There are a lot of mountain bikes on the market. Very few good choices at the upper-end of the market, though. So few, that people often gravitate towards the same bikes. Two of the MTBs that seem to be getting a lot of buzz at the moment are the Hightower and the Bronson. Both are insanely good bikes, but they each bring something a little bit different to the table. We thought it may be worth taking the time to compare the two of them.
Let’s dive right into the Hightower vs Bronson comparison, shall we? Before we do, we do want to note that we are not going to get too technical here. We won’t be tapping into the geometry of either bike. Instead, we are going to give you a general overview of the differences. Basically, this is a guide for those that want a broader view as to which bike is for them, rather than one that wants to tap into the tiniest details in the spec. Let’s be honest, for most riders, those tiny details are not going to make that much of a difference.
Perhaps the most striking difference when it comes to Hightower vs Bronson is the wheel size.
When the Bronson entered the market, it attempted to enter it as a disrupter. It wanted to do things a little bit differently from the other MTBs. Around this time, 27.5″ wheels were really starting to take off, and this is what the Bronson added. It was genuinely one of the first 27.5″ wheel MTBs on the market. This was a massive risk. Nobody was really sure whether the middle-ground wheel size would really take off. Of course, as well all know, it did.
On the other hand, the Hightower opts for the much more typical 29″ wheels.
So, what does this mean?
Well, the Hightower is probably going to perform a lot better if you are heading straight over rough terrain or if you are doing a bit of hill climbing. However, the Bronson really works well when you are zipping down trails at insanely fast speeds. It just feels that much more thrilling when you have smaller wheels.
Although, let’s be honest. The wheel size difference is minor. Sure, in the Hightower vs Bronson comparison, the Hightower has slightly bigger wheels, but they are only 1.5″ larger. The only time that you are really going to notice the difference in the size if you are serious about squeaking every bit of performance imaginable out of your bike, or if you are planning on hitting a whole host of different trails. If you are doing the same thing day-in, day-out, then it probably isn’t going to matter too much.
Bronson Is Better For Corners
A lot of the comparisons that we are going to make when it comes to Hightower vs Bronson will be related to the wheel size. After all, this is going to be the biggest and most noticeable difference between the two.
Because the Bronson does have those slightly smaller wheels, you will often find that it works better for tight corners. Only slightly, but the difference is still noticeable.
This means that if the bulk of your riding adventures are happening on those tighter trails, particularly those with a lot of downhill segments too, then the Bronson is probably going to perform better for you.
If you are just riding on rough terrain, mostly in a straight line, then the Hightower is probably going to be the better choice.
Hightower Is Better For Speed
Again, this is going to be related to the wheel size of the bike.
Because the Hightower does have ever so slightly larger wheels, it can hit faster speeds, albeit only on the straights. As we said before if you want to maintain those speeds when you are zipping around a tighter,, narrower trail, then the smaller wheels are what you need.
You will often find that people use the Hightower when they are interested in MTB racing. They may need to make a few notifications to get it ready for that. However, the Hightower certainly does perform a whole lot better if you are planning to force it into a racing situation.
Bronson Has a Slightly Higher Rear Travel
The Bronson has rear travel of 150mm, while the Hightower has rear travel of 145mm.
The difference is quite negligible. However, you will find that the Bronson does do an ever so slightly better job of absorbing the shocks while you are on rougher terrain. Although, this is something that you only really notice when you are experienced as a rider. In the grand scheme of things, an extra 5mm of rear travel on the suspension doesn’t really mean a whole lot.
Bronson Has a Higher Front Travel
The front travel on the Bronson is 160mm, while the Hightower is 150mm. While this is a larger distance difference than you get on the rear travel, it doesn’t feel quite so intense. Although, we are sure that you will notice it if you are hopping over a lot of rocks, branches, etc. while out there.
Suspension On The Bronson Is Better
It isn’t just the travel that you need to think about when it comes to the Hightower vs Bronson comparison.
In our opinion, and the opinion of many riders before us, the Bronson suspension just feels so much better. It feels more responsive and much smoother. It almost feels like it is able to smooth out bumps that the Hightower is only going to be able to dream of.
Of course, you are able to make adjustments to the suspension on the Hightower to get it a little bit closer to the suspension that you get on the Bronson. However, why would you want to spend hours and hours doing that, when you can just ride a quality bike ‘out of the box’?
We do want to point out that this doesn’t mean that the Hightower suspension is bad. It isn’t. It is still one of the best in the business. It just feels less good than the Bronson. Although, that is our opinion. While you are reading this Hightower vs Bronson comparison, we do still urge you to test out the bikes yourself. What is good for us and other riders may not necessarily be good for you. We all have our needs when it comes to MTB.
Bronson Feels More Fun To Ride
Ask most MTB riders, and they will tell you that while 29″ wheels are faster, 27.5″ wheels are just that much more fun to ride. Although, to be honest, they will take a little bit of getting used to.
The Bronson just feels that much more responsive when you are riding it. You really do feel as if you are able to put your MTB skills to the test and absolutely let loose while you are out there on the trails.
Don’t get us wrong. The Hightower is still a fun bike to ride. People wouldn’t buy it if that wasn’t the case. However, at times, it really feels as if you have much less control over the way that the bike is moving. You are just going with the flow and pedaling. Some people like that. Others prefer the twists and turns that MTB riding often brings to the table.
Hightower Is Better For Endurance Racing
Once again, our Hightower vs Bronson comparison is going to come back to the tire size.
Because the Hightower does have those larger wheels, you get more ‘travel’ when you pedal. As we said before, this is going to make you go a lot faster when you are out there. However, it is also going to reduce your need to pedal at rapid speeds. A single push of those pedals is going to require much less effort.
This means that the Hightower is a bike that tends to be better suited to those that are going to be out on the trails for hours and hours on end. Yes, the Hightower is going to have a few shortcomings when you are riding it, and we have already mentioned those. However, when it comes to comfort after pedaling for hours and hours, we reckon that the Hightower is far superior to the Bronson.
For the most part, when it comes to the Hightower vs Bronson comparison, these are very similar bikes. The specs are much the same. The manufacturing materials are the same. The main difference comes from whether you want larger or smaller wheels. If you want something durable for endurance riding, then go with the Hightower. If you want something that is fun to ride on trails with a lot of sharp twists and turns, then the Bronson is perfect.
At the end of the day, no matter which bike you end up with, you are still going to be riding one of the best bikes in the business.