Review: 2012 Santa Cruz TallBoy AL 29er

2012 Santa Crux Tallboy AL 29er mountain bike review

Having fun while mountain biking is the essence of the sport. It is the quintessential reason why most of us take to the trails and to the sport. Now, imagine taking that “fun factor” and amplifying it by a few degrees… and that’s what you get when riding the Santa Cruz TallBoy 29.

I love riding full suspension 29er mountain bikes. This is no secret, and upon receiving the boxed up TallBoy, visions of Christmas day as a kid and the accompanying youthful excitement made me giddy. I immediately named the TallBoy “Kermit” which suited the bright green rig that I got to call my own for a short 2.5 months of testing.

The alloy Tallboy was introduced in early 2011 to give Santa Cruz an price point full suspension 29er to complement its highly acclaimed carbon model. Our original coverage got up close and personal with the technical specs, so I’ll just focus on this bike’s build and how it rode. Let’s begin with the specs…

  • Frame: Forged Aluminum
  • Fork: Fox Float 29″ 120 Kashima FIT RLC taper
  • Rear Shock: Fox Float RP 23
  • Bars: Easton EC 70 685mm
  • Drivetrain and Brakes: Shimano XT all around
  • Wheels: Mavic TN 719 disc rims laced to DT 350 15mm front hub and DT 350 rear hub w/ DT 14/15 gauge spokes, alloy nipples
  • Size/Weight (sans pedals): XL, 28.37lbs (actual)
2012 Santa Crux Tallboy AL 29er mountain bike review

28.37lbs Aluminum-TallBoy-29

For some odd reason I have an affinity for climbing. Not that I am especially adept at it but because I enjoy the pain of it, and descending… well, let’s just say I am learning to love it. Yeah, I’m “off!” And the TallBoy being a true expression of the term “All-Mountain” allowed me to experience climbing and the fun of descending at a whole new level.

The Tallboy AL climbs with agility and great stiffness laterally (for a full suspension bike), I never noticed bottom bracket flex or chain rub and I’m a fairly big, powerful rider. Once at the summit, instilling a sense of confidence as I charged down to the depths below is what this bike’s game is all about. Carving turns and absorbing rocks, roots and crevices is the bike’s forte and it is as forgiving as any for poor line choice or unfamiliarity with a new trail.

A sense of sitting “IN” the bike rather than “ON” the bike is something I really liked about the TallBoy. Similar to my experience on the Kona Hei Hei Supreme 29, I felt an immediate sense of being a part of the bike rather than having to take extra time to get to know the handling and balance. The rear shock (Fox Float RP23) performed without hesitation and once adjusted to my body weight and riding style was a perfect addition to the frame geometry. In addition, Santa Cruz’s VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) frame design seemed to really help “firm up” the ride when standing and laying the smack down on the pedals.

2012 Santa Crux Tallboy AL 29er mountain bike review

The Fox Float 29 fork has become a new favorite of mine with its ability to be adjusted “on the fly” from a fully locked out position for climbing on smooth surfaces or fully “on” position for descents. In addition, the 15mm thru-axle without a doubt added a stiffness factor that allows for precise handling and cornering with the needed forgiveness offered through the shock… a great combination!

I had the opportunity to race XTerra on the TallBoy and as with any full-suspension bike a few great attributes are afforded the rider: 1) less lower back soreness, 2) greater ability to run well after mountain biking (due to less fatigue in my humble opinion)… a big plus for any multisport competitor and 3) choosing a less than optimal line is forgiven as a result of the damping of the TallBoy. The only way perhaps to make this bike even better would be to make it in carbon… wait, they’ve already done it. If you need to keep the price point down while still enjoying all that the TallBoy has to offer, the Aluminum version is a darn good bike.

The TallBoy is a bike that I would purchase for the “All-Mountain” experience. Not a true “climbers bike” (see the Santa Cruz HighBall for that) but “Kermit” did a great job creating a sense of fun when riding and confidence that while one’s bike does not make the rider, riding the Tallboy sure as hell doesn’t hurt!

MSRP: $1,850.00 – Frame only and add $123.00 for the Fox RP23 rear shock
AS TESTED: $4,199.00 – SPX XC 29 package plus $123.00 for the Fox RP23 rear shock

Comments

Marc - 01/09/12 - 1:30pm

I have been on my Tallboy AL for a few months now. It is one of the most fun mountain bikes I have ever owned. We also have several very happy customers at the shop who love their AL and Carbon Tall Boys.

Steve - 01/09/12 - 1:52pm

I own a carbon in blue with this kit. Unreal bike. Like cheating.

Trevor - 01/09/12 - 8:57pm

my local bike shop has sold 3 carbon versions and now with this in stock i cant wait to sell more!

logic - 01/10/12 - 1:23pm

Is this a “review” or is this an “advertisement”?

Brian - 01/10/12 - 4:22pm

I noticed in the last pic that you have the ProPedal function engaged on the RP23, yet you state in the review, “Santa Cruz’s VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) frame design seemed to really help “firm up” the ride when standing and laying the smack down on the pedals.” Any thoughts on how much of the “firmness” was from the VPP vs. the Propedal?

ErikD - 01/11/12 - 1:36pm

@Logic- Sorry man, I liked the bike and I can see where you are coming from regarding the review vs ad stance. If I don’t like something I assure you I will explain why.

ErikD - 01/11/12 - 1:41pm

@Brian- I played around alot with the ProPedal switch on the shock to determine if it would have that much effect on the suspension/ride quality. Where I found it to be helpful was while climbing and if you set the shock up properly based on body weight, sag etc it does its job of damping just enough right up until you hit an obstacle whereupon it will allow the shock to work as normal. With the VPP I found, hopefully this was not a hallucination, that if all was set up properly based on my body and riding style, the bikes suspension was able to do its job… dampen when needed/required and place force into pedals when required. Does that answer your question?

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