I've had my 2014 Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc for a year now, I’ve ridden 1,513 trail miles on it, and I thought somebody somewhere might appreciate what I have to say about it.
Frame: Tallboy LTc XXL
Fork: Fox 29 Float 140 changed out for RockShox Pike 140 then raised to 150
Shock: Fox CTD Kashima
Dropper: Stealth Reverb
Wheels: Stan's Flows laced to Hope Pro 2 Evo
Brakes: Shimano XT
Drivetrain: Sram X01
Tires: High Roller 2s/Ardents/Nobby Nics
1) I've been riding mountain bikes for 8 years. I'm no pro, but I can ride a mountain bike pretty well.
2) My previous bikes were a 2010 Specialized Stumpjumper Elite and a 2012 Giant XTC.
3) My riding style is what I call trail style: not XC, not "enduro". I ride local trails of East TN and Western NC; rocky, rooty, technical singletrack. If I see a ledge or a kicker, I'm going for it. If there is an opportunity to slide, consider it done. I ride hard and I like to get squirrely.
4) I ride approximately 30-40 miles per week for 9 months out of the year with conditions ranging from wet to dry and loose to hard pack. For the other 3 months I ride whenever possible, usually about 10-30 miles per week in mostly wet/frozen conditions.
5) I'm 25 yo, stand at 6’4.5”, and weigh about 195 lbs.
OK about the bike: In one sentence; It's a singletrack shred sled.
I’ve really enjoyed this bike from the beginning; most likely from new bike syndrome. With that being said, I know what I’m after in a bike and this bike has it. The purpose of me buying this bike was really 2 things, well maybe 3:
1) I had two bikes I used for different types of rides: the Stumpjumper for the beefier more technical rides, and the XTC for long, XC style rides. I didn’t love either of these bikes, and they both held either half of my desires at bay when riding them. The Stumpjumper didn’t pedal worth a damn, and the XTc really held back my riding style when I pointed her down.
2) There were some incredible advancements and technologies from 2010-2013 in the 29er world that had me convinced after a few test rides in 2013 that the following held true…
3) The # of bikes you need = The # of bikes you currently own + 1
Geometry & Sizing:
I bought the XXL for the longer top tube. I was on the fence when it came to sizing XL or XXL. The XXL had about a 1” longer TT at 25.9”. I was after a bike that I could really get in an aggressive, forward stance and not feel like the front wheel was directly underneath me.
The down side to the XXL was the standover, which I still feel is a little ridiculous at 31.3”, but that is somewhat negated by the use of the dropper seatpost. I do feel like the standover height could be improved upon.
The chainstays are a little long by today’s standard at 17.7”. Everyone seems to be after super short chainstays these days. As a bigger guy, I don’t mind because when I’m climbing and have the post all the way up, I can keep both wheels firmly planted. The front doesn’t want to auto manual.
The head tube angle could be a touch slacker. At 69.4° I preferred a bit more “forgiveness” which I got with the Pike at 150mm. I will say the steep (when referenced to the industry trail bike standard) HT Angle makes for some snappy steering.
I suppose that if I wanted to tweak this frame, I’d shorten the standover to < 30”, shorten the chainstay slightly (~17.5”), and steepen the seat tube angle to 73.5-74 ° to account for shorter chainstay length. But that’s just me being a perfectionist.
Right out of the gate, I noticed how well this bike pedals up mountains. Certainly leaps and bounds better than the Stumpjumper, and damn near as well as the XTC. It should be noted; I prefer the feel of a full suspension bike when climbing. I’ll take the traction benefits of a full suspension over the efficiency of a hardtail on our east coast terrain. I’ve often felt that mountain biking is a game of momentum, perhaps that is why I feel this way about full squish. Regardless, this bike climbs very well.
VPP does a great job at balancing small bump compliance and pedal efficiency. I rarely rely on adjustments of the shock to gain any performance. It stays in the “Trail” setting 90% of the time. I prefer it in “Trail” to “Climb” when on technical ascents, but switch it over for gravel grinding or double track ascents.
The bike stays well planted. Even the front wheel on steep, tight switchbacks stay glued to the ground without a lot of excessive (momentum robbing) body English. This was a surprise to me with the 46.7” wheelbase. I will say that it did take a little getting used to on tight, technical, steep climbs (par the course for any new bike) but I quickly became a faster climber on the steeps. I had several buddies agree.
For singletrack in my area, this bike is a tad overkill, BUT I LOVE IT. The bike really feels alive when pointed down. It shines at speed, especially when things get chunky, and carries momentum very well.
That is where this bike got its nickname from my riding buddies; “The Bred” short for Thoroughbred, the race horse breed. When they first saw it built up, all they could say was how big it was and how it looked “…like a horse”. I agree, it’s an XXL 29er, but when I drop the post, this bike comes alive. I certainly became a more confident rider after riding this bike for a few months which has gotten me in trouble.
At speed, tight twisty singletrack is a blast. The bike feels really well planted in turns, doesn’t mind air-time, and looks for every opportunity to get loose. Ok maybe that the rider, but the confidence the bike gives me pushes me there.
The bike also offers a substantial amount of “forgiveness.” I’ve picked some bad lines in North Carolina on some knarly boulder rolls/drops. Having that extra ramp at the end of the suspension stroke in both the VPP rear suspension and the bottomless tokens in the Pike has saved my teeth a few times.
It is a very capable bike. It doesn’t feel like a 26” bike and its not the most “flickable” bike in the world but at 6’5”, the bike feels proportional and is very maneuverable.
Bottom Line: I have become a more skilled, faster rider with this as my go-to trail bike. This bike shines at speed and earns its descents with very little to complain about while getting there on the climb. It’s really fun. If you are a tall aggressive rider looking for a capable, playful, nimble, fast 29er, you have to saddle “The Bred.”
Carbon is awesome. This frame is stout and has been through some sketchy drops without a hint of flex.
I really like how easy it is to maintain the suspension pivots.
Threaded bottom bracket!
The Pike is a great improvement over the Fox 34, but get the 150mm Pike. It is only a few mm taller axle to crown than the Fox 140mm.
Cable routing could be a little better. Stealth exists for the dropper, but the others are left out.
I have demo'd a lot of bikes even since I have purchased this one, and do not at all second guess.
Tires: This bike really shines with a beefy tire up front and a faster tire in the rear. I have been happiest with a High Roller 2 up front and an Ardent in the back.
Thanks for reading, hope it wasn't too long.
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