Purebred for XC speed.
The Santa Cruz Highball Carbon 29 XT ENVE Complete Mountain Bike is a razor-sharp XC bike with an astoundingly stiff carbon frame that rockets forward with every turn of the cranks. This particular build benefits immensely from its 29-inch wheel size, which provides an advantage in terms of roll-over clearance when large roots and rocks pose a threat to your forward-surging momentum. It's hooked up with ENVE m50/50 carbon wheels for blistering acceleration with their absurdly light and stiff carbon lay-up. This wheelset maximizes your racing efficiency with a skinnier internal width (only 21-millimeters) optimized purely for rolling speed and lower volume tires typically used by XC racers. If you desire to run a bit larger tire, both the wheelset and frame handily accept rubber up to 2.3-inches, giving you a bit more grip and bump compliance.
Delving into particulars on this Highball's frame, you'll find it gets Santa Cruz's top-flight Carbon CC for a weight savings of approximately 280 grams from the lower-spec Carbon C. Santa Cruz's Carbon CC frames offer the lightest possible weight by trimming off excess carbon in strategic areas with meticulous detail. This means you'll have a lightweight carbon frame without the compromise in strength or stiffness you've come to expect from XC race bikes.
Delving into the Highball 29er's geometry, you'll find its 70.5-degree head tube angle is purely focused on XC domination, offering up the sharp steering precision demanded for conquering XC courses and the tight, tree-lined trails. The 12.4-inch bottom bracket height instills low-slung handling characteristics, so you'll stay glued to the trail around sweeping corners and high-speed straights. Sub 17-inch chainstays make the rear end feel snappy and quick to negotiate tight switchbacks where quick directional changes are necessary. And to ensure a bit more comfort, the thinner stays and seat tube impart a bit more compliance over the pounding rocks and bumpy root sections.
Looking at the specifics of this XT build kit, the RockShox SID RLC 100-millimeter fork is a great addition to this XC race bike, due to its impressively low weight and supportive Charger damper. This fork boasts the wider Boost spacing, which helps to keep your front wheel tracking precisely over rough terrain, such as rock gardens and root sections. It's one of the lightest forks in RockShox's line of XC-specific offerings, staying in line with the rest of the build's lightweight persona. Plus, its Charger damper offers a wide range of low-speed compression tuning in the Open mode, as well as the ability to add a OneLoc bar-mounted remote (not included).
Seeing that many riders and racers are moving to 1x set-ups, it's refreshing to see the tried-and-true Shimano XT 2x11 drivetrain on this build for its crisp-shifting and wide range versatility. Offering up an 11- to 40-tooth rear cassette with a double ring up front gives you plentiful range to power yourself up the steepest climbs without sacrificing high-end power on flats and downhill stretches. Following suit in typical Shimano fashion, you'll find the XT brakes to be some of the most reliable on the market, with the powerful stopping force and fade-resistance of Ice-Tech 160-millimeter Rotors. And to round things out, Santa Cruz chose the Maxxis Ikon 2.2-inch tires for offering superb rolling speed with enough grip to keep you in control across roots and rocks.
- Purebred XC race bike maximizes speed and stiffness
- 29in wheels for steamrolling momentum over roots and rocks
- Carbon CC frame shaves weight without forgoing stiffness or strength
- ENVE m50/50 wheels maximize stiffness for rocket-like acceleration
- 70.5-degree head tube angle maintains razor-sharp handling
- Sub 17-inch chainstays instill quick-turning confidence
- Shimano XT 2x11 drivetrain shifts crisply across a wide range
- Shimano XT brakes with 160mm Ice-Tech Rotors preventing fade