Santa Cruz 29er Highball Aluminio Hardtail

A malta da SantaCruz não brica em serviço e estão a retomar o lançamento de quadros em alumínio... quanto a mim é uma grande ideia pois torna mais acessivel a aquisição €€€
Eu já tive uma Tallboy de carbono para testar à vontadinha, gostei, mas entre aluminio e o carbono ?!? Se fosse no caso da Nomad diria que pela diferença de peso escolheria a de carbono (que também já andei nela) agora na BLT a diferença de preço e peso já não justifica. Acho que o meu gosto ainda pende pelo alumínio!!

Mas atenção .... em Abril irá haver mais novidades.
Uma review da Bike Radar

"Highball 29 alloy: new sub-US$1,500 complete bike

The long running “gateway drug” in the Santa Cruz line up used to be the Chameleon hardtail. However, that stalwart is surely to be overtaken by the new US$650 Highball 29 alloy ($1,499 for the DXC complete bike).

The new 29er adopts Chameleon’s geared or singlespeed-friendly personality but switches to a neater pivoting-type dropout style with vertical slots and integrated IS-style brake mounts for easier and faster wheel changes.

At 3.9lb the alloy Highball can be configured as XC or hardcore as you like. A medium version in XT spec hangs off the scales at 11.33kgs/24.98lbs, which is certainly very competitive compared to many complete bikes, considering the Maxxis Ardent 29er tubeless tyres add nearly a kilo each.

Highball alloy proved to possess race-inspired stiffness, just like the carbon version

Back to back first rides show the handling to be as attentive and balanced as the Superlight, turning in accurately on the tighter sections of trail without shaking its head at higher speeds. The tapered head tube is also cleared for running a 120mm fork too if you want to slack it out a bit.

According to Santa Cruz design chief, Joe Graney, a 140mm fork is no problem strength-wise, although he reckons, “it’ll handle like sh*t.” While ride feel is definitely on the firm side, the massive tyre clearance makes plenty of room to plush out the ride pneumatically, if you find your soles and spine are taking too much of a beating.

In other news, standard colours across the whole Santa Cruz range now switch to either black or white (and one stock colour) with a palette of 470 custom colours available for an upcharge of US$175 on hardtails and US$300 on full suspension.
Nos USA só irão vender a inicio em kit de montagem, não sei como irá ser por cá. Mas o preço do quadro é o mesmo do Chameleon (belíssima quadro, o meu 1º) que são US$650, por cá deve rondar os 800€ isto é uma estimativa minha, o melhor é sempre ligar para a Pernalonga.
Review da Pinkbike

"Highball Aluminum: First Ride

I would be foolish not to point out that the Highball that Santa Cruz gave me to ride was upgraded to its third-tier SPX XC 29 kit, which includes a Kashima coated Fox Float RLC fork and Shimano Deore XT Ice Tech brakes. The upgrades add considerably to the Highball's price, bumping it to $3593. The slick fork stanchion only makes a big difference once the fork breaks in and the factory lubrication begins to disappear, but the brakes, they stop with a better feel and more authority than the standard-offering Avid Elixir 5s.

Although I don't ride too many hardtails these days, I was right at home on the Highball. Its steering feels more accurate than the average 29er and it remains tractable while descending some pretty step stuff. With only 100 millimeters of cushion up front and narrow Maxxis Ardent tires, the rough-angled stones and pocked slick rock that punctuate Sedona's trail system could all be felt to some degree. The larger wheels do roll noticeably faster over most chatter and the slackish (for a 29er) 71-degree head angle seems to calm the steering when cornering over uneven steps and imbedded rocks. Unless your hindquarters are hewn from stone or steel, convert your tires to tubeless (the Highball's Mavic TN 719 rims come pre-assembled with Stan's tape and tubeless valve stems are included with each bike) and you will roll faster and smoother over the chatter. Ours were converted - thanks Santa Cruz.

While the Highball's skinny tires and rigid rear end had me wishing for rear suspension while I was banging up stepped climbs and over square-edged rocks, it manages to maintain momentum quite well. There is a positive connection between rider and rear tire that helped me to claw my way up and over a few climbs that I did not make earlier in the week. As hardtails go, this one is among the more pleasant rides I can remember. Its weight balance is on the money, with little tendency to skid the rear tire into tight corners and not much lift on the front wheel when climbing or turning up steep grades. Both are positive 29er benefits, but the Highball manages to steer without the lagging, heavy feel that normally comes with big-wheel stability and rough-surface performance.

The Highball Aluminum's big wheels and stable handling made easy work of the area's many drops and short, steep descents. Ron Kratch photo

Pinkbike First Impressions:
If you truly want a 29er hardtail, there are many good ones to choose from. The Highball is one of the better handling 29ers I have ridden in a while, and it transcends the old-school twitchy racer-boy feel without sacrificing the efficient feel that most people buy hardtails to revel about. Many will maintain that aluminum frames feel harsh, but this one seems to have circumvented that prejudice with big wheels and a centered rider position. It rails corners, doesn't push the front tire, accelerates well and handles technical downhills (technical within reason) with conviction. Best of all, you can get a sweet performing 29er hardtail, from a brand that knows what a real mountain bike is, for only $1500. - RC
A review da Singletrack

"It’s not all about the full suspension at the Santa Cruz launch in Sedona, the other big news is the release of an aluminium version of the carbon fibre framed Highball 29er hardtail. The Highball has had plenty of people (including our Dave, who has one as a Long Term test bike) raving about the ability of a seeming cross country hardtail to cope with terrain that falls into a burlier category.

Santa Cruz Highball Alloy offers a big wheeled entry to the SC range...
The Detail

The Highball Alloy takes the same geometry of the Carbon bike but uses a hydroformed aluminium frame, the tubing even having outwardly similar and svelte profiles. There’s a load of neat detailing too, from the forged yoke on the chainstay that offers decent tyre clearance to the dinky tapered headtube. It’s dropper post compatible with a 30.9mm seatpost and possibly the neatest feature is the interchangeable dropouts which allow you to run a standard geared or specific singlespeed dropout.

Santa Cruz design engineer Nick jokingly claimed that the singlespeed dropout took almost as long to design as the rest of the frame – and for the presumably low amount of people that’ll end up buying the optional dropout it’s obviously been a labour of love, possibly obsession.

The singlespeed dropout bolts onto the frame with a pair of sturdy but neat bolts, the lower having a square nut that runs in a curved channel. Fore and aft adjustment is with a captive threaded mechanism; no ugly bolts poking out anywhere. Special attention was paid to the amount of lash in the system, the amount of play between the forwards and backwards engagement point. It sounds a bit like overkill but it does mean that the dropout is highly unlikely to move under pedalling or braking forces.

Headangle runs at 70.5° with 100mm forks though you can run the frame with 120mm forks should you so desire, Santa Cruz saying it’s easily strong enough to deal with the bump in travel. There’s a pick of two standard colours, the pictured ‘traffic blue’ with orange decals and a pearl white finish with green decals.

Interchangeable dropouts give clean singlespeed compatibility

The Ride

Riding a hardtail on rocky trails can sometimes feel like an exercise in self hate, even more so if you’ve been bouncing about on longer travel suspension bikes for a while. The Highball does accelerate with real vigour and thanks to the bigger wheels it has impressive traction mid-corner and on less scrabbly climbs. It doesn’t feel brutally stiff and punishing despite the construction and there’s no noticeable twang in the back end.

Forged chainstay yoke keeps back end short and improves clearance...

You’ll need to dust off some riding skills to hustle the Highball in rougher terrain; on my first lap of the Slim Shady trail in Sedona I was bouncing off line and having heart thumping moments with depressingly regularity. Come the second time round I’d remembered the importance of making an effort with body movement, knew where some of the bigger rocks were and the difference was immediate.

The Highball could be skittered into bends and with a bit of effort to lean the bike over and a surprising amount of rear weight bias it fired itself merrily out of a corner. I could almost convince myself I was on a short travel full suspension bike until off-line adventures or an unavoidable square edge hit jolted a sense of proportion back. It gets really fun when you’re on the fast and smooth, sweeping dusty corners were highly entertaining, the immediacy of the bike making

Angles and reach feel spot on; though a dinky stem and wider bars definitely help you muscle the bike around (especially if you’re a smaller rider or lack Arnie-like upper body strength) something most big wheelers respond well to. If your favoured trails are filled with smaller chatter and can be ridden at speed – trail centres and woodsy riding spring to mind instantly – then the Highball is a lively and involving partner that’ll munch up the miles. Crank it up and it’ll zip through corners with lightspeeder-esque glee. That’s not to say it won’t cope with rougher terrain. For a bike with a seeming cross country amount of suspension it’ll let you get away with a lot but your margin for error is reduced.

A mild grumble is the lack of dropper post cable guide mounts – for the kind of riding the bike will do a dropper post makes a lot of sense unless you’re going to confine it to a lifetime of seat-in-the-air racey riding, which would be missing out on the bike’s potential.

Overall then, if you’re willing to work for it and don’t mind the weight penalty (claimed at 3.9lbs frame only, opposed to 2.7lb) over it’s carbon sibling then the Highball Alloy will provide visceral thrills aplenty. It doesn’t hurt that it’ll be a bit of a steal, the frame priced at around £499. If one gear tickles your fancy then the dropouts will cost a bit more on top of that

Singlespeed dropouts are rather trick
Preços e opções quadro Highball Aluminio.

Olá a todos,

Já temos os preços e configurações definitivas do quadro HIGHBALL em Aluminio:

- Versão standard, duas cores disponiveis, Branco com letras Verdes e Azul com letras Vermelhas, nesta versão base o quadro vai custar 660 euros.

- Versão CCCP (Custom Colors) disponiveis aproximadamente 16 cores e com varios formatos e cores das letras e logotipos, nesta versão o quadro vai custar 820 euros.
Como a encomenda é feita de acordo com as indicações do cliente pode demorar pelo menos 3 semanas, nesta versão o cliente pode ter um quadro exclusivo.

As escolhas da versão irão estar disponiveis brevemente no site nessa plataforma o cliente pode visualizar a versão final da bicicleta.

De salientar que as versões CCCP (Custom Colors) vão estar disponiveis em todos os modelos de aluminio.
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A review na BikeRadar

"Seriously stiff, tough and versatile 29er hardtail frame"

Santa Cruz’s new alloy 29er, the Highball, delivers the super-stiff, big-wheeled performance of their Highball Carbon hardtail with the affordable price and singlespeed options of the 26in Chameleon.

Ride & handling:

While you can tune the head angle with your fork choice, the Highball is naturally sharp and attentive up front. Combined with the mid-width bar and mid-length stem on our test bike, this sometimes produced a nervous feel when really walloping the Fox front fork through rocks. Each bar twitch feels more significant when you’re fighting the trail too.

What it does give is great ‘reach-around’ on tighter trails where 29ers will often run wide unless you deliberately pre-compensate. Add a skim of rear brake to kick the back end out and some aggressive shoulder work, and you can really rip the Highball through tight singletrack. Like most 29ers it loves to surf a slide too, letting you really push the tyres without ending up on your arse.

High stiffness throughout the frame means it kicks really hard for a 29er too. There’s inevitably a bit of lag as the heavier wheels light up, but this is no wilting violet when it comes to dealing with wattage. There’s also very clear tyre feedback to make the most of the increased grip area.

That stiffness does come at the expense of comfort. Even with the big tubeless tyres on our sample bike running at low pressure, our hands and feet stung if we hit the chunky local geology flat-out. However hard we rode there was no deviation or deflation though, and you can certainly hammer the Highball through the rough harder than a 26in-wheeled hardtail.

Frame & equipment:

The relatively steep 70.5° head angle with 100mm-travel (3.9in) fork is straight off the Highball Carbon but this frame is strong enough for a 120mm (4.7in) or even 140mm (5.5in) fork if you want to go slacker. Standover and mud clearance is impressive even with a big 2.25in Maxxis Ardent tyre fitted. You’ve got the option of standard or adjustable, singlespeed friendly, geometry adjusting swinging dropouts bolted onto the back.

Bare frames are £499 in either blue or white stock colours, with access to a vast custom paint/decal menu for £150 extra. The frame is a claimed 1.77kg (3.9lb), so you can still put together a reasonably light and versatile complete bike with a DIY spec or Santa Cruz’s complete bike options.

Even with nearly a kilo of heavy-duty tubeless tyre either end (normal build kits will use the significantly lighter, skinnier Maxxis CrossMark 2.1in), our medium frame with Shimano Deore XT based build came in at 11.33kg (24.98lb). Prices for complete bikes start at £1,499/US$1,499, with options all the way up to full XTR with a Kashima-coated Fox fork.