First Look | The Santa Cruz Heckler MX gets a mullet & Shimano EP8

There’s no denying that Santa Cruz was late to the e-MTB party when it released the new Heckler CC earlier this year. The Californian brand didn’t exactly rush its first electric mountain bike, which allowed for plenty of time to deliver a fun, agile and refined package. But although we had a blast testing it, the arrival of the Heckler CC didn’t seem to pack the punch that Santa Cruz was hoping for. Many Flow readers lamented the choice of a four-year old Shimano E8000 motor, and perhaps the dual 27.5in wheels and 504Wh battery seemed a little off-trend in a market that’s dominated by big wheels and bigger batteries. It would appear that Santa Cruz has been listening though, because today it releases a new variation of its premium, carbon fibre, full suspension e-MTB. The name? The Heckler MX.

santa cruz heckler mx xo1
Bringing the Heckler right up to date, the Heckler MX goes for a mullet wheel setup and the new Shimano EP8 motor.
santa cruz heckler mx
A bigger wheel up front and a slacker head angle aim to give the Heckler MX more stability on rugged terrain.

Same Frame, New Vibe

The Heckler MX is based around the same chassis as the existing Heckler. There’s a carbon mainframe and swingarm, with a lower-link VPP suspension layout that keeps the shock down low, while providing a more progressive and poppy suspension rate.

Where things get interesting with the Heckler MX is with its wheelsize and travel. The 27.5in rear wheel remains, but a 29in wheel is placed up front for added rollover and improved stability. To avoid jacking up the front end though, Santa Cruz has fitted a shorter 140mm travel fork (down from 160mm on the regular Heckler). To balance things out, the rear shock is also down-stroked, so it too delivers 140mm of travel (down from 150mm).

Because of this suspension modification, the Heckler MX sits at a similar height off the ground – the BB is just 2mm higher. It also maintains the same 445mm chainstay length, which is great news as we really dug the playful and flickable nature of the 27.5in Heckler. However, the head angle is actually slacker by almost a full degree (64.6° vs 65.5°).

santa cruz heckler mx
The downstroked shock helps to maintain the BB height, and Santa Cruz has chosen a regular Fox Float DPS shock for poppy feel.
santa cruz heckler mx
The 27.5in rear wheel allows for the compact 445mm chainstay length – a big contributor to the Heckler’s playful attitude.

Shimano EP8 – More Torque, Less Weight

With Shimano having maintained the same mounting points with its new e-MTB motor, it was easy for Santa Cruz to update the Heckler with the new EP8 drive unit. Compared to the old E8000 motor, EP8 boosts torque up to 85Nm, while also taking off nearly 400g of mass. It’s also claimed to be quieter with 50% less drag, and it offers greater tune-ability via Shimano’s smartphone app. If you haven’t checked it out already, be sure to check out our tech deep-dive on Shimano EP8 here.

All Heckler models will now come with the EP8 motor, except for the cheapest ‘R’ build, which sticks with the Shimano E7000 drive unit.

santa cruz heckler mx
New Shimano EP8 motor brings more torque, with less weight and less drag.

The 27.5in Heckler Gets Updated Too

Alongside the new Heckler MX version, Santa Cruz is also updating the existing 27.5in Heckler. Now called the Heckler V8, it too comes with the latest Shimano EP8 motor. Both options will still feature the same 504Wh battery though – you won’t see Shimano’s bigger 630Wh option here.

santa cruz heckler mx
Carbon Santa Cruz bars and a Burgtec Enduro stem come on most models.

Pricing Is Still Very Premium

No real surprise there – you’re still looking at parting with at least $12,799 AUD for the entry-level Heckler MX R. Keen for that X01 model? You won’t be getting much change out of $20K. Yikes!

It’s no doubt a beautifully engineered chassis though, and now that the Heckler comes with a Shimano EP8 motor, we expect there’ll be greater interest from riders who are keen on the low-slung mullet vibe and the slacker head angle of the Heckler MX.

Lusty Industries, the Australian distributor for Santa Cruz, expects the new Heckler MX range to hit our shores in March of 2021. More time to save up then? While you’re counting your beans, read on for a closer look at the specs and prices of the four options on offer;

2021 santa cruz heckler mx xo1 rsv
The top-end offering is the Heckler MX X01 RSV.

2021 Santa Cruz Heckler MX X01

2021 santa cruz heckler mx xt
With alloy wheels and a Shimano XT groupset, this Heckler comes in at over two grand cheaper.

2021 Santa Cruz Heckler MX XT

2021 santa cruz heckler mx s
The S build is a solid option with its SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, big Code brakes and RockShox Pike fork.

2021 Santa Cruz Heckler MX S

2021 santa cruz heckler mx r
Featuring the same carbon chassis and 504Wh battery as the top-end model, the Heckler MX R is the entry-point into the range.

2021 Santa Cruz Heckler MX R

Anyone else really want to go riding now?

Mo’ Flow Please!

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