Santa Cruz Heckler Review

Santa Cruz is finally here with a mountain e-bike, and so is our review.
Santa Cruz Heckler Review

Santa Cruz Heckler Review

Being one of the latest models of e-MTB in the market and the first e-MTB model of the brand Santa Cruz, Heckler was highly anticipated among the mountain e-bikers. Better late than never, here is the Santa Cruz Heckler, and our Santa Cruz Heckler Review.

Key Features
RangeUp to 93miles
Max Speed20 Mph
MotorShimano DU-E8000 250W
BatteryShimano E-8035 504Wh Integrated
FrameCarbon CC
Tire Size27.5 inches
BrakesSRAM Code RSC Hydraulic Disc

Let’s deep dive into the key features above!


The body of Santa Cruz Heckler is altered from Bronson, the most popular model of Santa Cruz, in order to achieve a versatile, lightweight yet durable eMTB with lower suspension.

The clean frame is full CC carbon, which is as strong and sturdy as the C carbon frames, yet more lightweight. Cleanliness refers to that the rider is able to access the cable just by removing the battery, as the Heckler features internal cable routing located in the downtube.

The fork depends on the model you get: R, S or X01RSV. While R model sports a combination of  RockShox Super Deluxe Select rear shock and RockShox Yari RC suspension fork, Heckler S and Heckler X01 RSV models utilize of a combination of RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock and Fox e-Float 36 Performance Elite shock suspension fork. The Fox e-Float fork makes use of different stanchions and has an altered rebound tune, decreasing the anti-squat effect. This translates into better traction in riding uphills so the rider is in full control of the rear wheel or drive from the motor.

Developed especially for the Heckler alongside with the rear rim, the handlebar also adapts internal cable routing for the system display and remote branded Shimano STEPS.

You’ll see that the riding geometry is a little elongated to the back. It might be required to push the saddle a little forward to adjust adequate sitting position for the sharp climbs.

All saddles are branded WTB Silverado, again depending on the model: While the R model comes with a WTB Silverado Race Saddle, the S model makes use of WTB Silverado Pro Saddle. And the Heckler X02 RSV uses the WTB Silverado Team Saddle, custom-designed for enduro and trail riders.


A full Shimano setup powers the Heckler in terms of the motor and the battery. The moderately noisy Shimano Steps E8000 motor provides 250W of power alongside a 70Nm torque E8000 drive unit. It will conquer any sharp hills or tough terrains. Its top speed of 20mph is also adequate for an off-road adventure.

The Heckler comes equipped with a large, handy E7000 color display, showing the power usage, speed, and current mode used. You can get to select from the  four different modes: Eco, Trail, Boost and Walk. As you can imagine, the Eco mode reduces the amount of power used and is convenient for long ranges. On the other hand, you increasingly boost up the energy as you add your pedaling cadence while using the Trail mode. While the Boost mode offers pedal-assistance for speeds up to 20mph, the walk mode is for the times you want extra help to push the bike along at times you are off the bike.

There is also the Shimano E-TUBE Project app, when connected to the display, allows to customize the assistance of the modes, update, and keep track of the health of the battery.

Drivetrain and Brakes

Available in three versions as we mentioned, S, R and X01RSV, the Heckler is anything far from an e-bike designed for urban daily commutes. All three models are equipped with a full SRAM X01 Eagle 12 speed drivetrain and it is possible to shift between 12 different speeds. The single click model of the switcher eliminates the risk of making a mistake on shifting the gears.

The high-quality 12-speed Eagle cassettes and 34-tooth Shimano chainring combination offers the best performance in sharp hills.

When it comes to the brakes, different models sport different brakes: The Heckler R comes with SRAM Guide R brakes with superior power, and the Heckler S features SRAM Code R brakes which are more convenient for downhill rides compared to the enduro rides. Powerful enough to be favored for e-bikes and trail bikes, Code and Guide breaks are different from each other by the fluid they get: the Code brakes get 30% more fluid, allowing them reduce the heat build-up better.

And the Heckler X01 RSV model makes use of the best gravity-fed brakes, SRAM Code RSC. Compared to the prior two, SRAM Code RSC is heavier and more durable in enduring crashes.

The 200mm rotors adapted by the brakes on both front and back provide immediate slow down, regardless of the weight being carried.


The Heckler features a Santa Cruz Reserve 30 V2 27.5″ Carbon Rims, developed and crafted for this model. This means that they fit right by means of stability and safety. The wheels are able to provide easy maneuver capability and high stability even on rocky terrain with their 65.5-degree head angle. The hubs are super reliable DT Swiss and Industry9, offering high performance regardless of the loads carried. It comes with a lifetime warranty.


A Shimano E-8035 504 W integrated battery supports the Shimano DU-E8000 motor. We have to say that it might not be enough for a ride which will last all day. The battery life varies since there are four different modes. You don’t expect the battery to go for more than 30 miles on the Trail mode, which is full of intense climbs. Or in the boos mode used in climbing the sharpest hills, your battery will last for only 13 miles. Make sure you carry a spare battery.


The Heckler does not sport fat tires as you would expect from an eMTB. Instead, it uses tubeless Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5 x 2.6 EXO+ tires with a 2.6 inches of width, which is adequate for stability. The tread print on tires won’t make you feel much difference when switching between the grass, rocky road, and concrete.

To conclude

Being an altered version of the Bronson, the Santa Cruz Heckler is here to offer a fun cruise on the mountains. Although its geometry is not as convenient as the Bronson, the Heckler comes in five different sizes to allow you to find the one which fits perfectly to your size.

The greatest advantage of this eMTB is its capability to tackle the toughest terrains, thanks to its suspension supported by the sturdy fork, auxiliary rear-end, RockShox super deluxe select suspensions on front and rear wheel, and the weight of the e-bike itself.

The power generated by the motor is delivered in such a way that a smooth ride is achieved on the even most chunky terrains. You won’t even notice the increases in the power.

Having a sleek and clean look thanks to the internal cable routing, the Santa Cruz Heckler is also pretty easy to both use and control, by its lightweight frame of finest quality, the handy display and E-TUBE Project app. Plus, the lifetime warranty that Santa Cruz’s models offer compensates the high price you will pay for this eMTB.

Apart from the price, the first hurdle comes with the position of the seat, which is kind of uncomfortable and tiring especially during uphill rides. Not very convenient for an eMTB. Another downside is that the 504 W battery shorts in power for long rides, which is even more inconvenient. You just have to purchase an extra battery if you don’t want to cut off the joy in the middle of the ride.

You decide if the price justifies a perfectly designed and built eMTB, minus a battery which lacks in supporting all its features.

Advantages: Santa Cruz Heckler Review

  • Versatility and agility
  • Powerful Shimano motor and Shimano gearing
  • Easy to use and control
  • The frame comes with lifetime warranty
  • Features of finest quality

Disadvantages: Santa Cruz Heckler Review

  • The uncomfortable geometry of the seat tube
  • Inadequate battery range
  • Expensive

Although the Santa Cruz Heckler is an incredible machine which provides a lot of fun and adequate safety at the same time, its performance in riding steep hills is not as well as in the remaining conditions.

I can’t wait for further developments and innovation in this latecomer yet powerful eMTB.

Did our Santa Cruz Heckler Review helped you in making up your mind? Write your comment below! Or compare it to other e-MTBs by reading all of our e-MTB reviews by clicking here!

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