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Santa Cruz Tallboy Review: Best Downhill Short Travel Bike of 2021

Best Downhill Short Travel Bike of 2021

 

  • Climbing Ability 80% 80%
  • Downhill Ability 100% 100%
  • Overall Fun 90% 90%

Travel: 120mm rear/130mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66.5

Seat Tube Angle: 76.2

Reach: 470mm (large frame)

Weight: 30.63 lbs

Price: $6,999

What We Like: Downhill ability

What We Don’t: A bit heavy

Built to be a charger on the downhill, the Tallboy does not disappoint. With a Trail frame but an Enduro mindset, this bike seems like it can do it all. Sure, it does not climb as well as the Ripley or the Fuel, but you will never hit a corner as fast on those bikes as you will on the Tallboy. With three styles of frame material and a huge variety of build options, the Tallboy is a great option for riders who may spend more time in the tailgate of their buddy’s truck than pedaling to the top of the mountain. It will do the climbs, but the downs are where the real fun is at, so we named the Tallboy the Best Downhill Short Travel Bike of 2021.

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See Our The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes of 2021

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Ibis Ripley - Gear Hacker

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  • Climbing Ability 90% 90%
  • Downhill Ability 90% 90%
  • Overall Fun 90% 90%

Pros

Upgraded Rear Suspension

Cons

Bottom Bracket Has Had Some Issues

Travel: 120mm rear/130mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66.5

Seat Tube Angle: 76

Reach: 475mm (large frame)

Weight: 28.87 lbs

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

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  • Climbing Ability 80% 80%
  • Downhill Ability 100% 100%
  • Overall Fun 90% 90%

Pros

Downhill Ability

Cons

A Bit Heavy

Travel: 120mm rear/130mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66.5

Seat Tube Angle: 76.2

Reach: 470mm (large frame)

Weight: 30.63 lbs

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  • Climbing Ability 80% 80%
  • Downhill Ability 80% 80%
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Pros

Budget All Day Rider

Cons

It Is Heavy

Travel: 125mm rear/130mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66.6

Seat Tube Angle: 76

Reach: 480mm (large frame)

Weight: 32.25 lbs (aluminum frame)

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Revel Ranger - Gear Hacker
  • Climbing Ability 70% 70%
  • Downhill Ability 90% 90%
  • Overall Fun 80% 80%

Pros

Downhill Prowess

Cons

Seat Angle Could Be Steeper

Travel: 115mm rear/120mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 67.5

Seat Tube Angle: 75.3

Reach: 473mm (large frame)

Weight: 26.23 lbs

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Norco Optic - Gear Hacker

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  • Climbing Ability 70% 70%
  • Downhill Ability 80% 80%
  • Overall Fun 80% 80%

Pros

App To Dial In Custom Suspension Settings

Cons

Slow On Climbs

Travel: 125mm rear/140mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 65

Seat Tube Angle: 76

Reach: 480mm (large frame)

Weight: 30.2 lbs

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Evil the Following - Gear Hacker

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  • Climbing Ability 80% 80%
  • Downhill Ability 80% 80%
  • Overall Fun 90% 90%

Pros

DELTA Link Rear Suspension

Cons

Expensive Build Options

Travel: 120mm rear/ 130 or 120mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 67.9

Seat Tube Angle: 77

Reach: 480mm (large frame)

Weight: 28.3 lbs

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Yeti SB 115 - Gear Hacker

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Pros

New Rear Linkage

Cons

Not Different Enough From The Yeti SB100

Travel: 115mm rear/ 130mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 67.6

Seat Tube Angle: 74

Reach: 450mm (large frame)

Weight: 29.63 lbs

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Fuel EX - Gear Hacker

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  • Climbing Ability 80% 80%
  • Downhill Ability 80% 80%
  • Overall Fun 80% 80%

Pros

Down Tube Storage

Cons

Suspension Sag While Climbing

Travel: 130mm rear/ 140mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66

Seat Tube Angle: 75

Reach: 470mm (large frame)

Weight: 28.94 lbs

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  • Climbing Ability 80% 80%
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Pros

Upgraded Rear Suspension, Customized Colour Options

Cons

Left Hand Only Water Bottle Access

Travel: 140mm rear/ 140 or 150mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66

Seat Tube Angle: 77

Reach: 474mm (large frame)

Weight: 29.67 lbs

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Top Fuel - Gear Hacker

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  • Climbing Ability 100% 100%
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Pros

Super Lightweight

Cons

Knock Block in Headset

Travel: 115mm rear/ 120mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 68

Seat Tube Angle: 75

Reach: 470mm (large frame)

Weight: 26.08 lbs

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  • Climbing Ability 70% 70%
  • Downhill Ability 80% 80%
  • Overall Fun 90% 90%

Pros

High Quality Components

Cons

Heavy

Travel: 115mm rear/ 120-140mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66

Seat Tube Angle: 76.6

Reach: 470mm

Weight: 31.97 lbs (aluminum frame)

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  • Climbing Ability 80% 80%
  • Downhill Ability 90% 90%
  • Overall Fun 90% 90%

Pros

New Rear Suspension Linkage, SWAT Bottom Bracket Storage

Cons

Price

Travel: 120mm rear/130mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66.5

Seat Tube Angle: 74.5

Reach: 480mm (large frame)

Weight: 27.80 lbs

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Alchemy Arktos ST - Gear Hacker
  • Climbing Ability 70% 70%
  • Downhill Ability 80% 80%
  • Overall Fun 80% 80%

Pros

High Quality Build Components

Cons

Low Bottom Bracket, Under Bottom Bracket Water Bottle Attachment.

Travel: 120mm rear/140mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 66.1

Seat Tube Angle: 75.5

Reach: 454 (large frame)

Weight: 30.75 lbs

The capability of short travel bikes is becoming wildly impressive and with the new Santa Cruz Tallboy, as things are getting dialed. It is available in three different frame materials, so that no matter your budget, you can ride this trail basher. Santa Cruz is raising the bar when it comes to the short travel 29” world.

The new Tallboy comes with 120mm of rear travel on a new (but borrowed) lower-link VPP suspension system and a 130mm fork to give you the ultimate experience no matter what the trails throw at you. While being compared heavily to the Trek Fuel and the Ibis Ripley, the Tallboy really stands alone as a descender and is built for ultimate confidence while catching air or taking corners way too fast. This is why we named it the Best Downhill Short Travel Bike of 2021.

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

The Bike

Now available in three frame materials: aluminum, carbon C, and carbon CC, the Tallboy is affordable to a whole range of riders. The new lower-link VPP suspension layout has opened up the frame triangle. The lower shock mount also comes with a flip chip that can flip into HI or LO mode and will make all of 0.2-degree of difference in certain aspects of the geometry. The largest difference it’ll make is 3mm of bottom bracket height change. So it won’t change your world, but at least the option is there. Santa Cruz has added a ribbed chainstay protector to keep things quiet and a wee little fender that protects the Fox shock from the muck that you’ll be ripping through in no time.

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

Climbing

With a steeper seat tube angle, 76.2-degrees, the Tallboy handles like a traditional XC bike on the uphills. The Tallboy may not be able to compete with the Ripley on the climbs but every bike has its nuance. The Tallboy is super easy to manage at low speeds and has a very efficient suspension while climbing. The shortened chainstay helps to keep the back end under control, and the new seat tube angle allows for you to keep the weight on the front wheel and keep it on the ground too.

The frame of a large bike weighs around 29lbs, so it isn’t a featherweight, which you may feel in some longer climbs and throughout a day. However, with the neutral sitting riding position with the new geo, it is a comfortable all-day rider.
The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

Downhill

Here is where the Tallboy shines. With the bottomless feel provided by the rear suspension and a slack head tube, 65.5-degrees in the LO setting, the Tallboy likes to cruise downhill and to do so quickly. This bike is right in that sweet spot of XC bike meets Enduro—the climbing ability coupled with total confidence riding downhill. It is a poppy bike that just wants to party and show you a good time on the way to the after-party.

The geo puts your body in a great position for flying through the air after it sends you for a ride. For added confidence, if you added some thicker tires, it would give even more traction and keep the speeds high kicking around berms. The bottom bracket does sit a bit low, 335mm, and 37.5mm drop, and could bang off some chunder trails but it does keep the rider lower and flying through turns and rock garden lines.
The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

Build Options

There are seven build options for the Tallboy. Two of the options come on an aluminum frame, starting at $2,799 for the D version and going up to $3,399 for the R build. There are then three Carbon C frame options ranging from $4,199 to $5,999, each coming with different cassettes, brakes, forks, etc. The final two versions are made with Carbon CC. The X01 build has a wired drivetrain, and the XX1 RSV comes with the SRAM XX1 AXS wireless drivetrain and will set you back $10,499.

Along with the prebuilds, there is an aluminum frame only price of $1,999 and a Carbon CC frame only price of $3,099.

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

What is the difference between Carbon C and Carbon CC? Well Carbon CC is just a bit lighter but just as stiff, and that is all there is to it. Without going into too much detail, it is worth checking out the website to figure out what you’re willing to spend on a bike. Are you after the lightweight carbon frame or will a better drivetrain on an aluminum framework for you? I do like that Santa Cruz has offered an aluminum frame just so that more people have an opportunity to try out a full suspension ride and enjoy the great outdoors.

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

The Santa Cruz Tallboy could become a one quiver bike for the right rider. It rides just fine on the way up hills with great handling with a responsive suspension. Unless you’re truly bombing down some wild roots and nasty chunder and need that massive travel, the Tallboy can handle just about anything you throw at it. The geo is set up for all-day in-saddle comfort, and downhill riding on this bike is just so much fun. All of these reasons made the decision easy to name the Tallboy the Best Downhill Short Travel Bike of 2021.

It may not be as light or as good of a climber as the Ibis Ripley, but the downhills is where the Tallboy shines and shows its true colors. It is poppy and feels more bottomless than the Ripley, which seems hard to do. The Tallboy keeps you in a great position while you’re flying off terrain and kickers, hitting the landing, and hungry to dive into some berms and brown powder.

With a variety of frame composite types and build setups, the Tallboy is affordable for a variety of riders and just wants to get you outside having a good time.

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz Tallboy - Gear Hacker

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!