First Look: Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy R

by Wil Barrett 3

The Santa Cruz chicken first laid its first Tallboy egg way back when in 2010. A whole seven years (and many eggs) ago.

At the time, 29ers were still rather uncool bicycles. Most up until that point were of the hardtail variety, and the ones that did have full squish weren’t particularly enjoyable to ride outside of climbing things and riding on trails devoid of corners. Then the Tallboy came along and changed the game. With its efficient suspension, dynamic ride quality, and surprisingly ‘up for it’ handling, this wagon wheeler was responsible for successfully changing the opinion of many 29er sceptics at the time.

The Tallboy has amassed many more fans over the years in its various guises, and in the process has spawned more radical longer travel offspring in the form of the thoroughly popular Hightower (that Barney reviewed here) and the latest EWS contender; the new Hightower LT.

Although those longer travel bikes have lapped up most of the attention lately, the Tallboy still exists. In fact, the 3rd generation Tallboy was launched just last year, bringing with it new geometry and a bi-wheelsize personality. As part of the Tallboy relaunch, Santa Cruz also developed a new alloy version, and we’ve got one here in the office for you to ogle over at.

santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The Tallboy is back for the 3rd time. And its got some tricks up its sleeve.

“The Tallboy cuts a whole new swath across the trail bike landscape. As a 27+ bike it revels in the severe. In desert-dry conditions the wider tires float above the dust and find oases of grip where standard tires flounder. And when the monsoon comes, lower tire pressures pull the Tallboy through the slickest of root sections like a Defender on diff-lock. In its 29-inch form, the Tallboy’s renowned rowdy streak comes to the fore. Happy at full gas, up or down hill, the speed and agility of the 29 configuration will have you bagging on e-bikes at every turn.

santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
You can get the Tallboy in carbon and alloy versions. Here’s the metal one with the ‘R’ build kit.

Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy Features

  • Full suspension XC/trail bike
  • Designed to accommodate 29in or 27.5+ wheel setups
  • Hydroformed alloy frame
  • VPP suspension design
  • Rear suspension travel: 110mm
  • Recommended fork travel: 120mm (29in), 130mm (27.5+)
  • 68° head angle
  • 73° seat tube angle
  • 432mm chainstay length
  • 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
  • 148x12mm rear thru-axle
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Pricing starts at £2799 for the Tallboy Alloy, and it’s available with either 29in or 27.5+ wheel setups.

The alloy Tallboy shares exactly the same geometry as the carbon version, but comes in a bit heavier thanks to its use of stout hydroformed and welded alloy tubes. There’s 110mm of travel out back via the VPP suspension design (Gen 3), and the Tallboy is optimised around a 120-130mm travel fork.

Like the latest Hightower, the Tallboy now has the ability to fit 27.5+ wheels and tyres also. You can run 29er tyres up to 2.5in wide, or you can 27.5in wheels with tyres up to 3.0in wide. Our test bike is setup with 29in hoops, but a small flip chip in the upper suspension link can be employed if you decide to fit chubby rubber into the Tallboy’s chassis.

There are two build kits available with the Tallboy alloy frame, starting at £2699 for the ‘D’ build kit. This one here features the ‘R’ build kit, which basically shares the same SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, Level brakes and WTB wheelset as the cheaper build kit, but steps up to a Fox Performance Series suspension package with an EVOL shock out back and a 34 Float Rhythm fork on the front.

santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The Fox 34 Rhythm fork is an OEM version of the 34 Float fork. It features 34mm stanchions and a tuneable air spring.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Inside is the FIT Grip damper, and outside are QR15 thru-axle lowers.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Santa Cruz spec a tough-looking Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3in front tyre for the Tallboy. Nice capable rubber for a short travel XC/trail bike.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Although the Tallboy Alloy is heavier than the carbon version, it aims to combine the same handling and suspension performance into a lower price point.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
A high volume Fox Float EVOL DPS rear shock watches over the 110mm of rear travel.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Nicely machined alloy linkage and large diameter expanding collet pivot axles.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The lower shock mount contains the geometry flip chip for High and Low settings.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The VPP suspension design sees the one-piece welded swingarm rolling on two short linkages.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The lower alloy linkage anchors above and forward of the BB, keeping the chainstays reasonably short.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The Tallboy updates to Boost 148x12mm rear axle spacing with a DT Swiss RWS skewer.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The WTB rims feature a 23mm internal rim width and have a tubeless ready bead.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The Aeffect dropper post is a cheaper version of the Race Face Turbine dropper.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Stealth dropper post routing.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
That’s a familiar-looking lever…
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
35mm diameter Race Face bars and matching stem.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The bars are 760mm wide, and the stem is 50mm long.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
The SRAM Level T brakes and NX shifting may be at the entry-level end of the spectrum, but promise similar performance to the pricier versions.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
1×11 drivetrain is becoming the norm across more price points.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
SRAM’s pinned XG1150 cassette is an upgrade over the XG1130 cassette used on the ‘D’ build kit.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Thick rubber armouring on the chainstay to keep the bounce at bay.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Chunky alloy arms on the Race Race Aeffect crankset. And the 30t narrow-wide chainring laughs at chainguides.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
What’s that for?
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
With the exception of the rear brake hose, the cables run internally through the alloy frame.
santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
You don’t need to spend £6k just to get this on your downtube.

As you may already know, the Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy is being tested against two other bikes for Issue 115 of Singletrack Magazine as part of our ‘Alloy Iterations’ group test – basically alloy versions of popular carbon fibre full suspension trail bikes. We wanted to ask the question; do you miss out electing for metal over carbon fibre? Is alloy just the poor cousin of its lighter, higher tech plastic composite sibling? Should you just suck it up and pay the extra? Well, we don’t necessarily think so.

You’ll be able to read the Tallboy Alloy review and the full results of the group test in the brand new issue of Singletrack Magazine, due to land in subscribers front door mats this week, and at Premier Dealers, bike shops and newsagents all around the country this coming fortnight. Can’t wait? Then jump to the online shop and order your copy right now!

santa cruz tallboy alloy vpp
Understated looks on the streets, but how’s the performance in the wild?

2018 Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy R Specifications

  • Frame // Hydroformed Alloy Tubing, 110mm Travel
  • Fork // Fox 34 Rhythm, 120mm Travel
  • Shock // Fox Float DPS EVOL Performance Series
  • Hubs // Novatec Sealed Bearing, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // WTB STP i23, Tubeless Compatible, 23mm Internal Rim Width
  • Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.3in Front & Crossmark II EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Chainset // Race Face Aeffect, 30T Steel Narrow-Wide Direct Mount Chainring
  • Front Mech // N/A
  • Rear Mech // SRAM NX 11-Speed
  • Shifters // SRAM NX 11-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM XG-1150 11-Speed, 10-42t
  • Brakes // SRAM Level T, 180mm Rotors Front & Rear
  • Stem // Race Face Ride 35mm, 50mm Long
  • Bars // Race Face Ride 35mm, 760mm Wide
  • Grips // Santa Cruz Palmdale
  • Seatpost // Race Face Aeffect, 125mm Travel
  • Saddle // WTB Volt Race
  • Size Tested // Large
  • Sizes available // Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Weight // 14kg / 30.8lbs
  • RRP // £3299

Comments (3)

  1. But no alloy Hightower?

  2. @Leku – unfortunately not. And we’re not privy to any plans from Santa Cruz to introduce one.

    I guess there are already two Hightower frame options (C and CC), but it’s still a bit of a shame for those who prefer their frames to be made out of metal.

    ST Wil.

  3. ST Will – how would you describe the frame colour out of interest? Looks an interesting gloss black with a hint of steel grey, almost looks like an ‘diesel spill’ sheen to it from the photos, maybe that’s a reflection of a floruro wearing STW photographer? 😀

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