The latest and perhaps the most anticipated (at least on this side of the country) update to Santa Cruz’s line up is the Tallboy. The Tallboy entered the scene back in 2009 as the flagship cross-country bike for Santa Cruz. What began as a short travel 29er, the Tallboy has evolved over the last decade into a mid-travel trail bike.
Over the past six months, we have witnessed the release of the all-new Megatower and the latest version of the Hightower, each receiving Santa Cruz’s trademark VPP lower linkage design. When we got the call about the new Tallboy, it wasn’t exactly what you would say was shocking news, but exciting news none the less. While Santa Cruz is saying this is the downhiller’s cross-country bike, we also like to believe that the Tallboy is the trail bike for the cross-country racer.
With the new Tallboy comes quite a bit of change. As mentioned above the rear suspension platform was completely redesigned. Incorporating the lower linkage VPP design first introduced by the V10 and Nomad giving the latest version of the Tallboy a much more progressive platform. Along with the suspension redesign, the Tallboy will now come with 120mm of travel in the rear paired with a 130mm fork.
The Tallboy is also equipped with a bottom bracket and rear axle flip-chip. The bottom bracket can be adjusted to low or high mode depending on the terrain you’re tackling. The latest version was redesigned around 430mm chainstays to give the bike an agile and playful feel while on the trail. Santa Cruz understands that some larger riders may want a bit more stability while climbing and descending and gave the chainstays 10mm of adjustability. Yes, with the flip of the chip to the extended position, you can squeeze a 29×2.6″ in there, but we suggest running the 2.3/2.4.” that the Tallboy was intended to run.
The Tallboy will be offered in both carbon and aluminum models, and for the first time in the Santa Cruz and Juliana line up a 29er will be offered in the XS size frame.
We had the privilege of piloting the new Tallboy around the trails of Quincy, CA. Quincy’s trails offered a fantastic mix of fast ripping downhills by way of Mt. Hough and technical all day pedals by way of Indian Ridge. We also were able to test out the Tallboy in the backcountry and rocky trails of the Lake Basin area just down the road in Greyeagle, CA.
Where to begin with this bike? For me, it is the Tallboy that I have been waiting for, and I am willing to wager I wasn’t the only one. While the Tallboy is entering an ever saturated market of the mid-travel trail bike, it brings with it an XC pedigree to separate itself from the heard. Wanting to maintain the Tallboy’s ability to pedal well did not go unnoticed on our outings out on the trail. Each variation of climbing was met with responsive and direct power to the pedals. Whether we were stomping something short and steep or cruising long on gradual climbs, the new lower-link VPP designed negated any unnecessary movement out of the rear suspension.
Of course, lower, longer, and slacker is the theme with the new Tallboy to give it modern-day handling when attacking descents. With a 65.5º headtube angle paired with a 130mm fork, you may find yourself wondering if this isn’t the new Hightower instead of a Tallboy. While there is an abundance of similarities between the Hightower and the Tallboy, you will find the Tallboy’s personality to be a bit more open to riding anything and everything. Whether you’re banging out hot laps on your local trails after work or shuttling some big mountain runs (which we did), the Tallboy feels right at home in any setting.
While the Tallboy offers a lower setting on the bottom bracket by way of the flip-chip, I could never see myself changing the position. At 335mm the bottom bracket is set plenty low enough for highspeed cornering control. Had the BB been any lower I would have been chiseling away at the granite in Lake Basin.
The latest version of the Tallboy is an extremely competent trail bike. If you’re the type of rider that prefers long days out on big trails, the Tallboy is up to the task. A more than a capable bike for tackling fast, steep and technical trail, the Tallboy has held onto just enough of its cross-country past to get you there with plenty of pedaling efficiency. With a lifetime warranty on the frames and the improved suspension design, we have a real contender for the bike of the year, that is of course if we gave out awards, which we don’t but if we did, the Tallboy is a frontrunner for sure.
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