By Grannygear: Santa Cruz Tall Boy – Out Of The Box

The Tall Boy hit the 29er world like a shock wave, rippling through the online community with sneak pics and tidbits from the Santa Cruz blogsite. Santa Cruz was making a 29er. Not just a 29er, but a 4”travel FS made from carbon fiber and using the VPP suspension design. It was great looking, it was expected to be light and fast and it was a bold step right out of the gate.


We have ridden examples of this bike at Interbike Demo Days and it was one of our top bikes of the week. Now Grannygear is getting a chance to ride one on local trails for a month or so to get a second and more extended look at the Tall Boy. First, let’s take a look at the bike and what it brings to the trailhead and later we will follow up with our thoughts plus some comments from Mike Ferrentino of Santa Cruz cycles.


First of all, just unpacking this bike is enough to get the heart rate up. The orange color is striking and the molded carbon shapes are dead sexy. Hydroformed aluminum can make for some good looking shapes, but carbon is king of swoopyness. Just the head tube junction is enough proof of that. And, beyond good looks, there seems to be a pretty good chance this frame is stiff and stable as well. We shall see. The carbon link at the shock is very cool. This bike had been ridden many times before I got it and I noticed that there is an area at the rear of the bike where the chainstay guard does not quite cover. I think I would wrap something around this…inner tube…etc as it is obvious that the chain is hitting the frame here. I don’t think I want the chain chipping away at my carbon frame.


This XL example was set up with mostly XT 9 speed with an 11-34 rear cassette. The brakes are Avid Elixir CRs with 160mm rotors front and rear, the wheels are Mavic TN719 Disc rims laced to DT Swiss 340 rear hub with a DT Swiss 5mm RWS but the front hub is a Chub hub set up for 15mm QR. The Chub is one of those things that draws a lot of comments: “Man, that is a big hub!” Indeed it is. The front fork is a Fox 100mm F29 FIT/RLC 15QR. Whew. Other bits and pieces are all good quality equipment and represent a smart, non foo-foo build that is right in there for the average Joe and Jill. The scale showed this bike to be 27lbs 15oz with SPD pedals.


Tall Boy Geometry hyperlink

Ready to ride after some wrenching, I set the rear shock at 190psi and the sag seemed to be in the zone. The front fork felt good to go. Spinning around on the street the Tall Boy felt pretty agile and quick steering. It would be interesting to know how many buyers are setting the Tall Boy up with a 120mm fork right off the bat. With the 100mm Fox if feels pretty racy. I also noticed some pedal bob with Pro Pedal off and I could see the linkage cycling. Pro Pedal was set to the number 2 position and that stopped that.

I am very curious to see about the advantages of VPP. I have some time on short link bikes, but this will be the most consistent saddle time on one and VPP makes some claims that are pretty significant.

From the Santa Cruz website.

VPP Linkage:
-VPP suspension designs balance different forces to eliminate unwanted compression without limiting bump absorption.
The downward force on your pedals pushes most full suspension bikes down, resulting in unwanted suspension compression.
-VPP bikes use a patented link configuration and axle path to apply some of the pulling force from the chain to counteract that motion caused by pedaling.
Because the forces are balanced, VPP bikes remain able to absorb bumps when pedaling, unlike other designs that effectively lock out the rear suspension by applying too much chain pulling force. What you end up with is plush travel with no pedal-induced compression or lockout and no need for manual lockouts or other compromises.

Will the VPP win me over as all that and more? Will the promises that carbon fiber construction whispers in your ear be realized on the trail? I dunno. We will be back with our thoughts and impressions soon.

Note: The reviewed bike is being provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for review. We are not being paid or bribed for this review. We will give our honest opinion or thoughts through out.