Note: These are not reviews but are simple ride impressions based on the demo tech set-up. All bikes were ridden on the same 15 minute loop to keep things even-steven. I focused this Demo Day event on 130mm-ish 29?er Trail bikes from smaller companies and added one ringer from one of the big guys in the biz.
That is what I should have said when Will, the Global Marketing Manager for Santa Cruz, while speaking in a strong British accent, asked me what I thought of the bike after my loop around Bootleg. Instead I was at a loss for words and just stammered a bit. Me at a loss for words? That is rare.
The Santa Cruz Tall Boy LTc is a somewhat natural evolution of the initial Tall Boy platform based around a 100mm XC/light trail 29er FS. From the Santa Cruz website:
We waved the carbon fiber wand at the new Tallboy LT, offering all the same features, and ended up with a frame that weighs 5.18 pounds with a shock bolted in there. That is not a typo. 135mm travel, VPP suspension, great big wheels, 142x12mm rear axle, ISCG05 mounts, plenty of beef where it counts, and the damn thing only weighs 5.35 pounds (this is worth repeating). That’s obscenely light for this type of bike. In spite of the feathery weight, this is still an aggressive all-mountain contender, and as such is stiff enough and strong enough to devour anything you throw at it without so much as a twitch.
The XL TB LTc fit me like a glove in the XL size and that is never to be ignored with a quick impression ride. None of the other bikes were bad for me, but this one had it all just right for my frame. Out of the paddocks the TB LTc just scooted away from the crowds and pedaled just as well as the king-up-to-this-point DW Sultan. With the rear shock fully open, I stood out of the saddle in the top ring of the double crank and pedaled, expecting a VPP mambo like the Intense. Nope. Pretty darn steady down there. Well alrighty then!
I turned onto the trail and popped a wheelie for about 8 feet with ease, dropped the front wheel into the turn and dove into the XC course. Every bermed corner beckoned like a pump track and the outcroppings in the trail were excuses to get mini-air. Fun bike. It was light for sure, but it was more than that.
The rear suspension was nearly as firm as the DW Sultan but the chassis on the TB LTc is not as stiff, at least that was my impression, but that was a trait of the TB 100mm version we reviewed…a less than super stiff chassis. The LTc seemed to be better and the 142×12 rear axle had to help. It tracked very well and even with the rear shock fully open it felt lively…never wallowed, etc. I could feel the trail a bit better on the TB LTc so I knew what was going on under the wheels. Down through the chunks and rock drops the TB LTc gave me the best ride of the group. It felt balanced end to end and had a bit more rear travel (135mm) then some of the others that were just under 130mm.
In the small CR, I tried to see if I could get some anti-squat effects going and I could, but it was not that bad. For a bike that is not a pure XC effort, I will cut it some slack here. It had good manners in the saddle on steep and loose climbs too.
I am not sure what makes a bike all come together and stand out like this one did for me. It was not the plushest despite having the most travel. It may have been the lightest but not by much if at all. It was not the stiffest either IMO…no numbers to back that up. But it was in the mid 90s temps-wise out there on the trail, no shade, no breeze….nada. But I seriously considered another loop on the TB LTc because it was just so much fun.