THE AVERAGE GUY’S AVERAGE BIKE
USED 2013 SANTA CRUZ TALLBOY LTc REVIEW
Words by Ryan Salyer
If you’ve been in this world a while you’ll know that keeping a budget can be tough. When you throw different circumstances into life; marriage, kids, broken bones, graduate school, death, loss of a job, and a global pandemic, budgets can wax and wane…and sometimes implode. When a person views something as a necessity in life, a way of personal expression, exercise, mental health or personal management, or a vital form entertainment, people can, and will, do weird things to scratch that itch and sometimes the budget gets even harder to wrangle.
So here we are, balancing the conundrum of trying to be on the most up-to-date rig you can get your paws on, while trying not to break the bank all while keeping the wife/husband/partner/dog/kids happy while you do. Sometimes we go so far as to even uproot ourselves. This is why we live in places like Oregon, California, Colorado, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, Vermont, and North Carolina: to find the best trails and to have the most fun we possibly can.
Let it be known, ‘budget’ is not synonymous for ‘cheap’. A budget bike is a bike you build up, slowly. It is a labor of love. Just like your dad’s 68’ Chevelle, you add and take away over time. You make it your own, you modernize it where needed, and you leave it stock and beautiful when appropriate. The hardest part is finding a work-horse that you love and can also be upgraded, within reason, over time. Unlike your father’s Chevelle though, you don’t mind when your buds touch your bike.
I was coming out of physical therapy graduate school and was trying to immerse myself in my new home of Bend, Oregon’s riding culture and miles of trails just ten minutes from my home. The trails are endless and I wanted to find a bike that could tackle most of it, knowing that my budget most likely wouldn’t allow for ultimate do-it-all Phil’s Trail to Mt. Bachelor trail bike. Cash was tight at the time having just started my career but I knew I wanted to add mountain biking to my life. I hate to even use the word compromise, but a compromise was made in finding a mostly stock 2013 Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc on Craigslist for $1,650.
The Tallboy LTc originally came with a carbon frame, Fox Float 120 front fork, Fox RP23 in the rear, dual-link VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) suspension, a 3×10 drivetrain, Shimano XT components, Shimano SLX disc brakes, 69.4 degree head tube angle, 29 inch wheels, 2.25” tubeless Maxxis Ardent tires, 142x12mm rear dropout, 100x10mm front hub, with some models coming with a dropper post and ENVE wheels. One can realize why these rigs could go for $5,900 in 2013-2014. The previous owner had added a 125mm KS dropper post as well as a 2014 RockShox Revelation 130mm front fork.
Since I was still in the early phase of my career I didn’t quite feel justified dropping a ton of cash on a new bike, but the explosion of modern bike geometry as well as 1x drivetrains made it clear that it was time to throw some upgrades at the Tallboy. Over the last 2-3 seasons I’ve slowly breathed fresh life into this classic, although I’m finally thinking that I may have reached the peak of this bike’s performance capabilities. Or that’s what I want to tell myself at least.