The light(er)weight, mid-power e-bike market has really started to come into its own in the last year, with quieter, more refined options that are genuinely appealing rides. Now, Santa Cruz has a hot new entry into this category, with its incredibly sleek, Fazua-powered Heckler SL.
Remember when 29er mountain bikes stood out like a sore thumb? Big wagon wheels, with skinny cross country tyres and often with goofy, dated geometry. Many speculated about this wheel size – and its future – but a decade or so later they’re not just a common sight but have matured into well proportioned and eye-pleasing bikes. They certainly don’t stand out anymore.
And it was much the same with e-bikes too. Early adopters had to forgive the bulky, clunky looks, a battery piggy-backed onto the down tube and oversized displays and controllers. But e-bike development has been rapid, especially in the last few years and the Hecker SL, a new mid-power model from Santa Cruz may well be the perfect illustration of this. The svelte carbon frame certainly hides its motor and slimline battery well and it doesn’t stand out as a motorised machine. It looks just like a premium level contemporary trail bike.
We may not have seen this new e-bike in the flesh yet but from the photos it looks as close to a regular self-assisted mountain bike as its possible to get. With 150mm rear travel, a 160mm stock fork and a mullet/MX (29in front, 27.5in rear) wheel set up it mirrors the brand’s Bronson trail bike blueprint but with an integrated down tube battery and Fazua’s small and discrete motor. As regular trail bikes have bulked up, many e-bikes have trimmed some fat and as with Trek’s TQ-powered Fuel EXe and its self-powered sibling, the regular Fuel EX, it’s getting hard to distinguish between the two breeds visually.
This new and evolving mid-powered e-bike category isn’t just about slim looks and being inconspicuous though. These bikes are quieter and lighter, resulting in a more natural ride feel and a more manageable bike. Efficient low drag, diminutive motors, and the lack of bulk from smaller, integrated batteries helps shed the pounds.
Santa Cruz didn’t rush into the full-power e-bike market, bringing back the Hecker and Bullit name plates for its well presented Shimano-powered models. And its taken its time with its trail-oriented mid-powered offering too, dropping the Heckler SL into a market when the technology is maturing well and proven itself.
Need to know
- Carbon C and CC spec frames, no alloy option
- 150mm rear travel, 160mm fork travel
- MX wheel set up (29in front, 27.5in rear) on all sizes
- Five frame sizes S to XXL
- Fazua Ride 60 (60Nm) lightweight motor
- Fazua 430Wh integrated battery
- Integrated top tube display with USB-C phone/GPS charging port
- Three Fazua assist levels plus Boost (450W) and Walk Assist mode
- Fazua APP gives customisation of range
- Average bike weight of 18.5kg/41 pounds
- Bikes start at £6699 for an R build on a C spec frame
So, the Hecker SL really is a motorized SC Bronson, using the same frame and suspension blueprint, wheel sizes and travel. The geometry figures are almost identical, with the exception of the chainstay length which is 5mm longer on the motorised bike.
With the proven Fazua Ride 60 motor and Santa Cruz promising a sub 19kg weight, this new Heckler SL goes head-to-head with the best bikes in the quickly evolving mid-powered ‘diet’ e-bike category.
The Specialized Levo SL, Trek Fuel EXe and Pivot Shuttle SL are all high-scoring bikes of this genre but where the Specialized matches the Heckler SL in front and rear travel and MX wheel set up, it’s the Pivot that opts for Fazua’s latest Ride 60 motor.
One topic the Santa Cruz press release only touches on is the bike’s range. Certainly many factors affect this and Santa Cruz doesn’t list any figures, however is does suggest the the Heckler SL, with its 430Wh integrated battery, gives an equivalent range to that of a full power e-MTB with a 630Wh battery.
Of course, one compromise is that the battery isn’t removable for charging, so you’ll need to bear that in mind, although a full charge is said to take only take 3.5 hours.
After our recent E-bike of the year test we’ve got stacks of insight, proven test tracks and hundreds of collective assisted-riding hours behind us, so we’re keen to see how this new offering from Santa Cruz performs and stacks up against our mid power ‘diet e-bike’ benchmarks.
Models and prices
- Hecker SL C with R kit £6699
- Heckler SL C with S kit £7599
- Heckler SL C with GX AXS kit £8799
- Heckler SL CC with XO AXS RSV £10,299
- Heckler SL CC with XX AXS RSV £11,999