Tallboy 29 Carbon S Complete Mountain Bike
Now that the Blur has made its way back into Santa Cruz's lineup as their premier cross-country race bike, the esteemed California company was free to fine-tune the Tallboy into the trail weapon it was always meant to be. So this year, the Tallboy 29 Carbon S Complete Mountain Bike gets a major overhaul, coming equipped a host of updates that expand the bike's capabilities further than ever before. Changes start with 10mm extra travel, along with a new lower-link-driven VPP suspension platform inspired by Santa Cruz's longer travel bikes. This allows the fourth generation Tallboy to soak up rough terrain with newfound stability and cool composure. The bike also gets radical new geometry with a 65.5-degree head tube angle that boosts confidence on the descents, and a steep 76.3-degree seat tube angle that preserves the lively climbing performance we've come to know and love. The geometry is adjustable via a flip chip in the linkage, and the chainstays have +/- 10mm of rear axle adjustment to ensure riders of all sizes and styles feel comfortable on the bike. The carbon frame itself is more refined than ever, delivering a responsive and quiet ride that makes you want to sprint both up and down the mountain. In short, you no longer have to hold back on fun and fast trails just because you're not on a bigger bike, because the new Tallboy redefines what short-travel bikes are truly capable of.
Because Santa Cruz's Bronson and Hightower got makeovers in the suspension department, it doesn't come as a huge surprise to see the tweaks to the Tallboy went in the same direction. The new Tallboy follows the trends of its deeper-travel siblings, moving the VPP suspension down to a lower-link that offers improved stabilization in the roughest terrain, while an extra 10mm of travel helps soak up additional rocks and roots that the previous Tallboy would have shied away from. This makes the new ride more confident than ever, ready for bigger trails, rutted out lines, brakes bumps galore, and even turning the odd set of rollers into doubles—but not at the cost of climbing. The new suspension is designed with the same engineering principles as the brand's longest travel bikes, making it just as at home riding cross-country as it is extreme backcountry. Santa Cruz's VPP suspension is designed to stabilize the suspension when you're putting power down on the pedals, meaning the rear end ceases to bob, providing a much more responsive and lively feel when you hammer up steeps, so you aren't wasting all of the power you put down. This is achieved with counter-rotating links that are carefully arranged to resist activation by pedaling forces, all but eliminating bobbing under power.
But suspension is hardly where Santa Cruz stopped on upgrades with the new Tallboy. The bike sees a full makeover this year, with entirely different geometry, but continues to use the flip-chip we saw in previous years for adaptable geometry that can be tuned to your own personal riding needs. In the front things start out with a much slacker head tube angle that shifted from the 68-degrees in years past to the ultra-long 65.5-degrees it is today (with the flip chip in Low). This slack head tube elevates the confidence of the Tallboy when you point it downhill, providing improved handling in rough and jarring terrain, and boosting control at high speeds. With the head tube's shift into the slacker realm, balance needed to be achieved to maintain the bike's reputation for lively pedaling and handling, so the engineers at Santa Cruz opted to move the seat tube angle up a few degrees to a steep perch of 76.3 degrees—a full three degrees steeper than the previous model, allowing you to stay on top of the bike when pedal power matters, and keeping the cockpit compact enough for comfort when handling the bike in rowdy terrain.
In previous years the flip-chip on the Tallboy seemed to beckon for loftier 27.5+ hoops, but this year it serves a purpose tuned more acutely to riding style preferences. The flip chip not only tweaks head tube and seat tube geometry, but there's also a full 10mm of adjustability to the stubby-short 430mm chainstays, which allows riders of all sizes and riding styles to make the necessary tweaks to feel right at home. This combines with a low bottom bracket for a combination that's built to thread the needle, rail berms, and launch out the other side with power and confidence.
The frame on the Tallboy Carbon S build uses Santa Cruz's Carbon C construction, which is Santa Cruz's second tier carbon level. It's just as strong as the higher-level CC carbon, though a little bit heavier. The carbon layup process remains the same, just with a different carbon modulus that's a bit more budget friendly, which is why you're able to score the Carbon C at a much more modest asking price, all you sacrifice is an equally modest 240g of gained weight.
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 pressfit models. There's also a fender to protect the rear shock from dirt and debris, as well as molded protectors for the downtube and chainstays. Santa Cruz specs this model with a workhorse set of components, including plush Fox Performance suspension with 120mm of rear travel and 130mm up front, a GX Eagle drivetrain that provides a massive 500% gear range with crisp shifting, Guide R brakes that are more powerful than the Level brakes found on previous generation Tallboys, and stout Race Face rims laced to reliable DT Swiss 370 hubs. The whole package rolls on 2.3in Maxxis Minion rubber, which occupies a sweet spot of cush and traction without feeling too sluggish, bouncy, or vague.
- The 4th gen Tallboy redefines what a short travel bike can do
- 10mm deeper travel soaks up more rocks, roots, and trail chatter
- New lower-link VPP suspension improves performance across the board
- Super slack head tube feels controlled descending at high speeds
- Steep seat tube angle allows for comfortable & efficient pedaling
- Flip chips let you tweak geometry and chainstay length
- Longer reach increases stability and high-speed composure
- Carbon C frame rivals performance of CC frames at a lower cost