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Review of Santa Cruz Tallboy

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Jeff Balton

Santa Cruz Bicycles tallboy review

Santa Cruz Tallboy is a bike that should not work as well as it does. It’s a short-travel, long-wheelbase 29er that’s great at climbing and pedaling, but also confident at descending. 

Santa Cruz took a few risks and made a few speculations regarding what short-travel 29ers are and what they can do. Version 4 of the Tallboy gets 10mm of travel more, as well as a longer and slacker geometry, with a 65.5° head angle.

The result? The Tallboy is a sharp climber and very lively at trail speeds. It features the lower-link VPP suspension, two flip-chip adjustments, 120/130mm of travel, and comes in seven mouth-watering builds.

As Santa Cruz describes it itself, “it’s a gravity rider’s XC bike.”

 

Santa Cruz Tallboy Builds


The price differs wildly throughout the range, so you can get an aluminum Tallboy for as little as $3,099 or pay as much as $11,549 for the carbon CC XX1 RSV model.

The Tallboy is available in a total of seven mid-range and high-end builds. Of these, two have aluminum frames, three feature carbon C frames, and the remaining two get premium carbon CC framesets.

D (Aluminum)

This is the most affordable build of the Tallboy. It costs $3,099 and comes with an aluminum frameset and a mixture of SRAM SX and NX Eagle components. It also gets a RockShox Recon RL fork and a Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock, coupled with a pair of dependable SRAM Level brakes.

R (Aluminum)

If you want a complete SRAM NX Eagle groupset combined with SRAM Guide T brakes, then you’ll have to pay $3,749. This build also gets an improved Fox Rhythm 34 fork, but the shock stays the same. It rolls on WTB ST i25 TCS 2.0 rims, combined with Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR 2.3″ tires.

R (Carbon C)

The cheapest carbon build costs $4,649 and comes with the lower-grade C carbon fiber. It has the same components as the R Aluminum model above, including the brakes, wheels, tires, suspension, and the SRAM NX Eagle groupset. However, it is 700g lighter at 13.8kg.

 

Santa Cruz Tallboy

 

S (Carbon C)

Need better components along with the carbon C frame? The S Carbon C build comes outfitted with a full SRAM GX Eagle groupset, SRAM G2 R brakes, and costs $5,499. It also sports a Fox 34 Float Performance fork and a Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock. Plus, it features RaceFace AR rims with DT Swiss 370 hubs.

XT (Carbon C)

The XT Carbon C build costs $6,599. It has the Elite version of the Fox Float Performance suspension, combined with the 12-speed Shimano XT groupset. It also comes complete with the XT 8120 hydraulic disc brakes, as well as with carbon handlebars. The DT Swiss 350 hubs are an improvement as well compared to the other builds.

X01 (Carbon CC)

If you don’t want to settle for anything less than the premium Carbon CC frame, then the least you’ll have to pay is $7,699. This amount of money will get you a SRAM X01 Eagle groupset, along with the brilliant SRAM G2 RSC brakes. This build also sports a RockShox Pike Ultimate fork and a Fox Float Factory DPS rear shock, as well as a carbon handlebar.

XX1 RSV (Carbon CC)

The XX1 RSV Carbon CC build is the crème de la crème when it comes to the frame, the components, and wheels. A price tag of a whopping $11,549 gets you the SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS group, SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes, and a carbon handlebar. Also, this model rolls on Reserve 27 carbon wheels complete with i9 Hydra hubs.

 

Santa Cruz Tallboy Geometry


Santa Cruz’s Tallboy is a unique bike in how it combines short-travel with progressive geometry. It has the slack and length of a bike that should have a lot more bounce in the fork and the shock, but everything still works harmoniously together.

The Tallboy has a 130 mm fork and a 120mm shock, built around the revered lower-link VPP suspension system.

The slack 65.5° head tube angle and the steep seat tube angle works great for ripping descents and staying on top of long climbs.

Santa Cruz Tallboy Suspension

This bike also has a longer reach, shorter chainstays, and a shorter offset fork. Thanks to two flip-chip adjustments, one in the rear shock and one in the rear dropouts, you can completely revamp the geometry and handling.

Effectively, the rear shock flip-chip makes the Tallboy lower, slacker, and even more aggressive. Whereas the dropout flip-chip can shorten or lengthen the wheelbase, as well as change the length of the chainstays, altering the handling of the bike and giving taller riders a more balanced riding position.

 

Sizes


Santa Cruz Tallboy comes in six frame sizes suitable for riders between 4’8″ and 6’7″ tall, which is a huge range. Check out our size chart below for size recommendations, which will help you get the perfect fit.

  • X-Small: 4’8″ — 5’1″
  • Small: 5’1″ — 5’5″
  • Medium: 5’5″ — 5’9″
  • Large: 5’9″ — 6’1″
  • X-Large: 6’1″ — 6’4″
  • 2X-Large: 6’4″ — 6’7″

 

Similar Models


With so many bikes on the market, it’s hard to be 100% certain about your choice. Here’s what think about the Tallboy compared to other similar bikes.

Santa Cruz Tallboy vs Hightower

Santa Cruz Tallboy and Hightower are similar in design and geometry, but very different when it comes to travel. The Hightower has 150mm of front and 145mm of rear travel, compared to the Tallboys 130/120mm setup. This makes Hightower better at descents, but Tallboy is a more versatile all-rounder.

Santa Cruz Tallboy vs 5010

Santa Cruz Tallboy and 5010 differ in terms of wheel size and in terms of suspension travel. Tallboy is a 29er, whereas the 5010 comes with 27.5″ wheels. Moreover, the 5010 has 10mm of travel more than the Tallboy. However, both are versatile and playful all-rounders.

Santa Cruz Tallboy vs Yeti SB115

Santa Cruz Tallboy and Yeti SB115 are designed for different types of rides. The SB115 is an XC race bike with a short-travel and modest geometry, whereas the Tallboy is an all-around trail bike with more travel and more aggressive geometry. However, both come with 29″ wheels.

 

FAQ


Is the Santa Cruz Tallboy a trail bike?Frequently asked questions

Santa Cruz Tallboy is a little bit of everything. It is a short-travel trail bike with long and slack geometry often seen on bikes with much longer travel. As a result, the Tallboy is excellent at both climbing and descending, offering great all-around performance.

How much does the Santa Cruz Tallboy weigh?

The cheapest Santa Cruz Tallboy D Aluminum build weighs 15.06kg, whereas the most expensive XX1 RSV Carbon CC build weighs 12.76kg. The high-end XX1 build has a super-lightweight carbon frameset with the Reserve carbon wheelset, which is why it is almost 2.5kg lighter.

How big is Santa Cruz Tallboy?

Santa Cruz Tallboy is a pretty lengthy bike. The size medium frame has a 1187mm wheelbase, which is much longer compared to other similar short-travel trail bikes. The Tallboy rolls on 29″ wheels, so the standover clearance is 708mm in size medium. However, the geometry is adjustable via the flip-chip setting.

 

Final Verdict


Santa Cruz Tallboy Trail Bike Review

In conclusion, we feel that Santa Cruz made some excellent decisions redesigning the Tallboy. The TB4 now climbs and descends better, and offers a lot more adjustability in terms of suspension, geometry, and handling.

Santa Cruz also retained two water bottle mounts and gave this bike enough clearance for up to 29″ x 2.6″ tires. All of this resulted in the Tallboy excelling at trail riding, singletrack shredding, and day-long climbing and exploration.

Get it if you love gravity, enjoy XC, but spend most of your time on local blue-black trails.

Get yours on Backcountry.com

Santa Cruz Tallboy

From $3,099
9.1

Components

9.0/10

Frame

9.5/10

Weight

9.0/10

Price

8.5/10

Geometry

9.5/10

Pros

  • Modern and progressive geometry
  • Seven diverse builds
  • Aluminum and carbon frames available
  • Two flip-chip settings
  • Clearance for up to 2.6" tires

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Difficult to measure Sag

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