The Hightower roared onto the scene in early 2016, capturing the attention of everyone looking for the speed that big wheels deliver in big terrain. Not long after, the exacting Scotsman, Mark Scott, came to Santa Cruz to do some pre-season testing, curious about the Hightower's ability to race at the highest level. He left convinced, and decided to campaign the entire 2016 season on one. Midway through the season, he came to us with a request to eke more travel out of the bike. The stock 135mm wasn't quite enough to maintain his speed on some of the rougher tracks.
Our engineering team designed a new set of links that pushed travel to 146mm at the expense of some compatibility, but because Mark's setup was a known variable, we could be very precise. We machined two sets on site, gave one to Mark, and the other to Iago Garay, a racer much more likely to take the fun line than tuck for speed.
As the Enduro World Series season wore on, Mark continued to get more comfortable (read: faster) on the bike, and the project got a bit more serious. The links went through a few iterations to find a balance of spring rate, travel, and shock compatibility. Toward the end of 2016, it became apparent that the best way to get the performance and travel required was to design a new swingarm to pair with the links, like we did with the V10. At this point the bike got a name—Hightower LT—and we pushed the travel to a full 150mm.
Hightower LT is designed for maximum speed in the biggest mountains. It's truly race-bred, its design the result of the demands of racing at the EWS, Crankworx, and Andes Pacifico. When the time came to decide on bikes for the 2017 season, there was zero question from any of the Santa Cruz-SRAM Enduro Team, and the EWS-themed bikes got the long links. Starting from the EWS in Wicklow, they've been racing on Wicklow Green production bikes—savvy internet commenters noticed the post-mount rear straightaway.
The LT's geometry is extremely close to the regular Hightower, as the bikes share a front triangle. The increased travel means the reach is slightly (7mm) shorter, the head angle a half-degree slacker, and the seat angle a half-degree slacker, as well. The rear triangle retains the dual upright design, but adds a post-mount rear brake. Unlike the Hightower, you can't run 27.5+ tires in the LT, and there's no flip chip to change the suspension. It's made to go fast, give you a bigger margin of error, and take on the biggest mountains in the world.