Monday, 2 April 2012

2012 Race Bike #2 - Santa Cruz Highball

I've been riding my Santa Cruz Highball for a while now and I'm consistently delighted with how a bike that's so out and out fast is also so capable on the technical too. For 2012 I've spruced the bike up a little to save a teeny bit of weight, but mainly to try and wring the last little ounce of speed out if the bike. 

All the changes happen up front; namely controls & forks:

  • Gone are the Fox F29 forks and in come some RockShox SID XX 29er forks. I've kept the 15mm axle option but the key here is a chunk of weight saved and the addition of a bar mounted (hydraulic) lock-out
  • Gone is the 685mm Syncros FL riser bar and in as the 710mm USE Atom flat bar. Yup, that's right, 710mm, partly to see what all the fuss was about over wide bars, partly as race courses get more and more technical and mainly as it might make the bike even more fun :-)
  • Finally I've made the switch over winter from foam type grips to ergonomic grips, namely the Ergon GS1, to try and look after my hands better over longer rides, which hopefully means being able to descend as fast, and with as much control, at the end of a ride as at the start
And here's how it looks all put together:

My Santa Cruz Highball Carbon Race Bike - Resplendent in the afternoon sunshine
For those that are interested in such things, here are a few details on my kit choices for riding as fast as my legs will take me for hopefully a very long time in any one go:

A bit of bling with the RockShox SID XX 29er with hydraulic lockout to ping me up the climbs just a wee bit faster (or less ponderously!) 
Pretty in grip and saddle colour matching white
The other key change is the bar & stem, where I've switched to the flat and wide USE Atom bar:
Wide aren't they? They're fun too
Unexpeced benefits of the wide, flat bar
I'm really pleased with the bars, I was tempted to cut them down but, having tried them out at full width, even through some of Stanmer Park's twistier trails, they're staying that way for now. I must admit that, for the first few minutes, I did feel a bit like this though -->

The Ergon GS-1 grips are a new departure for me too. I chose them not just because they're available in a colour matching white, initial impressions of how well my hands are looked after on long rides have been very good indeed over several long days out during the winter.

Strong, light and colour co-ordinated - Perfect

Elsewhere, it's a case of the same, but different. A USE Sumo Carbon seatpost is a new addition, together with a white Syncros FL saddle, maintaining the same ride position as last year.
Lezyne helping with some attention to detail
Lezyne provide some stylish functionality, in the form of their new Flow bottle cage and HV Alloy Drive pump in a colour matching red (note: colour matched bottle cage bolts too, these things matter!). 

Providing some weight saving finishing touches are Mt. Zoom with race proven rear QR skewer, seat clamp. Often overlooked parts but some huge % weight reductions have been achieved by their engineers
Keeping me pointed in a straight line is the ever reliable USE stem, weight saving again offered by Mt. Zoom stem topcap & lightweight "olympic" ahead spacers
Steering stuff, with Exposure light clamp; ready for a bit of fun in the dark
Keeping me going forward is an ever reliable (but not so exciting) SRAM X0 2×10 drivetrain. I prefer the positive SRAM shift and mud resistant (and easier to set up) longer cable pull
Keeping me off the ground are the, now ubiquitous and almost standard race issue, NoTubes Crest 29er rims shot with Maxxis' light weight 2.2" Ikon tyre, run tubeless with yellow tape. the final weight shaving takes place at the discs where I have selected Ashima's air rotors and clamped them in place with six Ti bolts.
The changes have worked out for the best, the bike has shaved a wee bit of weight from its, already light, 21lbs. All in all, I'm a very happy boy indeed

Now, time to race!


  1. Sheesh, what a boat anchor.
    1 pound lighter than my bike, with gears and a suspension fork!
    (only 1/2 pound lighter if I run Ikons front and rear)

    1. Glad you approve ;-)

      You'll be pleased to hear the Singlespeed version isn't quite so portly, at about 17lbs!

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