Well the long wait was finally over and I picked up my new Santa Cruz Tallboy from Pedal and Spoke in Peaslake – who built up the bike and gave me a very good deal on all parts.
It felt just right from the off. It feels quite different from my XL Trek EX9 which I felt a bit stretched on and you seem to sit on top more. The Tallboy has a lower BB and with the frame shape you seem to sit ‘in’ the bike more – a feeling that was borne out when riding.
I think the waif-like American Classic wheels make a huge difference. They weigh in at just 1600g and with tubeless and relatively light Ardents the pick up and acceleration was surprisingly quick. I also noticed it on the long steady climbs (where I normally grind painfully up at the back of the pack) I was pushing a bigger gear and maintaining a good pace. The Ardents were fine on the 29, they don’t have a lot of tread but on the bigger wheels they gripped well although I can’t see them working well in very muddy conditions.
The other big change is 2×10 – I like. I am still learning when best to use the big or small ring but it was only the final climb to the Tower that had me walking. I did not use the propedal and did not suffer bob and even standing on the pedals you felt the power going down effectively.
I noticed far less of a difference here than all the debate suggested. It did roll better and you did not have to work as hard to keep a good pace, it did not feel any more unwieldy than my 26’ers but that may be down to the lighter wheels and shorter stem than I am used to riding. The sitting ‘in’ the bike meant I steered with the hips much more than I normally do and therefore it seemed to flow better. There are definitely differences between 26 and 29 but to the average rider like me they are not that obvious.
It was probably near the end of the ride I noticed the difference most. At the end of a 25 mile mole ride my legs are normally gone and I am just hanging on the back… suffering. Today I still had a bit of energy and the legs to be pushing along and riding with moles that I normally only see when they are sitting waiting for me to catch-up.
It rode well, handled well, was fast, accurate and flattered my limited abilities without displaying any niggles, foibles or weaknesses.
Lets see how it is long term but for now it warrants its stellar reputation.
The final Spec
Black XL carbon frame with new Fox RP23
Fox 120 RLC FIT forks
American Classic tubeless wheels with Maxxis Ardent 2.25 tyres
Full 2012 Shimano XT groupset – 2×10 (11-36 cassette and 26/38 chainrings)
KS 950i dropper post
Easton Haven 70mm stem
Easton Haven carbon bar
Final weight 25.5 pounds