Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC Demo Ride at 18 Bikes Hope

Having recently become increasingly interested in mountain biking the logical progression is to owning a full suspension mountain bike. In honesty there's a huge variety of what's on offer on the marketplace so it makes sense to get a feeling for just what I want before making any big decisions.

When we heard 18 Bikes at Hope in the Peak District were doing a Santa Cruz Demo Day last weekend  it sounded like a great opportunity to try something new.

The Santa Cruz Tallboy at 18 Bikes Hope

As someone who's been a road rider for years and genuinely likes those long winter mileage sessions exploring I suppose the logical progression for me is either going to be into either cross country racing or the longer distances of mtb marathon events. That draws me away from the current Enduro trend and more towards a bike with a sensible amount of travel. Nino Schurters World Championship winning Scott features 120 mm of travel at the rear so something with similar makes sense. Though having never ridden a full suspension bike before one of the big questions was just whether it would make a difference.

After discussing with the guys at 18 Bikes my requirements they recommended I try the Tallboy. A fast riding mid-travel 29er with 120mm of travel front and rear. Promising to offer a bike capable of going from weekend warrior to race machine very easily I was a little shocked initially that my test bike didn't have a remote lockout for either set of shocks for when you really want to go full gas uphill.

At 6ft tall my large sized test bike fitted me very well. The reach was very similar if not slightly shorter than my race orientated Radon 29er at home but with a short stem the reaction as I turned the bars was instant. Climbing up towards Hope Cross along the old Roman Road from Hope there are some relatively rugged technical sections and the Tallboy too them with ease. I could almost resort to the roadies response of 'more power' as the going got tougher knowing the wheels were going to track the ground brilliantly. I already knew I may need to ease off the pressure in the Reba's on my Radon for a better response but the Fox 34's on the Tallboy are in a different league as they just floated over obstacles.

The Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er with Lose Hill in the distance
After regrouping a number of times we made our way up towards the top of the Roman Road before turning back on ourselves for an adrenaline fuelled ride down. I have to admit I started tentatively as though I was back on the hardtail. I need to gain confidence riding a mountain bike after far too long on the smooth tarmac of the roads but the further into the descent the more comfortable I felt with the bike flowing beneath me. The modest 120 mm of travel seemed fine for the relatively quick rocky descent back down into Hope village covered in mud as my confidence improved.

I have to admit I found the 1x drivechain a little annoying. The huge jumps in cadence between gears at such slow speeds make no sense to myself and for a brief blast on the flat I was motoring with just a couple of gears to spare. I'm used to narrow ranges so maybe I'd look to something with a double chainset and a tighter cassette range for my own preference.

For that hour I really enjoyed the Tallboy. It was a nice, brief excursion out and talking to the awesome guys from 18 Bikes I should have the option to test one for the day over the summer. I really want a full suspension bike but I'm not jumping in at the first opportunity. I'm going to take my time to make an informed decision so on the lookout for more opportunities to test bikes to see just what suits me. I know I couldn't justify the price of the Tallboy CC 29er is was testing but maybe it's aluminium counterpart could be a more sensible option for myself.

The Tallboy covered in Peak District Mud.

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