It would be remiss of me to not mention a word about one of the most anticipated pieces of news all year, no, not the awful drawn out ‘Where is Gwin going’ saga, but rather something significantly more rad, the answer to the question I know you’ve all been asking if you own kneepads – What’s the new Santa Cruz model dropping in February?!

Due to suffering from the acute symptom of being ‘too niche’, I didn’t make the elite cut of rad cunts to head to Chile in late January to test out the new machine, but one man that did (#Rodfather) was rightly impressed with what he found in South America. And why not, its only the new 29er that every Santa Cruz fan had been waiting for! The Hightower:

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Its clearly way too early for Christmas… But Birthday’s are fair game

On the morning of the public reveal, after mucho mucho teasing, I awoke from my broken, dehydrating #cHub sleep, clawing for my buzzing iPhone to get the much needed details. I felt that faint pang of overuse syndrome in my wrists and hands as my thumbs and fingers desperately worked to inject the information on the new bike into my fast moving, content hungry, rat like brain… I was feverish for details… Would it be 160mm? Would it have a slacker than a millennial employee head tube angle? Would the colour scheme give me more than a ‘I just need a piss’ morning boner?

As I hoovered in all the details across as many sites as I could open and let the Gram FOMO feed fill my eyes, I started to feel an odd sensation as I digested it all. Plus size option? 135mm of travel? 67 degree head angle? It felt a bit like the drunken love child of a tryst between my Nomad 3 and my Tallboy.

I know we’re not allowed to judge a book by its cover, but even though there was much frothing about the new Hightower, I felt slightly flat. Not that I think Mr Roskopp and President Graney would hand out a single fuck about that summary to be honest, but it felt to me like I didn’t really know why I would want to buy this bike – Which newsflash, is the first time I think I can say that about a Santa Cruz model since the update of the Superlight. I was left moping like a fat kid that got a 6 pack of nuggets instead of 9.

But then, as the days went by, as I looked again and again, I suddenly started to want one. Irrationally, I even thought about how I could move to somewhere different to justify owning such a bike… How I could adjust my current line up to make sure there was room in the ‘operational spectrum’ (that’s cuntspeak for ‘how you use stuff’) so there wasn’t strategic overlap or over investment in redundant capability (buying shit you don’t need cunt).

Whilst I was busy gagging common sense in my head and finding out prices, it occurred to me at some stage that clearly I have become a Santa Cruz super fan. If any other company had released a bike with these specs, I would have most likely yawned and gone back to ironing my Santa Cruz T shirt collection. But, this was different.

Luckily for me, I can legitimately claim to not being a new to the SC love scene golfer here. No, this Santa Cruz love affair goes back to the day of something they called ‘Aluminium’, or as we like to call it in NZ, ‘Alumnmnm’. Its what bikes were made from before everyone became rich or worked out you could buy bikes on your mortgage overdraft… And here is my first Santa Cruz crush, from I think 2006 or maybe even 2005? State of the fucking art and the last year they made the Heckler in the US of motherfucking A:

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Wait, you mean you have to change gear at the front as well?!

Check out that 3 x 9 action, back when people actually asked “How many speeds is your bike?” and 9mm quick releases were still a thing. No dropper? What the actual fuck most people are thinking. Important to note I was running a DH tire upfront, big disc rotor and a relatively short stem – ENDURO as fuck and I didn’t even know what that was.

But that doesn’t cover my irrational adoration and unrequited love for a bike company, no, to explain this limited liability crush we need to dig a bit deeper into the radness of Santa Cruz bikes. First a couple of Dirty disclaimers:

  • No, I’m not a dentist. Nor am I Guerrilla… And I don’t work in Marketing, clearly
  • I have not been remunerated or egged on in any way to bestow frothing on the entity in question, this is a purely non-commercial rant

Everything is awesome

This observation is cyclical in nature. Like a champion sports team, a company that dishes out massive results or someone dominating a season of cycling, these things reach a peak and for however long that lasts, then everything is golden.

Outside looking in, Santa Cruz have been riding that peak for a few years now. The bikes are awesome, the colours are excellent, they’re widely raved about and they have achieved a sort of mythical hot social status which means its still cool to own one, even though they are commercial successful. Many brands struggle with this transition (Hello Pinarello and Rapha!), but SC are still pumping out hot machines whilst keeping the luster strong. Everything they do at the moment screams: Nailed it.

They don’t chase fads (Yes, we all moan about Boost, but it appears to be the new standard for this year at least), everything is well thought out for riders and fuck, how clean is that internal routing?! The flowing lines, the recessed linkage, the built in frame protection… its pure bike porn. Did someone say lifetime warranty?!

And then there’s the small matter of every time I get on one, it instantly feels like ‘My’ bike within the first few hundred meters, every single freaky time. I once made the horrendous misstep of buying a mountain bike from people who make office furniture and it was utterly terrible, the first moment back on an SC from that failed experiment and I instantly felt at home.

My only hope with the wave of radness that SC is clearly carving right now is that it continues through the new Dutch ownership (Smoke and a Pancake)… So far so good, and long may that continue.

They do legendary bike launches

The general theme here seems to be to round up rad dudes who can really actually ride a bike and then describe it properly (two possible reasons right there why I may be missing out on attending such an event), transport them to a rad location (Chile, New Zealand etc) and unleash them on the new bikes whilst they strategically use Anti-Social media to whip us the consumer/fans into a frenzy with teaser photos that have us positively hysterical by the time the public launch actually comes around.

Your brain sort of knows its marketing, but fuck it, you just don’t care… Just do MORE of it.

These guys:

Ah, the Syndicate… If ever a group of dudes made you want to buy a DH bike you didn’t need, or to push little kids out of the way for a selfie, then these rad mofos are it:

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More exciting than watching Pitch Perfect 2 naked

I haven’t stalked Cedric Gracia yet, but you know its only a matter of time before I add that moment of awkwardness and looking at the wrong part of the phone to the collection above. Exhibit A in the fact that SC have it nailed in the rad sponsorship stakes.

And… These guys:

Given Santa Cruz bikes love ENDURO as much as your fat boss likes free pass arounds at work functions, it makes sense that you can find them being shredded on all across the EWS and landmark events like Trans Provence under some cool mofos, seen here as I hope some of it magically transferred to me, but alas as we know, no such luck:

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After a couple of beers PRO’s will get a photo with anyone

Throw in Iago Garay, Mark Scott and the Juliana team and its absolutely Exhibit B as I ruthless prosecute my case of severe radness against Santa Cruz. Did I mention they also sponsor the EWS and a whole shit load of other awesome races like the Coppermine Classic and the NZ Enduro? Holy fuck, Eco-system stiffy and my #companycrush is peaking right the fuck out here.

And… Fuck, these guys too:

Its not just racing dudes that rock the SC though, how about some of the industries most noteworthy units being part of the Ecosystem as well? I mean, if you want an MTB photo taken, does it get any better than the Gary & Sven tag team combo? Then throw into the mix the Rodfather, currently facing the hideous task of trying to choose between riding his Bronson and new Hightower. Shit is getting famous…

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And that pretty much covers the full GC spectrum right there

I haven’t had the chance to journalistically stalk Seb Kemp either, but you fucking bet I would have a terrible photo of him and I in here as well if I could, yet another MTB legend putting Santa Cruz bikes to their intended use. For fucks sake, they even have a dude called Tim Wilkins riding for them! Does it get any more dirtgasmic?

Add to the mix GV, Herr Doktor, Das Wolf, Gazza, Bike Culture and a whole range of rad cunts and its plain to see Club SC is the place to be. There’s even a video about it!

However, that’s all well and good, but there is one MASSIVE problem with Santa Cruz which I am still struggling with and from my extensive research, I’m not alone in this painful dilemma:

Which one do you buy?

The obvious answer is “All of them“, but unlike 95% of my material, I’m not taking the piss here… Between the Hightower, Bronson, Solo and Nomad its very hard to not want all of them. Forget quiver killing, I want a quiver so overflowing with SC goodness that I will have the additional cost of a white glove adorned bike caddy to help me haul them around.

In the last few years of enlightenment I have tried to “Buy less and ride more” and whilst that doesn’t seem to apply to rental cars, the instances my post corporate life motto has been challenged is when SC release yet another fucking beautifully redesigned model.

I don’t really need a DH bike any more, but I want a V10… I don’t need or even want a CX bike, I mean, I loathe them, but I oddly want a Stigmata. What the fuck? Is it a conspiracy they keep coming out in these slightly-like-the-DN Blue colour as well? GAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…

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Step 1: Increase mortgage overdraft. Step 2: Get a bigger garage. Step 3: Recant previous rants about anticonsumerism

So then, now I’m unnecessarily frothed out, its time to close out this overly gushy Fan Boi rant with a look at how you absolutely nail a new Hightower build…. I mean, seriously? Epic:

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The Amex Black/Wolf build

Worth a mention that the Rodfather went on to pilot a Hightower to second in the Dodzy Memorial Enduro over the weekend in the Legends category (yes, the most sought after race of the year which I had an entry for and didn’t go to…), I refuse to accept can’t recall what wheel spec he was running, but clearly its a bike capable of crushing it.

And quicker than you can say “How would you even go about shaving that pelt?“, Das Wolf has his one on the way, so watch this space as the American DNGC affiliate gets busy early adopting. I’m off to plan something that will actually generate original material for a change!

In the mean time… Do you really LOVE your bike? Worthy of pondering…

2 Responses

  1. Jono B Doingly

    I’ve just got myself a Stigmata, if that helps. I’m still torn about the nomad – I love the way that it descends. I like the way that it climbs for what is basically a mini DH bike. I still dislike the number of times that I clip my pedals into the ground, especially when I’m attempting to prove my self-worth by climbing a tricky tech root and rock-infested bit of uphill rampage

    Reply
    • Dirty Nomad

      Keen to hear how the Stig goes dude… I assume you’re already on 170mm cranks? Switching to the Fox coil has definitely reduced pedal strikes for me, not sure if that’s a good thing or not as it may have reduced the sag potentially?

      Reply

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