Santa Cruz Bullit Review
The Bullit is Santa Cruz’s latest e-addition to their venerable stable of incredible bicycles, and it’s a real bruiser of a bike, much like it’s namesake – the original Bullit. The original Bullit was a big-travel hooligan designed for smashing its way down the gnarliest trails, and had the option of a front derailleur so you could winch your way back up again. While it was a big heavy beast with 178mm of rear wheel travel, there was nowhere it couldn’t get you either up or down the mountain, and this couldn’t be truer for the new Bullit!
Taking design cues from the current Heckler, Santa Cruz’s first and currently only other e-bike, the Bullit takes what they learnt from that bike and adds extra gnar. With 170mm of travel front and rear and a coil shock option, the Bullit is ready for anything you can throw at it. If the heckler is an aggressive trail e-bike, the Bullit is more of a winch-and-plummet enduro/big mountain type bike.
While the Heckler is available with either 27.5″ or Mullet (MX) wheel sizes, the Bullit is MX only. Santa Cruz learned from the Syndicate DH race team that the big 29″ front wheel helps keep the stability at speed of a 29er while the small rear wheel helps keep the handling spritely and nimble, and so a big bike like the Bullit deserves a mullet setup to give riders the best of both worlds.
Santa Cruz recognise that a bike needs to be reliable, especially when it’s powered by an electric motor. That’s why they decided to spec the Shimano EP8 drive system. Shimano are one of the big players in the e-bike world – their motors are tried and tested, and the execution is clean and simple. Perfect then for application in a high end e-mtb. Light and powerful, the EP8 delivers 85nm of torque and up to 400% assist – that is to say that it is able to put in up to four times as much power as the rider puts in. Shimano’s dealer network also means that parts and diagnostics are available in thousands of bike shops all over the world – so no matter where you are, a local bike shop has your back.
The Bullit uses Santa Cruz’s lower link driven VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) suspension design taken from the V10 and utilised now across almost all of their range. Santa Cruz’s VPP suspension delivers incredible pedalling efficiency combined with awesome descending traction and can be tuned for different types of bike to favour one more than the other. This means you can be sure that the VPP bike you buy has been tuned to be the absolute best bike it can be.
Santa Cruz bikes are some of the best refined designs out there, and just when we think a bike can’t get any more clean and sleek, they just go out and make their bikes look even better! The Bullit takes what Santa Cruz learned about ebike integration and cleaned it up even more. Now with neater head-tube ports, more refined lines all around and rocking the same custom-made by Santa Cruz di2-specific carbon handlebar, the Bullit really is a super polished product, the like of which most other brands can only be envious of.
The Bullit is an aggressive bike for aggressive riders, and the geometry numbers reflect that. Running a 64º head tube angle and a 475mm reach in a size large (that’s 0.6º slacker and 29mm longer than the Heckler and less than a degree steeper than a V10) she’s plenty long and stable enough for those steep, high speed descents. Santa Cruz chose a mullet setup for the Bullit to keep the chainstays as short as they could on such a big bike, landing at 449mm in all sizes. The Seat tube angle ranges between 76.8º and 77.2º depending on size, keeping the front wheel nicely weighted and the cockpit comfortable on the climb. With the power to get you to the top, the Bullit stops just short of full on DH territory with numbers only slightly shorter and steeper than the V10, offering a super aggressive ride with a little more playfulness than a full on downhill bike.
The Bullit frame is available in Santa Cruz’s premium CC carbon layup only, and starting at $11099 for the R spec level, the Bullit does not compromise on spec and all bikes come with Double Down tires, a 12sp drivetrain and powerful four-piston brakes. That R-build gets you a Rockshox Zeb fork, Super Deluxe Shock, NX Eagle drivetrain and Guide RE brakes with 220/200mm rotors. Moving up through the range, all other bikes come with a Fox 38 fork with either a Grip or Grip2 damper, Sram or Shimano 12sp drivetrains, 4-piston brakes and a coil shock option from the XT build spec upwards. The top of the line XO1 AXS Reserve Bullit and the same bike with a coil shock retails at $17399 and as the name alludes to, it comes with a full XO1 AXS drivetrain, Reserve rims (DH on the rear) laced to Industry Nine hubs and a Factory Kashima Fox 38 fork and Transfer dropper post paired with a Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock for the ultimate in performance.
If the Bullit sounds like a lot of bike, and let’s be honest, we’re not all hard chargers, the Santa Cruz Heckler is another awesome choice. With a little less travel and available in a mixed wheel format or 27.5″ front and rear, the Heckler has a little less travel and is lighter and more nimble than the Bullit, but comes with the same powerful Shimano motor and battery and that high end Santa Cruz build quality. For those that want a more well-rounded trail type e-bike, the Heckler ticks a lot of those boxes!