The Highball is now available in 29” and 27.5”. You pick. Santa Cruz has kept the handling characteristics the same between the two bikes, and let the wheel size’s traits shine through. One difference –the 27.5” version has a size small, while the carbon 29ers do not, but the aluminum bike is available in a small frame (but no XXL—that one’s carbon-only). On the 29er, the chainstays have been shortened by almost a half-inch, and stretched out the front end of the bike by about the same. This allows you to run a more modern stem/bar combo and makes the bike a little quicker in the corners. Santa Cruz decided that the 70.5-degree angle they used on the first Highball was spot-on, striking the right balance of quick handling and stability, and won’t wander on you when you’re climbing.
Despite the pluses of carbon fibre engineering and manufacturing, there is always the allure of a metal bike. Perfect welds, proper heft, and a certain tangible quality makes metal an attractive material. It’s also more amenable to the placement of bolts and other hardware than carbon is, which is why Santa Cruz offers a single-speed dropout kit in the alloy version of the Highball, but not the carbon. If you want to get your hammerhead on, we think this is the best way to do it. In addition, the seat post has been reduced to 27.2mm, which adds some compliance you’ll appreciate when you’re 80 miles in to a 100-mile race.
The Highball is unapologetically fast, surprisingly fun, and every bit a Santa Cruz mountain bike.