Last Updated on December 18, 2023 by Emmanuel
Did you know that if you like Santa Cruz, you don’t need to buy every Santa Cruz bike to enjoy all of its tech and features?
As we will see in the Santa Cruz Hightower AL D mountain bike review, the Hightower has all the best ingredients found on each Santa Cruz bike.
Santa Cruz describes this bike as a compilation of its greatest hits, and this article will provide you with all the details.
Table of Contents
About The Hightower.
The Hightower is a bike model from Santa Cruz that falls into the category of 29er bikes. This model has been around since 2016.
It might seem that the Hightower has not been long enough to accommodate riders and has not improved much.
However, from the beginning of its release, the model has proven to be a versatile and affordable bike capable of hitting the hills and descents.
Moreover, in terms of performance, this full-suspension bike sits comfortably among Santa Cruz’s other popular mountain bike models, such as the Nomad and the Tallboy.
That said, you can expect this bike to provide better handling on corners than the Tallboy. It is also more stable on rough terrains.
The Hightower comes in basically two different materials. You can find a Hightower bike built around carbon or aluminum material.
Carbon material has two built levels: Carbon C and Carbon CC.
These materials will most prominently affect this bike’s weight. For example, a Carbon CC bike is the lightest, weighing around 29.3 lbs.
An aluminum build is the heaviest one, with 34.8 lbs. But, other than that, frame materials also affect bike performance and price tag.
I will end this section by highlighting the Hightower AL D mountain bike, which also features virtual pivot point technology.
Now, let’s jump into the details of the AL D build and find out why it is a good bike for you.
Hightower AL D Key Features.
|Aluminum 29/27+ 145mm Travel VPP™
|RockShox 35 Gold RL, 150mm, 29in.
|SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed w/ 30T Crankset & 11-50T Cassette.
|WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 29″ w/ Maxxis 29″x2.4 front and rear;
|SDG Tellis Dropper, 31.6.
|SRAM Guide T.
The AL D build is built around an aluminum frame and is among the most affordable from the Santa Cruz brand.
The letter D indicates that this Hightower mountain bike features components one tier below most of the versions of the Hightower model’s components.
However, don’t mind because riding the AL D version will not lessen the fun.
Although sporting ‘okay’ bike parts, the bike parts function properly on bumps and jumps.
You can always upgrade the components once they are worn out. Or, upgrade them right away after you purchase the bike.
Whether or not you upgrade the parts, you will enjoy riding the Hightower AL D nonetheless because of the frame design.
Indeed, no matter how expensive the components installed on your bike, the frame design will determine most of your bike’s performance.
That said, the Hightower frame has everything you could ask for. It features a quality geometry and an excellent suspension design.
In terms of geometry, the Hightower AL D comes with the steepest headtube angle of 65.5 degrees to the slackest of 65.2 degrees.
The Hightower AL D head tube angle range offers stability when you ride it at high speed.
Moreover, this bike rolls using 29-inch wheels, so stability will not be an issue.
About The Frame.
The aluminum material and the head tube angle degree are just the tips of the iceberg when discussing the Hightower frame.
You also need to know about the Hightower frame’s flip-chip feature.
With the flip-chip integration, you can adjust the head and seat tube angles accordingly to match your riding style.
The flip chip can change the headtube and seat tube angles by approximately .3 degrees.
It does not seem much, but you will notice it when riding the bike. Set the flip-chip to ‘low.’
Or equal to 65.2 degrees head tube angle and 76.3 seat tube angle for a better ride on downhills.
Set it to ‘high’ or equal to 65.5 head tube angle and 76.8 seat tube angle for climbing prowess.
The Hightower AL D features Santa Cruz’s signature lower-link VPP suspension design.
Moreover, the VPP technology provides fast recovery from high landings or rocky corners.
The VPP on the Hightower is even more effective as it combines a 145mm travel rear and 150mm travel front suspension.
That combination makes the bike have superb responsiveness on rough trails.
The Bike’s Pros and Cons.
- Hightower AL D is the most affordable build from the Hightower model.
- This bike’s frame is compatible with a 27.5-inch wheel.
- The flip chip lets you fine-tune the geometry to meet your riding style.
- Twenty-nine-inch wheels offer stability on climbs and descents.
- Its slacker head tube angle provides stability at high speeds.
- Also, the bike has a 145mm travel rear and 150mm travel front for a bottomless feel.
- The VPP platform adds more responsiveness to bumps, high landings, and corners.
- It features average parts that are mostly one tier below other builds.
- You can’t install a coil shock on the Hightower.
The Hightower AL D can accommodate your need to hit steep hills and descents while enjoying the nimble ride.
However, consider the following alternatives if you fancy steep hills more than decent.
The banner below will take you to Mike’s Bikes online store, where you can browse all the bikes per brand and buy the one you like.
Hightower AL D Alternatives.
1. Santa Cruz Tallboy AL D.
Sold at $3,349.99, this bike is the best alternative if you like to climb. It is also cheaper than the Hightower and is built around a stiff aluminum frame.
The Tallboy also features lower-link VPP suspension technology, which is one of the unique features of Santa Cruz’s bike lineup.
Also, in terms of experience, the Tallboy has been around for more than a decade, making it trustworthy.
Tallboy has gone through multiple updates and improvements to perfect its performance.
In a few words, the Tallboy is one of the most popular bikes from Santa Cruz to consider if you want an alternative to the Hightower AL D.
2. HIGHTOWER C R.
While this build is one level below the C S version, this bike will still enable you to enjoy the most of the Hightower model.
Using a carbon C frame makes the bike more lightweight than the aluminum build.
Not to mention that the carbon frame is also durable as it can handle the roughest beating on trails full of roots and rocks.
The C R version features mostly better components than the AL D version.
So, you can expect all of the Hightower AL D’s good performance on this bike but with much more oomph.
What is the difference between a Santa Cruz Hightower and a tallboy?
The main difference between the two bikes designed by Santa Cruz is that the Hightower is equipped with more extended travel.
In addition, this bike is ideal for rough descents, and harder-hitting climbs than the Santa Cruz Tallboy.
Conversely, the Santa Cruz Tallboy is an XC mountain bike suitable for snappy riding without overcooking suspension.
Can you mullet a Santa Cruz Hightower?
Yes, you can mullet this bike and enjoy the benefits of its 27.5” wheels to ride smoothly and fast while staying sharp and agile in the rear.
The Hightower is a versatile bike that is good at climbing and excellent at descents. The model also comes with various builds that offer a certain level of performance.
If the frame design is your priority and you don’t mind the average bike parts, opt for the Hightower AL D version as your off-road machine.
However, if you want to get the most out of the Hightower model, the Hightower C R is a good choice for getting a carbon frame and better parts.
Moreover, the Tallboy AL D is a good alternative if you focus more on climbs than descents.
This bike is also cheaper than the Hightower, but choosing one model is yours.
At Mike’s Bikes online, you can find all these bikes and many others from big brands like Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, etc.
Mike’s Bikes has been selling all types of bikes in the US for many years and has several stores nationwide.
Thank you for reading the Santa Cruz Hightower AL D mountain bike review.