SANTA CRUZ BULLIT EMTB

170-MILLIMETER TRAIL EATER

Words by Drew Rohde
Photos & Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics

SPONSORED CONTENT

Hot on the heels of some freshly updated Heckler eMTB offerings, the Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB comes firing out of the barrel, ready to appease those e-bikers looking for more. More what? Everything of course! With 170mm of travel front and rear, slacker geo, the new Shimano Steps EP8 motor and a larger battery, the Santa Cruz Bullit is truly built to shred. In our latest Dissected Series episode we take an in-depth first look at this new e-enduro bike and what it has to offer riders in the market.

Built around the idea of “What goes up, loves coming down,” Santa Cruz Bicycles’ team wanted to make their biggest hitting eMTB that wasn’t just a one trick pony. While it is unapologetically aimed at taming the downs, it isn’t overly-built or overly slacked out to the point it’s not any fun when the trails aren’t vertical.

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB Dissected

Santa Cruz Warranty & Rider Support Promise
Santa Cruz take pride in their carbon fiber technique and reputation. The Bullit continues pushing forward with their tradition of carbon application on this lifetime warrantied CC frame. Santa Cruz also offers lifetime bearing replacement support and a minimum of a 10-year small parts support, as well as a lifetime warranty on their Reserve carbon wheels and handlebars. Not many other bikes come to mind that have so many lifetime-warrantied parts.

During our conversations with Santa Cruz while creating this story it was readily apparent that they live by their “No ride missed” ethos. They’re as passionate about riding their bikes as they are building bikes that will stand the test of time.

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB Dissected

Q & A WITH TODD FORD
Santa Cruz Bullit Product Manager

What were the major focuses or goals when creating the Bullit, knowing that the Heckler was already in your lineup?
The big goal was to make the most capable and hardest hitting e-bike we could. We wanted something that could be used in the big mountains, something that would climb well and have enough range to get to the top, and had plenty of travel to handle the steepest trails on the way down. 

We think the geo is spot on, not too aggressive and not too conservative. How and who helped your team come up with such balanced geo numbers?
Awesome to hear! Geo is always something that the whole team discusses at the start of every project. We typically argue about it for a week or two, then we build an aluminum mule (or 2, or 5) in house to test our theories. With Bullit we really wanted to go as slack as we were comfortable with, but still put the rider in a good pedaling position for handling the climbs. Once we got the first few rides on our mule, we thought we had really nailed it. 

The small bump sensitivity and square-edge hit absorption are greatly improved on the Bullit compared to the shorter travel Heckler. Is this just a by-product of more travel, the coil-sprung shock, or did engineers make changes to the suspension kinematics?
We basically tried to match the leverage curve to our other coil-friendly platforms, which certainly aided in that small bump and square edge sensitivity that you’re feeling. Also the longer stroke shock and the tunes that were chosen for this bike give that sensitivity while maintaining a supportive feel and not sucking you too deep into the travel. 

While you still have the Heckler, and as of last week, even more Heckler options available, who did you design the Bullit for?
Heckler was mainly focused on a playful and agile ride characteristic, whereas Bullit is designed to handle anything you can throw at it, while still maintaining that playful spirit. We kept chainstay lengths in check, and notched everything else up to really give the rider the ability to stay confident and composed, but still throw it around a bit too. This rider is someone that really wants to take on the most aggressive trails they can find, but also make it back to the top to do it all again. 

What is the one feature or part of the new Bullit you are most proud or excited about?
I think my favorite feature is the ability to run coils. Opening up the option for coils and larger volume shocks really gives the rider the ability to hone in on the performance they want. I also really like that we were able to maintain the removable battery system with this bike. Being able quickly and easily swap batteries means you can really take this bike on some huge rides. I’m super proud of our engineering and design team for finding a way to make it all work. 

Who has sent their Bullit the biggest so far?
Unfortunately due to COVID I wasn’t able to ride with the Syndicate in Morzine, FR a couple of months ago when they received their bikes, but I can imagine those guys were absolutely crushing it! Based on the photos I’ve seen, Loris is really enjoying the airtime on his. 

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB in action Dissected

The Mullet in the Room
Santa Cruz recently announced a mixed-wheel version, mullet, or their already-released Heckler, knowing this was something a lot of riders had been wanting. Realizing the benefits of the mixed wheel platform, the Bullit came straight out the gate with a mullet spec, sporting a 29-inch Reserve front wheel wrapped in a Maxxis Assegai tire and a 27.5-inch Reserve DH rear wheel, inside a Maxxis Minion DHR II tire.

If you’re not hip to the whole mullet wheel thing, manufacturers and riders alike claim a whole list of benefits without many drawbacks. The larger front wheel increases confidence, stability and speed as it minimizes obstacles ahead. Traction is also improved as the larger diameter wheel has a larger contact patch with the ground beneath. Having a smaller 27.5” wheel out back means that the bike designers can give it a shorter chainstay length, narrower stays and improve the bike’s responsiveness. While sometimes a shorter rear end, specifically on e-bikes can mean it’s easier to lose traction on the front tire while climbing super steep terrain, the trade off is a shorter rear end that changes directions quicker and can be thread through the needle of tight rocks or switchbacks easier than a full-29er. Speaking from our limited time aboard the bike so far, whether it’s climbing switchbacks or snapping the backend around them on the way down, we’re happy this bike handles the way it does and agree with the choice to go mixed.

Geometry and Spec
Santa Cruz Bicycles has decided to release the Bullit in sizes Medium through XXL and only in their CC carbon material. Most of our riders are in the 5’11-6’1 range so we opted for the size large Bullit, which we feel has some of the best geo in this range of bike. It’s confident without being cumbersome and blends precision handling with stability at speed and on the steeps nicely.

The size Large frame has a 475mm reach, 630mm stack height, 819mm front center, 449mm chainstays and a 1,268mm wheelbase. With a 170mm Fox 38 fork the head tube angle sits at 64-degrees with a seat tube angle of 77.1 degrees.

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB Geometry

Starting at $7,499 and going up to $11,499, the Santa Cruz Bullit is definitely a premium machine and rides like one. It’s worth noting that the entry level Bullit CC R comes with the older Shimano Steps E7000 drive unit. If you want to get into the new Shimano EP8 stuff you’ll have to step up to the Bullit CC S model at $8,899. The S comes with a Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select + shock and Fox 38 Performance fork and SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain.

Santa Cruz sent us the top of the line Bullit CC X01 RSV, which comes with a Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil and Fox Factory 38 fork. It also has a full SRAM group in the form of their X01 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain and Guide brakes. Rolling stock on the CC X01 RSV also features, you guessed it, Reserve carbon wheels and Maxxis Double Down casing tires, which are thing are mandatory for eMTB applications.

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB EP8 Motor Dissected

Shimano STEPS EP8
The new Shimano EP8 drive unit and motor offer many improvements over the STEPS E7000 and E8000 units. Most notably the max torque is increased and the system now offers 85Nm of max torque with a max assist ratio of 400%. The Shimano EP8 motor is also claimed to have 36% less drag than its predecessor and has a 10% reduced volume. So it’s more efficient and tucks up and out of the way better than the older system.

EP8 still has Walk, Eco, Trail and Boost modes, but the Walk mode sees major improvements as it has more power and speed to better match the needs of those in hike-a-bike sections. Other benefits include a refined Trail mode, improved aesthetics, improved heat management and a quieter user experience.

We also liked the improved E-Tube App and the customization it offers. Each Shimano Steps EP8 bike has two factory set profiles that can be enjoyed as is, or serve as the starting point for customization. The E-Tube App allows user to easily connect to the bike and control the level of assistance, how quickly it ramps up and the max torque. If you’d like to build one profile for race day and one for long distance, backcountry epics, you can do just that. We experimented with our settings in the app quite a bit and had lots of fun doing so.

Also new to the Steps EP8 system and Santa Cruz ebike line are the larger 630Wh batteries found inside the Bullit. Easily removable, the 630Wh battery is a quick charger and offers improved range of the 504Wh found in earlier Shimano-equipped ebikes.

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB in action Dissected

FIRST RIDE IMPRESSIONS

When the Santa Cruz Bullit first showed up we were giddy with excitement. While these Dissected Features are intended to be neutral deep dives into the nature of the equipment, what features it holds and the development of that product, from time to time our inner bike nerd shows through. The only thing we love more than ebikes is downhilling, and the Bullit is an ebike that lets us ride terrain pretty dang close to how we’d ride a downhill bike. The benefit however is that when we get to the bottom we don’t have to wait for a pickup truck or start hiking for another run.

The new Shimano STEPS EP8 system is different that the E8000 in that you can’t just soft-pedal your way to the top in Boost mode. Instead the system provides, as intended, a much more natural feel. Shimano wanted more rider input and we feel they achieved their goal as more torque into the pedals is met with more support by the unit. The extra torque is noticeable when trying to scratch your way up vertical faces, especially craggy rock walls. The grippy tires and power allowed us to surprise ourselves on multiple occasions.

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB descending Dissected

We touched on it briefly above but the geometry of the Bullit is spot on. We really liked how balanced and well-rounded the bike rides. It let us tackle the gnarliest stuff we could find both up and down the mountain. It wasn’t sluggish or dead feeling on mellower trails, yet it also let us put on a full-face helmet and goggles at DH-bike trails. We are happy to report that the suspension is much smoother than on the Heckler and the bike does a much better job of handling chatter and high-frequency, high-speed hits.

Over the next few months and leading up to our 2021 eMTB Shootout we will be spending a ton of time on this bike, along with many other in the fleet to see how it compares to the latest 2021 offerings and how well it holds up to months of abuse. So far though, the Santa Cruz Bullit appears to have it’s eye on the podium of our upcoming Shootout.

VISIT SANTA CRUZ’S WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE
Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB Dissected
Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB descending Dissected

BULLIT CC • R MX

Price: $7,499

Frame: Carbon CC Mix 170mm Travel VPP
Fork: RockShox Zeb, 170mm, 29″
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select

Drive Unit: Shimano Drive Unit DU-E7000
Battery: Shimano 630Wh Integrated
Display: Shimano Display Unit SC-E7000

Handlebar: e13 TRS Base
Stem: e.13 Base
Headset: Cane Creek 10 IS Integrated
Shifters: SRAM NX
Brakes: SRAM Guide RE
Saddle: WTB Silverado Race
Seatpost: SDG Tellis

Rims: WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 (29” F, 27.5” R)
Spokes: Sapim Race
Front Hub: SRAM MTH 716, 15×110, Torque Cap, 32h
Rear Hub: SRAM MTH 746, 12×148, 32h
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 29″x2.5″, 3C, MaxxGRIP, Double Down, TR
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, MaxxTerra, Double Down, TR

Derailleur: SRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
Crankset: Shimano M8000 Crank Arms, 165mm
Cassette: SRAM PG1210, 12spd, 11-50t
Chain: SRAM NX Eagle, 12spd

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB descending Dissected

BULLIT CC •  S MX

Price: $8,999

Frame: Carbon CC Mix 170mm Travel VPP
Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance E-Tune, 170mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+

Drive Unit: Shimano Drive Unit DU-EP800
Battery: Shimano 630Wh Integrated
Display: Shimano Display Unit SC-E7000

Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Di2 Riser
Stem: Burgtec Enduro MK2
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated
Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle Single Click, 12spd
Brakes: SRAM Code R
Saddle: WTB Silverado Pro
Seatpost: SDG Tellis

Rims: RaceFace ARC HD 30 (29” F, 27.5” R)
Spokes: Sapim Race
Front Hub: DT Swiss 370, 15×110, 32h
Rear Hub: DT Swiss 370, 12×148, XD, 32h
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 29″x2.5″, 3C, MaxxGRIP, Double Down, TR
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, MaxxTerra, Double Down, TR

Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle, 12spd
Crankset: Shimano EM600 Crank Arms, 165mm
Cassette: SRAM XG1275 Eagle, 12spd, 10-50t
Chain: SRAM GX Eagle, 12spd

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB descending Dissected

BULLIT CC •  XT & XT COIL MX

Price: $9,499

Frame: Carbon CC Mix 170mm Travel VPP
Fork: FOX 38 Float Performance Elite E-Tune, 170mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ / RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select+

Drive Unit: Shimano Drive Unit DU-E7000
Battery: Shimano 630Wh Integrated
Display: Shimano Display Unit SC-E7000

Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Di2 Riser
Stem: Burgtec Enduro MK2
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated
Shifters: Shimano XT M8100, 12spd
Brakes: Shimano XT
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost: Fox Transfer Performance Elite

Rims: RaceFace ARC HD 30 (29” F, 27.5” R)
Spokes: Sapim Race
Front Hub: DT Swiss 350, 15×110, Centerlock, 32h
Rear Hub: DT 350, 12×148, MicroSpline, 32h
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 29″x2.5″, 3C, MaxxGRIP, Double Down, TR
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, MaxxTerra, Double Down, TR

Derailleur: Shimano XT M8100, 12spd
Crankset: Shimano XT M8150 Crank Arms, 165mm
Cassette: Shimano XT M8100, 12spd, 10-51t
Chain: Shimano XT, 12spd

Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB descending Dissected

BULLIT CC • XO1 & XO1 COIL MX RSV

Price: $11,499

Frame: Carbon CC Mix 170mm Travel VPP
Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory E-Tune, 170mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate

Drive Unit: Shimano Drive Unit DU-EP800
Battery: Shimano 630Wh Integrated
Display: Shimano Display Unit SC-EM800

Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Di2 Riser
Stem: Burgtec Enduro MK2
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated
Shifters: SRAM X01 Eagle Single Click, 12spd
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost: Fox Transfer Factory

Rims: Reserve 30 Carbon (29” F, 27.5” R)
Spokes: Sapim D-Light
Front Hub: DT Swiss 350, 15×110, 28h
Rear Hub: DT Swiss 350, 12×148, XD, 32h
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 29″x2.5″, 3C, MaxxGRIP, Double Down, TR
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″x2.4″, 3C, MaxxTerra, Double Down, TR

Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd
Crankset: Shimano EM900 HollowTech Crank Arms, 165mm
Cassette: SRAM XG1295 Eagle, 12spd, 10-52t
Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12spd