With Santa Cruz's Blur back in the lineup as its dedicated cross-country machine, the Tallboy v3 is free to be what it always was, a short travel 29er that can handle burly trails with all-day efficiency. It's simply an excellent all-arounder and although the term gets thrown around quite a bit, probably the best representation of a quiver killer that we know of. This version, the Tallboy 29 Carbon CC X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike, might just be the best bang for the buck in the lineup and brings the 4.3in suspension platform and places it in a premium CC Carbon chassis that'll handle most anything a rowdy rider can throw at it, and prefers to earn their turns in the backcountry rather than riding a lift or taking a shuttle to the top of the mountain. Thankfully the drivetrain is happy to climb too, and with SRAM's X01 Eagle cassette offering a massive 500% range, you'll tackle those big elevation days with plenty left in the tank to charge the descent.
As one of Santa Cruz's most popular models, the Tallboy has been refined over the years and was among the first 29ers to enjoy near universal acclaim. One thing worth noting is that, along with the Hightower, this bike has the capabilities to run plus wheels and tires, even though Santa Cruz isn't offering that as a build option for 2019. Instead, the new Bronson and 5010 will fly the plus build flag but, since this frame retains the flip chip on the upper link that alters the lower mounting point of the shock eyelet on the FOX Float DPS shock, it accounts for the 9mm difference in radii between the 27.5+ and 29in tires, keeping the geometry as static as possible across wheel sizes. You will still need to source a 130mm air spring for the FOX Float 34 Performance fork to complete the transformation between wheel sizes.
You can look at a bike's head tube angle on a geo chart and get a decent idea of how it will ride. Sitting at a moderately slack 68-degrees, the Tallboy should offer stability on steep, fast descents without requiring a ton of muscling it around sharp uphill switchbacks. Riding the bike confirms just the same, it possesses great balance. The frame's chainstays length and reach are also on board with modern geometry numbers with 17.01-inch stays across the board, again finding the balance between confidence and nimbleness, while the reach numbers put you in an ideal attack position with your center of gravity further back so the feeling of going over the bars is all but eliminated.
The VPP suspension platform has remained the design of choice for Santa Cruz for well over a decade and it's been slightly refined over the years with the latest updates making it suppler off the top for more compliance on small bumps, with plenty of mid-stroke support across lumpy trails and root latticed climbs, before slightly ramping up and taking a rearward wheelpath trajectory for a bottomless feel over the big hits. It manages to maintain a firm feel during accelerations, so if your toeing the line at a cross-country event or rock-climbing over some ledgy technical climbs, you'll never feel a lack of efficiency. The links are positioned out of the way, which lets the Tallboy 3 accommodate a full-sized bottle inside the front triangle and provides a lower standover height, and an additional increase in an already stout frame, thanks to the already stiff Boost rear end.
Santa Cruz's Carbon CC frame construction remains unchanged and for this top-tier CC frame designation, the engineers use a higher modulus carbon versus the standard Carbon C model, so less material is required to hit the same strength and stiffness numbers. Less material equates to less weight, and well, we'll always take a lighter bike for any occasion. Climbing and just motoring along the flats is easier with less mass to haul around, and a stiffer chassis is more efficient at getting the power to the rear wheel and requires less body English while negotiating technical trails.
The frame's front and rear carbon triangles are built as whole pieces rather than glued together from separate bits. This method saves weight and increases structural integrity by allowing Santa Cruz to wrap carbon continuously around key junctures. It further reinforces the frame with less material while eliminating stress risers that result from bonded construction methods. Finally, the carbon is also compacted from the inside and the outside for a more even finish that avoids any structural defects, excess material build-up, and resin pooling for—you guessed it—even more weight savings.
Final details include a threaded bottom bracket that's what we've come to expect from the California-based brand, and it's a strong selling point for those who don't like dealing with the tricky tolerances and creaky interfaces of press-fit models. If running it in 27.5+ mode, it'll accommodate 2.8in tires with ease, and depending on the rim's internal width, some 3in models. This 29-inch version comes equipped with 2.3in Maxxis rubber, which occupies a sweet spot of cush and traction without feeling too sluggish, bouncy, or vague.
- Santa Cruz's premium CC TB frame with a smart build
- Pedals like an XC bike descends like a trail bike
- 4.3in of optimized VPP travel
- Flip-chip enables compatibility with 29in and 27.5+ wheels
- 74-degree seat tube angle optimizes climbing efficiency
- Longer reach get your CG back for stable descending
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing strength
- X01 Eagle drivetrain provides the rang and precise, crisp shifts.