Santa Cruz Highball 29er Hardtail

4.8/5 (10 Reviews)
MSRP : $1650.00


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Product Description

For those that like to shred without stats like nutritional intake and trail KOMs, there are sensory-pleasing rides like the Santa Cruz Highball. Packaged here as the D XC Complete Bike, with a Shimano Deore drivetrain, RockShox Recon fork, and WTB tubeless wheelset, it ensures value that won't...

Santa Cruz Highball 29er Pro Review

What is instantly obvious is this is a fast bike both up and down. It is very responsive to pedal input as the BB stiffness allows excellent power transfer to the wheels. Climbing steep walls is a almost a delight with this bike as it goes up when motivated by the rider and it maintains excellent traction. Continue reading →



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Reviews 1 - 10 (10 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by mcgong a Downhiller

Date Reviewed: July 7, 2014

Strengths:    Very Compliant, Super Fast, Stiff, Looks Awesome, Weight, Modern Geometry and Specs (12x142, Tapered, Ext BB).

Weaknesses:    Price? But you pay for what you get and Santa Cruz's Carbon Layup process is top notch.

Bottom Line:   
This bike rocks and is super fast, both up and down. It's very compliant. I have no reason to go back to a Full Sus bike after riding this thing. It's look awesome too, all blacked out.
I wasn't a true believer on how much difference better carbon can make and the process used to make the frame. I watched Santa Cruz's video on how they make their frames, but thought it mostly marketing. I also always wondered why Santa Cruz, Giant and Specialized charged so much more for their carbon HT frames. I went out and bought an inexpensive carbon HT frame. Rode it for a few rides and really did like being on a hard tail. Sure the ride was rougher, but coming off a full sus, I thought it was normal. Then I found a good deal on a used Highball C and switched everything over to that. Same wheels, tires, fork, etc. First ride....very noticeable difference between the two. The Santa Cruz seemed a lot smoother and soaked up trail chatter better. I didn't feel like I'm getting jerked around as much either. I even KOM'd a segment on my first ride. I almost felt like I was cheating on the climbs. I can now see why these frames cost more and would highly recommend anyone who is interested in getting a carbon HT, to spend more and buy something that is made from the higher quality carbon and layup. The Highball would be excellent choice and you will not regret it. My large frame weighed in at just over 1100 grams.

Expand full review >>

Similar Products Used:   Specialized FSR, Specialized Enduro, Giant Trance Advance SL0, IBIS SL-R, IBIS Ripley, On-One Lurcher

Bike Setup:   SID XX, I9 Wheels, Dropper Post

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Sunny

Date Reviewed: April 4, 2013

Strengths:    It climbs extremely well, very impressive, handling was great, descending is superb.

Weaknesses:    None that i notice at this moment.

Bottom Line:   
I would recommend to my friends on this beauty, it does makes climbing fun and efficient, its got a classic look and overall the geometry is awesome....

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by kief

Date Reviewed: November 5, 2012

Strengths:    Lightness and logos. And the drop outs.

Weaknesses:    Nothing this bike is a perfect species.

Bottom Line:   
Best review sums it up in this video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVaMMHnBZYE&list=UUA2xQqtQH7H80MTYGU4ulUQ&index=1&feature=plcp

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Guttersnipe a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: October 24, 2012

Strengths:    stiff, light, low standover, quick but confident handling

Weaknesses:    top tube could be fractionally longer, not exactly compliant

Bottom Line:   
I ride mainly marathons which are not especially technical, and a few stage races each year. My local trails are generally quite smooth and flowing, and I put in 3-4 rides a week, ranging from 2-8 hours.
I bought this bike because I wanted to return to the simplicity and directness of a hardtail (which is was enjoying on my singlespeed) and felt that for many South African races, particularly those in Gaunteng and Kwazulu Natal, a 29" hardtail would perform better than a 100mm travel 26" bike.
I do enjoy chunkier, more demanding riding, but I have a 130mm trail bike which I use when I am traveling to more technical trails or just out for fun.
The highball is an enormously rewarding bike when I am feeling fit, and want to hammer. It jumps forward under power, it climbs beautifully on all but the rockiest trails, and its geometry encourages surprisingly aggressive behaviour in singletrack. I particularly like the way the short chain stays, low bottom bracket, and low standover let me push it into corners.
I have moderately wide Ritchey 10D bars (660mm) and an 80mm stem, which are confidence boosting when things get a little more sketchy, but the front end felt pretty neutral even with a more old-school racer setup.
I am not completely convinced about the fit. The medium cockpit feels slightly short (I'm 170cm), even with the wider bars, and I am still futzing around a bit with stem lengths and saddle setback to try and dial it in, but I am fussy about position, and the adjustments are minor.
What I am clear on, is that this is not a bike for lazy days. The stout seat stays and 30.9mm post contribute to a certain amount of "communication" with the trail. I can't compare it to the direct competition on this score, however. When you have your head down and heart rate up, this is a complete non-issue. If you want to stay seated in exhausted survival mode through rough sections you may feel slightly abused. I'm about to shim down to a 27.2 post for a touch more comfort on really long rides.
That brings me to a final consideration - on stage races and ultra-endurance rides, I suppose I might be better off on a Tallboy, but that is another conversation entirely.
I suppose a lighter fork would be nice, but the Fox is pretty stiff. The xtr 40-28 setup shifts outstandingly, and I like having alloy cranks when bashing rocks (a price I am happy to pay for low bb carving ability).
And finally, good old-fashioned external cable routing, and a standard bottom bracket are massive plus factors, particularly for a cack-handed home mechanic like me.
I also find the matte carbon finish impressively durable. The bike looks stealthily great after a year of fairly regular abuse.
In short, not a bike for tooling, but an absolutely class-a enabler of lactate drenched bliss which descend well enough to reward the climb.

Expand full review >>

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Similar Products Used:   De Kerf 26"; Santa Cruz Blur XC, On One Scandal 29

Bike Setup:   xtr drivetrain, formula R1 brakes, fox FIT F100, i9 hubs, crest rims, Ritchey 10D bars, Easton EC90 seatpost, Fizik Antares saddle, Racing Ralph 2.25 tyres.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by LandSpeed a Cross Country Rider from Los Angeles, CA

Date Reviewed: April 2, 2012

Strengths:    Fast, light, agile, flickable, stable, comfortable.

Weaknesses:    Front end feels a bit high.

Bottom Line:   
I picked this bike up in November/December, and it's now April; I bought it to use as an XC bike, and to ride as an alternative to my Tallboy when I felt like it. I've also owned a Blur LT, and ridden rigid 29'ers, hardtail aluminum/steel 29'ers, and lots more bikes, too. Anyhow, during the time that I've owned the Highball. I've ridden my Tallboy once.

I do long, hard XC rides that are at a minimum of 3 hours, and a max of 6 hours, riding around 15 total hours per week. My rides have a lot of climbing, fire roads, singletrack, and street in them. That should tell you the type of rider that I am, and why I prefer the Highball over the Tallboy, nowadays.

Needless to say, I've got ample time on this bike, and have been able to take it through its paces. What I can say about it is after all the time I've been on it is this: it's a cyclists' bike.

It's not twitchy, over the bars, unstable race-ish; it's stable, fast, light, and quick. It flows with whatever you throw at it, and is comfortable to ride for hours on end. It hasn't narrowed itself into a single riding category, in other words. I don't just use it for breaking the sound barrier, I use it for fun, and for going fast, and going hard. I've even lost weight since I've owned it, since I ride more, and ride harder than I do on my Tallboy. Not that I was fat or anything, I'm 6'2" and 180, now, when I used to be around 190. Go figure.

On second thought, I think I'll lose even more weight, to go that much faster up the hills. Thanks Santa Cruz.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Santa Monica Mountains

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $5000.00

Purchased At:   Colorado Cyclist

Similar Products Used:   Santa Cruz Tallboy, Redline d460 29'er, Santa Cruz Blur LT, etc.

Bike Setup:   Full X0, Easton Haven Carbon Wheels.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by I'm on a boat a Cross Country Rider from Auburn, CA, US

Date Reviewed: December 16, 2011

Strengths:    Stiff, Light, Fast, Awesome looking

Weaknesses:    Hard to fit the White Industries eccentric brake mount in the rear....but I might be the only idiot to use it this way.

Bottom Line:   
This bike climbs like nothing I have ever ridden....and so so quiet. I can sneak up on you like a navy seal. I was going to get a cheapy off brand carbon bike, but my LBS talked me into spending a couple bucks. Thank god they did.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Pauly Creek

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $99.00

Purchased At:   Bike Emporium in Aub

Similar Products Used:   Ventana El Toro, Haro Mary, Lenzsport Milkmoney

Bike Setup:   Single Speed. Syncros Cockpit, Syncros FL rigid fork. White Industries Eno hubs and Eccentric Rear. Eno Cranks. sometimes a Fox FL29

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by I'm on a boat a Cross Country Rider from Auburn, CA, US

Date Reviewed: December 16, 2011

Strengths:    Stiff, Light, Fast, Awesome looking

Weaknesses:    Hard to fit the White Industries eccentric brake mount in the rear....but I might be the only idiot to use it this way.

Bottom Line:   
This bike climbs like nothing I have ever ridden....and so so quiet. I can sneak up on you like a navy seal. I was going to get a cheapy off brand carbon bike, but my LBS talked me into spending a couple bucks. Thank god they did.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Pauly Creek

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Purchased At:   Bike Emporium in Aub

Similar Products Used:   Ventana El Toro, Haro Mary, Lenzsport Milkmoney

Bike Setup:   Single Speed. Syncros Cockpit, Syncros FL rigid fork. White Industries Eno hubs and Eccentric Rear. Eno Cranks. sometimes a Fox FL29

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by I'm on a boat a Cross Country Rider from Auburn, CA, US

Date Reviewed: December 16, 2011

Strengths:    Stiff, Light, Fast, Awesome looking

Weaknesses:    Hard to fit the White Industries eccentric brake mount in the rear....but I might be the only idiot to use it this way.

Bottom Line:   
This bike climbs like nothing I have ever ridden....and so so quiet. I can sneak up on you like a navy seal. I was going to get a cheapy off brand carbon bike, but my LBS talked me into spending a couple bucks. Thank god they did.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Pauly Creek

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Purchased At:   Bike Emporium in Aub

Similar Products Used:   Ventana El Toro, Haro Mary, Lenzsport Milkmoney

Bike Setup:   Single Speed. Syncros Cockpit, Syncros FL rigid fork. White Industries Eno hubs and Eccentric Rear. Eno Cranks. sometimes a Fox FL29

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by I'm on a boat a Cross Country Rider from Auburn, CA, US

Date Reviewed: December 16, 2011

Strengths:    Stiff, Light, Fast, Awesome looking

Weaknesses:    Hard to fit the White Industries eccentric brake mount in the rear....but I might be the only idiot to use it this way.

Bottom Line:   
This bike climbs like nothing I have ever ridden....and so so quiet. I can sneak up on you like a navy seal. I was going to get a cheapy off brand carbon bike, but my LBS talked me into spending a couple bucks. Thank god they did.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Pauly Creek

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Purchased At:   Bike Emporium in Aub

Similar Products Used:   Ventana El Toro, Haro Mary, Lenzsport Milkmoney

Bike Setup:   Single Speed. Syncros Cockpit, Syncros FL rigid fork. White Industries Eno hubs and Eccentric Rear. Eno Cranks. sometimes a Fox FL29

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by ibis_1 a Racer from Denver, CO

Date Reviewed: August 2, 2011

Strengths:    As expected, the frame is super stiff for very efficient climbing. Stand up, pedal, and the bike really accelerates well. Geometry is fairly slack for a racing rig which makes it comfortable enough for everyday riding too. I'm on a low-rise bar and could probably get away with a flat bar setup. Overall, excellent handling both up and downhill.

Weaknesses:    The only weakness I can find for this frame would be on very bumpy climbs. But, with that said, this is a hardtail and it's supposed to be super stiff.

Bottom Line:   
I've been really impressed with the comfort of this bike. The geometry fits my riding style well. It's extremely efficient pedaling and I'm glad I went with a 2x10 drivetrain. I've beaten all of my old personal bests on local trails with this bike. I expected the bike to climb well, but it also descends great. Steering is predictable and quick. Initially I had reservations about the durability of carbon hardtails, but I think Santa Cruz is one of the few companies that has gotten it right. I've had several hard rock impacts to the frame with NO damage whatsoever. I'm currently on Kenda Small Block 8 tires and I would not recommend running them tubeless. They flat constantly even with Stan's.
This is a great bike for XC or endurance riders who are looking for an extremely efficient pedaling bike that has comfortable geometry that can be ridden all day.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Bergen Peak

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $4600.00

Purchased At:   Colorado Cyclist

Similar Products Used:   I have switched from a 26 inch Ibis hardtail to this bike for XC-racing. I've test ridden the Carbon Niner and Scott 29er.

Bike Setup:   22 lbs/medium frame. Full Sram XO (2x10), Chris King headset, Hope hubs, Stan's ZTR Crest wheels, Crank Bros Eggbeater pedals, Fox 100mm with 15m fork, Kenda Small Block 8 tires (tubeless setup)

Reviews 1 - 10 (10 Reviews Total)

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating


Cable rub stickers on Highball C?

I'm getting ready to build up my 2012 Highball C, and realized it came with a sheet of clear stickers by 3M. There are all kinds of shapes and sizes... have you all used these in the past? Where do you apply them? There are round ones, and longer skinny ones. tia!Read More »

Advice on highball

Hi All, I built up a highball with really nice components (carbon wheels, X0 groupset) to use as my XC ride bike. I normally ride a 26er stumpy evo which i really love for most of the more advanced and technical riding I do. My issue is that I haven't really gotten used to the highball yet, ... Read More »

Building a 2012 Carbon Highball, just bought a XX1 in BB30 - Did I screw the pooch?

So I'm finally getting around to building the 2012 Highball Carbon I bought on closeout in February. I won [URL="http://www.ebay.com/itm/151074884817?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649"]this auction[/URL] on E-Bay for an XX1 group, but I just realized it says it's a BB30, and fro ... Read More »

santa cruz highball carbon xxl on chainlove right now. great deal $799

wish I had the extra cash kicking around to snatch this up since it's only a couple hundred more than chinese carbon. if you see this and are in the market it's up there for another 10 minutes or so. or add it to your alerts and see if you can get it at a later time. [url=http://www.chainlove.c ... Read More »

Any chance for Highball LT or Chameleon 29er?

With all of the 650B chatter, is Santa Cruz considering developing a playful all-mountain/trail hardtail 29er? Highball LT would fit with the existing naming convention. Something with a little slacker head angle and shorter chainstay than the current Highball, designed around the current crop ... Read More »

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