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?

Some love for Natalija

The title says it all – last Thursday we got together to tend to our newest local trail – Natalija. We raked all the leaves off the trail, cleaned it of the fallen branches and dry trees, reshaped the areas of the trail that needed reshaping, cleaned all the water channels, made a couple of new berms to make the ride safer and at the end created a short but sweet new line to a ridge to get a bit of more flow on the trail.

10 of us were at work on the trail and it is now ready for the next ride – all we need is for the weather to cooperate and for the sun to dry and harden it.

Really cannot wait to ride it soon 🙂