deniz merdano santa cruz hightower 11
Long Term Review

Santa Cruz Hightower III

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Deniz Merdano (Graham Driedger and Ryan Walters on shutter actuation)
Date Oct 27, 2022
Reading time

Santa Cruz Hightower 3 Review

On the longest day of the year, I introduced you guys the new Hightower 3 I had the pleasure of meeting in Westfir Oregon. Mike Ferrentino calls it “Deniz’s New Favourite Place to Ride”. Let me tell you Mike, it is not that simple. I sure was excited to be a part of a product launch led by Santa Cruz and discover new trails with a big crew of freakishly fast media people. Not that I can't ride bikes and sometimes ride them "fast," but I was out of my element in a couple of ways in Oakridge.

Getting a comfortable fit on the Hightower 3 was not difficult but If I am being honest, I’ve never been more scared riding blue trails in my life. Trails in Oakridge are no wider than 2 feet and mostly balanced on steep bench cut that hugs the entire hillside. While the trails are not steep, the speeds you can carry on these goat paths are insane. Add a clay based soil and weeks of rain, the fear of losing the front wheel and tumbling all the way down to coastal Oregon was real. Which made bike setup quite important and difficult to nail. I was tense, riding tentatively while trying to keep up with some much younger, faster dudes. I didn't die... thank you Hightower!

The Hightower 2 was so good at that what it did, this 3rd generation did not even need to exist. But improvements are an inevitable part of product cycles. Lower, longer slacker, softer, whatever the upcoming trend might be, the new Hightower struck a good balance of ‘all new’ and ‘good, made better.’ There was an audible sigh of relief from Hightower 2 owners when they realized the new bike didn't provide enough excuses to upgrade. The second coming of the 'Tower is not lower in stature than the third but of a different tower all together. Perhaps with the Hightower 3 we are looking at now wanted to move out of the parents' house and start a new life, and just occasionally return for one of mom's home cooked meals.

deniz merdano santa cruz hightower 4

Santa Cruz Hightower CC X01 AXS RSV ... say that 5 times fast

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 1

I really like that you get an actual metal badge on the Santa Cruz bikes.

Bike Setup

I was on a Hightower C GX AXS RSV build during the media camp. That bike had some great and some not so great things going for it. First of all the OneUp dropper supplied on the C build was excellent. I love that dropper and judge all droppers against it. The GX AXS derailleur is a workhorse and it works really well. The Super Deluxe Select+ was a no fuss piece but there was some difficulty trying to set the bike up to handle the high speed chatter and bottom out control. The Select+ variant, without the high- and low-speed adjustments got within the ballpark of my ideal setup but didn't nail it on the head.

The new Hightower CC X01 AXS RSV delivered for a long term test with its excellent RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate has been more precise and it's been easier to get an ideal feel. Both the HSC and LSC circuits are extremely effective in their adjustments. On the first few rides, I struggled to keep the bike supple and supportive. Eventually I got to a setting window that allowed just that.

The Fox 36 Factory at 150mm was easy enough to get within the ballpark of North Shore Acceptable. While not my favourite fork to setup in the Fox line up, it was well-suited to the Hightower's intentions and behaviour.

Fork

84psi
LSC - 10 from closed
HSC - 3 from closed
LSR - 6 from closed
HSR - 2 from closed
Token - 1

Shock

170psi for 32% sag
HSC -1
LSC - 0
Rebound - 5 from closed

Tire pressures

Front: DHR II EXO MaxxGrip - 20psi
Rear: DHR II EXO MaxxTerra - 23psi

deniz merdano santa cruz hightower 15

The Hightower loves the backroads. It's a comfortable all-day spinner.

Climbing the HighTower

The WTB Silverado Saddle has been an excellent throne for my butt that sat nestled in the middle of the rails thanks to the 76.9 degree seat tube angle of the size Medium bike. Climbing and flat ground pedalling feels very neutral and efficient. I am going to get this out of the way quick: the climb switch on the RS super deluxe is impossible to reach and needs superhuman finger strength to turn. I left it open for the majority of my rides. The lockout is effective and it turns the bike into a hardtail quite easily. The shock has a 320-lb threshold for blow by which is enough to open the circuit on a medium-sized hit. I'd still not run the shock locked out for extended periods of time.

At the 32% sag I settled on, (more on that later) there is a slight bob to the chassis. Smooth out your pedal stroke and you will barely notice it on road climbs. Stand out of the saddle and the bike will sink up and down quite happily. This is a natural characteristic of dual link and VPP bikes. The off-the-top suppleness around the sag point lends itself to more to sit down and pedal efforts. It's not a mushy feeling bike in general but at 32% sag it felt softer than my bigger bike. Riding outside of the North Shore, 28-30% sag would make the bike a more energetic climber if you would be ok pushing the suspension progression deeper into the travel. Point the bike at some chunkier climbs and the amount of traction at your disposal is incredible. The hoverbike effect is real and tech climbing is a delight aboard this beast, if you have the legs!

The way the bike is spec'd with a 32-tooth SRAM chainring and 10-50t gearing is just a gear too tall for loaded down riding around here. The bike's intentions to get you out there, far from home and bring you back without crampy legs would benefit from a 30t or better yet a 28t chainring upfront. Leave the 10-50 in the back and don't offer me a 52t for as long as i'm alive. The practical applications for that 52t are few and far between if you want to keep a steady cadence.

There seems to be enough chainstay clearance to run a 28t on the 10t cog without resting the chain on the rubberized chain stay. A bike that is sold in healthy numbers across the globe probably is OK with a 32t on both economic and practical fronts but as a rider in the Sea to Sky region, I want easier gears, and my easier gear request gives you a better chainline on the rest of the cassette. This little spec naggle aside, the 32-lb bike (loaded, including pedals and glovebox) felt light and nimble on the uphills and very energetic when the hill pointed down.

Down'ill (in Rob Warner's voice)

After my brown pants moments on the hills of Oakridge, I couldn't wait to get back to my regular North Shore Double Blacks. The weather turned from sloppy to nice and trails started drying out. I've been dividing my time between the Hightower, 5010 and my Orbea Rallon, trying to figure out which one is the best do-it-all bike. So far I have no definite answer for you. What I do know is that each of these bikes is good at letting me know its intentions. I rode the Hightower on everything from quick one hour spins out my front door to big days in the backcountry trying to locate secret goods and the 145mm travel Hightower has been capable enough to tackle any terrain I've ended up on. A 64.5° head angle for this category is an excellent landing point to begin your bike setup journey.

The journey will depend on your bravado and your hopefully honest discussion with yourself. As my Rallon got more and more capable with DH tires and a coil shock, it also has gotten less interesting to ride at slower speeds on flatter trails. For less demanding rides it made more sense to reach for the Hightower. When I get used to more travel, I was hesitant to take the Hightower on steeper, chunkier descents. But every time I took the helm of Santa Cruz's do-it-all bike, I was impressed with how capable and agile it was - and eager to encourage bad decisions. I pulled for bigger gaps and trail side poppers without hesitation. I had to be more precise with where my wheels ended up compared to the 35.5-lb Rallon, but I had no regrets with my on trail decisions. The HT3 ate it all up.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 13

A summer of dust gathered itself around the dials of the Super Deluxe Ultimate Shock.

Steeper approaches with sizable G-outs were not as pleasant on the 150mm Factory level Fox 36, but a quick dial in on the High Speed Compression made sure the O ring never found its way to the top of the stanchions. These moments made me realize a 160mm Fox 36 would be an ideal front end for this bike around these parts. A quick air shaft change and the head angle will slacken to 64° of shredability. But why stop there? The EXO tires can use a little more beefing up too, so might as well slap on a couple of DD MaxxGrips to further increase trail feel and straight line stability.

Alternatively, you can do the exact opposite. If I lived in a flatter area or somewhere with lesser technical challenges, I would put way faster tires on this baby and shave some more weight. Get it down to 30 pounds loaded and ride flowy jump lines all day or put some frame bags and take it across the high country for a week.

The versatility of the Hightower is the main reason it is so successful. It is so boring that it is perfect in every sense.

deniz merdano santa cruz hightower 11

The Hightower is happy in the air. So is the rider.

Components

Reserve 30HD wheels w/ Maxxis DHR II EXO tires

I love the way the Reserve 30HD wheels ride and feel. They are lighter than the WR1 Unions by a hundred and some grams and it is most obvious around tight corners. The wheels like to spring you out after loading them with all your body weight. Combined with the VPP suspension, the way the bike generates speed on every opportunity is exhilarating. The Industry 9 1/1 Hubs are flawless and the whole setup is wrapped in dual Maxxis DHR II tires. It was a foreign sight for me initially but I figured out how to make the best of the provided grip after a couple of rides. The front tire is the proper MaxxGrip compound in EXO casing and the rear is the MaxxTerra version. While the casing is on the thinner side for rockier trails, the pair has been faultless for me combined with the active suspension on the Hightower. I try to ride light and precise, you won't see me bombing through rock gardens but rather jumping and skipping nasty bits of trail. I usually put holes in EXO casing tires if I don't run inserts but this pair has been spared from my abuse. The straight line braking and scrubbing speed is the main reason SC chose the DHR II on the front of the bike. Being able to kill speed at the tap of a brake lever is luxurious. Bombing down dusty ridge lines has been an easy affair. The lean angles are more pronounced compared to rounder profile tires. The side knobs require more lean to bite properly in corners, but that's it. No other surprises how the dual DHR II combo acts on the trail. An added benefit I found is the ability to be able to rotate tires on the bike. Once the rear tire is worn, just chuck the front one on the back and slap a new one on the front for maximum mileage out of your rubber.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 12

Reserve 30HD wheels with Industry 9 1/1 hubs have been flawless.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 9

Reserve's Fillmore valve is a modern take on the presta valve and it makes inflating tires almost fun.

SRAM Code RSC brakes with 180mm Centreline Rotors

The Codes on the Hightower came with metallic pads. It may be organic spec on some bikes but I was happy to see some proper brake pads here. The problem is the 180mm rotors. The initial bite of the brakes is amazing. Lots of modulation and lever feel. However, on sustained descents, I could feel the brakes fading into wooden blocks. I had to pull the levers harder and harder, the longer the chase was. I really wish we got 200mm rotors on the front of the bike. I understand why the bike is spec'd with the smaller rotors for the general riding population but I don't think anybody would object to slightly better brakes on a $14,000 bike.

The brakes required no bleeding or attention throughout the testing period.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 3

SRAM's top level discs are powerful and hassle-free.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 5

Clamping on 180mm rotors, I was left hoping for more stopping power on bigger descents.

Santa Cruz Cockpit

I wasn't expecting much from this in-house cockpit but man was I pleasantly surprised! The 35mm rise bars were 800mm wide upon delivery. I trimmed them to my preferred 780mm and moved everything inboard accordingly. The rise and sweep of the bars have been very easy on my elbows and the trail feel of the bars is excellent as well; precise without feeling harsh. Same compliments go for the grips on the Hightower as well; the single clamp house brand grips are so comfortable that I may have to take a ride to my local Santa Cruz shop to buy a couple of pairs for my other bikes. The end of the grips have the perfect amount of give to dampen trail noise and the shape and durometer feel great with or without gloves. The Burgtec stem is a decent chunk of aluminum and while I wouldn't call it pretty, it is not ugly either. It would be cool to see a polished, and anodized option on a bike at this level.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 14

My new favourite grips?

Sram XO1 AXS drivetrain

This is a fantastic piece of robotic engineering that just works. I like the 10-50t XO1 cassette spec on this bike and all the other XO1 bits to go along with it. There are no GX parts hidden anywhere to cut corners. Apart from my personal wish for a 30-tooth chainring, the drivetrain works day in and out. No complaints. I even like the Gen 1 paddles on the shifter.

RockShox Reverb 150

Well this is where there is a bit of a miscommunication within the departments at Santa Cruz. I don't know who managed to convince the rest of the team to spec a hose-actuated 150mm dropper on this bike but I would love to have a chat. There is 3 1/2" of post sticking out of the frame on my Medium tester and I am no Cam McRae when it comes to legs. I can easily live with a 180mm OneUp or at this price point a nice AXS Reverb 170mm on this top of the line bike. Realistically, I'll take anything but a hydraulic Reverb. Even though the dopper worked seamlessly during the test period, it would be reassuring to see something else. I really wanted the seat to get out of my way on steeper trails. The 150 Reverb did not allow for that, leaving me disappointed in this spec choice.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 7

There is room for improvement on the Reverb Spec on this rocketship

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 6

The 1x lever however is a delight to use and falls under your thumb nicely.

RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate

This little non-trunnion shock works flawlessly. The HSC made a big difference on how the rear end feels on the local bumps. Initially I had the compression set to 0 and it felt harsh and dead. A quick dial to -1 compression made the shock move out of the way quickly enough on repetitive hits. There is a coating of dust around the rebound, piggy back area that seems to have clung on to some oil. I'm not sure if the shock is leaking or it's assembly oil. This seems to be consistent with all 4 Super Deluxes in my household, but they are all performing just fine.

deniz merdano hightower3 santa cruz 2

The new Super Deluxe Ultimate with HSC adjustment complements the Hightower really well.

deniz merdano santa cruz hightower 12

There is no hesitation to put the bike down some serious terrain.

deniz merdano santa cruz hightower 2

If you pedal far enough, you will reach some cool hangout spots in BC's backcountry.

Final Thoughts

The Hightower is as Subaru as it gets in the spectrum of mountain bikes. It is amazing how many of them you'll see on the trails under a range of people and they are still somehow cool. The idea of a bike that can be pulled in so many directions depending on what the terrain and the rider requires is a great design by Santa Cruz. It's a bike that can be ridden anywhere, anytime and fit right in. The Matte Emerald is a gorgeous mix of pigments that looks great in green PNW trails. The glovebox, with all the things I could stash in there, has been great as well. My sample has been watertight but I don't assume any of these openings to be water tight in design. Make sure you open it up and air it out after a wet ride. It's a great way to extend your BB's life as well, which is threaded by the way. Bearings and pivots have been trouble-free for the past few months and none of the bolts came loose. Uneventful yet again.

The Hightower CC XO1 AXS RSV is an expensive piece of equipment and at this price I'd want to see top of the line everything, like Hydra hubs and an AXS Reverb. If it was my money, I'd spend it on a C GX AXS RSV build, sell the shock for an Ultimate upgrade, bump the fork to 160mm, ditch the Reverb for a OneUp and continue chucking the bike off of anything I could find on the North Shore. That's just me and that's the beauty of mountain biking: there is no right answer. The Hightower 3 is a fantastic riding bike right out of the box as is and could quite possibly be your 'One Bike' to do it all.

Santa Cruz Hightower 3

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

5'8"

162lbs

Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

www.blackbirdworks.ca

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Comments

bishopsmike
bishopsmike
3 months, 1 week ago
+9 Niels van Kampenhout IslandLife 4Runner1 whotookit Timer finbarr vantanclub dhr999 badgerracer

Great review, really a pleasure to read.  I know they're different bikes, but I can't help thinking that it's a whole Devinci Marshall (or a bike trip to New Zealand) more expensive than the We Are One Arrival... wow!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
+7 finbarr vantanclub Vik Banerjee Dan dhr999 badgerracer rg-nw

The prices are out of control for sure. Don't know what else to say about that :)

Reply

SomeBikeGuy
SomeBikeGuy
3 months, 1 week ago
+8 Timer Cr4w gregster77 Kos Sandy James Oates Dan dhr999 Adrian White DadStillRides rootstock

Not that I'm in the market for a $10k+ bike at the moment, but in as-tested spec this Hightower costs $13,999.00 CAD. In an incredibly similar and extremely comparable spec, the made-in-Canada AKA made-in-a-significantly-higher-cost-jurisdiction and made-by-a-significantly-smaller-company-with-less-negotiating-power-with-OEM-suppliers WeAreOne Arrival 152 costs $11,499.00 CAD. And they're both bikes that are more or less aimed at the same rider riding similar terrain.This highly inflated pricing is seen across the board with Santa Cruz bikes.

Please explain in detail how the Santa Cruz Hightower is worth the extra $2500. If you're unable to, which is totally OK as it's not your job as a bike reviewer, send Santa Cruz the question and post their answer.

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 cheapondirt Dan mtnfriend

some people like to brag on how much they spend on things....  I call it the "Kit and Ace" model.

Reply

flattire2
Brian Tuulos
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 mtnfriend

After owning a few $80 kit & ace shirts for several years, they are well worth the money.  Still look new and are go-to items in my closet.  Problem is men wont spend $80 on a tshirt.

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
3 months, 1 week ago
0 bishopsmike rootstock

so nothing below $80 is as good?

Reply

araz
araz
3 months, 1 week ago
+2 Ripbro Velocipedestrian

It'd be interesting to compare relative pricing after a bike company gets bought out by an investment conglomerate. SC bikes were never cheap, but seem to me to be much more inflated than a few years ago. The promises that investment, efficiency and scale will be good for the consumer rarely seem to pan out in these situations -- investors need to get their $ somehow.  Just a thought. Maybe I'm off base here.

Reply

rootstock
rootstock
3 months, 1 week ago
0

go ride one and see for yourself. cant see it, don't buy one.

Reply

Kenny
Kenny
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Everything is worth whatever people will pay for it. That simple. If you think the pricing is out of line, vote with your wallet and don't buy it. If the majority of Santa Cruz's target market agrees with you, prices will drop. If you're wrong, they won't. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Reply

the-prophet
the prophet
3 months, 1 week ago
+7 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian Timer Andy Eunson Mammal Pete Roggeman Dr.Flow

Suspension settings are always counted "from closed" because even the same shocks can vary in numbers of actual clicks they have due to part tolerances, shim stack heights for different tunes, etc.

If Super Deluxe A has 15 clicks of rebound, and SD B only 13, 5 clicks from closed is the same rebound setting for both where as 10 from open would not be. Make sense?

Reply

kos
Kos
3 months, 1 week ago
+4 Nick Maffei Grif dirtnapped mtnfriend

Great review, Deniz. Oakridge is special, for sure. For any fellow xc geeks, a lap around Waldo Lake is special.

Couple of repeat paragraphs at the start.

Feel free to delete this comment after addressing.

Feel free to delete this comment after addressing.

Hahaha!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
+3 Kos Dan rg-nw

The editor must have liked the paragraph so much, they included it twice!!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
+3 roil bishopsmike CrazyLou

If you have 15mins to kill, here is me riding the Hightower in Oakridge and almost binning it a few times

https://youtu.be/311qEW1TeMg

Reply

FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

must go back there next year!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 mtnfriend

Same! They are working on some great accomodation options in Westfir at Trans Cascadia Expeditions.

Reply

rg-nw
rg-nw
3 months ago
0

I'm an Oregonian, great to see some love for some of our backcountry raw forest trails.  Cheers!

Reply

roil
roil
3 months, 1 week ago
+3 Deniz Merdano Andy Eunson WasatchEnduro

Awesome headline photo! I would be framing that. 

Can we talk about 32t chainrings and super wide 12 speed cassettes? Who uses all of these gears on trail? I live in SoCal and never use the bottom 1/3rd of my cassette on trail. It's winch and descend. I'm carrying around a huge 51 tooth cassette because of ridiculous gearing. It's just extra unsprung weight and rotational mass.

The smallest chainring I can run according to my frame manufacturer is a 28th. I would love to run a super small chainring up front (one more reason to buy a high pivot bike) and a small light 9 speed cassette in the rear. Has anyone tried this?

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
+4 roil Dan rg-nw WasatchEnduro

HAving just visited SoCal I know where you are coming from. You don't even need dropper posts there! Just a QR skewer is all you need. 

I saw the fellows at Worldwide Cyclery dremeling off the 50t cog from an XX1 Cassette and turning it into 11sp. Then running a smaller ring upfront to compensate for the lack of big cog. I like tha idea alot.  If you run mechanical shifting, you can just adjust your limiters to keep you out of the big gear. Or you can just run 11sp der. with 12sp pulley wheels I imagine..

Reply

roil
roil
3 months, 1 week ago
0

QR Skewer! haha. I don't mind climbing but I won't say no to a shuttle ride if it's just a grind up a fire road. 

I saw WWC cut off the big cog on an XX1. Too rich for my blood. 

I've been thinking about running a 28t chainring paired to a Microshift but hadn't considered your idea of 11sp der and 12sp pulley. In either case, I'm not sure the juice is worth the squeeze in terms of weight savings.

Reply

Jenkins5
Jenkins5
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 roil

2 of my friends have been doing this for years now....Stick to 11 speed XT, use an e*thirteen 9-46 or Garbaruk 10-46 cassette with a 28T ring and all good.....My friends use the new e13 Helix 9-46. Works great and it's only 370g.....

Reply

doodersonmcbroseph
doodersonmcbroseph
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 roil

I also ran a 11spd 9-39T e13 (329g) with a smaller front ring, saves a good chunk of weight and got rid of some gears I don't need. You can even shift it with a zee derailleur for the short cage ultra compact setup.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 months, 1 week ago
0

down with this. how does the zee shift across 11spd (as a native 10spd mech, i think the pull ratio is slightly different?)

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 roil

How can you even ride a mountain bike with just 11 speeds? Is that even possible?

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
-1 rootstock

Unpossible

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 doodersonmcbroseph

Both of my mtbs only have 10 speeds...  that explains why my riding buddies always veat ne to the bottom.... there's go up to 12!!!

Deriously tho for my local trails (SE UK) 30 / 11-42 works.  Thenother an main benefit is I can run a wide range Zee which has a nice short cage.

Reply

doodersonmcbroseph
doodersonmcbroseph
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Small cassette with the zee is the best!

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
3 months, 1 week ago
+2 doodersonmcbroseph T0m

I've been running a similar set up for a few years now with no need for smaller gears.  If it gets too steep I get off and push.

doodersonmcbroseph
doodersonmcbroseph
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 T0m

It's amazing how many people can be just too proud to get off their bike and push, I think it's hilarious when I am pushing next to someone pedaling and travelling the same speed :P

Reply

FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
3 months, 1 week ago
-1 Perry Schebel T0m rg-nw

huh? the purpose of a bike is to ride it, good for you being happy to walk?

dan
Dan
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Here’s a plug for an oval ring. I am (still) running 11sp and recently installed a Wolf Tooth 30T oval. I am really happy with the extra oomph it gives me here in the Winch and Descend land of Bellingham.

Reply

DancingWithMyself
DancingWithMyself
3 months, 1 week ago
0

I think there are some wear issues and maybe some suspension kinematic issues with a really small, “micro-drive”chainring.  This sounds like and Andrew Major question as far as an authoritative answer.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

The suspension kinematic issues are suspension specific. The virtual pivot, dual link, CBF bikes are less affected by the chainring size. While single pivot, split pivot, ABP bikes are more reliant on their antisquat values for a specific chainring size. 

Wear issues can be resolved with a steel chainring

Reply

Timer
Timer
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 Dogl0rd

Bikes could certainly be designed for 28t front rings. I don't get why manufacturers are so hell bent on speccing 32t rings. Who keeps pedaling to go faster than 40km/h on a long travel bike? Maybe in a DH race but DH bikes have different needs anyway.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 months, 1 week ago
+2 roil Cooper Quinn

while i'm generally a fan of compact drivetrains for our local jank (i'm running 28t x 10-42 w/ mid cage mech) currently, there's certainly plenty of environs where that 32 (paired with monster cassette) is useful. gives a one size fits all range.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
3 months, 1 week ago
0

I've run 28T rings on all my bikes [including VPP/DWlink/4-Bar] for many years with zero issues with suspension performance or wear. Even with some reasonably long road/bikepath "commutes" to the trails I have not had a problem with the reduced top speed. I can spin a high cadence if needed and beyond that I am happy to coast since I don't race.

Reply

WheelNut
WheelNut
3 months, 1 week ago
0

This comment has been removed.

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
3 months, 1 week ago
0

It should be about usable range. But it is easier to sell more range. I run Eagle 12 speed with a 30 th on one and 32 on the other. 10-50 on each. That is low enough for my purposes. I would have preferred the 32 on the one bike but it’s what was available. I do use the highest gears but very infrequently. I would rather see a 14-50 12 speed and other combos too. If a rider actually had 12 cogs that they could use, wear would be distributed over more cogs enhancing durability perhaps. But no. We get a 9 cog that won’t likely get used at all for some kind of bragging rights.

Reply

wasatchenduro
WasatchEnduro
3 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

mhaager2
Moritz Haager
3 months, 1 week ago
+2 Deniz Merdano doodersonmcbroseph

That opening picture..... that's a serious drop. Nice job! How do you think the RS ultimate shock compares to the fox dpx2 and X2? My understanding is that it's more competing with the latter. I was thinking of upgrading my Dpx2 on my Druid to this.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

DPX2 was a very poppy, playful shock. It didn't have a hydraulic bottom out control or a HSC circuit at all. 

I would compare the RS SPD to X2 with a ton of volume spacers crammed in. 

Also I think RS SPD would work exceptionally well on the Druid. I had the coil version on there for a minute and it was wicked good.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
3 months, 1 week ago
+2 Niels van Kampenhout Graham Driedger

Lol, "shutter actuation" - even that I had trouble with!

"So I just hold the button down?"

"Yeah"

"Ok"

"You didn't hold it down long enough."

"Oh, whoops"

"Let's try again"

"Ok"

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

After initial training, you did well!!

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chris
Chris
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 boomforeal rg-nw bishopsmike

Love my RS shocks but my local shop put it best...they weep...until they don't, and then they're due for service.

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boomforeal
boomforeal
3 months, 1 week ago
0

That’s an excellent heuristic. Thanks!

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 doodersonmcbroseph

That makes a ton of sense. I wonder if weepage is the key to not blowing up. I don't see them blowing up as much as the other brand that dont seem to weep as much.

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davetolnai
Dave Tolnai
3 months, 1 week ago
+6 Ryan Walters mtnfriend doodersonmcbroseph Pete Roggeman Kenny rg-nw

Or in Haiku:

Rock Shox Rear Shock

Weeping oil happens for now

When it stops, goodbye

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kos
Kos
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Same with my local guys: "It's fine. Swing by when it goes dry."

Seems nuts.

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Kenny
Kenny
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

So how does it compare to the druid? (Is that still your main bike?)

Much longer I guess, but curious otherwise.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Druid is no more. I miss the way it rode sometimes, but I don't miss having to lube the chain mid ride. Druid was steeper HA but was way lower in center of gravity. The top tube and the seat was completely out of my way. Hightower could get close to that with a 180 or 200 mm dropper I imagine.

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Hbar
Hbar
3 months, 1 week ago
0

(sheds single tear)

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doodersonmcbroseph
doodersonmcbroseph
3 months, 1 week ago
0

I think you are right if you use a oneup. The oneup post has a considerably lower stack height than most posts and shorter overall when collapsed. My SC 5010's 170mm reverb had a stupid amount of post sticking out (couldn't even slam it, just doesn't fit). Couple that with the extra stack height is pretty frustrating. They could just spec something else but I think the SRAM package discount SC gets is too good to mess with.

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jalopyj
jalopyj
3 months, 1 week ago
0

> Steeper approaches with sizable G-outs were not as pleasant on the 150mm Factory level Fox 36, but a quick dial in on the High Speed Compression made sure the O ring never found it's way to the top of the stanchions. 

I also run a mid-travel trail bike, and find the limits of travel not necessarily off jump and drops, but off of steep G Outs. I've tried to solve this with higher air pressure, but maybe i'll try dropping pressure and bumping up HSC.

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mike-wallace
Mike Wallace
3 months, 1 week ago
0

This is exactly right.   I have two buddies on hightowers and I also built one up for my wife.  G-outs were a problem.   Higher pressure and more compression helps a lot.  However you will end up with a fairly stiff riding bike.  This isn’t necessarily bad as the bike will be very “sporty”.   Bumping up to 160 on the fork allows you to keep more small bump compliance while handling the bigger compressions.   

For my wife’s size med bike I dealt with a lot of the challenges Deniz talks about by going to:

WeAreOne Faction wheels (27mm internal, light and strong), 210 Oneup seatpost, 200mm front  rotor and eventually added in a rear cascade link to match up the rear travel with the front 160. Has made for a 30 lb. very capable bike.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Longer dropper is an absolute must.. So are bigger rotors. I can not comment on the cascade link but I imagine paired with a longer fork, the hightower would be a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!

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gregster77
gregster77
3 months, 1 week ago
0

If you're going to overfork to 160, doesn't that get into a Bronson category? Would you see any reason to keep a HT3 with 160 instead of a bronson? 

Seems hightower and megatower + bronson & nomad are just mullet & non-mullet variations, they're getting really similar to each other, wonder if SC will do something with that.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

They are significantly different in suspension kinematics...

All of them.

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aztech
aztech
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Am considering a Bronson, but the way you describe the Hightower has me intrigued. Would you recommend one over the other for a ride-everything bike?

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DogVet
Hugo Williamson
3 months, 1 week ago
0

The Bronson, IMHO, is a better all round bike.

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Ride.DMC
Ride.DMC
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Question I have thought about for awhile - & Deniz I apologize that it is not specific to the Hightower V3, and I am in no way trying to call you out. Please don't think that!

I am asking the question here because I dare not venture into the comments section on Pinkbike!

Why do media types always show their suspension set-up in "clicks from closed"?

I've tried googling it. Can't find an answer.  Based on what I have learned in trying to find an answer I am left thinking that this approach is backwards?  For someone like myself who is uninitiated in suspension set-up and not a mechanic, it seems that expressing the settings from "fully open" would be more intuitive - which makes me think there must be a valid (if not critically important) reason to do it from closed.

I'd love to know what it is!

Thank you in advance.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 T0m

Hey I agree with you.

I listed them from closed because it's the way suspension manufacturers do it.

Do me, the suspension never gains more damping as it wears out. It gets more and more open in damping for any particular setting.

So counting the clicks from the most open mode would be the most consistent throughout the life of the suspension part.

As the moment shock is used, damping slowly diminishes and fully closed setting would be less damped as the parts wear out. It's a great question and i too would like a logical answer to.

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Ride.DMC
Ride.DMC
3 months, 1 week ago
0

At least I'm not alone.  Thanks for replying!

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kcy4130
kcy4130
3 months, 1 week ago
+1 BadNudes

I don't know of sure if it's true, but I read somewhere that closed is preferred because it's more accurate comparing two shocks of the same make/model. Supposedly some shocks have an extra click or two on the open side that don't do anything (because of tolerance stack or something). But fully closed is consistent from one unit to the next, hence better for comparison.

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Ride.DMC
Ride.DMC
3 months, 1 week ago
0

That's a reasonable explanation. I don't think the first click or so on any of my adjusters do much of anything to tell the truth.

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hbelly13
Raymond Epstein
3 months, 1 week ago
0

There seem to be many glowing reviews/comments for SC's latest batch of bikes (well PB wasn't blown away with the new MT, but whatever). I am hoping the good stuff on these bikes carries over to the N6 as that is what I have on order. There are no long term or more involved reviewed of it just yet though.

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Haven't ridden the MT myself but so far the Hightower and the 5010 are doing great things on the trail.

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Taiki
Taiki
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Great write-up, how would you compare the Hightower to the RM Instinct you reviewed last year? Obviously not completely apples to apples with the Rocky being a size large, but otherwise the bikes seem very similar in terms of intended use. 

If I were to build an Instinct it would have a 55mm stroke shock and 160mm fork (or -1 headset) so geo and travel would be very close, so I'm mainly curious about suspension performance.

Cheers!

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denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Great question,

The Rocky was a lighter, more energetic bike. That energy did not translate to super confidence inspiring ride on the downhills however. It got bounced out of line quite easily. I took a while to find a good setting range. In the high and linear setting(can't remember the ride 9 number) and longer shock and an -1 angleset instinct could be a great bike. If. you already have one, go for it! But the Hightower rides like a bigger bike than it actually is. Which is good because the Tallboy seems like quite the shredder too!

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sigma220
sigma220
3 months, 1 week ago
0

Not related to the bike at all but that trail with the drop is one of my favourite trails... even though I skip the drop. Chef's kiss.

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dubxion
Christian Strachan
1 month, 4 weeks ago
0

Fantastic review, always good to see a review after some real time on a ride. Things have been great on mine (CC cable-X01), this being my first 29er coming off a 5010 V2. It's taken a bit to get used to the wheels and handling, (dang the 5010 was fun) and seems to do a lot better once I get it up to speed, which is good for pushing myself. Bumped the Fox 36 up to 160 and that's been nice, but it still seems to be breaking in. Have you heard of the 36's being like that? Before getting the travel bumped up, it had an excessively slow return on a shop floor push-and-release even with both the HSR and LSR opened all the way up and felt that way on the trail. Now it seems to be doing better, but still some fiddling to do. 

Moved to EXO+ DHF/Dissector, which was totally needed after a puncture on a trail ride downhill section with the stock DHR EXO. I'm riding 4-corners states mostly.

This is my "one" mountain bike, and pretty sure I got the right one as I'm always wondering what a Nomad or Bronson would be like one day, then if maybe a Tallboy would be better the next. I guess I'm ok plunking down for one bike that will do 3-4 bikes' jobs pretty well, especially one this well refined, well built, and well thought-out.

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