Ryan's First Ride on the 2020 Santa Cruz Heckler e-MTB
I first expounded on the values of electric mountain bikes (or eMTBs) in a blog post a few years back. As I said in that post, an eMTB allows riders to cover a lot more ground for the same effort I would put in. Essentially, a few out-and-back rides I would want to do I could now do in one big ride. And while plenty of bike manufacturers have built some impressive eMTBs over the last few years, Santa Cruz Bicycles was so confident in their new Heckler e-bike that I took the first chance I could to ride it. To be clear, that first chance to ride the Santa Cruz Heckler was in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains by their U.S. headquarters in California. There, I got a quality look at their first e-MTB and got enough trail time to get a feel of what the Heckler is about. Santa Cruz says that the Heckler is designed to get out of the bubble faster. They talked about riders' ability to cover more range and disperse riders outside of the bubble that most riders can access in their typical two to three hour ride time. In other words, riders can now ride to more remote locations and find the trails that would normally take all day to get to. Stuff that would require shuttling isn’t necessary anymore, and it makes it easier for riders to stay together and control their workload a bit more. As expected, the new Heckler has a lot of Bronson qualities, as it is for all intents and purposes a Bronson. The lower link VPP suspension and its kinematics are very similar too. I won't go too far into it (Heckler first look review HERE) but I didn't think too much about the bike while riding it. No news is good news on the kinematics front. It did exactly what I wanted, where I wanted it without needing to consider the extra weight of a battery and drive unit. It is heavier than the Bronson it's based on by a good 12 pounds, and you can feel it by how grounded it feels. It didn't feel sluggish by any means; instead, I just had a ton of traction all over the trail. It doesn't hurt that it has aggressive tires on it, but you could really push the bike into a corner more than one would think. Any good mountain bike will make you feel like a better rider than you really are, and I earned a bruised eye to prove it. Santa Cruz nailed the details. The frame is well-done, and the battery is nicely integrated. Importantly they also chose to use 2.6" tires on the Heckler; I wouldn't want to ride an eMTB without anything narrower than a 2.5" tire. Both Heckler colors are cool, but the yellow grew on me. I recommend seeing it in person. We at Contender Bicycles are one of a select few dealers in Utah to have this bike at launch, and the low weight, smart details, and glued-to-the-trail ride make the Santa Cruz Heckler stand out from the competition.
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