I’m going to conveniently ignore the fact I owe you all a long-ish term Rantview on the Nomad 4 and Blur 3 and instead expose your eyes to a full spray down of froth on the newest kid on the block, oh baby, yes, the Megatower!
Before I go full blogging bukkake on you about the aesthetics of this newest addition to the Dirty Stable, I will acknowledge that I am yet to properly baptise it under the right conditions or on the right terrain. Oddly, that won’t happen until I arrive in the depths of the Aosta Valley a few weeks from now, but I shall elaborate more on that in the upcoming TP19 Mission Briefing.
In spite of having an exceptionally able machine in the Nomad 4 with which to unleash on Trans Provence, I knew deep down I was going to be unable to escape the swift flowing current of Megatower froth and hype that was gushing down the hillside faster than Mark Scott with brake failure. I even put this conundrum to Santa Cruz Chief Engineer, Nick Anderson, at Pest Camp and his response was hard to go past, which I shall paraphrase with 69% accuracy here:
“I think that you should always ride the latest and most capable equipment available”
It was the way he said it, like an engineer as opposed to a sales monkey, that sealed that sinking feeling that I knew A) He was right and B) A Megatower was in my destiny. I mean, for fucks sake, I even wrote down what my ideal bike looked like on the intercunt and Santa Cruz made it a reality, was I supposed to slap this gift horse in its beautiful soft mouth? Even Sven Martin, who is usually pretty shy about conveying his opinions, made it extremely clear that one needed to get on the MT Train at the first stop.
So then, here we are, at the first train terminal and getting my hands on one of the first ‘consumer’ shipments to drop, so naturally I went down two paths here:
- Fully customised build from scratch, just to be one of those cunts
- Gloss frame over the matte finish, because… Cleaning. That and the fact I’m not a rad singlet wearing muthafucka (you know who you are) which is a pre-requisite for getting the black Megatron
Let’s start at the start then… Like, right off the truck start:
I’ll save you all the shots of me oddly standing around in a Rapha T Shirt with a Cruz-Gasmic look on my face as I fondled its smooth lines and marvelled at its impeccable gloss finish. My eyes and fingertips reinforcing what I already knew from Pest camp – This is one of the finest products SCB have ever kicked out the door of their rad warehouse.
Unlike some people I know who have been too busy eFornicating to build up their Megatower, it was time for me to get the fuck out of the way and hand my precious over to the man you need to call to get shit done properly, Tony Two Hoops:
Firstly, a massive Dirty thanks here to Tony TH and The Hub Cycle Centre for their outstanding service, build and support to get this Mega project sorted, they shrugged off the challenge of my ultra picky OCD bespoke build and hassling text messages to not only serve up a banger, but also take some pretty sweet photos of the results:
Shit even went next level Autumn artistic, which I naturally let everyone on the Gram think was my own doing… Silence denotes plagiarism.
Before we talk about how it rides, it’s time for the full build low down for you tech fiends, licking slowly from top to bottom here:
- Santa Cruz Megatower CC Frame, Large – Set to low mode and short chain stays, currently with the Super Deluxe rear shock, but the DHX2 is set and ready to go in there thanks to Jono at The Suspension Lab once I can get some testing lined up, so likely in Aosta
- Fox 36 2020 GRIP2 170mm fork – Which coupled with the Low setting gives us a 64 deg head angle I believe
- Maxxis Assegai 2.5 WT DD Maxx Grip front tire – Slight fake news in the photos which have the DHF on there
- Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon 30 wheelset, with DT350 Boost hubs – Given this is dream build territory I should have in theory gone for fancier hubs, but it’s hard to go past the 350’s, and I say this given I have another 3 pairs already in the hanger
- XTR M9120 twin pot front brake – File under: “If it’s good enough for the Syndicate at a world cup…“
- Chris King Drop set
- One Up components 35mm diameter stem, 35mm length, but suspect I will need to go 40 or 50mm ultimately
- One Up 35mm ovalized handlebar cut to 780mm, 20mm rise. A radically departure for me, influenced by Herr Doktor and endorsed by a Dingo somewhere… An all new bar vibe
- Ergon G3 grips – Also know as OCG’s, or ‘Old Cunt Grips’, mildly winged for extra support. Basically a mid life crisis for your hands
- Shimano M9100 12 speed shifter pod
- Shimano dropper remote – Which integrates beautifully with the XTR M9120 brake lever for bar cleanliness so extreme you could eat of it
- Chris King BB
- Shimano ‘Black Ops’ mysterious 170mm cranks with a 32T XTR chain ring (Likely to change this out to a 30T to cope with the Mon-Tons to come)
- One Up chain guide & bash guard
- Fox Transfer Performance 175mm dropper
- Seat from some conglomerate cycling barn in California
- Shimano XTR Pedals, or Saints if you really want to fuck shit up
- Shimano XTR 51-10 12 speed cassette – I essentially got this to fuck with Bone
- Shimano XTR M9100 12 speed Rear D – Holy fuck what a work of art
- Maxxis DHR2 2.4 DH Casing Maxx Grip rear tire – Yes, on the home trails this feels like a fucking boat anchor, but it’s not really for around here, so I just have to be patient for a few weeks
Now we’ve done the most important parts of A) Leaning the bike up against shit and B) Furiously word wanked over it’s technical aspects, it’s time to discuss how it actually feels. Ughhhh…. Feelings… Yes, I’m going to struggle here.
Just wait until I get you home…
Fuck. I’m going to struggle for a couple of reasons. First of all, I haven’t logged anywhere enough time on this new delight to really be able to articulate correctly the sensations it’s drilled into my brain. Secondly, and compounding my first point, I haven’t taken this bike anywhere near the kind of terrain it seriously desires to be on and needs to have fed to it.
And lastly, I am worried that not only won’t I be able to accurately articulate how good it is, you’ll accidentally dismiss me as a Santa Cruz sycophant stooge who of course is going to have a wet dream in public about their newest bike, DUH. Chill muthafucka, I have receipts! But buckle up, because here we go anyway… Grab some eye protection and stand back… Because I’m so… Close… Gaaaaaaaaa:
This is the best bike I have ever ridden
Holy fuck… Shit just got weird… I just put that right out there. I presume this would be the Tinder equivalent of telling someone you love them when you first sit down and the wine is passed across the bar to you. But sometimes you just know, and this is one of those scenarios.
If I had to try and describe it, I would say that it feels like all the joy you’ve ever felt mountain biking has been condensed down into a unicorn frame and when you touch it, all that joy comes flooding out all over your dumbstruck face as you try and comprehend what the fuck is going on. No fucking shit, this is absolutely the same feeling as when all those homeless people in the Matrix worked out that the dude from Point Break was the ONE:
I still can’t work out exactly what it is, but this bike feels strangely different from the one I rode at Pest Camp. Most likely it’s because I’m not on trails that were trying to maim me, plus I have my own hand picked parts selection, but it feels so much better than I remembered from that one nighter we had.
‘Best bike Eva cunt’ is a bold statement right? Almost to the point of inviting mockery and having monkeys throw shit at my head. Granted, the Blur 3 for example is a better bike at going up hill… But the sensations I have experienced thus far and how I’m able to ride on the Megatower feels like I have finally found something I sort of knew I was looking for, but didn’t know how to ask for. Ultimately our love for a bike is driven by how it makes us feel, rather than any single technical aspect, but I am still trying to put my finger in what it is.
Is it the 64 deg head angle? Is it the 35mm stem combined with the 44mm offset? Is it the highly refined VPP linkage action? Is it extreme new bike froth gone awry? Is it the extra reach I thought might be too long, but clearly isn’t? Is it having a longer dropper? Is it being on a long travel 29er? <<head explosion>>
Fuck me, I don’t really know, but I suspect that it’s a combination of all these things coming together in a symphony of radness that makes the hair on your balls/female equivalent (except if you’re Rodfather on the Veet regime) stand on end. It’s going to take me a week in Aosta and then Trans Provence 19 before I am able to put some proper meat on the bones of explaining myself, but for now I will fall back on some technical stand out points that will be most likely of interest.
1. That XTR Scenario – Imagine announcing to your fiends and family that you were 3 months pregnant… And then 6 months later being totally silent. Then, another 9 months later finally joyfully announcing your little sleep destroying angel had dropped. Apart from confusing the fuck out of everyone, this is essentially the scenario that played out for the big Japanese S with the latest XTR drop.
As rumour and innuendo about factory fires and crank designs followed, it became tough for even ardent, life long, Fox news level supporters such as myself to defend what had the scent of a debacle about it. We’d all seen pics, it had appeared on (and then disappeared from) PRO bikes and initial reviews were fairly glowing. Yet, it remained a unicorn that sent some of us to the Ukraine in order to fill gaps.
Well, the wait is finally over and I’m busy practicing saying “Gomen nasai” as I profusely seek forgiveness from the Japanese master craftsmen for doubting them that this would be anything less than fucking Yakuza level Gangsta:
Here are my initial 4 reasons why this latest XTR is fucking insane:
- Silence – It’s the quietest drive train I’ve ever pedalled, almost to the point it’s a bit weird to start with
- It’s smoother than the Rodfather coated in post ride baby oil, to the point you won’t want to ride anything else
- It shifts easily and effortlessly under loads that would make a porn star protest over work conditions. I’ve even tried to do dumb shit with the shifting and it just smiles like a Terminator who know’s you’ve run into a dead end alleyway and just keeps on going
- The brakes are fucking insane – Sorry Saint’s, you’ve been not only replaced on Syndicate bikes, but also in my heart as the go to Shimano brake. The power is no longer off and then fucking ON! There’s a much smoother delivery of power and better ramp up. We’re talking the double pot M9120’s here, mated to 203mm rotors naturally… (Amateur overkill protocol)
The only teething problem thus far has been a slightly rogue B tension screw wanting to punch out the ass of the Rear D, but that was swiftly dealt with. More to come… Oh, and the new XT is about to drop any day now which I think is going to be THE Gruppo that everyone will gravitate to if it’s anything like this but cheaper.
2. 175mm Transfer dropper – It makes sense that the longest dropper I’ve ever installed has gone on the longest travel and biggest bike I’ve ever owned (Outside of DH bikes mind you). 25mm may not sound like it makes a big difference, but like a good pick up line, I can assure you it makes alllll the difference.
I love the Transfer post, but sort of wish I had now got something in the 180mm+ range, as the extra room to move around coupled with the longer reach on the MT I think contributes significantly to my new bike crazy love.
3. The Fox 36 2020 – So this is a stand out… Dok will want to punch me in the face repeatedly as I struggle to articulate why, but Holy Fuck Alert this thing is seriously good.
It’s like my mind is playing tricks on me, but it feels like it’s softly floating across the top of the terrain, with it’s initial stroke plusher than I’m making the Rob Roskopp Retirement Fund. It then hands off to a super supportive and composed middle part of the travel, before a dude at the end who is probably ex-Special Forces is there saying “Don’t worry cunt, I’ll ramp up nicely and stop you going over the bars” as you approach the 170mm zone.
It’s so noticeably better and more composed than other 36’s I’ve ridden that I actually spend time thinking about it/marvelling at it during DH sections to the point it’s slightly off putting. I’m sure it will become normal soon, but fuck it’s outstanding. To be noted, Dok will still want to punch me in the face at this useless cunt suspension description, almost like he blames me for Black Widow dying in the final Avengers movie… What, WHAT?!
4. That Chassis – In theory, I shouldn’t really have my brain melting out my ears given I have come off the Nomad 4 right? Similar suspension config, Reserve wheels, same sort of vibe… But no, this is a different beast. I almost feel like the N4 was the Donkey that plowed this new direction for SCB and based on it’s sacrifices, the Megatower has come trotting along in all it’s glossy 29er glory to now steal not only the show, but hearts as well.
The best description I can come up with so far, and this has been validated by another global MT owner, is that this bike feels like it’s floating over everything and going extremely fast whilst doing so. I’m riding through corners in ways I haven’t before and jumping things that I’ve never jumped, so much so, the overwhelming emotion I have right now is bewilderment… Yes, stoked as well, but in a bewildered kind of way. At the risk of sounding like a Tampax ad, it just gives me a extra confidence that I haven’t experienced in a new bike before.
In a world where expectations are always increasing, or you’ve become accustomed to high performance, I’m relishing not only being blown away by the sensations Megatron generates, but the pure joy of cycling that it’s rewarding me with every time I turn it’s cranks. I can’t wait for more.
Thanks to Hyperformance Hardware for getting this beast down to NZ so quickly and in advance of Trans Provence, Chur team!