Santa Cruz Dilemma: Hightower or Megatower?

Early in 2020, some of us became proud owners of brand spanking new 2020 Santa Cruz bikes. Just the mention of Santa Cruz immediately catches the attention of every mountain biker and bikes developed by this brand surely are some of the most desired in the mountain biking world. Santa Cruz is renowned for their flawless frame design, well thought-out geometry and reliable gear. In line with the current trends and considering our riding styles and the type of terrains which surround us and which we normally ride, we all decided for 29-inch wheels, which means we were choosing between the Hightower and Megatower models.

We’re all extremely happy with our choices and stoked at how well our new bikes can handle the trails we ride. To make the decision between both models easier for you, we’ve made a short comparison of them and described where they feel at their best.


By taking a quick look at the technical specifications, the Hightower can be considered a trail or an all-mountain bike, but we think this is a conservative claim and the bike could easily be moved up a category.

Straight out of the box, it’s ready to shred and you’re probably going to find your limits way before you reach the limits of the bike. The most exciting feature, even before the first ride, is the bike’s geometry. The steep seat tube angle, just the right reach and the slack head tube angle give the first impression of what you can expect from the bike.

And indeed, the bike performs to the expectations. While you’ll feel at ease and comfortable on the uphills, you’ll be stoked to find that the bike’s fast and responsive, and that it offers a lot of control to the rider.

The VPP suspension is responsible for heaps of support and, although the shock can be locked out, you’ll not really feel the need to use this option for efficient climbing, while it ensures excellent traction and contact with the ground, but also room to play with the bike when you wish. As far as the components are concerned, you really cannot ask for more, as they all come from renowned manufacturers and will never let you down.


As the name suggests, the Megatower is a serious enduro machine, and indeed, the bike does come up to the expectations. Its owners within the SmallFriday community like to describe it as a ‘tank’ and go on to admit that they haven’t used its full potential yet and that they probably never would.

Although, at first glance, it may seem that the length of travel is the only thing that makes it different to the Hightower, the real differences can be felt elsewhere too. The Megatower only has one thing on its mind and that’s speed and control on the downhill and comfort on the uphill. Well, that’s actually something it shares with Hightower, but it does bring 20 mm more rear travel and 10 mm more front travel to let you release the brakes even a little more. On the downhill, you feel a lot of control plus the bike will forgive most of the mistakes you make and poor line choices you take. On the uphill, the Megatower doesn’t lag too much behind the Hightower, as its geometry is very similar and the steep seat tube angle puts the rider in a really comfortable and efficient position to get over even the steepest climbs, which are not uncommon in our beautiful surroundings – the Karavanke mountain range.

Another interesting feature of both Megatower and Hightower is the option to adjust the height of the bottom bracket in two settings, HIGH and LOW, which allows for micro-adjustments of the bike geometry.

That said, the Megatower additionally allows you to adjust the chainstay length, namely to lengthen it by 10mm, which brings you into an even more central position on the bike both on the uphill and downhill. Both bikes can be fully adjusted to each individual rider.

Clearly, the biggest difference between Santa Cruz Megatower and Hightower is that the Megatower is a more robust bike, maybe slightly less playful, but it allows for more aggressive riding or riding trails on the verge of downhill tracks. While the Hightower will shine on epic all-mountain tours and an occasional visit to a bike park or an enduro race is surely not off its limit, the natural environment of the Megatower is races and bike parks, but it can also handle full days in the mountains very well.

The decision between the two models isn’t a simple one, but we wanted to make it easier for you and we hope this short comparison will help. One thing is granted, you will be happy with either model. Both will bring you to the entrance to your favourite trails quickly and comfortably, and in the valley, you’ll find yourself smiling from ear to ear and wanting for more. If you are choosing between the two models, you have sweet concerns and many great days on your new toy, whichever it will be, ahead of you.

We wish you many epic rides on your new bike, sweet trails, perfect company and tons of fun.

Navigation and/or maps?

Again by Jože

Modern or old fashioned? Or maybe both?

I’m a bit old fashioned about modern technology yet slowly I’m giving in to gadgets. In the last week of July my friend and I decided to do part of a multi-day traverse of the Karavanke mountain range known as Trans Karavanke. The traverse has five stages that you can complete one by one or you can connect them in a multi-day trip. The part from Jezersko to Medvodje is closed for environmental reasons – the sign said from 15.7. to 15.10. So, we cut the trail short and the last leg we decided not to go to Kranjska gora and Tromeja but make a round trip passing Kreda lake and finish in Radovljica. Mind you I have been to Kofce once and in a guided group. I had no idea where I was going exactly.

I had not planned this ahead as much as my friend did. She came prepared way better than I did. Including trail description, additional .gpx files to be sure we won’t get lost 🙂 I checked out the route up on the webpage, just to realize that I will ride many new trails.

Luckily my friends at Šport 11-11 had some assistance to offer. And I got a new tracking and navigating device – Garmin Edge 830. A small enough gadget to fit on my ”dashboard” jet big enough to see on the screen while descending (not that i recommend doing this!). I uploaded all the .gpx files to the device and we were off. A bit sceptical about the navigation skills of the device and the precision of the maps, I had little faith.

Slowly we were guided on the uphill towards our first destination. Nicely guided by the gadget, we decided to make a detour passing planina Dolga Njiva. It seemed easy to adjust the route and it was. Just a few clicks on the screen, a bit of browsing on the map, pin a pin and there you go. Route planned. Start moving. If you have a route planned and you deviate it reminds you and tries to turn you around back on the track. Unless you are persistent, then, surprisingly, it finds a new route to join on your previously planned route. For me, that’s awesome so you don’t have to make u-turns and go back the way you came.

The following morning, we separated and decided to use different trails for the descent. I connected the gadget with my phone via bluetooth and GarminConnect – a really simple job. Afterwards I was scouting on Trailforks for a decent trail to ride – yes, all on the gadget – I was fascinated. Not only do you get to use Trailforks, it supports Strava and Komoot – Nicely done Garmin. The next few days were spent in a similar manor, searching for trails on Komoot and Trailforks, recording my movement on the gadget and uploading it at the end of the day on Strava. No big deal. 

All in all I was really pleased with the device. Not only did it guide us on our ways, recorded our tracks, recorded our jumps (yes, it’s quite fun to see how far you jumped :D), not to mention the battery endurance on it. It lasted for two days navigating and recording and it was down to 30 %. Charging overnight helped it endure two more days – and they were no short days. It also kept my phone’s battery intact, so I had the chance to take a lot of photos, some videos. All in all it was a good getaway/bikepacking/vacation. The gadget helped a lot. Maybe I will borrow it for my next trip again. I was so impressed by it that we decided to get one for our community.

What about you? And your experience with bikepacking in unknown territories? Maps or GPS devices?

eMTB vs. MTB & eMTB workshop with Šport 11

by Jože

It is probably not a good idea to pick sides in this matter. You never know when you’re going to have to eat the soup that you’ve made. But it is good to know a few basics on this matter. Let me just say at the beginning that I’ve tried both, an electric mountain bike and a regular one (not powered by any kind of additional propulsion then my own legs). You, or maybe I shall say we, all think the same thing at the beginning: e-bikes are for old(er) population of bikers. My thinking was no different. 

Until I got a chance to try out not one, but three different eMTB’s. One was from the shop, the other two were prototypes. Yes, lucky me, I got to test bikes that were not even on the market 😀 How about that? So I did a few runs with each bike to see how they run. And I was quite surprised. I have read many reports and comments about them. I also met a few people who owned or rented eMTB. I never truly believed them. Now that I have ridden one I got the idea. 

On the ascent, there is no doubt. You can enjoy the ride and views – the whole package. Or you can torment yourself by pushing it as fast as it goes – your choice. On the descent I noticed very little differences to a non-eMTB. The added weight of the battery pack and the motor have some impact on the distance you need to cover to a full stop at the same speed. On the other hand they help by creating additional pressure of the tyres on the surface. Well that is at least how I saw it. Maybe another downside of those added kilograms is that they interfere with some maneuvers you could find helpful on some tight corners. Probably a few runs would help to adjust oneself to the added weight but it was of no relevance for me.

So all in all I’ve learned the hard way, that eMTBs are not only for the older generation but also for us. In my case, I did two descents and all together a 1000 vertical meters in one hour as opposed to a non-eMTB bike where I only managed to do half of that. And do not think that I was not a bit tired after that hour on the eMTB one. I pushed myself to the limit on the ascent and enjoyed the descent. So I stand corrected: eMTBs are for everyone and everybody.

And for you, who do not know, we at Small Friday in partnership with Šport 11 were hosting workshops for eMTB bikers & guided tours for all bikers. Our MTB guides and MTB coaches have taught the attendees some new techniques, tips & tricks to improve their riding skills. 

If you have missed this date, don’t worry. Follow our channels and stay up to date with events, rides, projects and other activities that we are a part of.

Have fun on your bike!! 🙂

P.S.: It does not matter if it is electric or not. just ride it 😀

Give back

by Jože

If you’ve read our cause, you will understand what we are doing. You’ve probably never heard of an old Slovenian saying ”Dober glas seže v deveto vas” – for english speakers – a good reputation goes far.

But it happened that the local group of farmers and shepherds – an agricultural society had some work to be done on the most scenic mountain pasture around – Zabreška planina where a couple of our trails begin. They asked if we would be willing to lend our helping hand. So in order to maintain and upgrade our reputation we were in. On a sunny Saturday the work took place on the pasture under Stol mountain. A group of almost 20 riders & paragliders came to offer help and we were very well received. So all the spring preparation and mandatory maintenance had to be done. Divided in different groups we helped with mending the electric fence, trimming grass under the fence. A group also helped to build a fence for a new pasture. And the next day we all got word that our help was much appreciated. The local farmers and shepherd were very grateful. It feels nice to feel gratitude. It means that you have done something right. And that is what it’s all about, doing the right thing.

Hopefully our reputation spreaded just a bit more 😀

Remember: even a 1000miles journey starts with a small step

Knowledge, is there ever enough of it?

by Jože

A wise man once said: “Knowledge is of no value, if you do not put it into practice” (Anton Chekhov). In light of this statement our guides/teachers/gurus decided to share some knowledge and put us to the test. And they both did a good job. The whole “practice makes perfect” was part of our regular SmallFriday ride. They said that we were test subjects, kinda like guinea pigs or lab rats. Hm, why does that not sound appealing? Anyway. We gathered on our regular meeting spot and started our ride. About 15 minutes before we reached our destination, we reached a junction and the MTB workshop took place there. Gaber had some small cones with him and the course was set. Instructions for us were to simply go round the cones in a slalom or maybe giant-slalom way. Gaber and Gašper were observing us, giving pointers, creating some clips for analysis. Then the lecture came. Simply said, we all got our minds blown by the fact how much we need to change when we ride our bikes. I always thought that my position while riding was quite OK if not darn good. Bummer. How simple can it be to improve your riding skills? Easier than making an apple pie some would say. And they’d be telling the truth. Some minor adjustments of one’s riding position, straighten your back, elbows out, eyes forward, weight on the pedals and some other details about hip and knee positions. Yes, cornering around cones just got much easier, more effective and way more poppy 😀 Just the way I like it 🙂

I know, I know, we all know that practice makes perfect. So now, on my rides, I prepare myself before the descent. In my mind I repeat what needs to be done to have the right position on my bike, so I can be as effective as I can be. I hope you get to have a similar chance to improve your riding position. Maybe we’ll organise a riding workshop…Time will tell.

Until then – go out and ride 😀