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Santa Cruz Tallboy Mountain Bike Review

Last Updated on November 4, 2022 by Emmanuel

What bike suits you best if you want to ride on moderate trails and focus more on climbing while still being able to roll on descents?

The answer is a short travel mountain bike. Santa Cruz has a short travel mountain bike model perfect for Tallboy’s needs.

So, without further ado, let’s go to the Santa Cruz Tallboy mountain bike review and see if this is the kind of bike you can rely on!

The Santa Cruz Company Overview 

In 2009, Santa Cruz rolled out its radical geometry bike called the Tallboy. The model was categorized as a short travel bike.

But, the bike’s geometry mimicked that of the Santa Cruz longer travel bikes lineup. So, it was like putting two different bikes into one.

Back then, 29 inches wheels were still outside the norm, but the Tallboy was proudly equipped with the big wheels.

Santa Cruz’s decision to feature 29 inches wheels on the Tallboy paid off as many riders were surprised by its versatility and playfulness.

Since then, the Tallboy has steadily captured riders’ attention. And now, the bike has become one of the most popular bikes in Santa Cruz.

The Tallboy has undergone four iterations, so you can expect many improvements since it started.

It is available in three different frame materials that you can choose from, carbon C, carbon CC, and aluminum. 

What makes Santa Cruz bikes so unique?

Santa Cruz has been making some of the best mountain bikes in the industry for over 25 years.

This company’s bicycles are the favorite among mountain bikers because of their quality construction and durability.

They are also popular in North America because they are made in the USA and offer a great ride experience.

Santa Cruz Tallboy Presented

When did the Santa Cruz Tallboy come out?

The Santa Cruz Tallboy was first released in 2009 as one of the first bikes to use 29" wheels and was designed to be ridden on singletrack and fire roads. Santa Cruz has updated this MTB several times since its initial release, with the most recent version being released in 2019.

Is Santa Cruz Tallboy a XC bike?

The Santa Cruz Tallboy is a versatile bike that can be ridden on various terrain. It’s an excellent option for those looking for an XC bike that can handle a bit of everything.

This has been designed with 29-inch wheels, which provide plenty of rollover and stability on rough terrain.

The bike also features 100mm of suspension travel, making it capable of handling bumps and roots.

It is an excellent option for XC riders who want a bike that can do it all.

  • Tallboy is a full-suspension bike with 120mm travel rear and 130mm travel front.
  • The lower-link VPP suspension strengthens this suspension combination on the frame.
  • It can balance the pedaling efficiency and the capability to tackle bumps.
  • This versatile bike also accommodates riders on any terrain with a wide range of speed capabilities.
  • It is excellent at climbing and descending, but it leans more toward climbing.
  • Tallboy also has around 76 degrees seat tube angle, which gives a comfortable riding position.
  • The VPP platform supports the bike’s ability to climb as it optimizes power transfer from the crankset to the rear wheel.

RELATED: The ten top Santa Cruz mountain bikes at Mike’s Bikes.

Santa Cruz Tallboy Mountain Bike Review

Who Is This Bike For?

In terms of climbing, there are lots of bikes that surpass the Tallboy performance.

As for descent, you can also find many downhill bikes with better descent capability.

The Tallboy is the kind of bike that stays in between. Oddly enough, this is the reason why this bike is popular on the market.

Many riders are not fortunate enough to have a few bikes for each one dedicated to one riding style.

The Tallboy is for those who like to pedal on challenging climbs, squeeze brake levers on rough descents, and feel the wind flap the jersey as the wheels roll so fast.

The builds

The Tallboy has various builds available on the market. The cheapest model uses an aluminum frame, and the more expensive ones use a carbon frame. Here are some of them:

1. Tallboy AL D

The AL D build features an aluminum frame with a 120mm travel VPP platform.

The bike features the RockShox Recon RL fork with a 130mm travel suspension to absorb shock when traversing obstacles.

This is the cheapest build that you can get. The bike is equipped with entry-level parts to compensate for the price but enough to accommodate your need on trails.

Despite being the cheapest, the Tallboy AL D is a capable bike for your off-road adventure.

2. Tallboy AL R

This bike is one level above the AL D. While sporting an aluminum frame with a 120mm travel suspension; the AL R features better components than the former build.

So, in terms of performance, the AL R build is more confident and reliable when you ride it on trails.

To absorb bumps, the bike entrusted its fork in a 130mm travel FOX Rhythm 34. And a 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle with 11-50t cassette.

Not much of an update, but it certainly adds more flavor to the bike’s performance.

RELATED: Why does everyone who uses a bike wear a helmet?

3. Tallboy C S

This is a lightweight build as it uses a carbon C frame. Not only that, but the carbon C frame also adds strongness and stiffness to the bike.

This bike costs $5,699.99, and you can check its details at Mike’s Bikes.

The Tallboy C S brings better parts to the table to make things more interesting, and the bike provides the most out of the Tallboy model.

The bike is equipped with a 130mm travel FOX 34 Float Performance fork that will encourage you to ride harder.

A 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle with 32t crankset and 10-50t SRAM XG1275 Eagle cassette optimizes power transfer to the rear wheel.

So, rolling up the hills is no longer exhausting. And with SRAM G2 R brakes, rough descents are no longer terrifying.

Santa Cruz Tallboy Mountain Bike Review

4. Tallboy C XT

C XT build offers high-end parts installed on the carbon C frame with VPP 120mm travel suspension. It costs $6,799.99.

Those parts include a 130mm travel FOX 34 Performance Elite fork, a 12-speed Shimano XT M8100 drivetrain, and the Shimano XT 8120 brakes.

Speaking of the drivetrain, the C XT has a drivetrain that is one tier below that of the professional-grade XTR group.

So, performance-wise, the drivetrain will provide all things that you need.

The combination of mentioned high-end parts creates a bike that can handle hours of punishment on roots and rocks.

Tallboy Bikes Pros and Cons


There is no denying that the Tallboy is popular among riders. Several reasons support that appraisal.

For one, the Tallboy is a bike you can count on in any riding situation.

It has Santa Cruz’s Virtual Pivot Point and short travel suspensions that feel bottomless even on deep landing.

The Tallboy uses XC geometry that favors those who like to climb.

Moreover, the bike rolls on 29 inches wheels that provide better traction and stability at high speed.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the Tallboy is available in several build options and prices, so you can choose one that suits you best.


Tallboy also shares a flaw that needs some improvements. The rear shock is hard to access.

They have installed it in between chainstays and a seat tube. So, measuring sag is difficult.

Please use the link below to check these mountain bikes and many others from popular brands like Cannondale, Giant, Specialized, etc., at Mike’s Bikes.

The Final Thoughts

Focusing on one riding style might not be a good option for some people. So, the Tallboy is the answer for an all-purpose; it can accommodate riders on any track they want.

The bike has quite a range of builds that you can pick. If you are on a budget and don’t mind average bike parts, the Tallboy AL D is a good choice.

This bike has an aluminum bike with all the magic of geometry and suspensions.

Invest a little more money to get better parts that complement the aluminum frame design with the Tallboy AL R build.

You will get a better fork, drivetrain, brakes, and a better riding experience.

A more aggressive ride will need a stiff and strong frame, so the Tallboy C S is a good option. 

The bike uses a carbon C frame with overall better parts than the AL builds.

It comes with a much higher price tag, but it is worth considering its value.

If you are willing to invest more money to get high-end parts, go for the Tallboy C XT. You will get the most out of the Tallboy model.

It sports a carbon C frame paired with top-tier parts to deliver excellent bike performance on any terrain.

Thank you for reading the Santa Cruz Tallboy mountain bike review.

You can comment or ask questions at the bottom of this page. I will ensure to get back to you quickly.

2 thoughts on “Santa Cruz Tallboy Mountain Bike Review”

  1. Well-written review, much appreciated!

    For the last 5 years, I have ridden my Santa Cruz Nomad all over SoCal/Moab/etc. I’m aging up, and willing to let go of some downhill speed, stability-on-the roughest terrain, most jumps, and my fading daring.

    The Santa Cruz Tallboy may be a big shift in the right direction for me as I’m looking for additional speed and capability on the technical and/or very steep climbs, while giving up some downhill performance.

    My question is, what is the total weight (range) of the fully built CXT Tallboy? My Nomad runs somewhere just above 30 pounds.


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