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Review: Santa Cruz Tallboy & Juliana Joplin XC Mountain Bikes

By Bruce Lin
Photos By Chris Motta

The Santa Cruz Tallboy and Juliana Joplin are two spry XC mountain bikes that can also handle rugged downhill terrain with their extra travel. At TPC the Tallboy and Joplin are favorites to climb up the local goat trails while beefy enough to bomb down the rocky, stumpy singletrack. Here we compare the two.

Check out our current Santa Cruz collection and Juliana collection

Juliana Joplin CC Mountain Bike2017 Juliana Joplin CC

 

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC Mountain Bike2017 Santa Cruz Tallboy CC


There’s a small, legendary underground Strava race that happens every year here in Colorado. It’s called the Cougar Slayer, an epic 70-mile endurance adventure that takes riders high up into the mountains to ride some of the roughest and least traveled terrain on the Front Range. It’s been a goal of mine to complete the course and I’ve thought long and hard about the perfect bike I’d use to accomplish the task. It would need to be light and efficient, yet capable enough to handle long steep descents and smooth out the chunky alpine rock that litters Colorado’s high country. The answer, I’ve decided, is the Tallboy, or its Juliana equivalent, the Joplin.

The Tallboy and Joplin aren’t quite like regular XC bikes. With 110mm of travel in the rear and 120-130mm forks, they edge more into trail bike territory.

Juliana Joplin CC Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC Mountain Bike

The head angle is on the slacker end. The reach is just long enough to give extra confidence during fast and technical descents. And the option to run either 29er or 27.5+ wheels give the bikes extra versatility for different terrain and riding styles. They can be built light without feeling fragile.

Juliana Joplin CC Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC Mountain Bike

With solid tubing and amazing paint, the Tallboy and Joplin exude classic, rugged Santa Cruz build quality, and I’d trust their durability as much as I would a metal framed bike. And most importantly, they’re fun to ride! The bike feels spry, tight, and fast, able to roll over most trail obstacles thanks the bit of extra travel and progressive geometry.  

There’s an exact niche that this sort of bike fits into, the niche of the everyday rider. With efficient VPP suspension, they’re bikes that climb and pedal near as well as an XC bike but can descend competently in places where a full-on XC race bike might falter.

Juliana Joplin CC Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC Mountain Bike

It’s what most riders need, something that goes beyond the strict necessities of racing. It’s a bike you can spend all day riding, and that’s comfortable going any distance. It’s a bike without extremes, and because of this, it’s a bike without any major pain points. I’ve spent entire weekends pedaling the Tallboy deep into the woods, high above treeline, and down into the desert, and no matter the terrain it always just works, disappearing beneath me, leaving me alone in the bliss of nature. These qualities are the exact reason why my next attempt at completing an epic ride like the Cougar Slayer will most definitely be aboard the Tallboy.

In marketing, you might hear brands describe their bike’s as “no compromise” machines. The Tallboy and Joplin are bikes that don’t subscribe to that sort of genre confining ad-speak. They are full of compromises that let them excel at the type of riding most riders do on a daily basis. This is what makes them great, and what endears them to so many riders. It’s the type of bike you choose if you can only have one bike for the rest of your life. The Tallboy and Joplin are bikes capable of satisfying someone coming from any end of the riding spectrum. It’s the bike for the rider who simply wants to enjoy the ride, to go places, to see things, to work hard, and to go fast, all at the same time.

Check out our current Santa Cruz collection and Juliana collection.

Bike:

Tallboy / Joplin

Wheel Size

29” / 27.5”+

Fork Travel

120mm / 130mm

Rear Travel

110mm

Head Tube Angle

68°

Seat Tube Angle

73°

Stack (Size M)

603mm / 605mm

Reach (Size M)

430mm / 428mm

Chainstay Length

432mm

BB Height

330mm / 328mm