The Santa Cruz Tallboy LT Carbon. A Blur LTc in wagon wheel form? The ultimate all day trail shredding machine? While opinions may differ and personal preferences come into play, one thing is for certain. The Tallboy LT Carbon is built to tame the wildest trails, up or down. With 35mm more rear wheel travel than the acclaimed Tallboy (135mm and up to a 150mm fork), a longer, slacker frame geometry and the best suspension design around, the SCTBLTc (as Liam would put it) with its better rolling 29 inch wheels has what it takes to simply destroy rough terrain.
Santa Cruz waited a long time to enter the carbon fibre game but when they did, they created two of the greatest frames we've seen, the Blur XC Carbon and the Blur LT Carbon. All of Santa Cruz's carbon fibre frames share a basic design philosophy that makes them among the lightest, stiffest and probably strongest carbon fibre frames on the market.
First up is their one-piece construction and lay-up. The front triangle is made as one piece as is the rear, with all holes, cable stops, and suspension mounts moulded into the frame. Because Santa Cruz don't have to drill any holes in their frames, the fibres remain intact which leads me to the second design characteristic.
Continuous fibre orientation. Not having to drill holes for water bottle mounts or for riveting on cable guides means the carbon fibre is unbroken, making for a much stronger frame, distributing impact loads over a greater area. Santa Cruz pay even more attention to this around the tube junctions. While the tubes aren't joined together (it's all one piece remember), the traditional junctions where the head tube, down tube and top tube meet for instance, are where most of the stress is applied to the frame. The lay up schedule Santa Cruz use places fibres that run continuously into, around and back out of these tube junctions so that forces have a clear path to be dissipated down.
The final common theme is the manufacturing techniques and quality. Cut open a carbon fibre frame from Santa Cruz (a tragedy I know) and you'll find it as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. The compaction of fibre and resin during their moulding and curing process means that Santa Cruz carbon frames have no excess material, so voids or creases in the carbon that could lead to stress risers, no weak spots.
The Santa Cruz Tallboy LT Carbon combines these excellent design and manufacturing qualities with geometry that's spot on to create the best handling long travel 29er around. Short chainstays (just 454mm) allow this bike to turn in as quickly as you want, yet there is still room for big 2.5” tyres. The chainstays are actually 10mm longer than the Tallboy, and combined with the slacker 69.5 degree head angle give the Tallboy LT amazing stability at speed. If you want a bike that will handle predictably in the roughest terrain, put this one high on your list.
The Tallboy LT Carbon utilises the latest generation of the Virtual Pivot Point suspension design and features a carbon fibre upper link with a forged alloy lower link featuring grease ports that make bearing maintenance a breeze. I could write about VPP for days, but essentially it's active when you need it, with the beginning of the travel having an upward and backwards axle path for square edge bumps yet under hard pedalling the linkages actually push the tyre into the ground for supreme traction when climbing, without the suspension locking out. The combination of performance, reliability and serviceability make VPP my favourite suspension design.
The Santa Cruz Tallboy LT Carbon is what you get when you take the lauded Tallboy Carbon and give it some serious trail-taming aptitude. Santa Cruz invites you to consider it a Blur LT for the 29er crowd. What do we think? It's an adrenaline-fueled, two-wheeled, monster truck of a bike, and that makes it just as much fun as you're imagining. And, as we have come to expect from Santa Cruz's carbon fiber offerings, it tips the scales at a weight that has us inspecting it for missing pieces.
The Tallboy LT Carbon's combination of low weight and strength wouldn't be possible without Santa Cruz's proprietary carbon processes. To save weight, the front triangle of the Tallboy LT Carbon is constructed at once rather than having its component parts produced separately, and then bonded or wrapped. Additionally, carbon fibers are continuous around tube junctions; this technique creates a frame that distributes loads and absorbs impact energy better.
Looking at the geometry, the Tallboy LT Carbon is longer and taller than the original Tallboy-but to keep that in perspective, the original Tallboy's short chainstays and ultra-compact head tube make it one of the most nimble full-suspension 29ers out there. The Tallboy LT Carbon maintains similar dimensions and adds 35mm of rear travel (135mm total) while accommodating a 130-150mm front fork. The head tube angle has been slackened a bit, to a more stable 69.5 degrees. Throw in the inherent rolling advantages of 29 inch wheels and you have a bike that conquers the sketchiest descents with aplomb.
The VPP rear suspension on the Tallboy LT Carbon utilizes patented counter-rotating shock links that allow for a variable feel throughout the suspension travel. When sag is set correctly, the Tallboy LT Carbon is extremely responsive to small- and medium-sized bumps. On larger hits that push it deeper into its travel, it becomes more stubborn, a necessity to avoid harsh bottom-out. It's also a crisp, efficient pedaler, even in the small chainring. Another big plus of VPP suspension is its durability; Santa Cruz guarantees the pivot bearings for life. The suspension is sprung by a light and custom-tuned Fox Float RP23 with a slick Kashima coating. Its three-position ProPedal lever lets you select an appropriate amount of platform damping for the terrain you're riding. Select more damping for tame singletrack, or leave it wide-open for plushness over hairy sections.
With the Tallboy LT Carbon, Santa Cruz didn't simply tweak the geometry of the original Tallboy and call it a day. This frame has received some insightful upgrades. Recognizing that the Tallboy LT Carbon will see heavy-duty, bone-rattling action, ISCG05 tabs were added to the bottom bracket shell to accommodate a chainguide. Additionally, the lower suspension link is asymmetrical to ensure chainguide clearance. In case you aren't running a chainguide, there's a metal insert on the chainstay where a dropped chain would otherwise wreak havoc on the carbon fiber. The grease ports on the lower suspension link fit are recessed to keep them out of harm's way. Because you're bound to kick up some trail projectiles, the lower part of the down tube is wrapped in a leather protector. A similar protector covers the chainstay to protect from chain-slap.
The Santa Cruz Tallboy LT Carbon has a 1-1/8 to 1-1/2 inch tapered head tube. Like all of Santa Cruz's bikes, it has a user-friendly threaded bottom bracket shell. The rear dropout accepts a 142 x 12mm thru-axle, making the Tallboy LT Carbon the first Santa Cruz bike to use this new standard. A DT Swiss thru-axle comes with the bike. IS brake mounts make adding your favorite brakes as easy as possible. You'll need to pair the frame with a 30.9mm seatpost and a 34.9mm bottom-swing, top-pull front derailleur. The frame comes with a standard replaceable rear derailleur hanger, but a Shimano direct-mount rear hanger is available. The Tallboy LT Carbon comes in sizes Medium through X-Large and in two color options: Matte carbon/orange and Gloss yellow/black.