TESTED | Santa Cruz Heckler eMTB 2020 - First Ride

Words by Tom Worsfold

on 11/02/2020 08:02:19


Words by Rutland Cycling staff member, Luke Turner, on his time aboard the all new Santa Cruz Heckler eMTB

Santa Cruz have always been renowned for making some of the highest quality and best handling mountain bikes, right from the launch of the Tazman in 1994. The brand has been piloted by the best riders in the world, from Steve Peat, to Danny Macaskill, or the current Santa Cruz Syndicate downhill team. When I learnt that they would be coming to market with an e-bike, I couldn't have been more excited! Read on below to find out just how much fun their new eMTB is.


So, I'll cut to the chase - the Bike! The Heckler is based on the Bronson - Santa Cruz's most fun and playful bike. 160mm fork with 150mm of rear VPP travel but with the addition of a Shimano E8000 drive unit. The Heckler comes in 2 colour variants, as with most Santa Cruz models, a bright colour that's sure to get you noticed out on the trail, and a more understated colour for a stealthy look. 27.5� wheels with EXO casing tyres on all models, SRAM Eagle 12-speed, and huge disc rotors for maximum stopping power.


The Ride

We were lucky enough to receive an invite from Santa Cruz to ride the bike before launch and we jumped at the chance. I knew that the combination of a Bronson and a Shimano motor would be an instant hit. The ride location was some Italian mountains in Tuscany which promised some steep technical climbs, as well as some single-track back down. My MTB fitness has been way off where it should be recently, but I knew with the aid of the eMTB motor, the climbs wouldn't be too much of an issue. The weather was looking promising for day 1, but before we knew it, the clouds grouped together and heavy rain started pouring down, but that didn't deter us!

As soon as I climbed aboard the heckler, it felt like home. Familiar Santa Cruz geometry meant the bike only took a few moments to get fully set up to my liking. It was a short ride to the first climb and relatively flat so I decided to leave off the motor assistance for the time being until I really needed it to preserve battery. Even with the motor off the bike felt like any other, with no noticeable drag being caused by the motor.


Enjoying some lovely Italian scenery, we were fast approaching a river crossing - on an E-bike I thought... - Surely not?! - As soon as the first person took the plunge, we all went for it! Soaking wet feet isn't the best way to start a ride, I should definitely invest in some waterproof socks! But it just goes to show that you can treat your E-bike just like your normal bike.

Climbing Performance

The first climb arrived pretty quickly and I soon turned the motor on! Santa Cruz have opted to use the Shimano E7000 remote on all of the bikes which gives a real clean look to the bars and leaves you plenty of room for your dropper lever. The first section of climbing was nice and relaxed so we could get used to the bikes, I stuck with eco mode that provided just the right amount of assistance without causing fatigue.

The bike immediately felt at home climbing thanks to the shock tune's anti squat, providing the perfect platform for a seated climb. As the climb got steeper and more technical. I used a mixture of Trail and Boost mode as at times Boost mode was simply too powerful, causing the tyres to skid on wet rocks. Shimano also give you the option to tune the motor power options straight from an app, which gives you good opportunity to tune the bike to the type of riding that you'll be doing on any particular day.


After a good 20 mins of climbing I suddenly realised that there would have been no way I would have been able to ride my 'traditional' bike to the top, id maybe have ridden up a few sections and then pushed up for a while, but by the time you'd make it to the top you'd have no juice left to take on the downhill. Electric bikes definitely have their place in this instance, allowing you to do a days' riding in just a few hours, without relying on a shuttle, so it's more time in the saddle, it wasn't like the bike had done all of the hard work for me either!


Onto the descending and the bike felt as capable as any other Santa Cruz as you would expect. The 27.5� wheels allow for short chainstays which give you a super controlled bike when navigating tight corners. The bike itself took me way beyond my own ability.

The proven VPP suspension system was absolutely in its element, which when paired with a Super Deluxe shock makes for a very confidence inspiring bike, gliding over rocks and ploughing through any terrain it took on.


Build Options

The Heckler starts at £6700 and all frames are full CC carbon with the X01 build coming in at the 20kg mark. There are 4 different build options available which give you top-end kit, right from the entry level model. The X01 bike that I was testing also comes with the new burlier 27.5� reserve wheel, with the unbeatable Santa Cruz no quibble warranty. All models share the same Shimano E8000 motor and 504Wh battery with E7000 remote, with the R and S models featuring an E7000 display and the X01 and AXS models an E8000 display.


The Heckler 2020 eMTB Range


Santa Cruz Heckler CC R 2020

The Heckler is the most agile and playful electric bike on the market, delivering top class performance pairing a legendary Santa Cruz CC frame with the proven Shimano electric drive system to grow the adventure and fun in your riding.

  • Frame - Carbon CC 27.5 150mm Travel VPP�
  • Fork - RockShox Yari RC, 160mm, 27.5"
  • Drivetrain - SRAM NX Eagle 12 speed
  • Brakes - SRAM Guide RE hydraulic disc
See the Santa Cruz Heckler range Shop now >

Santa Cruz Heckler CC S 2020

Taking renowned thrill-seeker, the 27.5" wheel Bronson, as a starting point, Santa Cruz have finely tuned the VPP suspension and integrated the drive unit to create a bike that capably rides the wave between agility and stability.

  • Frame - Carbon CC 27.5 150mm Travel VPP�
  • Fork - FOX 36-E Float Performance, 160mm, 27.5"
  • Drivetrain - SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed
  • Brakes - SRAM Code R hydraulic disc
See the Santa Cruz Heckler range Shop now >

Santa Cruz Heckler CC X01 2020

The Heckler is one of the lightest e-MTBs in it's class, with a 500wh battery integrated into Santa Cruz's lightest CC carbon chassis keeping the weight down.

  • Frame - Carbon CC 27.5 150mm Travel VPP�
  • Fork - FOX 36-E Float Performance Elite, 160mm, 27.5"
  • Drivetrain - SRAM X01 Eagle 12 speed
  • Brakes - SRAM Code RSC hydraulic disc
See the Santa Cruz Heckler range Shop now >

Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store

See the brand new Santa Cruz Heckler range up close at your nearest Rutland Cycling Santa Cruz dealer.