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#2WheelTalk – Mountain Biking – My Santa Cruz MEGAtower

by Nick Olson
#2WheelTalk – Mountain Biking – My Santa Cruz MEGAtower

So here’s a little more history into the beginnings of Chupacabra Offroad. Think I’m a nerd with my RZR? Well, my “nerdness” originated here, on 2 wheels, with no motor. I obsess over the weight of my RZR tires, thanks to 20+ years of being the motor of my mountain bike.

Here’s a deep dive into my early obsession with the dirt, which then lead to dirt bikes, and then to SxS’s. I still pedal as much as I can, and my 2020 Santa Cruz Megatower is my dream bike! It’s amazing what this 29″ wheel beast can handle.


Let’s have my Nicholas and Chupacabra off-road and we’re back again with another two-wheel talk video so if you guys are watching the channel you’ve seen a little bit of two-wheel stuff sprinkled in this is kind of where my addiction to dirt all started back when I was a youngster even before this on the little BMX bike but more so when I was about 14 I really really kind of got into mountain biking and I was just really really passionate about it so way before side-by-sides way before even a dirt bike this is kind of like what really really got me all fired up and not long after I was heavy and racing and do be riding one of these mountain bikes through my whole life even if it’s an electric one so same as my dirt bike as long as I’m walking I’m always gonna have one of these in my garage and this is basically a dream bike this is my dream bike mega tower Santa Cruz is a really reputable well-known company always been a big fan of theirs even back before I ever owned one back in my racing days I was heavy into racing I’d say 96 until 2001 so any of you guys here in the watched Channel or mountain bikers let alone old-school mountain bikers particularly if you’re around the southwest Big Bear was the scene so used to race the Big Bear several times every summer normal was the Association we do all have Dellavedova Nationals so I used to go to Mammoth Mountain every summer Park City Deer Valley Utah every summer I guess had Big Bear multiple times and then it was so going on today Southern California was the Fontana Southbridge series at Don Jackson still is doing it is still looks very prone to stronger than ever so back then I was growing up in Vegas would go to California Utah wherever we could basically to go ride and race so back in those days of course we we paddled I was pretty decent peddler I trained pretty good when I was 16 17 18 but got into more the adrenaline side of the downhill type fighting so take the cheery lift up time run out basically the same type of thing is down those skiing but of course you got some roots some rocks ladder drops jumps and that was to me the closest thing to dirt biking I could never really afford to own a dirt bike when I was a youngster so the bikes is what really where I cut my teeth and made a lot of good lifelong friends for not sports still to this day so I kind of leave to know what the bike what you see here as 29 inch wheels so if you guys are not that new or new to mountain bike here not know that much about it basically a couple things that change quite a bit in the last ten years me being an OG in the game going back to these old bikes I’m just completely blown away about what this bike can do what bikes like this can do compared to even with the downhill bikes we rode which were the cool bikes back in the heyday of the late 90s early 2000s so 29 inch wheels for the longest time all amount bikes were 26 inch wheels then they got a little bit bigger to 27 and a half which still exists of course but now 29 is essentially taken over so like a lot of people I was skeptical when the bigger wheels came I thought all that’s for people that don’t know how to ride downhill that’s people who you know cross country guys and that’s kind of how it started but then it’s evolved to where now 29 squeals have taken over even for the most aggressive style riding down the racers mainly because the wheels bigger more tires on the ground so you’re getting more traction they roll over bumps better and really when you ride environments like here in Arizona like Sedona it’s very apparent that bigger wheels work better they just do so definitely up some compromises though the bike feels a little bit more sluggish like it doesn’t feel as lively and that’s where a lot of these my friends are really kind of tailored and change the geometry to kind of have your cake and eat it too to have the ability to run over really rough bumps obstacles still feel playful feel long and stable and it’s kind of all that your special sauce so that really changes rider rider and we’re right but I don’t really care what my times are particularly getting up the hill I want to have the most enjoyable experience down nails and that leads to you riding a bike that’s essentially a little bit more overkill for most of the riding out here but the way I look at it is it’s a little bit heavier bike but I get a better workout which is kind of an all I really ride for these days I’m not really into racing well if I have a something I’ll bike again maybe for fun with my friends but mainly ride stay in shape and of course to have some fun get out in nature a little bit I tend to have some good ideas and my creativity opens up a little bit one about pedaling by myself I don’t like pedaling on the street I’ve had a road bike and didn’t century rides and all that stuff and it’s cool but this gives you a better workout it’s more enjoyable than of course you did some fun down little stuff and that’s a whole nother level of fun so 2020 Santa Cruz mega tire let’s get into the particulars of this bike and just a little warning if you guys aren’t our bike dweebs I’m about to really open up my true biking their talk and us buy careers on a whole level of nerve and any dirt biker any off-road or so yeah we’re we keep down that the grams were super dorks we buy matching stickers and match our frames and that’s just what it is so but so let’s go through some of the parts on this bike and why she’s a dream bike and why she’s just a an all-mountain nasty terrain Slayer alright so starting off at the frame this is a size extra large and it is a full carbon fiber frame this company Santa Cruz they make carbon fiber frame than a cc or a c CC is the higher end it’s almost a penile wider higher quality car really really with mountain biking cycling and generally watching Tour de France everybody’s on carbon carbon has completely taken over and to be cost-effective basically no one is buying or making high-end carbon frames in the United States it’s just cost prohibitive so all these high-end brands are having carbon made in China for the most part and this is different size extra-large I’ve tried coming from my BMX background I’ve always tried to ride smaller shorter bikes because they are fun and playful kind of I could be a mex bike but as I’ve gotten older and written some downhill stuff and my preference is right now for something that’s longer so excel really just fits me better I’ve got really long legs I think I make a 36 inch inseam so you can tell by how ridiculously high and I see this that I need I need as much see poetry I mean this let’s see folks you comfortably be able to have my legs extended so I can’t really use all my power for an appliance and then drop a post this is a Foxtrot proposed to guys new to mountain biking if you get about like get dropper post one of the best inventions ever made it’s a pound extra it’s totally worth it so you can actually go down and have fun which is the whole point I’m not liking so extra large frame it’s really long this frame is adjustable we’ve got a shorter and a longer setting and you have a high end low setting for geometry so lower geometry is more ranked out low to the ground better for really just some steep gnarly stuff like up in Whistler Canada for the purpose of me riding around here in Arizona I choose your own the higher setting I’m running the short setting just because the terrain here compared to where I lived in California when I’ve written to Canada and other spots it’s just lower speed its technical so I like being a little bit higher so my pals aren’t hitting as much and then I also like being a little shorter because a lot of the turns here I feel like in Arizona they just don’t flow like they do in a lot of other environments like you guys have written in California particularly like Santa Cruz it’s just a ton of flow nice turns you can get away with running a longer bike where I was like this is just this characteristic I’m keeping it short so if I lived in another area of play I’d switch it up but this has a little over six inches of travel 160 Mills in the back and I’ve got 170 no travel in the front this is a Fox 36 air fork so Fox air fork Fox X to float air shock it’s got a little lockout switch here on the rear which just stiffens up that low-speed compression so you’re not bobbing as much on climbs and luckily I haven’t really had to use that much because the suspension design works really well so just abduct on the suspension design really quick this is called the VPP which is a virtual pivot point with two virtual links moving in different directions and the goal is essentially to have something that’s very plush that stays up in the mid stroke and that is reasonable to pedal and pen as well so I’m just a fan of an EVP I’ve had several of EPP bikes the bike I had before this was an evil reckoning if you guys been watching our YouTube channel I did a little bit of an add-on video of rally on the rocks two years ago or I rolled the reckoning up that in Moab and that was a good bike and it was me it was my first 29er and it was my first deviation from the VPP bike in a while I just didn’t know when I was missing it had a DW Dave legal link suspension and it was good but now that I’m back on a VPP like I realized what I missed this just kind of sits in a travel kind of like a downhill bike dust where it just feels a little squatty and it just feels plush and it feels like it’s not gonna bottom out it feels like you have more travel than we have I’m just a fan so Santa Cruz I’ve had some intense is they’ve kind of iterated and made them better they always are updating the kinematics they call it which is how the suspension movement works and then also with shock technology for the longest time coil was the only shock you won’t run it was only a shock that felt plush well the game’s changed air shocks are almost a taking over because long guys still run coils but I’m a big fan of the air stuff I love how tunable the shock is this shock is about a pound lighter than a coil shock and you can tune it to just kind of have a fun more playful poppy characteristic whereas a coil shock is really plush but has a little bit more of a dead I wasn’t like more of a monster truck type of feeling but I did have my old bike The Reckoning and I had two shocks I had the shock and then I had a push oil shock which is the most Gucci who rear shock you can get and the push shock was plush it climbed amazingly well in terms of the traction but it just I prefer the characteristic of the hair shock myself so I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too I’m essentially having something that’s almost like a downhill bike but have a light as possible they could still pedal and for me that’s a long frame long travel air shock so speaking of the forks my reckoning had 160 ml and I bump this up 270 ml 10 millimeters maybe not even half of an inch but my old fork was a 20-18 fox which had the grip 1 dampener this is a 2021 70 with a fox grip two dampener and what that means basically it’s updated dampener that definitely keeps the fork higher in the stroke so it keeps the front end up a little bit more and when you add that up with the 170 compared to the frame of a fork I was writing before the reckoning this vibe just feels really slack it feels really plush and even with the short wheelbase and the tall setting it feels like a downhill bike to me which is it’s just something that I love so so far really like an eight ton adjustability high and low speed compression of course rebound and I like running about 4 or 5 klicks of high speed I like running virtually no low speeds I want to be as plush as it can be I just like air freshener on bottoming basically and then adjust like high and accordingly and then same thing with the rear ayah I like running the back end to feel lively so I have the rebound pretty fast and I try to minimize my compression dam run out the spring as much as possible so in the rear it’s close to your weight of about 195 200 pounds on the rear and I think in the front of a 60 70 s I definitely run in lower air pressure than what Fox recommends so I think it’s also because I ride far off the back of the bike too so all that comes together and the magic of these newer school bikes by new school I want to say 2004 15 ish till now is the geometry has gotten to a point where a big bike like this with a lot of suspension is enjoyable peddle because the c2 bangle has been moved forward the head to bangle has been relaxed so basically you can get as close as you want to eating you’re having your cake and eating it too which is having the seat up closer here you can see my seats move even more forward to be in a comfortable peddling position but when it comes time for down low I can drop my seat I’ve got a short 50 ml stem or rake top front end I’m basically ready for almost anything and I’m running a two and a half inch front tire which is common even a lot of guys are running full-on downhill bikes I’m a big fan of Maxis tire is that basically random access for the last 20 years Maxis they’re just the best tires out there they just are I’ve owned a couple sets of some of those schwabe knobby Nicks and I heard they work better like in Rudy or slippery stuff but even when I wrote him in Canada down here I’d say it feels squirmy to me big fan of axes I’ve learned on a smaller 2.3 inch in the rear the reason for that is I try to get away with a lighter weight we’re tired just like an roll smoother I used to have some semi-slick tyres for a while in the desert here I’ve kind of always been able to get away with that just a little bit more rolling resistance I can trying on my kicking it to have all my traction my big tire where I need it and then keep this thing rolling as fast as I can keep my momentum on the flatter sections and this bike was so big when you’re running a lot of flatter stuff it is a little bit overkill it is a little bit more sluggish than a bike with less suspension travel and steeper geometry but like I said I’m a nerd I’ve kind of written everywhere on the west coast and this is what I want to write some geometry on these new-school bikes with the 29er the dropper post and then finally now one by 12 drivetrain all those elements together make mountain biking amazing so I’m running a 32 inch front only one gear in the front I’ve got 12 speeds in the back this is a strand xx one cassette and I’ve got a 50 tooth so 32 and a 50 I can climb quite a bit combine with my bigger tires with my comfortable geometry my tall seat so yeah well is the way to go definitely love having the 12-speed it’s very nice me trying to give some steam stuff particularly like Sedona just some Steve punchy climbs and speaking of Sedona speaking of Arizona when I moved here I’d say PI the the thing I struggled with the most was technical climbs I was always that guy who just cared about downhill I was fit but I would just get off and push up technical climbs and I really tried to focus on clearing a lot of sections and if any of you guys have ridden all over the place and you go on miss Abdallah like for me it was a really really humbling experience it’s nothing that’s made me better I had to prefer flow in California Santa Cruz you know Pacific Northwest even stuff in Southern California more so than Arizona but I live here so you know there’s still some good spots South mountains pretty cool white tanks and I ride kind of out near here a couple different spots in the north part of Phoenix alt 50 millimeters thin like I said handlebars are there were eight hundred millimeter Carmen Mars I kind of down to 780 dad I’m a little bit narrower cuz I felt a little bit slow and sluggish from riding certain trails in Sedona and lower speed stuff I probably would eat hundreds of I’m Leakey I’ve got long arms that would be a guy you would think a lot of wire bars but it just kind of makes the bike feel a little slow for me so that’s a quick rundown of everything finally breaking I’ve got Shimano brakes these are Shimano XT ours I really just like the feel I think like this is kind of the Holy Grail which is a SRAM drivetrain with Shimano brakes so personal preference a lot of other companies they give breaks like SRAM I just like how these feel and kind of all together this is really something that’s like my ideal bike I like to run clip pedals oops we fall on foot my life if I do go ride something gnarly like Whistler I run flat pedals back on my racing days I race on flats quite a bit it has that more of that dirtbike that moto style you can kind of just run around and if you run the tacky 510 shoes it’s really an awesome combo but hope you guys like this there’s still gonna pass on me on chupacabra kind of how it all started you guys are into mountain biking and a mountain bike questions hit me up with an email comment below think about getting into riding if you’re about bike geek like me what’s your favorite place to ride is speaking of favorite place to ride I’m gonna leave you guys with some footage of me riding up in Whistler went there a couple of years ago got to go twice 2018 man Whistler is is so much better than anywhere I’ve ever ridden you just get so much good riding in and such a quick time jumps you know ladder drops rocks you got everything there you have amazing they’re amazing terrain amazing people if you can mount biking at all go to us so seriously it’s gonna be the best money you ever spent until you get back on that plane or that truck to drive home and suffer from the Whistler the post was so depression it’s a really real thing and I’m always excited to go back maybe look up there this year or if not next year for sure so hope you guys like the content if you do please like and subscribe and I’ve got a lot more coming your way Jackie man


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