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  1. #1
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    Highball AL vs Trek Stache?

    Yes - I realize that these are two bikes suited for two different types of riding (at least I think so). The Stache intended to be more of a trail bike vs. the Highball which is intended to be more of a racing bike.

    I find myself wanting a little bit of both so I'm trying to find out which bike would best cover what I want (or type of bike, I'm not closed minded on the exact bike but these are the two that have piqued my interest).

    A bit about me:
    - I'm 41 years of age
    - ride about 1200-1500 miles per year in the midwest
    - I don't do a lot of gnarly technical stuff
    - I currently have a 650b full suspension (Cannondale Rush conversion) and a 29er SS (Kona Unit). I'm looking for a geared HT to add to the quiver.
    - mostly a recreational rider but I've done one Cat 3 race and really liked it so I will be doing more next season (but I have no plans of moving up to Cat 2 - at least that isn't a plan of mine)
    - I want a bike that is fun but also one that I could race Cat 3 and not hold me back.
    - I want to have a little more relaxed position on the bike but still be able to climb well.
    - I have not (and probably will not) be able to actually throw a leg on these on the trail because I'm small and my LBS' around here don't have demo bikes (and some don't even have one in stock in my size to throw a leg over for a parking lot ride).

    What I like about the Stache:
    - more travel
    - read that it is very fun, flickable bike
    - (relatively) high BB (I switched from clipless to flats a couple of years ago and the one thing I find is I get more pedal strikes).
    - Rear TA

    Negatives - relaxed HA and more travel front fork would make for worse climbing? (I don't know if that is true or not, I just envision the front wanting to be light)

    What I like about the Highball:
    - I've always wanted an SC (I know, not truly an advantage but is what it is)
    - Racier geometry (supposedly - I'll be honest, I'm not exactly sure what "racing geo" truly is)
    - BBH isnt that bad (at least compared to the Cannondale Flash 29er I had, which was 12" BBH and had pedal strikes galore (otherwise, I really liked how fast the Flash was).
    - Has dropouts that can be easily converted to single speed (and I love to single speed and I may eventually want a lighter SS). I like to change things all the time so this versatility is a plus.
    - I've read that this is a little more trail-ish bike than its carbon version.

    Negatives: not designed for "fun", more designed for race.

    Another question - if a more relaxed riding position is what I seek, can that be obtained even on a "racing bike" geometry? If I get a small version on the TT is relatively short so that I'm not stretched out, does that accomplish a more relaxed riding position?

    Anybody have any opinions/thoughts? I know it is probably odd to cross shop these two bikes and maybe it is silly to do so but thought I'd ask anyway.
    2013 Santa Cruz Solo C
    2013 Santa Cruz Chameleon 650b SS
    2012 Giant Defy (Roadie)

  2. #2
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    I have a Santa Cruz Highball Aluminum. I got the medium. I'm only about 5'8". Fits me great. This 29er feels very nimble with it's shorter chainstays. I live in the midwest too and ride XC. This bike feels quick, but I'm also comfortable on allday rides. This bike carves out the twisties and climbs like a goat. I think Santa Cruz does a really nice job adding quality components to its builds at a pretty affordable price. Mine's all XT with Avid Elixir5 brakes, Reba, WTB, etc. I've had 29ers from Redline and Scott. Santa Cruz hit it out of the park with this 29er in my opinion.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bllewis6 View Post
    I have a Santa Cruz Highball Aluminum. I got the medium. I'm only about 5'8". Fits me great. This 29er feels very nimble with it's shorter chainstays. I live in the midwest too and ride XC. This bike feels quick, but I'm also comfortable on allday rides. This bike carves out the twisties and climbs like a goat. I think Santa Cruz does a really nice job adding quality components to its builds at a pretty affordable price. Mine's all XT with Avid Elixir5 brakes, Reba, WTB, etc. I've had 29ers from Redline and Scott. Santa Cruz hit it out of the park with this 29er in my opinion.
    Thanks for the input. That is quite an endorsement for the SC!
    2013 Santa Cruz Solo C
    2013 Santa Cruz Chameleon 650b SS
    2012 Giant Defy (Roadie)

  4. #4
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    The SC is a really nice bike. My buddy Mark rides (and races) one and loves it.
    You should also possibly check out a 2013 Giant XTC 1 Composite. Very sweet bike for the $$$...

  5. #5
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    I rode a highball carbon , nice XC geometry not twitchy , not wandering on climbs. Nice bike but not enough of a upgrade over my Sugar for the smooth fast trails here. to justify a buy in for me.

  6. #6
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    I have a HB aluminum which I got for two purposes: Bikepacking and longer work-out rides on the less techie trails my home area of Moab has to offer. Why the Highball? I work at the bike store and Cruz is the most appealing of the brands I can get employee pricing on.

    I have a 'big' fork on there, shimmed down to 125/130 ish. Works well, gives me confidence on descents due to a slightly slacker front end. Still climbs and pops good. Also installed Jones bars which gives me innumerable advantages: many ergo hand positions including very upright, shorter cockpit when needed, easier to drop off the rear end of the saddle, more power when standing.

    I've ridden other 29er hardtails, but not the Stache. The Highball is a no-nonsense, sort of plain looking frame with a very effective feel. Pedaling power is smoothly transferred to the wheel. The ride is certainly not harsh but not TI-forgiving either. I run Racing Ralphs in 2.25. A carbon seatpost with built-in give plus a 2.4 rear tire would be better for the trails around

    Compared to my full suspension Blur TRc I experience far fewer pedal strikes on this one.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jan_nikolajsen View Post
    I have a HB aluminum which I got for two purposes: Bikepacking and longer work-out rides on the less techie trails my home area of Moab has to offer. Why the Highball? I work at the bike store and Cruz is the most appealing of the brands I can get employee pricing on.

    I have a 'big' fork on there, shimmed down to 125/130 ish. Works well, gives me confidence on descents due to a slightly slacker front end. Still climbs and pops good. Also installed Jones bars which gives me innumerable advantages: many ergo hand positions including very upright, shorter cockpit when needed, easier to drop off the rear end of the saddle, more power when standing.

    I've ridden other 29er hardtails, but not the Stache. The Highball is a no-nonsense, sort of plain looking frame with a very effective feel. Pedaling power is smoothly transferred to the wheel. The ride is certainly not harsh but not TI-forgiving either. I run Racing Ralphs in 2.25. A carbon seatpost with built-in give plus a 2.4 rear tire would be better for the trails around

    Compared to my full suspension Blur TRc I experience far fewer pedal strikes on this one.
    That is a sweet looking ride! Getting a lot of love for the SC.
    2013 Santa Cruz Solo C
    2013 Santa Cruz Chameleon 650b SS
    2012 Giant Defy (Roadie)

  8. #8
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    I am just chiming in because it wasn't clearly mentioned, but the SC Highball accepts a 120mm fork just like the Stache. So essentially it can be made into the same caliber of bike as the Stache but with shorter stays. The Stache is going to be slightly more slack on the front, but neutralized by the longer stays in the back.

    My choice would be the Highball for versatility, build quality, and customer service.
    Santa Cruz Tallboy c
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  9. #9
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    I built my Highball Al about 4 weeks ago.

    Replaced my 2 year old Salsa El Mariachi.

    To me, the Highball with a 120mm fork rides just like my old Chameleon did. Fun and playful. I don't find the ride to be quick. With the 120mm fork, it slacks it out enough to make it nice and stable. Find te bike to be easy to manual.

    I run mine as a SS.....didn't even order the geared dropouts.

    The frame does ride on the stiff side. But not that bad once you get some time on it.

    Personally have seen too many Trek-Fishers.......worked at a dealer......that failed, in addition to the 2 that I owned. I won't buy another one.


    Have been riding SC bikes since 2000 and only had one issue that was quickly handled. Plus I worked for a dealer and only saw a small handful of true warranty claims....mostly No Fault-Crash Replacements......which again were handled in a very quick timeframe.
    I crashed hard enough on my Tallboy to break my leg,
    The carbon is way more durable than most people.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej View Post
    I built my Highball Al about 4 weeks ago.

    Replaced my 2 year old Salsa El Mariachi.

    To me, the Highball with a 120mm fork rides just like my old Chameleon did. Fun and playful. I don't find the ride to be quick. With the 120mm fork, it slacks it out enough to make it nice and stable. Find te bike to be easy to manual.

    I run mine as a SS.....didn't even order the geared dropouts.

    The frame does ride on the stiff side. But not that bad once you get some time on it.

    Personally have seen too many Trek-Fishers.......worked at a dealer......that failed, in addition to the 2 that I owned. I won't buy another one.


    Have been riding SC bikes since 2000 and only had one issue that was quickly handled. Plus I worked for a dealer and only saw a small handful of true warranty claims....mostly No Fault-Crash Replacements......which again were handled in a very quick timeframe.
    One thing that I have noticed with running that geometry, because the numbers work out to being very close to the Tallboy (which I have)....in a hardtail is that running a pretty hefty neg. rise stem (-17deg) with a 120mm fork gets the front end down pretty close to where the bars would ride with a 100mm fork..or axle-to-bars length. I like this setup because you really don't sacrifice front end height which is ultimately the culprit of the front end feeling light for fork travel. I think it also looks pretty racy as well because the stem looks just below horizontal with the HTA.
    Santa Cruz Tallboy c
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  11. #11
    the air is thin up here..
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    Forget the Stache, get a Honzo. Any "trail bike" 29er that claims to have "short" chainstays at 17.5in should be thrown in a time machine back to 1999.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by noot View Post
    Forget the Stache, get a Honzo. Any "trail bike" 29er that claims to have "short" chainstays at 17.5in should be thrown in a time machine back to 1999.
    Waiting for the Stache owners to come out in full force yelling it's not all about the short CS.

    Yeah, right, stop kidding yourself.

    I don't why the Stache is market as an All-Mountain bike. Maybe it's the green RF cranks?

  13. #13
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    ^^^ For all around riding -- not just steep descending -- I would pick the Stache over any of the current crop of slack HA/short CS hipster/e-review hardtail darlings.

    Given the description of where you live and how you ride, both the bikes you're looking at (Stache with 120 fork and SC with 100 fork) sound great. In your shoes, I would be inclined to choose based on price, components (wheels!) and which dealer suits you better.

    If I really get to choose for you, I'd say the SC if your SS is rigid, and the Stache if your SS has a sus fork.

    Thus preserving balance, harmony, and equidistant separation in your quiver!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    ^^^ For all around riding -- not just steep descending -- I would pick the Stache over any of the current crop of slack HA/short CS hipster/e-review hardtail darlings.
    Any reason behind this, or were you just anti-hipster before it was cool?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon View Post
    Any reason behind this, or were you just anti-hipster before it was cool?
    Having ridden two of them, I will say they are amazing at descending, particularly steeper, more chunky stuff (my personal preference there is FS, anyway).

    But on flowing, rolling, more gentle terrain, they corner kind of oddly. Quick to flick in, which is cool, but then a strong tendency to start pushing from the apex of a corner and on out. Just not a smooth, carvy feeling.

    Sorry about the hipster comment. I live very close to Portland -- after actually living there 13 years -- so I suspect you can feel my pain!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  16. #16
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    I have loyalty towards Santa Cruz having always owned one since '99, I actually would throw the Kona Honzo frame into the mix simply due to price....if you were building up the bike yourself.

    At $524, its hard to beat
    Bikeman Kona Honzo Frame Only, MD, Matte Gold, 2013

    Except for the On-One Scandal for $314.
    On-One Scandal 29er Swap-Out Frame V2
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  17. #17
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    Thanks for everyone's responses - truly appreciated!

    I do like the Honzo as I like steel (my SSer is steel) so I may have to try that (although my LBS of choice - because a friend of a friend is the owner and it is super close - doesn't carry Kona).

    I like kosmo's thinking - getting something that brings balance and harmony to the quiver. :-) And my SS is rigid.

    I have lots of thinking to do for sure. Only 146 miles until I've reached the mileage goal that I set and for which the wife will agree to let me add the next bike!
    2013 Santa Cruz Solo C
    2013 Santa Cruz Chameleon 650b SS
    2012 Giant Defy (Roadie)

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandyeggo View Post
    Only 146 miles until I've reached the mileage goal that I set and for which the wife will agree to let me add the next bike!
    A wife who demands you ride a bunch -- for any reason at all, let alone as the criteria for buying another bike -- seems like a darn fine wife!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  19. #19
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    I know. An unreal scenario in my circle of friends.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    A wife who demands you ride a bunch -- for any reason at all, let alone as the criteria for buying another bike -- seems like a darn fine wife!
    I am indeed A very lucky dude. She is very supportive and encouraging of my MTB hobby.
    2013 Santa Cruz Solo C
    2013 Santa Cruz Chameleon 650b SS
    2012 Giant Defy (Roadie)

  21. #21
    kgm
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    Canfield Nimble 9 or the SC HighballA

  22. #22
    Team SUMMIT BICYCLES
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    Tire clearance on the Highball?

    I have a Highball C as a race bike and I'm thinking about a Highball Al as a training/fun bike. The one thing I don't like is the lack of rear tire clearance. Someone mentioned putting a 2.4" tire on the back, which would be a lot of fun run tubeless on a wide rim. I don't think this frame would fit a 2.4" Ardent on a Flow rim. This kind of kills it for me as a fun, aggressive hardtail for riding rougher trails. I'm spoiled by my 2011 Paragon frame that fits this combo. I assume the Stache would, also.
    Anyone with a Highball Al that can comment on the fit with a larger tire?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    But on flowing, rolling, more gentle terrain, they corner kind of oddly. Quick to flick in, which is cool, but then a strong tendency to start pushing from the apex of a corner and on out. Just not a smooth, carvy feeling.
    Thanks for that.
    I couldn't quite put my finger on what felt odd when I tried a Honzo but this comment sums it up pretty nicely.
    I was wondering if this had to do with the short rear end and if I would get used to it after some more time in the saddle?
    In contrast my Satori with it's longer wheelbase and chainstays feels more natural and smooth when turning or carving but less maneuverable.
    To the OP:I would go with the Highball, looks a bit better as an all rounder and potential race bike to me.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnapmaster View Post
    Anyone with a Highball Al that can comment on the fit with a larger tire?
    I would be interested in more on tire clearance too. My pics below show Racing Ralphs 2.25 on Frequency i23 rims, inflated to about 22 psi:






  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandyeggo View Post
    cut cut cut
    - I've always wanted an SC
    cut cut cut
    ^^^ Read your own answer

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