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Santa Cruz Bicycles
Tallboy Carbon - 2012

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Carbon beats aluminum, here.

At 5 pounds, the Santa Cruz Tallboy is one of the lightest, if not the lightest full-suspension 29er available -- by a pound or two in most cases. But light is only just that, and it's only worth something if it's paired with handling and toughness -- and the full-carbon Tallboy has plenty of each. Handling is a function of a number of things working in harmony -- geometry, stiffness and suspension design. The 100mm travel Tallboy keeps things tight, and climbs like a rocket thanks to a responsive, compact 17.5" chainstay on each of the medium through XXL sizes. This works to keep the wheelbase in check and allow for a more stable 71 degree head angle. All this and room for a 2.5" tire. Bring on the twisty singletrack!

With their third carbon bike, it's clear that Santa Cruz is supremely confident in their composite fabrication processes. Given our experiences with the Blur XC Carbon and Blur LT Carbon, so are we. Frankly, they're nothing short of amazing. Why? Santa Cruz recognized that the frame couldn't just be light, just be stiff, or just be strong. It had to be all three. That was their target, and they blew it out of the water. They achieved it through three unique carbon processes:

1) One-piece lay-up and curing. By laying up the front triangle at once, as opposed to assembling joints that require bonding or wrapping, Santa Cruz eliminates excess material and weight. As you might imagine, this is a very costly process as each size requires dedicated tooling.

2) Continuing fibers around tube junctions. The resulting structure distributes loads and absorbs impact energy better because the one-piece layup process allows for continuous fibers that wrap between tubes. Just like with the Blur XC Carbon, there is nary a rivet or bond to be found. Yes, we did say it absorbed impact better.

3) Net shape lay-up and fiber compaction. The one-piece lay-up and curing process allows Santa Cruz to control the outside shape, the inside shape, and to compact the fibers during the lay-up. The frame looks as good if not better on the inside as it does on the outside -- there's nothing there except carbon. Sweet, smooth carbon.

Santa Cruz Tallboy DetailThe result is an über-stiff carbon chassis, paired with the new generation of VPP. It's the same Virtual Pivot Point Design (VPP) that graced the recent redesigns of the Blur XC and Blur LT -- completely different than the prior iteration. The totally redesigned upper and lower links flatten out the shock rate and provide a more active feel to the early end of the axle path. It allows the rear wheel to move up and back as you ride over a bump. It balances the downward force of your pedaling with the pulling force of the chain through its link configuration and axle path. The resulting movement makes it even easier to roll over a bump, or through a dip.

The VPP design also prevents pedal-induced compression and lock-out, and the suspension doesn’t change whether or not you're in the saddle. Whether it is rolling through rock gardens, climbing water bars, descending stairs, or riding on lumpy fire roads, the suspension is active and responsive, even driving the rear wheel into the ground when pedaling furiously, enhancing the bike's traction and climbing characteristics. Pair that with the natural advantages of the bigger wheels on a 29er, and you've got a helluva ride.

They added a carbon fiber upper link to both shave weight and enhance lateral stiffness. Easily-serviceable grease ports were added to the aluminum alloy lower link (grease gun and grease included). The pivots now have beefy 15mm locking axle-pins. They run on intricately-sealed bearings with one-way purging seals that should last the life of the frame, and don't creak or loosen. For the people who want every lightweight feature addressed, Santa Cruz topped it off with titanium bolts in all the places that made good sense. What does this all mean? You can ride the you-know-what out of it, and rest easy.

The Tallboy yields 100mm of plush VPP suspension thanks to a Fox Float RP23, a lightweight, reliable shock that is easy to adjust and doesn't have too many confusing fine-tuning options. The three position Propedal lever provides a platform option to maximize efficiency during extended out-of-the-saddle climbing.

To enhance stiffness and tracking, the frame utilizes the same mixed tapered headset -- 1.5" lower race with a 1-1/8" internal upper race -- as the Blur LTc. It accepts 100 or 120mm travel forks with standard 1-1/8" or tapered steerers. Owing to the cross-country design, the frame has ISO brake mounts that can take up to 185mm rotors.

The Santa Cruz Tallboy is available in Gloss Blue, Matte Carbon/red, Matte Carbon/silver, and Orange/White in medium through XXL sizes. It requires a 30.9 seatpost and a 34.9mm traditional top pull front derailleur. The right dropout has a replaceable derailleur hanger. There are braze-ons for both a down tube water bottle cage and an under the down tube water bottle cage. The frame has a two year warranty against manufacturing defects, while the bearings are guaranteed for life.

US Santa Cruz dealers are prohibited from shipping Santa Cruz bicycles outside of the United States.

  • Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension design eliminates pedal bob while maintaining a plush response to trail obstacles
  • Tapered head tube adds front end stiffness, and accommodates the use of newer forks with tapered steerer tubes
  • Replaceable derailleur hanger keeps a little accident from being atrociously expensive
  • Integrated chainstay wrap provides protection against chain slap
  • Grease ports and locking collet axle heads provide simple, user-friendly maintenance

Frame Material
carbon fiber
2nd gen VPP
Pivot Type
Rear Travel
135 mm
Rear Shock
Fox Float RP23
Recommended Fork Travel
100 - 120 mm
Head Tube Diameter
ZS44/EC49 Mixed Tapered
Headset Included
Bottom Bracket Type
73 mm English
Front Derailleur Mount
34.9mm clamp-on
Derailleur Pull
Seatpost Diameter
30.9 mm
Seat Collar
34.9 mm Santa Cruz QR
Accessory Cable Stops
seat dropper
Replaceable Rear Derailleur Hanger
Claimed Weight
2270 g
Recommended Use
big-wheeled cross country
Manufacturer Warranty
5 years on frame

Overall Rating

5 based on 1 ratings

Review Summary

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