Featured User Review: Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon 29er Full Suspension Bike

29er Video

Featured User Review: Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon 29er Full Suspension Bike
by AK Chris

Price: $2400.00 at LBS
Overall Rating: 5 of 5
Value Rating: 5 of 5

Bike Setup:
24.62 lbs – insane for a XL 29er. This is the lightest bike I’ve ever owned, amazing. Will drop below 24 with some ~1700g American Classics or Havens. My setup: 140mm Reba with Maxle, King/Stans wheels (2000g, soon to be replaced with something lighter), Haven Carbon bars, Crank Bro’s carbon post, 2.1″ tires tubeless, polished XTR 960 cranks running 22/32/bash, Sram drivetrain with old 9-speed gripshift, eggbeaters, formula R1 brakes, lots of light parts with nothing exotic – no TI bolts or drilled chainrings.

Bottom Line:
This is an update after almost a year-and-a-half – this thing has changed the way I ride and I’m still very happy with my purchase. I’m 6’2″ and the XL was a tad larger than my Turner, but SC’s sizing is kind of between most others, so I went XL with no regrets – fits perfect. My frame with seat collar weighs just 5.28 lbs, so there was no weight penalty upsizing, its actually 2 pounds lighter than my last DW Turner.

The Tallboy is fast, it really just motors everything. I set up mine with my Reba at 140mm to slacken the geometry about 1 degree and raise the BB to just under 13″ unsagged. The extra travel up front is perfect for me, lots of squish and very stiff. I run a short/flat stem and low rise bars so the added front end height from the fork doesn’t make the TB feel like a chopper. I’m not an XC racer so the slacker ride hits a sweet spot for the handling, its still fast, but lots of flow – its not twitchy at all.

With sensible parts its light, but stiff very bombproof. The wheels are a little heavy compared to my previous 26″ setup – so I’m looking to upgrade to some lighter hoops…should get my bike under 24 lbs. I’m going a little more XC since moving to Florida, plus the wheels feel a little slow to spin up to speed.

One of my favorite attributes of the Turners was how low slung the bike always felt, on fast DH runs the bike just flowed – the TB rides a lot like my Turner, you just get into a speed groove and point it where you want to go. Its a lot of fun. I’m not the greatest rider, but I find it easier to keep up with faster friends on the TB than my DW Spot.

The VPP is very active and can be setup to your preferences – more XC firm or more AM plush. I opted for more plush. With modern shocks and designs like VPP, DW Link and Maestro you get the best of both worlds – active over small and large bumps, plush, no bob so these days it just comes down to what you want in terms of cost, travel, geometry, weight and so on. The TB hit all of the check boxes for me, its been nirvana. Its a great time for MTB’s with so many designs that work so well, this one suits my needs to a T.

I’ll say this, I’ve owned about 2 dozen bikes over the last 15 years and about half of those didn’t last longer than one Alaskan summer (about 4 months), if I didn’t like the way it rode I just stripped the frame, sold it and bought something else. I’m keeping the TB and this coming year I’ll be road tripping to explore all the great trails I can in TN, NC, VA and everywhere else within about 1000 miles of Tampa. The Tallboy will be the only bike strapped to my Element.

Love it. Live it. Ride it.


  • Weight – 5.28 lbs for a XL frame WITH seat collar
  • Stiff
  • Can be set XC firm or AM plush
  • Weight – 5.28 lbs for a XL frame WITH seat collar
  • Fast, just motors over everything
  • VPP very active over pretty much everything
  • Zerks make pivot maintenance easy (thanks David Turner for showing everyone the light)
  • Weight – 5.28 lbs for a XL frame WITH seat collar
  • Did I mention its light?


  • Don’t know if its a weakness, but the geometry is skewed a little XC IMHO, low BB and steep HT angle
  • Carbon durability – so far so good but the downtube gets blitzed by a lot of crud off the front tire
  • Cost – but what boutique frame is inexpensive?

Similar Products Used:
Jumped head first into 29ers…this is my first, but its so good I parted ways with both my beloved Turners, an XC Flux and a Spot with a Fox 36, sold my Puglsey too – though I miss the fatbike so I may be getting another, also had a lot of other rides from Cannondale, K2, Ventana, Trek and so on. But for the last 7 years I’ve been pretty much all Turner, never thought I’d ride a bike that would make my Spot obsolete.

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Francis from Mtbr Reviews the Tallboy in this Video!

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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