Retail Price: $2,799.00
Current Price: $2,799.00
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Even with all the advancements in frame technology and suspension designs, a full-suspension frame still can't hold a candle to the brutal efficiency and featherweight ride of a hardtail. Construct that frame out of carbon fiber and then that chasm widens even further. If the thought of cross-country racing gets your pulse pounding and you still want a fun bike to trail ride on, sans number plate, have a look at the Santa Cruz Highball Carbon R Mountain Bike and prepare to hop aboard a lightweight whippet that will have you ripping it up every climb while remaining surprisingly adept in handling a good portion of technical singletrack on the way back down. Like with every new generation reboot of a Santa Cruz model, it manages to roll out some small but significant improvements that hone the bike and this year's Highball Carbon 29er is no exception. Santa Cruz's engineers looked at new frame construction techniques to lower the weight through a meticulous application of carbon in zones critical to stiffness and structural integrity, while trimming the frame down in all other areas for the utmost in weight savings. In this proof of Santa Cruz's mastery of the black material, it built a frame weighing barely 24 pounds to allow this Highball Carbon R build with SRAM NX Eagle components and FOX Rhythm fork to barely trouble the scales. The value-packed build gets out the door at a very affordable price and provides the perfect foundation to toss on upgrade parts down the road if need be. That lightweight frame and drivetrain efficiency does come as a tradeoff and a hardtail will never quite have the smooth ride of suspension nor allow you to take a point-and-shoot approach when selecting lines on the trail. That doesn't mean the bike has to ride harsh though and with the frame redesign, the engineers sought ways to help mute trail chatter and excess vibration too. The new seat stays wishbone attaches to the seat tube at a much lower junction to direct jolts through...

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