Photos by Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics

Back in November when we received our first Santa Cruz Bullit eMTB for a first ride and Dissected Series video, we fell in love. Our team spent some time riding it here in the PNW, sat down with Santa Cruz engineers and marketing folks and got intimately acquainted with that beautifully bronzed 170mm mullet eBike. We were lucky enough to keep that coil-sprung version for a couple of months, and then just before our 2021 eMTB Shootout, Santa Cruz sent us their Barney purple top of the line version to prep for our shootout down in St. George, Utah.

Let’s let the purple elephant out of the closet right here, Santa Cruz charges a premium for their eMTBs and whether or not you or we agree, the fact is market demand, product supply and a number of other factors have made it so. Santa Cruz’s eBikes are definitely on the higher end of the price spectrum and while we wouldn’t say they are the buy for the deal-savvy shopper, we’re happy to report that at least the performance of the Bullit is on point.

Santa Cruz Bullit pricing starts at $7,499 for the R CC build and features SRAM NX level components and then rockets into the stratosphere with the $11,499 X01 Coil CC build tested here. Our size large weighed in at 51.7 pounds and features a Fox Factory 38 fork with 170mm of buttery travel. Out back a RockShox Super Deluxe Coil rear shock performed wonderfully and offered a great ride. The rest of the drivetrain is all SRAM with their XO1 Eagle shifter and derailleur spinning the gears. A set of SRAM Code RSC brakes try their best to keep this beast under control, but we’d love to see a better, more reliable and longer lasting brake chosen for a bike over $11,000.

2021 eMTB Shootout: Santa Cruz Bullit

The rest of the build on the Santa Cruz Bullit is dialed with a Cane Creek 40 headset, Burgtec Enduro MK2 stem, Santa Cruz’s really neat Di2 integrated carbon bars and their awesome new grips. Our Bullit had the Reserve 30 carbon wheels with DT Swiss hubs, which performed well and lasted to some serious abuse of every kind. One thing we’ve noticed on multiple Reserve wheels however is that they make noise when you hit hard compressions aggressively. We also enjoyed the Maxxis Assegai (f) and Minion DHR II (r) tire spec, although we swapped them out for some Schwalbe Big Betty and Magic Mary rubbers as they were our official test tire for the shootout. A Fox Factory Transfer post and WTB Silverado round out the kit.

A Shimano EP8 drive unit with 630Wh battery helped get the Bullit up just about anything we pointed it at. With a maximum torque of 85Nm and a max assist ratio of 400%, taking the direct route back to the top of the mountain is not an issue, and we took advantage of it regularly. The new Shimano EP8 is quieter, has less drag, more efficiency and a smaller profile than its predecessor and although it took us a few rides to adapt to the more “natural” feel Shimano engineers were seeking to deliver, we’ve grown to like it more and more. Shimano’s E-Tube App is very intuitive and allows users to quickly change the power delivery and assistance level of their machine to maximize range, or give you the ride experience you want. We could give our Santa Cruz Bullit a hot rod tune for a quick sunset rip, or put it in a range-extending set up for long days on the trail.

2021 eMTB Shootout: Santa Cruz Bullit Geo
2021 eMTB Shootout: Santa Cruz Bullit

Once on the trail the Santa Cruz Bullit quickly won-over whoever was lucky enough to be on it. Riding eBikes is different than riding a mountain bike, and there is a learning curve and elevated barrier to cross when it comes to pushing yourself on terrain that is at the limit of your comfort zone. What we mean is that if there is an awkward drop, a big jump or other feature that would have you timid on your pedal bike, but you would psych yourself up and do it, you may not do it on an eMTB. Some bikes are a blast, but when it comes to really sending it, they are just not quite there yet. The Santa Cruz Bullit is not that bike. The “I’d do it if I was on my regular bike,” excuse was null and void on this thing. It is fun, snappy, capable and inspires you to send, and in many ways, that is the best compliment we can think of giving to an eBike.

2021 eMTB Shootout: Santa Cruz Bullit

Some areas beyond the Santa Cruz price premium our riders focused on was small bump compliance and square edge hit feedback. While some testers did not notice it a ton, a couple others felt it was a bit rough in the saddle and transferred energy into the pedals when hitting square obstacles on flatter terrain. This is a big reason we are not huge fans of the Heckler, as we feel that behavior was much more noticeable on that shorter travel bike, but it’s certainly better on the Bullit even if some riders still felt it a bit.

The Santa Cruz Bullit is a big hit bike, with 170mm of travel front and rear, it’s most definitely a big with an intended purpose and rider. It’s not a total dog by any means and way more versatile than the Canyon Torque ON, but it’s still going to need some more muscle on flatter terrain and tighter trails. The Bullit really comes alive at speed and when you’re plowing or gapping into rough, gnarly terrain. It’s a planted, stable and confident machine that will let you push yourself and the envelope of what an eMTB can do.

2021 eMTB Shootout: Santa Cruz Bullit

The Wolf’s Last Word

When our testers stopped thinking about the value proposition and focused on which Enduro eBike they wanted to take home with them, most of us agreed that the Santa Cruz Bullit was the one. It absolutely shreds downhills, is fun to ride, inspires you to push hard, up and down hill, and has a feel that eliminates that “I’m on an eBike” feeling. That being said, if you are on a budget, it’s hard to justify the spec to value scenario and that’s where the Haro Shift comes into the equation. If you are a die-hard Santa Cruz fan, or are lucky enough to have the money budgeted for your next purchase and you want the best performing, downhill-biased, big hit eMTB, the Santa Cruz Bullit gets our vote. Four out of five (non-dentist) testers agree.

Price: $11,499
Weight: 51.7lbs
Website: Santacruzbicycles.com


Frame: Santa Cruz Carbon CC | 170mm
Fork: FOX 38 Float Factory E-Tune | 170mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate

Motor: Shimano EP8 | 250 W, 85 Nm
Battery: Shimano Integrated | 630Wh
Display: Shimano SC-EM800

Brakes: SRAM Code RSC | 220/200mm
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle | 12spd
Headset: Cane Creek 40 IS Integrated
Handlebar: Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon Di2 Riser
Stem: Burgtec Enduro MK2
Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
Seatpost: Fox Transfer Factory

Wheels: Santa Cruz Reserve 30
Front tire: Schwalbe Magic Mary 29 x 2.6″
Rear tire: Schwalbe Big Betty 27.5 x 2.6″

Cranks: Shimano EM900 HollowTech | 165mm
SRAM XG1295 Eagle | 10-52t | 12spd
Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle | 12spd
Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle | 12spd

2021 eMTB Shootout: Trek Rail 9.9 Review

We Dig

Doesn’t feel like an eMTB when charging downhill
Confident and fun
Climbs great
Descends better

We Don’t

It’s too expensive
Entry level build still not a good value
SRAM brakes
Some pedal feedback on flatter trails with square-edge rocks


Catalyst Distribution
Schwalbe Tires
Smith Optics


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