SANTA CRUZ HECKLER LONG-TERM REVIEW
Photos by Drew Rohde and Sean Leicht
If you were one of the many Santa Cruz Bicycles fans awaiting their entry into the eMTB market, then you probably caught our Heckler introduction video and feature story a couple months back. If you were still resisting the electric urge back then, give it a click and get learned-up on the details because this review is going to focus a lot more on the ride and specs than the technical details we went over in our first ride feature. After countless hours and two sets of thrashed tires, we’re ready to report our findings on the 160/150mm, Shimano Steps-equipped Heckler.
Santa Cruz offers the Heckler eMTB in four variations, all of which are built with their CC carbon fiber. Pricing starts at $7,399 and goes up to $13,099 for the SRAM AXS RSV model. We tested the X01 RSV model, which retails for $10,599 and comes with a Fox 36 E-Float Performance 160mm fork, Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select Ultimate shock and SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain. Brake spec on the Heckler comes in the form of SRAM Code RSC 200mm with Santa Cruz’s own carbon bars, a Race Face Aeffect R stsem and the incredibly stiff, Santa Cruz Reserve DH carbon wheels. The wheels very much impressed our testers as we pushed this bike hard and tried to see if we could get them to flinch. We were unsuccessful as they kept spinning round after three months and tons of abusive miles.
The design of the Santa Cruz Heckler started with the familiar, and wildly popular Bronson. While its silhouette may resemble a portly version of the Bronson, there are a few key differences to the VPP suspension design that differentiate the Santa Cruz eMTB and its human-powered siblings. Compared to the Bronson, the Heckler has less anti-squat. Santa Cruz claims that this adds a bit more support and traction while pedaling over rough terrain while seated and pedaling. The Heckler also provides more mid-stroke and bottom out support.
The frame is made of Santa Cruz’s top end CC carbon, and molded around a 250-watt Shimano Steps E-8000 motor and 504Wh Shimano battery. A hotly contested choice by die-hard ebikers, the choice to reveal an ebike this late in the game with what many consider an outdated and small motor and battery wasn’t a choice Santa Cruz made without much debate. “We could have spec’d a lighter, or larger custom battery, but that presents a problem should our customers develop any issues. Shimano’s Steps system is verified, reliable and there is a robust dealer network should problems arise,” Santa Cruz told us. There are certainly more powerful and longer lasting options on the market, we would have picked the new Bosch system, but we understand that Santa Cruz had to make a decision they believed was the best for them and their customers.
The Heckler’s geometry is solidly in the all mountain category, with a reach of 490mm on our size large. The head tube angle sits at 65.5 degrees with a 76-degree seat tube angle and chainstay length of 445mm, giving the bike a 1,237mm wheelbase and 346mm bottom bracket height.