Santa Cruz unveils longer-travel Tallboy in aluminum and carbon

Mike Ferrentino of Santa Cruz Bicycles walks us through the new Tallboy LT carbon from Dirt Rag Magazine on Vimeo.

By Josh Patterson

Despite the April 1 release date I can assure you that the rumors that have been circulating for months are very true. Santa Cruz is building on the success of the carbon and aluminum Tallboys by introducing two longer travel versions, dubbed the Tallboy LT and Tallboy LTc. Both models—in aluminum and carbon—share geometery are designed around the 140mm travel Fox 34 and offer 135mm of rear suspension travel.

Santa Cruz has made a habit of leading with carbon before introducing more affordable, aluminum versions. While this was the case with the Tallboy and the Highball, the company will bring both carbon and aluminum versions of the Tallboy LT to market in the coming weeks.

Both bikes feature tapered headtubes; ISCG mounts, allowing riders run to run chainguides; an offset lower link to improve chainguide clearance; recessed grease ports on the lower link; and continuous cable routing. 

Santa Cruz refined their carbon layup and minimized the use of metal inserts wherever possible to keep weight to the absolute minimum—a medium Tallboy LTc weights 5.3-pounds with shock.

The Tallboy LTc is the first Santa Cruz model to come with a 142×12 rear end.

Price for the carbon bike will be $4,399-$5,299 and comes in matte carbon with orange decals (pictured), or gloss yellow with black decals. The Tallboy LTc frame will retail for $2,699.

The aluminum LT complete will sell for $3,199-$4,299. Stock colors are Gulf Racing’s blue and orange (pictured), or dark grey and black. The Tallboy LT frame will retail for $1,999. For a $300 upcharge buyers can personalize their color and decals via the Santa Cruz custom paint program

While the carbon model sports a 142×12 rear end the aluminum version comes with a 135mm quick-release. Santa Cruz cited a greater availability of affordable 135mm-spaced wheelsets as the reason for sticking with a quick-release rear end.


Santa Cruz prides itself on not jumping on every new standard that comes into fashion unless the company’s engineers believe there is a definitive improvement in performance that does not come at the expense of reliability. A traditional threaded bottom bracket, ISO disc mounts, and a traditional clamp-on front derailleur are three examples of this philosophy.

Here are the geometry numbers on this long-travel duo. 

Why no size small? According to Santa Cruz the placement of the VPP linkage prohibits making a small 29er Tallboy LT. The recently introduced Superlight 29’s single-pivot suspension has no such design constraints.

The 69.5-degree head angle puts these bikes on the steeper end of the long-travel 29er trail bike spectrum. “We experimented with slacker and steeper head angles,” said the company’s head of engineering Joe Graney. “We found that going slacker meant the front end was wandering off of the trail in tight corners.”

Ride Impressions

If you’re a frequent visitor to our site then you already know we spent a significant amount of time riding in Sedona, Arizona, this spring. The weather is ideal for early season riding and the rock-strewn trails are an excellent proving ground for everything from cross-country race bikes to all-mountain brawlers.

The Tallboy LT is neither.

This is a case where the nomenclature is very descriptive of the way this bike rides. Simply put (and at the risk of overstating the obvious), it rides like a long-travel Tallboy—more travel, a 1.5-degree slacker head angle, a half-degree slacker seat tube angle, a slightly shorter top tube, and slightly longer chainstays. The more aggressive geometry and additional travel make for a bike that’s handling is not drastically different than the shorter travel Tallboy. Instead, the scope of use has been increased—more comfort zone, less danger zone, if you will.

Carbon v. Alloy

Both bikes share identical geometry. Graney’s philosophy is that stiffness is more important than weight, and if it takes an additional 1.75-pounds to make the aluminum Tallboy LT comparably stiff, so be it. On the trail I was hard pressed to discern any difference in handling between the two models.

I was able to leave the RP23’s ProPedal off and climb without complaint. While the Tallboy LT climbed well, the real fun was had when descending. It was easy to forget I was not on a six or seven-inch bike as I plowed headlong through rock gardens. Well thought-out geometry, an appreciably stiff frame, big wheels, and quality suspension always saved my hide.

Santa Cruz did a good job of balancing comfort and performance when they tuned bike’s spring rate. The VPP suspension never felt wallowy, nor did it feel incredibly plush or “bottomless.” If you enjoy all-day rides through technical terrain you will appreciate this ride. I see this Tallboy LT’s handling appealing more to cross-country riders looking for a bigger bike than gravity riders looking for a 29er trail bike.

So what’s not to like? Well, if you generally fall between sizes and like to run a five-inch dropper post you may, like me, find that there’s not a lot of wiggle room due to the relatively tall seat tube. After three days of riding the carbon and aluminum models that is my only complaint.

I look forward to riding the Tallboy LT longer and on more familiar terrain in the near future.