Big wheels and big travel equal big fun, right? Well, they do if you have some naturally rowdy singletrack to plow through. Here in northern Italy there’s no shortage of the rough stuff, and I love to test bikes like the Megatower nearby. I’ve been looking forward to riding this particular leggy 29er for some time now.
The Megatower has a low and high flip chip for some unknown reason, and a second chip that adjusts the chainstay length by 10mm. I’ll be leaving the first chip in low/fun mode while moving the rear chip around to see how the bike handles on different trails with different lengths. In the low and short position, the chainstays on this medium frame reach back to 436mm, with a chillin’ 64.7° headtube angle, a somewhat shorter 447mm reach, and a proper upright 76.4° seat tube angle. With 160mm of travel front and rear, it looks like an enduro bike, and it feels like one too. If only there were an enduro to race.
Painted up in a minty US Forest Service green, the Megatower stands out from any crowd — apart from maybe a ranger convention. For much of my young adult life I wanted to work with the Forest Service, but I’m not a military veteran and I studied social rather than physical science in college. Riding this sick whip is as close as I’ll get, and that’s alright by me.
The full carbon “C” frame is covered in protection to keep things clean and largely scratch free. There is a tiny fender to deflect stones that might damage the RockShox coil damper, two different downtube protectors, dueling chainstay protection strips, and a stock MRP chainguide and bash guard to prepare the bike for its true intentions.
This “S Carbon C” build retails for $5399 (available online from Backcountry and evo), with a Fox Performance fork, RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select+, a 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, powerful SRAM Code R brakes, a 150mm RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper, and a RaceFace cockpit. The test bike I received came with a set of Santa Cruz Reserve 30 carbon rims laced to DT Swiss 370 hubs. While those hoops are not part of the stock build, I’m not complaining.
One of the most immediately noticeable elements of the build is the Maxxis DHF/DHR II EXO+ tires. While I would like to have a Double Down casing in the rear, it’s nice to see at least the EXO+ casing on this bruiser of a gravity bike.
I’ve taken a couple quick runs with the Megatower so far, and my first impressions are all positive. The bike feels a fair bit more lively than similar 160mm whips I’ve tested recently, and it is handily one of the easiest bikes to bunny hop that I’ve ridden. On my first run with the bike my partner and I rode together in lockstep, and she matched her fastest time on our lunch-lap descent. That seems like a good sign for things to come.
We’ll have a full rundown of the Santa Cruz Megatower after a few months of trail partying in the Alps.