There have been rumors about major teams and fast riders showing up for a World Cup downhill race on 29ers this year, but Santa Cruz is the first major team to confirm it with news of a 29-inch V10.
I can already hear the comments; “but XXXX did it first!”. Yes, there have been a number of 29er downhill bikes out there for over a decade, including bikes from Waltworks, BCD, Intense and Alutech, but we’ve never seen one used at the World Cup level.
The Santa Cruz Hightower opened up a lot of eyes to the speed of a well-designed 29er. Santa Cruz credits Greg Minnaar as the driving force behind this V10 project. “I raced the Hightower at the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure, Italy, last October, and it just held so much speed,” explains Greg. “That’s when I knew we had to come back to the 29er V10 idea.”
The bikes being raced aren’t cobbled together prototypes. The main frame is from the current 27.5 V-10, combined with a new carbon fiber rear end and revised linkages. The fork is a Fox 40 designed specifically for 29ers, including a new “Boost” 20×110 front hub standard. Groan away. You deserve at least that.
Maxxis has been making aggressive 29 inch tires for years now, including a 3C/Double Down version of the Minion DHF on the V-10 shown here. Perhaps this is a full-on DH casing with a wire bead? I have an email into Maxxis about the tires, will update if I hear back.
Santa Cruz has a great write-up on the bike and the design and build process on its website.
Tune in this Sunday for racing action in Lourdes, France. I’d be willing to be an expensive six-pack the Syndicate will not be alone on 29-inch wheels this weekend.