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Santa Cruz Heckler 2020 announced – the American brand’s eMTB debut

The Heckler hasn’t featured in Santa Cruz’s portfolio since 2016. Now the bike is back as an eMTB with a Shimano motor as well as a revamped look and suspension design to slot in nicely with the rest of Santa Cruz’s portfolio.

Santa Cruz Heckler | Shimano STEPS E8000/504 Wh | 160/150 mm (v/h) | ab 7.499 € | manufacturer’s website

The party is already in full swing when the door slams open, a new guest enters the room and immediately storms the dance floor. In the world of eMTBs, that is the Santa Cruz Heckler. The iconic Californian MTB brand is finally joining the party. Regarding looks, the bike slots perfectly into the American brand’s lineup. The Heckler is powered by a complete Shimano system with the STEPS E8000 motor and an integrated but removable 504 Wh battery. A lot of current eMTBs have more capacity, but Santa Cruz deliberately chose to rely on Shimano’s complete system to guarantee the best possible after-sales service worldwide.

The Heckler is powered by a complete Shimano system with the STEPS E8000 motor and an integrated but removable 504 Wh battery

According to Santa Cruz, the kinematics of the rear suspension have been specially tuned to suit eMTB demands. The Americans rely on carbon for the frame material, using the high-quality CC fibres that we’ve already come to know on their high-end analogue mountain bikes. The choice of wheel size is unusual for a modern eMTB – instead of mixed wheels or 29ers, the Heckler rolls on 27.5” wheels front and rear, fitted with 2.6” wide MAXXIS tires.

As with the rest of Santa Cruz’s lineup, the Heckler also features their proprietary lower link suspension platform
A lifetime guarantee on the bearings and frame gives prospective buyers added peace of mind
The specially developed handlebar has ports for internally routed display and remote cables, keeping the cockpit nice and clean
Santa Cruz’s unmotorised bikes are known for being extremely quiet! Thanks to the large ribbed chainstay protector, the Heckler shouldn’t be an exception
Santa Cruz attach the magnet for the speed sensor to the brake rotor. This way it can’t twist and you won’t lose it as easily – great!
Unlike the Megatower or Hightower, you won’t find a flip chip on the Heckler

As you’d expect from Santa Cruz, the bike looks well thought out with high-quality workmanship and lots of attention to detail. Be it the big chainstay protector, the way the rear linkage is bolted to the front triangle or the positioning of the charging socket and the on/off button above the motor. Santa Cruz have also developed their own 35 mm handlebar with ports to route the Shimano Steps cables internally and keep the cockpit looking neat and tidy. With a lifetime guarantee on the frame and the bearings, Santa Cruz continue to back their premium status with the Heckler.

The geometry of the Santa Cruz Heckler eMTB

Regarding geometry, you can see that Santa Cruz have prioritised maximum trail performance. The 465 mm reach in size L is well dimensioned, the head angle is rather slack at 65.5° and the 76° seat tube angle is neither particularly steep nor too slack. At 445 mm, the chainstay length is just about average too, and with 165 mm cranks, the bike should offer enough ground clearance for technical climbs. What’s striking is the rather long 135 mm head tube, which should make you feel comfortably integrated with the bike even on steep descents. Thanks to the 430 mm seat tube, there’s plenty of room for long dropper posts, giving you maximum freedom of movement as well as allowing you to choose between at least two frame sizes to suit your riding style and bodily proportions.

Size S M L XL XXL
Seat tube 390 405 430 460 500
Top tube 572 mm 595 mm 619 mm 650 mm 682 mm
Head tube 110 mm 120 mm 135 mm 150 mm 175 mm
Head angle 65.5° 65.5° 65.5° 65.5° 65.5°
Seat angle 76.2° 76.1° 76.0° 75.9° 75.4°
Chaninstays 445 mm 445 mm 445 mm 445 mm 445 mm
BB Drop 13 mm 13 mm 13 mm 13 mm 13 mm
Wheelbase 1187 mm 1211 mm 1237 mm 1268 mm 1304 mm
Reach 425 mm 445 mm 465 mm 490 mm 515 mm
Stack 597 mm 606 mm 620 mm 634 mm 655 mm

The various Heckler models

Santa Cruz are offering the Heckler a total of four builds. The € 7,499 Santa Cruz Heckler CC R 27.5 is their entry-level model. For the flagship Heckler XX1 AXS RSV featuring SRAM’s wireless drivetrain, you’ll have to fork out a whopping € 13,399. All models are built up around the same high-quality CC carbon frame, as well as Shimano’s STEPS E8000 motor and compact E7000 remote. Santa Cruz rely on the E7000 display for the less expensive R and S models whereas the two higher-end builds come with the E8000 colour display. On the trail, we prefer the more compact E7000 display and, unlike the expensive colour version, it’s compatible with the eTUBE ride app. The E8000 display on the high-end models seems like a downgrade to us, besides the fact that it’s colour. Unfortunately, the Santa Cruz Di2 handlebar isn’t available on their most affordable model. On a more positive note, Santa Cruz have specced powerful four-piston brakes across the range. The two top-end models come with Santa Cruz’s Reserve carbon wheels, and for maximum durability, they’ve opted to go with their robust downhill rim on the rear. Unfortunately, they haven’t given as much thought to the tires. Although the MAXXIS Minion DHR II tires on the front and rear offer plenty of grip, we would have liked the DoubleDown version on the rear. Experience has shown that the thin-walled EXO+ version doesn’t hold up to aggressive use.

Santa Cruz Heckler CC XX1 AXS RSV 27.5

Santa Cruz Heckler CC XX1 AXS | € 13,399

Frame Carbon CC 27.5 150mm Travel VPP™
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select Ultimate
Fork FOX 36-E Float Factory, 160mm, 27.5″
Brakes SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS, 12spd
Battery Shimano 504Wh Integrated
Motor Shimano DU-E8000
Display Shimano Display Unit E8000
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth
Handlebar Santa Cruz Di2 Carbon, 25mm rise
Stem i9 A35
Rims Santa Cruz Reserve 30 V2 27.5″ Carbon Rims
Hubs i9 Hydra
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II, 27.5×2.6 EXO+ TR
Price € 13,399


Santa Cruz Heckler CC X01 RSV 27.5

Santa Cruz Heckler CC X01 | € 11,199

Frame Carbon CC 27.5 150mm Travel VPP™
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select Ultimate
Fork FOX 36-E Float Performance Elite, 160mm, 27.5″
Brakes SRAM Code RSC
Drivetrain SRAM X01 Eagle, 12 spd
Battery Shimano 504Wh Integrated
Motor Shimano DU-E8000
Display Shimano Display Unit E8000
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth
Handlebar Santa Cruz Di2 Carbon, 25mm rise
Stem Race Face Aeffect R
Rims Santa Cruz Reserve 30 V2 27.5″ Carbon Rims
Hubs DT Swiss 350
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II, 27.5×2.6 EXO+ TR
Price € 11,199


Santa Cruz Heckler CC S 27.5

Santa Cruz Heckler CC S | € 8,599

Frame Carbon CC 27.5 150mm Travel VPP™
Shock Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+
Fork FOX 36-E Float Performance, 160mm, 27.5″
Brakes SRAM Code R
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle, 12spd
Battery Shimano 504Wh Integrated
Motor Shimano DU-E8000
Display Shimano Display Unit E7000
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth
Handlebar Santa Cruz Di2 Carbon, 25mm rise
Stem Race Face Aeffect R
Rims RaceFace ARC HD 30 27.5″ Rims
Hubs DT Swiss 370
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II, 27.5×2.6 EXO+ TR
Price € 8,599


Santa Cruz Heckler CC R 27.5

Santa Cruz Heckler CC R | € 7,499

Frame Carbon CC 27.5 150mm Travel VPP™
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select
Fork RockShox Yari RC, 160mm, 27.5″
Brakes SRAM Guide RE
Drivetrain SRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
Battery Shimano 504Wh Integrated
Motor Shimano DU-E8000
Display Shimano Display Unit E7000
Seatpost Race Face Aeffect, 31.6
Handlebar Race Face Aeffect R
Stem Race Race Face Ride
Rims WTB ST i29 TCS 2.0 27.5″ Rims
Hubs SRAM MTH 746
Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II, 27.5×2.6 EXO+ TR
Price € 7,499

The battery capacity of 504 Wh is far from class-leading, but Shimano don’t have a larger battery currently on offer.
The compact E7000-Remote is easy to use and allows you to keep the position of the dropper post lever nice and ergonomic
The two most expensive models feature Reserve carbon wheels with a lifetime guarantee

Our first impression of the Santa Cruz Heckler

At first glance, the Santa Cruz Heckler looks like a successful eMTB debut. They haven’t reinvented the wheel in terms of motor and integration, but the new Heckler features all the smart details that Santa Cruz are known for. Ultimately, it all depends on how the bike performs on the trail and we’re excited to find out – considering the price, our expectations are equally high!

For more information, visit santacruzbicycles.com


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Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Santa Cruz

About the author

Christoph Bayer

Christoph loves to be kept on his toes – both on the bike and in his role for the E-MOUNTAINBIKE Magazine. He’s known as the guy in charge of the magazine and masquerades as both its editor and photographer. You’ll usually find him tearing up the mountains on his bike, soaking up the flow or tackling technical, narrow trails.