Santa Cruz has been pumping out updated and brand new bikes at a surprising pace over the past several months. When they invited us to their HQ for a new product launch ahead of Sea Otter, I was fairly certain it had to be a revamp of the ever-popular Tallboy. It didn’t take a crystal ball to make the call, as the Tallboy hasn’t seen any changes in the past few seasons. While my hunch was confirmed, what I didn’t expect was how far Santa Cruz was going to push the Tallboy into the trail bike category.
To sum it up in as few words as possible, the new Tallboy (TB3) is lower, longer, and slacker than its predecessor. To make it so, Santa Cruz increased rear travel by 10mm to 110, slackened the head tube over two degrees to 68, increased reach by 40-50mm, shortened the chainstays by 11mm, and lopped 30mm off the seat tube.
The other big news is that this third generation of the Tallboy is fully compatible with 27.5+ wheels, although Jeff has been running his much older Tallboy with 2.8″ tires for some time now. Santa Cruz will offer build kits with either wheel size. However, they do spec a longer, 130mm travel fork for the plus wheels, and there’s also a flip chip at the shock mount to keep the geometry consistent.
Why change it?
When you look at the evolution of the Tallboy alongside the rest of the Santa Cruz line, it’s not surprising that the TB3 ended up where it did. That said, apart from the Highball hardtail, the Tallboy is the only XC bike in their stable.
After the product presentation, I got to go on a ride led by Santa Cruz’s product manager, Josh Kissner. While we rode, I asked him, “why make another trail bike?” After all, you can already choose between the 5010, Hightower, Bronson, or Nomad. His answer was that riders don’t really look to Santa Cruz for XC race bikes. And that makes sense with where the brand has positioned itself. They don’t sponsor any large XC teams, although they do have a couple solo endurance riders. Instead, they’ve focused on World Cup DH with the Syndicate team and more recently, enduro.
Also, the Tallboy has been drifting slowly towards trail bike territory since its inception. The second generation of the bike was offered with a 120mm fork, instead of the original 100mm–something many riders were already doing aftermarket to improve its trail capability.
Santa Cruz says the new Tallboy is basically the bigger-wheeled cousin of their 5010, a bike with 27.5″ wheels. It’s a light-duty trail bike that should work for a variety of trails. Other similar bikes in this arena are: Niner’s JET 9; Specialized’s Camber; Yeti’s SB 4.5C; Transition’s Smuggler; and the new Norco Optic, which also debuted at Sea Otter.
Santa Cruz will offer the Tallboy 29 in your choice of two builds, but only one for the Tallboy 27.5+. All builds are now coming with burlier 34mm-stanchioned forks–up from 32mm; trail-worthy tires; and dropper posts.
Tallboy 29 CC XX1 – $7,800
- SRAM XX1 drivetrain
- Race Face Next SL cranks
- Fox 34 Float Factory fork
- Fox Float Factory shock
- Easton ARC rims / Industry Nine hubs
- SRAM Level Ultimate brakes
- Maxxis Minion DHF / Ardent Race tires
- Weight: 26.2lbs.
Tallboy 29 CC X01 – $6,500
- SRAM X01 drivetrain
- Race Face Turbine cranks
- Fox 34 Float Performance Elite fork
- Fox Float Performance Elite shock
- Easton ARC rims, DT 350 hubs
- SRAM Level TLM brakes
- Maxxis Minion DHF / Ardent Race tires
- Weight: 26.4lbs.
The Tallboy 27.5+ build is basically the same as the X01 build, apart from the 130mm travel fork and Maxxis Rekon tires. Retail is the same at $6,500.
If you haven’t maxed out your credit card yet, you can add ENVE wheels to the 29er builds for an additional $2,000.
The Juliana Joplin
And for the ladies, Santa Cruz is offering a Juliana version of the new Tallboy, called the Joplin. It features all the same updates–more travel, longer reach, slacker head tube, better standover, etc.–but it’s available in a shade of purple they’re calling Ultraviolet.
The suspension on the Joplin receives a lighter tune and there are a couple of women’s-specific component specs, but otherwise, the bikes and builds are identical.