Good things are worth waiting for, and Santa Cruz certainly took their sweet time before jumping aboard the light eMTB bullet train. Finally, they present the all-new Santa Cruz Heckler SL light eMTB, relying on the FAZUA Ride 60 motor and offering a trail bike character. Has the wait paid off? We put it to the test to find out.
With the Santa Cruz Heckler SL, the Californian brand now present their first light eMTB, relying on the 60 Nm FAZUA Ride 60 motor and an integrated, non-removable 430 Wh battery. The Heckler SL is exclusively available as a mixed wheel mullet setup, offering 160 and 150 mm travel front and rear, and tipping the scales at just 18.6 kg in size L. While it looks a lot like the analogue Bronson, the geometry and kinematics have been adapted. Of course, it stays true to Santa Cruz’s signature look with the low shock and VPP rear suspension.
The Santa Cruz Heckler SL in detail
As with most Santa Cruz bikes, there are two frame options for the new Heckler SL. You can choose between C and CC grade carbon, depending on the build. The high-end CC frame relies on a larger proportion of higher strength fibres, allowing Santa Cruz to achieve the same stiffness values at a lower weight.
The cable routing on the SL is internal throughout, only peeking out at the transition between the front triangle and the rear end. Santa Cruz resort to conventional internal routing with cable ports by the head tube, though without clamping them in place. Fortunately, there was no rattling to be heard on the trail, and the bike remained quiet nonetheless. This is underlined by the generously sized chainstay protector, not just protecting the frame but also your ears.
There is a large plastic protector on the down tube to protect your frame from incoming dirt and debris. The small fender on the seat stays also protects the shock from getting bombarded with mud, and there is room for a bottle cage inside the front triangle, of course. As you’d expect from Santa Cruz Bikes, the all-new Heckler SL boasts the usual high-quality workmanship.
The build variants of the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL
The new Santa Cruz Heckler SL is available in the two colours, Matte Silver and Gloss Magenta, and 5 different build variants. The two entry-level models, R and S, are based on the C carbon frame and mechanical groupsets. The three higher-end models with CC frames feature the new wireless SRAM Transmission groupsets, combined with different forks, shocks, and other components. The Heckler SL prices range from € 7,499 to € 12,999, and the bike should be available immediately.
The 2024 Santa Cruz Heckler SL on test
The 2024 Santa Cruz Heckler SL that we rode for our first ride review differs slightly from the stock builds. It’s based on the € 9,799 GX AXS build, though our bike featured the CC frame instead of the C frame, and it came equipped with RockShox Ultimate suspension instead of the Select+ you would normally get with this model.
We had RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork paired with RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate air shock. Both offer extensive and user-friendly adjustability, and deliver a top performance on the trail. As with other Santa Cruz bikes, there’s a small cutout on the Heckler SL frame through which you can check the sag on the shock – very handy. The derailleur of the new wireless SRAM GX Eagle Transmission groupset is bolted directly to the frame and very robust.
You get a pair of SRAM CODE Bronze Stealth four-piston brakes to keep your speed in check. They resemble the CODE RS in terms of its performance, but the reservoirs are now positioned closer to the handlebar for a sleeker look. You can adjust the lever reach without tools, and the SwingLink technology gives you increased modulation and power. They’re combined with 200 mm rotors front and rear, which suits the SL’s character and intended use.
The dropper post is a OneUp Components V2 with 180 mm drop (frame size L) which can be inserted all the way into the frame. This is a very popular choice amongst our editors and our colleagues at ENDURO Magazine since it’s performed very reliably in the past and comes with an excellent remote. Speaking of which, the controls are mounted to an 800 mm wide Reserve carbon handlebar.
Santa Cruz rely on their in-house Reserve wheels, which have recently come out in aluminium. Since it’s a mullet setup, you get a 29″ wheel on the front and 27.5″ model on the rear. The Reserve 30SL AL wheels are shod with MAXXIS tires. There’s a Minion DHF with the soft MaxxGrip rubber compound on the front, and a Minion DHR with the harder MaxxTerra compound on the rear.It is a trail bike tire combination we can’t fault. Heavier or more aggressive riders might want to swap the EXO and EXO+ casings at the front and rear for more robust versions, like DoubleDown, for more puncture protection and grip.
Santa Cruz Heckler SL 2024
Motor FAZUA Ride 60 60 Nm
Battery FAZUA Energy 430 Wh
Display FAZUA LED Hub
Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 160 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 150 mm
Seatpost OneUp Components V2 180 mm
Brakes SRAM Code Bronze Stealth 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX AXS Eagle Transmission 1x12
Stem Burgtec Enduro MK3 42,5 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 30SL AL 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF MaxxGrip EXO/ MAXXIS Minion DHR II MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.5"/2.4"
Size S M L XL XXL
Weight 18.6 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no
The FAZUA Ride 60 motor on the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL
Santa Cruz held back before introducing their first light eMTB, so they were able to address or avoid certain teething issues that the FAZUA Ride 60 motor had upon launch. Check out our FAZUA Ride 60 motor test for an in-depth review of how it performs on the trail and what other features the 60 Nm FAZUA motor has to offer.
Santa Cruz choose to have the 430 Wh battery permanently integrated in the Heckler SL, so you can’t remove the battery to charge it indoors. The charging port is located close to the motor where it’s easily accessible. As with all Ride 60 models, the charging port is protected by a spring-loaded flap.
The FAZUA LED hub is embedded in the top tube, indicating the state of charge and support mode with the help of 5 colour LEDs. It also features a USB-C charging port, which you can use to keep your smartphone battery charged, for example.
The motor can be operated via the Ring Control remote, which is always located on the left side of the handlebar. You can push the remote up, down and inwards towards the stem, allowing you to switch between riding modes, activate the short-term Boost function, switch on the light – if installed – or activate the push-assist function. However, the twist grip feels a little cheap.
The long-awaited FAZUA range extender is still not available, but there’s a chance that you’ll be able to buy it at some point and thereby increase the range of your Heckler SL.
The geometry of the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL
The new Santa Cruz Heckler SL will be available in five sizes – from S to XXL. The ebike is somewhat longer than its analogue siblings.
The large Heckler SL has a reach of 478 mm in the low setting. The seat tube stays nice and short at 430 mm, giving you a lot of freedom of movement on the trail together with the long, fully insertable dropper post. The chainstays measure 444 mm on the S, M and L frames. However, frame sizes XL and XXL have slightly longer chainstays to keep the bike balanced.
You can adjust the geometry from low to high via a flip chip on the shock mount. Doing so affects almost all geometry values, with the head angle, bottom bracket height, and reach having the greatest influence on handling.
The geometry of the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL in the low setting.
|Top tube||580 mm||603 mm||622 mm||643 mm||670 mm|
|Seat tube||380 mm||405 mm||430 mm||460 mm||500 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||110 mm||120 mm||140 mm||155 mm|
|BB Drop||32 mm||32 mm||32 mm||32 mm||32 mm|
|Chainstay||444 mm||444 mm||444 mm||447 mm||451 mm|
|Wheelbase||1210 mm||1239 mm||1263 mm||1295 mm||1331 mm|
|Reach||432 mm||457 mm||478 mm||497 mm||523 mm|
|Stack||617 mm||626 mm||635 mm||653 mm||667 mm|
Riding the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL
We got the chance to hijack the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL for some test runs in Whistler, Canada. Since the FAZUA Ride 60 system is constantly evolving, we focused on the handling of the Heckler SL in this review – feel free to check out our latest review of the Ride 60 for more details on the motor.
Making your way to the trailhead, you’ll immediately notice the comfortable and centred riding position aboard the Heckler SL. Putting down power, the front wheel stays planted even on steep climbs, letting you remain in control and on your desired line as you follow the trail towards the summit.
The rear VPP linkage of the Heckler SL isn’t among the most efficient and bobs slightly as you pedal, though this isn’t a problem considering the motor, providing plenty of comfort and traction to chug along over roots and rocks. We never locked out the shock and simply let the FAZUA Ride 60 bear the brunt of the work.
You’ll feel just as centred and balanced aboard the Heckler SL on the descents, making you comfortable on the bike after the first few metres. The ebike encourages you to stay off the brakes, and the playful, agile handling invites you to play with the terrain.
On flowing trails, you’ll find yourself catching air off every little roller, slamming the rear wheel into berms, and drifting with your foot out around open corners.
But the Heckler SL also feels at home on technical terrain, instilling you with enough confidence to tackle steep rock slabs and technical descents. It’s only when things get really fast and rough that you’ll be reminded of the fact that this is a trail bike, in which case you can just jump casually over to the nearest flow trail.
Who is the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL for?
The new Santa Cruz Heckler SL is definitely amongst the sportier light eMTBs out there, encouraging a playful riding style with its agile character and supportive suspension. Best of all, the intuitive and well-balanced handling caters to beginners and advanced riders alike, making you feel at home aboard the Heckler SL from the get go. However, the Heckler SL is made for the trails, not tours. It’s on the trails that it can live to its full potential and put a grin on your face.
Our conclusion on the new Santa Cruz Heckler SL
The new Santa Cruz Heckler SL isn’t bursting with the latest innovations, but it delivers a convincing performance both on and off the trail. Thanks to its undeniable trail bike character and intuitive handling, it’s a blast to ride for both beginners and pros, quickly making riders of all skill levels feel at home. Its playful and agile handling is a lot of fun on flowing trails, but the balanced handling allows you to take on technical features and big rock rolls too.
- intuitive and stable
- quickly makes you feel at home
- playful and agile on the trail
- permanently integrated battery (in case you haven’t got a power outlet in your garage)
For more information about the new Heckler SL, visit Santa Cruz Bicycles.
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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Peter Walker