The Heckler 9 is Santa Cruz's latest iteration of the every-day e-mtb for every type of ride. The Heckler 8 was Santa Cruz's first e-bike, and taking what they learned there, the Heckler 9 is a finely tuned and nicely finished product with Santa Cruz's famous attention to detail and build quality.
It feels like it wasn't long ago that Santa Cruz released the previous generation of the Heckler, and that's because it really wasn't. Nobody can accuse Santa cruz of resting on their laurels and in that spirit the e-bike game is changing rapidly and so Santa Cruz obviously saw some room for improvement here.
The new Heckler runs the same high performance and super reliable Shimano EP8 motor, but with a bigger battery, so you've got more power for more trails. Since Shimano's battery capacity tops out at 630 watt-hours, Santa Cruz decided to source the battery from Darfon. Fully compatible with the Shimano drive system, the new battery delivers 720Wh of capacity up from 504Wh on the old bike. A big upgrade for sure!
With the recent redesign of the Bronson - the bike the Heckler is designed around, it was only natural that the Heckler would get an update, and we're seeing similar changes across both bikes. The Heckler now has a full 29 and MX (mullet) wheelsize option, with the geometry almost a degree slacker in the head angle and the same amount steeper in the seat tube angle, with a slightly longer reach. This puts the rider in a better position for both climbing and descending. Aside from this, Santa Cruz have tidied up the cable management a little, refined some lines and made some small aesthetic changes to make this bike as dialled as it can possibly be.
Suspension and Geometry
With 160mm travel up front and 150mm out back of VPP travel for both the 29er and mullet versions of the Heckler, it's in perfect trail bike territory. Santa Cruz's VPP suspension system delivers a balanced ride with a sensitive beginning stroke and a progressive end stroke and excellent pedalling characteristics. That means bikes that descend amazingly and climb like mountain goats, and the Heckler is no exception.
Just like all of the bikes in the Santa Cruz range, the Heckler has a geometry flip-chip for a high/low position putting the head angle at 64.8/64.5º respectively and a 76.4/76.7º seat tube angle in a size large. BB height is a reasonable 342mm and 346mm and reach has grown by 10mm to 452mm in a size medium and 472mm in a size large for a more stable ride.
Who Is It For?
The Heckler 9 is your all day, go-anywhere do-anything bike just like an electric version of the Bronson. They say "if in doubt, take a Bronson out", well if e-bikes are your jam you could just substitute the Heckler in there instead. Designed to be slack but not too slack, fast yet easy to ride and with enough travel to tackle anything but not so much that it feels slow it's the perfect bike for an after-work lap, a lunch-break lap or an all-day epic on all types of trails.
If winching up to the highest point on the map and hitting the gnarliest trails on the way back down is more your idea of fun, the Bullit might be more your cup of tea. With 170mm travel front and rear, a 38mm stanchion fork, mixed wheels and geometry from the V10 downhill bike, the Bullit is the bike for riding the craziest trails where there's no shuttle road or chairlift.
Spec and Price
Starting with the C R-kit Heckler, it comes with a Rockshox Lyrik and Super Deluxe Select Plus suspension package, Sram NX Eagle drivetrain, G2 RE brakes and E-Thirteen finishing kit. Moving up, the S-kit gets a Fox Float 36 performance fork, GX Eagle drivetrain, code brakes, carbon handlebars and Race Face Arc rims on DT Swiss 370 hubs. The XT kit features a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork, a full Shimano XT 12 speed drivetrain and brakes, upgraded DT Swiss 350 hubs and a Fox Transfer dropper post.
Moving to electronic, the GX AXS kit comes with Sram's wireless GX Eagle AXS drivetrain, the same Performance Elite 36 fork and Transfer dropper, Code R brakes and Industry Nine 1/1 hubs.
The X0 AXS Reserve MX and 29 builds come with Sram's new X0 AXS T-Type drivetrain. This build runs a Rockshox Zeb Ultimate up front and Super Deluxe Ultimate out back with Code RSC brakes, Reserve 30 HD and DH rims laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs and the full X0 groupset. The top of the line build is the XX Reserve AXS MX and 29 with the same Rockshox suspension package but with the upgraded groupset, Magura MT7 brakes, a Chris King headset, Industry Nine Hydra hubs and a wireless AXS Reverb, for the full no expense spared build.
Looking for a bigger travel bike? Check out the Santa Cruz Bullit.