Release: 2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy

The All new 2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy CC

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The Santa Cruz Tallboy has always been the trail bike to the XC boys. Known for it’s climbing prowess and the spritely zip in it’s step, but it has never really factored into the “fun” side of the conversatio. Continuing the theme for 2020 where everyone is favouring the downs, the Tallboy has developed a new façade, and taken on a bit of fun into it’s personality. Not only in it’s physical form, as the bike is beautiful and exquisitely presented, but also right down to it’s core, this is an entirely new bike from the ground up aimed to deliver an entirely new feel on the trail, while remaining true to it’s original traits.

In keeping with the current Santa Cruz theme, the Tallboy has now adopted the Lower Link VPP rear supsesnion layout as first seen on the V10 a few years ago. This allows a more progressive suspension curve, giving that supple initial stroke we all desire, but allows the end of the stroke to ramp up and give support during the harder compressions. With a more forgiving and encouraging suspension platform, comes the want and ability to go faster. To compensate for this, the Tallboy now sports a 65.5 Degree head angle, and a 468mm reach in the Carbon Large that we tested, which sits pretty comfy with most all-mountain enduro rigs, let alone a bike that is fiercely compatible with a climb. The roomier cockpit does wonders in creating a seriously stable and comfortable ride for the new Tallboy.

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The new frame keeps everyone happy with all the bells and whistles you could really need on a trail bike. I’m a big fan of tidy cable routing, and Santa Cruz have been decidedly careful with their routing. Straightening up the entry port to the front of the headtube allows for a more reliable shifting experience as it straightens out any potential kinks in the cable, and those little grommets preventing dirt entering the cable holes in the more susceptible areas are a neat addition. It just goes to show how well Santa Cruz really do go about everything. No detail is overlooked, and not only is it beautiful upon close inspection, but out on the trails everything is just solid and working as it should. Confidence-inspiring stuff.

Speaking of, the new flip chip in the rear link allows you adjust the BB Height, Reach, head angle & Seat angle to suit your preferred riding style. The high setting gives you an extra 3mm clearance on the BB at 325mm, and the head angle steepens up a mere .2 degrees to 65.7, while the reach increases slightly to 470mm. Not as big of a change as maybe you would like to see, but if you are serious about your KOM’s you might as well take every bit of help you can get. This thing is no slouch on the climbs, inheriting every ounce of it’s previous identity. Every pedal turn is rewarded with a sharp and rapid response, making climbing an absolute pleasure. A nice steep seat angle of 76.6 Degrees does wonders in getting you over the pedals during climbing, there is no doubt this bike is ready to punch out more k’s than you are ready for. Having ridden a few bikes in this 130mm category it’s hard to look past the Tallboy in this regard. It really does just want to jump up hills with as little hindrance to you as possible.

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First Ride: Santa Cruz Tallboy CC Large

For our test ride, we got to sample some of the Squamish’s finest trail network’s. The loops consisted of a solid hour climb over 700-800 Vertical metres followed by a good mix of fast, tech and rough, and a couple of smoother bike park trails to cover most bases you are likely to encounter. The climb, other than the 28 degrees to sweat your socks off, was relatively pain free. My 140mm bike at home, would be a giant pain in the ass to get up here but the Tallboy climbed effortlessly. The body position you get put in is super comfortable and relaxed. As it isn’t ridiculously slack, the front wheel remained steady, bob was non existent and everything just worked well. I mean it just did what you wanted, it never felt as if it was holding you back as other bikes do. The model we rode equipped with XO1 Eagle only aided in this flawless ascent performance, with incredibly reliable and precise shifting over the entire test period.

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Now into the down. With its background firmly surrounded by climbing pedigree, I was surprised but not overly surprised in the way it climbed. But all the numbers suggest it can handle the downs as well. Couldn’t have been more accurate. Fun, Playful, exciting, What? I really couldn’t believe how fun this thing was. I’m a huge fan of a bike that is responsive and active to the trail underneath you, so if you are wanting a bike that mows anything then the Tallboy shouldn’t be on your list. But for a bike that you can go and pedal 40-50kms and still have an absolute time on the descents resonates well with me. Short chainstays on the rear keep the bike lively and allow you to get that front wheel up in any troublesome circumstances. The roomy cockpit, keeps you stable well above speeds you ever want to be going, and the practical head angle aids in this department also. When bikes come along and surprise you just as much as this, it’s pretty hard not to reconsider your options with all the 170mm beasts flooding the market at the minute. Do we really need that? Unless your local trails look like World cup Dh tracks, and you want to hit them guns blazing I think probably not. Keep it small, keep it fun just like the Tallboy has carefully done.