October 3, 2011
Fast, stable, snappy handling, light, smooth, easy to ride
I’ve been riding mt bikes since they began arriving back in 1983. I started with a Schwinn High Sierra, then a Univega, then Diamond Back, then a Klein Pinicale followed by 8 different Cannondale full suspension bikes (Delta V, Super V’s, Raven’s, Gemini and Prophet). Over the past couple of years I had heard that the 29ers were a bit heavy and awkward unless you were 6’2” or taller. Since I’m 5’10” I didn’t have much interest in them. A few months ago I began to hear things about the Tallboy and the Superfly 100, like they were light and they handled well. So I started to look at the reviews on these two bikes and went for a test ride on the Tallboy.
When I was in high school I was racing motocross and the Tallboy has that dirt bike feel, stable, fast and fun! Since the hubs are a little bit higher than a 26er, the seating position is more “in the bike” than on top of it, defiantly more comfortable. I had my Tallboy built up with an XO group, Juicy Ultimate brakes, Mavic wheels with tubeless tires and a 120mm Fox Fork, it weights 25lb on the digital scale. The woman at the bike store where I bought the bike said that for every pedal crank revolution the bike goes 9” farther than a 26er. My first ride was up Railroad Grade on Mt Tam in Marin. I’ve done this climb at least a 1000 times and know it well. The first thing I noticed was that using the same gears I was going faster. Faster up hill is better, I need all the help I can get. The next thing I noticed was how smooth the bike is, choosing a good line is no longer necessary, most any line works well. On the downhill it felt like someone was pushing me from behind, the acceleration is amazing! The next place to test out the Tallboy was some technical, rocky single track up at Lake Tahoe. One of my favorites is a section of the Rim Trail called “Missing Link”. It’s a wonderful downhill that never gives up on the rocks and the down. Having ridden this trail at least 20 times over the years on a variety of 26er full suspension Cannondales, I am very familiar with this trail and what it has to offer. The Tallboy was a totally different experience. Of course the 29er wheels roll over everything effortlessly, it’s the amazing quick handling that I am so impressed with. It’s as if someone else is steering the bike and they know exactly what the best lines are, it’s like driving a Porsche 911 through the twisties with power steering! It’s so easy to do anything on this bike. Switchbacks are a breeze, again as if someone else is steering the bike, you just go through them without any fear of hesitancy, Tahoe has lots of sandy switchbacks and the bike sails through them effortlessly. Since the tire has more contact patch on the ground the bike climbs anything, it doesn’t matter how rough the trail is, just keep pedaling and the bike keeps going.
I’ve been riding with a friend who has a Blur for the past 12 years and he has always kicked my ass up hill and down, not anymore! It’s no contest; I drop him on every climb no matter how steep and leave him in the dust on any downhill, every time! The funny thing about it is that HE was the one who told me to look into the Tallboy! My prediction is that the era of the 29er is upon us and most of us will be riding them in the near future since the bike manufactures have figured out how to make these bikes so much easier to ride than the 26ers. . If you can find a better bike, buy it. Of course you won’t so you will have to settle for the best, a Tallboy!