The Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air is the second eMTB in the Californian brand’s portfolio and was designed to tackle the most challenging downhills. But is that all it’s good at? How does it handle less demanding trails, climbs and long tours? After all, we’re looking for the best all-rounder for this test.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2021 – 25 models in review

Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air | Shimano EP8/630 Wh | 170/170 mm (f/r)
21.80 kg in size L | € 11,699 | Manufacturer’s website

If you look at the build quality and level of detail of the Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air, it’s hard to believe that it’s only the second eMTB in the Californian brand’s portfolio. The carbon frame of the € 11,699 Bullit is finished with a premium paint job. Santa Cruz use the same chainstay protector, built-in fender and VPP linkage as their analogue mountain bikes and complement these parts with a well-integrated Shimano EP8 drive system. We really like the tidy cockpit with Santa Cruz’s own handlebar, which routes the cable of the remote internally. The internal 630 Wh Shimano battery is neatly integrated into the square-edged down tube and the power switch is discreetly hidden under the shock. As a result, the Bullit could be easily mistaken for one of Santa Cruz’s analogue trail bikes while riding, except for the display of course. Not as impressive is the annoying rattling caused by the internally routed cables and the awkward position of the shock, which makes it harder to adjust the damper settings.

We would have specced the Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air just like that!

The spec of the Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air is nothing short of perfect – we wouldn’t have done it any differently! Together with Moustache, Santa Cruz are the only brand in this test to rely on a mixed suspension setup, with the fork and shock coming from different brands. Santa Cruz combine a FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 fork with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, both of which offer 170 mm travel. SRAM supply the 12-speed X01 Eagle drivetrain and CODE RSC brakes, which proved to be the best brakes in the entire test field. These are paired with a 220 mm rotor up front and 200 mm at the rear. The Reserve carbon wheelset and 800 mm carbon bars are produced in-house by Santa Cruz. Again, build quality is top-notch! The wheels are shod in relatively slim MAXXIS tires with robust Doubledown casings. At the front, a 2.5” ASSEGAI with the super-soft and grippy 3C MaxxGrip compound, at the rear a 2.4” Minion DHRII with a slightly harder rubber. Superb!

Mega pop, mega awesome
No other bike with this much travel in our test field provides as much support and pop. Anyone who buys a Bullit should register as a frequent flyer and start collecting air miles!
MX, the downhill way
Like many other bikes in this test, the Bullit relies on an MX wheel setup. However, Santa Cruz use a narrow 2.4” MAXXIS Minion DHRII at the rear. This is particularly noticeable at high speeds on man-made downhill trails.
With one exception
The carbon frame of the Bullit X01 RSV Air is well-thought-out and built to the highest standards. Unfortunately, the cables aren’t clamped at the ports which causes them to rattle on rough descents.

Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air

€ 11,699


Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano BT-E8036 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 170 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory 175 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 220/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle 1x12
Stem Burgtec Enduro 35 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz Carbon Di2 Riser 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 30/Reserve DH 29"/27.5"

Technical Data

Weight 21.80 kg
Perm. total weight 136 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 114 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Shock protection
A small fender protects the shock from flying mud and debris.
Santa Cruz developed the 800 mm carbon handlebars specifically for the Shimano motor system. It incorporates the cable of the STEPS remote.
The power switch is neatly hidden above the motor. This ensures a tidy look from the rider’s perspective and makes the Bullit look like one of Santa Cruz’s analogue bikes.

The Santa Cruz Bullit comes in four frame sizes, M to XXL. Unfortunately, short riders under 1.65 m tall will walk away empty-handed. The short seat tube gives most riders the choice between at least two frame sizes. Our test bike in size L has a reach of 475 mm and a 630 mm stack. The 64° head angle is the slackest in the entire test field and the 77° seat angle is relatively steep. This becomes particularly evident when riding on flat terrain, where the Bullit is noticeably less comfortable than the top tourers in this test. Moreover, the relatively stiff suspension and narrow tires pass bumps and impacts on to the rider. Like the GIANT, as soon as you head for the trailhead along a fire road, you’ll appreciate the perks of the central and integrated riding position – perfect to shuttle back to the top at full blast.

Seat tube 405 mm 430 mm 460 mm 500 mm
Top tube 591 mm 619 mm 645 mm 672 mm
Head tube 100 mm 110 mm 130 mm 155 mm
Head angle 64.0° 64.0° 64.0° 64.0°
Seat angle 77.2° 77.1° 77.0° 76.8°
Chainstays 449 mm 449 mm 449 mm 449 mm
BB Drop 7 mm 7 mm 7 mm 7 mm
Wheelbase 1,239 mm 1,268 mm 1,297 mm 1,328 mm
Reach 450 mm 475 mm 495 mm 515 mm
Stack 621 mm 630 mm 648 mm 670 mm
Helmet POC Tectal | Glasses SCOTT Shield 60th Anniversary | Backpack Mavic Crossride
Jersey Fasthouse Dropper L/S | Pants ION Scrub Select | Shoes Five Ten Freerider Pro
Gloves POC Resistance Enduro

Downhill rig with a built-in shuttle – The Santa Cruz Bullit on the trail

On moderate singletrack climbs, the Bullit lands in the middle of our group test. While the steep seat tube angle and supportive rear end ensure an ideal pedalling position on moderate terrain, on really loose terrain it struggles to transfer the full 85 Nm of the motor to the trail. Compared to the massive tires of the KTM Macina Kapoho Prestige or the Lapierre Overvolt GLP 2 Team, the narrow MAXXIS tires of the Bullit have a significantly smaller contact area and thus generate less grip. In addition, more technical sections with tight hairpin corners require increased physical effort – here the slack head angle shows its drawbacks.

Uphill, the Santa Cruz Bullit prefers to shuttle you to the trailhead on fire roads. In return, it’s a true master of fun on all types of descents!

Tuning tip: clamp the cables to the ports with electric tape

As soon as you let gravity do its thing, the Santa Cruz Bullit quickly works itself through the pack and jumps straight to the top of the field. Hardly any of its competitors feel as agile and simultaneously as smooth. Despite the huge amounts of travel, the stiff suspension provides plenty of pop and ensures top riding fun even on tame and flowing trails. However, in corners you’ll have to actively shift your weight forwards to keep the front wheel tracking – good riding skills help enormously. On rough, steep terrain, the Bullit is the epitome of confidence. Thanks to its massive reserves, you can charge through brutal rock gardens or spontaneously change your line without getting into trouble. The bike really comes to life on fast, rough descents and challenging bike park trails. The Bullit negotiates huge gaps and nasty trail sections with composure and carries an insane amount of speed. Active riders will be rewarded with top-end trail performance. Unfortunately, you’ll have to get used to the loud rattling of the cables and the signature clunking noise of the Shimano EP8 motor.

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. stable


  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Riding fun

  1. boring
  2. lively

Motor feeling

  1. digital
  2. natural

Motor power

  1. weak
  2. strong

Value for money

  1. poor
  2. top


Forest road


Flow trail uphill


Flow trail downhill


Technical single trail uphill


Technical single trail downhill


Downhill tracks



Downhill, the Bullit X01 RSV Air is a true master of fun on challenging and rough trails and fast bike park tracks with huge jumps. Here, the Santa Cruz cranks it up to eleven and still delights its rider with smooth yet nimble handling. However, only very experienced riders will manage to unlock its true potential and make full use of the huge reserves on offer. Less experienced riders will get on better with the more docile bikes in this test. Uphill, the Bullit likes to be used as shuttle, preferring to climb on moderate fire roads with full motor support.


  • fun and fast on all kinds of descents
  • perfect choice of components
  • good integration of the Shimano drive system


  • climbs are only a means to an end
  • requires an active riding style
  • background noise downhill

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The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2021 – 25 models in review

All bikes in test: Cannondale Moterra Neo Carbon 1 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9 (Click for review) | CENTURION No Pogo F3600i (Click for review) | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 140 HPC SLT Nyon (Click for review) | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 160 C:62 SLT Kiox (Click for review) | Ducati TK-01 RR (Click for review) | FLYER Uproc6 9.50 (Click for review) | FOCUS JAM² 6.9 NINE (Click for review) | GIANT Trance X E+ 1 (Click for review) | Haibike AllMtn 7 (Click for review) | KTM Macina Kapoho Prestige (Click for review) | Lapierre Overvolt GLP 2 Team (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | Mondraker Crafty Carbon XR (Click for review) | Moustache Samedi 29 Trail 8 (Click for review) | ROTWILD R.X375 ULTRA (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Bullit X01 RSV Air | SCOTT Ransom eRIDE 910 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon PMAX (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL (Click for review) | STEVENS E-Inception AM 9.7 GTF (Click for review) | Thömus Lightrider E2 Pro (Click for review) | Trek Rail 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Whyte E-150 RS 29ER V1 (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Various