When you get two of the latest big-travel bruisers in to test at around the same time, naturally you start to make comparisons. Such was the case this summer when Santa Cruz sent their second generation Megatower for review and then shortly thereafter, Fezzari sent their second generation La Sal Peak.
Though the numbers and intent of both bikes is very similar — the Megatower has 165mm of rear travel and a 170mm fork, and the La Sal Peak has 170mm front and rear — both bikes behave very differently and use their travel in different ways.
When Santa Cruz released the latest Megatower in April, the changes centered around slacker geometry and a steeper seat tube angle without going too crazy. The reach grew a little, as did the wheelbase. The first version of the Megatower had a rather conservative wheelbase length and this was one of the biggest geometry changes. Santa Cruz widened the tubing substantially from the previous version, creating a storage compartment in the downtube with significant space for a tube, a multi-tool, and a hot dog. As for aesthetics, the V1 and V2 Megatowers look very similar from their side profiles.
Fezzari had more room to grow in the geometry department and the La Sal Peak’s travel grew from 150mm of rear travel to 170mm. The look of La Sal Peak changed dramatically. The standover height shrank as did the space between the stays. The shock layout is similar with a rocker link hanging off the top tube just below the saddle, but the shape of the new link is much different. The hump of the top tube on the first version was chipped away and it opens up standover height while keeping enough room inside the triangle for a bottle. Unlike the Santa Cruz, there is no in-frame storage compartment on the La Sal Peak.
While there are big similarities in both bikes, there are big differences in brands. Santa Cruz has a huge reputation and over the past several years has grown into a premium bike brand with a signature suspension layout. It’s a dealer brand too, sold at bike shops with brick and mortar customer support.
Fezzari has grown strongly as a direct-to-consumer brand known for their great value on full carbon mountain bikes. Based out of Utah, Fezzari has received rave reviews for their bikes, satisfaction guarantee, and customer support.
So, let’s dive in and give both beastly bikes a good once over and see how alike and how different they really are.
Looking at the geometry between both offers some hints at how the bikes will handle. Both bikes have flip-chips with high and low settings. The Santa Cruz Megatower has size-specific chainstays while the Fezzari La Sal Peak does not. We’ll reference both bikes in their low positions as we look over the geo. We’ll also refer to the medium sizes, as they are the most common, and that’s what we tested. See below for the full geometry charts.
Both bikes use shorter seat tubes for longer-travel dropper posts which coincide with shorter standover heights, and the Santa Cruz sits lower. With a 63.5° head tube angle the Megatower is slacker compared to the 64° head tube angle on the La Sal Peak. Both bikes have fairly high stack heights, which makes for a more upright, behind-the-bike feel; the Megatower’s stack height is a bit higher than the La Sal Peak.
The Megatower upped its seat tube angle, but with the slackening up front, it didn’t seem like a big change in seating position. In low, the seat tube angle sits at 77.2°. The La Sal’s sits at 77.5° and actually decreased a half-degree from the previous generation. The reach on both is very similar and the brands kept some moderation with the Megatower at 452mm in low and the Fezzari at 455mm.
In low modes, the bottom bracket height is lower by 5mm on the Megatower. The wheelbases on both bikes are very similar with the mediums at 1,237mm for the Megatower and 1,230 for the La Sal Peak. As mentioned, the Megatower has different size chainstay lengths and the medium measures 438mm. The chainstays on the Fezzari measure 437mm.
Fezzari uses a four bar Horst Link layout, dubbed the Tetra Link. This time around Santa Cruz and Fezzari both decreased the progressivity in the rear suspension. This is said to allow more efficient tuning and give the bike better pedaling characteristics. The bike can be used with air or coil suspension.
Santa Cruz also revised the leverage curve on the Megatower, decreasing the progressivity in the suspension. The brand says an overall lower leverage rate should give the bike more support for aggressive riding and better bottom-out resistance. The Megatower can also be set up as a 170mm travel bike by installing a shock with a longer stroke. Like almost all Santa Cruz bikes, the Megatower uses a VPP suspension layout.
Both bikes are only available in carbon, however the Fezzari as a direct-to-consumer brand is priced much more competitively. A Comp build with DVO suspension, a SRAM NX drivetrain, and WTB wheels starts at $3,999. Then they have builds priced at $4,999, $5,999, $6,499, and $8,499. A frameset with a Fox X2 shock and Fox 38 Factory fork can be bought for $3,899.
If I could pick a build as a gear snob who spends too much time looking at sell sheets with prices and build specs, and who wants a balance of affordability and great components, I would choose the Elite Race build. You get a RockShox Zeb Ultimate and Super Deluxe Ultimate, a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain (hard pass on the AXS), and ENVE AM30 wheels for $5,999. That’s a sharp, workhorse drivetrain, carbon wheels, and top-end suspension for $6,000. The Code RSCs aren’t my favorite brakes, but the build is too good to pass up.
On the Santa Cruz, build kits start at $5,649 for a Carbon C frame, with a RockShox Zeb R fork, A Super Deluxe Select shock, a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, and SRAM G2 RE brakes. They have other builds priced at $6,799, $8,499, $9,299, $9,799, $11,199, and $13,999 for the top end Megatower with RockShox Flight Attendant and SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS. Frame-only pricing for a frame and shock is $4,249.
If I could pick the most ideal build with the stuff I want, and nothing I don’t, it would have to be the $6,799 S build with the Carbon C frame. The CC is only available on builds just under $10,000 and the weight difference there doesn’t seem worth the price. The S build gets a SRAM GX drivetrain, a Fox 38 Performance fork with a Super Deluxe Select+ shock, SRAM Code R brakes, and Race Face rims with DT Swiss hubs. It weighs a claimed 33.97lbs and though the brakes and wheels aren’t quite what you’d get on the Fezzari, it’s probably worth the money over the R build with an NX drivetrain and SRAM G2 RE brakes.
The builds we reviewed this summer have a huge cost difference, because the Megatower came equipped with Reserve carbon wheels and a GX AXS drivetrain while the La Sal Peak had a mechanical GX drivetrain and aluminum wheels from Stans NoTubes. This put the Fezzari at $4,999 for the Elite build and the Megatower at $9,799 for the GX AXS RSV build — almost twice the price. The Fezzari came with high end suspension and a great drivetrain, and even with such a drastic difference in MSRP, both bikes felt competitive with each other considering their build kits.
There is a difference in performance when it comes to the Reserve carbon wheels and the aluminum Stan’s wheels, but the Fezzari was lighter overall than the Megatower so the weight difference in the wheels is somewhat negligible. The Fezzari netted more tunable suspension, and I wouldn’t say the AXS drivetrain had the upper hand in performance over the mechanical version.
On the trail
We can write about sell sheets and geometry all day long but you can’t actually feel the difference in two bikes until they’re on the trail. I rode both the La Sal Peak and the Megatower on many of the same trails and some different ones around Colorado this summer. Here’s how they felt climbing.
With the Megatower weighing two pounds heavier, it certainly felt more sluggish up steep hills. The geometry is moderate for climbing, and on flatter terrain it felt quick to change direction and quickly spun up to speed. Once the terrain got steeper though, the Megatower became a bear. I never had to walk the bike up hills, but it did take more time.
The suspension felt more active than on the Fezzari — which felt like it sucked more energy from my legs — but the Megatower also dug into really loose climbs like a dagger and I never worried about spinning the rear wheel loose. The suspension on the Megatower didn’t have as much of a “platform” feel to it as the La Sal Peak, but it was still very supportive.
The geometry on the La Sal Peak felt more supportive and efficient, and I don’t think the traction was as good as the Megatower’s iron grip, but I would not call it bad in the slightest. The seat tube angle on the Fezzari felt steeper than the Megatower’s and I didn’t need to scoot up on the saddle as much.
The Fezzari does have a more “platform” feel to its suspension and the Horst link does a great job balancing efficiency and traction. The noted weights on our test bikes were 32lb for the Fezzari and ~34lb for the Megatower so the La Sal had a noticeable edge during long uphills. Nine times out of town, I preferred the La Sal Peak for climbing because of its more upright geometry, lighter weight, and more efficient suspension.
The Megatower really shined downhill though. The suspension felt more active with a threshold of support that made the bike excel over steep, fast, and loose trails. The geometry kept the bike agile enough to steer through dicey sections and the rear end of the Megatower was lively and sharp at speed. A combination of the Megatower’s stiff chassis and active suspension made it very confidence-inspiring on some of our faster, more technical trails.
The Fezzari’s suspension still felt very supportive which made the bike a dream on corners, but it didn’t ride as deeply in its travel as the Megatower. The La Sal Peak felt more lively and poppy on jumps and kickers and it has sharper handling. Overall, the Fezzari felt more progressive on downhills.
On big drops where bottoming out became a concern, neither suffered from harsh suspension compression. Because the Megatower felt more linear with a sharp ramp up, it felt like it had a little more confidence on big drops and recovered more quickly.
Overall, I preferred the descending characteristics of the Megatower over the La Sal Peak because of its active suspension feel on techy trails and unshakeable confidence. The La Sal Peak gave me plenty of confidence on downhill trails, but the plushness of the Megatower’s suspension and its ability to carry speed lit me up on descents.
While I wouldn’t normally pick an enduro bike as a rig for backcountry rides with a lot of pedaling, I rode the Fezzari on days with more ascending and was happy with my choice since it was easier than expected up long grinds. Having a 170mm bike down the often janky descents of Colorado backcountry trails was a huge and unexpected perk too.
These two bikes made the list of the latest and greatest enduro rigs this year and they’re a perfect example of how no two bikes are exactly alike. The Fezzari La Sal Peak and the Santa Cruz Megatower want to take you up mountains as pleastantly as possible and down them as fast as they can. That said, they go about both objectives in dissimilar manners. Here are our recommendations.
Get the Fezzari if:
You’re more than an enduro stud. Do you want a big bike that’s capable of park days and beyond? Do you enjoy crushing 2,000+ ft of climbing on a ride if it means there’s a killer descent on the other side? The Fezzari La Sal Peak’s supportive suspension, great geometry, and versatile manners handle the job. It’s also much more affordable than the Megatower and buyers can get more for their money.
Get the Megatower if:
You prioritize descending above all else. The Santa Cruz Megatower can climb just fine, but there are a few drawbacks pointed uphill. When it goes down though, the Megatower’s stable geometry and active suspension make for a bike that plows through chunder like an angry bull. The Glovebox makes it easier to pack away necessities and get equipment off your back. If you don’t mind the added price, the Megatower is an excellent bike for enduro and gravity trails.
Tell us which one you’d choose in the comments below.
The Fezzari all day! More versatile, great build options, lighter for those long days and a better climber. Great spec for the $$$$. Bonus that you don’t see them everywhere. I like the uniqueness too.
Definitely going Fezzari all the way. Best MTB for the money hands down. A couple of easy suspension tweaks and it’s a grinder up hills and plush on the descent. There’s a great terrain mix here in NM, and Fezzari handles it all in one solid package.