Santa Cruz’s Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV is the brand’s new all-singing, all-dancing enduro bike, with long travel and 29in wheels. The new Megatower is one of the highest-spec bikes of its kind out there. However, unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive bikes in its category, with a price tag a few hundred pounds short of £10,000. So, do the Megatower’s updates, with new geometry, suspension kinematics, chassis improvements and frame features, justify the price? You can read my news story on the new Santa Cruz Megatower for the full tech briefing; here I’m going to focus on the CC X01 AXS RSV model, with a carbon frame and SRAM X01 Eagle ASX groupset, and how it rides.
Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV frame and suspension details
While the silhouette of the new Megatower looks remarkably familiar, Santa Cruz has refined the bike in many ways. The new Megatower has received a significant makeover, even if the frame’s silhouette looks remarkably similar. This model Megatower delivers 165mm of rear-wheel travel, paired with a 170mm-travel fork. The CC carbon provides the same strength and stiffness as Santa Cruz’s cheaper C carbon, but for a lighter weight. The frames now also feature size-specific stiffnesses. Lighter riders get a more compliant frame and heavier riders a stiffer frame. There are also size-specific chainstays with the new frame.
Santa Cruz has made plenty of refinements to the frame, improving size-specific stiffness and chainstay lengths for a more consistent ride experience across all sizes. The suspension kinematics have been refined and use a longer stroke shock to reduce the leverage ratio. This allows the shock to provide more damping support for aggressive riding. Also, the Fox Float X2 Factory shock has been fully custom-valved for the Megatower, with no off-the-shelf tuning settings.
The new ‘Glovebox’ gives access to down-tube storage. The frame features internal down-tube storage from Santa Cruz’s new ‘Glovebox’. There are two bags that enable you to hide tools and spares, keeping them in easy reach and rattle-free. Other features include space for a water bottle, a threaded bottom bracket shell, channelled internal cable routing, Boost hub spacing, clearance for 2.5in tyres and plenty of frame protection to keep the bike quiet and reduce impact damage.
Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV geometry
The updated geometry puts the Megatower in line with modern-day enduro bikes. It’s become slacker, steeper and a fraction longer where needed. In addition, the Megatower has a flip chip on the lower-link shock mount, giving the bike two geometry charts.
The flip chip in the lower link enables you to choose between a high and low setting, depending on your trails and riding style. I tested the size medium and, after a few runs, I switched the bike to the low position and kept it there. This setting gives the bike a 452mm reach, which is 5mm longer than the old bike. The head tube angle is raked out to 63.5 degrees, and the effective seat tube angle sits at 77.2 degrees. The size-specific chainstays are 438mm for the medium in the low setting, and it runs a short 405mm-length seat tube. The bottom-bracket drop is 30mm in this setup.
|Santa Cruz Megatower (high setting)|
|Head tube angle (degrees)||63.8||63.8||63.8||63.8||63.8|
|Seat tube angle (degrees)||77.2||77.4||77.8||77.8||77.8|
|Seat tube length (mm)||380||404||430||460||500|
|BB height (mm)||346||346||346||346||346|
|Top tube (mm)||570||594||613||637||666|
|Santa Cruz Megatower (low setting)|
|Head tube angle (degrees)||63.5||63.5||63.5||63.5||63.5|
|Seat tube angle (degrees)||77||77.2||77.5||77.5||77.5|
|Seat tube length (mm)||380||404||430||460||500|
|BB height (mm)||343||343||343||343||343|
|Top tube (mm)||570||595||613||636||667|
Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV specifications
For nearly £10,000, I’d expect the killer kit that’s on this bike. As the name suggests, it gets a full SRAM X01 Eagle ASX drivetrain with 12-speed 10-50 cassette and X1 carbon cranks. SRAM Code RSC brakes with 200mm rotors front and rear keep the spec high.
A SRAM X01 Eagle AXS drivetrain takes care of the gearing. This spec runs the smaller 10-50t cassette and a 30t chainring. There are Fox 38 Factory GRIP2 forks with 170mm travel and a custom-tuned Fox Float X2 Factory rear shock. The wheels use Reserve (Santa Cruz’s wheel brand) Carbon 30 rims with Industry Nine 1/1 hubs. Rolling stock on this model is a Maxxis Assegai 3C EXO+ MaxxGrip 29×2.5 WT front tyre and a Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO+ MexxTerra 29×2.4in WT rear tyre.
The Fox 38 Factory fork is a good match for such an expensive bit of kit, and delivers on performance. Santa Cruz supplies the carbon handlebar and Palmdale grips. A Bergtec Enduro MK3 stem finishes off the cockpit. To complete the build, you get a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post and a WTB saddle.
Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV ride impressions
I rode the new Megatower over a couple of days in the central Pyrenees, near to Loudenvielle, where they hosted a round of last year’s Enduro World Series. I tested the bike on some of those EWS stages, local bike park trails, natural singletrack and steep hand-cut loam trails. I set the bike up with the advised 30 per cent sag. I ran the compression fully open on the forks and shock, and set the rebound to my preferred speed.
Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV climbing performance
The Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV is a mouthful to say, but it’s easy to ride and makes you feel comfortable immediately. I kept the bike in its open shock setting for the climbs I tackled. Sitting down while pedalling, it never bobbed wildly or sank into its travel too far. The Megatower pedals well for its travel and doesn’t wasting energy on the climbs. However, it still has a little sensitivity to smooth out chunkier terrain. In its enduro class, it’s a good climber.
The effective seat tube angle put me in a comfortable position. The effective top tube length meant I never felt too hunched over to reach the bars. The climbing position is upright and relaxed, although I didn’t tackle any sustained climbs, with nothing longer than 15 minutes or so. However, on the few hills I rode, I had a good position over the bottom bracket for an efficient pedal stroke.
Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV descending performance
The Megatower feels calm and composed in chunky terrain. On first impressions, nothing unusual about the Megatower jumps out. It’s a bike that’s very easy to ride. From the first run riding unknown trails, I was comfortable and able to ride at a pace at the top of my comfort zone. The custom tuning on the Fox Float X2 shock is undoubtedly impressive, and it’s clear Santa Cruz has spent plenty of time dialling it in. The rear end sits into its travel nicely and keeps the rear tyre pressed firmly into the dirt. There’s tons of grip on tap through the corners, adding to the confidence this bike delivers. The Megatower doesn’t wallow or waste travel. A reasonable amount of support enables you to push into compressions and turns without feeling as though the bike is stealing momentum.
Small trail chatter is taken care of impressively, and I didn’t notice any harsh feedback or vibrations coming through my hands and feet. In fact, I was surprised by how long I could ride the Megatower fast before fatigue started to take over. This was helped by how well the suspension deals with bigger hits. There’s good progression and it feels plush but not soft. It takes the sting out of the bumps, meaning you don’t have to.
The new Megatower is a thrill in the turns and enables you to hammer them with confidence. The moderate 452mm reach allowed me to manoeuvre the bike through turns and kinks in the trail with ease, and kept the weight distribution between the wheels well balanced. That helped me to find plenty of traction, further inspiring confidence on all trails. Under braking, the Megatower felt active enough and never harsh over the bumps.
The slack 63.5-degree head tube angle provided enough stability when speeds increased, but I was never struggling to weight the front tyre for traction when the trails got steep. The moderate reach numbers and chainstay lengths, paired with a slack head tube angle, are a great combination to blend stability and agility. Santa Cruz has done this well. The rest of the kit on the bike worked well for the couple of days of testing I had, although it was too short a time for more extensive reliability testing. I was, however, impressed by Maxxis’ new EXO+ casing tyres. They are a worthy improvement.
Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV bottom line
The Megatower was an absolute blast to ride. The bike’s levels of grip and composure made it easy to reach my limits, and it feels as though it asks you to push harder. It shines going up and down the trail and will be a good match for anyone who wants to get the most out of their riding. Of course, you need deep pockets for this model. However, if other models can offer a similar performance at a lower price, the new Megatower will definitely be worth a look.