Tuesday, 19 July 2011

New Bike! Santa Cruz Highball

All calm on Hove Esplanade in the morning
sunshine, silently hiding the speed within! 
On Sunday I headed over to Pedal and Spoke in the Surrey Hills who were hosting a Santa Cruz demo day with three thoughts in my mind:

  1. Ride some of the famous Surrey Hill trails
  2. Meet Howard & the Pedal and Spoke guys
  3. Pick up my Santa Cruz Highball  new bike!

I've had it a couple of days now, ridden several hours on it, had a tinker to get the setup "just so" and I'm a very, very happy rider indeed. This bike is grin-inducing fast and will definitely be the bike I'll take to the start line at TwentyFour12 this weekend, despite only just getting my hands on it.

The Highball, for those of you who haven't heard of this year's "must have" bike, is Santa Cruz's new 29er carbon hardtail. It's not creating such a stir for no reason either. This, alongside my Tallboy, the General Lee, will give me that extra bit of raw speed, that only a hardtail can deliver, for crunch time in races.

It's early days, but here's a quick run down on the spec I've chosen to start with, to get me through 24hrs of racing, starting this weekend:

Fork: Fox F29 RLC 100mm
Drivtrain: SRAM XO 2×10 (38/26 & 11-36 XX Cassette)
Brakes: Hope Race X2
Stem: Easton EA90
Handlabar: Easton EC70 XC
Seatpost: Thompson Masterpiece
Saddle: WTB Silverado
Wheels: Mavic TN719 rims on DTSwiss 240s Rear & Chub QR15 front hubs
Tyres: Maxxis Icon 2.20" run tubeless
Pedals: XTR M970 SPD

I haven't yet ridden enough hours on the bike to really comment from a position of any great authority on anything other than the fact it looks great and feels comfy straight away, in a "pedal me faster, damn it!" kind of a way, but the first few hours have been eye opening, in a good way. I was prepared for the stiffness and acceleration as I climbed up the forest access track away from the car park. What I wasn't prepared for was the size of the grin on my face and the amount of speed I was able to carry through the sinewy singletrack trails on the way back down. My face ached with smiles by the time I got back down to the bottom. 

I think I'm going to like this bike. A LOT.

For those that want to see more, here's a few more pics of my shiny new bike, enjoy :-)

XX machined from solid cassette and DT240s
rear hub form a no-compromise rear end 
looooong, sun drenched top tube
Top tube complete with go-faster stripe
Elegant BB area with plenty of clearance
for my 2.20" tyre choice du jour

I'll be spending a lot of time sat here
Everything to keep the bike going is in that pack
Note the clever separate pouch for the multi-tool - a genius design touch
Taper steerer. More importantly; a proper,
metal head badge, a classy finishing touch
QR15 fork for steering accuracy, held together by a rare Chub hub


  1. Holy crap is that cassette as hollow as it looks in the photo? That's outrageous!

  2. Yup, that cassette is absolutely hollow, it's a very, very special component. Super light and super tough as it's 100% steel! It, apparently, takes "some" hours to machine from a block of solid ;-)

  3. Lovely looking bike. Are you doing Kielder this year? If so what you choose the Highball over the Tallboy?

  4. Cheers Andy. I'm not doing Kielder this year, but were I to be I may well choose the Highball over the Tallboy - everybody knows new bikes are faster! It would be a close call though, but the extra stiffness on the long open climbs may well just tip the balance for that event. Definitely 29er wheels though, I'd choose the Tallboy over a 26" hardtail I think.

  5. A very interesting proposal. Very different from my Vicious iron frame.