As the thoroughbred enduro racer in Santa Cruz’s stable, the Megatower X01 AXS RSV stands up against the competition alongside its rowdy freeride sibling, the Nomad, which shares near-identical hard numbers. But how does the Megatower fare against the competition in our 2023 enduro group test and how does it compare to the Nomad?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review

Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV | 170/165 mm (f/r) | 29″
15.6 kg in size L | € 11,799 | Manufacturer’s website

The Megatower X01 AXS RSV is Santa Cruz’s enduro racer and enters our big 2023 enduro group test alongside its mullet sibling, the Nomad, which was developed mainly as a rowdy freeride bruiser. Both bikes share the same front triangle and geometry but employ different rear suspension kinematics. Both Cali brothers tip the scales at 15.6 kg and retail at € 11,799, which places them amongst the most expensive bikes in the entire test field. The Megatower combines 170 mm of travel at the front and 165 mm at the rear, generating 5 mm less rear travel than the Nomad.

The Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV 2023 in detail

The Megatower X01 AXS RSV employs Santa Cruz’s high-end CC carbon frame, which relies on a larger proportion of higher strength fibres, providing the same degree of stiffness at a lower weight compared to its more affordable C counterpart. Like all new bikes in Santa Cruz’s portfolio, the Megatower features the practical “Glovebox” storage compartment in the down tube, which comes standard with two pouches and is closed at the bottom to prevent the contents from disappearing into the depths of the frame. The closing system is intuitive and easy to use and holds the cover firmly in place. A small mudguard protects the shock from mud and flying debris. All cables are routed internally through the frame and securely clamped at the entry point in the head tube.

With its practical partition wall, intuitive and efficient closing system and the two standard pouches, Santa Cruz’s Glovebox storage compartment is well thought out and beautifully implemented.

Although the Megatower has a tall front end, the weight is evenly distributed between the front and rear.

The spec of the Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV 2023

As the eye-watering price suggests, the Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV comes with a high-end spec, including bling FOX Factory suspension. This consists of a 38 mm GRIP2 fork and X2 air shock, which both offer external low- and high-speed compression and rebound settings, allowing you to adjust the suspension to your needs and riding style. SRAM CODE RSC brakes with 200 mm rotors front and rear do stopping duties. The 175 mm RockShox Reverb dropper ensures smooth operation but offers among the second least amount of travel in the entire test field, restricting freedom of movement on the trail. Shifting is taken care of by a mixed, wireless SRAM drivetrain consisting of an X01 rear derailleur and cheaper GX paddle shifter. However, the latter only weighs 3 g more than its high-end counterpart and delivers the same excellent performance on the trail. At 500%, the cassette offers a smaller gear range than other Eagle cassettes in this test, but the smaller 30 t chainring makes up for it, allowing you to negotiate even steep climbs. Santa Cruz also rely on several in-house components, including the 800 mm carbon handlebars and Reserve 30|HD carbon rims, which are laced onto Industry Nine hubs. Rubber guru MAXXIS supplies the tires: our test bike combines an ASSEGAI with EXO+ casing and soft MaxxGrip rubber compound at the front and Minion DHR II with DoubleDown casing and harder MaxxTerra rubber compound at the rear. However, the air-shock variants of the Nomad are delivered as standard with both tires in the puncture prone EXO+ casing, while all coil shock variants come standard with the robust DoubleDown casing front and rear – which should be standard setup across the entire range in our opinion.

User friendly
The Glovebox, which is installed in all new Santa Cruz bikes, has no sharp edges, is closed at the bottom and two pouches are included.
Brake technology
RSC stands for reach, SwingLink and contact and gives away what technologies hide inside the top-end lever of the SRAM CODE brakes.
Big boy
SRAM’s HS2 rotors are just 0.2 mm thicker than their Centerline model and are meant to dissipate heat better while improving the overall braking performance.
Same difference!
A flip chip allows you to alter the geometry of the Megatower, albeit to a small extent.

Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV

€ 11,799


Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX X2 Factory 165 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb 175 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01/GX AXS Eagle 1x12
Stem Burgtec Enduro MK3 42,5 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Reserve 30IHD 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI, EXO+, 3C MaxxGrip/MAXXIS Minion DHR II, Doubledown, 3C MaxxTerra 2.5/2.4

Technical Data

Weight 15.6 kg

Specific Features

storage compartment

The geometry of the Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV 2023

The Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV is available in five sizes, S to XXL and shares nearly identical geometry with the Nomad. The only differences are the chainstays, which, at 441 mm in size L, are 3 mm shorter on the Megatower. Moreover, chainstay length grows with the frame size, providing consistent handling across all sizes. The Megatower pairs 472 mm reach and a pleasantly-short 430 mm seat tube, but unfortunately the short-dropper post prevents you from fully exploiting the benefits of the latter. A flip chip in the shock mount allows you to adjust the reach and head angle, albeit only slightly. Needless to say, we rode the bike almost exclusively in the low setting.

Seat tube 380 mm 405 mm 430 mm 460 mm 500 mm
Top Tube 570 mm 594 mm 613 mm 637 mm 666 mm
Head tube 90 mm 100 mm 115 mm 135 mm 150 mm
Head angle 63.8/63.5° 63.8/63.5° 63.8/63.5° 63.8/63.5° 63.8/63.5°
Seat angle 77.3/77.0° 77.4/77.2° 77.8/77.5° 77.8/77.5° 77.8/77.5°
Chainstay 436 mm 437 mm 440 mm 443 mm 447 mm
BB Drop 26.5 mm 26.5 mm 26.5 mm 26.5 mm 26.5 mm
Wheelbase 1,206 mm 1,236 mm 1,266 mm 1,298 mm 1,333 mm
Reach 430 mm 455 mm 475 mm 495 mm 520 mm
Stack 618 mm 625 mm 638 mm 656 mm 670 mm
Helmet Bluegrass Legit Carbon | Goggle POC Ora | Jacket Specialized Trail Series Wind Jacket | Pants Specialized Demo Pro Pants | Shoes Unparallel Up Link

The Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV 2023 on the trail

The Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV puts you in a comfortable pedalling position, with the weight evenly distributed between the front and rear wheel. While this prevents pressure from building up in your hands, the front wheel still keeps planted on the ground, even on steep climbing sections. Pedal bob is marginal and the Megatower is significantly more efficient than the Nomad, reaching the top of the mountain alongside the Hope HB916 and Intense Tracer, thus ranking in the midfield of this test for climbing performance.

The suspension of the Megatower provides plenty of feedback from the ground, ensuring a direct ride feeling but also requiring an experienced rider.

The Megatower is ready for all situations and its suspension ensures excellent all round qualities.

When gravity takes over, the Megatower still feels incredibly well balanced and inspires confidence with one of the tallest front ends in the entire test field – albeit slightly lower than the Nomad. As a result, the Megatower doesn’t integrate you as deeply into the frame as the Nomad but at the same time feels more balanced, allowing you to generate excellent traction on the front wheel without having to shift your weight forward, even when negotiating nasty off-camber sections and open corners. Compared to its freeride sibling, the Megatower has firmer suspension but is still plusher than the Yeti SB160, providing excellent feedback from the ground but also requiring you to be more vigilant. With a pre-emptive riding style and the right set of skills, the Megatower is a damn fast bike but can also transform the tiniest mistake into a chilling “oh shit” moment in a matter of seconds. Nevertheless, with its well-balanced suspension, the Megatower is an excellent all-rounder and rewards active riders with tons of fun on all sorts of trails, from natural gnar through flowing bike park tracks, all the way to alpine singletracks.

Tuning tips: Tires with more robust casing front and rear

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 Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV fully lives up to its enduro racer label and although it shares similar hard numbers with the Nomad, it’s a completely different bike. The Megatower distributes your weight more evenly between the front and rear, provides more feedback from the ground and is the better all-rounder of the two. And while it can be challenging to ride, experienced riders with a pre-emptive style can ride it extremely fast and have the time of their life in the process.


  • Storage compartment well implemented
  • Good balance between front and rear
  • High front end inspires plenty of confidence


  • Tires don’t do justice to the potential of the bike
  • Short travel dropper post restricts freedom of movement

You can find out more about at

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 8 (Click for review) | Deviate Claymore (Click for review) | Hope HB916 (Click for review) | Intense Tracer 279 S (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 (Click for review) | Mondraker Carbon Foxy RR (Click for review) | Norco Range C1 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV | Santa Cruz Nomad X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | Yeti 160E T1 (Click for review) | Yeti SB160 T3 (Click for review)

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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger

About the author

Simon Kohler

​​Simon loves speed. He has many years of racing experience as a longboard downhill skater, blasting down alpine passes on his board. In the meantime, he’s swapped four wheels for two, charging down trails and bike park lines aboard his mountain bike instead. He’s savoured some of Europe’s finest trails on various road trips through the Alps. Having lived in Austria for some time, he knows the local Austrian bike parks like the back of his hand. He’s a tech nerd through and through, using the skills and know-how from his engineering degree and his attention to detail to put the latest bikes and components through their paces for our reviews. As an early riser and self-declared muesli connoisseur, he lives his life powered by oats and the strength of his legs.