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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hightower 2 vs Tallboy 4

I've seen the numbers and read reports from those who have ridden each. Both seem very good and have a place. However there also seems to be overlap and each is better for some things. Some people, and some trails. I have not seen a direct on the trail ride comparison of these two. I'm interested to hear from those who have ridden both on the same trails. I hope to do so next week when a local dealer hosts a demo.

My local trails are rocky rooty north east Singletrack. Not really any long climbs (a mile or two of mid grade at most). They are often root cocered and rocky. I find "open" mode is better than "climb" mode on these. So highly efficient suspension isn't as necessary as it was on the long steep fire road climbs of LA's San Gabriel mountains.

The downs are not that fast or steep. It's more about roots and big rock features. Slab rollers, Rock gardens, step downs and drops, roots the size of trees.

Up and down the trails tend to have tight flat turns. Not really switchbacks just slow corners that keep speeds down.

Given that I'm not sure which is suited better for me and here. In CA it would be easy...Hightower. However here my Tallboy LT (135mm) is likely more than I need. I never bottom it out but do feel the the short reach and long chainstays. I demoed a Ripley and wow...what a difference.

Anyine ride both and have insight on which handles technical climbs better? How well does the Hightower corner tight stuff vs the Tallboy? How much chunk and speed before the Tallboy is overwhelmed?
 

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I haven't ridden the tallboy, but I'm local to socal and know the gabes well. I own a trance advanced 29 (very similar to the tallboy) that I've ridden in the gabes a few times, and also a megatower. While I loved riding the t29 on even the nastiest stuff the gabes has to offer, I wouldn't own it (or a tallboy) if it were my one bike for our terrain. I love it's accuracy and super direct riding experience, but there isn't any overhead to save you when you mess up. The HT2 is going to pedal 90% as well, and provide the versatility that advanced socal riding and terrain will need/dictate.

Look at it this way. When you're fresh, on your game and charging, the tallboy is all you're going to need. At 30 miles and 5k in, and you're trying to get down mt wilson back to the car, the ht2 is going to be a life saver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I agree. If I were still in SoCal riding Mt Wilson it would be the HT. However here in NY the local trails have about 1500’ of elevation over a 15 mile ride. It’s also much less sketchy than SoCal. No wheel eating ruts, huge chunk, or big drops like you have on Mt Wilson. Think El Prieto without the switchbacks and not quite as steep. It’s that kind of terrain but never a long climb or descent, just up/down/up/down all day long with the rock gardens and punchy climbs the norm.

The Tallboy is probably right for me 75% of the time but the other 25% is when I’m tired and riding bigger stuff. The HT makes a nice insurance policy. On the other hand, I’d rarher climb El P with the Tallboy...I think. The HT May handle such technical climbs.
 

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I live and ride in the northeast (upstate NY), own the new Hightower and came off a TB3, mostly because I got sick of waiting for the new Tallboy to be released.
Its definitely a bigger bike than the TB3, but on paper its sooo close to the new Tallboy.
Actually the HT2 has a steeper seat angle and almost the same head angle. I put a Pike Ultimate on my HT2 just because I think a Lyric would be overkill.
I think I got it to be about 90% what my TB3 was in terms of climbing. Descending is a different story, waaay better than the TB3. I'm interested in demoing a new Tallboy just to see if its at all better at climbing than the HT2.
Interested to hear what others say...………..
 

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How are you going to setup the bike? Is it going to have DHF tires and 203 rotors?
Both bikes with an identical build will be within .5lb, so basically the same. Get the Hightower unless you are going to run lighter weight tires, then get the tallboy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I live and ride in the northeast (upstate NY)..
Me too. I ride Elm Ridge and Round Top the most. Both are definitely Tallboy trail systems. SMBA, Blue Mountain, and Wyndham are others that have the harder stiff I enjoy. Chutes and a ladders at SMBA is exactly what I like to challenge myself with. For those a Hightower may be better. But with the similar geometry the new Tallboy may have the same composure and just not use/need the extra travel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
How are you going to setup the bike? Is it going to have DHF tires and 203 rotors?
Both bikes with an identical build will be within .5lb, so basically the same. Get the Hightower unless you are going to run lighter weight tires, then get the tallboy.
DHRII front and rear or maybe an Aggressor rear. Around here it's about gripping off camber wet roots not high speed cornering grip. 180 rotors and hope E4 brakes let me creep down most anything with total control or go in fast and scrub speed fast.

Here we just don't have the speeds that allow bigger bikes to decidedly out perform smaller bikes. A 20+ mph descent is rare (parks excluded) and the few I've found are manageable even on a hard tail. It's all about short bursts up and down. Mellow XC with technical climbs and descents mixed in.

The terrain is really not suited to any one bike. It requires more compromise here than other places it seems. It's also what makes this area so great. Any one ride is not repetitive or one dimensional. Then factor in 20+ trail systems and 5 bike parks within 90 minutes and it's as diverse as about anywhere else. I tend to avoid the big park stuff so a Tallboy may be all I need to stay safe at the edge of my skill and nerve.
 

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DHRII front and rear or maybe an Aggressor rear. Around here it's about gripping off camber wet roots not high speed cornering grip. 180 rotors and hope E4 brakes let me creep down most anything with total control or go in fast and scrub speed fast.

Here we just don't have the speeds that allow bigger bikes to decidedly out perform smaller bikes. A 20+ mph descent is rare (parks excluded) and the few I've found are manageable even on a hard tail. It's all about short bursts up and down. Mellow XC with technical climbs and descents mixed in.

The terrain is really not suited to any one bike. It requires more compromise here than other places it seems. It's also what makes this area so great. Any one ride is not repetitive or one dimensional. Then factor in 20+ trail systems and 5 bike parks within 90 minutes and it's as diverse as about anywhere else. I tend to avoid the big park stuff so a Tallboy may be all I need to stay safe at the edge of my skill and nerve.
would love to know what tire "grips" off camber wet roots....i close my eyes and hold my breath :) (on an HT2)

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Been to Bebee hill but not Elm ridge. SMBA is a favorite of mine.

I have a Nomad4 built strictly for park days.
You are definitely missing out. Elm Ridge is definitely the hottest riding area in the Hudson Valley right now. Incredibly well built flow trails with plenty of berms and bridges. Super fun.

What is SMBA? Sprain?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
would love to know what tire "grips" off camber wet roots....
True, and I have a hole in my arm to prove it (went into a tree last week when some roots tossed me off the trail). The Maxxis 3C medium compound does a good job. I rode a couple days ago and was impressed how well the DHRII gripped the greasy humid damp rocks and roots. Granted its a razors edge between, "wow the tire gripped that well" and "how did I get into this tree?".
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You are definitely missing out. Elm Ridge is definitely the hottest riding area in the Hudson Valley right now. Incredibly well built flow trails with plenty of berms and bridges. Super fun.

What is SMBA? Sprain?
Daniels Road up in Saratoga. The locals call it SMBA but Trail Forks and others call it Daniels Road. MUCH harder than Elm, but FUN.
 

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Daniels Road up in Saratoga. The locals call it SMBA but Trail Forks and others call it Daniels Road. MUCH harder than Elm, but FUN.
awesome. Ill definitely have to check it out. We're moving to Cairo area soon from New paltz area so Ill be closer to Saratoga by quite a bit. Check out Port Jervis Watershed Trails if you're ever down that way. Similar to what the guys are doing at Elm. Very fun and well built.

PS. I was waffling between the TB4 and HT2 as well. Im settling on the Tallboy. My current TB3 is the most fun bike ive ever ridden. Most of the trails around here, really dont warrant anything more than 140mm. Ive raced Enduro at Mtn Creek and ridden Windham on the Tallboy. It takes a bit more finesse but the snappiness i get on 90% of the trails i actually ride is worth it. Even the downhills. I think about riding Run Noot or Levitate down on my TB and it is twice the fun that it ever was on my Enduro. The bigger travel bikes jsut tend to eat up all the stuff that makes our trails fun, whereas the shorter travel bikes let you use the small bumps for popping off of and playing with.
 

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True, and I have a hole in my arm to prove it (went into a tree last week when some roots tossed me off the trail). The Maxxis 3C medium compound does a good job. I rode a couple days ago and was impressed how well the DHRII gripped the greasy humid damp rocks and roots. Granted its a razors edge between, "wow the tire gripped that well" and "how did I get into this tree?".
will make note of that, i got the HT2 to get through that stuff quickly here in the North East, wasn't willing to put up with more precision requirements needed with lesser travel even though the up/down nature of the trails
argues for a tallboy like bike. The new VPP gives me enough grip and keeps me nicely planted for the most part

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You are definitely missing out. Elm Ridge is definitely the hottest riding area in the Hudson Valley right now. Incredibly well built flow trails with plenty of berms and bridges. Super fun.

What is SMBA? Sprain?
Saratoga Mountain Bike Association, they also maintain Pittstown trails on the other side of Troy.
 

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I think gopro videos of your trails (shot by other riders) would help us get a better idea of your terrain.

My last bike was a 130/125mm 29er and now I ride the HT2, haven't ridden the tallboy though. It sounds like the tallboy is what you are going to want based on you not exceeding 20mph on descents and trails aren't that steep. I have some trails like that near me though but I still prefer the hightower on them over the old bike because of geometry and lots of other things, but I love to corner aggressively and hit the big drops so the hightower is good for me, plus other areas I ride are much steeper and my old bike didn't have enough travel for them. So, for me the hightower was an easy choice to ride everything and I don't regret it at all.

Depending on how big those roots and rocks are and how aggressively you ride, you may want to go with the hightower especially since there probably isn't a big weight difference if you build up the hightower and tallboy the same way. But if all of your trails are on the flatter side the tallboy is probably right for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
will make note of that, i got the HT2 to get through that stuff quickly here in the North East, wasn't willing to put up with more precision requirements needed with lesser travel even though the up/down nature of the trails
argues for a tallboy like bike. The new VPP gives me enough grip and keeps me nicely planted for the most part
Thats the kind of insight I'm hoping for here. In theory the reduced travel of the Tallboy is more "efficient" and "better" for small bumps. However I've also found that firmer pedaling platforms can actually be slower and struggle on the rocks and roots. The rear wheel hangs up and while you put down more 10% more efficient pedal power, when your rear wheel hangs up on a root it kills your speed and momentum. Any gains from the firmer platform are lost tenfold.

Then my ego says, "yeah but its more of a challenge to be connected to the trail and not just monster truck over everything". I have to remind myself I'm not 21 and I can't dismiss the safety 140mm delivers vs 120mm.

I should know more next week when I plan to ride the Hightower 2 on some local trails. I'll be looking for the steepest rootiest climbs to really put its climbing to the test. Then hopefully be able to take the Tallboy 4 on the same and compare.

Ultimately, either one is a good option and color may play more into this than I'd like to believe. In which case...the black/orange Ripley is also in play.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is Daniels Road/SMBA which has the most technical riding. Sections are similar to Gooseberry Mesa. Up/down rock slab and structures that require full body workout and skill. Not straight line stuff you can take at speed and let the bike roll over. It is a rock section with roots and tight corners at the exit. The lines are specific unless you want to get up close and personal with the trees.


Elm Ridge, easier and definitely Tallboy territory:
 

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Thats the kind of insight I'm hoping for here. In theory the reduced travel of the Tallboy is more "efficient" and "better" for small bumps. However I've also found that firmer pedaling platforms can actually be slower and struggle on the rocks and roots. The rear wheel hangs up and while you put down more 10% more efficient pedal power, when your rear wheel hangs up on a root it kills your speed and momentum. Any gains from the firmer platform are lost tenfold.

Then my ego says, "yeah but its more of a challenge to be connected to the trail and not just monster truck over everything". I have to remind myself I'm not 21 and I can't dismiss the safety 140mm delivers vs 120mm.

I should know more next week when I plan to ride the Hightower 2 on some local trails. I'll be looking for the steepest rootiest climbs to really put its climbing to the test. Then hopefully be able to take the Tallboy 4 on the same and compare.

Ultimately, either one is a good option and color may play more into this than I'd like to believe. In which case...the black/orange Ripley is also in play.
this is my first season on a FS. My first month i had XC guys racing past me. Much of it is my own riding but the more comfortable i get with the bike the more i'm pushing it and in return it's giving me results and the gap has significantly narrowed with XC (albeit not my goal, just anecdotal). I'm happier with each ride and the equation is Rider + Bike = massive enjoyment. Not sure if the Rider is 2x or 5x the significance vs the bike performance in that equation but i feel "Rider" is most important and it's something you can't get from these forums.
I have no idea how someone chooses between a Ripley, Ripmo, HT2 or tallboy, all i know is that when i was looking at the Ripley it was 2 weeks after v4 came out and my budget was $2k lower and i was considering a different cheaper bike. Then i got introduced to SC and my budget disappeared. Had my mind been in Ripley budget territory i could be on a very different Bike today, but now i would not change my HT2 for the world....and i will not demo an IBIS for at least a yr so as to give my next budget some breathing room! :) get riding!

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
awesome. Ill definitely have to check it out. We're moving to Cairo area soon from New paltz area so Ill be closer to Saratoga by quite a bit. Check out Port Jervis Watershed Trails if you're ever down that way. Similar to what the guys are doing at Elm. Very fun and well built.

PS. I was waffling between the TB4 and HT2 as well. Im settling on the Tallboy. My current TB3 is the most fun bike ive ever ridden. Most of the trails around here, really dont warrant anything more than 140mm. Ive raced Enduro at Mtn Creek and ridden Windham on the Tallboy. It takes a bit more finesse but the snappiness i get on 90% of the trails i actually ride is worth it. Even the downhills. I think about riding Run Noot or Levitate down on my TB and it is twice the fun that it ever was on my Enduro. The bigger travel bikes jsut tend to eat up all the stuff that makes our trails fun, whereas the shorter travel bikes let you use the small bumps for popping off of and playing with.
Thanks, very helpful and what I was thinking. My 135mm Tallboy LTc (precursor to Hightower) likely does numb the trails a bit. The v3 Tallboy and Ripley V4 are two of the most fun bikes I've ever ridden. Its just that I've had a few close calls that the extra travel may have helped. However the slacker and longer geo of the Tallboy would probably do a lot more to help than my current LTc's 10-15mm of travel do.

I'm about 15 minutes from Cairo, its a nice place to be for MTBing. Fairly central to a lot. Elm will be 15 minutes, Round Top 5-10 (though its a bit of a mixed bag...until you get to know your way around). Then all the Albany area stuff (NB, CTP) and up to Saragotga and Queensbury (Gurney Lane is very nice for fast fun trails). Check out Capital MTB on Facebook to find more info and rides, or PM me.
 
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