Can We Get Much High(tower)er? 2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy First Look

The Tallboy is back for its fourth iteration and this bike like previous generations is more trail-ready than the one before. If anything, the more capable the Tallboy has become on the trail, the closer it has come to match that of the Santa Cruz Hightower. But, as Santa Cruz claims, the new 2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy isn’t just a mini-Hightower, but a new trail bike that defies classification. Simply put, it is the Tallboy.

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy - Contender Bicycles

This fourth generation of Tallboy, as well as the new third-generation Juliana Joplin, is remade with the end goal of making it more capable than ever. The ethos is this: while most assume that riders of short-travel bikes slow down when the trail points down, the reality is that fun trails encourage us to ride faster, regardless of what bike we may be on. What Santa Cruz has done as a result is more or less bring over the geometry of the new Hightower and scaled it to fit a 130 mm/120 mm suspension layout. A 65.5-degree headtube angle, 76-degree seat tube angle, long front center and reach measurements, and 44 mm-offset fork exemplify this mission.

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy CC Contender Bicycles

Angles don’t tell the whole story with the new Tallboy, however. 10 mm more suspension travel compared to the previous Tallboy may not seem like a ton but coupled with the new lower-link VPP suspension makes the Tallboy even more capable on descents than before. As described in our Hightower first look, Santa Cruz moved the shock to the bottom bracket area to offer a more linear leverage curve, making for a bike that is much more supportive in the mid-stroke of the suspension travel than previous Tallboys.

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy VPP Suspension - Contender Bicycles

There might even be enough here to pitch the new Tallboy as superior to the Hightower. They both receive threaded bottom brackets, linkage covers to protect against dirt and grime, a flip-chip located at the shock to adjust for tire size, lower standover on all sizes, and two bottle cage mounts. From here it becomes a trade-off between the downtube tailgate protector of the Hightower and the adjustable chainstays of the Tallboy. Also found on the Megatower, adjustable chainstays allow riders to swap between short 430 mm chainstays that make the bike more playful thru technical terrain, or flip to 440 mm chainstays that increase high-speed stability.

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy Detail - Contender Bicycles

How’s it like to ride? Good question; when we get one out on the trail we will fill everyone in. However, we can make a few educated guesses. The previous Tallboy felt like a trail bike that could keep up with cross-country rigs on climbs before dropping those same bikes on the descents. Seeing that not only did the new Tallboy receive the “longer, lower, slacker” treatment, but it has geometry numbers that come surprisingly close to the Hightower. And while the previous Hightower was no slouch on the descent, the new Hightower felt much plusher and in control despite only having 10 mm more rear travel than the previous bike. We expect the new Tallboy to follow suit as a neutral handler that does everything well.

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy Riding - Contender Bicycles

Perhaps the prevailing thought that people come away with after looking at the Tallboy is one of mass appeal. The Tallboy is a bike for the people; Tallboy aluminum complete bikes start at an impressive $2699, with the XX1 AXS Reserve bike and CC-grade carbon frame at $10499. There are an impressive six sizes available, allowing riders of all sizes to find a bike that they can be comfortable with on the trail.

Is this a short travel Hightower? Possibly, but history says that the Tallboy defies classification. Ride up the trail with your XC friends and smoke ’em on the descents, or do exactly the opposite with your friends on long-travel 29ers. Either way, you’ll get a trail bike ready to ride on singletrack of all kinds.

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy Lineup - Contender Bicycles

We have the new 2020 Tallboy in the shop! Contact us by phone during business hours at either of our shops or by email any time at info@contenderbicycles.com

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