Tallboy Carbon CC Mountain Bike Frame
The line between cross-country and trail riding is easy to blur together, and with XC bikes hitting the dirt with slacker geometry, its no wonder. These capable steeds are able to take on bigger terrain than we had dreamed of a cross-country machine tackling in years past, making it trickier to pigeonhole bikes like the Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon CC Mountain Bike Frame. Trail-country may be a good way to describe this ride. Build it up with 29-inch wagon wheels and you'll find yourself rolling on a steam-rolling speed demon. The Tallboy has always been revered as a go-anywhere steed with lively handling that maintained a lively feel despite many preconceived notions about 29ers, and the fourth generation retains that agile handling, but with a whole new layup that's sure to turn heads. Like its longer, slacker brothers, the Bronson, Nomad, and Megatower, the newest iteration of the Tallboy brings its suspension linkage downward for increased stability on descents, bridging the gap between XC and trail into a whole new category that we like to call "down-country."
We suppose that with Santa Cruz's Bronson and Hightower getting makeovers in the suspension department, we shouldn't be all that surprised to see 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, rather than tire sizes. Instead of opting for two wheel sizes, this year's Tallboy features a chip not only tweaks head tube and seat tube geometry, but it also offers 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.
With changes happening left and right on the Tallboy, thankfully 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.
- Walk the line between trail and cross-country with this short-travel whip
- New lower-linkage suspension boosts stability on descents
- 4.3in of highly efficient VPP travel that's also plush
- Flip-chip alters head and seat tube angle, as well as chainstays
- 76.3-degree seat tube angle improves pedaling efficiency
- Fox Factory suspension soaks up rubble with buttery-smooth control
- Longer reach offers a roomier cockpit and confidence handling
- Carbon CC frame saves weight without sacrificing stiffness or strength