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Tallboy Carbon CC GX Eagle Complete Mountain Bike
When it first arrived on the scene, many touted the original Tallboy as the perfect 29er, and two generations later, it continues to define what big wheel bikes can do. The Tallboy Carbon CC GX Eagle Complete Mountain Bike from Santa Cruz brings its Gen 3 series of updates and draws inspiration from enduro and trail bikes with its stiff Boost rear spacing, re-designed linkages, and Santa Cruz's flip chip that adjusts the frame dimension for consistent geometry whether you're rocking the 29in wheels here or going plush with 27.5+. This Tallboy rounds out the build with SRAM's GX Eagle drivetrain and e*thirteen components TRS Boost wheels for a ride that's just as ready for epic weekend adventures as it is lining up with a number plate in anxious anticipation of a start command.
Compared to the previous Tallboy, the new version takes just a bit off the top of the head tube, kicking back 2.2 degrees to fall from the standard 70.2 to a moderately slack 68 degrees. We've taken the liberty to spec a 130mm fork and with the addition of the Flip Chip's slight geometry alteration, running two different size wheels are as simple as plugging and playing. The frame's chainstays and reach also join the modern geometry movement; the stays are shorter by 13.3mm and the reach bumps up dramatically, gaining an average of 40mm depending on the size. All told, the geometry tweaks add up to a chassis that's far more capable in virtually every trail situation than its predecessor.
The Virtual Pivot Point travel also takes a turn for the crunchier, gaining an additional 10mm, which aligns the Tallboy perfectly with the emerging crop of 4.5in, do-it-all trail 29ers. That's not to say it's just rolling off the press as a faceless frame in a sea of similar models, as the inclusion of Santa Cruz's Flip Chip means the Tallboy can also revel in moon dust conditions with 27.5+. The Tallboy is essentially two frames: a race rocket 29er with a long, stable geometry and a plus-size barge for floaty traction on surfaces ranging from loose kitty litter to rain-slicked root lattices. The beauty is that, instead of shelling out for two separate premium machines, you just need the Flip Chip and two wheelsets.
Despite all the tweaks to geometry, the inclusion of a Flip Chip, and the centimeter of additional travel, the VPP design remains the same updated version featured on frames like the Bronson 2.0 and 5010 2.0. It's inspired by the enduro-minded Nomad. The result is that the links stay out of the way, which lets the Tallboy accommodate a piggyback shock's external can without giving up the bottle cage. The repositioned links also make for more ground clearance, lower standover, and an additional boost in stiffness to the already stiff Boost back end.
The latest VPP's changes aren't limited to wandering links, though; the system's tuning has also been tweaked. Where the old suspension curve described a deep "U," the new VPP's curve resembles a flattened check mark, with less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc. The results are that, during the initial and mid stroke, it boasts increased bump compliance to keep the tires glued to the trail for more traction across lumpy trails and root latticed climbs. It also maintains its predecessor's firm feel during accelerations, so it won't smother the Tallboy's spirited kick while jockeying for position in a mass start or a finishing sprint. The shock's ramp-up arc doesn't dramatically alter as the shock compresses, so the pedaling platform stays consistent across travel, with less wallowing, bob, and bottom-outs.
We're happy to report that Santa Cruz's Carbon CC frame construction also remains unchanged. For the top-tier CC frame designation, the engineers use a higher modulus carbon than the standard Carbon C model, so less material is required to hit the same strength and stiffness numbers. Climbing and pure speed both benefit when there's less mass for your engine to propel and a stiffer chassis makes for more efficient power transfer and cat-on-carpet tracking through techy trail furniture.
The frame's two carbon triangles are built as whole pieces rather than glued together from disparate bits, a method that saves weight and increases structural integrity by allowing Santa Cruz to wrap carbon continuously through and around key junctures. This process reinforces the frame with less material while eliminating the artificial stress points that result from bonded construction methods. Finally, the carbon is also compacted from the inside and the outside for a more even finish that avoids any structural defects, excess material build-up, and resin pooling for even more weight savings.
The threaded bottom bracket is another feature that we've come to just expect from the California-based brand, and it's a strong selling point for those who don't like dealing with the tricky tolerances and creaky interface of press-fit models. The Tallboy's 27.5+ mode accommodates every manufacturer's 2.8in tires, but some 3in models may have clearance issues. Understandably, its clearance decreases as a 29er, but we spec 2.4in WTB Trail Boss tires here, which we think occupy the sweet spot of cush and traction without getting top floppy and muddying trail feel.
- A cross-country 29er with plus-sized versatility
- 4.3in of responsive VPP travel feels deeper than it should
- Moderate geometry climbs well with point-and-shoot tracking
- The flip chip allows for 27.5+ and 29er builds with one frame
- Uncompromising stiffness and weight with Carbon CC construction
- SRAM's GX Eagle drivetrain offers the ultimate bailout gear
- Santa Cruz Bicycles always redefines the modern mountain bike
- Item #SNZ00KZ