19 Mar 2019

Santa Cruz's highly anticipated long-travel big-wheeler is set to roll, the Megatower. We recently spent a few days hammering out hard and fast technical trails on one, watch and read our initial thoughts below.

The not-so-minor details

Product

Santa Cruz Megatower

Contact

Lusty Industries

https://www.lustyindustries.com

Positives

Burly long-travel race bike.
Fine-tunable geometry and suspension.
Massive capability on hard trails.

Negatives

Firm riding suspension.
Big bucks.

Like a key piece of the puzzle missing from the grand scheme of shred, Santa Cruz fans and enduro racers have been chomping at the bit for a long-travel race bike built at the same standard as the new Nomad 4 and V10. The Megatower should satisfy the needs of the hardest riders, serious racers and keen riders looking to attack tech trails way too fast.


Watch the Megatower in action, and hear the words that came to mind after riding it in this video:


Megatower, a substantial bike for solid trails. Weighing 13.98kg without pedals in this build kit.
The definition of low and central weight distribution.
Holding as much speed as we dared through fast turns.

Key features.

  • 160mm travel front and back, air and coil shock compatible.
  • 29″ wheels.
  • Two flip-chips allow 10mm chainstay length adjustment and shock rate/geometry tweaking.
  • Water bottle ready, new rippled chainstay guard, shuttle protector.
  • Reach measurement, size medium: 450mm high setting, 447mm low setting.
  • Head angle: 65 degrees, 64.7 degrees.
  • Chainstay length (adjustable by 10mm): 435-445mm, 436-446mm.
  • Lifetime warranty on frame and Reserve wheels, and a lifetime replacement policy on frame bearings and hardware.
  • Five sizes, from S to XXL.The Lower Link VPP has the shock running through the frame, that’s got to be a challenge to engineer!

Tweaking, sizing, drinking and shuttling.

To give the rider freedom to fine-tune, the Megatower can be tweaked in two ways to change the bike’s feel for different situations. On the lower shock mount, the flip chip has two positions, high and low. Changing bottom bracket height by 3.5mm, in the low setting, the suspension will also feel firmer off the top. For those wishing to run a 170mm fork on the Megatower, you can retain the original BB height by taking advantage of the flip chip.

Changing bottom bracket height by 3.5mm, in the low setting, the suspension will also feel firmer off the top.

At the rear dropouts, the second flip chip will enable 10mm of chainstay length. The longer setting is for greater stability at speed, and particularly handy for larger frame sizes to tune weight distribution.

For tweaking there are two geometry adjustments via flip chips.
The rear axle has two positions for 10mm of chainstay length tweaking.

A couple of other features worth pointing out is the huge water bottle room, a protective guard underneath the downtube to protect from shuttling over the back of a ute track, and a good range of frame sizes, five options from small to XX-large.

The standover height is nice and low, so you can choose your frame size depending on the reach without running into any issues with saddle height restraints.

Numbers of the puzzle.
It’s a beautiful frame, clean and friendly to look at.

Our ride impressions.

The Megatower sure is mega, it is a big rig with a hard-charging attitude that we got along with it well. Setup is fuss-free with no gizmos or proprietary gadgets to figure out, we set air pressures trimmed the bars down to 770mm and hit the trails.

The first thing that struck us was how high it rode in its travel and the way it didn’t flinch when we smashed it through sections of repeated hard impacts. It’s like it keeps a card up its sleeve for moments that many bikes might deflect from, the Megatower would hold its line and stay at speed.

It’s a firm and fast bike, that stays out of the holes and promotes an aggressive riding style.
Taking big impacts with the 160mm of travel and 29″ wheels on your side.
Clutter-free, simple and easy to understand.

In the turns the bike corners brilliantly, the shock and linkage sits so low in the bike, and right in the centre of things, and that is reflected in the way it would haul through fast turns. Slower or tighter turns required an aggressive approach as we’d expect from a long bike, so we adapted our attitude and attacked the trails with more gusto, starting the corners wider and letting the bike drop into the corner with as much confidence as we could muster.

For a bike that looks quite big on paper, we still pedalled it all-day long, climbed into the clouds and traversed flat and technical singletrack without feeling like we were pedalling too much bike. The rear shock’s compression lever is a long way down making it too hard to reach every time you had to climb out of the saddle; we ended up only using it for prolonged climbs as it is more than efficient enough.

Seated on the Megatower we felt quite comfortable, in a strong pedalling position, we feel Santa Cruz really nailed the balance of frame geometry numbers.

After four days of seriously hard riding, we reflected on how much the Megatower had gone through. We rode technical trails blind, at times with daunting consequences if you didn’t get it right. We only ever came unstuck when we didn’t ride it hard enough; hesitation would lead to all sorts of trouble. Once we got our heads into the game, we pushed the Megatower harder and harder. And harder.


Firm and fast. Too firm for us, but that’s what the racers need.

As a race bike should be, the Megatower feels firm in your hands. After a few runs down the technical trails of Wairoa Gorge, our hands and bodies were showing signs of fatigue. We’re not seasoned racers by any stretch of the imagination, and our hands spend a lot more time on a keyboard or holding a camera than people like Mark Scott or Iago Garay would, but we’d definitely be seeking out a way to increase the Megatower’s suspension suppleness, especially if we were racing an all-day enduro.

We’d definitely be seeking out a way to increase the Megatower’s suspension suppleness, especially if we were racing an all-day enduro.

We dropped the shock pressure below recommended settings, and that helped dampen the chatter a little, but still the firm compression tune was very evident.

Do you prefer a supple ride to prevent fatigue or a firmer ride for more speed?

The Megatower will be delivered with a medium compression shock tune, and we ran our rear shock’s compression adjuster dial all the way out (size medium bike, 72kg rider). Perhaps a lighter tune would have suited us more, to then be able to take advantage of the compression adjustment, and for longer days out riding cut down on fatigue from the feedback transferred through the bike to our hands.


Compared to the Hightower LT?

Santa Cruz is happy to admit the HighTower LT was not a complete package; it was made available to fill the large gap in their range until the Megatower was ready by using a Hightower front end with a longer travel configuration out the back lifting it to 150mm of travel. While we found the Hightower ultra comfortable and grippy on the trail, we can see how the Megatower will be a lot more capable of faster and rougher riding.

The Megatower feels significantly longer in the reach, slacker in steering, more supportive in the suspension and stronger in the chassis overall.


Final thoughts.

The Megatower is just in time for the EWS season to begin, we have no doubt it’ll be the right tool for that job, and if you’re the type of rider that doesn’t slow down much, the Megatower is definitely worth a look.


Pricing.

It’s a Santa Cruz, so don’t expect to be discerning value by just looking at the rear derailleur, these bikes are not cheap.

The frame will sell for $5499, which is in line with other big name boutique brands with high reputations like Santa Cruz.

Build kit options (AUD):

Megatower C S – $8,699

Megatower CC X01 – $10,999

Megatower CC XTR Reserve – $13,999

Megatower CC XX1 Reserve – $14,999

Megatower CC Frame Only – $5,499

Build kit specs and availability details head to Santa Cruz Australia’s online home here: www.lustyindustries.com

The key to the Megatower – do NOT slow down, it’ll most likely take offence and punish you. Ride it hard, or not at all.
Big mountains beware.