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Excels across dusty conditions and rocky trails.
Seeing the original Tallboy was a purebred cross-country rocket that eagerly moonlighted as a competent trail rig, the latest version of the Santa Cruz Tallboy 27.5+ D Complete Mountain Bike delves further into the realms of rowdy trail fun with 110-millimeters of VPP suspension paired with an updated geometry that's slacker and longer than before. However, what's most noticeable is the Tallboy's ability to accommodate both 27.5+ and 29-inch wheels with its flip-chip located on the upper linkage. In this particular 27.5+ configuration with 2.8-inch tires, the Tallboy grabs tenaciously across loose, dusty trails, as well as smooths out the rock gardens with greater compliance than what you'd experience with standard tires.
Instead of the 70-degree head tube found on the previous Tallboy, you'll find the new Tallboy features a trail-competent 68-degree head tube angle. By moving to the slacker end of the riding spectrum for a short-travel 29er, the Tallboy gains confidence at higher speeds where a racier XC bike would feel squirrely and unnerving. However, this push towards being slacker isn't as dramatic as many bikes in the all-mountain and enduro realms, so you'll still enjoy the sharp handling traits inherent to the original Tallboy. Although the bike has grown substantially in wheelbase and reach to meet modern standards, the chainstays remain short at 17 inches for snappy turning, especially when you're navigating around switchbacks and tight sections of trail.
New for the 2017 version of the Tallboy, you'll find the ability to switch between 29 and 27.5+ wheels with its integrated flip-chip along the upper linkage. The flip-chip rotates to allow the shock mount to migrate between high (29) and low (27.5+) settings, but without drastically altering the bike's dialed geometry and handling characteristics on the trail. This particular Tallboy in 27.5+ form is an absolute trail juggernaut with its high volume tires soaking up jarring rock sections while digging into the driest, dustiest conditions on the trail.
Delving into the Tallboy's VPP suspension, you'll find it increased from the previous 100 millimeters to 110 millimeters of travel. Although 10 millimeters might not seem like a drastic change, this extra travel gives the newest Tallboy greater composure on rocky trails and technical terrain where the older bike would be overwhelmed. Santa Cruz tuned the shock with greater progression when you're reaching the end of its travel, preventing it from blowing through excess travel or harshly bottoming out. The VPP suspension is slightly revised over previous versions for greater sensitivity over small bumps, as well as increased mid-stroke support for consistent tracking without the tendency to settle in the middle of its travel.
This particular 27.5+ D build gets Santa Cruz's aluminum frame, which offers a commendable level of strength and stiffness with 6000-series aluminum. Best of all, its affordability leaves you plenty of extra cash for future bike upgrades and road trips to your favorite trails. Delving into the build kit, you'll find a SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain for a wide range of usable gears without dealing with the hassle of a front derailleur. It gets a RockShox Recon RL fork with 130-millimeters of bump-smoothing travel, as well as 2.8-inch Maxxis Rekon tires for an optimal balance of rolling speed and trail grip.
- Newest generation Tallboy blurs the line between XC and trail
- 27.5+ wheels dig into dry, dusty trails and smooth out rocks
- Geometry is noticeably longer and slacker than previous version
- Flip-chip on upper linkage for switching between 29er and 27.5+
- 110mm of VPP travel for responsive pedaling and bump compliance
- Aluminum frame offers reliable strength at attractive price
- RockShox Recon SL fork with 130mm of bump-smoothing travel
- Maxxis Rekon tires balance rolling speed with grip
- Item #SNZ00ER
- Q & A
Wasn't sure at first
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Okay, I'd like start by saying that I've been riding a XC 29er for the last 7 years. I had been looking at the Tallboy as a second bike until noticing a frame failure on the XC. This prompted me to pull the trigger on the Santa Cruz purchase. I went with the 27.5+ for several reasons, with the first being the confidence going downhill. I was sometimes overly cautious on my XC. I will say this Tallboy is extremely nibble downhill, and sticks to everything. The plus sized tires combined with the suspension, eat up any rough trails or poor line choices. Downhill, this bike is the most fun I've ever ridden.
The second reason for going with the 27.5+ was my inability to do tight switchbacks on my old 29er. The Tallboy seems to do these much more effectively. My XC bike was just long and seemed high compared to the Tallboy, where you feel more a part of the bike than just a rider. These couple of things earned the 2018 Tallboy my 'Love It' rating.
I will admit, at first I thought I made a mistake in buying this bike. I was so used to my XC and the ability to climb with such ease. The plus sized tires will make you work harder on the climbs, but you need to be patient and play around with the tire pressures to find that sweet spot. My trail conditions are generally tacky Midwestern dirt, and I found 15/17 psi for front and back are ideal... for now anyway.
The great thing about the Tallboy is you can run 27.5+ and 29" wheels on the same bike, so you can tailor your bike even more to the type of riding you have planned. I'm planning to purchase a 29" wheel set before the next riding season. Pair that with a tire with less rolling resistance, and I think I'll get some of the speed back. Don't get me wrong though, the difference isn't that big. I think what you lose going up hill is made up going down hill.
I wish I had went with the CC version, but I can honestly say I have no regrets in the purchase of this bike. Maybe in a couple of years I'll upgrade, but in the meantime, I just plan to ride it. If you decide to go with the 27.5+, just play around with your tire pressure to find out what works for you. The uphill seems slower, but then again, in the many years I've been mountain biking, I can't recall one time that someone was pumped up about the climb. The descent will be your reward, and on the Tallboy, it's an absolute blast!