Hardly any other bike caused as big a sensation this year as the Santa Cruz Megatower – and that’s not just because of its ingenious name. With its promising specs, typical Santa Cruz looks and the quality the brand is renowned for, it’s a dream come true for many enduro riders. Of course, we were very excited to ride it and see how it compares to the competition.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve | 160/160 mm | 14.46 kg | € 8,699

Lifetime warranty on the frame, bearings and wheels, a cleverly designed frame with hassle-free cable routing and an excellent finish – there are many good reasons to love Santa Cruz bikes even before you ride them. For the Megatower, the American brand use the same rear linkage as on the Nomad and Bronson, giving it 160 mm travel and 29″ wheels. As with most of Santa Cruz’s bikes, you can choose between the CC carbon frame or the more affordable though slightly heavier C version, as well as various well thought-out builds. There is no faulting the components on our € 8,699 test bike – on the contrary! The spec is top notch and performs perfectly. While the FOX 36 Performance Elite Grip2 fork, may not have the lustrous Kashima coating, it is in no way inferior to the Factory model and suits the look of the bike to a tee. The Santa Cruz Reserve wheels proved to be absolutely reliable and the handling and feel is very pleasant for carbon rims.

Super quiet
Santa Cruz is one of the pioneers when it comes to eliminating all distracting noises on the bike. The Megatower is no exception – we love it!
Low and short
The Megatower has a flip-chip in the linkage and the dropouts. We mostly rode the bike in the low and short setting.
Convincing every time
We’ve ridden the Santa Cruz Reserve wheels on several test bikes and never had any problems with them. They’re an expensive upgrade, but if you’ve got the cash, we can recommend it.

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve

€ 8,699


Fork FOX 36 Performance Elite Grip2 160 mm
Rear Shock RockShox SuperDeluxe Ultimate RCT 160 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 150 mm
Brakes SRAM Code RSC 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle 30 - 10/50
Stem Race Face Aeffect R 40 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz AM Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 30 29

Technical Data

Size S, M, L, XL, XXL
Weight 14.46 kg

Simple look, excellent performance
Except for the Kashima coating, the FOX 36 Performance Elite GRIP2 fork doesn’t differ from the Factory model – we didn’t notice any performance difference on the trail.
Safe and secure
We love details like the small mudguard for the shock and the shuttle pad on the down tube that protects the frame when shuttling with a pickup. This isn’t common in Europe, but it’s standard in Canada and the US.
Service friendly
The BSA bottom bracket makes it much easier to replace the bearings. The cable routing is just as simple – push in at the top, and the cable comes out at the bottom, no fumbling, no cursing, as it should be.

Geometry and size of the Santa Cruz

The reach of the Santa Cruz Megatower is rather compact, which is typical for the California brand. Thanks to the short seat tube, riders who want a longer bike could simply choose to size up. Two flip chips allow you to adapt the character of the bike to suit your preferences. We found the low and short setting to be the best!

Seat tube 380 mm 405 mm 430 mm 460 mm 500 mm
Top tube 567 mm 596 mm 619 mm 646 mm 680 mm
Head tube 90 mm 100 mm 110 mm 130 mm 155 mm
Head angle 65.0° 65.0° 65.0° 65.0° 65.0°
Seat angle 76.8° 76.7° 76.6° 76.3° 76.0°
Chainstays 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Drop 29 mm 29 mm 29 mm 29 mm 29 mm
Wheelbase 1,178 mm 1,207 mm 1,231 mm 1,269 mm 1,295 mm
Reach 425 mm 450 mm 470 mm 490 mm 515 mm
Stack 607 mm 616 mm 625 mm 643 mm 666 mm
Helmet 100% Aircraft | Glasses 100% Accuri | Jersey Fox Ranger Fox Head | Shorts Fox Ranger Shorts | Knee pads Fox Launch Pro

The Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve on the trail

Also typical of Santa Cruz is the moderate 467 mm reach of the Megatower in size L. The geometry is modern, but not extreme, and thanks to the short seat tube, riders who like their bike to be very long can generally go up a size. The pedalling position on the climbs is slightly stretched and with the slack seat tube angle, it’s definitely advisable to push the saddle forward. Once that’s done, steep climbs are no problem and the Megatower climbs willingly without the need of a climb switch. On technical climbs, the bike offers good traction and the front wheel is easy to steer through narrow sections.

The handling and 160 mm travel of the Megatower positions it perfectly between the Nomad and Bronson, making it the better all-rounder for a lot of riders!

Of course, the reason you buy the Megatower is for the descents. If you think this is a Nomad with 29″ wheels, you may be disappointed. The Megatower has a completely different, much firmer setup, which is in no way a negative. The rear end simply doesn’t feel as plush and it stays higher in its travel, giving you much more feedback from the trail. The Megatower allows you to generate a lot of speed by pumping it through rollers and berms, and once it’s at speed the rear end comes to life and offers lots of reserves. Cornering, the Santa Cruz is nicely balanced and predictable, letting you have fun on every kind of trail. See an obstacle you want to jump? Easy! Manual through a dip? With pleasure! If you want to ride the Megatower very fast in demanding terrain, the firm setup requires an engaged riding style and a lot of strength. We also spent some time riding the bike with the SuperDeluxe Coil shock. This made the suspension more sensitive and offers slightly more mid-stroke support but the generally firm feeling of the bike remains unchanged.

Firm and direct best describes the suspension, making the bike very efficient but at the cost of comfort

How does the Santa Cruz Megatower ride compared to the competition?

The Megatower is quite different from bikes like the Rocky Mountain Slayer or the Specialized Enduro S-Works. Its firmer suspension tune makes it more versatile and more fun on flowing and flat trails. When the terrain gets steep and demanding, you have to work a lot more on the Santa Cruz to keep up with the fastest bikes in the test field. Although the level of workmanship is higher, it plays in the same league as the Norco Sight C1 or the Orbea Rallon, which both score for their steeper seat tube angles.

Tuning tip: push the saddle all the way forward | choose the Super Deluxe coil shock

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The handling of the Santa Cruz Megatower is very balanced and a lot of fun to ride on every kind of trail. The firm suspension setup requires a courageous riding style in rough terrain and doesn’t spoil the rider with excessive comfort. In return, the bike provides plenty of feedback and easily generates a lot of speed when being pumped through dips, rollers and berms. The workmanship is top-notch, the slack seat tube angle, however, is a flop.


  • versatility
  • excellent workmanship
  • very good mix of agility and composure


  • demanding in rough terrain
  • seat tube angle too slack for climbing

You can find out more about the Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve at santacruzbicycles.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 LTD | CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 | Giant Reign Advanced 29 0 | Ibis Mojo HD5 | Norco Sight C1 29 | Nukeproof Mega 275C RS | Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro | Orbea Rallon M-LTD | Pole Stamina 180 LE | RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built | Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 90 29 | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned | Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS | Yeti SB150 T2 | YT CAPRA 29 CF Pro Race

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Words: Photos: Christoph Bayer / Finlay Anderson / Markus Frühmann