Short-travel trail bikes have a reputation for being good climbers and, as a result, only fun on flowing descents. The Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 is the exact opposite. Can the 29″ Californian keep up with the strong competition of our group test with its conservative 120 mm rear travel?
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review
With its unmistakable silhouette, the Tallboy is distinctly recognisable as a Santa Cruz. With 130 mm travel at the front and 120 mm at the rear, the Tallboy CC X01 shares the same twin link rear end as Santa Cruz’s long-travel bikes. For € 8,399, you get a carbon frame and a sleek, tidy look. In typical Santa Cruz fashion, the Tallboy frame is available in two grades of carbon: the lighter CC model and the more affordable C version. Our test bike features the higher-end CC frame. In size L, the Tallboy CC X01 hits the scales at 12.9 kg. The position of the FOX shock hiding deep inside the frame makes it difficult to measure sag when setting it up, made all the more difficult by the lack of any sag markings printed on the shaft. The process is slightly easier with the Tallboy’s rowdy brother, the 5010, because the RockShox Super Deluxe has sag markings printed on the shaft. A small mudguard shields the shock and link from dirt and mud, while a reasonably sized seat and chainstay protector reduces chain slap and ensures a quiet ride. On the downtube, a TPU plate protects the carbon frame from impacts and stray rocks. Unlike its long-travel siblings, the Tallboy doesn’t have the additional shuttle pad on the downtube which prevents the frame from getting scuffed when you throw your bike on the back of a pick-up. The high-quality frame is rounded off by a very tidy internal cable routing, with the cables and brake lines only visible at the transition from the main triangle to the rear end and clamped down at the ports to prevent any rattling. The Santa Cruz is a very quiet riding buddy.
With experienced riders, the Tallboy punches above its weight and takes on drops and jumps without batting an eye – provided they know what they’re doing.
The spec of the Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 Reserve
For the suspension, Santa Cruz combine a 130 mm RockShox Pike Ultimate fork at the front with a FOX FLOAT Factory DPS shock at the rear. This makes them one of the few manufacturers in this test to rely on a mixed suspension setup, with the fork and shock supplied by different brands. The reason? The Californian brand wants to provide the best possible rear suspension performance, regardless of the brand. Rockshox also supply the 175 mm Reverb Stealth dropper (size L) which, thanks to the short seat tube, can be slammed all the way into the frame. Tall riders will even be able to run a dropper with more travel – awesome! Not as awesome are the standard SRAM G2 RSC brakes: while SRAM’s popular trail stoppers offer toolless lever reach and bite point adjustments, in combination with the undersized 180 mm rotors, they tend to overheat quickly and thus require strong fingers. On long descents, this leads to arm pump, preventing you from unlocking the full potential of the bike. For the tires, Santa Cruz rely on 2.3” MAXXIS tires with the EXO casing, speccing a Minion DHF 3C MaxxTerra at the front and Minion DHR II at the rear – the latter, unfortunately, in the harder DualCompound rubber. Particularly at the rear, the weak casing is a constant threat to the expensive Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheelset vulnerable to damage. The optional Reserve wheelset upgrade is available for an additional € 1,200. Aggressive riders who spend most of their time on technical terrain should upgrade the tires to a model with a more robust casing to avoid pinch flats and protect the carbon rims against impacts.
Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01
Fork RockShox Pike Ultimate 130 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPS Factory 120 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 175 mm
Brakes SRAM G2 RSC 180/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XO1 Eagle 1×12
Stem Burgtec Enduro MK3 55 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz Carbon Riser 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 27 Carbon 29″
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHRII EXO 3C MaxxTerra/DHRII EXO Dual 2.3
Size XS S M L XL XXL
Weight 12.94 kg
The geometry of the Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 Reserve
The Tallboy is available in six frame sizes, from XS to XXL. Thanks to the short seat tubes, you can choose your frame size based on your riding style and desired reach. The latter is 470 mm in size L and increases as the frame size grows. Using two independent flip-chips, you can adapt the geometry of the Tallboy to your preferences and needs. While the flip-chip in the dropout allows you to change the chainstay length between 430 mm and 440 mm, the one on the shock mount lets you switch between the low and high settings to change the bottom bracket height and the progression of the suspension. We rode most of the time in the low setting with short chainstays. Apart from ensuring a more progressive rear end, this setting slackens out the seat angle by 0.2°. If you want to optimise your Tallboy for uphill performance, you should combine the high setting with long chainstays.
|Seat tube||370 mm||380 mm||405 mm||430 mm||460 mm||500 mm|
|Top tube||539 mm||567 mm||596 mm||619 mm||646 mm||678 mm|
|Head tube||90 mm||100 mm||110 mm||120 mm||140 mm||160 mm|
|Chainstays||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm|
|BB Drop||38 mm||38 mm||38 mm||38 mm||38 mm||38 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,129 mm||1,158 mm||1,187 mm||1,211 mm||1,239 mm||1,272 mm|
|Reach||400 mm||425 mm||450 mm||470 mm||490 mm||515 mm|
|Stack||592 mm||601 mm||610 mm||619 mm||637 mm||656 mm|
The Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 Reserve on the trail
Uphill, the Tallboy is very comfortable. Despite the small amount of travel, it takes its time on the climbs, while the active rear end, while always generating enough traction, drains your legs quickly. Here the shock’s climb switch would help but this is hard to reach and reduces traction significantly for technical climbs. On top of that, the relatively slack seat tube angle positions the rider above the rear wheel, causing the shock to sink deep into its travel on steep ramps even with the saddle pushed all the way forward. As a result, you’ll have to actively load the front wheel to prevent it from lifting, despite the stretched riding position and wide handlebars which pull your upper body far forward. Uphill, the Tallboy can’t keep up with its direct competitors, the YT IZZO BLAZE and Yeti SB115.
The Tallboy is one of the slower climbers in this test and depends heavily on the climb switch. However, this is difficult to reach
Tuning-tips: 200 mm rotors front and rear | rear tire with more robust casing to protect the carbon rim
Even downhill, the Tallboy requires a skilful rider to generate sufficient traction on technical singletrack and rough root carpets. Ride aggressively and the Tallboy will reward you with responsive and lively handling – a blessing if you know what you’re doing. Hard hits don’t seem to impress the Tallboy, which passes them onto the rider almost unfiltered. While pro riders will have a blast on relatively tame trails, beginners will be easily overwhelmed by the demanding and harsh nature of the Tallboy. The low front combined with the 800 mm bars enables precise steering behaviour but also results in chilling OTB moments on steep sections. On flowing trails, the Tallboy shines with great cornering stability, resembling its big brother, the 5010. It’s agile, precise and, thanks to the stiff suspension, always offers enough support to pull off steps and ledges. The Tallboy is only suitable for experienced riders who can tame it with good skills and an active riding style.
The Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 Reserve proves that the amount of travel alone doesn’t say anything about the handling of a bike. Despite its conservative 130/120 mm suspension setup, it falls behind most of its competitors on the climbs. On the other hand, downhill it shines with precise and agile handling. But watch out: this only applies to active and skilled riders who know what they’re doing and are brave enough to tame the lively character of the bike. If that’s you, you’ll get a quiet, fun and high-quality bike for all sorts of trails. Nevertheless, there are definitely better and more capable bikes that suit a wider range of applications, both up and downhill!
- outstanding build quality
- agile bike with stiff suspension
- climbs efficiently only with climb switch
- only for experienced riders
- brakes overheat quickly
Find more information here: santacruzbicycles.com
Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review
All Bikes in this group test: Canyon Neuron CF SLX 9 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral 29 LTD (Click for review) | Canyon Stoic 4 (Click for review) | FOCUS THRON 6.9 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | MERIDA NINETY-SIX 8000 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Reactor 290C (Click for review) | Orbea Rise M-Team (Click for review) | Propain Hugene (Click for review) | RAAW Jibb XTR Build (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz 5010 X01 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned AXS (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 9.8 GX (Click for review) | Trek Top Fuel 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Yeti SB115 TURQ3 (Click for review) | YT IZZO BLAZE 29 (Click for review)
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Words: Peter Walker Photos: various