Field Test: 2020 Juliana Joplin / Santa Cruz Tallboy - Part Country, But Mostly Rock & Roll

Dec 4, 2019
by Sarah Moore  


2020 PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Juliana Joplin / Santa Cruz Tallboy

A competent climber, but the descents are where the Joplin really shines.



Words by Sarah Moore, Photography by Trevor Lyden



Santa Cruz Bicycles debuted the original Tallboy in 2009 and Juliana Bicycles debuted its counterpart, the Joplin, when the brand debuted in 2013. They launched the second generation in 2016, so depending on how you look at it, this is either the third generation of the short-travel 29er to hit the trails, or the fourth.

Like the last time around, this bike gets 10mm more travel front and rear, a slacker head tube angle and a longer reach. In addition, the new Joplin uses the lower-link mounted shock VPP design that the Hightower, Bronson, and Nomad do.

It might seem a bit unorthodox that James Huang and I both rode the Juliana Joplin, but since it's the same frame as the Santa Cruz Tallboy, we felt it made most sense for the Field Test format.
Joplin / Tallboy Details

Intended use: Downcountry
Travel: 120mm
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: Carbon fiber
Head angle: 65.5° or 65.7°
Chainstay length: 430-440mm (adjustable)
Reach: 450 mm (size Medium)
Sizes: XS, S, M (Joplin) XS-XXL (Tallboy)
Weight: 28.1lbs / 12.75 kg (as pictured)
Price: $8,199 USD as shown
More info: www.julianabicycles.com
Both share the same volume spacer (0.4) in the shock, but the Joplin gets a Light compression tune compared to the Tallboy's Medium compression tune and a light rebound tune compared to the Tallboy's "LRL01" which is in-between Light and Medium. There are also a women's saddle and grips, and different graphics and branding. Against all odds, James was able to ride the "gender-specific" components and shock tune without issue.

The bike is available in both the high-grade carbon frame known as the “CC” and the regular "C" carbon, and there are also aluminum framed models with prices starting at $2,699. As tested, with a RockShox Pike Select, FOX Float Performance Elite DPS, SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, SRAM G2 RSC brakes and Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels, the price tag is $8,199 USD.

The carbon Joplin gets adjustable chainstays, so that you can set the chainstay length at either 430 or 440mm. There's also a flip chip on the shock mount that can be used to raise or lower the bottom bracket while simultaneously steepening or slackening the head angle. The difference that chip makes is fairly minor – a 3mm BB height change and a .2-degree head angle change – but it does also make the bike's leverage ratio slightly more linear in the high setting, and a little more progressive in the lower setting.

Other details include internally-molded tubes to make cable routing easier, a downtube protector, a fender that keeps mud away from the shock, a ribbed chainstay protector, room to mount a water bottle on the top of the downtube on all sizes, a threaded bottom bracket, and ISCG-05 tabs for mounting a chain guard. The size Medium we rode comes with a 150mm dropper and there's also a lifetime frame and bearing warranty.



Juliana Joplin 2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden downcountry
Juliana Joplin 2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden downcountry


Climbing

Overall, James Huang and I found the Joplin to be a very competent climber. Body position is comfortable and the 76.3° seat tube angle gets you into a good power position over the pedals. The front wheel doesn’t wander and goes where you want it to go on tight singletrack despite the relatively slack 65.5° head tube angle.

Climbing traction was good, but not great. You have to be a bit more precise about choosing your line in loose gravel and over roots so that you don't bounced around or spin out. The same goes for pedaling efficiency. There are bikes that you really feel accelerate when you stand up to pedal, and ones that seem happier just sitting and staying even with the power, and this bike falls into the latter category.

As for the weight, it's a pound and a half lighter than the Guerrilla Gravity, which isn't insignificant. That being said, it's not in the 26-pound range like the Trek Top Fuel, Pivot Mach 4 SL and Mondraker. For the terrain here it was a good compromise between being light enough that pedaling is enjoyable, while still having burly enough components to attack the descents.


Juliana Joplin 2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden downcountry

Juliana Joplin 2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden downcountry
Juliana Joplin 2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden downcountry


Descending


Descending is where the Juliana shines. The geometry is on the longer side for this category, with a 450mm reach on our medium size, and it's actually the slackest of the bikes we tested in this category with its 65.5° head tube angle, but it doesn’t feel too long and slack by any means. James and I felt that the geometry gave us the confidence to push hard on the downhills without feeling like we were working too much to stay centered over the bike.

The suspension feels lively on the descents and while it doesn't totally erase everything you encounter on the trail, it does a great job of neutralizing it so that you can keep your composure. It's a comfortable suspension platform that maintains traction well through corners and on rougher, more technical sections technical trails. While I used all the travel on it, it never bottomed out harshly and it felt like it made good use of its 120mm.

While it's composed, it still feels light and poppy so it’s really easy to boost off of every little thing on the trail. You know you’re on a short-travel bike, but for all the good reasons.

Timed Testing

Our timed lap for the downcountry bikes was around 8:30 long and started with a 0.5km singletrack climb up Wild Potato, before heading up the Smell the Glove Connector, a loose double track road that got steeper and steeper towards the top. Then, we dipped into Econo Dave, a spicy black diamond trail with lots of steep rock rolls, before looping back on the loose higher-speed Dark Forest. The climb accounted for half the distance but about two-thirds of the time. More info on our timed testing here.

Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.


Sarah: "I had the fastest descent on the Juliana and the climb was 6.9% slower than the fastest bikes. Overall, it was my second fastest lap time."

James: ''I posted my fastest lap on the Juliana out of every bike I tested, even faster than the Trek Top Fuel. Barely, granted, by less than 2%, but faster nonetheless, which I think says a lot about how versatile this thing can be."


Juliana Joplin 2020 Pinkbike Field Test Photo by Trevor Lyden downcountry


Pros

+ Details are sorted: dropper post room, big water bottle room, etc.
+ Excellent cornering & liveliness
+ Aesthetically pleasing
+ Jack of all trades

Cons

- Not the most enthusiastic pedaller
- Shock placement: hard to clean and set up
- Benefits from climb mode, but it’s hard to access
- While it’s a jack of all trades, it’s a master of none.






The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible by support from
Race Face apparel & pads, Giro helmets, & Sierra Nevada beer.



294 Comments

  • 301 0
 I'm not the most enthusiastic pedaler either
  • 73 1
 More down, less country.
  • 58 1
 "Benefits from climb mode, but it’s hard to access" sounds like they are talking about me as a rider.
  • 3 0
 Will there be a shootout for Butthurt Trail Rider bikes?
  • 161 4
 I got to test ride the Ripley and Tallboy this a week ago back to back, each for about 2hrs. From that demo, the best description I can say is the TallBoy is the DHers XC bike and the Ripley is the XC Racers All Mountain Bike.

Climbing:
The TB feels more like an eduro bike, that wants you to sit and spin. it has lots of traction and climbs well in this fashion but when you stand up and hammer it tends to wallow a little.
The Ripley climbs like an XC bike. If there is a steep punch you stay in the same gear and stand up, when you put the power down it leaps forward, the handling a is a bit sharper, outside of a pure XC race bike its the most efficient climbing bike I have been on. I did find that on the Ripley the amazing efficiency comes a bit of a loss to all-out traction. if you are used to climbing on a very active suspension platform you may find that the Ripley isn't for you. You have to utilize a bit more skill on technical climbs to maintain traction.

Descending:
This was honestly a draw. both are great. I couldn't say one felt better than that other, a bit different but not better or worse. TB wants to plow a bit more and is a little more glued to the ground. The Ripley is a bit poppier, sharper in the handling, leading to more precise line choices. I would also say that the Ripley cornered a bit better at slower speeds but as speeds picked up the Tallboy got exceptional, with the Ripley taking a bike more to maintain traction.

Conclusion,
for me it was easy the Ripley is the better bike, to the point that I came home with one. I agree with what Pinkbike has said about the Tallboy.

About me 185lbs, been riding/racing (XC, DH and a few enduros) for almost 30 years now, I live in Squamish and mostly gravitate to our black to black + single track trails, I ride 100+ days a year, my ideal ride is a none stop loop with several ups and downs. I tested these bikes out in Cowichan on Vancouver Island and rode both on Maple Mountain, going up the single track climb trail and then down Maple Syrup. the loop had everything including, sustained none technical climbing, to sustained technical climbing, punching very technical climbing, to flowy descending, steep chundery chutes, some small rock slabs and lots of techy singletrack. the full loop is 15km long with about 800M of elevation gain/loss
  • 10 1
 Thank you! These are two bikes I'm interested in and that's a great back to back comparison.

Have you read the Ripmo? If you have, how do you feel it climbs vs. the Tallboy?
  • 7 0
 Great review dude, very informative. How's the fit on these?
  • 16 0
 @roma258: Both where size large and both felt the same and at 5'11" I would say the fit was spot on.

Having done about 6 rides on my RIpley now back on the home trails I can say its an amazing bike. It's constantly cashing checks that a 120mm bike shouldn't. I have PRed most of my favorite trail times both on the up and down, and its just a tone of fun.

I switch the tires our that came on it and that made a world
of difference and my comment about it not having as much climbing tracking is no longer valid. Turns out the 2.6 Nobby Nick rear tire that came with it was just carp rock hard rubber. Going to a 2.6 Hans Damp Adix made a world of difference.
  • 4 0
 I can dig it!
  • 2 0
 I really appreciate your review of the climbing and description of how the Ripley reacts when standing and powering through in the same gear. I'd like to know which full suspension bikes you've ridden that are similar in that you can stand/hammer and it goes more forward than bobbing. Hope that makes sense.
  • 31 2
 I rode the Ripley up the climb trail on Maple Mountain and down Maple Syrup as well during the BC Bike Race - my favourite stage of the event actually! I'd agree that the Ripley is the more nimble and quick climber, but I found the Joplin to be the more capable bike on the descents.
  • 16 7
 @Squamishboz: How is possible that every time a person gets a new bike they start setting PR's?

Just saying, that may be an overused point of evaluation, kinda like saying a big feels like it has more travel than it does ...

Next year, you will get a new bike and all those PR's will fall, amazingsauce!
  • 12 3
 @nurseben: New bike stoke + better bike = faster lap times

We're at a point right now where bikes are getting significantly better every product cycle. It shouldn't be a surprise that the stopwatch reflects that reality.
  • 12 1
 @sarahmoore: the Ripley is obviously one of the best bikes in this category and totally new this year. Why isn’t it in the test?
  • 8 0
 @dmondave: It got its own standalone review back in July. These are all bikes that haven't been reviewed before. Except they cheated by bringing in the Juliana to get around having previously reviewed the Tallboy.
  • 12 28
flag utley06 (Dec 4, 2019 at 9:28) (Below Threshold)
 @nurseben: About 10 years ago, mtb's really started to see drastic improvements and the new bike stoke was real. Things are starting to get overhyped and I've come to a point where I'm calling BS on a lot of the marketing today. I also get sick to my stomach when companies utilize youtube cheese dicks to market their products. That little door to door mormon salesman mtb yum yum is so damn full of shit.
  • 1 0
 @MarcusBrody: a review and a comparison test! Might as well throw the top challengers in, provided they’re new that year. The popularity of OP’s comment is a testament to that idea.
  • 5 0
 @dmondave: Yeah I understand your point. I am sympathetic to whoever made the choices though, as there are only so many bikes that you can ride and compare in a limited time, so getting every worthy challenger wold be hard.

I do like idea of declaring a segment benchmark bike every so often and comparing everything reviewed to it in at least some basic ways.
  • 4 1
 I'm greedy. I want a quick, nimble, efficent climber that is playful and poppy, but is also well planted and plows the downhills. Lol.
  • 1 0
 “Black to black+single track” love it!!
  • 4 0
 I am also 5'-11", but it's weird with the sizing. I've owned the first 3 iterations of the TB... always rode a size Large and it always felt like a good fit. However, when I demo'd. the TB4 size Large, it felt small for me. So much so that if I buy it, I would up-size to an XL.
  • 8 1
 @utley06:

utley i see him on the trail every now and then. I agree not all of his reviews are a super in depth analysis, i think that's partly due to how good bikes are these days, partly his personality (some people are naturally more critical than others or have the skill to really pick apart performance), but to be fair if he's too critical then shops won't want to lend him out bikes. he makes next to nothing on his channel, it's not like he's a paid shill.

also, that's funny that you're butthurt about his channel. too much time online? i hear the weather's nice down south right now. go for a ride.

but i agree with your marketing statement which is why i demo a lot of bikes (but also love PB, Vital, and Bikemag reviews)
  • 8 0
 @DirtCrab: My impression is that it is mainly the marketing that has gotten better every product cycle.
Yes, bikes are progressing, but far more slowly than companies and the people they sponsor want us to believe.
This is quite apparent in the racing scene, where athletes on vastly different bikes of varying product cycles are incredibly close in results. If there was so much performance difference between bikes, racing would look like Formula One.
  • 4 4
 @Ttimer: Respectfully, you're dead wrong. Keep in mind that a product cycle is NOT a model year. Essentially every brand is on 3 year product cycles. For example, think Santa Cruz TBLT->OGHT->HT2. If you're racing, the difference between each generation represents a clear progression towards bikes that are easier to ride faster, straight up.

Plus, if you actually follow F1 and mountain bike racing, you understand why equipment advantages are not a decisive a factor in bike racing the way they are in auto racing. It's pretty obvious, really.
  • 3 23
flag utley06 (Dec 4, 2019 at 13:00) (Below Threshold)
 @WasatchEnduro: no one’s butt hurt over your butt buddy. I just call bullshit when I see it. Ibis is all over the social media scene.. cheap and cheesy marketing. Hey, if it makes some dumb shit buy a bike then cheers to them. Nice chatting with ya, enjoy your inversion.
  • 2 0
 @DirtCrab: True, in my case you could also add in more fitness, FTP has come back up from 303 - 335 in over the last 6 weeks. 335 is where I normally land when in race shape, or living like a Bachelor for a month well my family is oversees.
  • 4 0
 @rglasser: the black rating in Squamish is a bit broad to say the least. Boney elbows and Rupert at not the same difficulty.
  • 3 1
 @ryan77777: any XC bike from the last 5-10 years has been able to hammer up climbs. This issue with all XC bikes from a trail enjoyment standpoint has always been scary twitchy geo, and that the suspension favored efficiency over everything else.

From speaking to other people who have these bikes (as I have not) it sounds like the SB100, intense Sniper, and I'm sure others have found a good balance of pedaling efficiency, geo, and suspension for descending.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: Thats such a fun trail. It was my first and second time riding it when I was demoing! Looking forward to go back soon. Double D on Tzhalem was also so much fun!
  • 5 0
 @DirtCrab: Keep in mind that different brands have overlapping product cycles. So every given season you have racers on bikes which are between 0 and 3-4 years old. If the next gen prototypes were substantially faster than the 3 year old bikes, the leaderboards would look quite different.

And while it is obvious that technology matters more in motorsports, consider how incredibly close the times of the top racers are in most mtb disciplines. Even though some of them ride bikes that the pinkbike consensus would consider outdated or badly designed. I take this as evidence that equipment matters much less in mtb than we are led to believe.

I write this as a counterpoint to the hype machine that wants us to believe that the old bike is totally not worth riding now that the new one is here and that you won't be able to keep up with your buddies on their hot new sleds so you better cough up those eight grand for the new model.
  • 7 1
 @utley06:

yeah the inversion sucks in the winter but we can't all live in an awesome place like Arkansas (#sarcasm). i haven't seen any ibis marketing but i've ridden their bikes and they rock. i'm sorry you're offended that some people buy awesome bikes.

also, I've seen Deliverance. you're butthurt.
  • 1 0
 @MarcusBrody: Interesting question re.: Ripley v Ripmo! I love my Ripmo’s climbing abilities, particularly on tech: traction is outstanding. I have GX with alloy ibis rims. Craving for a bit lighter specs given the local terrain made of short repetitive punchy very techy climbs. So aiming for halfway between crisp (Ripley) and traction (Ripmo) and believe it’s achievable given the small weight difference between the two frames. Thoughts?
  • 2 0
 @Artigas: I'm curious too. I always flirt with the Ripley then think, maybe the new Tallboy wouldn't give up too much climbing while getting more on the downs, then I think maybe the Ripmo wouldn't give up too much climbing on the Tallboy climbing and be even more fun on the downs. ha

I've heard some people claim that due to suspension design/geo differences, the Ripmo climbs as well as the new Tallboy, but those people are generally Ripmo owners, so I don't know. I'd love to test all three back to back at some point.
  • 4 0
 @utley06: Every bike mtb yum yum rides down his little trail: "oh yeah. oh YEAH. It just feels so *insert salutary adjective here*. Ride ends: Oh wow, what a great bike.
  • 2 9
flag utley06 (Dec 4, 2019 at 16:11) (Below Threshold)
 @WasatchEnduro: I’m from Ogden dumbshit.. I had to move away from you inbred insane brainwashed bastards
  • 1 0
 @Squamishboz: I have the sniper pro xc but swapped the 100mm fox factory forks for the 120s. It's really good down and up. The rear triangle wiggles around which is fine for the most part. It only in tech climbs that it bugs me. The rear will bend if you turn and apply power up hill (rocks, roots...) and you lose alot of accuracy in clearing this stuff compared to a stiffer bike. Other than that, it's awesome
  • 4 0
 I would add that the Pivot 429 Trail is another short travel, fun geometry beast for people to consider in this category.
  • 3 0
 @WasatchEnduro: your YouTube buddy loved his trip to Arkansas. It’s not the first place you’d think of but it’s the real deal over there.
  • 1 0
 you did 2 laps of that loop?? oi, i'm exhausted just reading that. one up and down of Maple is plenty of riding for me (and most mortals)
  • 3 3
 Came down to Ripley and Tallboy and I bought a Tallboy. It’s honestly one of the most fun bikes I’ve owned. Climbs great. Feels like a sharper (and less plush) Megatower on the way down. Subjectively it’s more fun than the Megatower too. I have a 36 and burly tires on it. It weighs at least two pounds more than a similar Ripley but I have no regrets.

Ripley is a great bike too. Ibis plays games with dealers and has awful supply chain management. I was able to walk in to a shop, place and order and walk out with a Tallboy in less then a week. Ibis told me I had to wait until December. Or maybe January.

That said, I’m done with Santa Cruz now that the eBronson is coming and wish I waited for the Ripley.
  • 1 0
 @wibblywobbly: Where'd you see rumors of eBronson??
  • 1 0
 @High-Life: every time it gets posted someplace it mysteriously gets pulled down. The surest sign its true!
  • 1 0
 I just got a ripmo, it’s amazing. @MarcusBrody:
  • 1 0
 @MarcusBrody: last year they gave the Bronson a first look, a review, and had it in the field test.
  • 2 0
 @MarcusBrody: I owned the new Ripley for six months and switched to a Ripmo. It isn’t quite as snappy, and I wouldn’t call the Ripmo a “down country” or XC bike. But the Ripmo climbs almost as good, with better traction in technicolor bits. It’s also really fun on all but the most tame trails and I like it way better. The Ripley was great and a little bit lighter and super poppy, but my large Ripmo is running 29.5 lbs and climbs really well. I can also take it to the bike park. If you are leaning towards one or the other unless you only do XC with “trail” riding sometimes go Ripmo. Otherwise demo if you can.
  • 1 0
 @wibblywobbly: lol you won't be riding at all pretty soon.
  • 1 0
 @Yetimike2019: Thanks! I wonder how the Tallboy climbs vs the Ripmo. People seem to describe them pretty similarly when compared to the Ripley.
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: lol same!
  • 3 0
 @reverend27: I fully plan to be the 2021 version of the angry guy riding a 1996 rigid single speed in 2012. And in 2023 when this sport totally destroys itself trying to appeal to out of shape American’s I’ll say I told you so.

By that point I’ll be a Sierra Club member donating my money to block all bike access.
  • 2 0
 @santacruz @wibblywobbly: When/if eBronson comes out, my 20-year tradition of buying a top of the line SC every two seasons will end.
  • 101 5
 As much as I like the whole downcountry idea this is getting silly. This bike and others ( GG) are trail bikes through and through. An over forked Blur or Spesh Epic Evo are downcountry bikes...full XC bikes modified to be a little more capable on the downs.

Also you can't say it isn't a good climber when you post your best/ near best times on it. Surely it just has a different feel?
  • 3 0
 Well said.
  • 13 1
 Well, I'd bet that the times are nowhere near repeatable enough to be useful. Try doing 3 runs on each bike, back to back, and I think the variation will be substantial
  • 4 0
 @gariel22: Well yah because 8min interval efforts are hard.
  • 3 0
 For sure. Having ridden the tallboy I'd say that it's an incredible climber and definitely has no need for the climb switch
  • 6 1
 I agree it's silly comparing the Tallboy to the Trek Top Fuel, when in a recent test they said the Tallboy was better DH than the Fuel EX, which is a category up from the Top Fuel. Category lines are being blurred though as bikes are so capable. I mean Matt Jones just got a Marin Rift Zone 125mm and is sending 15+ft drops and jumps!
  • 2 0
 True, but downcountry is a funny nickname. I enjoy the humor of it.
  • 92 13
 What % of people are actually clicking these articles just to see if the bike broke?
  • 8 106
flag monkeybizz (Dec 4, 2019 at 7:11) (Below Threshold)
 I mean it's almost a marquee characteristic of Santa Cruz at this point!
  • 63 3
 @monkeybizz: since when do santa cruz break? What are people on the internet smoking
  • 27 3
 @monkeybizz: That they have great quality, lifetime warranties and don't break? I can agree with that.
  • 27 3
 @monkeybizz: what are you talking about, sc was never regarded as a breaking bike
  • 9 0
 I hope we actually get a true no-punches-pulled review of the bike that broke.
  • 3 3
 Was it the yeti? They did put out a big PR post a week or so ago
  • 8 0
 There are no broken bikes in the current category.
  • 8 5
 @kmg0: he's referring to how pinkbike said before the field test was released that two bikes broke during testing. We already saw the Pole bike break, so there's another one out there. I don't think it was a dig on Santa Cruz.
  • 1 0
 Wasn't thinking that
  • 2 1
 Bikes unfortunately break. I'm not the gnarliest rider and I've broken two bike frames, both at the chainstay. I've seen quite a few bikes of different brands crack at the chainstay. My good buddy just broke his Transition Patrol at the chainstay just the other day. I think that with stiff wheels, and stiff rear ends on the bikes, when the bike lands a bit sideways a lot of twisting force is loaded onto the stays and they crack. Maybe it's bad welds getting through the qc process? Not sure, but it seems to be an issue.
  • 10 0
 @paulwatt: Judging by your last name, I think I know what's causing you to break chainstays.
  • 6 0
 @Tmackstab: I don't get it, watt is it that's breaking his chainstays...
  • 4 0
 @kmg0: he saw that one clip of minnar smoking a tree and assumed all SC break like that under regular riders
  • 1 0
 @dreamlink87: what PR post? You think yeti would have learned from the hell they created with the SB6 frame conundrum...
  • 1 0
 @paulwatt: Was the patrol aluminum or carbon?
  • 65 1
 I know the term "downcountry" has been beaten to death, but wasn't downcountry meant to be a lightweight XC bike that has trail/am geo that can blast downhill due to its geo? Or does downcountry just mean trail now?
  • 16 0
 I also thought a "downcountry" bike was rather (race) xc bike on steroids than a mini trail bike.... Also remarkable that pinkbike tested it against the Trek fuel ex a few weeks ago, and now against the Trek Top fuel.
  • 16 0
 I dont think anybody knows for sure....
  • 10 0
 I think they are trying to designate Down Country as the space between true XC (70 degree HA) and bigger trail (but not enduro) bikes.
  • 6 2
 I didn't think anybody cared!
  • 43 0
 Downcountry... Thanks, ̶O̶b̶a̶m̶a̶ @mikelevy
  • 3 0
 @Shafferd912: new standards will tell us the truth.
  • 26 0
 IMHO this and the GG are trail bikes. They have similar rear travel to the Optic.

For me DC bikes are XC bikes with ~100mm rear travel and maybe a 120mm fork and should climb like a scalded goat on amphetamines.
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: Yeah. They are.
  • 4 0
 @fartymarty:

and both this and GG look ready for a 140 fork.
  • 3 0
 its a dumb term similar to when MBA started making up names like "black diamond" bikes..... marketing nonsense claptrap.
  • 59 0
 Anybody else live farther from mountains and want to know how these things ride on flats and mildly undulating trails? AKA the portion of the trail where you want to carry some speed but are pedaling to do so? This element is almost always overlooked in all these BC-based reviews and I get it for enduro bikes, and to a lesser extent, maybe trail bikes. But playful xc bikes meant for those of us that don't race? It'd really helpful if reviewers everywhere (not just PB) touched on the type of riding that makes up a majority of my kms each year.
  • 20 0
 Praise your words. Greetings from the Netherlands, where the next bike park is faaaar away.
  • 20 4
 You're right, there isn't a lot of flat or mildly undulating terrain in the mountains. We'll keep that in mind for future tests. That being said, a lot of the characteristics of how a bike climbs will carry over to how it rides on the flats.
  • 2 1
 I'd expect all these bikes (not labeled enduro) to perform pretty much the same on "mildly undulating pedaly trails". If the trail has no obstacles to engage the suspension and you're at speed with a mild high gear cadence, you aren't adding a lot of suspension force either. If one bike is the best on techy punchy climbs but can still handle a bit of rowdiness and another lets you bomb down but sometimes needs the shock lockout going up, then both of them have a huge overlap of capability in the middle. Lucky for us, bikes are so good these days that the differences only show up at the margins.
  • 5 0
 @sarahmoore:
I'm still not sure what steep seat angles mean for riding on flatter terrain. If they were really great I would assume that roadies would have them.
  • 4 0
 @elmaar:
Steep seat on flat terrain means that you have a lot of weight on your hands. Can get a setback seatpost and/or move the saddle way back on the rails to compensate for this though.
  • 4 0
 I've been thinking the same thing. I find these reviews don't mean much for my local trails. Most harder climbs in my area mean getting out of the saddle to get up steep climbs/switchbacks, so all the steep seat angle talk kinda goes out the window there and means a bike with active suspension can kinda make you hate your life. Not a lot of space to open up and get real speed, either, so the move to somewhat longer chainstays is less appealing to me too. The only reason I ride a full sus on my local clay based valley trails are for jumps with bad landings.
  • 7 0
 Ummm, these are "mountain bikes", no mountains, just flats and mildly undulating terrain, seems like you can ride just about anything. I'd just go with an XC bike that has a little more pregressive geo, so slack HTA, steep STA, 120mm travel vs 100mm, keep it light, but built for fun. Some folks really like the shorter travel XC bikes like the SB 100.
  • 20 0
 What you are talking about is called fly over country. Literally no one lives there. We all live within 100 miles from the coast and have 4,000ft mountains in pedalling distance. All trails are dh only and accessed via fire roads.
  • 3 4
 @Chris97a: Hey Chris, that's not how it works. Cockpit set up determines how much weight is on your hands: bar to seat height difference, reach/ETT, seat angle
Steeper seat tube angles don't necessarilly move the rider further forward.
It's math
  • 5 0
 @vapidoscar: LMAO!! Wink
  • 2 1
 @nurseben: Nah, we still have some more technical gravity trails here in fly-over country (shout out to @vapidoscar), there's just a bit more riding required to link them up. Plus a lot of those link-up trails are quite technical and are much more fun with a bit less of a race-oriented bike.
  • 3 7
flag thegoodflow (Dec 4, 2019 at 10:46) (Below Threshold)
 @big-red: If you're riding offroad, then of course there will be some "technicality" on your trails, but if you are making a comparison to actual mountainous regions, then no you absolutely do not have "more technical gravity trails" in your fly-over country. There's absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the milder terrain where you live, but when people on these forums from places like florida and the midwest go on about how technical their short ups and downs are, it makes it pretty obvious that they've never ridden anywhere with actual technical terrain. You're kidding yourself.
  • 1 0
 @thegoodflow: Ugh my grammar was ugly in my previous comment. I meant more technical than just simple smooth single track, not more technical than the big stuff. That being said, I definitely have access to some trails where I am that, though they may not be nearly as long, are just as technical as some of the stuff I've ridden out west (yes, I'm familiar with some of the finer trails BC has to offer). The biggest difference is that I'm not going to cook my brakes or shocks before I run out of trail. Plus, a bit of a burlier bike is nice for the occasional trip out west or to Quebec. Not as burly as I'd have if I lived in one of those places, but burly enough to keep me out of trouble while I visit.
  • 2 0
 @big-red: gotcha, I misunderstood.
  • 1 1
 @nurseben:
True to some degree. I almost added that a shorter stem would needed to be used in conjunction with moving the seat back, but I felt that would be pretty obvious.

Your statement ignores that the rider will be pedaling and therefore applying force up and back. I find that fore and aft seat position depends on weight, fitness, body shape and terrain ridden. In the case of a very out of shape person(little power in their legs) that is quite heavy, you need to move the saddle back, especially if they ride flatter terrain. You should also likely move the handlebar back as well. As a person makes more power or starts tackling steeper terrain the seat can be moved forward, with likely another handlebar adjustment, perhaps a longer stem, but perhaps moving some headset spacers from below to above the stem
  • 8 1
 @thegoodflow:

Sick flex dude. One could ask if you’ve done much riding in other areas yourself, because congratulations on being wrong.

Trail technicality has a lot more to do with the geology of the terrain then the topography. For instance there are trails not far from where I live, that are basically piles of basketball-sized limestone boulders. Shit is challenging to hike, let alone ride a bike over.

I’ve done some riding out west, including the trails this article was based on, and yeah things can get technical, but to say it’s the only place with challenging trails, is categorically false.

Sure there are lots of flat ‘through the forest’ trails east of the Rockies, but then again their are lots of popular smooth flow trails in BC that people consider themselves gods for riding.
  • 5 0
 @elmaar: Slacker seat tube angles and lower front ends are what you should see on a bike built for undulating terrain. The steeper ST angle really comes into play when things get steep. If you look at the lineup of Norco's bikes (easy example for since its what I ride) you'll see that the ST angles get steeper as the amount of travel goes up. The cockpit length of the Revolver XC 120mm bike is quite a bit longer than the cockpit of the Sight160mm bike (Revolver and Sight- the bikes I have at home). The steep ST of the Sight isn't a death sentence on flatter terrain, but it doesn't feel as good as the Revolver. Climbing long steep single track is much less demanding on the Sight as the bike has so much grip and there is more weight on the front. The Revolver shoots up climbs like a rocket, but is a bit harder to keep on line.
  • 1 2
 @alreadyupsidedown: That's a pretty nice "flex" of your own. For what it's worth, I'm not a fan of flow trails, nor would I call a flow trail in BC, or anywhere else for that matter, "technical". "Basketball-sized limestone" rocks aren't "boulders", and the trail that you're describing kinda just sounds like a shitty hiking trail that isn't that much fun on a bike, but I could be wrong.

At no point did I say that the only trails that are technical are located west of the Rockies. I've done the majority of my riding in WV and WNC, and I would call some of those trails very technical, far more so than some of the fairly smooth yet steep trails that I've ridden in the Cascade mountains of Washington State, for example.

BTW, I've been to Hamilton Ontario before, although I didn't ride bikes while I was there. It's flat as a pancake, and it didn't really strike me as a place that would have technical trails, or really be that much fun to ride at all for that matter, but I guess I'm just talking out of my ass and making assumptions since I didn't ride there. I'll have to go back there one day to see what all this technical trail hype is about.
  • 2 2
 @alreadyupsidedown: Also, you kinda just made my point for me....it's totally cool if you live in the flatlands and enjoy the riding there, but when you defensively boast about how technical the riding is on these forums, you're exactly the type of person that I was talking about.
  • 1 2
 @thegoodflow @alreadyupsidedown:

I grew up in Oakville, with lots of riding in the area including Collingwood, Waterdown, and Kelso. I now live in Fernie, BC and ride 3-4 times a week. Thegoodflow, you're an idiot. Alreadyupsidedown, sounds like you're describing trails in Kolapore, which are super fun to ride.

Also, a boulder is generally considered to be above 10.1", which is pretty damn close to a basketball.
  • 3 3
 @michaelasnider: An idiot? Ouch. I guess I struck a nerve with the eastern Ontario crew, but my intention really wasn't to dis your local trails, sorry if you took it that way.

Since we're already regurgitating google results in order to win internet arguments and be pedantic douschebags, then I'll have you know that "a standard NBA basketball has a diameter between 9.43 and 9.51 inches", which is not over 10.1", and therefor rock sized and not boulder sized.
  • 1 2
 @thegoodflow: Ha no, you're an idiot if you think that "fly-over areas" somehow don't have technical or challenging riding. It's just not as sustained. There is stuff that in Ontario, New York, Quebec, and Nova Scotia that I know of that is as tough as anything I've ridden out west.

And yes, I'm aware of the size of a basketball, which is why I said "pretty damn close". I don't think anyone is going out to the trails to make sure the rocks are 0.61" larger than a basketball so they can call them boulders. And I mean, if you want to be pedantic, rock is the material, it does not have anything to do with the size.
  • 4 0
 @thegoodflow: i love you guys...
  • 5 0
 @elmaar:

Elmer -> it's a faux pas to be drawing any conclusions about mtb geo from road bikes. c'mon we already done did that in the 80s and 90s and the geo sucked.
  • 2 1
 @michaelasnider: Yes, I definitely want to be pedantic, so thanks for correcting me. Next time I'll be sure to refer to the basketball sized limestone rocks on your flyover trails as "cobbles". Thanks.
  • 1 0
 @Urwho: Love you too buddy.
  • 1 0
 Amen, brother!
  • 2 1
 @WheelNut: i see where you are coming from with steep STA’s but couldn’t disagree more - on the flatter country front. Agree that the steep STA is helpful in steeper climbing. But if you live in flatter terrain, the ideal setup is still maintaining the steep STA, but increasing stack and or bar height to lift your torso.

But wait! Doesn’t that take away front grip and make it wander? Not if you have a rear center that is reasonably proportioned. These super-short 430 CS’s are disappearing (thankfully) and being replaced with more balanced numbers.

I can definitely say after riding a bike with a 79* STA and longer rear center for a season on just about every terrain you can find, that the steep STA simply puts you in a better power position regardless of grade. It’s up to you to decide what kind grip height you need for your terrain, front loading and comfort. If you know motorcycles, think supermoto vs sportbike for positioning. More upright and more power, no hand issues at all. IMO slack seat tube angles should be reserved for beach cruisers and recumbents!
  • 1 1
 What things and what do you want to do? I ride in Edmonton and BC alot. In either place ( and there is alot of variation in trails in either location) I will always choose a stiff longer travel, slacker bike for pure fun (drops, jumps, obstacles...pure comfort) but my intense sniper always for speed. Never for anything else.
  • 2 2
 Just want to add that the xc intense sniper may be considered a down country bike. I like mine alot for speed in any terrain but less for pure smiles.
  • 1 1
 bigger bikes have no problem on flat boring trails, so a 29-er with 130/120 travel will surely be just fine... It's also something that you can't exactly compare - like on a scale of 0 to 10, how boring the trail was on this bike vs on the previous one. Anything below big travel enduro bikes will be fine.
  • 2 0
 I assume you're refering to Christie lake? haha
  • 3 1
 @thegoodflow: you've clearly never heard of the Canadian shield. Try one trail and everyone will be laughing at you dabbing the whole time.
  • 1 4
 @atrokz: No, I haven't heard of the Canadian Shield, but now I definitely never want to go there if it's so super techy that everyone will laugh at me when I dab. I don't know how I managed to trigger all you Ontario folks... I made a comment about people overstating the technicality of Florida and Midwest US trails, and then all you dorks come out of the woodwork to get defensive about how technical the trails in ontario are. Wtf? I'm glad your local trails are challenging for you. Nobody cares
  • 2 1
 Exactly. I've said this multiple times during the tests. If these were tested on trails that are fun but you have to pedal for your speed they would have picked differently.
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: trail bikes.
  • 2 1
 @thegoodflow: lol pretty sure he did have to Google the size of a basketball.
That was you.
And trail in flat land can still be challenging just shorter ups and downs and you have to pedal for speed to keep the fun going.
  • 2 2
 @reverend27: ok, we get it already. You're flatland trails are sometimes super technical and challenging. Who are you trying to convince? Nobody cares
  • 1 3
 @thegoodflow: about you. It seems nobody care for what you have to share not the other way around.
  • 1 1
 @reverend27: yeah ok bud
  • 1 2
 @thegoodflow: no. you responded to a canadian who lives on the shield and spouted some nonsense about technical trails and how cool you are. well, you ain't shit and you don't know shit about geography. and you ain't cool.
  • 1 1
 @atrokz: ok, you're cool and I'm not, thanks for the feedback
  • 4 0
 @thegoodflow: This thread is super cool.
  • 1 1
 @thegoodflow: I never said I was cool but thanks for implying it. cheers.
  • 1 0
 no
  • 36 0
 Jill of all trades perhaps?
  • 14 8
 Jesus man, have a little bit of class. This is a family forum.
  • 37 2
 The trail pistol, while heavier, has the same drive train and better suspension spec and is $2300 less.
  • 13 0
 Made in the US too.
  • 14 8
 That's because Santa Cruz/Jop are WAY over priced! And that's why I'll never buy one.
  • 1 7
flag freeridejerk888 (Dec 4, 2019 at 11:41) (Below Threshold)
 This bike may be but the v10 is very experience and VERY good @mybaben:
  • 6 0
 @freeridejerk888: I'm sure it is, but I don't care about DH bikes. I don't live next to a ski lift...
  • 20 0
 Just out of curiosity I compared specs on the gg and sc website.
just to dream I compared the tallboy xtr reserve and the TP race upgraded to full xtr brakes/drivetrain. Both running pike ultimate 130. tallboy with a dps, while i upgraded TP to a dpx2. tallboy oddly runs an e13 crank with the xtr, TP is full xtr, and tallboy has a reverb (150?), tp a bikeyoke 160 (better i think). Tallboy is on reserve wheels with hydra hubs, which is sick, and TP on the dt xmc 1200 i30, nice, but not quite as nice.

drum roll please....

Tallboy xtr reserve at $9799, youch! and 27.55 lb claimed.
TP race xtr at $6720, and 27.7 lb. with some better stuff, except the wheels.

comparing more middle price point bikes tallboy s kit and TP ride 1. For the TP i upgraded parts (because why not) to keep the pike ultimate 130, bikeyoke 160, and dpx2, because they're all reliable and great.

Both run gx eagle, tallboy with a fox 34 Perf elite, and dps. It also gets guide r brakes, stylo cranks and dt 370 hubs on race face AR rims. TP has G2 brakes, descendant carbon cranks, and dt xm1501 wheels.

drum roll once again...

Tallboy s kit at $4999 and 29.66 lb.
TP at $5020 and 28.40 lb.
  • 15 0
 @Planetx888: hang on did you just make a reasonable, data based and like for like comparison?

Get the hell off of Pinkbike with that nonsense!
  • 8 2
 Only thing your missing is the customer service you also purchase (weather you want it or not) when buying a Santa Cruz. If something brakes or isn’t right your on a new frame or part withen days not weeks or months. That’s worth a big price increase to me @Planetx888:
  • 4 0
 @Planetx888: Thanks for crunching all those numbers! I'm curious how that all stacks up given that the TB CC frame is over a pound..

Edit: Nope, not any more. New Tallboy frame is 3.1kg from what I can find from a review online, which is 400g heavier than the previous version (and gains 10mm of travel). So at 6.8lbs for the medium CC frame(!), the new TB is also a stout beast. Thanks for making this comparison, because knowing I can get a Trail Pistol to the neighborhood of 28lbs without selling a kidney just put this bike solidly in the top spot for my next rig
  • 1 0
 @freeridejerk888: FWIW, GG has customer service on par with anybody else in the industry. Your experience should be the just as good if you have a problem with either a Santa Cruz or a GG, both companies seem to go out of their way to make sure customers are taken care of as well as possible, as fast as possible. Luckily crappy customer service is becoming harder and harder to find in the bike industry, it still exists, but not like it did a decade ago.
  • 1 0
 More of what I meant is will GG overnight a frame or wheels if they brake? I’m not sure they have the cash flow for that. Also I haven’t ever seen a shop that’s sell GG outside of Colorado. @maxyedor:
  • 34 0
 How about a proper shootout between the Field Test trail bikes: Optic, Tallboy/Joplin, and Trail Pistol?
  • 17 0
 100% agree. These are trail bikes.
  • 3 9
flag High-Life (Dec 4, 2019 at 8:07) (Below Threshold)
 And SB100 (no I don't own one)
  • 4 11
flag laksboy (Dec 4, 2019 at 8:29) (Below Threshold)
 @High-Life: I just bought a SB100 and it's definitely DowncountryAF with a 2.5 Assegai up front, stock 2.3 DHF moved to the rear, and Cushcore front and rear. Oh yeah, and a Wolftooth B-RAD double water bottle mod.
Not a true trailbike, but capable everywhere.
  • 9 1
 @laksboy: that's a pretty stupid setup. And im 1000% sure it's not capable everywhere
  • 1 1
 @me2menow: thanks for your kind words. It rides everything on the Ridge in SLO just fine. I might even finesse it down Tower sometime.
  • 5 0
 @laksboy: Perhaps I was harsh, it just seems like you're cheating yourself on efficiency and capability. What does it weigh in at?
  • 1 0
 @me2menow:I have no idea. Probably low 27s. Being able to go on a 2hr ride and ride nothing on my back or around my hips is pretty great. Only time will tell if it can handle the long term abuse of the Ridge. But that's what lifetime warranties are for and I plan to hand it off to my son in 2 years anyways. Hopefully by then this whole DC/Trail thing will be optimized.
  • 2 1
 @laksboy: I hear the ripley strikes a pretty good balance. Might be worth looking at
  • 1 0
 @me2menow: I'm only 3 weeks into the new rig. Gen 5 Ripley or an SB115/120, tallboy, etc will certainly be on my shortlist in 2022.
  • 21 1
 Three field test videos in one week ... and it's only Wednesday. Must be the downcountry category.
  • 26 3
 Trail bikes you mean? lol
  • 2 0
 @monkeybizz: That's UPduro not DOWNcountry. Wink
  • 2 0
 @vikb: Nope, updurro is when you short fork an Enduro bike = Pole Stamina
  • 15 0
 Both this and the GG are just trail bikes.. Last winter I was honestly trying to decide between these and Trek Fuel Ex's. I mean I like that the GG is getting a spot but you could've added two more bikes and had a actual XC review section and an actual trail bikes section instead of trying to compare 'non boundary conforming' down-country bikes. Realistically no buyer was actually gonna debate with their dollars between a Trek Top Fuel to a Guerrilla Gravity, it's a totally different mindset and rider type. I would smash on a GG in most Enduro races at the given spec, and likewise I'd only XC race a Top Fuel and spec it to be lightest and fastest possible XC race machine.
  • 19 1
 Cons Joplin - resale value
  • 8 1
 My fiance gets Santa Cruz bikes instead of Juliana for this reason. That and she prefers the colors and tunes on the Santa Cruz bikes.
  • 3 0
 @gnarnaimo: That is the correct way to do it.
  • 6 1
 @gnarnaimo: Until lately I would agree with the color choice. Santa Cruz used to have some of the best looking colors but not so much for 2020. What happened to having a dark matte color as one of the choices, specifically black?
  • 4 0
 @gnarnaimo: I always wish I could go the other way. I'm on a Santa Cruz, but I'd love to take advantage of lower resale on the Julianas (and I often like their colors) even though I'm a guy. Unfortunately, I ride and XL Santa Cruz, but Juliana's dont' offer it.
  • 4 6
 Disagree. Women specific thing really sells.
  • 4 1
 It would be better to have optional builds that included women's saddles, lighter suspension tunes, narrower bars, etc., than a completely separate brand.
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: Or better yet, just offer a choice of 2 or 3 saddles and bars in general. Especially large brands who also produce/sell multiple saddle and bar models should be able to do it. As it is now, if the bike shop is not willing to do the swap on their own account for me those are almost always throwaways.

Oh, and then there's some direct sale brands that do offer configuration but for example all 3 saddle options are so similar in width and shape that it defeats the point. Looking at you Propain bikes.
  • 3 2
 @ReformedRoadie: please their marketing department knows that what women really want are shiny new colours that identify them as being female.
  • 4 2
 I love lightly used women's sports equipment. It's cheap and very, very lightly used.
  • 1 0
 @MikeyMT: tell that to Yeti! ????

My wife rides a Juliana but marketing/colorway/ etc had little to do with the decision.
  • 11 0
 If it's not amazing at climbing , why would you choose this over the Hightower or would you?
  • 3 0
 If you live somewhere with tame terrain...
  • 3 0
 @thegoodflow: Then wouldn't a Blur TR or similar upforked XC frame be the answer?
  • 4 0
 @mtbgeartech: That's a good point, it might be. But, I was just offering one possible response as to why someone would choose the tallboy over a hightower. And, the tallboy is probably still a better choice than the blur for a lot of people that have milder terrain, if they aren't focused on xc racing or regularly doing epic rides, as it would offer more versatility when they occasionally travel to areas that push their limits a bit, while still offering a pretty efficient ride the rest of the time.

I've never ridden the new one so I can't say for sure, but reading between the lines, i would guess that this bike is still a pretty good climber in the grand scheme of things. The problem seems to be that they have shoehorned this bike and the trail pistol into the same silly "downcountry" category as the xc bikes, and are drawing comparisons to bikes that should be in another category. Of course this bike and the trail pistol seem like not-so-amazing climbers when you are comparing them to other bikes that are essentially 100mm xc race bikes with 120mm forks and trail tires. If you compare them to other well rounded trail bikes, I'm sure they climb well enough for what they are.
  • 2 0
 @thegoodflow: Very good points!
  • 13 2
 Pros: didn't break.
  • 9 0
 I’m a jack of all trades too, and also a master of none of them. This bike is for me.
  • 8 0
 I'm just a master of none
  • 9 1
 Finna just get the Juliana on sale post season. Way cheaper than a regular SC and it's the same thing. I'll ride a girl's bike idc
  • 2 0
 Yeah, I remember noticing that once. Seems handlebar/grips/saddle are the only real differences.
  • 3 5
 And then you can use the girl's restroom too.
  • 10 0
 Exactly what I did. Put some blue tape over it so now I ride a 'Julian.' Get's a few laughs on the trail.
  • 2 3
 @JohanG: Don't assume my gender
  • 3 1
 @stumphumper92: I can only assume you hump stumps and were born in 92?
  • 2 4
 @stumphumper92: Hey, you're the one who sits down to pee.
  • 4 0
 @JohanG: Y'all realize it is literally the same as a SC except with a Juliana logo on it...... I will gladly pay 2k less for the same exact bike. If it bothers you that much then cover it with a sticker
  • 6 0
 What an incredible photos! Compliments for the photographer. I like the color of the Juliana. I might have chosen for the 2020 TB if this had been available, tather than the eggplant and frog-colored TB's. Instead I just ordered the tan Hightower! Looking forward to this!
  • 2 0
 Thanks again @trevorlyden!
  • 6 0
 I've had the Ibis Ripley, Ripmo, Yeti's etc.. I have the SC TB4 right now and all I want to say is I disagree with almost everything they said.. This is the best trail bike I've ever ridden. The Ripley may climb better but that's one aspect of the deal. Carbon wheels and lighter weight tires (Dissector up front, Minion SS in the rear) make this bike insane. Only thing if you're over 200lbs.. Get the Pike or Fox 36.. and put your rear hanger adjustment to the back/long and chip in low.. you'll thank me later.
  • 2 0
 At this point, one of my favorite things to do is read reviews of products I've already tried or own, just to see how much I usually disagree... I try to remember that fact when reading reviews of stuff I have NOT tried yet. I think expectations, realistic or otherwise, tend to influence the conclusions of reviews at least as much as actual performance.
  • 6 2
 I have to say - the way these tests are set up -same tires - same courses - same riders really lends itself to what I consider fair reviews.

The new SC bikes seem to have given away some of their climbing ability to go down hill better. The new "slack triathlon" geometry makes them great on the steeps either way BUT not on most everything else including long steady tech climbs. That is also my impressions of the old and new Hightowers. The fact that you can actually get a real bottle into the frame is huge for me. As with the old Hightower - shock and pivot placement is a trail crud collector.

I demo'd a new hightower and was able to do a bunch of double diamond stuff I had never done before. Then of course went back the next day and did them on the old Hightower.....
  • 4 0
 Sarah, where’s Levy? I noticed you’re doing all the Downcountry stuff. Is he in hiding because he pushed the use of this term? Tell him we’re on to him . We want a full confession and reversal of this trend. Even my Primer is confused as to where it fits in. Otherwise, thank you for these excellent tests.
  • 4 0
 My second time asking this, but for @mikekazimer and @mikelevy who have ridden both, how would you say the Norco Optic and the Tallboy compare? Geometry wise they're almost identical if I remember correctly, so I'd be curious to know how much different suspension layouts and shocks affect the overall ride feel?
  • 6 0
 So is this a rockcountry bike or a crossroll bike? We may need a new category for this...
  • 6 0
 I think it's an upduro bike. Maybe not aroundhill enough for some....
  • 3 0
 "They launched the second generation in 2016, so depending on how you look at it, this is either the third generation of the short-travel 29er to hit the trails, or the fourth."

SC may have officially dropped the number after the name, but the previous iteration was TB3, so this is absolutely the 4th gen.
  • 6 0
 @sarahmoore Did you try both chainstay settings? If so, what were your thoughts on it?
  • 3 0
 Please PB dont release another review tomorrow …..said nobody ever.....

That plus checking my email every 30 minutes to make sure I haven't missed the email to tell me I won an advent prize....maybe I should check again now...Nope, fingers crossed....Is chewing up way to much of my free time.

Another great review.
  • 3 0
 For the climbing sections of the test did you guys consider adding a powermeter to each bike? As without any power input data the climbing times are a little arbitrary. Fatigue, time of day, what you'd eaten beforehand etc are all likely to cause larger swings in climbing times than any bike would, I would guess.
Love the format otherwise though!
  • 2 0
 @iamwarwick - data? Genius!
  • 5 0
 I thought VPP bikes were supposed to be amazing pedalling bikes. I really don't understand anything about suspension.
  • 3 0
 "amazing" is subjective. I like the feel of VPP, but not everyone wants the same thing out of their bike.
  • 6 0
 @hardtailparty: I basically just want a hardtail that hurts less, haha
  • 1 0
 They typically did have higher AS before they went to lower link actuation. However, the LR was all over the place and it’s much improved now.
  • 9 0
 It's not about the suspension type, it's how the type is configured. You could, for example, have a VPP with -50% anti-squat or 200% anti-squat ... and you could do exactly the same with a Horst, dw, single-pivot, etc. It's like saying a particular brand of shoes is good for running fast: sure, if it's a well-designed running shoe from that brand, but that brand probably also makes flip-flops.

It's all about the numbers and the shock tune, not the suspension type.
  • 1 0
 with a vpp (and a horst link which also has a virtual pivot) you can do pretty much every kinematic you want. Usually pedallingperformance comes at the price of worse suspensionperformance.However a vpp allows you to have good pedalling performance at the start of the travel and still better suspensionperformance later on, but it still comes down to the overall balance the designer aimed for. for instance i have got a propain tyee which has a similar suspensionlayout to the sc ( counterrotating links). it is the worst pedalling bike i have owned in a long time but it has also got the best suspension i have ever had. the reason is simple, it was intentionally designed that way (at least if you are in the bigger gears).
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: Partially correct. Santa Cruz has increased the pedaling anti-squat over the last couple generations. It's true their motion ratios were a mess in the past, but now they're pretty typical - and far better for it.
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: Thanks for the info guys! Actually quite informative. I've been on a hardtail most of my MTB life and have not really focused to much on the characteristics of suspension, to be honest. I also have never felt that i'm that sensitive to suspension differences. Tires & rims and angles I notice, but different damping and kinematics kinda get lost on me when I'm riding unless they have standout characteristics.
  • 2 1
 @jesse-effing-edwards: Suspension designs are converging on optimal configurations - i.e. it's no longer the Wild West of suspension designs. Most are well sorted, so the range of configurations has become narrower; this may be why you don't notice much difference.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: Also helps that we're all using 1x, and our chain rings have sort of standardized to 30-34T. Hell of a lot easier to dial in suspension performance when you don't have to account for two different chain ring sizes for climbing vs. descending.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: Yeah your right. I had no idea they had increased it, although at sag it’s pretty much a wash and the newer bikes fall off rapidly after sag.
  • 1 0
 What @hardtailparty et all said, plus a little bit of brand worship. there was a time period(still is for some people) where people said VPP were the best pedaling bikes because those people really liked Santa Cruz bikes.
  • 2 0
 Does it really matter which category (silly or not) a particular bike happens to fall into?
When I bought my Slash it was definately an enduro bike. Is it now? Or is it now considered a long legged trail bike?
Who really gives a flying f$ck. I don't. I liked riding it the first day I got it and I like riding it now.
I will also like riding the next bike I get.
Point is, we all know (those who read PB anyway) the geometry and travel that we like to ride. Whatever new marketing category a bike that fits the bill falls into doesn't mean two sh!its.

Get a bike that rides well for you and your style, quit complaining and go have fun!!!
  • 3 1
 The one thing these huck to flat videos is proving is Fox forks are flexy AF! I replaced a fox 36 with a Pike ultimate and it is easily just a stiff as a 36. Maybe more so, and I am 185lbs.
  • 2 0
 If Fox is so flexy, how is “just as stiff as a 36” a good thing?
  • 2 0
 @DrPete: Because the Rockshox Pike is a half pound lighter than the "burly" 36 and still just as stiff. My comment was mostly directed at that SUPER flexy 34. Maybe watch the huck to flat segment to see what I am talking about.
  • 1 0
 I know there’s all this consternation about the “Downcountry” name, but whatever you call the trend toward shorter travel bikes that can still huck to flat and survive, I think people are realizing that riding most normal trails on a coiled-out 170mm enduro bike is actually kind of boring, and “Downcountry” probably bears a stronger resemblance to most people’s riding than a EWS stage.
  • 1 0
 I like that they made the distinction between if you are shopping for a do-it-all bike, or a second bike to complement your long travel bike. I definitely am looking for a sharp edged 2nd bike, not a quiver killer. Kudos James.
  • 2 0
 "jack of all trades, master of none"

How does that work when both had their fastest descent times on it... Surely given it's category/result it would have the descending "mastered"?
  • 1 0
 I'm stepping over to a Tallboy 4 from my very well loved Tallboy 3 that has done everything from 100+ mile adventure races, cross country, cyclocross, and enduro. While my current bike isn't the newest, the "Jack of all trades, master of none..." is supposed to conclude with "...though often times better than a master of one" and rest assured that in a world where bikes can be very niche, it's refreshing to show up blind to a group ride on it and never worry about if it's the right bike for the ride. Outside of double black tech, huge hits, and insanely steep terrain, she'll buck.
  • 8 6
 I think bikes should be gender neutral instead of gender specific, or maybe non-binary which is the new politically correct term.
  • 5 0
 bikes should just come with a free option of women-specific components
  • 4 0
 I think all the sensitivity towards genre lately has me thinking we shouldn't refer to gender almost ever as it's rarely important. The hardest thing is with my kids, as they love to categorize. And pooping. People are not ready to poop together.
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards:
Couldn't agree more. Not sure how I'm going to explain that latest sh!storm to my kids, pun intended.
The only real solution is for all of us to have at least one of every gender of bikes in our garage and on top of our sprinters at any given time.... just incase we change our minds on our way to our own private bathroom
  • 3 0
 @sarahmoore "despite the relatively 65.5° head tube angle."
Might suggest to add a word "slack" in here somewhere Smile
  • 4 0
 You may. I've added now, thank you!
  • 2 0
 Just a note, I don't see anywhere where you specify which frame you use (Alu, C, or CC) I know it's most likely a carbon, but is it C or CC?
  • 1 0
 Its the CC model, it says so on the seat stay in the last picture!
  • 3 0
 Wondering if in the end the 5010 wouldn’t be a better bike than this new Tallboy..
  • 3 0
 same question here
  • 2 0
 One thing I appreciate as a tall rider is the XXL size. Very few bike manufacturers make bikes that fit me well. Thanks SC for making XXL bikes!
  • 2 0
 In my oppinon you have two trail bikes in your down contry field test category! Joplin/Tallboy and trail pistol are realy quite out of place here.
  • 4 1
 Oh! A new Field Test bike review! I'll go let the Mob-Rule know...
  • 7 5
 Everyone having a panic attack over the GG weight controversy, this is lighter and flexed less in the huck to flat test.
  • 1 8
flag jclnv (Dec 4, 2019 at 7:44) (Below Threshold)
 Proper R&D?
  • 5 0
 Really, you got that from the huck to flat videos or from riding the bikes?

What I saw on huck to flat with the Juliana was very similar to what I saw on the Trail Pistol, only on the Juliana the view was obscured by the rider's leg.

I would expect Santa Cruz bikes to be stiff overall, that's been my experience when I rode them, BUT I ride GG Revved bikes and they are plenty stiff laterally

I'm 200#, no lightweight, and not all that graceful; more like a gorilla than a gazelle, and I haven't noticed a lick of flex.

I'd be more interested in how the suspension kinematics compare between the bikes. Sadly, the Juliana and Trail Pistol were both placed in a category they don't fit.
  • 1 1
 @nurseben: No, just in general that bikes are needlessly overbuilt.
  • 2 0
 Still surprisingly heavy. This bike in Medium is less than a pound lighter than my Ripmo in Large (and similar component spec). Makes me wonder what the point is of these "downcountry" bikes.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: Overbuilt? Umm, since it sounds as though two frames failed in this testing I'm thinking underbuilt is a problem. I'd take over built over broken.
  • 3 0
 No mention of limited shock options?
  • 3 1
 20 years ago, I would have guessed 120mm Carbon bikes in 2020 that costed $8k+ would have weighed 4lbs less.
  • 2 2
 Dear Santa Cruz,

Please ditch the Juliana brand and instead just offer more color options and (if it seems necessary) size specific shock tunes on your gender neutral models.

Thanks!
  • 2 1
 This is getting rediculous. 65.5 or 65.7 degree HTA? I can only ride 65.6. There better be some custom linkage that adjusts that.
  • 2 1
 Alright..changed my mind. I would get only the Guerrilla Gravity or the Tallboy/Joplin from this category.
  • 2 1
 Same, if I were to buy a short-travel bike, it would be the tallboy. Not to say I dont like Mondraker though, I would probably sell my Commencal Meta for a foxy/superfoxy.
  • 2 0
 Unless you're an XC only rider, they are the only two bikes in this category that make sence.
  • 2 1
 No Norco Optic?? They seem to be doing very well in reviews...
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: There's a few other good ones out there, just gotta dig past the hype. Trance carbon fully built is similar price as Tallboy & Ripley frame only, for one example.
  • 1 1
 @50percentsure: Yes, but the trance isnt the best bike tho. The suspension linkage was really harsh, and blew through my travel no matter what psi or number of tokens I had in my shock. I have since sold the bike.
  • 3 0
 @Shafferd912: Or maybe: Element, SB100, Epic, Hei Hei, Optic, Sniper, Ryve, Spark, Following, Smuggler, Fuel, Meta TR, etc. Point is there's a long list of other decent down country bikes. Trance just one of many alternatives. Rode one for past 2 weeks while my Reign was down, been impressed enough to go shopping in the category.
  • 2 1
 @50percentsure: Really! Well, good on you. Im not saying these bikes are bad. Only that they are not for me.
  • 6 5
 Yeah, prices start at 2.7k... but the one we tested cost over 8k... cos that's more realistic!!
  • 3 3
 Umm, $2700 is frame only
  • 5 0
 @nurseben: Fully built up A(luminum) is $2700
  • 2 0
 @Gibbsatron: Yeah, I wasn't thinking aluminum, not a bad option, but then it'd be as heavy as the Trail Pistol Wink
  • 2 1
 All builds of the Tallboy are up on the Bikedigger.com site for comparison. We will be adding the Juliana bikes soon.
  • 2 0
 It's nice to read about real cons Wink
  • 1 0
 27% sag is somewhere in between 26% and 28% sag.

on the juliYANNa

how can this be measured confidently in the USA?
  • 2 0
 Seriously though.... Is there anything that James can’t do?
  • 2 0
 Shall I start putting together a list for you? It’s quite, uh, long.
  • 1 1
 Intense just released its new Sniper T looks freaking awesome. Surprised I haven't seen it yet on pinkbike
  • 1 1
 Ummm, the Intense T is the exact same frame as last years Intense Trail. So no, it won’t get any play cuz it’s not new.

Rumor has it they stiffened up the rear end, but at five pounds I’m thinking not so much.

Totally an XC bike, would fit well in this category, but has nothing on the Juliana or Trail Pistol.
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: Umm Umm ummmmmm.....its not exactly the same as the last frame. The rear triangle is totally different. Lesser stories get press and I don't know why they wouldn't mention it..
  • 2 1
 If this was a 26", will definitely get more Pros!
  • 1 1
 So joplin is basically same as tallboy. I wish no tallboy in pinkbike field test.
  • 1 0
 I have one. I like it. Just ride the damn bike
  • 3 4
 Coining terms like down country, black diamond riding, and Enduro make you look weak pinkbike.....
  • 1 1
 8100 and they cant even put on xx1.
  • 4 4
 SC bikes are WAY overpriced. If you say that people start in with the "lifetime warranty, blah, blah, blah". My answer is you pay for that warranty up front, with the high prices! F Santa Cruz.
  • 4 2
 Honestly don't understand why everyone gets angry about price? There are plenty of inexpensive bikes out there, go buy one of those. Not all but most high end mountain bike manufacturers sell their carbon frames for $2700-$3300. Santa Cruz is right on point with all of them. Not always but usually I find deals or use components I have on hand and build with a new frame.

It's all subjective, we each see value in different ways. I know a Santa Cruz, Yeti or Ibis isn't a Ferrari but no one is constantly reading about them and complaining that Ferrari sucks for making things they can't afford.
  • 1 0
 Nah still same as usual.
  • 2 3
 Be glad when this week is done
  • 2 4
 I'm very reluctant to get a bike with that kind of shock placement! Just saying....
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