We only had the opportunity to spend one afternoon on the bike before embargo day, so our impressions are limited. However, we still have the bike and will begin some suspension tuning and put a lot more miles on the bike as we work on our long-term review.
So, what are the initial impressions? This is a fun, well-rounded trail shredder but it does have some of the tell-tale VPP characteristics that make it a dream for some and a little more time-consuming to tune for others. We fall in that second camp as we tend to seek out trails that have lots of high-speed chunk, square-edge bumps and chunder. In these areas VPP bikes can struggle by feeling a bit too harsh, or less energetic in their suspension platform as it doesn’t quite move out of the way as freely as others. The flipside that makes some riders love VPP bikes, is that they have a great platform to push off, whether you’re ripping berms, hitting jumps or riding flow-style trails with shorter bits of chunk thrown in. Not to mention how well they pedal, which makes big mileage crankers fans as well, and undoubtedly helps to add some range to the Fazua system.
Moving on from the suspension platform and getting into the rest of the bike, the geometry of the Heckler SL sits in a really great spot for us. At 5’11-6’2, the numbers have our crew excited and I’ve been extremely happy with the comfort, stability and overall feel of the bike on the variety of trails I’ve ridden so far. Seated comfort and climbing position is solid, and when it comes to drop the seat and let the bike work, it offers a lengthy enough reach to feel confident without feeling sluggish or lethargic in tighter trails. Overall, they’ve struck a really nice, versatile blend.
We’re not sure if it’s this particular drive unit we’ve got, or if it still needs a break-in period, but it seems like the Fazua Ride 60 drive unit in the Heckler SL has a bit more noise and a bit more of an electronic whine or whirl compared to other Fazua bikes we’ve ridden. We will update you on if it gets quieter with more miles throughout the long-term review, or if it turns out to having something to do with the frame construction around it. While it was noticeable, it wouldn’t be something that stopped us from considering this bike as a purchase if all other things were checked off on our list. Ultimately it seems like Santa Cruz have delivered on offering a very “Santa Cruz-ey” SL eMTB that will satisfy riders who wanted a lighter-weight eMTB offering or analog riders who’ve been hesitant to make the switch. We look forward to putting a lot more miles on our Heckler SL this Fall. Stay tuned!