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Choosing The Santa Cruz Blur vs Tallboy

By Bruce Lin

When we first published this article last spring, the decision between Santa Cruz’s Blur and Tallboy was difficult. Both mountain bikes were short-travel 29er full-suspension bikes with only slight nuances in geometry and componentry separating the two.

Well, late in summer 2019, all of that changed when Santa Cruz unveiled its completely redesigned Tallboy 4.

The Blur 3 remains a pure XC bike with 100mm of travel. But the Tallboy 4 increases rear travel from 110mm to 120mm with a longer 130mm fork. In the flesh, the most noticeable difference is the Tallboy 4’s low shock mount. It looks like a “Mini-Me” to the Santa Cruz Megatower’s “Dr. Evil.” That’s not all, though. Dig into the geometry, and you’ll find this new Tallboy is a complete departure from its predecessor and far different than the current Blur.

So, let’s revisit our comparison between Santa Cruz’s two short-travel 29er full-suspension bikes.

Santa Cruz Tallboy mountain bike shredding some awesome singletrackSanta Cruz changed the short-travel MTB game with its new Tallboy 4. Photo courtesy Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Comparison chart:

Bike

Blur 3 (X01/Carbon CC)

Tallboy 4 (X01/Carbon CC)

Weight

22.93 lbs

27.97 lbs

Fork Travel

100mm

130mm

Rear Travel

100mm

120mm

Fork

Fox Step-Cast 32 

RockShox Pike

Shock

Fox Float

Fox Float

Head Angle

69°

65.5°/65.7° (low/high link position)

Seat Angle

74°

76.6°/76.4° (M/L)

Stack

588mm / 598mm (M/L)

610mm/619mm (M/L)

Reach

440mm / 460mm (M/L)

450mm / 470mm (M/L)

Seatpost

Syntace P6 HiFlex Rigid

RockShox Reverb Dropper

Tires

Maxxis Aspen

Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR


Blur vs. Tallboy details

First a bit of history. In early 2018, Santa Cruz introduced the Blur 3 to take the mantle as its 100mm-travel bike, a spot vacated by the Tallboy 2 in 2016 when the Tallboy 3 (a 110mm-travel bike) was introduced. The Blur had been out of the Santa Cruz line since 2014 and was revived with a carbon frame and Santa Cruz’s VPP suspension. Light and efficient, the Blur is meant to be an XC weapon that is capable enough to handle technical and rough trails.

That left us with the Tallboy 3 and Blur 3, which looked nearly the same if you squinted your eyes. The former had 110mm rear and 120mm front travel; the Blur 100mm front and rear. The Tallboy 3’s head tube was only a degree slacker than its little sibling at 68 degrees, and its reach was shorter than the Blur’s across sizes, which seemed antiquated as trail bikes have trended toward longer front-ends.

Fortunately, Santa Cruz solved our existential angst by going big with the Tallboy 4 and clearly differentiating it from the Blur.

As we hinted at earlier, the Tallboy 4 is more akin to Santa Cruz’s full-gas enduro bike, the Megatower, than it is to the Blur. It has an ultra-slack 65.5-degree head angle and a wheelbase that is about 50mm longer, depending on size. This results in a bike with high-speed stability that belies its minimal travel.

On the other hand, the Blur is clearly XC-focused. In addition to the 100mm travel and 69-degree head angle, it includes a dual lockout for the suspension, lower stack height for an aggressive race position, and slightly more clearance to run a larger chainring.

When it comes to parts spec, the Blur and Tallboy 4 diverge even more. The Blur is built with a 100mm Fox Step-Cast 32 fork, which is significantly lighter — but less capable — than the Fox 34 or RockShox Pike that comes standard on the Tallboy 4. As a result, the Blur will get overwhelmed in rough terrain when the Tallboy is just getting warmed up. The standard Blur also does not come with a dropper post, but one can be added if desired. The more trail-oriented Blur TR adds a beefier 110mm Fox 34 fork and a dropper seatpost. This brings it close to a standard Tallboy 3, but it is will still never be quite as downhill-capable as the Tallboy 4.

Santa Cruz Blur in a World Cup mountain bike raceThe Santa Cruz Blur has been raced at the highest level of the sport on the UCI World Cup circuit. Photo courtesy Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Rider type

Santa Cruz Blur 3

Riders focused on racing, weight, fitness, hard pedaling, and hunting uphill KOMs. Marathon and endurance riders looking for an efficient full suspension to complete epic feats of distance.

XC riders who need a bike that can occasionally step up and handle hard technical descents when called upon.

Santa Cruz Tallboy 4

Trail riders looking for a lighter, more efficient bike. XC riders seeking a rugged bike with modern “long and low” geometry to tackle technical trails.

Riders who like mixing in flow with technical trails, who don’t need a big bike but don't want to be limited by a traditional XC bike.

Which Santa Cruz should I ride?

Santa Cruz has built both bikes to cover a similar range of riding styles. Each can perform well on a variety of trails, and some riders would be hard-pressed to pick one over the other. By now it should be clear, though, that the Blur will cater more to riders who are interested in XC racing or those who value efficiency, speed, and weight. The Tallboy is best for riders who need a bike that is versatile, rugged, and capable on descents.

Both bikes can be modified to better suit you and your riding. If you feel torn between the two, the Blur can be beefed up to be more trail-worthy. The Tallboy can be lightened up with different wheels and tires to be racier if necessary. However, its slack and long geometry will always keep it from feeling like a true XC bike. In general, the Blur is easier to make lighter and racier while the Tallboy is easier to customize to be more burly and downhill-worthy.

Imagine your perfect ride. Are you sprinting away on a bike that seems to propel you forward with ease? Go Blur. Are you riding away on descents, hitting rocks and roots hard, jumping and slashing turns? Go Tallboy.

Look at the trails you ride most or those you want to ride the most. What matters more to you when you ride them? A more efficient bike (Blur)? Or more confidence-inspiring bike (Tallboy)?

Think about your friends you hope to ride with. What do you need to keep up with them? A bike that helps you climb with them (Blur) or a bike that helps you descend with them (Tallboy)?

Choosing between the two is an exercise in knowing yourself, your true self. But if you can't decide and need more help, our Ride Guides are always here to chat!

Check out our Santa Cruz Collection.

Read our Santa Cruz Blur 3 Review.

Stay tuned for our full review of the Tallboy 4.


8 comments


  • Hey Shawn,
    6’5 is at the top of what Santa Cruz recommends for the Blur, but I’d say it’s still a good bet. It’s better for the style of riding you’re describing. Also, a cool tidbit – former NBA player, Reggie Miller, is 6’7 and races on an XL Blur. He seems to love it. The reason the Tallboy has an additional XXL size is to cater to more downhill focused riders who prefer the largest bike they can fit on for more stability. That might not be necessary for you if you’re not looking for max performance on technical and high-speed downhill terrain. 

    Bruce Lin on

  • Hi Andi, I am trying to get guidance between the Blur and TallBoy based on my geometry (6’5" 250, short legs and long arms/torso). I ride a mix of roads, fire trails, easy trail but with a lot of elevation changes. I am looking at moving up from a hardtail and considering the Blur TR but Santa Cruiz seems to send a mixed message w production of XL bikes in the Blur and XXL in the Tallboy. Thoughts?

    Shawn on

  • Paul,
    I’m on the shorter side and a total 29er convert. Roots, rocks, flow trails, 29ers just carry speed, and speed is fun to me. The 5010 is only better if your riding is more focused on jumping and jibbing around the trail, and less on pedaling. Though both bikes are decent climbers in my experience but based on what you’ve said I’d point you to the Tallboy. 

    Bruce Lin on

  • I’m actually trying to decide between a 5010 and a Tallboy. I currently have a 5010 (size Small), and I’m a bit too cramped in the cockpit so am going to move up to a Medium bike. I love climbing, so lean to the Tallboy, but am a bit hesitant to make the jump from 27.5 to 29 wheels. I don’t do a lot of technical stuff, though out here on the East Coast it is certainly easy to get lots of rocks and roots without intending to get technical . . .

    Paul Andrew Tibbits on

  • Hi Jim,

    I wouldn’t worry too much about messing with the geometry. I run a 120mm Fox 34 step-cast fork. Even at ~68 degrees, I don’t feel like the head angle is slack enough to negatively affect climbing for everyday riding. I also use a 50mm stem with wide 760mm flat bars. The stack height is low enough that I have a couple of centimeters of saddle-to-bar drop, so it’s still a fairly aggressive climbing position. I tackle a lot of big climbs here in Colorado. The seat angle slacking out will only be a factor if you need a more forward riding position. I have to move my saddle most of the way forward on the rails to feel good. 73 degrees is as slack as I’d go personally. Maybe compare to your current bike. Some riders will have no issues.

    In my opinion, if you’re not a super competitive racer chasing grams, the TR is the better all-around bike. The 34 Step-cast is an excellent fork, and for someone my weight (~180lbs), riding rowdier terrain, I prefer the stiffness and confidence of the 34 over the 32.

    Bruce Lin on

  • Hi Brucem

    I’m tyring to decide between the regular Blur or the Blur TR. The TR version is intriguing to me because it comes with dropper and slightly more travel w/o adding too much extra weight. My question is, how much am I compromising on climbing and handling by going with the TR and the slightly slacker STA 73.5 and HTA at 68.5? I do both technical and fire rd climbing in the 1000-3000ft range. I might also need to swap out for a 50mm stem too regardless of the version I get which could make me even more upright? Just trying to ensure I can still fly up the hills like I was able to when I demo’d the non TR version. It’s debatable whether I need 110 in travel, but would go for it if it doesn’t require compromising in these areas as it will help on the descents I ride in Marin county. Thanks in advance!

    Jim on

  • Hi Andi,

    For the type of riding you’re describing I would choose the blur. It will be lighter and more efficient. You can adjust the position by raising the stem or using higher rise handlebars to make the riding position more comfortable.

    Bruce Lin on

  • Hi, my name is Andreas. Sorry for my bad english, but i need help to decide between the Santa Cruz Blur and the Tallboy. I ride long Daytrips on Roads, Foretpath and easy Trail that are not rough. I am sure the 100mm suspension from the blur is enough for me, but i am afraid the sitting position on the bike could be to much race and stretched for me, what are you thing is the best bike for relaxed daytrips ? I dont want a Hardtail, so i have to decide between this two bikes. Thank you very much for answering.
    Greetings
    Andi

    Andi on


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