I jumped the gun yesterday with my post on the Santa Cruz Tallboy… I just couldn’t help myself. I was able to slip down to Vegas for an all-day’r at the 2009 Interbike Outdoor Demo. First flight out of SLC and last flight back yielded 8 hours of riding time in the Nevada desert. It was hot and windy (my eyes still hurt from all the dust), but the trails were in their typical rocky/technical shape and I was feeling good.

This year (as with all years), I had a long list of bikes I wanted to ride and people I needed to connect with. As it turned out, I was able to chat with many brands and ride seven bikes. I’ll be posting quick reviews of these bikes in the coming weeks, so hang tight for more info.

Bike 1: Trek Top Fuel 9.8

The rocket on wheels… this bike is fast and furious, but was topped out by some of the burly terrain in Bootleg Canyon. Read my Trek Top Fuel 9.8 review…

Trek Top Fuel 9.8

Bike 2: Gary Fisher Rumblefish 29er

Not the first to the top, but big hoops make for excellent traction and fun times going down. Read my Gary Fisher Rumblefish review…

Gary Fisher Rumblefish 29er

Bike 3: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 Custom (SRAM XX Test Bike)

Whoa… riding the new SRAM XX drivetrain and components is a whole new ballgame. Best shifting ever! Oh yeah, the test steed was oh-so-fast! Read my SRAM XX review…

SRAM XX Cranks

Bike 4: Intense Spider 2

A predictable trailbike with Intense’s typical quality and American craftsmanship.

Intense Spider 2 Mountain Bike

Bike 5: Scott Scale 29er

A budget-friendly 29er hardtail. Great entry into the 29er market for Scott USA. Read my Scott Scale 29er review…

Scott Scale 29er

Bike 6: Yeti ASR 5c

Fast and fun… this bike climbs like a goat and has just enough travel to tackle gnarly terrain. Read my Yeti ASR 5c review…

Yeti ASR 5c Mountain Bike

Bike 7: Santa Cruz Tallboy

One of the best 29er full suspension bikes on the market. Look out folks, this one is a winner. Read my Santa Cruz Tallboy review >>

Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er Review

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. Full suspension 29ers don’t make sense to me. Seems like 29ers are great when you want a hardtail that rolls a little smoother but don’t want a full suspension bike. You’ve got a double weight penalty if you go 29er and full suspension. But you seemed to really like the tallboy, so maybe there’s more to it than that. Or you’re less of a weight weenie than I am.

  2. Weight penalty is all relative. I’m stoked to get on a full-suspension bike that comes in at 28 lbs. (But I’ve ridden 40 lb bikes in the past …shudder…) I’ve ridden several full-suspension 29ers and have found them to be extremely efficient both up and down and downright fun to ride.

    The combo of suspension, bigger hoops and carbon frames is super-compelling, IMO. I really dig the Niner Jet 9 and RIP 9, the Kona Hei-Hei 29 is also a great bike, but the new Santa Cruz Tallboy has all the right moves with dialed geometry and a carbon fiber frame.

    As much as people poo-poo carbon fiber mountain bike frames, I’m completely sold on them as the difference in ride quality is impossible to deny.

    I’ve ridden several 29er hardtails and while they are 100 times better than a 26-inch hardtail, they are still a hardtail. Try a good 29er FS bike and you’ll soon understand why all the love.

  3. The Yeti 575 and ASR 5c are completely different animals. One is born from an XC bike (ASR) and the other is really a trailbike from the get-go. While the 575 can be raced XC (I wouldn’t do it), it’s really more of a durable trailbike. The ASR 5c is really a long-legged XC bike that can climb like a goat and power though the rough stuff… BUT, you definitely have to choose your line wisely on the 5c, whereas the 575 can really power through about anything.

    Suspension rates on the 5c are really linear while they are ramped on the 575 for a more plush feel.

    The 5c was decked out to the hilt with XT/XTR and a Fox F-Series 32 RLC up front. It’s a great trailbike for those wanting to climb fast and long, but can still pick their way through the rough stuff.

  4. Thoughts on the Rumblefish vs Tall Boy?

    Very curious how you think the Rumblefish compares to a Roscoe or a “AM” 26in bike that sees much a ton of technical climbing and descending. Is the BB too low to be an issue in east coast logs and rocks? I’m sold on 29 HT, just still on the fence for 29er dualies

  5. JD

    Let me be a straight shooter here… the Tallboy and Rumblefish aren’t even in the same league. I thought the Rumblefish was a fun bike, but it was a bit of a pig on the uphill. Yeah, it descended pretty well, but not with the precision and prowess of the Tallboy or other class-leading 29er full suspension bikes (Niner Jet 9, Niner RIP 9 and surprisingly the Kona Hei Hei 29).

    I’m hoping to get on a Roscoe, but as far as great trailbikes in the 26er category, the Ibis Mojo stands supreme with many others just a hair behind, like the Yeti 575, Santa Cruz Blur LT, etc.

  6. Jason -thakns for your comments!

    2 things:
    do you think most of the difference bet the rumble and Tallboy was really due to their design, or did the smaller fast rolling small block 8’s on the tallboy have a significant effect on what you felt – Small blocks 8s roll like no other and cause a big difference in feel compared to tires that have actual tread.

    Second – 575 is awesome – I used to have one. Was great for chunk stuff at speed. Amazing. Tried a RIP – hated it. Angles were steep, BB waaaaaaay too low, and suspension was not active enough for local terrain (climbed great though). I guess I was hoping that 120mm of 29in wheel up front plus a new ABP design would make it descend sweet – still think 575/mojo/roscoe type bike would win in your mind for the way down in chunky stuff?

  7. Good point on the Small Block Eight tires… very fast rollers, but there’s no way getting around the fact that the Tallboy just felt dialed in all conditions both up and down.

    The Rumblefish did descend well, but it wasn’t as nimble heading down as the Tallboy. I felt like I was guiding a battleship. It does power through anything though.

    For really rough terrain, I do still like the Mojo. I’m hoping to ride the Roscoe to have a comparison, so I can’t say for sure.

    BTW… where do you ride?

  8. east coast – lots of rock (loose baby heads and bigger ledgy stuff at times), not so much rooty – mix of fast flow and tight and technical

    I’m a big fan of my 29er HT, but just not 100% on the dualie – think its more of a geometry issue than a wheel size issue though. The Fisher and Specialized FSR are in my price range…..unfortunately tallboy has blown past it!

  9. Needlenose Ned… I know… only so much of me to get around. There are a lot of brands that I wasn’t able to get to in my 8-hour stint like Specialized, Kona, Cannondale, GT, Ellsworth, Rocky Mountain and many others. I only had so much time and did my best.

  10. Pingback: 2009 Gear of the Year - FeedTheHabit.com

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