Tenacious traction, rock-smoothing compliance.
Whereas the original Tallboy was purely a cross-country machine that happened to be confident on the trail, the latest version of the Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon 27.5+ XE Complete Mountain Bike dives further into the realms of rowdy trail fun with 110-millimeters of VPP suspension paired with updated geometry that's slacker and longer than before. However, what's most noticeable is the Tallboy's ability to accept both 27.5+ and 29-inch wheels with its flip-chip located on the upper linkage. In this particular 27.5+ configuration with 2.8-inch tires, the Tallboy grabs tenaciously across loose, dusty trails, as well as smooths out rock gardens with greater compliance than standard tires.
The newest Tallboy's 68-degree head tube angle marks a radical departure from the original's 70-degree head tube, making it all the more competent dropping into steep descents and holding its line at high speeds. By moving to the slacker end of the riding spectrum for a short-travel 29er, the Tallboy gains confidence at higher speeds where a racier XC bike would feel squirrely and unnerving. However, this push towards being slacker isn't as dramatic as many bikes in the all-mountain and enduro realms, so you'll still enjoy the sharp handling traits inherent to the original Tallboy. Although the bike has grown substantially in wheelbase and reach to meet modern standards, the chainstays remain short at 17 inches for nimble cornering capabilities, especially around tight switchbacks and sweeping berms.
New for 2017, the Tallboy readily accepts both 27.5+ and 29-inch wheels with its integrated flip-chip along the upper linkage. The flip-chip rotates to allow the shock mount to migrate between high (29er) and low (27.5+) settings, but without drastically altering the bike's dialed geometry and handling characteristics on the trail. This particular Tallboy in 27.5+ form is an absolute trail juggernaut with its high volume tires soaking up jarring sections of rocks, as well as digging aggressively into loose soil and dry, dusty conditions.
Delving into the Tallboy's VPP suspension, you'll find it increased from the previous 100 to 110 millimeters of travel. Although 10 millimeters might not seem drastic, this extra travel gives the newest Tallboy greater composure over rocky trails and technical terrain where the older bike would be overwhelmed. And to make the most of this short-travel suspension, Santa Cruz tuned the shock with end-stroke progression, meaning it ramps up aggressively to prevent you from harshly bottoming out. This means you'll be able to ride across technical rock sections and mid-sized drops without blowing through excess travel or feeling like you're overwhelming the bike's capabilities. The VPP suspension platform is slightly revised as well, exhibiting greater sensitivity to small bumps, as well as providing more support throughout the mid-stroke in a linear fashion.
This well equipped 27.5+ XE build benefits from Santa Cruz's Carbon C frame, which provides a significant increase in stiffness and strength over the cheaper aluminum version. If you're wondering what stiffness does to your everyday trail ride, you'll notice a significant improvement in power transfer, especially when you're accelerating from corners and spinning up steep climbs. Looking to the rest of the build kit, you'll find the Shimano XT/E13 1x11 drivetrain simplifies the shifting experience without the excess weight, cluttered bars, or shifting issues of a front derailleur. Another impressive feature is the Fox 34 Performance Elite fork, which serves up a stiff chassis with 130 millimeters of travel for pummeling over rock gardens and dropping into steep terrain.
- Newest generation Tallboy blurs line between XC and trail
- 27.5+ wheels dig into dry, dusty trail and smooth out rocks
- Carbon C frame is much stiffer and stronger than aluminum
- Geometry is noticeably longer and slacker than previous version
- Flip-chip on upper linkage for switching between 29er and 27.5+
- 110mm of VPP travel for responsive pedaling and bump compliance
- Fox 34 Performance Elite fork smooths out rocky terrain
- Shimano XT 1x11 drivetrain with wide range E13 cassette