Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Santa Cruz Carbon Tallboy 29er review

Posted by Lloyd | October 31, 2011 | 13 comments so far

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.

Initial impression

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.


American Classic 29er wheel

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.

Santa Cruz Tallboy carbon


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

Filed under Bikes, Bikes, Reviews in October 2011


About the author

There are 13 comments on ‘Santa Cruz Carbon Tallboy 29er review’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

If you haven't had a chance yet, jump to our comments form if you have something to say.

  1. Tony says:

    You forgot to mention Lloyd that it looks “right” for you! In that size you have to double take to notice that it’s a 29er.

    It just goes to show that bike fit is paramount too.

    The only downside – its too big for us all to have a try on 🙂

  2. Matt says:

    Yes, this is one of the nicest 29ers I’ve seen and in XL size here it looks spot on. Personally I prefer something a bit whiter for my bike colour, but this has been nicely blinged with those American Classic wheels and matching grips.

    I’ve noted those wheels though, fancy a set in regular size for my Inbred… shame they don’t do pink hubs!

    And 25.5lbs! My lightweight Five is 27.5lbs and that’s light enough. Lloyd, you have an unfair advantage and certainly looked pretty perky by the end of Sunday’s ride.

  3. Jem says:

    Nice bike Lloyd. I must say i quite like the understated colour scheme, less is more shall we say.

    As you state the bike tends to handle well for a 29er. A friend of mine has one and likened it to my Blur xc, only better as it pulverised anything in its path. Apart from those damn trees that have a habit from jumping out on you.

    The only bummer is they do not make one to fit my short frame!!


  4. paul901 says:

    Top gear of 36 x 11, sounds like you won’t get too much speed from pedalling on faster trails and descents. How much do you miss having the usual 48 big ring.

    Is it bigger than Senior 661’s Whyte? If not would be great to try when I make a rare off-road ride.

    • Dave says:

      42 or 44 are the “normal” big rings on MTB chainsets. Also depending on real tyre diameter these could be substantially bigger than a 700×23 for example. Seldom do I run out of steam on 32×12 apart from downhill and then I have acceleration due to gravity to help me along. SO 38×11 should be more than you need in the Surrey Hills (in my opinion).

      • Lloyd Brown says:

        Paul my 26′ was running 12-34 cassette and 42 big ring. So with a 11-36 and 38 big ring means I am running 11×38 vs 12×42 – very little difference. If you add in the about 15% increase in wheel diameter of a 29′ over 26′ I probably gain a bit at the top end. Conversely though I have lost on the low end – which means I will have to build up leg strength to compensate.

  5. Looks the business! Great spec too. Loving the wheels and the overall shape and size. Perhaps invest in a foam pad for the top tube!

    Congrats mate. Catch you soon.

  6. paul901 says:

    Of course, all makes sense. Thanks Dave

  7. Charlie says:

    Welcome to the cool Toyboy club… 😉 i look forward seeing another tallboy ripping up the North Downs… lol


    White forks are well… well wrong… get some coooool black ones… smooth rims and grips…
    Also please play spot the difference with your cable routing to

    Your bike builder should be shot… (sorry) lol…

    You now have super-model bike… so ride her fast and hard all the way up Tower Hill… lol
    Happy Toyboying… xxx

  8. KevS says:

    Nice Nice Nice Nice Nice one Lloyd!!

    Me likes and wants one. It weighs in 1/2 a lb lighter than my Whyte 19 hardtail for Christ’s sake!!

    If it wasnt for the fact that I would need a step ladder to get up onto that XL frame I would be hassling you for a ride on it. 🙁

  9. Russ says:

    Very very tempted, where did you buy it from and for how much, I was just about to drop the hammer on a blur xc carbon, but this has got me thinking….xc with x0 spec is around 5k assuming this is similar

Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.