Santa Cruz Launches New Heckler – And It’s An E-MTB

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Some people thought it would never happen… well now it has: Santa Cruz has revealed its e-MTB, the Heckler.

Santa Cruz Heckler e-MTB
Let’s hear your heckles, then.
Santa Cruz Heckler e-MTB
‘You only look that good because it’s dry’

Based around a Bronson with re-tuned VPP suspension kinematics, the new Heckler has 150mm rear travel paired with a 160mm fork. 27.5in wheels – a matching pair – sees Santa Cruz eschew the big wheels and mullet bikes of many recent e-MTBs. A Shimano E-8000 motor provides the power, and all four build options come on the same CC carbon frame.

LBSKGS£$USD
Heckler CC 27.5 R47.6621.61£6,6997,399
Heckler CC 27.5 S47.7821.67£7,6998,399
Heckler CC 27.5 X01 RSV46.521.09£9,99910,899
Heckler CC 27.5 XX1 RS46.2920.99£11,99912,599

Santa Cruz Heckler Key Features

  • 150mm VPP® rear travel
  • 160mm e-specific fork
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 504Wh battery capacity
  • 65.5° head angle
  • Full CC carbon frame
  • Shimano E8000 250w motor
  • SRAM Eagle Drivetrain
  • Reserve DH 27.5 / 30 carbon wheelset option
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Size S-XXL

Santa Cruz has gone to some lengths to explain why they’re making an e-MTB, and why it’s called the Heckler. Here’s the tale:

The reasons for us to create an e-MTB demanded careful consideration. Heckler’s not about taking things easy, it’s about making things possible.

When someone like Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship founder Greg Williams told us that we should hurry up and make an e-bike we paid attention. When Greg Williams started the Yuba Expeditions and the SBTS he had a vision to breath life back into old Californian gold rush towns through mountain biking. Today e-bike technology is expanding that concept on a completely different scale.

Greg has for a long time said that the area is “a big empty space full of empty trails”, and he wants more people to experience more of the trails. The main trails are well known and oversubscribed because they’re the easiest to access by shuttle van. But Greg wants to spread people out across the thousand of miles of trails.

Some of these trails have been under the nose of riders for years, they’re just protected by nightmare climbs that deter even the toughest riders. But with the help of a little boost these pieces of singletrack shoot you right from town, fast-forwarding through the torment of 5000ft climbs, to trails like Chimney Rock and Empire Creek – the exact kinds of trails that the title “world’s best downhill trail” was made for.

You can debate as you wish whether getting people out onto quieter trails is a good thing – it might depend on whether or not you’ve been quietly enjoying having them to yourself. Let’s take a closer look at what Santa Cruz has done with all that reasoning when creating the bike.

Santa Cruz has aimed to create an agile bike, hence the 27.5in wheels and 445mm chainstays. But they also wanted it to be capable on the descents and technical trails that they’re hoping you’re going to discover, so there’s a 65.5 degree head angle.

Santa Cruz Heckler e-MTB

The Heckler uses the Shimano E-8035 battery – the lightest Shimano makes – which can be fully removed from the frame. The small bar-mounted display marries with what Santa Cruz is calling its ‘Di2’ handlebars – developed specifically for this bike. The Di2 bar allows the wire from the screen to thread through the bar before going into the internal routing of the frame, keeping things neat. Don’t be confused with Shimano Di2 however – all four models are SRAM equipped.

Santa Cruz Heckler e-MTB
Get up, up and away.

Santa Cruz is at pains to point out it’s for aggressive trail riding, with the PR saying it’s at home ‘Uphill, downhill, just not over the hill’ – presumably a dig at those who say e-MTBs are only for old people.

If you’re not into the bold ‘Yellowjacket’ colour, you can go for ‘Blackout’ with copper decals.

Santa Cruz is certainly late to the e-MTB party, so how will it compete in the market? It’s up against the lighter Mondraker Crafty Carbon on weight, the YT Decoy on price, and the (admittedly shorter travel) Specialized Levo SL on handling. For some, that won’t matter – it’s a Santa Cruz, and if it’s good enough for Danny Mac then it’s good enough for you. Speaking of which, we’re looking forward to seeing what having an e-MTB to play with might add to Mr MacAskill’s repertoire.

The Heckler is available now through Santa Cruz dealers.

If you’re in the UK and you want to try out the new Heckler, there are a couple of test ride events:

Hannah Dobson

Hannah came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. Having worked in policy and project management roles at the Scottish Parliament and in local government, Hannah had organisational skills that SIngletrack needed. She also likes bikes, and likes to write.

Hannah likes all bikes, but especially unusual ones. If it’s a bit odd, or a bit niche, or made of metal, she’s probably going to get excited. If it gets her down some steep stuff, all the better. She’ll give most things a go once, she tries not to say no to anything on a bike, unless she really thinks it’s going to hurt. She’s pretty good with steri-strips.

More than bikes, Hannah likes what bikes do. She thinks that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments.

Hannah tries to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

Comments (8)

    It’ll make the Surrey Hills come alive.

    Hee hee, who’d have thunk it eh? I remember their ‘we’ll never do a 29er’ stance years ago, so I guess it was just a matter of time. It’s a growing market and a lot of money to be made. I recently added an eMTB to my fleet, and it’s great fun for longer rides.

    Nooooooo. A once-great model fhecked for ever.

      “Nooooooo. A once-great model fhecked for ever”

      Christ on a crutch, what’s the appeal of living under a rock?

    Looks nice and all but base model is nearly £7k! My Vitus was £3250. Might not be an SC but it’s not £3.5k worse

    It’s pretty ugly, even for an e-mtb; and heavy compared with many of it’s market rivals. It’s a SC though… the car park in Peaslake will be full of them before we know it.

    Talk about underwhelming, I always thought Santa Cruz were innovators, an aspirational brand, with an ageing drive system a 500wh battery it would seem that the 3 years it took them to develop it could have been put to better use, when the industry seems to be moving towards lighter drive and battery systems and some companies developing integrated gear boxes and motor this first attempt by Santa Cruz looks positively prehistoric.

    I can’t look at the green one with the matte black battery pack slung underneath and not think of Boy George’s chin makeup.

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