On 11 February 2020, Santa Cruz launched its first eBike, the Heckler. The move says a lot about Santa Cruz; the polarised reception says a lot about Santa Cruz’s (largely US) market… Some couldn’t contain their praise, gushing their welcome with affirmative comments. Many, however, couldn’t contain their contempt as they angrily typed lengthy disdain-filled comments about the deceit they were experiencing. How could you, Santa Cruz? How could you?
The Heckler – Santa Cruz’s first foray into eBikes
It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Santa Cruz would start making eBikes. The innovative American brand has embraced progress and technology in ensuring it has remained a leading gravity performance brand for the past 15 years. Greg Minnaar and his various teammates have made Santa Cruz Syndicate the most successful Downhill Race Team of the past decade.
Then, two years ago, it relaunched the Blur, an iconic XC/marathon 26-inch-wheeled model from the mid-2000s, as a performance-orientated 29-inch-wheeled race machine, which neatly filled a glaring gap in its line-up; and gave most South Africans a reason to consider the brand for their next purchase (if they could afford it)…
Santa Cruz Heckler – designed to ride hard!
If you’re a bicycle brand owner/director that hasn’t embraced eBikes you’re destined to at best, become or remain niche, at worst, consider other career options… eBikes have become the most important category for bicycle brands of late because there’s growing acceptance of them and growing demand for them. Also, ‘eBikedom’ is still relatively new territory, giving the most innovative brands opportunities to become market leaders.
A total of 70 Santa Cruz Hecklers were allocated to South Africa with the launch run and all of them were eagerly snapped up by retailers who understand the significance of Santa Cruz’s entry into eBikes and the potential sales thereof.
Here was a top-tier brand that could potentially match eBike market leader, Specialized. Potentially. Well, just a few days before the Heckler launch, Specialized delivered to the world the Turbo Levo SL, according to global reviews, the closest eBike yet to offer a true ‘acoustic-bike’ trail-riding feel.
150mm of rear travel, mated wiht 160mm upfront
Did that take the wind out of the Santa Cruz Heckler launch sails? Undoubtedly. But Santa Cruz isn’t new to this game and didn’t flinch as it proudly presented its first eBike to the world. And boy did it get a lot of attention – both good and bad. One thing is certain, while it may be a late-comer, everyone now knows that Santa Cruz is now a serious player in the electric assist bikes category. The Heckler was Santa Cruz’s first foray into the eBike zone – and you can bet your weak Rand it won’t be the last…
The Heckler uses a 250 Watt Shimano Steps E-8000 motor
There are no Santa Cruz Heckler demo bikes in South Africa, so for an indepth review, check out what our Aussie mates at Flow MTB have to say after their first ride: Click Here.