Santa Cruz Hightower LT Not Recomended for Coil Shock?????


Jun 11, 2009
East Bay, Cali
A friend of mine is getting his 2017 SC Hightower warranty replaced with a 2018 Hightower LT and he's looking for a shock to go with the new frame. I've always told anyone with a VPP (unridabru) bike to get a coil since it helps deal with the goofy curve but......

SC says this bike isn't recommended for a coil!

Their reason is that the linear coil spring may produce harsh and frequent bottom outs since the bike is designed to work with the progressive curve of an air shock. Looking at the leverage ratio I guess I see where they are coming from. The end of stroke leverage ratio is pretty high compared to other bikes.

Hightower LT Leverage.png

So, suspension gurus of RM, is this actually a thing? I've seen plenty of people ripping Hightower LT's with coils on them. Do you just need to get some nice frim custom valving going?
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sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
It's mildly progressive, but mostly linear. Might be ok with a bottom out bumper like Avalanche uses? The RM would be a great for coil and air would suck. The niner is confusing, end stroke would be good for air, but the overall rate is very progressive.
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Jun 11, 2009
East Bay, Cali
Might be ok with a bottom out bumper like Avalanche uses?
I'm just confused cause I've never heard any complaints from all the folks I know who run coils on various SC bikes, most of which just have variations on the same curve (new Bromad excepted).


Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
borcester rhymes
the overall shock rate is certainly linear, but it does the same stupid crap that most VPP bikes do, with a falling rate followed by a rising rate. The end stroke progression isn't bad, and the "n" of this curve isn't horrible either. I think you'll find reasons to like a coil shock on there, even if it's less than ideal. The problem is that with an air shock, which is probably a better fit, you have to get over that initial hump, which is going to suck and mean a lot of stiction at sag. The coil shock will fix that, but you might bottom out more often. You could look into a shock with a large reservoir, like an RC4 that @Udi loves, or anything else with adjustable bottom out pressure and volume.

As for "will it work", who cares, as long as you like it. One of my favorite bikes remains the cannondale rush that I had. It was super simple and enjoyable to ride, but it had a "terrible" falling rate, and no shock could really be "ideal". Still, it was fun as heck to ride.


RM Chief Ornithologist
Mar 14, 2005
This curve is certainly much flatter than some of their older "n" shaped curves, so what they say here is reasonably fair, and when you say "various SC bikes" I think you need to go and look up the curves for each individual bike before casting a net over those and less-horrid incarnations like this one together.

With that said, I think a coil shock will probably still work OK, and in my experience with coil you can run a slightly higher spring rate (avg) compared to air because of the reduced breakaway / direction-change forces and lack of high initial rate - if needed that is - for a situation like this where it might bottom out a little easy. I think the overall result will still be preferable, for most intermediate riders anyway.

Also, while they're correct that it's not ideal for a coil, they've failed to mention/realise that it'll feel pretty rubbish with an air shock since there's nowhere near enough leverage at the start of the curve to compensate the initial rate spike still existent on most modern air shocks.

Great to see that overpriced Santa Cruz have made improvements to their trailbike suspension but still managed to be significantly inferior to what Giant was producing in 2008: literally a full decade ago. I think the N4CC is decent of course, but not perfect, and very expensive given that it's (somewhat surprisingly for SC) not that light.

Anyway, like the start of this curve, I digress.
If you choose coil, I'd use something other than a CCDB / DHX2 since they are very linear.


Feb 18, 2017
I rode a LT with an air shock and didn't like it at all. Hung up on the small stuff. Like mentioned with stiction at sag. Rode one with a push and I liked it, it just wasn't a upgrade from my Avalance suspension on the Riot.


Jun 11, 2009
East Bay, Cali
push 11-6
Well yeah, you can solve any problem if you throw enough money at it :D

Anyway, like the start of this curve, I digress

Just FYI this bike isn't for me. One of my homies is getting it as a warranty replacement for his Hightower that is having issues with the tire contacting the frame. He's got an X2 on order for it so we'll see how that goes. That shock feels kinda weird to me but it seems to stick to the ground really well.