Matthew, our Retail Manager here at Tweed Valley Bikes, enjoys a diverse range of riding styles. You’re just as likely to see him churning out miles of rugged hillside bridleways as you are to see him lapping the Golfie. So when it came to finding him a new bike, we knew we had to choose something versatile and capable enough to keep up with him.
Enter the Santa Cruz Hightower, a bike seemingly built around this ethos. The one bike to do it all, with geometry and a parts list capable of tackling anything the Tweed Valley can throw at it, without ever feeling slow or sluggish on more mellow trails, the Hightower was an obvious choice for Matthew’s varied riding style.
“Coming from the previous generation Tallboy, what's immediately noticeable from the very first ride is just how comfortable the new Hightower is to ride, especially on the climbs. I’ve not had the chance to do any big long days just yet but the handful of after work rides I’ve done have been fantastic. On the descents the new bike handles itself with so much more composure than I was expecting from a bike of this type and travel. I’m still at the early stages of suspension setup but am running slightly below the recommended pressures for my weight and not bottoming out, a soft, progressive suspension setup with faster rebound typically suits the trails we have here.
The 210mm One Up dropper is a gamechanger, it’s the longest dropper I’ve had on a bike and I love the increased range of motion it gives me, while not compromising my pedaling position at all.
The only thing I’m not sure on is what I’m going to put in the Glovebox, being an XL frame the amount of storage space in there is huge. I can fit way more than just a tube and tools, I just don’t know what yet…” - Matthew
Matthew’s selection of parts is aimed at maximising the versatility of his Hightower and adjusting the bike to suit the trails here in the Tweed Valley. Up front his RockShox Lyrik Ultimate sits at 160mm of travel, 10mm more than comes as stock. More travel not only gives a comfier, more confidence inspiring ride over technical sections, but also slackens the head angle out slightly from its stock 64.5° giving a ride that is more stable at higher speeds.
A Burgtec bar and stem make up Matthew’s cockpit. A 30mm RideWide alloy bar, cut to 760mm, gives Matthew a bit of extra wiggle room when he’s squeezing between the tight trees that are so prevalent on the trails here. By opting for aluminum over carbon, Matthew’s bars give a bit more flex than a sturdy carbon bar, reducing arm pump. Burgtec Bartender Pro grips in Super Soft compound further reduce arm pump by absorbing more trail chatter than harder compound grips, and by allowing Matthew to slightly loosen his grip on the bar thanks to the extra grip given by the softer compound rubber. A Burgtec 35mm mk.3 Enduro stem shortens the reach on the Hightower and livens up the steering, aiding in the quick direction changes needed here.
To further increase the capability of the Hightower on the steep Tweed Valley trails, Matthew has fitted SRAM Code RSC brakes on 200mm HS2 rotors. On slippery trails where braking zones are limited this combination provides incredible braking power and control.
With the downhill performance maximised, the next stage was to consider how to retain the sporty ride of the Hightower on less demanding terrain. Matthew’s rides can take him down some of the most challenging trails in the area, but he also wants to use the Hightower for longer days exploring in the hills, or just blasting around Glentress.
Matthew has paired his 10-50t SRAM GX Eagle cassette with a 30t Burgtec chainring. This gives him slightly easier gearing for the big mountains Matthew finds himself on during van trips up in the Highlands, but also means he can more easily spread the wear on more gears under normal climbing conditions, meaning his cassette life will be extended.
Reserve 30|SL rims with fast engaging Industry Nine Hydra hubs not only look and sound great, but the lightweight and stiff wheels allow for maximum power transfer when pumping through turns or rollers, giving a sporty ride through the trail centre where good rolling speed and quick bursts of power are needed to maintain the flow. Coupled with EXO+ tyres, which strike a great balance between rolling resistance, grip and puncture protection, Matthew’s Hightower is great fun on the flatter blues and reds around Glentress but also confidence inspiring up the Golfie where the trails are much steeper and more technically demanding.
Matthew’s Hightower 3 Full Spec
Frame - Santa Cruz Hightower 3 CC size: XL. Gloss Invisiframe kit with custom decals
Fork - RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 160mm (65psi, 1 token)
Shock - RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate (185psi)
Wheelset - Reserve 30|SL rims on Industry Nine Hydra hubs
Tyres - Front: Maxxis Assegai EXO+ MaxxGrip (22psi, no insert) Rear: Maxxis DHR II EXO+ MaxxTerra (25psi, no insert)
Brakes - SRAM Code RSC with SRAM HS2 200mm rotors
Drivetrain - SRAM X01 AXS 10-50t cassette
Chainring - Burgtec 30t
Cranks - SRAM GX Eagle 170mm
Dropper post - One Up dropper 210mm drop with One Up v.3 lever
Saddle - Burgtec Cloud
Bar - Burgtec Ride Wide Alloy 30mm rise, 35mm clamp, 760mm wide
Grips - Burgtec Bartender Pro Minnaar Signature, Super Soft
Stem - Burgtec mk.3 Enduro stem, 35mm clamp, 35mm reach
For more information on our Hightower stock, or to discuss a custom build of your own, give us a call or drop by our shop in Innerleithen.
01896 831 429