With three bottle mounts, a new frame designed to dampen vibration, and build weights dipping below 20 pounds (9kg), the new Santa Cruz Highball 29 looks like a carbon race thoroughbred ready for long and fast rides….

Posted by Logan Watts

On paper the new Santa Cruz Highball is a racer’s hardtail. But Santa Cruz also claims this is a bike built for long-haul rides, such as ultra-endurance bikepacking events or 24-hour races. For that matter, the all new Highball features an incredibly lightweight frame, redesigned to absorb trail chatter and vibration. According to Santa Cruz it’s a half-pound lighter than its predecessor, yet it still manages to maintain a few bikepacker favorites, such as a threaded BB, internally routed cables, and three water bottle mounts.

New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018

  • New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018
  • New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018
  • New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018
  • New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018
  • New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018
  • Highlights
  • Angles (lg): 69.5° Headtube, 73.0° Seattube
  • Stack/Reach: 615mm/450mm
  • BB Drop/Chainstay: 56mm/430mm
  • Bottom Bracket: Threaded standard
  • Hub specs: 12×148 rear / 100×15 front
  • Seatpost: 27.2mm
  • Max tire size: 29 x 2.4″
  • Price: $1899 (frame), $2799 (base)

As previously mentioned, the new Santa Cruz Highball is built to take trail chatter out of the equation. The low-angle seat stays join the seat tube below the top tube junction. This new placement, according to SC, works in tandem with a bridgeless seat stay design to dampen trail vibrations that can cause fatigue on longer rides. Tour Divide, anyone? Also, the new Santa Cruz Highball is built around a 27.2mm-diameter seat post, which apparently serves the same purpose. It’s the small things, right?

Santa Cruz credits the composite development team behind the “MacAskill-proof” carbon Reserve wheels with the Highball’s superior ride feel. They claim that meticulous application of carbon in only the most needed areas allowed them to fine tune a really light frame that retains torsional stiffness but still has the strength for those braving the sketchy lines. To back up this compliance without compromise approach, Santa Cruz offers a genuine lifetime frame and carbon wheel warranty with the Highball.

  • New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018
  • New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018

New Santa Cruz Highball, 2018

The new Santa Cruz Highball 29 is available in gloss Fog or Eggplant and you can get the frame for $1899. There are also five builds ranging from $2799 to $7999. The most interesting to us is the ‘S’ build featuring a Fox 32 fork, an Eagle GX drivetrain, DT Swiss hubs laced to Race Face AR24 rims, and Maxxis Aspen 29×2.25 tires. It retails for $3399 and tips the scales at 22.26lbs (10.1kg). Learn more over at SantaCruzBicycles.com.

  • Rob Grey

    where do i insert my credit card?!

  • Your local bike shop :)

  • Chris Leydig

    Props on the lifetime warranty. So are all mtn bike manufactures going to continue to push the boost standard even though there’s no perceivable reason as to why it’s needed (clearance/rigidity for plus tires)? Like why does this bike need Boost if it’s max tire clearance is 29×2.4

  • Good question. I would prefer that folks stick to a standard, and if that’s the one, so be it. But, I was a little confused why they didn’t use BOOST 110 up front. If anything, it makes a stiffer wheel. Lighter weight fork, perhaps.

  • multisportscott

    Where do I add the front derailleur? Call me a luddite, but for ultra/bikepacking riding I still use a 2x (well actually I’m on 3×9 currently but am prepared to change to 2×11)

  • PC

    It was originally touted as adding stiffness to wheels and adding clearance to frames, but now it seems we’re primarily just getting the former. I too wish more of the ultralight bikes had more tire clearance, but I still believe manufactures limit tire clearace as a way of prevent unintended use and abuse. It’s just too easy to get rowdy on a 22lbs bike that can fit 275×3.25 or 29×2.6!

  • yeah, I think they had 1×12 in mind for this bike. Wait for Sea Otter; my bet is that Shimano will unveil a 1×12 (or 13 even) and that will be the last nail in the coffin for the front derailleur on newer bikes.

  • wingo

    Nice bike, but why can’t you just say it may be a good option for bikepackers rather than making stuff up.The credited info from Santa Cruz does not mention bikepacking any where nor do any of the promo photos show the bike with bags attached. The longer rides Santa Cruz mention are “24 hour sufferfests”. Santa Cruz say “The all new Highball is a half-pound lighter than before, yet manages to maintain all the RIDER favorites of threaded BB reliability, internally routed cables, and 3 water bottle mounts.” (My caps on rider), Bikepacking.com inserts bikepacker for rider. Just seems like you are trying a little too hard here. It is a nice new bike that might be good for bike packing but it is probably not the intended use, you don’t see many 24 hour sufferfest riders mounting bikepacking bags on their bike quite the opposite.

  • This is a news release. There is nothing ‘made up’. I simply thought this bike looked interesting and fitting for a race, so I posted it, using quotes from Santa Cruz and injecting my viewpoint. People have used the Highball on the Tour Divide, so I thought it was relevant news. Nothing more. Not sure what your issue is here… it’s not a review, and that’s clearly stated.

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