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.