For many, including those at Santa Cruz, the Tallboy has been a revelation in big wheel form. The first generation was introduced at a time when 29ers were still a hot topic of debate and it just happened to be the first 29er from Santa Cruz – a 4″ travel VPP carbon stunner. Needless to say that in spite of the company’s wariness of big wheels, the bike was a hit thanks to geometry that didn’t suck and the touch of VPP suspension. That first gen 29er was eventually followed up by more 29ers including the Tallboy LT/LTc long travel version, and most recently the Tallboy 2.
Now with the Tallboy LT gone from the Santa Cruz website and replaced with the new Hightower, the Tallboy sees another update. Growing into a bit more of a modern trail bike with big wheels, the gen 3 Tallboy adds new geometry, enhanced suspension, and yes… the ability to run 27.5+ wheels and tires…
Much like the Hightower before it, the Tallboy sees increased clearance out back to make room for 27.5 x 2.8″ tires on 40mm rims. To make up the difference in size between the two sizes, the frame is equipped with a flip chip with a High and Low setting. On the Low position the now 110mm travel frame (up from 100mm) is best suited for 29″ wheels and a 120mm travel suspension fork. In the High setting, the bike is balanced around 27.5+ wheels and tires with a 130mm travel fork. Bikes will be sold complete in both set ups and with the fork the better suits the wheel size – that means that ideally for wheel size swaps you’ll need a new fork along with another set of wheels, or at least an air shaft to switch out of your fork.
Along with the suspension adjustment and the change to 110mm of travel for the frame, the overall suspension of the frame is upgraded with a new 34mm chassis fork from Fox for more precise handling, and a new suspension tune out back. The Fox Float with EVOL air can has been tuned to work with the suspension linkage to offer improved small bump compliance through higher initial leverage, and a more consistent but progressive suspension tune to give a more constant suspension feel that will better resist bottoming out.
As 29ers have evolved, so has mountain bike geometry. Current trail bikes are longer, slacker, and lower than ever and the TB3 is no exception. New is a 2.2º slacker head tube angle, 40-50mm longer reach, 11mm shorter chainstays, a 0.6º steeper seat tube angle for better pedaling, and a 30mm shorter seat tube to allow more room for dropper posts as well as better stand over. By the numbers, the new bike should be a riot on fun, fast trails.
Fans of the front derailleur will be happy to see that they haven’t been forgotten. However, Santa Cruz did a nice job of making the mount removable and clean so you can forget that front derailleurs even exist if that’s your goal. Elsewhere it’s standard Santa Cruz practicality with a threaded 73mm bottom bracket, downtube and molded chainstay protector, internal routing for derailleurs and droppers but external for the rear brake, and size specific RockShox Reverb droppers with 125mm on the S, 150mm for M-XL, and 170mm (!) for XXL frames. Santa Cruz did make the switch to a 148 x 12mm Boost rear end, but that’s not surprising given the plus tire compatibility.
At the time of the launch, Tallboys will be shipping (or already shipped) out to dealers which is why they were already hitting the assembly line when we stopped by before Sea Otter. Like their other bikes, all Santa Cruz Tallboys will be built up in house – including the wheels. As for the Tallboy, initially 29er builds will be offered in the 29 CC XX1 for $7799 with a claimed weight of 26 lbs/11.6kg and Enve wheels, and the 29 CC X01 at $6499 with a 0.2lb/0.1kg weight penalty (along with quite a bit of component differences).
On the plus side, the Tallboy will only be offered in one build at $6499. As mentioned, it comes with a 130mm travel Fox 34 Float Performance Elite fork and Easton/DT Swiss wheels and Maxxis Rekon 2.8″ tires. At a claimed weight of only 26.3 lbs/11.95kg, you certainly aren’t giving up much in terms of weight over the 29er…