We shoulda seen all of this coming. What, with the Blur XC taking the mantle as a 100mm 29er race bike, and most of the rest of their full suspension lineup switching over to the lower linkage-driven shock layout introduced with the Nomad 4. The all-new, 2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy has officially become a “trail bike”, getting 120mm rear wheel travel with a 130mm fork. And it’s a beast!

2020 Tallboy frame & tech

how much travel does the new santa cruz tallboy mountain bike have

The first thing that struck us about the new Tallboy 4 (as in, this is it’s fourth iteration) is just how stout the front triangle looks. The huge headtube structure and fat, squarish downtube give the bike a big presence.

what is new about the 2020 santa cruz tallboy

how much travel does the new santa cruz tallboy mountain bike have

The geometry is part of the story, and we’ll get to that. But the other main thing that makes this a wholly different bike than its predecessor is the switch to a lower linkage driven rear shock. Based off of what’s been working for their longer travel, more aggressive bikes, the new VPP design creates a better suspension curve…and they added 10mm more travel for good measure.

what is the lower linkage design on new santa cruz mountain bikes like the 2020 tallboy

The new shock’s position keeps the weight lower, but it does make it a bit hard to see where the o-ring is when setting sag.

how do I change the geometry on the new santa cruz tallboy suspension flip switch

The Tallboy gets two adjustments – a high and low shock mount, and a two-position rear axle mount. Above the shock is a small fender to keep its sliding surfaces clean(er).

what is new about the 2020 santa cruz tallboy

what is the tire clearance on the new santa cruz tallboy mountain bike

All Tallboys come spec’d with 29×2.3″ tires, with generous clearance at that width.

what is new about the 2020 santa cruz tallboy

Other features include a sound-deadening chainstay guard with a clever extension running up behind the chainring, full internal cable routing, and 1x-only designs.

2020 Tallboy builds & geometry

MY20 santa cruz tallboy pricing and build kit options for complete mountain bikes

The new Tallboy 4 will come in two colors, “Rocksteady Yellow” and “Stormbringer Purple”, and get two levels of carbon frames – CC at the top, and C for the masses. Top builds include Shimano XTR or SRAM Eagle AXS, with SRAM NX Eagle at the bottom of the carbon-framed lineup.

Below those are an aluminum frame, with SRAM SX Eagle and NX Eagle build options for those on a really tight budget.

The things to note about the new Tallboy’s geometry is just how slack the front end is. They say it’s because even riders on short travel bikes like this still wanna go fast on the descents. At 65.5º in the “Low” position (and only 0.2º steeper in “High”), it’s in the realm of bikes with 140-150mm of travel. Other brand’s modern 120mm “trail” bikes tend to be around 66.5-67º. And with 430mm chainstays (in the short position), this has the effect of creating a really long wheelbase, too…about 36mm longer than the most progressive trail bike (size XL) we compared it to!

The alloy frames keep the switchable shock mount but lose the adjustable rear axle position. Frames and all bearings come with a lifetime warranty.

Now, you’ve got a 29er Santa Cruz bike for almost any travel you want, all with the new suspension design save for the Blur XC. Grab the Hightower for 140mm rear, and the Megatower for 160mm rear. Even their V10 DH bike has been available with 29″ wheels for some time. Check out all the colors and build options on their website, and click here for our first ride impressions and actual weights!



  1. It’s a shame there are no XT or SLX builds. Those groups have been getting great reviews, and the consensus seems to be that they’re better than SRAM groups that occupy similar price points. It really will be a shame if Shimano can’t claw back more market share even if its stuff works better…

    • I’m really hoping it was just bad timing on when the product managers had to commit to build kits, vs when a Shimano was able to commit to delivering XT/SLX in volume. If that’s the case, we should see a lot more Shimano options for the mid-year 2020 announcements. Sea Otter next year should be very illuminating.

    • Lack of Shimano spec on new models is no ones fault except Shimanos. They simply can’t deliver their products on time. It’s fairly irrelevant if it works better or not when it isn’t available.

  2. I’m pleasantly surprised by the prices. The Al framed bikes seems like pretty good value given the prices I’ve seen on some bikes lately. Maybe a recession is near…

  3. They nailed the geo for a bike like this, but the new lower link design on this bike and the hightower makes them pigs compared to their predecessors, even if they pedal better. You can look past the weight on the hightower, but this bike is way too heavy to appeal to people wanting a trail bike that they can also race competitively. I wonder if they might have missed the mark here. Seems like it will be very difficult to get this bike less than 27 pounds. In XC race mode my rocky mountain instinct with 140mm of travel weighs 25.5 pounds and climbs like a demon. Why would I buy this instead?

  4. Santa Cruz has their own hub which most likely does not have the Shimano spline license. This is a big reason some brands can’t use Shimano spec. It’s a big mistake and I’m sure Shimano oe sales staff have to deal with it often.

    • Huh? Where do you see a Santa Cruz hub anywhere?

      The definitely do not have their own hubs. Its all either Sram or DT Swiss hubs on the Tallboy builds, and if you buy Reserve wheels aftermarket you can pick DT, I9 or Chris King.

  5. As for the “Slack as hell” comment, will everyone finally realize that slack works for everything now? (Except XC racing, yet that’s for mutants.) Santa Cruz is not the first to realize this. For those who are not retro-grouches, it only takes a ride or two to adjust to a degree or two slacker on right Singletrack. Everyone likes stable descending.

    • Open invitation to bring your low/long/slack bike and try and get around our technical spaghetti bowl trails.Sure you can do it, the question is would you want to on a full time basis.

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