OK, don't let this start out as a 26 vs. 29 discussion, it is a Blur vs. Tallboy discussion.

I started down the path of looking at 29ers because eventually I will need a different backup bike.  I have ridden 29ers in the past and was never overwhelmed by them.  The bike I ride now, a Blur LT2 has been rock solid, other than the creaking that is pretty annoying, but the other features overpower that flaw.

I was hoping to ride the aluminum model of the bike so that it would be more in line with what I am on today, but the carbon frame was the only one that was available, so I rode the carbon model.  The cockpit was very cramped.  I normally ride a 90mm stem, but this one seemed even shorter.  The handlebars were really wide, wider than I had ever experienced.  This created a problem in tight twisty trails because it was harder to quickly zip in and out of the trail.  I noticed in looking at the GPS tracks that I was slower in the twisty sections compared to the Blur.  Shorter wheelbase and narrower handlebars go a long way for the handling in tight spaces.

The bike rolled over obstacles easier than a 26er, but unfortunately the wider handlebars and shorter cockpit meant that when it came to lifting the bike over obstacles, it was more difficult.  So, this was definitely a tradeoff that I did not like.  Easier on the small stuff, harder on the larger stuff.

Rolling speed was great, once you get it going.  But starting off was a little more difficult.  This means in trails that are start-stop (like Rattlesnake) you'll spend a lot more time walking and trying to get rolling.

The bike started off quiet, but after 4-5 miles I could hear it starting to creak because of the dust of Walnut Creek getting into the bushings.  This is a problem with my Blur and a real annoyance.  All bikes, in Austin, will eventually have this problem and will need to be cleaned out and re-lubed. With Santa Cruz this is more of a problem and they need to be clean out about every 90 days, with other bikes it could be 9 months to a year before you need to break down the bearings.

I was hoping to find something that would eventually be a good backup for the Blur, but I didn't find the Tallboy to be any better.  So there is no need to consider a bike like this; it would be smarter to just get a second Blur and be able to share components. If I am going to get a 29er I want it to be different - and better.



Manufacturer:  Santa Cruz

Rating:  6.5 out of 10

Pros:  Big wheels, rolls over lots of obstacles. Lightweight, stiff

Cons:  Cockpit was too cramped and the handlebars were too wide, hard to get good lift over obstacles. Has the patented "Santa Cruz creak" from the bushings. Expensive.

Configuration: Large frame, 3x10 drive train, Rock Shox fork, Fox RP23 shock

Verdict:  Nice bike, but I am not sure that I would drop the Blur for this.

Website: Santa Cruz Bicycles

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