Analogue or eBike? Santa Cruz enter our 2024 eMTB test with the Heckler SL, which comes equipped with a FAZUA Ride 60 motor and 430 Wh of battery power. The Californian e-bruiser rolls on 29” wheels and generates 160/150 mm of travel, which should ensure plenty of fun on the trail. How did the Santa Cruz Heckler SL fare against the competition in our huge group test?

Santa Cruz Heckler SL XX AXS RSV | FAZUA Ride 60/430 Wh | 160/150 mm (f/r)
19.3 kg in size L | € 12,999 | Manufacturer’s website

With the Santa Cruz Heckler, the Californian cult brand introduced their very first eMTB back in 2020, which these days runs on a powerful Shimano EP801 drive system. For the 2024 season, Joe Graney’s team introduced the Heckler’s light assistance variant, the Heckler SL, which was designed around a 60 Nm FAZUA Ride 60 motor and a permanently integrated, non-removable 430 Wh FAZUA Energy battery. This is the biggest battery capacity of all the light eMTB competitors in our test, and also the only one to feature a FAZUA motor. While the geometry and kinematics are not quite the same, the Heckler SL is meant to be the electric counterpart to the Bronson, and should therefore deliver plenty of fun on the trail with its mullet wheel setup and 160/150 mm of travel, thus carrying the Bronson’s legacy into the light eMTB segment. As a result, Santa Cruz’s downhill-orientated light eMTB generates exactly the same travel as its more powerful sibling, the Heckler, and, at 19.3 kg, is around 1 kg heavier than the average light eMTB in this test. The Santa Cruz Heckler SL XX AXS RSV we tested retails at € 12,999.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2024 – 27 of the most exciting models in our comparison test

What sets the 2024 Santa Cruz Heckler SL XX AXS RSV apart from the competition?

With its unmistakable frame silhouette and proven VPP suspension design, the Heckler SL is distinctly recognisable as a Santa Cruz. As with most Santa Cruz full-sussers, the shock sits low in the frame and splits the seat tube in two. The Heckler SL is available in two carbon versions, a particularly lightweight CC version and a slightly heavier and more affordable C version. Our test bike employs the high-end CC frame variant, which relies on a larger proportion of higher strength fibres, providing the same degree of stiffness at a lower weight compared to its more affordable C counterpart. There are two paint finishes to choose from, “Gloss Magenta” and “Matte Silver”, which is the one we chose for this test. A flip chip on the shock mount allows you to switch between a low and high setting, which alters the head angle, bottom bracket height and reach of the bike.
The cockpit reflects the overall clean look of the Heckler SL, which is partly due to the wireless SRAM AXS components and the internal cable routing. The cables disappear into the frame through conventional cable ports on the head tube, and reappear briefly at the transition between the main frame and swingarm. From here, they disappear into the seat stays only to reappear shortly before the component where they’re needed. The conventional cable routing concept makes it easier for home mechanics to service the bike. A TPU guard protects the down tube from stray rocks and flying debris, while a generously sized chainstay protector prevents paint chips and chain slap, making the Heckler remarkably quiet on the trail. Moreover, a small fender on the rear triangle protects the shock from getting bombarded with mud. However, the Bronson doesn’t feature a shuttle guard – though you could argue it doesn’t need one given that the bike was designed to replace a shuttle! Bottle cage mounts on the down tube ensure good hydration on a long day in the saddle.

At 136 kg, Santa Cruz take on the competition with the highest maximum payload.
A treat for home mechanics! The cables of the Heckler SL are routed neatly through conventional cable ports on the frame.
Quick adjustment! A small peephole in the seat tube makes it easy to read the SAG on the shock.

The down tube has the familiar hockey stick shape typical of FAZUA-equipped bikes, and it perfectly suits Santa Cruz’s classic look, making it easier for the design team to integrate the motor into the frame. As a result, the FAZUA Ride 60 drive is seamlessly integrated into the bottom bracket area and barely visible at first glance, leaving you in doubt as to whether you’re even looking at an ebike. The motor delivers 60 Nm of torque and 350 watts of peak power, which can be pushed to 450 watts for a few seconds using the Boost function. In purely visual terms, the FAZUA motor is a little beefier than the TQ drive of the Mondraker Neat RR SL. The motor is paired with a FAZUA LED Hub, which is embedded in the top tube and shows the current support level and battery charge status with the help of 5 colour LEDs. It also features a USB-C charging port, which you can use to keep your accessories topped up. The motor is operated via the Ring Control remote, which is positioned on the left side of the handlebar. Unfortunately, the twist grip looks a little cheap and offers poor haptic feedback too, making it a little finicky to use. A charging port on the down tube allows you to charge the permanently integrated 430 Wh FAZUA Energy battery, while a spring-loaded cover protects the connection against the elements. But if you don’t have a plug in your garage, you have to lug your bike into the house.

The small fender on the seat stays keeps dirt and mud away.
The Californians swear by their in-house Reserve 30HD carbon wheelset!

A wireless, 12-speed SRAM XX Eagle AXS Transmission drivetrain ensures butter-smooth shifting. The RockShox Reverb AXS dropper is also wireless, but with a 170 mm of travel it offers too little freedom of movement on the bike. For the wheels, Santa Cruz rely on their in-house Reserve 30HD carbon wheelset, paired with MAXXIS tires, combining a Minion DHF in the MaxxGrip rubber compound and EXO casing at the front, and a Minion DHR II in the harder MaxxTerra compound and EXO+ casing at the rear. The soft MaxxGrip rubber compound generates excellent traction up front, while the slightly harder MaxxTerra compound ensures low rolling resistance at the rear. However, we recommend upgrading both tires to the tougher DoubleDown casing to protect the expensive carbon rims, especially if you’re on the heavier side. The suspension consists of a finely tunable RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork and matching RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, which both deliver a tremendous performance on the trail. SRAM CODE Ultimate Stealth four-piston brakes with 200 mm rotors front and rear provide reliable and powerful deceleration.

Santa Cruz Heckler SL XX AXS RSV

€ 12,999


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 RockShox Reverb AXS 170 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE Ultimate Stealth 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX Eagle AXS Transmission 1x12
Stem Burgtec Enduro MK3 42,5 mm
Handlebar Santa Cruz Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Santa Cruz Reserve 30 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF MaxxGrip EXO/MAXXIS Minion DHR II MaxxTerra EXO+ 2.5/2.4

Technical Data

Weight 19.3 kg
Perm. total weight 155 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 136 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features


Tuning tip: Heavy riders should upgrade to the tougher DoubleDown casing on the rear and the EXO+ casing on the front to protect the expensive carbon rims

What is the 2024 Santa Cruz Heckler SL XX AXS RSV capable on the trail?

When you swing your leg over the saddle, the Heckler SL places you in a relatively upright yet relaxed pedalling position. The high front end puts only a slight pressure on your hands, while the VPP rear suspension strikes an excellent balance between traction and comfort, albeit developing a slight bob when pedalling. All of this makes the Heckler SL a great companion for long tours. When going uphill, the FAZUA Ride 60 motor provides a very natural ride feeling, offering pleasant assistance with consistent pedalling cadences. The Heckler SL packs a punch for a light eMTB, and the FAZUA motor feels significantly stronger on the trail than the maxon and TQ drives. However, during fast-paced uphill sprints and on steeper technical climbs, the Heckler SL falls behind its direct light eMTB competitors with the powerful Bosch SX motor, like the KTM Macina Scarp and CUBE AMS Hybrid. Despite the high front end, the front wheel always remains planted on the ground, allowing you to follow your line even on steep technical sections. On tricky uphills, you can push the remote up to activate the short-term Boost function, which delivers 450 W maximum output for 12 seconds, helping you overcome technical sections.

The Santa Cruz Heckler SL is one of the best light eMTBS in the entire test field and delivers tons of fun on all kinds of trails!

The right balance – Santa Cruz unite supposed opposites, delivering a smooth blend of composure and agility in one bike.
With its intuitive handling, the Heckler SL makes you feel at ease from the get go while slapping a massive grin on your face in the process.

When gravity takes over, the Heckler SL integrates you securely between its wheels, with the high front end inspiring huge amounts of confidence in the process. Handling is intuitive and makes you feel at ease from the get go, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider. Overall, the Heckler is predictable and intuitive to ride, and responds to steering inputs with clinical precision. That said, the high front end requires you to actively shift your weight over the front wheel to keep it tracking, especially in wide, open corners. In steep, technical downhill sections, the Heckler SL impresses with great composure without feeling sluggish. The intuitive handling and nimble character encourage active riders to push their limits and rewards their efforts with plenty of fun. Overall, the Heckler SL strikes an excellent balance between composure and agility, and is even more playful than the Specialized Levo SL Expert. The suspension offers a good mix of traction and support which, together with the good-natured handling, inspires confidence and even forgives the odd riding mistake. The rear suspension provides tons of support, especially when pumping through rollers and berms, allowing you to build up speed incredibly fast. As a result, the Santa Cruz Heckler SL is one of the top flow-trail cruisers in our 2024 eMTB group test – an authentic fun machine with a massive grin factor.

The Santa Cruz Heckler SL strikes an excellent balance between agility and composure.

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
Head angle 64° 64° 64° 64° 64°
Seat angle 76.6° 76.9° 77.2° 77.5° 77.5°
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
Helmet Giro Tyrant Spherical MIPS | Glasses 100% Glendale | Jersey Fasthouse Classic Swift LS | Pants Fasthouse Shredder | Shoes Crankbrothers Mallet Enduro Speed Lace | Socks Stance OG Crew

Who should take a closer look at the 2024 Santa Cruz Heckler SL AXS XX RSV and who should look elsewhere?

The Santa Cruz Heckler SL is a great option for riders who want a bit of support for fast-paced post-work laps, but don’t want to schlep around too much weight. Santa Cruz’s light eMTB is suitable for all kinds of riders, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an advanced rider, and carries the legacy of its analogue sibling, delivering tons of fun on the trail. The Heckler SL is also an attractive alternative for heavier riders, because at 136 kg, it has the highest maximum payload in the entire test field – although if that’s your case, you should upgrade to more robust tires with a tougher casing.

Riding Characteristics


  1. unbalanced
  2. coherent


  1. cumbersome
  2. clever


  1. flop
  2. top


  1. low
  2. high


  1. demanding
  2. intuitive


  1. boring
  2. lively

Intended Use

Gravel roads

Technical climbs

Flowtrail descents

Technical descents

Our conclusions about the Heckler SL AXS XX RSV

With the Heckler SL AXS XX RSV, the Californian cult brand offer a downhill-oriented light eMTB with Santa Cruz’s trademark look and a rather spicy price tag. However, for your money you’ll get a well-considered spec that suits the bike’s character, and a harmonious overall package that puts a big grin on the face of both beginners and seasoned trail veterans. On the trail, Santa Cruz’s light eMTB impresses with excellent uphill traction and a good mix of composure and agility downhill.


  • Top fun factor on all trails
  • Great mix of composure and agility
  • Highest permissible payload in the entire test field


  • Expensive
  • Tire casing doesn’t do justice to the bike’s intended use

For more information, visit

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best eMTB of 2024 – 27 of the most exciting models in our comparison test

All bikes in test: BULLS VUCA EVO AM 2 (Click for review) | BULLS SONIC EVO AM SX-I (Click for review) | Canyon Strive:ON CFR LTD (Click for review) | Canyon Torque:ON CF Roczen (Click for review) | CENTURION No Pogo SL R8000i (Click for review) | CUBE AMS Hybrid ONE44 (Click for review) | FLYER Uproc X 8.70 (Click for review) | FOCUS SAM² 6.9 (Click for review) | GASGAS ECC 6 (Click for review) | GIANT Trance X Advanced E+ Elite 0 (Click for review) | KTM Macina Scarp SX Prime (Click for review) | Lapierre Overvolt GLP3 (Click for review) | Merida eOne-Sixty 10K (Click for review) | Mondraker Neat RR SL (Click for review) | Moustache Samedi 29 Game 11 FOX (Click for review) | Orbea WILD M-LTD (Click for review) | Pivot Shuttle AM Team (Click for review) | Propain Ekano 2 CF (Click for review) | RADON RENDER 10.0 HD (Click for review) | ROTWILD R.X 1000 Ultra (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Heckler SL XX AXS RSV | SCOR 4060 ST (Click for review) | SCOTT Voltage eRide 900 Tuned (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion (Click for review) | Specialized Turbo Levo SL Expert (Click for review) | Specialized Turbo Levo Pro (Click for review) | Spherik E-SMT XX AXS (Click for review)

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Words: Benedikt Schmidt Photos: Peter Walker