but limos work great on the interstate. I was too often half a step behind and not having nearly enough fun. To top it off the further I am away from home the more trouble I have remembering how to ride. The ground at Wairoa is hard and the lack of rain made it marbly and I was riding like a codger crossing a Bangkok thoroughfare. Every time I got to the bottom without leaving a sample of flesh on the rocks I was relieved.


Our first morning riding the incredible trails of Wairoa Gorge. Photo - Gary Perkin

WAIROA GORGE and Voldemort

In an earlier version of this article I related how the Wairoa Gorge trails came to be and mentioned the name of the reclusive billionaire who funded the entire project as well as some information about his life and business. The Nelson Mountain Bike Club got in touch with Santa Cruz who got in touch with me to ask that I remove that information. I don't love this from a journalistic standpoint, and this information is available on the web, but I certainly don't want to do anything to jeopardize access to Wairoa so we'll consider the matter closed at this point.

I can say this gentleman is said to be a good boss for those who build his trails and, since many of his builders were Kiwis, riders told me his initiatives have been a boon for trail building in New Zealand because of the skills those builders have brought home.


Alternate lines abound at Wairoa, but it sometimes pays to take a look before hitting the option. Photo - Gary Perkin

Until recently, the only time to ride Wairoa was during the Dodzy Memorial Enduro but he who shall not be named decided not long ago to donate the property to the New Zealand Gov’t with the condition that the 2000 acres (810 ha) of land, and the native forests within, be preserved. The 70 km of trails will be maintained by the Nelson MTB club with fees from users who come to shuttle and ride the trails funding the venture. An insider told me the land likely cost NZ$20m with the trail building, roads and facilities adding another NZ$20m. The attention to detail of the trails, with heaps of optional lines and incredible alignment, and the scale of the building in some truly difficult circumstances speaks to the skill of the builders and the original owner's commitment to the project. Generally when I travel to ride I find that my trail difficulty scale needs to be adjusted, because a North Shore blue is often a black (and sometimes even double black) elsewhere. Not Wairoa. If the sign says black diamond you’d better buckle up, particularly on what the locals call the ‘dark side.’ The variety is solid but the one green trail we rode was not suitable for most beginners. My point is, Wairoa Gorge is one of those places to put on your list: it’s somewhere you should ride before you die.


Iago Garay conjuring some air. Photo - Sven Martin

On day 2, I was significantly happier on the 470mm reach of the large and I began to figure the bike out. The new plan, because of the fires, was to ride a portion of Sven and Anka Martin's NZ Enduro course. We shuttled to our first descent of the day with gear for overnight on our backs. This trail was also smoother, faster and less exposed. The dirt was solid and there were no marbles, further boosting my confidence. Where the handling felt a little slow and vague on the XL at Wairoa, it felt much more precise and responsive now that I’d found my size, despite the 15 lbs on my back. Next up was a long steady single track climb with an unbearably consistent grade. Actually the grade wasn’t bad, I just kept thinking it would relent occasionally but it just kept on pushing up at the same angle. It was hot and sweaty in the jungle and without knowing how far we had to go, I paced myself. Some sections were relatively smooth but often it was nasty rooty business with some tricky creek crossings thrown in. The bike did great on the climb, transferring power efficiently and digging in appropriately even when the grip was compromised. Any section I didn't make was entirely my fault,

After a quick lunch it was time for our final descent of the day into Nydia Bay for our overnight at the On The Track Lodge. Sven warned us that this section was slick and there were some slimy creek crossings and lots of rocky obstacles ahead. Iago Garay looked at me and said "let's go," suggesting with a wave that I follow him. My reply was, "You'll be gone after 15 seconds."

Not only is Iago blindingly fast, he's a veteran of the NZ Enduro so he knows the line ahead but he says "c'mon" and I reluctantly saddle up. Iago rides 'sponsor speed' so I can keep up and soon I find myself diving into a perilously slick rocky bowl strewn with obstacles - and then flowing out the other side. Watching Iago has me putting things together that I would have bobbled on my own. Section after section I manage to stay upright and perform moves I didn't realize I was capable of, before finally stumbling on a root leading into a creek. Part of me was relieved to have decoupled without serious injury, but he had worked his magic. Following Iago allowed me to ride above myself, but the Megatower was up to the task as well. The rest of the stage was faster and with fewer obstacles, and the bike continued to sing. Despite my fatigue and the pack on my back, I started looking for bonuses; little launches or chances to ride up the bank on my right. I was getting out of my own way and the Megatower was up for it.

Day three was to be the entire 3rd day of the NZ Enduro. We jumped in water taxis with our bikes and got ferried to a field where for another ride. A heli with bike racks for 4 pushed us up to Foster's Hut for the start of our first descent, which is what happens in Sven and Anka's race as well (if the weather cooperates). The first section of the descent felt like a fresh loamer and I later learned that it was in fact freshly built; the soil on the steep line was incredible providing just enough grip and a thick layer of duff to cover most hard obstacles.


The hospitality and accommodations at the On The Track Lodge were world class. Unless you fly in, access is by trail or by boat. Photo - Gary Perkin


Day 3 started with a stunning water taxi so we could... Photos - Sven Martin


get picked up by a helicopter for a wee shuttle.

The first line was perfection and the dense forest had me feeling right at home. The Megatower began to feel light under me without ever reaching that elusive point where it seems to disappear. It certainly wasn't slowing me down though and the incline was no match for the 65º head angle. The next section was the most technically challenging climb of our two-day enduro. The steep switchbacks made it clear that the size large MT was closer to my sweet spot than the XL Bronson. I didn't have to tuck in my knee when the bar was turned to the limit on the Mega like I did on the Bronson and the front end came around easily.


Iago pre-jumped this little drop and styled it out. Photos - Sven Martin


I was happy to get the wheels back on the ground as soon as possible.

At the top we basked in the sun under a widely-spaced grove of native trees and ate some lunch. The conversation made it clear that this final descent was the jewel. I overheard Sven saying there were something like 95 switchbacks, many of them having seemingly legit optional inside lines that ramped the fun and the incline. Soon after we tipped it down my weight moved further forward so I could negotiate the tighter corners and unweight over obstacles and everything began to sing. This was shit-eating-grin riding and many fives were exchanged. After that the ride out was relatively anti-climactic aside from a cool suspension bridge.


Iago hits one of Wairoa Gorge's flow trails. Photo - Sven Martin

Our last day of riding gave me a second swing at Wairoa Gorge and riding the trails I'd attempted on the XL confirmed that large was the optimal fit. To mix things up a little, Kyle from Santa Cruz helped me swap in a Rock Shox Super Deluxe coil shock with a 350 lb spring. We rode some jump lines and on the last run before lunch took a swing at the dark side. Exposure was heavy and rocks were ever-present but normally the gnarlier side of the mountain is wet, even in the summer. It was bone dry for us and still a formidable challenge. Long narrow sections traverse scree slopes and even waterfalls* where a tumble in the wrong direction could win you a helicopter ride. I was riding much better than 3 days earlier and enjoying the more challenging descents.

*The video below will give you an idea of what the Dark Side is like. Check out 5:09 and 9:55 for some of the more challenging bits.

The bike was proving up to various tasks and the technical terrain made it clear the frame has the same robust, confidence-inspiring feel as the Bronson. I often found myself putting too much weight forward after poorly negotiating a tight turn but the stiffness of the front end and the laid back head angle allowed me to push through unscathed. I was unquestionably more comfortable on my second visit to Wairoa but I hadn't yet become completely accustomed to the bike, which isn't surprising considering the circumstances.


Wide-eyed on the dark side. Being warned about this steep section had me forget to sort my goggles and visor - but Sven Martin clicked all the same.

Modern Numbers

This is no longer the wild west of bike testing and purchasing. I'm not going to pretend to see the future and tell you all the turmoil with standards and geometry shifts are over, but buying a bike in 2019 is much less of a crapshoot. Particularly in the Megatower's category, a lot of things have been figured out recently. On the way down, low bottom brackets and slack head angles help you push through obstacles and conquer both steeps and high speeds, and longer reach measurements give you room to move your weight around without calamity. On the way up that reach puts your hips in a strong position and allows you to stretch out while the steeper seat angle let's you push down with authority. I'm sold on bikes with modern geometries and the Megatower ticks all the boxes. There wasn't anything about the shape of the bike that I'd change, aside from maybe adding a few millimetres of reach to the large.


At this point the Dark Side was starting to get more serious. Photo - Sven Martin

The Ride

I didn't feel like I ever got the Rock Shox Super Deluxe RCT air shock to perform as I wanted. It wasn't as supple off the top as I'd like but, to be fair, I rarely pushed into full travel so I could have dropped the pressure some. As a result the traction wasn't always as firm as I'd like and more knob twisting would have been aimed at making the rear end more active. I also failed to find the sweet spot of the excellent Fox 36 Float Performance Elite - or perhaps the happy medium considering the trails we were riding. I got it where I wanted for larger impacts or repeated small bumps but it was still feeling harsh on some of the nastier rooty sections at Wairoa with square-edged inpacts coming in rapid succession. Having ridden the fork before I'm sure I just hadn't yet nailed the tune, which I rarely do quickly.


Lunch with a view at Wairoa. Ken Dart knows how to live. Photo - Gary Perkin


Trying to keep it low. Photo - Sven Martin

While the handling was certainly better on the large in most situations, I never got to the point where cornering or negotiating tight sections felt entirely intuitive. Some reflection makes me think I would have felt better with my bars a little lower and perhaps cut down a little more. These are all points of refinement however and in many situations the bike was stunning. It handled larger impacts and drops with incredible efficiency, tracked nicely in corners once I set the course correctly and climbed beautifully. It was also relatively nimble when I needed to lift it up or swap lines quickly.


I never felt like I had the Megatower perfectly dialled in but I rarely manage that during a press camp. Photo - Sven Martin

Coil or Air

I'm sure I could make the Super Deluxe RCT better but on a bike like this I'd prefer the coil or a higher volume shock like the Fox X2, which I think would nicely match the progressive leverage curve of the MT. On my 4th day, riding the coil, we did a short climb up to the top of the dark side and my traction had improved noticeably. Repeated bumps were handled more effectively and the bike in general had more composure and felt more planted. Most riders find an air shock more poppy and fun but in this case the confidence the coil gave me allowed me to get off the ground more and explore the edges of the trail. I would happily accept the weight penalty of the coil, possibly reducing it some with an aftermarket spring.

The Build

As usual with Santa Cruz builds there is nothing here to complain about. The Reserves are proving to be some of the best carbon wheels available, and they are backed up with a lifetime warranty. The Maxxis Minion 2.4 DHR/2.5 DHF 3C combo and the XO1 Eagle drivetrain were flawless. It didn't feel like the bikes I rode had 170mm versions of the Reverb dropper* but I would have liked that extra room. And while I have had good luck with Reverbs and I like the improved lever, I'm beginning to really appreciate the simplicity of cable actuated cartridge posts - unless I can get my hands on an AXS post which is next level simplicity. This is an entirely sensible and solid build that will deliver top shelf performance, but there is nothing here that matches the boutique flair of the Megatower CC frame.

*according to spec. they did but I didn't measure the posts of the bikes I rode. Small will have 125mm drop, medium 150 and L through XXL will have 170mm


MSRPs for the Megatower

A Verdict of Sorts

I hate writing wishy washy reviews as much as you hate reading them but I have some gaps to fill. While I have a lot of confidence the Megatower will live up to the high standards of my favourite recent Santa Cruz bikes, the Tallboy and the Bronson,* I didn't manage to gather enough information to say that with complete confidence after four days riding on the other side of the world. At the same time there is nothing that gives me serious pause. I wonder a little about the performance of the rear end with the Super Deluxe air shock, but I know there was more work to be done, and with the coil the performance was impressive. I have confidence in the integrity of the frame and Santa Cruz's reputation for standing behind their products while the geometry, boosted by some adjustability, is faultless. This feels like a bike that can take a beating and be ridden hard for years to come. More aggressive riders might also be keen to try the bike with a 170mm fork. Putting the flip chip at the linkage in the low position would nicely accommodate an extra 10mm of travel and I believe this change can be easily made by replacing the $30 airshaft in the Fox 36. I'm looking forward to someone in our crew having the chance to get a Megatower dirty here in B.C. because it looks very promising.

*I haven't spent enough time on the new Nomad but I have yet to hear anything but praise from riders who have

Here's some footage of the Megatower in action shot by John Parkin with a final edit by Kaz Yamamura

Tester info for Cam McRae: Height - 183cm/6' Weight 72kg/160lbs. Home trails: Vancouver's North Shore. Preferred reach: 470-480mm. Usual bike size: Large but sometimes XL.

More on the Megatower? Have a look at our interview with Santa Cruz engineering manager Nick Anderson here...

Trending on NSMB


Svobodarider  - March 19, 2019, 7:54 a.m.

How tall is the test rider? Just for the reference regarding the frame sizes. Thanks.

Cam McRae  - March 19, 2019, 8:20 a.m.

Sorry! Missed that. I am 6’ or 183 cm and I weigh 160lbs/72 kg.


cyclotoine  - March 19, 2019, 9:36 a.m.

I just got back from 3 months in New Zealand, and regrettably did not go to Wairoa (Travelling with baby and partner). However, I rode a lot around Nelson and Rotorua as well as some of the double black (red) trails in Queenstown (outside the bike park, I like more natural trails).

Your preference for the large, I find surprising. I'm 6'3.5" (to be precise) and I ride an XXL 2019 Sentinel Alloy.

Let's be frank, this bike basically copies the geometry Transition figured out years ago (as do most of the bikes in this category) - Aside: The transition could maybe benefit from 10mm more travel in the back though - if anything I am curious to try even more reach. Yes, there was a learning curve of riding more forward on the bike. We are trying to break many years of habit here, especially us taller guys who have not had proper fitting frames. Ever. However, it wasn't long before I was hooting and hollering, descending the steepest trails I'd ever seen, dropping, and rolling the steepest steeps I'd ever dropped or rolled. I attribute it to the long front center and a proper fitting bike. It's like night and day going back to something in 480 mm reach with 73/74 seat tube realm, which was a defacto XL just last year almost. 

I truly believe that any rider who gets on a modern longer front center bike will find within three rides they feel like a better rider than they were before.


+6 oudiaou Jan Skyler Jitensha Kun Marshall-Willanholly grambo Endur-Bro thaaad
Cr4w  - March 19, 2019, 11:34 a.m.

Let's be even franker, not only was Transition late to the Geometron party but they watered it down to make it palatable to the flanneled masses and good on them, we were due for a leap forward in thinking and the Geometron pitch is a little too esoteric for most.

+3 Andrew Major Cr4w Timer
Cam McRae  - March 19, 2019, 11:57 a.m.

Mondraker may get the nod as the first relatively mainstream company to push bikes in the LLS direction. Certainly long before Transition. Remember when they were doing zero reach stems. I believe that began in 2013. Not to mention when they took the first three spots on the World Championship DH podium in 2016, which could signal when other brands started to really pay attention. 

Tomorrow I'm publishing an interview with Santa Cruz Engineering Director Nick Anderson and he has a different explanation for the recent convergence in geometries.


+5 Skyler Cr4w Marshall-Willanholly grambo Endur-Bro
Jerry Willows  - March 19, 2019, 12:13 p.m.

Mondraker pushed the longer reach but geometry as a whole was pushed by Chris Porter.  He was doing shorter offsets, steep STA, super slack HTA before anyone.  Everyone is playing catch up.

+2 Absolut-M JVP
Cam McRae  - March 19, 2019, 1:36 p.m.

He did for sure. But he certainly isn't mainstream and most riders don't even know about his brand, which is actually a sub-brand of Nicolai. Making a few dozen bikes a year with wacky geometry is one thing but committing an entire line of hundreds of bikes or more is another.


+1 cyclotoine
robnow  - March 19, 2019, 1:41 p.m.

Let's not forget this Megatower is still fairly conservative as far as modern geometry goes.  As an XL rider I really like the longer chain stay chip, however, that seat angle is STILL slack for us taller dudes...and that top tube/reach fairly short.
Cam McRae  - March 19, 2019, 2 p.m.

Is the XXL too small for you as well? It would be interesting to see brands vary seat tube angles from size to size to accommodate those of us with long legs. Interestingly Josh Bryceland is almost your size and he preferred a large Bronson. He was even winning World Cups on smaller DH bikes so personal preference still plays a role. It's certainly tough to say he didn't know what he was doing while he was winning the overall!

Jerry Willows  - March 19, 2019, 2:07 p.m.

he wasn't/isn't mainstream but his ideas are becoming that.  I'm just surprised it took this long but incremental changes is what the bike industry is all about.

Cr4w  - March 19, 2019, 3:47 p.m.

I'm on a Geometron and it could still have a steeper seat tube angle than my 77'. It turns out that riders of different sizes have different fit requirements. I couldn't imagine going back to shorter chainstays for any reason. I don't think any XXL rider would. But this is still a great step forward for a mainstream company.

cyclotoine  - March 20, 2019, 12:47 p.m.

I didn't see much discussion about geometry in there.


UFO  - March 21, 2019, 7:54 p.m.

IMO we would be doing a disservice if Kona wasn't included in the list of those on the forefront of this geometry movement. They are certainly more mainstream than Mondraker, and much of their lineup for our consumption was commited to LLS


+1 Cam McRae
Nouseforaname  - March 19, 2019, 1:12 p.m.

@cyclotoine - I'd generally agree with a lot of what you've posted. But if any of us is well placed to decide how they like their bikes it would be Cam - given that he's probably had more time on more modern bikes that pretty much everyone. And then gets to take home the size he likes for a few months. He's not exactly a slouch on a bike, and has some decent riding in his backyard to base opinions around.


cyclotoine  - March 20, 2019, 12:16 p.m.

I only said it was a surprise, not that I think he chose the wrong size. Only wanted to spur discussion. Personal preference is the other factor that can't be measured.

Cam McRae  - March 19, 2019, 1:56 p.m.

I am mostly legs and my ape index is 1.0 so I don't need monstrous reach generally. That said I've ridden bikes with 485 and 490 comfortably but the 490 reach of the MT (hi position) did not feel good in some situations. My ideal reach for that bike might be closer to 480 but the 470 never felt small either. I agree with you on longer reach however. My most recent personal bike was a large Yeti SB5.5 with a reach of 442 and until I rode something longer it felt fine. Now it feels tiny. The XL 5.5 is only 463 which gives a good idea how much things have changed in just a couple of years. That's smaller than most modern larges.


+1 Cam McRae
Jitensha Kun  - March 19, 2019, 2:45 p.m.

If the sizing on the Megatower is like the Hightower and you aren't a throwback to BMX sizing I'd go with your bigger option on the bike. I'm 6'4" and an XL Hightower needed a longer stem and a saddle that was slammed back.  The XXL Hightower fit great.  

500mm+ reach is the number for folks over 6'3".


+3 Niels Cr4w Cam McRae
Timer  - March 19, 2019, 3:04 p.m.

Reading that, it sounds like sizes should only go from L (for midgets ) to XXXXL (to leave something for those in the 200cm range) .

Which leaves me even more annoyed that nobody is doing something truly extreme to test out the upper ends of the reach craze. Just make a bike with 1000mm reach, 45 degrees HTA and 95° STA! If only to give to all those who say their XXL Geometron "could have just a little more reach". ;-)

PS: the photos in this article are particularly amazing.


robnow  - March 19, 2019, 4:37 p.m.

At 6'2" I was hoping for a Reach right at 500mm (and steeper ST, although I suppose thats balanced out by the longer chain stay position) but I shouldn't complain as they did come out with 5 sizes vs 4.  Still, accounting for Reach and TTLength, its a small XL and then its more than 1 size up to the XXL.


Jitensha Kun  - March 20, 2019, 10:22 a.m.

Have a look at the XL Firebird 29 for a bike between Santa Cruz's XL and XXL.


+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
robnow  - March 20, 2019, 7:06 p.m.

And those puny chain stays...I think not Jitensha Kun;). Plus...WATERBOTTLE!


Svobodarider  - March 21, 2019, 2:57 a.m.

At 6'3" I share your feelings, robnow... I expected, this gonna be bomber. I did not however expected, that I will be right between two sizes. XL Firebird 29 rides great, but that seat tube angle along with short chainstays is not ideal (and yeah, the waterbottle). I think I will give the XL Mega a try, not really ready for 1300mm+ wheelbase and that super high stack (as I like my cockpit pretty low.


Tjaard Breeuwer  - March 21, 2019, 1:33 p.m.


As was mentioned in the interview article, stack matters too. When you say you are looking for a reach around 500mm, at what stack is that? The Mega is quit tall, so you might find the effective reach of the XL is similar to the the reach of many bikes with a listed reach around 500.

The relationship is about 0.4, so a bike with listed reach of 500 mm and stack of ~620mm would fit/handle identically to the MegaT in XL once you added 25mm of spacers.


Kenny  - March 27, 2019, 4:56 p.m.

Yeah, 25mm of spacer with a 65 degree head tube actually reduces the reach by 13mm. Especially as bikes get slacker it gets more and more noticeable.


+1 Velocipedestrian
Tjaard Breeuwer  - March 22, 2019, 7:28 a.m.

For my fellow long legged riders who want steeper seat tubes than we have available, try using your seat post:

On Reverb posts, you can flip the plate that holds the saddle rails, around, so it’s offset to the front instead of to the rear, gives about 1.5 cm more forward position.

Many other posts use a similar design.

Or use a post with an offset  head, and install it “backwards”


cyclotoine  - March 20, 2019, 12:22 p.m.

I agree completely if there isn't an XXL there isn't a bike big enough for me in most brands line ups. I want to try a pole evolink 140 in XL which has 535mm reach, but the steeper SA means it actually has less top tube length than the megatower XXL! But I'd be slamming the seat forward to steepen the effective SA on the megatower and maybe not on the Pole? Really they're about the same "size".


Tjaard Breeuwer  - March 22, 2019, 7:25 a.m.

Also note the stack height difference. The XXL Megatower has about 26mm higher stack, so if you set your bars at the same height, the effective reach on the Evolink 140 would be about 525mm, still a lot longer than the Megatower, but less so than it might appear at first glance.

And yes, as long as you can get your saddle where you want it(offset seatposts) toptube length is a useless number.


+2 Cam McRae Jerry Willows
Heinous  - March 19, 2019, 4:21 p.m.

Wairoa is a pretty amazing place to shakedown a new rig - it's amazing how many bikes break there. 

The Super deluxe air shocks seem consistently disappointing, and it's curious SC have spec'd 36's for most of these - that'll hurt their sram group discount.


+2 Niels Tjaard Breeuwer
Jon Harris  - March 19, 2019, 10:13 p.m.

Having read the various initial impressions on this bike, it sounds like everyone wants to like the bike but hasn't clicked with it. I feel there is a bit of SC bias there, as I don't think some other manufacturers would have had such kind words written overall for a new bike when many of the reviewers we're struggling to get comfortable. 

Given the various reviewers are well experienced it's surprising and I will watch for the long term review with interest. Hopefully everyone will detail what it takes to get the bike set up to their taste.


+4 Niels Todd Hellinga Timer Andrew Major
Skyler  - March 20, 2019, 7:49 a.m.

Or maybe it's that the model of flying 20+ journalists half way across the world to shower them in luxury and heli rides only goes so far? Speaking from my own experience of bringing a new bike on a trip away from my home trails, after 4 days on unfamiliar trails, I really couldn't say much about what I thought of it. 

I'd like to see more bike companies spend less money on these launches, and just send the bikes to journalists. Yes, the Kool Aid would be slightly less delicious, but I think they'd be able to deliver much more useful content/impressions.


+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
dbozman  - March 22, 2019, 5:12 a.m.

Totally agree with this. I’d much rather read a review in which the rider was able to spend a month on his home trails. These “splash” events, while awesome, don’t reflect reality.


Tjaard Breeuwer  - March 22, 2019, 7:06 a.m.

I agree with both @John Harris and reception does seem remarkably lukewarm. And indeed, longer term and familiar trails offer a much more usefull review. But it sounds like NSMB is waiting to get one to ride locally?

Bike magazine did ride it for a month on their local trails.

I also wonder if the views might be more positive when testers have some more time to ply with set up, for example, I don’t think anyone rode the bike in the long chainstay settting in NZ. And more time comparing coil vs air would also be useful. At the. Dry least, it would give us more info.


Geof Harries  - March 20, 2019, 4:51 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

Reed Holden  - March 22, 2019, 9:14 p.m.

Interestingly, the pinkbike review suggests that the bike only feels in its zone when you are pinning it. I have skis that are like this where they only feel good when you are charging the mountain but at slower speeds are a little cumbersome feeling. Maybe this bike is setup for charging. I wouldn't be surprised. Santa Cruz has lots of bikes that are for the masses. This one might just be a real enduro racer's bike. 

as for sizes etc, I am always confused why everyone focuses on reach. I guess for descending, the reach tells you how far behind the bars your body sits but for pedalling position, the ett is the number to look at, and the reach is more a function of the seat tube angle and wheelbase.


Endur-Bro  - March 23, 2019, 9:39 p.m.

I’m 5’5” and ride a 502mm reach bike. I’ll wait a decade for the industry to catch up. 

PS. porters company MOJO was the UK distr/service centre for FOX SHOX until recently.


Hugo Williamson  - April 29, 2019, 7:06 a.m.

Iago Garry is 5’10” (178 cm) and would ride a medium Santa Cruz ( sizing up to 5’9”)  bike of any genre ( personal communication),  given that he is a full on EWS racer, it’s interesting that he is not on a large! 

I realise that personal preference play a part, but it rather flys in the face of longer slacker lower!!


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