With a complete overhaul, especially since the last time we reviewed a Tallboy, it was interesting to see what’s changed…and what’s remained the same. We’ve had the new Tallboy 4 for a couple weeks, getting two different riders on it for a couple rides each, with surprisingly similar first impressions. Here’s our thoughts, along with complete bike weights and setup notes…

2020 Tallboy Actual Weight

2020 santa cruz tallboy actual weight

The size XL for a Tallboy CC X01 RSV build comes in at 28lb 7oz (12.9kg). That includes their carbon Reserve wheels on DT Swiss hubs, a SRAM X01 Eagle group, Rockshox Pike fork and Fox shock. Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II tires come standard, already setup tubeless with Stan’s sealant.

The shock’s stanchion is pretty much buried inside the split seat tube, which makes it hard to reach the O-ring…and even harder to see. Some sort of sag ruler would be a nice addition to the box. But, and I’m not sure if this is included in normal consumer bikes, they did include several replacement derailleur hangers, which is always handy to have on hand.

It’s always fun to see what the suspension looks like fully compressed. The lower linkage is like a sideways “V”, with the top tilting forward as the rear triangle shifts upward and rotates forward.

Tallboy Ride Review

Much like a signature wine, the Santa Cruz Tallboy is a bike that exhibits serious terroir. If you’ve ever ridden the swoopy fast trails around Santa Cruz, where fast, loamy descents are the reward for extended climbs, then you’ll get it. And you’ll get why they’ve stretched the bike out so much compared to other 120mm trail bikes. It’s made to go fast, but climb really well to get to the good stuff quickly and efficiently.

Like other Santa Cruz mountain bikes I’ve ridden, their bottom brackets remain low, which helps keep the center of gravity low. Which is great for ripping descents and railing corners. Not as great for east coast roots and uneven rocky climbs. Both of us clipped our pedals way more than normal, and had to pay extra attention when climbing technical sections. That said, we receive the bike in “Low” mode and haven’t changed it yet, but that’s next on the list.

first ride review of the new 2020 santa cruz tallboy trail mountain bike

We also received the bike with the rear axle flip-chip set in the short position, which is where we’ll be keeping it. This bike’s wheelbase is already so long, and its head angle so slack, that the slower, tighter sections that east coast trails are known for are also a bit of a challenge on the new Tallboy. It’s a little slow around tight corners, or at least requires wider entry. Leaning the bike just a little farther into a turn helps, though. But when the trail opens up, and speeds increase, things get way more fun.

The bike has a big, solid presence that’s reinforced by a very stiff frame. You feel that heft when standing to sprint and rocking the bike back and forth, but you benefit from it when you make a mistake, come in a little hot and slide the rear end, or the tail gets a little too sideways in the air.

It’s super solid and stable at speed, pedals convincingly through rough sections, and felt very efficient, even with the shock in Open mode. It does get a little quicker feeling in the shock’s Trail setting, but it’s entirely pedal-friendly in Open, too. Pedal mode is tuned pretty firm, so we basically stayed out of that…it’s easier to get the bike through a corner quickly when we could compress the suspension a little.

Landing a jump or drop in Open is appropriately fluffy and absorbent, and in Trail mode it just feels planted. Like when James Bond falls through the ceiling and lands on a couch, it’s like “OK, next?

The Tallboy seems to beg for more than our local trails can offer. We have a taste, now it’s time for a bigger meal. Stay tuned…(and check out the full tech post for more about the frame and suspension, too).

SantaCruzBicycles.com

7 COMMENTS

  1. There’s a point where going slack, long, and low just doesn’t work well…Every company seems to be trying to headed that way, unless you ride in the trails of Oregon, Washington State or NorCal….

    • I agree. I live in AZ and we love long and slack for the rough downs but we need to climb that same mountain. I thought the previous iteration of the Tallboy was perfect for climbing and descending.

    • Agree 100%. Loved the Tallboy 1, 2, and waited on this before deciding to go Tallboy 3 instead of 4. Seems like it’s built to go straight up, and straight down.

      Looking forward to my Tallboy 3 though. Santa Cruz has been a great company with support/warranty. Just seems like there is a big gap now between the Blur and Tallboy.

  2. I’m kind of tired of MOAR SLACKUR MOAR TRAVEL with literally every single mountain bike that comes out. A Tallboy that’s hard to maneuver on old-school tight-n-twisty trails? Yikes.

    When Surly turned the Karate Monkey into a “slack” 29er “trail” hardtail, I was out. Sure, it was funner on the descents, but not so much funner that it was worth turning it into a bike that lost a lot of its climbing ability.

    I’m seriously wondering if what I need is just a new-school XC racing full-squish. They are so much more capable and I just don’t want to be hauling all that extra around if I don’t really, truly need it.

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