The 3rd Gen Santa Cruz Hightower Gets Minor Geo Updates to Stay With the Times, Bigger Changes Under the Hood

The Santa Cruz Hightower trail bike gets minor geo updates but sees bigger changes under the hood.

Santa Cruz has an updated Hightower on the market today and it sees minor changes that differentiate it from the previous version. The bike stays with 29-inch wheels, 145mm of rear travel, and a 150mm fork, but suspension kinematics and geometry have been revised and the frame has a few new features.

In a release, Santa Cruz says “the leverage on Hightower is more linear and more progressive than its predecessor.” They say a straighter leverage curve helps improve the consistency of the stroke feel and damping, and the progressivity increases support and bottom out resistance. The leverage curve is slightly straighter than the previous version and there is more progression near the end-stroke. The anti-squat has been reduced in the first 40% of the travel to improve sensitivity in the beginning of the stroke for climbing and descending.

Here’s a video from Sam James and Steed Cycles showing the bike in action.

Santa Cruz says the changes to the geometry help modernize the bike and fit in with other models in their lineup. The Hightower has a slacker head tube angle, a lower bottom bracket to match the more supportive suspension, and they have increased the stack height. Chainstays are now size-specific.

Overall, the geometry updates appear to be very minor. The reach in the low position is only 2mm longer on a size medium, the seat tube length is the same 405mm, the head tube angle is .7° slacker and the seat tube angle is .1° steeper in low too. The biggest changes to geometry are the size-specific chainstays, though the medium only gains 1mm of length. The stack height has increased as mentioned by 15mm on the medium in the low geometry setting. Wheelbase has grown by 10mm too.

On the frame, Santa Cruz has incorporated what they call size-specific frame stiffness, which seeks to provide a similar ride quality and feel across all sizes. The frame now has a cargo box, dubbed the Glovebox, and has a tool wallet and tube purse, like the Megatower does. The water bottle cage is located on top of the Glovebox door. A new sag window will make it easier to set sag with the shock placement near the bottom bracket and covered by a brace.

Santa Cruz will have a similar build spec as their other models, with some entry-level aluminum models, four builds with their C-grade carbon, and two high end builds with their CC frame. Santa Cruz did not include pricing in their release.