'Our goal was to make something light and agile, and trying to get as close as we can to the experience of riding a bike like the Bronson'

Although Santa Cruz said it would never make one, no one really believed it. That a Santa Cruz ebike would come was always a matter of when, not if.

>>> Best electric mountain bikes for 2020

Now that the cat is out of the bag, let’s take a closer look at the new Heckler e-bike.

Quite different from the first Heckler in 1996

Santa Cruz Heckler ebike need to know

  • Full carbon frame with 150mm travel and 27.5in wheels
  • 65.5° head angle
  • Shimano E8000 STEPS motor and 504Wh integrated battery
  • Lower link-driven VPP design
  • Five frame sizes from S-XXL
  • Claimed weights: 46.29lbs to 47.66lbs
  • Prices start at £6,699 and go all the way to £11,999

Turn me on

So far, so ordinary…

Look at the building blocks of the new Heckler and it’s difficult to get too excited. In fact we can’t help wondering why it’s taken Santa Cruz so long to release this bike, because it doesn’t appear to bring anything new to the e-bike table.

santa cruz heckler

Yep, that’s a motor

Of course the proof of the pudding is always in the riding – something we haven’t had a chance to do yet – so we’ll reserve judgement until then, but on paper at least, the Heckler feels a bit behind the times.

Now four years old, the once game-changing Shimano STEPS E8000 system is getting a bit long in the tooth, with less power and torque than the equivalent systems from Brose and Bosch, as well as a less refined ride quality.

santa cruz heckler

Plug in baby

Then there’s the battery; with only 504Wh it’s lagging well behind Specialized’s 700Wh and Bosch’s 625Wh options. However you dice it, that means less range compared to much of the competition, which is somewhat at odds with Santa Cruz’s claim that the Heckler is about ‘opening inaccessible trails’ and ‘lofting riders to new heights’.

Ultimately, that Santa Cruz has chosen to release such a significant new model equipped with a motor and battery that’s overdue an update seems more than a little strange to us.

The first ever VPP Heckler

‘The most agile e-bike on the market’

Hang on a moment, maybe we need to give this new Heckler a chance. Santa Cruz is certainly making a bold claim for its inaugural e-bike with the above promise. Until that all important first ride, we won’t know how much truth there is in this statement, but within the press pack there are snippets of information that help back up its credentials.

At under 21kg (claimed) it’s reasonably light, although nowhere near the new breed of low power models such as the 17.9kg Lapierre eZesty and 17.3kg Specialized Turbo Levo SL.

Reserve carbon wheels are an option

It has 27.5in wheels, something relatively rare among current e-bikes but sure to help its ability to change direction. Then there’s the suspension kinematics, tuned, according to Santa Cruz, to help disguise the bulk and keep the Heckler light on its feet.

Specifically the anti-squat has been reduced, so the suspension works more freely when sat down and climbing, increasing traction where the smooth input from the motor minimises bob anyway.

Note the dinky mud guard for rear shock

Then there is more support and progression from mid to end-stroke to give you something to push against in order to get the bike airborne, or when pumping for speed when you exceed the speed limiter.

Chainstay protector is ribbed on the underside as well

Lifetime warranty

Another element of the Heckler package that deserves special mention is the lifetime warranty. This is something that will provide peace of mind, along with the easily serviced bearings and readily available servicing and back-up for the Shimano STEPS system.

Cabling and hosing

All in the details…

It’s nice to see Santa Cruz has sweated the details on the Heckler, particularly given the hefty price tag. The battery cover removes using a 4mm hex, rather than an easily lost key. Shimano’s neat E7000 power switch is unobtrusive and doesn’t interfere with the dropper post remote. Santa Cruz has developed carbon handlebars that hide the Di2 wires inside for a cleaner cockpit, and the rear wheel uses a new, beefed up, 32 hole/31mm width Reserve carbon rim and e-bike-rated Industry Nine hub.

santa cruz heckler

Finally, Santa Cruz hasn’t skimped on the sizing, with a comprehensive five-frame range that should cover even the tallest of humans.

Demo day info from Santa Cruz UK:

It’s all very good reading how the bikes feel, or how it rides. What we want to do is provide riders with the opportunity to be the first in the UK to put the Heckler to the test.

Over two separate weekends, we will be at Pedal A Bike Away in the middle of the Forest of Dean. We will also be in the Tweed Valley with our good friends at Tweed Valley Guides. Along with our fleet of brand NEW Santa Cruz Hecklers.

We have a range of sizes for everyone to choose from which can book via the link provided. We will have two sessions per day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon.

These will be guided rides, providing the opportunity to ride with others and with Santa Cruz Staff, allowing you to go deep into the knowledge of the Heckler.

Each ride will be roughly 2 to 3 hours providing plenty of time to push the Heckler to its limits.

There will be a cost of £20 per ride involved, but 100% of the money will be donated to the local Trail Associations.

Book online: hecklerfirstride.eventbritestudio.com


Forest of Dean: 22nd & 23rd February

Tweed Valley: 29th & 1st February/March