There are an awful lot of 29ers at Interbike. The big-wheeled format is very popular in the US, and the Santa Cruz Tallboy has been something of a long-awaitwed release.
It’s possible that the launch of the (slightly lighter) Gary Fisher Superfly 100 could have stolen a little of Santa Cruz’s thunder, but the Tallboy is still an impressive achievement. The 100mm travel carbon fibre frame is said to weigh in at around 5lb, using the carbon fibre construction techniques learned in the development of the Blur XC and LTc. In many ways the Tallboy frame is a combination of those two frames – the slimline tubing (and travel) of the XC, the tapered headtube of the LTc and the latest-generation VPP of both.
29er geometry is still somewhat in a state of flux, without much in the way of accepted norms. Santa Cruz has come up with numbers that look quite a lot like 26in numbers – claimed head angle is 71° (although we measured the demo bike at 70.5), effective seat angle is around 73°. It’s “effective” seat angle because the seat tube is curved and the seat post doesn’t line up with the BB. That curve, helped by the under-the-BB lower VPP linkage, allows Santa Cruz to run impressively short chainstays by 29er standards at 445mm (17.5in). Mix in a perfectly normal (on a Large frame) 24in top tube and the end result is a fairly sane wheelbase.
Out on the trail the Tallboy comfortably passes the “just like a bike” test. It’s still significantly longer than a 26in bike, so a given rider weight shift will have less effect, but that’s something you can get used to. The Tallboy certainly rolls well, particularly on the Kenda Small Block 8 tyres fitted to the demo bike, and sails over braking bumps and other irregularities. The actual suspension felt a little chattery over smaller bumps, but was always controlled.
Of course, if your main goal is a light bike, then a regular Blur XC is lighter, and the wheels you’ll fit to it will be lighter as well. But the Tallboy is substantially lighter than almost every 29er FS bike on the market and rides at least as well as any. We’re still not totally convinced about FS 29ers, but there’s no denying that the Tallboy makes most rational objections to the big wheel/full bounce combination fade away.
More details at www.santacruzbikes.co.uk