2017 Hightower Vs. Bronson (a survey)

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews' started by Mikie, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    If you were looking at a new bike and was considering Santa Cruz, and you happened to know the type of terrain Mikie likes to ride :whistling:.

    ...and, you happen to be looking at Hightower's and Bronson's... which would you choose?
    Pro's and Con's?

    2017 Santa Cruz Hightower
    IMG_0501.PNG

    2017 Santa Cruz Bronson
    IMG_0502.PNG
     
  2. rossage

    rossage iMTB Addict

    Location:
    East Sacramento
    Name:
    Ross Lawson
    Current Bike:
    Highball
  3. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS
    Hightower......

    135mm of travel.....150mm fork.....29"wheels.

    5.5" of travel is more than enough when it comes to the wagon wheels. Can still handle the chunk. Faster on trails like GE. Can still get air if you desire. Great climber. More versatile 29/27+.
     
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  4. rossage

    rossage iMTB Addict

    Location:
    East Sacramento
    Name:
    Ross Lawson
    Current Bike:
    Highball
    Yeah!
    :cool:
     
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  5. Sasquatch9billion

    Sasquatch9billion Well-Known Member

    Name:
    trinidad j. mendez
    I love the Bronson on paper but, I've never tried either.
     
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  6. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Nice head-to-head!

    But, Hightower for sure. Not because it's two bikes and not one, but because at least one of those bikes is better than a 27.5 at what you ride, Comrade.

    If you are considering these two I'd think the Hightower LT, aka Bronson 29, should be on the menu.

    I could see having reservation skipping from 26 to 29, but you've waited long enough that the 29ers are super dialed now. You might at first think you can't maneuver a 29 as well, but with some practice, you'll realize the real-world difference in maneuverability is trivial.

    Yeah indeed!!!!!! Threaded BB!!!!
     
  7. Varaxis

    Varaxis Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Perris
    Name:
    Dan Vu
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB5c ('16 Yellow v1)
    My intuition and rationalization (and bias) leans heavily on the HT as being the stronger choice between the two.

    The Hightower frame looks much more structurally advanced, but I don't like the mismatch between the wimpy XC/trail-oriented shock and the stoutness of the frame and fork (the dual struts on the swingarm invites you to ride serious chunky terrain). Looks like it'd need a new shock, first thing. Its more versatile, fitting 27.5+ tires if you desire. It's likely the route to go if you want to cover ground quickly, especially long epic rides. The big wheels naturally will tame the ground, making challenges more manageable, and keeping the wife at home less worried about you making it back in one piece. Should have to have the mindset of creating goals of pushing your riding further and higher, with a faster pace.

    The Bronson probably will feel more familiar to a retro biker. It's the "tweener's" tweener bike in every sense of the word, but the suspension on it says that it's ready for a challenge, and will encourage the rider to push themselves. The linear suspension curve will likely feel fast & efficient, but will be less forgiving, which will have one relying on the damper's adjustable damping for control. It will provide more thrills for sure, but that also means close calls to crashes. One should go into the mindset of this purchase with the goal of honing their riding skill (and sense of choosing various lines) to a greater degree of accuracy, and tackling specific technical challenges (difficult sections of trails), by repeatedly sessioning them.

    Of course, one can also have the same mindset of the Bronson while on the Hightower, and vice versa, but the I think it's a wise bet that Hightower will come out on top in this duel. I don't think many have the riding style to bring out the flair in the Bronson's "dancing", and I worry about riders "tripping" while trying to match its lead.

    Personally, I'd choose neither and would keep waiting for:
    - mixed wheel sizes (ex. 29er front, 650b rear)
    - the electronic revolution (ex. Fox Live damping)
    - geometry revolution (ex. Geometron, Pole Evolink)
    - suspension revolution (ex. Naild R3act2Play, Missing Link)
    - something that would make a good quiver companion (a capable FS bike with a progressive hardtail)

    And most importantly, it should keep the challenge level of the trails you ride most in the "fun zone". Not too scary/thrilling, but not too easy/boring. A compromise is sometimes required for that, and I'd be looking to the Tallboy or SB5 with this important point considered. I learned that a bike that fits more as a "partner", as opposed to a supporter or a tool, seems to create a reliable long lasting relationship.

    I will also admit that I'm a closet ebike proponent. I see them as the future, but waiting for them to check the boxes on the things I listed above. That and there's the whole BLM and USFS stance on them that is hamstringing their usefulness. I expect more and more of us will inevitably be on one within 5-10 years.
     
  8. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    @Mikie Have you ridden a Santa Cruz? VPP has characteristics that are different from the ASR of your Yeti. I haven't ridden the newer Santa Cruz version of VPP, but their older ones felt a little more harsh in the initial stroke - skipping over stuff instead of soaking it up - even with proper sag. I am going on the Nomad and Blur LTs I rode in about 2011. It's also how I would describe my VPP Tracer. I am guessing the new Bronson and Hightower come with much-refined kinematics since those earlier designs.

    Lots of people are gravitating towards the Hightower, including my buddy Mo who may be one of the more "rad" riders I know. He came off the new Pivot Firebird (7" travel) bike and loves his Hightower (27.5 plus). With the ledgy riding you like to do, and the big mileage, I would steer you towards a 29er.

    I can probably set you up with a demo on any of these, but you'd have to make a trip beneath the Orange Curtain.

    Oh, and I respectfully disagree with Varaxis. Waiting for technology will keep you from ever purchasing a bike, because something is being developed to make your bike or components obsolete. You've waited long enough,. Enjoy now, if you can.
     
  9. Varaxis

    Varaxis Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Perris
    Name:
    Dan Vu
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB5c ('16 Yellow v1)
    Nothing truly innovative has come out though. Everything has been quite incremental. List off the tech that makes his bike obsolete, that he can't upgrade into. The things I've listed are game changers. GAME CHANGERS.

    There's tech and there's engineering. Engineering is making things super refined, with the finest materials, high precision, and lots of attention to detail. All this is $$$$, that Mikie's very familiar with, considering his field of work. Technology brings the performance of $$$$ engineering into the hands of everyday people, making it easily accessible and reliable to get a good experience out of it, with less inconvenience and less required knowledge. I'm promoting tech, out of my own bias here. Engineering is merely something I appreciate, and dream about owning, waiting for tech to make it something that I can actually own and enjoy. People often ask, why so-and-so costs so much $$$$, and why owners say it's worth it, and most times the answer can be summed up as finer engineering. It becomes a game of subtle differences... not sure how this works for women's purses though...

    The only reason to be a "closet" anything, is due to the inevitable social rejection. I believe quite strongly enough about this. If I'm after a solid quality experience (not the best, dragon chasing type), I know my $$$ is best invested in tech. It's quite obvious that $1500 into a 250W (1/3 hp, or less than mtnbikej's legs) motor and 500Wh battery gives way more of what you desire out of bike performance than the equivalent in some carbon upgrade parts. I also believe retirement is the ultimate form of luxury. Should keep the YOLOing and debauchery in moderation, if you don't want to negatively affect the goal of retiring.

    IMO, a 26" bike truly needs top quality tires and suspension. It relies super heavily on these two things, geometry aside, moreso than bigger wheeled bikes. The rest is merely beefed up enough to not deal with premature failure, especially not on the trails. It's quite easy to reach the fun zone on his current bike, riding at a med-hard level. Likely have to ride at an even harder level to reach the fun zone on a Hightower with upgraded shock. The issue is more about leveling the playing field when riding with others, since you can get caught in someone else's pace and that might not be optimal for your own enjoyment, hence why you have to be thinking about the other rider's gear to make sure you can ride at a similar pace (considering their ability level too). Can always ride your own pace, but I think with the tires and susp covered, it's all up to the rider to bridge any gap. Does whoever this is for need the help? Well then, long story short, tech will get him there with less $$$ spent, but the Tallboy and SB5 are worthy engineering samples to consider, if you cannot stand to wait (I'd say Tallboy between these 2). ;)
     
  10. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    Not really looking to change the game... I like the game. Can't speak for Mikie.

    I would say most of the changes you listed are also incremental - but you're the engineer. Until I know differently, I'll take your word for it and revel in the limitations of my present equipment. I'm not sure if Mikie is waiting for a game changer, but he may heed your advice.

    Isn't a modern 29er a game changer?
     
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  11. rossage

    rossage iMTB Addict

    Location:
    East Sacramento
    Name:
    Ross Lawson
    Current Bike:
    Highball
    Yeah!
    29ers, oh yeah!

    2017-07-05 18.42.32.jpg
     
  12. Varaxis

    Varaxis Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Perris
    Name:
    Dan Vu
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB5c ('16 Yellow v1)
    29er vs 26 was sort of a game changer, which would've been more impactful if only it didn't take 12+ years for the rest of the bike's proportions to size up with the wheel size up to keep things comparative stiff and stout. Now it doesn't feel like it, since 27.5 also received the same proportion size ups. The only game change I acknowledge between early 29er and now, is the fading of the weight weenie game and the widespread acceptance of solidly built parts (Enduro game).

    Boost and 15-20mm increase in reach is incremental. Have you seen the new geo? It's more like 70mm of extra reach, increased mechanical trail on the rear and front wheel. It's quite understated how a longer downtube amplifies the weight on the front wheel, not to mention how the longer front center makes front impacts significantly softer, which are huge benefits to common handling issues. Not to mention shorter seat tubes and lower and more centralized CoGs.

    The future of suspension will unsettle from the current DW-inspired linkage kinematics, to balance in greater importance of damping and adjusting it to adapt to the terrain and rider demands. Stressing over 80-120% AS, leverage curves, and a few mm of chain growth and what not, that's incremental.

    Sooo much more opportunity opens up with a power source on board. Can have way more info available in a heads up display, improving on cycle computers. Integrated everything, from cameras to lights. Think of how handy it would be to have a stop light integrated.

    Speaking of integrated, integrated droppers are coming, and I believe it's a safe bet that people will be wanting them.

    There's still aero to consider too. Drivetrains too (ex. gearbox). That and general eco-awareness. I'd love to see efforts making sure things are kept in a nice closed recycling loop, without too much burden on companies or consumer to make sure this happens. Carbon isn't the most recyclable material, often being shredded and used for parts without much structural integrity.

    I see problems with the status quo. Only the ones that have ability, money, and knowledge are thriving. Conserving the status quo, to avoid new inevitable problems helps to avoid seriously bad new problems, but it seems lazy, irresponsible, and unimaginative to me. I'd rather see change and adapt to it, but that's just me.
     
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  13. riiz

    riiz Member

    Location:
    Redlands, CA
    Name:
    Eric
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Heckler/Killmaleon
    Hightower
     
  14. riiz

    riiz Member

    Location:
    Redlands, CA
    Name:
    Eric
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Heckler/Killmaleon
    Since you had the time to write a thesis on the subject, which bike would you buy today?
     
  15. Varaxis

    Varaxis Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Perris
    Name:
    Dan Vu
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB5c ('16 Yellow v1)
    @riiz: Haven't been doing any active comparisons to current bikes. I'd say a Pivot Mach 5.5, SC Tallboy, or Focus Jam^2 pique my interest most. A SC Chameleon (the more expensive option of the 2) as a quiver companion. Yay for thread derailment? :D

    I'll add that I like the direction the Whyte S-150 and Transition Sentinel, among the less revolutionary bikes, are taking and would like to see the skeptics ride them to their limits.

    I feel like I'm drawn to the short travel 29er category most. Tallboy, Ripley LS, Spark, etc. (even Scalpel SE*) all seem very attractive to me.

    * I swear I saw some news about a special edition Scalpel with Fox 34/Pike and longer rear travel.
     
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  16. DangerDirtyD

    DangerDirtyD iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    La Verne, CA
    Name:
    Dennis (AKA Dio)
    Current Bike:
    2013 Trek Slash 9 (26er)
    Both bikes will instill more confidence in your riding, and you will find yourself taking bigger risks with speed or line choice or both. Rather than putting you in more danger, the Bronson is more likely to carry you through. However, based only on the trails you and I have ridden together, you'd have more fun and generally ride faster on the Hightower. I haven't ridden either bike, but I think pinning it on both bikes would be inspiring, and where the Bronson would excel would be over 40 MPH through rock gardens or on tight switchbacks. Then again, my wife's 120mm 29er handles switchbacks much better than my 160mm 26er. For the 29er, consider swapping the XT brakes with Zee or Saint.
     
  17. MCB2K

    MCB2K Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Castle Rock, CO
    Name:
    Brian Kiggins
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc
    You've seen me on my TB LTc. The Hightower is exponentially better. It'll be more bike than you'll ever use.
     
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  18. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    Ive got a friend who has a Bronson and he loves it. He moved up from a SC 26er. He rides primarily super chunk/techy terrain in another state. In So Cal, considering the terrain we have, I feel that a 29er is the way to go. I am basing that on the fact that it truly does roll over sketch better than smaller wheels and it truly does climb faster. We do have some techy stuff here but we have lots more flow. 29er FTW.
     
  19. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    The IMTBT jury has spoken.

    (I wasn't merely agreeing with Jason...didn't see any opinions aside from Yeah! before I logged. Good to see a general consensus.)

    Mikie, I think it's clear which tool works better for your jobs. Speed and efficiency isn't everything, though, and you'll have to snuggle up with some wheel and tire sizes to confirm your true love.

    Not that my formula works for you, but I went from 26 to 29 to 27.5 to 29. I spent a couple years on the 27.5. I'm glad to be back on 29 with zero plans to entertain other wheel sizes (maybe 275+ if I have the option).

    With all I know about you and your riding, Mikie, I'm surprised you have not moved toward big hoops. Each to her own. If I was getting a do-all trail bike today, it would probably be a Hightower.
     
  20. UPSed

    UPSed iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Simi Valley
    Name:
    Edward Bottorff
    Current Bike:
    Niner Jet 9 RDO Plus
    From SC

    29
    If straight line speed, rallying through rock gardens and sprinting out of turns is your bag, then 29” wheels are the big ticket. Upgrade to the new Santa Cruz Reserve carbon rims and you have a precision instrument on your hands.

    27.5+
    When conditions get loose and the traction just ain’t there, you’ll want to reach for bigger tires. 27.5+ elevates Hightower to a whole different level, enabling you to rise above the fray, rail the soft spots, and carry momentum where standard tires bog down.

    Personally I would go 27.5+ and pick up a set of 29" wheels later. Also the plus comes with a 150 fork and the 29 comes with a 140.
     
  21. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Okay...
    I gave a complete open slate with no preload of reasons and you guys did not disappoint!
    Why am I shopping?
    I am of the belief that the bike industry has progressed enough to entertain a new bike and the dust has "sort of" settled down enough to buy something without the fear of the following day a paradigm shift that will not catch me by surprise.

    I'm at a point where my best game isn't good enough and I'm thinking that its time for better equipment. I truly love my Yeti ASR5c, but I'm hoping to experience a more stable and apt platform to level the performance factor. I just did a run at GE the other day at suicide pace, everything clicked, two very minor bobbles, but nothing to lose 18 seconds to the present KOM'er. Now don't get all fluffy about that statement. I rarely go for a KOM anymore and I realize that bikes are more than a STRAVA data point. The "point" is, that both first and second are on 27.5 plus tires. One an Ibis, the other Santa Cruz so I am feeling like I'm finally missing out on some tech goodness. Like when I finally upgraded to a dropper, or more recently 1x ( which I am so digging!).

    Why Santa Cruz?
    One of my 3 most favorite bikes! Yeti, Santa Cruz, and Ibis are neck and neck with me. I'm a boutique biker (extend pinkie).

    Why Santa Cruz?
    I will not buy a press fit bottom bracket, I have access to significant demo time and killer purchaseabilty from a close friend on the Santa Cruz lineup (Thank you @herzalot for the demo offer!).

    Why Hightower vs Bronson?
    Both are 27.5 capable. You guys know I love my squish and I have always wanted a 6 inch bike, but the 29'er wheel option has me interested to have options and many here who I have tremendous respect for have clearly stated that you do not need as much squish with 29'er wheels.

    And for the record, I totally dig the commentary that @Varaxis tosses out there!
    I'm always sad when he disappears for a while.

    You guys are smart people, I genuinely always appreciate your bike wisdom!

    The SC Hightower is looking like a strong possibility and @UPSed nails it on my thoughts for a second set of 29'er wheels.

    Best place ever!

    Edit: I think @mike sums it up pretty neatly.

    Edit#2: ...and then there is @rossage 's brilliant commentary...
     
  22. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    Small niggle... The Hightower is 27.5+ capable, not standard 27.5, like the Bronson. There is a huge difference in the overall diameter of 27.5 and 27.5+. Hardly any difference between the + and 29, though...

    And, by the way, that Hightower is the only full suspension bike to catch my eye in years. With two kids in college, I won't be hopping on for a demo anytime soon. You, however, need to get your butt aboard one ASAP. :thumbsup:
     
  23. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Now this does have my attention. I pay no attention to sag what so ever. I base air pressure off the biggest hits I take to get maximum suspension. So my current Yeti is very "fluffy". Chows the chudder which I feel is the majority of a tech ride.
     
  24. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Good point and all the more reason to Hightower it.
     
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  25. hill^billy

    hill^billy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    I recently road some Big Chunk with Tom The Bomb, and it was very apparent that, him on a large frame and 29" wheels, I on a small frame, and 26" wheels were no match, my momentum requirement was at least 15% to 20% higher, which translates into less time to pick a line! Sorry I can't say which bike I would choose, but if you are going to ride chunk, than 29. I'm listening!
     
  26. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom
    Current Bike:
    Pick one, got a few
    Yep @Mikie I'd say Hightower based on it's proven performance it's versatility. You need a bike that'l do anything & everything well on any given day so versatility is key. You & I know and have talked to many guys who ride the HT and they can't all be wrong with their assessments of the bike. Still gotta demo though and by that I mean several rides on our own trails. Just make sure you get the grey/white ish colorord one and not that bright ass orange thing. A color like that would draw too much and probably get us shot at on some of our fence hopping back country adventure rides.
     
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  27. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Lets try to get a couple for SART on Saturday!
     
  28. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Coming from 26" and known vintage, absolutely it would be. And I don't use that worn-out term lightly.
     
  29. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom
    Current Bike:
    Pick one, got a few
    No... I can't ride this Saturday. Got family obligations & the wife will kill me if I bail. How bout the following weekend?
     
    herzalot, Danmtchl and Mikie like this.
  30. dustyyoungblood

    dustyyoungblood Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ladera Ranch
    Name:
    Dustan Baker
    Current Bike:
    Foes Mixer Trail
    I had about 500 words typed up on ht vs Bronson but deleted it for a more refined list of bullet points.

    1. If it does not have at least one 29" wheel, it's out. So no bronson
    2. The Bronson has a trade off for its spectacular small bump performance through its very plush and compliant 1/3 to 1/2 of travel. That's a very harsh high progressive ending 1/3 of the stroke. No thanks.
     
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