Santa Cruz Tallboy 5 - The Downhiller’s XC Bike Gets Some Subtle Yet Important Changes

Santa Cruz Tallboy 5 - The Downhiller’s XC Bike Gets Some Subtle Yet Important Changes

Santa Cruz Tallboy 5

Another week, another new bike. Or so it seems this year. Santa Cruz have released yet another updated model to their lineup, this time the Tallboy 5. Billed as the downhiller's XC bike, the Tallboy is a bike that's made to party, blurring the lines between cross country and trail. With XC travel and trail bike geometry it's the sort of bike that loves to climb even if you don't, and loves to descend just as much. Built for big days checking off all the singletrack goods possible and hour of power hot laps, the Tallboy is bike for unlocking more trails and leaving enough in the tank for one more lap. The previous recipe for the Tallboy 4 was pretty spot on with 120mm travel out back, 130mm up front and 29 inch wheels that's a good place to start, and while some things haven't changed, there are some updates to bring the new bike into line with the rest of Santa Cruz's current offerings, let's check it out!

What's New?

We've seen a lot of the same updates rolling out across Santa Cruz's lineup this year, and the Tallboy is no exception. 2022 is the year of size-specific changes it would seem, because there's no reason why a bike should feel any different to a taller rider than it should to a smaller one. With that in mind, the Tallboy now has Santa Cruz's proportional geometry, with size-specific chainstays and seat tube angle. It also gets Santa Cruz's size-specific carbon layup, building stiffness into the larger sizes, and allowing for flex in the smaller sizes, so that no matter the size the frame has the same stiffness and compliance characteristics for any given size.

Santa Cruz Tallboy 5

Following on from this, Santa Cruz have made some tweaks to the VPP suspension kinematics in both the leverage ratio and anti-squat, again similar to the changes they made to other bikes this year. By reducing the starting leverage and increasing the ending leverage the bike is now overall less progressive, meaning it's less plush and more poppy at the start, riding higher in its travel with a more predictable linear feeling all the way through and improved sensitivity deeper in the travel. Peak anti-squat on the tallboy 5 has been dramatically reduced in an effort to improve small bump compliance and improve braking sensitivity, with the chain having less restriction on suspension movement. All of these things mean better climbing traction with less pedal-induced movement in the suspension, and less brake interference deeper in the travel.

Tallboy 5 Suspension

A couple other features that make the Tallboy overall easier to live with day to day include the Glovebox in-frame storage system, for safe stowage of tools, a tube etc., and full tube-in-tube routing for brake and shift through the rear triangle. Santa Cruz's legendary attention to detail just got better!

Santa Cruz Tallboy 5

Frame Features

Speaking of attention to detail, one of the things we love about Santa Cruz Bicycles is their no-nonsense approach to bike design - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. In that spirit, the Tallboy 5 uses a bunch of frame features straight from Santa Cruz's greatest hits list. Things such as a threaded bottom bracket, boost-spacing rear end, their own version of the UDH derailleur hanger, integrated headset, tube in tube routing and a 31.6mm seat tube diameter. The suspension layout still uses Santa Cruz's signature VPP design with bearings housed in two short links. The bearings and frame have a lifetime warranty, so there's no reason for your bike to feel anything less than amazing.

With a glovebox in the front triangle, there's room for a full size water bottle to bolt to the door and despite a slightly more angular design, the Tallboy 5 has a very similar silhouette to the admittedly very pretty Tallboy 4. All in all, the Tallboy 5 looks every bit as amazing as we expected. 

Santa Cruz Tallboy 5


Geometry on the Tallboy 5 has not changed a ton, with the exception of the aforementioned proportional geometry in the chainstay length and seat tube angle. The head angle sits at 65.5º in low, with a seat tube angle between 75.7º and 76.8º also in low. The head angle steepens by 0.2º and seat tube by 0.3º in the high setting. Reach has grown by 5mm across the board to match the reach figures on all of their other bikes so the fit should feel the same no matter which bike you're on, and chainstays vary from 430mm - 444mm depending on size and flip chip position. 

Tallboy 5 Geometry

Who Is It For?

They call it the downhiller's XC bike, but that doesn't mean you have to be a gnarly trail shredder to enjoy this bike. Putting it somewhere in between the XC and trail category, where we have the Blur and Blur TR for the pure XC rider, and bikes like the 5010 for trail riders, the Tallboy fills a niche that we might be hesitant to call 'downcountry'. Putting as much emphasis on descending fun as ease of climbing, it's the XC bike for the non-racer. A bike that pedals incredibly well with a low weight, capable of much more than it should be, and geometry to make tech trails fun instead of scary. 

For those wanting more of a cross country race bike, the Santa Cruz Blur or Juliana Wilder might be the better option. For those looking for something with a little more travel, either look at the Santa Cruz 5010 for the mixed wheel option or the Hightower for the full 29er.

Santa Cruz Tallboy 5

Build and Spec

Currently available in the C and CC carbon layups in sizes XS - XXL, the Tallboy 5 comes with a 12 speed Sram Eagle drivetrain across the range, with either a Rockshox Pike or Fox 34 fork and 4 piston brakes.

- Starting with the R build it comes with a Pike Base and Fox DPS performance shock, NX Eagle drivetrain, Sram Guide T brakes and Race Face Arc rims on Sram hubs.
- Moving up to the S build it has Fox 34 performance fork, a GX Eagle drivetrain, Sram G2 R brakes and DT Swiss 370 hubs.
- Next is the GX AXS build, with Sram's wireless GX Transmission group, Fox 34 Performance Elite fork, DPS elite shock, SRAM Level Bronze Stealth brakes, carbon handlebar and DT Swiss 370 hubs, with an optional carbon Reserve 30 SL wheel upgrade.
- The CC X0 build rocks Santa Cruz's high modulus low weight CC layup, a Factory 34 fork, DPS Factory shock, X0 AXS Transmission drivetrain, Level Silver Stealth brakes, and rolls on I9 1/1 hubs laced to Race Face alloy rims, with an option to upgrade to Reserve wheels.
- At the top of the food chain is the CC XX AXS Reserve build, which of course sports SRAM's top level XX Transmission drivetrain, and Reserve carbon wheels on Hydra hubs, as well as a Chris King headset, and Level Ultimate brakes, for the ultimate downcountry bike.

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Santa Cruz Tallboy 5