The Santa Cruz Tallboy is easily one of the most popular bikes in the shop, if not the mountain biking world. There’s a good reason for it and in Zane’s review of his new bike he goes over why he chose the Tallboy, why he chose it over his previous Megatower, and more in the video review.
I am of the opinion that if you were to buy one bike to do everything, you should buy the bike that will do at least 85% of all of your riding. The Santa Cruz Tallboy covers that range and then some. It is a bike that punches a category above its class, and something I would happily recommend to anyone looking to ride the same type of stuff as I do.
Santa Cruz describes the new Tallboy as “the downhiller’s XC bike,” and that’s something I’m inclined to agree with. I ride Deer Valley regularly (including the double black diamonds!) with pepperings of local stuff including Flying Dog, Road to WOS, and parts of the Bonneville Shoreline here in SLC. I’ve even done the Whole Enchilada on the Tallboy and never once did I wish I had something more capable.
Part of that is down to frame geometry, which really closely resembles that of the Hightower, just in a more playful package. For everything around here, it is more fun than lugging a 34 lb bike up to Terror Ridge over and over, which I was already doing with my Megatower. And despite the similarity in the important stuff (reach and stack, wheelbase, head angle), the Tallboy manages to be about 2 lb lighter than a similarly-optioned Hightower. That weight isn’t much when my complete riding weight is over 200 lb but I’m going to choose the lighter bike over and over, everything else held equal.
Among other things, I like that the size range makes sense, with no need for second-guessing what fits you best. I also dig the XS size for smaller riders, as those with a saddle height of 57 cm can easily fit with a dropper post. Like my Megatower, the Tallboy (carbon model) has a wheelbase adjust option so I can dial in the bike based on my riding tendencies. The water bottle placement is ideal. I also appreciate that it pedals lighter than its weight might suggest.
I do have a few gripes. For one, I wish I could option a burlier shock, as the standard Fox Float DPS shock is good but having a more supple shock option might make the bike even more capable. I also wasn’t a fan of the brakes on my Tallboy C S-kit build, as those too could get overwhelmed. My bike is nearly stock except for a swap from the SRAM Guide R to Shimano Deore XT four-piston M8120 brakes, and a swap from the RockShox Reverb dropper to a Fox Transfer Performance 150 mm dropper post. Maybe it’s personal preference, but I feel like my bike is absolutely dialed now. Maybe a wheel upgrade down the road?
It actually reminds me a lot of a SCOTT Spark Tuned I had a few years ago. While that one was 60% about climbing and 40% about the descents, this Tallboy is 60% about descents and 40% about climbing. Both are awesome bikes, only I prefer descending a bit more to climbing now.
As I said, my Tallboy does 85% of what I want to ride. Anything more, and I can rent a bike. As good as bikes are today, I don’t believe that there is truly a jack-of-all-trades bike. The Tallboy comes closest, and that’s why I picked it.
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