Santa Cruz Bicycles Tallboy Carbon CC 29 XX1 Complete Mountain Bike - 2017

Improved scrapper.

Santa Cruz reworked its well-loved Tallboy Carbon CC 29 XX1 Complete Mountain Bike this year, introducing significant changes to the scrappy bike that more than make up for what it lacked in raw travel with its go-anywhere attitude. Though it underwent plenty of changes, the spirit of the original Tallboy is still easily recognizable in its third iteration, and in this case, change is good.

In this case, the change manifests as reworked geometry, linkage, and the third generation of SC's VPP suspension. The Tallboy resembles a tightly-wound race horse begging to be released onto the dirt track with the scrappiness of the underdog. Santa Cruz also spec'd the Tallboy Carbon CC XX1 build with a top-end SRAM XX1 drivetrain, Race Face's futuristic Next SL modular crankset, and Easton ARC rims spinning with the unmissable hum of I9 Torch hubs. As we said before, change is good.

The cross-country discipline hasn't been immune to the increased versatility that the all-mountain/enduro set has been so loudly demanding, and Santa Cruz aimed to make the Tallboy into a bike that would challenge you to dive off the buttery singletrack and onto more unpredictable trails. To do this, it slackened the head tube angle to a trail-ready 68 degrees—down from 70.2 in previous models—and shortened the chainstays by 13mm to bring them down to a stubby, responsive 17.01in. Coupled with a significantly longer reach, these changes result in a rear triangle you won't need to worry about whipping around corners cleanly and ducking through spiraling climbs. This pairs with a stable, confident front end that's prepared to charge through rock gardens and unpredictable descents alongside your enduro rig-driving cohorts.

Another notable feature on the Tallboy 3 is Santa Cruz's improved flip chip technology. Making its inaugural appearance on the Hightower, the flip chip allows riders to change their frames to be compatible with either 29in wheels or 27.5+. On the Hightower, this switch results in slight changes to head tube angle, but on the Tallboy 3, you can ride either wheel size without adapting to any alterations to frame geometry. Whether you enjoy the plush, cushy ride of 27.5+ or were an early and loyal supporter of bombproof 29er stability, you will always have the freedom to switch sides later on.

Geometry is only half the story, of course, and with such extensive changes, change-averse Tallboy fans will be pleased to learn that the third generation VPP suspension platform didn't undergo any earth-shattering changes. In fact, it's the same VPP that the Bronson 2.0 and 5010 2.0 received. It's inspired by the burlier Nomad, which means you get links that stay out of the way to accommodate a piggyback shock's external can without giving up the bottle cage—though we think the added hydration options are probably a bit more important on a Tallboy. Ultimately, the redesigned linkage lets Santa Cruz was build the frame with more ground clearance, lower standover, and a stiffer design to complement the already stiff Boost back end.

Third generation VPP also received a few tweaks to its tuning compared to older version, with its new curve deviating from the previous "U" shape and moving towards more of a flattened check mark, with less dramatic ramping on either end of the arc. This improves the suspension's traction and compliance early and towards the middle of the stroke, lending more consistency and grip across root-laced, inconsistent trails. These changes thankfully don't have any impact on acceleration, so the crunchier Tallboy remains just as nimble and responsive as its predecessors.

Santa Cruz continues to shape its top-tier Carbon CC frames with a higher modulus carbon than the Carbon C models, allowing engineers to use less material to achieve ideal strength and stiffness levels. That high-modulus carbon is then used to shape each triangle as a whole piece, allowing engineers to continuously shape high-stress junctures and avoid creating weak points or areas of the frame with less structural integrity. Before completion, the carbon is also compacted from the inside as well, eliminating excess material build-up inside the tubing and saving even more weight over quicker, less precise construction methods.

Showing where it believes the future of mountain drivetrains is heading, Santa Cruz allowed the reworked linkage of the Tallboy to define it as one-by only, but it did include ISCG 05 tabs. We still can't speak highly enough about the threaded bottom brackets Santa Cruz specs its bikes with, promising far less creaking and eliminating the headache of dealing with tricky tolerances and inconsistencies of PressFit models. The Tallboy's 27.5+ mode accommodates every manufacturer's 2.8in tires, but you may have issues with some 3in models. Its clearance will decrease as a 29er, of course, but you'll still receive Maxxis' 2.35in Ardent tires out of the box, which are more than capable of providing traction in loose and slick corners and a hearty dose of plushness on the harder stuff.

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I'm curious of the actual weight as well. Looks like from the Santa Cruz website this should run about 26lbs.

top of the shortlist

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

For a hard tail rider like me it’s so nice to find a FS race rig that I feel I can live with. The tallboy has always been at the top of the class in this arena and the 3rd version of it keeps it at the front of the class. It took a couple rides to tune the suspension to where I really wanted it (as it usually does) and at that point I found myself considering, dare I say, racing on it? I still haven’t turned in my highball but I’m tempted on some courses to run the tallboy. Handling is top notch, climbing is fluid and efficient, energy saving when you are hitting the descents. I have a hard time finding fault in the tallboy, it’s my kind of bike. Feel free to contact me with specific questions or help. sizing runs a little small and I'm happy to help on that as well. 801-204-4699

top of the shortlist

Can't stop, won't stop

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

The new Tallboy continues when last year's model left off, an awesome 29 inch trail machine that is ready for almost anything. Think of all that you loved about the previous generation and turn it up to 11. Give me a shout if you'd like to know more. 801-204-4557