When it comes to Santa Cruz’s XC pageant, the Highball Carbon CC 29 X01 Complete Mountain Bike takes the crown and scepter. There are certainly more expensive builds of the wagon-wheeled hardtail, but anyone who’s spun SRAM’s X01 drivetrain up to speed knows that the only real difference between it and XX1 is weight. The DT Swiss 350 hubs and Easton’s new ARC 24 are similarly dependable and race-ready kit, and — far from being a budget model — Shimano’s XT brakes are largely the choice of any aspiring racer without a sponsor insisting that they ride a more expensive model.
The latest Highball Carbon CC frame is built with the same Carbon CC construction as its predecessor. It features a higher modulus carbon than the Carbon C model, so less material is required to hit the same strength and stiffness numbers. Less material equates to a lighter chassis that needs fewer watts to propel, and the watts that you do pour into it are transferred with greater efficiency courtesy of the increased stiffness.
The whole frame is also a single piece instead of a jigsaw puzzle of individually-cured carbon tubes. This allows Santa Cruz to wrap the fibers continuously around structurally important junctures like the head tube and bottom bracket, buttressing the frame and dissipating the force from impacts and pedaling load. Translated into trail talk, this means it hits the bricks when you stomp on the pedals and dampens high-speed chatter. The Highball’s efficiency combines with its low-weight for a package that makes any full-suspension bike’s responsiveness feel as sharp as an overripe banana.