Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX1 first ride review£6,179.00

Totally modern two-in-one trail raver

The third generation of Santa Cruz’s premium-priced benchmark trail racer gets a makeover and builds up either firm and fast as a 29er or fat and fun in 650b+ livery.

With its longer, slacker geometry the new Tallboy encourages a much more attacking attitude than most 100-110mm bikes
With its longer, slacker geometry the new Tallboy encourages a much more attacking attitude than most 100-110mm bikes

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX1 highlights

  • Long, low geometry
  • Plus tyres create a high-velocity party animal
  • Latest complete spec gets Pike fork and 12-speed upgrades

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX1spec overview

  • Frame: 'CC' level carbon fibre, 110mm (4.3in) travel
  • Fork: Fox 34 Float Performance Elite, 120mm (4.7in) travel
  • Shock: Fox Float Performance Elite
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 with Race Face Next SL cranks (1x11)
  • Wheelset: WTB i23 rims on Industry Nine hubs, Maxxis Minion DHF 3C EXO 29x2.35in (f) and Maxxis Ardent Race EXO 29x2.25in (r) tyres
  • Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate
  • Bar/stem: Santa Cruz carbon, 760mm/Burgtec, 50mm
  • Seatpost/saddle: RockShox Reverb Stealth (dropper) WTB Volt Team
  • Weight: 11.96kg/26.37ib, large size without pedals

With 29in wheels fitted, the VPP suspension and Fox Float shock feel far from plush
With 29in wheels fitted, the VPP suspension and Fox Float shock feel far from plush

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX1 frame and equipment

While the first two iterations of the 29in wheeled, XC orientated Tallboy were very similar, with steep angled (70-degree head), short travel (100mm), 2.2kg frames, this third version is an altogether different beast. Travel (110mm) and frame weight (2.7kg) both go up, and the lower VPP suspension linkage also comes up in the frame to change the suspension kinematics.

The head angle slackens to 68 degrees, while the radically dropped top tube and seat tube make sizing up for a really long reach easy (L is 450mm, XL is 475mm). The Tallboy 3 is also one of the first short-travel full-suspension bikes to be both 29in and 650b+ wheel compatible, with a 148x12mm Boost rear axle and an adjustable suspension chip to compensate for the slightly different ride height (or not, depending on taste).

Santa Cruz has stuck with its tried and tested grease-injectable, adjustable-collet pivot bearings and super-reliable threaded bottom bracket (both very welcome) and it even has an old-school IS rear brake mount (not so welcome).

The Tallboy CC comes in four different build kits for 650b+ or 29in wheels, with additional suspension, bottom bracket and wheel upgrade options. They’re all trail, rather than cross-country, biased, with control-friendly chunky tyres and wide bars.

The XX1 build we tested in 29er format now gets SRAM’s latest 12-speed, 10-50t Eagle transmission and a RockShox Pike fork (the Fox 34 Performance Elite is an upgrade). UK bikes also boast Hope hubs and a KS LEV dropper post.

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX1 ride impression

The already low Tallboy is now longer and slacker, with added plus tyre compatibility
The already low Tallboy is now longer and slacker, with added plus tyre compatibility

With its longer, slacker geometry (and it was already low) the new Tallboy encourages a much more attacking attitude than most 100-110mm bikes and it has the chassis stiffness to back up bold moves. The pedal-interactive VPP suspension encourages a similarly hard-driving style, although overall weight dulls the Tallboy’s climbing edge slightly.

In 29er format the 120mm fork can get into trouble, though, and despite the normally faithful Maxxis Minion DHF tyre we regularly found ourselves losing the front end when things got too rowdy. Even with the compression damping fully open, the rear suspension tends to slap and clatter through trail trauma rather than carrying speed smoothly, and pedalling can choke the stroke and vice versa. Switch to plus-size wheels and tyres, though, and the unforgivingly bony suspension feel gets a pillowy effect with better small-bump absorption that immediately increases rough terrain momentum and front wheel traction, while reducing pedal choke (the proper 650b+ build gets a 130mm fork too).

Although the heavier wheels accelerate more slowly, time splits on back-to-back tests showed them to be significantly faster on technical trails, with a huge dose of swaggering, big grin confidence thrown in for good measure.

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX1 early verdict

Aggressively punchy as a 29er and flat-out, full-gas fun as a high-performance 650b+ bike.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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