The Santa Cruz Tallboy 5 represents an evolution, not a revolution. As the brand’s best full suspension mountain bike, it retains the same VPP lower-link and shock position as Tallboy 4, which heralded a significant suspension configuration change for the model - when it debuted last year. Travel values are unchanged, with Santa Cruz recommending a 130mm fork to go with the Tallboy 5’s 120mm rear suspension.
Short-travel trail bikes are all about feedback and responsiveness. With good reason, the Tallboy has long been marketed as the downhiller’s XC bike. Its design intention has never wavered from being a trail bike, capable of descending with great confidence while retaining potent climbing efficiency – as you’d expect from a short-travel frame.
Improved ride comfort and traction
2022 Santa Cruz Tallboy drivetrain / suspension, by Suvi Loponen
Design engineers at Santa Cruz wanted to increase the Tallboy’s small-bump sensitivity to improve traction and trail feedback. When you only have 120mm of rear-suspension travel, the margin for small-bump compliance is much narrower than a 160mm enduro bike, like Santa Cruz’s Megatower.
Some clever kinematics and shock tinkering have altered the Tallboy’s rear-suspension leverage curve. That means it should be more reactive to smoothing terrain bumps, during the first few millimetres of travel.
Santa Cruz’s Tallboy design team have also reduced both anti-squat and anti-rise values for the VPP suspension system. The benefits of those? Less pedal force induces suspension bop and enhanced braking sensitivity.
Geometry changes from Tallboy 4 to 5, are slight. The head angle values remain unchanged, with a 65.7-degree head angle in the ‘high’ setting, reduced to 65.5-degrees when the Tallboy 5’s VPP suspension link flip chip is set to ‘low’.
Tallboy 5 is now a little longer
Where Santa Cruz’s product team has enhanced the Tallboy 5’s geometry, is a touch more reach. Using the size large Tallboy 5 as a reference, its reach has grown by 2mm, compared to a Tallboy 4. In the ‘high’ geometry setting, Tallboy 5 now has 475mm of reach, trimmed to 473mm in the ‘low’ configuration.
What about frame standards and component clearances on the Tallboy 5? It might be a short-travel trail bike, but you can run tyres up to 29x2.5” in size, without experiencing any mud-clearance issues in the rear triangle.
Although Santa Cruz recommends a 130mm fork to work best with the Tallboy 5’s geometry, riders can upfork to 140mm, if they wish – without any warranty issues.
The maximum rear brake rotor size is 180mm and Santa Cruz’s Tallboy 5 uses the post mount calliper configuration. For those riders with significant high-speed descending abilities, drivetrain security can be enhanced with an external chain guide, thanks to ISCGO5 mounts.
The other notable upgrade from Tallboy 4 to 5, is Santa Cruz’s glovebox. A downtube frame storage cavity, first seen on the 2022 Megatower (released in April), the glovebox allows you to pocket-carry tools, keys and snacks. It is a great feature, enabling riders to carry more utility and convenience items, without the annoyance of creating pocket bounce on your riding shorts or jersey.
Juliana Joplin, the brand's women-specific equivalent to the Tallboy, has also had the same refresh to its geometry and suspension and retails at the same prices as the Tallboy.
Pricing for the Tallboy 5 starts at £5,299, which gets you an SRAM NX drivetrain, Guide T brakes and base specification RockShox Pike fork.
Desire a dream build? That will be the Tallboy 5 XO1 AXS RSV, at £9,499. It rolls Santa Cruz’s Reserve carbon wheels, shifts via a SRAM XO1 AXS wireless drivetrain, stops with SRAM G2 RSC brakes and features a RockShox Pike Ultimate fork.
You might also like: