Santa Cruz Megatower - The Gnarliest Bike You Can Still Pedal Uphill?
Freshly updated for 2022, Santa Cruz just released the hotly anticipated Megatower 2 - the second generation of their big travel 29er enduro bike.
Designed around enduro racing and charging hard down the gnarliest of trails, the original Megatower was Santa Cruz's first big travel 29er. Three years later (has it really been that long?) and Santa Cruz have made some updates to the original platform. While the two bikes might have a pretty similar silhouette, there have been some pretty radical changes that makes the Megatower 2 bigger and badder than ever.
The Megatower 2 shares a lot of similarities to the first Megatower, being built on a 29er VPP lower-link suspension platform, and the name of the game is refinement rather than ground-up redesign. The main changes Santa Cruz have made here are suspension, geometry and their Glovebox down-tube storage system as well as some other small details that we'll talk about.
First off, let's talk suspension. While the Megatower 2 uses the same VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) suspension layout with a lower-link driven shock, there's now more of it, at 165mm of rear wheel travel. Santa Cruz's VPP suspension has always been known to be extremely efficient and easy to pedal, which hasn't changed, but the way it delivers that 165mm of travel has. With a linear-progressive curve, the ramp up towards the end of the travel is less aggressive and should give a more consistent feel all the way through the travel.
The Megatower has been designed with all types of suspension in mind, since Enduro riders, especially racers, tend to like changing things up. With this in mind, the Megatower has room for pretty much any kind of shock including coil and large volume air shocks.
Geometry is the other main change Santa Cruz have made to the Megatower platform. As trails and race stages get bigger and gnarlier, so too have the bikes, and some Geometry updates have helped the Megatower to stay relevant in a field of raked out big travel bikes that can give dedicated downhill bikes a run for their money.
The Megatower 2 has of course undergone the longer/slacker process. While reach numbers have only grown by a few millimetres, the head tube angle has slackened out by a massive 1.2 degrees to 63.5, while the seat tube angle has steepened by the same to 77.5. All this means a fast, stable ride on the way down, and an easy spin on the way back up. The Megatower 2 still retains the geometry flip-chip on the lower link which allows the rider to switch between low and slack, and lower and slacker-er.
The other big geometry change is Santa Cruz's proportional geometry, which they're rolling out through a bunch of their bikes including the Nomad and the Bronson. Proportional geometry refers to the chainstay lengths which grow with the frame size. The wisdom is that a taller rider needs longer chainstays for the bike to remain stable. Of course a shorter chainstay means easier cornering capability, but there is a sweet spot balancing reach and chainstay lengths for both optimum cornering and stability.
Frame and Details
As ever, the Megatower 2 is available in Santa Cruz's C and premium CC carbon layups. It can be tough to improve on what's already a super-refined bike, but Santa Cruz have done it. Taking design cues from the most recent Nomad and Bronson, the Megatower 2 has the same angular chamfers and fat downtube, only in this bike, that downtube hides a neat trick - the Glovebox, Santa Cruz's integrated downtube storage system. With an included tool wrap and tube pouch, there's room to stash any spares you might need without strapping them to the frame and scratching up that amazing paint. With a latch CNC machined from billet aluminum, Santa Cruz have clearly worked hard to ensure that they did everything right before releasing this feature, and we're glad they did.
Other features include Santa Cruz's tidy cable routing with internal guides, a Universal Derailleur Hanger that again is Santa Cruz's own solid CNC'd aluminum, frame protection in all the right places, bearings in the shock eyelet for a smooth ride, and Santa Cruz's usual attention to detail. The frame and bearings of course have the usual lifetime warranty, so the owners can sleep easy at night without worry about how hard they ride. The VPP system uses the same two short links that house big bearings that are easy to service and maintain should you need to.
Simply put, the Megatower is a well put together bike that's the culmination of many years of design and testing.
Who Is It For?
Santa cruz have clearly designed the Megatower 2 for one thing, and that's going downhill, fast. While their VPP suspension is well known for being great for pedalling and we're sure that the Megatower will climb well for what it is, it's of course best suited for the roughest, steepest trails. Best suited for the rigours of enduro racing, bike park and shuttling or just the kind of rider that likes to ride the descents hard with zero compromises.
For those who are looking for smaller wheels, take a look at the Santa Cruz Nomad. For those that need a little less travel, check out the Santa Cruz Hightower or Pivot Switchblade. Another great option in the big travel 29er category would be the Pivot Firebird.
Spec and Pricing
As mentioned above, the Megatower 2 is available in both C and CC carbon at 11 different spec levels, all of which have four-piston brakes, a 38mm stanchion fork and 12 speed drivetrain. Starting with the C-frame R build with Rockshox Zeb, Super Deluxe shock and and an NX Eagle drivetrain, the S-build comes with a Fox Performance 38, GX Eagle drivetrain, rolling on DT Swiss hubs and stops on Code R brakes. The GX AXS kit uses Sram's wireless GX drivetrain, a Fox Performance Elite 38 fork, Code RSC brakes and Industry Nine hubs, or the coil build for the same price.
Moving up to the CC frame is the X01 build which comes with factory fox 38 and a Float X2 shock, mechanical X01 drivetrain, Code RSC brakes and Industry Nine hubs, also with a coil version. Next up is the X01 AXS Reserve, which has the same suspension package but with an AXS wireless drivetrain, Reserve carbon wheels and again has a coil option. The cherry on the very top is the XX1 AXS Flight Attendant Reserve build which uses Rockshox' extremely exclusive electronically controlled Flight Attendant suspension package, for the ultimate in tuning and control.
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