The Santa Cruz Megatower is rolling into the new season with significant improvements to the details. To do the bike’s capabilities justice, the American brand is now offering it with extra robust components. Read on to find out how the bike with a coil shock fares in our group test.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil RSV | 170/160 mm (f/r) | 15.01 kg in size L (XL) | € 8,999
Manufacturer’s website

Santa Cruz have done it: the bikes from the American brand are unmistakable with their lower link design. This creates a strong brand image, though it confuses some customers. Is that a Megatower? Or is it a Tallboy, or a Bronson? At first glance, all the bikes are very similar. The shock is positioned very low in the frame and is driven by the lower of the two rocker links. The twin link system provides a virtual pivot point and enables Santa Cruz to optimise the kinematics to suit the intended use. However, we found the Megatower to be too firm for rough enduro use in the past. Has that changed for 2021? Offering 160 mm travel at the rear, the bike rolls on 29″ wheels and offers two options for adjusting the geometry with a flip chip on the rear end and one on the shock mount. The manufacturing quality of the Megatower is excellent and does justice to the high price tag of € 8,999. The bike doesn’t just look great but also offers well-thought-out cable routing, a threaded bottom bracket and a lifelong guarantee on the frame, bearings and wheels – good arguments when you’re trying to convince your better half.

The components of the 2021 Megatower CC X01 Reserve – High-quality, proven and well-thought-out

The Santa Cruz Megatower is available in different builds at different price points, including a coil option. In the coil version, the bike comes with a DHX2 shock and a FOX 38 fork and you also get robust MAXXIS Doubledown tires, doing justice to the bike’s capabilities on the trail. The remaining components are also high quality and proven. The SRAM CODE RSC brakes are paired with 200 mm rotors while the SRAM X01 drivetrain offers precise and reliable shifting. Unfortunately, the rear derailleur loses its tension over time, which leads to increased chain slap. The Santa Cruz Reserve wheels performed well in all of our tests. During all the time we’ve spent riding on Reserve rims, we’ve only broken one once – thanks to the lifelong guarantee, doing so wasn’t a problem.

By now, we’ve ridden the Megatower with a Super Deluxe, a Super Deluxe Coil and a DHX2 shock. The latter is by far the most appropriate for the kinematics of this bike, offering the best mix of traction and pop.
With the Megatower, the chainstay length can be adjusted using a flip chip, though you’ll also need to fit a different brake adapter, which is included with the bike. We liked it best in the short setting.
Santa Cruz were one of the first manufacturers to equip their bikes with big chainstay protectors. It’s worth it since the bike is very quiet and there is no risk of damage to the paintwork.

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil RSV

€ 8,999

Specifications

Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DHX2 Factory 160 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 175 mm
Brakes SRAM Code RSC 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle 32/10-52
Stem Burgtec Enduro Mk3 40 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz AM Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 30 Carbon
Tires MAXXIS Assegai MaxxGrip EXO+/MAXXIS Minion DHR II MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.5"/2.4"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL XXL
Weight 15.01 kg
Wheelsize 29"

We liked the seat tube angle in the high position on the climbs but the handling is a lot more fun on the descents with it in the low position. Adjusting the flip chip is a fiddly job due to the lack of space in the rear end. We wouldn’t recommend switching back and forth.
Santa Cruz offer the Megatower with two different carbon frames. The CC version is around 250 g lighter while offering the same level of stiffness and durability, though it’s also a whole lot more expensive.

The geometry of the 2021 Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil

If you’re paying close attention, you’ll have noticed that we photographed the XL Megatower during this test. However, we know the bike very well from countless previous tests and refer to the specs of the size L, which is the better option for our testers who are 180 cm tall on average. Overall, the geometry of the Megatower can be described as modern but not extreme. None of the geometry figures are outliers and everything is comparatively conservative. If you want, you can vary the geometry with the help of two flip chips. Our favourite setting: slack and short. The reach in size L is 467 mm in the low setting and the chainstays are 436 mm short. The head angle isn’t overly slack at 64.7° and the 76.3° seat tube angle is not particularly steep. With a drop of 33 mm, the bottom bracket is pleasantly low.

Size S M L XL XXL
Seat tube 380 mm 405 mm 430 mm 460 mm 500 mm
Top tube 568 mm 597 mm 620 mm 648 mm 682 mm
Head tube 90 mm 100 mm 110 mm 130 mm 155 mm
Head angle 64.7° 64.7° 64.7° 64.7° 64.7°
Seat angle 76.6° 76.4° 76.3° 76.0° 75.8°
Chainstays 436 mm 436 mm 436 mm 436 mm 436 mm
BB Drop 33 mm 33 mm 33 mm 33 mm 33 mm
Wheelbase 1,179 mm 1,208 mm 1,232 mm 1,260 mm 1,296 mm
Reach 422 mm 447 mm 467 mm 487 mm 512 mm
Stack 609 mm 618 mm 627 mm 645 mm 668 mm
Helmet BELL SIXER | Glasses Oakley Sutro | Jersey Leiwand Leopoldsberg
Shorts Leiwand Anninger | Knee pads POC JOINT VPD | Shoes Specialized 2FO Flat

Uphills are a means to an end with the Megatower!

Those who opt for the coil shock on the Megatower certainly don’t do so because they’re looking for maximum uphill performance. Instead, they’ll be targeting maximum fun going downhill. Still, you usually have to get up the mountain first. Overall, the Megatower does a passable job but there are definitely better climbers in the test and it’s advisable to slide the saddle forward to help bring your weight over the front wheel – the effective seat tube angle of the Megatower slackens noticeably as the saddle gets extended. The chassis is very sensitive and likes to rock a little as you ride through dips. On long, monotonous climbs, it is worth using the climb switch on the shock. On technical climbs, the bike delivers plenty of traction.

Plush, controlled, fast – The 2021 Megatower is a different bike!

In our last group test, the Megatower surprised us with its firmly tuned rear end, providing a lot of feedback from the ground and only offering moderate traction overall. Not so with the DHX2 coil shock. Built up this way, the Megatower stays glued to ground much better, offering more grip and control. The mid-stroke support that the bike offered in the past with either RockShox shock option (the air or coil version) has been reduced, letting the bike use more of its travel. As a result, the bike remains more stable at high speed and it feels a lot calmer, ultimately demanding less from the rider. Despite the short seat tube, we can’t recommend upsizing with the Megatower as the XL was too big and cumbersome for most of our test riders. On the other hand, the geometry of the large feels nicely balanced. It’s quick at changing direction and offers plenty of grip on both wheels. The front triangle feels rather compact, which underlines the bike’s agile character. Cornering, the Santa Cruz is well balanced and the handling is good-natured, letting you have fun on every kind of trail. See an obstacle you want to jump? Easy! Manual through a dip? With pleasure!

How does the Megatower compare to the competition?

Mega or Megatower? With the coil option, the Santa Cruz Megatower has become much more like the Nukeproof Mega 290 on the descents. Both bikes offer a lot of traction, but the Mega 290 makes you feel even more like you’ve got an unlimited amount of travel in rough terrain. At the same time, the Megatower is slightly more agile and direct in tight sections. Due to the slack seat tube angle, the Megatower falls behind on the climbs. If you’re asking yourself, “Megatower or Nomad?” we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the large wheels of the Megatower. Both bikes are balanced and offer a lot of traction. However, the Megatower is more versatile without sacrificing agility.

Tuning tips: slide the saddle all the way forward

Riding Characteristics

12

Uphill

1
  1. sluggish
  2. efficient

Agility

2
  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

3
  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

4
  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Suspension

5
  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

6
  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

7
  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use

XC

8

Trail

9

Enduro

10

Downhill

11

Conclusion

The 2021 Santa Cruz Megatower X01 Reserve makes a big leap in performance with the coil kit. The bike’s chassis has become significantly more capable and sensitive, delivering the composure and traction that the bike was lacking in the past. If you’re looking for a high-quality all-rounder, you will find it here.

Tops

  • very balanced and fun handling
  • suspension provides more traction and control with the coil shock
  • versatile

Flops

  • seat tube angle too slack for steep climbs
  • the rear end calls for a climb switch

You can find out more about at santacruzbicycles.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR (Click for review) | COMMENCAL Meta AM 29 Öhlins (Click for review) | GIANT Reign Advanced Pro 0 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro (Click for review) | Propain Spindrift CF Mix Custom (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 90 Rally Edition (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil RSV | Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01 RSV (Click for review) | Specialized Enduro Expert (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Transition Sentinel XT (Click for review) | Trek Slash 9.8 XT (Click for review)

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer, Valentin Rühl, Markus Frühmann

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.