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