Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon 29er Mountain Bike Review

We tested the first generation Santa Cruz Tallboy cross-country mountain bike at Bootleg Canyon.

I came into my demo of the Santa Cruz Tallboy assuming I wouldn’t enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, Santa Cruz makes amazing XC bikes and I’m a died-in-the-wool 29er rider, but before saddling up on the Tallboy, I had never ridden a full suspension (FS) 29er I really loved. Even just a year ago the FS 29ers on the market were mostly heavy, awkward, and usually suffered from serious pedal bob on the climbs. Luckily the Tallboy, with 100mm (about 4 inches) of front and rear travel, has none of those problems.

Santa Cruz makes two versions of the Tallboy a full carbon beauty (the one I demoed) and an aluminum one for those looking to save a little coin. The full carbon frame weighs in at just about 5 pounds with shock and the fairly standard build I rode at Bootleg Canyon was even lighter than it looked. This bike felt fast both on the climbs and the descents.

On the trail the Tallboy didn’t ride like a 29er to me (which is really a compliment). Maybe it’s because I’ve been riding my own 29er hardtail for a few years now but to me the Tallboy just felt like a really fun XC mountain bike. I honestly forgot it was a 29er or that it was even a FS bike it was me and the trail and that was it. In fact I think this was my favorite of all the great FS 29ers I rode all day. The suspension let me sail over rocks, rail bermed turns, and descend faster than on my hardtail 29er at home.

One of the reasons I’ve stuck with my hardtail all these years is that I have zero patience for pedal bob. If I’m climbing, I want every bit of my energy going toward getting me to the top so I can bomb down the other side. In my experience, 29ers in particular suffer from even worse pedal bob than their 26-inch cousins, perhaps due to the increased leverage ratios. Needless to say, Santa Cruz has the Tallboy dialed in and once again, I found myself forgetting to think about the bike pure bliss.

Clearly the Valencia orange paint job isn’t for everyone, especially given the current black and white obsession sweeping the MTB industry. The component mix is solid, and there are several options to choose from. My demo was set up with Fox suspension, a Rock Shox dropper seatpost, Mavic wheels, and Maxxis Crossmark tires (one of my favorites). The full carbon frame retails for around $2,600 and the Tallboy is currently Santa Cruz’s best selling mountain bike (even better than the Blur!). Check one of these out if you get the chance it’ll change the way you think about FS 29ers.