2022 Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV first driving review

Santa Cruz’s Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV is the brand’s new all-singing, all-dancing enduro bike, with long travel and 29er wheels.

The new Megatower is one of the most capable bikes of its kind. However, unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive bikes in its class, with a price tag of a few hundred pounds under £10,000.

So do the updates to the Megatower, with new geometry, suspension kinematics, chassis upgrades and frame features, justify the price tag?

You can read my feature on the new Santa Cruz Megatower for the full tech brief; here I will 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.
Max Schumann

The new Megatower has had a facelift, although the frame silhouette is remarkably similar. This Megatower model offers 165mm of rear wheel travel, paired with a 170mm travel fork.

The CC carbon offers the same strength and stiffness as the cheaper Santa Cruz C carbon, but for a lighter weight.

Frames now also feature size-specific stiffnesses. Lighter riders get a softer frame and heavier riders get a stiffer frame. There are also size-specific bases with the new frame.

Santa Cruz has made numerous improvements to the frame, improving stiffness and size-specific chainstay lengths for a more consistent riding experience across all sizes.
Max Schumann

The suspension kinematics have been refined and use a longer stroke damper to reduce the leverage ratio. This allows the shock to provide more damping support for aggressive riding.

Additionally, the Fox Float X2 Factory shock was completely custom-tuned for the Megatower, with no out-of-the-box tuning parameters.

New “glove box” provides access to downtube storage.
Max Schumann

The frame features internal storage in the downtube of Santa Cruz’s new “glove box.” There are two bags that allow you to hide tools and spare parts, keeping them handy and quiet.

Other features include space for a water bottle, threaded bottom bracket shell, internal channeled cable routing, Boost hub spacing, clearance for 2.5″ tires and plenty of frame protection to keep the bike quiet and reduce impact damage.

Geometry Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV

Updated geometry brings the Megatower in line with modern enduro bikes. It got slower, steeper and a fraction longer where needed.

Additionally, the Megatower has a flip chip on the lower link shock mount, giving the bike two geometry arrays.

The flip chip in the lower arm lets you choose between a high and low setting, depending on your trails and riding style.
Max Schumann

I tested the size medium and after a few runs put the bike in the low position and held it there. This setting gives the bike a reach of 452mm, which is 5mm more than the old bike.

The head tube angle is slanted at 63.5 degrees and the effective seat tube angle sits at 77.2 degrees.

Size-specific chainstays are 438mm for the middle in the low setting, and it runs a short 405mm-long seat tube. The bottom bracket drop is 30mm in this configuration.

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV specifications

For almost £10,000 I would expect the killer kit that is on this bike. As the name suggests, it gets a SRAM X01 Eagle ASX drivetrain complete with a 10-50 12-speed 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 uses the smaller 10-50t cassette and a 30t chainring.
Max Schumann

There are Fox 38 Factory GRIP2 forks with 170mm of travel and a custom Fox Float X2 Factory rear shock.

The wheels use Reserve (Santa Cruz wheel brand) Carbon 30 rims with Industry Nine 1/1 hubs.

The rolling stock of this model is a Maxxis Assegai 3C EXO+ MaxxGrip 29×2.5 WT front tire and a Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO+ MexxTerra 29×2.4in WT rear tire.

The Fox 38 Factory fork is a good match for such an expensive kit and delivers performance.
Max Schumann

Santa Cruz supplies the carbon handlebars and Palmdale grips. A Bergtec Enduro MK3 stem completes the cockpit. Rounding out the build, you get a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post and a WTB saddle.

Driving impressions Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV

I rode the new Megatower for a few days in the central Pyrenees, near Loudenvielle, where they hosted a round of the Enduro World Series last year.

I tested the bike on some of these EWS stages, local bike park trails, single-track nature trails, and hand-cut dirt trails. I set the bike up with the recommended 30% sag. I opened up the compression all the way 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 drive and immediately puts you at ease.
Max Schumann

I kept the bike in its open damper setting for the climbs I tackled. Sitting while pedaling, he never danced wildly or sank too far in his stroke.

The Megatower pedals well for its displacement and does not waste energy on the climbs. However, it still has some sensitivity to smooth out thicker terrain. In its enduro category, it is a good climber.

The effective seat tube angle put me in a comfortable position. The effective length of the top tube meant I never felt too leaned over to reach the bars.

The climbing position is upright and relaxed, although I haven’t tackled any sustained climbs, with nothing longer than about 15 minutes. However, on the few hills I did, I had a good position on the bottom bracket for an efficient pedal stroke.

Downhill performance Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV

The Megatower feels calm and composed on chunky terrain.
Max Schumann

At first glance, nothing unusual about the Megatower jumps out at you. It is a very easy to ride bike. From the first descent on unfamiliar trails, I was comfortable and able to ride at a pace at the top of my comfort zone.

The custom Fox Float X2 shock tuning is undoubtedly impressive, and it’s clear that Santa Cruz spent a lot of time dialing it in. The rear adapts well to its travel and keeps the rear tire firmly planted in the dirt.

There’s tons of cornering grip, which adds to the confidence this bike offers.

The Megatower doesn’t wallow or waste moves. Reasonable support allows you to push through compressions and corners without feeling like the bike is gaining momentum.

Small trail chatter is supported impressively, and I didn’t notice any harsh feedback or vibration in my hands and feet. I was actually surprised at how long I was able to fast ride the Megatower before fatigue started to take over.

This was helped by the way the suspension handles the bigger hits. There is good progression and it feels plush but not soft. It takes the sting out of bumps, which means you don’t have to.

The new Megatower is a thrill around the corners and lets you hammer them with confidence.
Max Schumann

The moderate 452mm reach allowed me to easily maneuver the bike through bends and bends in the trail, and kept the weight distribution between the wheels well balanced. It helped me find plenty of traction, inspiring more confidence on all trails. Under braking, the Megatower felt sufficiently active and never harsh over the bumps.

The slack 63.5-degree head tube angle offered enough stability as the speed increased, but I never had trouble weighing the front tire down for traction when the trails got steep.

Moderate reach numbers and chainstay lengths, combined with a slack head tube angle, are a great combination for balancing stability and agility. Santa Cruz did it well.

The rest of the kit on the bike worked well for the few days of testing I had, although it was too short for more in-depth reliability testing. I was, however, impressed with Maxxis’ new EXO+ casing tires. They are a worthy improvement.

Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV Result

The Megatower was an absolute pleasure to drive. The levels of grip and composure on the bike made it easy for me to reach my limits, and I feel like it’s asking you to push harder.

It shines up and down the trail and is perfect for anyone who wants to get the most out of their ride.

Of course you need deep pockets for this model. However, if other models can offer similar performance at a lower price, the new Megatower will definitely be worth a look.

Wiley C. Thompson