The Heckler Returns
Introducing Santa Cruz’s First e-bike
Santa Cruz diehards will of course recognize the Heckler name, which dates back to the halcyon days of 1996. The Heckler has taken many forms over its nearly quarter-century run, and the latest iteration acknowledges the range of opinions it’s likely to generate. But one thing is certain—this is one of the best handling machines in its class.
It’s Finally Here
Many riders said it would never happen, while others couldn't wait for what they saw as inevitable. Santa Cruz has finally entered the e-bike fray, and in its signature style. Meet the Heckler, a machine that’s name could hardly be more fitting.
Built to be quick and nimble while allowing the rider to cover more ground, the Heckler is more than just a Bronson with an electric pedal-assist motor attached.
The addition of the unimpeachable Shimano STEPS e8000 motor and battery means that the Heckler carries around roughly 12 pounds of extra hardware compared to the Bronson on which its frame is based. That makes it extremely competitive with the best in its class, but Santa Cruz went a step further to avoid the pitfalls of some other e mountain bikes. So, rather than follow the “longer, lower, slacker” mantra, the geometry stayed fairly neutral with comparatively short chainstays. This helps the Heckler change directions quickly and without demanding excessive rider input.
The upshot is that you'll enjoy the same intuitive handling you would expect from the rest of the Santa Cruz lineup, with an extra 250 watts on tap to sweeten the deal.
With the Bronson as its blueprint, it's no surprise that the Heckler's geometry and layout are very similar to Santa Cruz's 27.5 all-rounder. The Heckler shares the same 27.5 wheels, with clearance for plus tires, which deliver outstanding grip across a wide range of conditions, both climbing and descending.
The Heckler offers the rider 160mm of travel up front, matched to a 65.5-degree head tube angle that's relaxed enough to be predictable at speed, yet still quick enough to effortlessly carve tight corners.
The Heckler boasts 150mm of travel at the rear wheel, but with a pivot placement tuned to be more progressive than the Bronson for additional bottoming resistance. The new configuration also offers extra sensitivity over small and medium impacts while seated, which reflects the reality that e-bike riders tend to spend more time seated, spinning their legs to keep the electric motor pulling up climbs and across rougher sections of trail.
Finally, the Heckler's reach has been lengthened by a few millimeters per size compared to its analog sibling, which just reflects the fact that the seat tube angle has been steepened a touch to 76 degrees to make the Heckler well-suited to extended seated climbing.
The Heckler runs on Shimano's thoroughly proven STEPS e8000 electric motor package, which offers up to 250w of added output, powered by a 504Wh battery stored neatly in the downtube. Actual range of the fully charged Heckler will depend on terrain, rider input, and power mode selection, but Shimano suggests it lies between 31 miles in the full-power Boost mode, up to 62 miles in the lowest output Eco mode. We find that most riders prefer the middle Trail setting, which typically offers 47 miles of range.
If you're one of the countless riders who has been eagerly anticipating an e-bike from Santa Cruz, the day has come. And dare we say, the Heckler has been absolutely worth the wait.
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