Staff Bike Check - Our Head Coach Andy's Santa Cruz Megatower

Santa Cruz Megatower 2020

Our Head Coach at Dirt School, Andy, has been riding the Megatower for over a year now and has appreciated how stable and confidence-inspiring the platform is over his previous Hightower. Here we look at his set up in more detail and find out how it handles.

Rider Details 

Andy is 177cm tall and weighs 76kg, or 85kg with a pack on. He rides a Large frame. 

Why the Megatower?

“I really enjoyed my V1 Hightower in 2018/19 but fancied something a little more robust and stable moving forwards. The longer top tube and reach on the newer bike means that the standing position on this model is more like the XL frame size on the old model Hightower.”

“I have to cover a lot of bases with my bikes because I’m running lots of different classes. In the past I’ve gone for light bikes that are fun to ride, but with the network of technical trails expanding all the time, and Dirt School running more technical courses at Innerleithen, I thought I’d try something that would allow me to remain confident whilst giving demo’s on the trickiest of sections.”

“The 29” wheel size coupled with the long travel and slack angles allow me to have an incredibly stable and predictable platform to centre myself around. I did notice when I first started riding it that I had to get closer to the bike in order to stay sunk into the travel and give myself room to move. Keeping this deliberate weight down on the bike means that I can then pop off things when I need to and the bike doesn’t feel heavy. It finds traction everywhere and allows me to remain completely neutral. I actually feel like I have more time to react as a result!”

Andy Barlow at Glentress on his Santa Cruz Megatower

Suspension Setup

“The RockShox Lyrik Ultimates are a big improvement on the old Pikes I had on the Hightower. Predictable, stable, and supple off the top while still providing loads of support - in other words they feel soft initially but don’t dive under braking or on steep trails.”

“I run the frame in the progressive shock setting/lower bb, and the shorter wheelbase. It’s so stable over choppy terrain at speed and stays glued to the ground over the rough stuff.”

Santa Cruz Megatower Rockshox

Cockpit Setup

I used to run the bars at the full 800mm standard width and I really liked it! After a few close calls with trees, though, I decided to cut them down to 780mm. The grips probably add a few millimetres either side, but I think I’ve kept them as wide as I can without the fear of losing my pinkies. 

The One Up stem is so neat and tidy. I actually tried this bike with a 35mm stem initially but felt that the bigger wheels and wider bars actually suited the slower handling that the slightly longer 50mm stem gives. More length on the reach isn’t a bad thing on a bike that is as stable as the Megatower and encourages me to stay low and flat meaning I have a bigger footprint on the trail.

The WTB Silverado saddle is spot on. Light weight with carbon rails provide plenty of flex, and there is more than enough padding for longer days. I’ve paired this to a KS Lev Integra that has 175mm of drop. The Megatower has such a low stand over height that I can run a missive drop like this and give myself plenty of room to move and balance. 

Wheels and Tyres

Reserve 30 rims paired to Industry 9 hubs. Bombproof, reliable and easy to service. WTB has some great 29er options now, and the Verdict / Judge combo is simply brilliant for riding in the Tweed Valley. Both tyres have the Tough Casing and High Grip, are Tubeless with MucOff sealant, and I run 25psi up front / 28psi in the rear. 

The Verdict also comes in a ‘Wet’ option. It’s the exact same tyre with longer tread to help cut into the softer stuff. The Wet option in Winter ensures that you can trust that front end grip even when you can't trust what the weather is doing. 

Reserve Wheels and WTB Tyres


Standard Shimano XT 12 speed. Reliable and smooth. I run 170mm cranks, a 32 tooth chainring, and the 11-51 cassette. I always run good quality Shimano cables with SP41 outer and sealed end caps. It’s such an easy way of getting good, crisp shifts every time.

Full Specification

Frame: Santa Cruz Megatower CC size large

Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate

Set Up: 170psi, Low Speed Compression 0, Rebound 6 from slow

Fork: 160mm travel RockShox Lyrik Ultimate

Set Up: 80psi, High Speed Compression 3 clicks, Low Speed Compression 0 clicks, Rebound 9 from slow

Wheelset: Reserve 30 rims on Industry Nine Torch hubs

Seatpost: KS Lev Integra 175mm

Tyres: Verdict 2.5 High Grip Tough Casing (25psi), Judge 2.4 High Grip Tough Casing(28psi)

Cockpit: Santa Cruz Handlebar at 780mm, One Up 50mm Stem, ODI Thin Lock On Grips, WTB Silverado saddle

Drivetrain: Shimano XT 170mm cranks, XT 12 speed gears(11-51t), i Spec 2 shifter

Pedals: Shimano XTR SPDs or DMR Vaults

Brakes: XT 4 pot calipers, 200mm front and 180mm rear, Resin Pads

Matador Jumps Innerleithen Downhill Trails


  • Andy Han

    What offset rockshox Lyrik Ultimate fork are you using ?

  • Finn Watts

    What bottle cage do you run?

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