Initial Thoughts: Santa Cruz’s Long-Travel Tallboy LT 29ers

New 135-millimeter Tallboys tower over the rest.

By Brice Minnigh

Truth be told, I was sold on the concept before I even got to ride Santa Cruz’s new long-travel 29ers—the aluminum Tallboy LT and carbon Tallboy LTc.

For starters, the company’s first stab at a full-suspension, 29-inch-wheeled bike—the Tallboy—was the first wagon-wheeler I really loved, from the moment I first took it for a shred around Whistler’s Lost Lake trails back in October 2009. To my mind, Santa Cruz had been the first bike maker to truly crack the 29er code, dialing in the geometry to make a big-wheeled beast that was somehow eminently maneuverable. I remember applauding the Tallboy’s ample standover and comparatively short chainstays and thinking, “Shiiiit, these 29ers might turn out to be really fun bikes after all.

I wasn’t alone in my admiration. Within weeks, our meager editorial ranks were consumed by competition, with each editor jockeying for position, calling imaginary dibs on the test bike and trying to curry favor with Santa Cruz’s overwhelmed marketing manager, Mike Ferrentino. No sooner had I reviewed the bike, one of our sales managers confiscated it and claimed he was going to buy the frame and shock from Santa Cruz immediately. The Tallboy suddenly became a scarce commodity, and it probably was a good half-year before two members of our staff were actually able to buy the frameset.

Given our team’s enthusiasm for the original Tallboy, our collective excitement over the prospect of a longer-travel version shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I mean, it’s no secret that Bike’s humble hacks are amazingly amenable to longer-travel bikes—if for no other reason than they make tough trails easier and more fun for the everyman to shred into oblivion. So the idea of a Tallboy with 135 millimeters of rear-wheel travel designed to run 130- to 150-millimeter forks pretty much had us sold from square one.

After my first rides on the alloy and carbon versions—at a cloak-and-dagger press camp in Sedona, Arizona, that was wonderfully inundated by the rough-and-ready UK mountain-bike press corps—my astoundingly favorable predisposition for the bike was vindicated.

Simply put, the Tallboy LT is sick—especially the carbon version, which weighs just 5.3 pounds for a large frame with shock. Believe it or not, that’s 0.3 pounds lighter than Santa Cruz’s 26-inch Blur LTc. The bike’s lightness and stiffness is bolstered by sensible all-mountainesque geometry, with a head angle that is 1.5 degrees slacker than that of the Tallboy and a seat angle that is almost a half-degree slacker.

The bike wasted no time in putting abundant trail under its big wheels, eating up steep and technical climbs with ease before barreling straight down through the chunder on the other side. For the better part of a week, the Tallboy LT and LTc—equipped with the 140-millimeter-travel Fox 34 fork—munched up mile after mile of sweet Sedona singletrack. By the time Ferrentino had dropped me off at the Phoenix airport for my return home, I missed the bikes already. It sucked to leave.

Of course, upon my return I immediately begged for an alloy LT to be sent to our Southern California headquarters for ‘longer-term testing,’ and that bike has already been sent to Bellingham, Washington, to be put through its paces on some steeper, burlier terrain.

For the more complete ‘dual-tester review’ of the Tallboy LT, check out the July issue of Bike magazine.

Tallboy LTc

Features:
-M, L, XL sizes
-Proprietary onepiece carbon fiber layup
-Tapered headtube
-142x12mm rear axle
-Replaceable derailleur hanger (optional Shimano direct mount rear hanger available)
-ISCG05 mount
-135mm travel, 7.875×2″ shock
-Customtuned Fox Float RP23 Kashima shock
-Collet axle pivot hardware
-Offset lower link (better chainguide clearance), recessed grease ports
-Continuous cable, dropper post routing
-Leather seatstay, chainstay, downtube protector
-Threaded bb shell (as in the paragraph above, our feelings are still the same. This is a good way to do a bottom bracket.)
-Available complete with R/AM spec for $4399 or SPX/AM spec for $5299
-Colors: Matte Carbon/Orange, Solar Yellow/Black

Tallboy LT

Features:
-M, L, XL sizes
-Hydroformed top and downtubes
-Tapered headtube
-Replaceable derailleur hanger
-ISCG05 mount
-135mm travel, 7.875″x2″ shock
-Custom tuned Fox Float RP23 Kashima shock
-Collet axle pivot hardware
-Offset lower link (better chainguide clearance), recessed grease ports
-Continuous cable routing, dropper post routing
-Threaded BB shell (we think this is still the best, most userfriendly, widely compatible, globally serviceable way to install a bottom bracket.)
-Available complete with R/AM spec for $3,199 or SPX/AM spec for $4,299
-Colors: Gulf Blue/Orange,Gloss Gun Black/Black

For more details visit: santacruzbicycles.com

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Add a Comment

  • Justin

    Hey Brice,

    Would you reach for this bike or a Mojo HD in the rough stuff? Can it hang with the HD or say a Nomad carbon.

    • http://www.bikemag.com Brice Minnigh

      Hi Justin,

      That is a rather complicated question. For me, the Mojo HD and the Tallboy LT are significantly different bikes, though both can definitely hold their own in the rough stuff. I guess it would largely depend on whether a rider is comfortable on 29-inch wheels. Given the fact that the Mojo HD has a slacker head angle than the Tallboy LT (at 67 degrees with a 160-millimeter fork and 66 degrees with a 180-millimeter fork), I might feel marginally more comfortable on the Mojo HD on a really steep and chunky trail. But, having said that, the bigger wheels on the Tallboy LT seem to simulate a bit of additional ‘suspension travel’. The truth is, I really love both the Mojo HD and the Tallboy LT, but I perceive them differently. Having to choose which one I would reach for in the rough stuff is tantamount to choosing between two gorgeous and gifted lovers with slightly different amorous attributes.

      Thank you for your question.

      Brice

  • Disco

    A big wheel nomad with less travel, this dirty road bike fad is out of hand; especially since neither one has UST wheels.

  • http://www.santacruzbicycles.com joe g

    Disco: those wheels are UST, TCS or tube compatible.

  • Matias

    Hola Brice,

    what will be your thoughs on adding a angle headset on the Tallboy LT? is head tube angle: 69.5 on 29er equivalent to 67 on a 26in bike?

    Will an angle headset change much the climbing goodies?

    What stem length and angle would you recommend? I order a 80 mm…

    I just got a frame and I’m putting together the bike.

    Thanks
    Mat

  • Sylvain

    To Mat:
    I have a 50mm stem and Havoc Carbon bar on a med.Tallboy LTc. Having own a Nomad for 5 seasons, the LTc just plain rips. Slightly different characteristic as Bryce mentioned but I ride everything I use to ride with my Nomad. I can even wheelie and manual better than my Nomad (I still suck at it though). My 0.02$

    Sylvain

  • Kenneth

    Just ordered my frame…..already got all the parts for it. Was contemplating between a R.I.P 9 or the Tallboy LTc, but i guess its time for a carbon frame in my collection. So opted for the Tallboy instead. Pull off all stops for the build….going full ENVE!! Cant wait to ride it!

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