2024 Santa Cruz Heckler SL GX AXS Carbon C E-Bike

Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Vital's SL eMTB Test Sessions - Santa Cruz Heckler SL Review
With a capable geometry and suspension package and Fazua's powerful yet light Ride 60 system, the Heckler SL was a favorite amongst our three testers.
Vital Review

For their debut into the lightweight e-bike category, Santa Cruz aimed to blend stability with a high fun factor to create the Heckler SL. Being early adopters of Fazua's Ride 60 system helped bring that vision to life, allowing Santa Cruz to optimize range and power from a lightweight system while keeping weight to a minimum. 


  • C & CC level carbon frame 
  • Mixed wheels
  • 150mm of rear wheel travel // 160mm fork travel
  • VPP suspension design
  • 430 Wh battery
  • 60 Nm FAZUA Ride 60 motor 
  • Integrated top tube display
  • Customizable ride modes via the FAZUA app
  • Internal cable routing
  • Flip chip geometry adjustment
  • 64.3/64-degree head tube angle
  • Size-specific chain stay lengths
  • Five build kits
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Verified weight (size XL): 44.6 pounds (20.23kg)
  • MSRP: $7,299 - $12,999 USD ($9,699 as tested, GX AXS Build)

The Heckler SL most similarly resembles Santa Cruz's non-assisted Bronson model, rolling on mixed wheels with 150mm of rear wheel travel and a 160mm fork. The mildly aggressive geometry helps keep things comfortable when pushing past what travel numbers alone can provide, and several size-specific dimensions give riders of all sizes a catered fit. A flip chip in the lower link allows for further adaptability to different terrain types. We kept the bike in the low setting for the duration of our test, resulting in a 64-degree headtube angle and a 77.5-degree seat tube angle. The rear center length on our size XL test bike measured 446.8mm, allowing us to easily pop off side hits and change direction. The Heckler SL promotes an upright posture while pedaling and descending thanks to a relatively conservative top tube length and an appropriately sized headtube length. 

Santa Cruz Bronson
Santa Cruz Bronson
Santa Cruz Heckler SL
Santa Cruz Heckler SL

Santa Cruz wanted to create an eMTB capable of tackling any trail while feeling as natural as possible. To do that, they went with Fazua's Ride 60 system that delivers 60 Nm of torque (as the name would suggest) and 450 watts of peak power. The motor is paired with a 430-watt-hour battery. Compared to Santa Cruz's full-power Heckler e-bike with Shimano's EP801 motor and a 720-watt-hour battery, the SL model comes in around seven pounds lighter. However, out of the bikes in our test, the Heckler SL landed in the middle of the group at 44.6 lbs (20.2 kg), three pounds heavier than the lightest bike in the test, Specialized's Levo SL. 


The Fazua interface has three assist levels: Breeze, River, and Rocket. Switching between modes is done by swiveling Fazua's bar-mounted Ring controller. A top-tube-integrated display consisting of five lights simultaneously indicates assist mode and battery life. For those wanting to tune the feel of the motor, the Ride 60 App allows riders to adjust individual modes or personalized 'riding profiles,' as well as check the battery life as a percentage instead of bars on the top tube.


Santa Cruz offers the Heckler SL at two carbon levels and five build kit configurations. Prices range from $7,299 to $12,999, and sizes range from S-XXL. The entry-level R, S, and GX AXS build kits use the more cost-effective C-level carbon, while X0 AXS RSV and XX AXS RSV builds feature CC-level carbon. Regardless of carbon level, all frames include the same details, including molded frame protection and one of the best chainstay protectors on the market. Our GX AXS level test bike is the highest level C build kit and retails for $9,699, placing the Heckler SL on the cheaper side of our test bikes. The build is highlighted by a RockShox Select+ level Lyrik fork, SuperDeluxe shock, Reserve 30|SL wheels, SRAM Code Bronze Stealth brakes, and a GX Transmission drivetrain. 

Hopping on a Santa Cruz always comes with the expectation that you will receive a premium ride quality. There is a reason they have such a cult following, and the Heckler SL lived up to expectations, as it was a fan favorite amongst our three testers.


Test Sessions has long been Vital's way of placing a bunch of similar bikes head-to-head to see where each excels and what sets them apart to help riders better understand which bike best suits their needs. This year, we had eight SL e-bikes, and three testers. This article just covers what we thought of Santa Cruz's Heckler SL. To learn more about the other bikes tested, check out our complete SL eMTB Test Sessions

Meet the Testers

L-R: Jason Schroeder, Lear Miller, Jonny Simonetti
Jonny Simonetti Lear Miller Jason Schroeder
  • 30 years old
  • 6' 4" (193cm)
  • Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 5
  • Riding Style: Skatepark inspiration. Try to stay smooth and pedal as little as possible. 
  • 32 years old
  • 6’ 3" (190 cm)
  • Weight: 185 lbs (83.9 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 3
  • Riding Style: “Freeracer” after 15 years of racing, I like going fast. But the airtime counter is really the only clock I’m paying attention to these days.
  • 29 years old
  • 6-foot (182 cm)
  • Weight: 180 lbs (81.6 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 4
  • Riding Style: Relatively upright with weight more rearward than most. Enjoys a sneaking straight line or ripping jump trail.

Jason's Impressions



  • Fazua package is powerful, simple, and has great weight-to-power ratio
  • Easier to access charging port than on the Ari
  • Fazua App is simple to navigate and connect
  • Sleek and refined frame
  • Has a light, airy feel that hides the fact you're riding an e-bike
  • Incredibly responsive bike with a very definite feel that's exciting and fast
  • All the support on big hits
  • Responsiveness could be interpreted as harshness if not ridden with a certain level of aggression
  • Stiff frame can be tiring to pilot through rough sections
  • Fazua ring controller is flimsy

What's The Bottom Line?

The Heckler SL tied for first place with Specialized's Levo SL as my favorite SL e-bike in the group. Despite weighing 44 pounds, it delivered a light, unrestricted ride quality that made me forget I was piloting an e-bike. A lot of this has to do with the bike's supportive suspension design and stiff chassis that efficiently transfers rider input. Transition's Relay only weighed a pound more, but it rode a lot heavier and was slower to respond. The Heckler SL offered a wildly entertaining combination of snappy handling with limitless support that made me want to yank for trailside gaps and brake less going into corners. It also remained super balanced through chunky sections and rode with a pose that would make you think it has more travel. I would place the Heckler SL in second behind Cannondale's Moterra SL for most confidence-inspiring in the test. The Moterra took the win only because its extra weight translated to more stability, creating a hold-on-and-plow mentality that allowed me to go faster. But, as for 'fun factor,' the Heckler SL delivered in excess.
I do think the Heckler SL's ability to hold up to aggressive riding requires a minimum speed or even ability level. Of course, anyone can ride the bike, but when I tried to cruise and let the bike react to the trail as it came to me, it felt harsher. Through a few rock gardens, the bike danced around more than I would have liked and forced me to be adamant about line choice. That is my main takeaway after riding the Heckler SL and Levo SL back to back: both are damn fun, but the Heckler SL will keep you on your toes and can haul ass if you have the chops to push it hard. The Levo SL has a 'softer' ride quality that's warm and welcoming, but it can begin to feel vague the harder you push.  

Fazua's motor system proved to be the best lightweight system in the test, only adding to the Heckler SL's well-rounded abilities. It's powerful and sleek, and the battery lasts decently long, considering its size. Fazua's app was also the easiest to connect with, and it had the least complex breakdown of mode tuning. In addition to the motor performance, the Heckler SL's upright, relaxed pedaling position was comfortable through techy roots or up boring road climbs.

Overall, the Heckler SL is one of the best SL e-bikes available. It's fast, fun, well-designed, and is powered by a solid motor system. It still comes with Santa Cruz's signature premium price tag for most builds. However, the parts spec of each build is well thought out, and the minimum cost to get on the bike is less than that of some of the other bikes tested. 

Jonny's Impressions



  • Great combination of power and battery performance
  • Supple but supportive kinematic
  • Size specific geometry
  • Motor cover produced a loud noise rubbing lip of the down tube
  • Large price jump between C and CC frame build kits for not much weight savings
  • Ring controller feels cheap

What's The Bottom Line?

The Heckler SL came out on top as my favorite bike in the test for its fit, motor and battery combination, and excellent suspension performance. The geometry on this bike fit me really well and seemed to have even pressure at both wheels which translated into traction. The ability to go on longer rides with enough assist to pull me up every climb we encountered along the way was a huge plus and battery life was excellent. With Bronson DNA, the Heckler SL was as much fun to pop off of side hits as it was to charge rough sections and felt like the true do-it-all lightweight eMTB in my mind.

Lear's Impressions



  • Confidence-inspiring geometry 
  • Super playful and easy to move around
  • Very active and efficient suspension platform when climbing
  • Awesome big hit support
  • Solid build for the price—a bike I'd consider buying
  • Silent chain stay protector
  • Fazua system is powerful, simple, and has adequate battery life
  • Rougher through chatter bumps
  • Colorway
  • Loud motor cover squeaks under pedal force

What's The Bottom Line?

The standout trait of the Heckler SL was its confidence on the trail. I felt at home with the geometry right away and wanted to spend more time on the bike simply because it was so much fun to ride. Like the Levo SL, the Heckler SL had an active, playful mentality that allowed me to hit unique lines and ride with a more carefree approach. While a bit rough across high-speed chatter, the supportive suspension recovered from big hits incredibly well and took the edge off of small bumps while climbing. The biggest downfall of the bike would be the motor cover; a loud squeaking noise under heavy load was distracting and took away from the fit and finish of the bike. Minor details aside, this might be my favorite bike from the test when it comes to the bike I'd spend my money on.

A big shout out to TannusFeedback Sports and Maxxis for supporting Test Sessions! 

View key specs, compare e-bikes, and rate the Santa Cruz Heckler SL in the Vital MTB Product Guide.


Post a reply to: Vital's SL eMTB Test Sessions - Santa Cruz Heckler SL Review


Santa Cruz Heckler SL GX AXS Carbon C E-Bike
Model Year
Riding Type
Enduro / All-Mountain
Sizes and Geometry
SM (Hi, Lo)
MD (Hi, Lo)
LG (Hi, Lo)
XL (Hi, Lo)
XXL (Hi, Lo)
Wheel Size
27.5" (650b)
Other: Mullet
E-Bike Class
Class 1: Pedal Assist (Pedelecs)
FAZUA Ride 60, 60 Nm max torque, 450 W max power
FAZUA, integrated
Battery Capacity
430 Wh
Integrated top tube LED display (battery level and ride mode), includes USB-C charging port; FAZUA Ring Controller remote
Breeze, River, Rocket, Walk Assist; Boost function briefly increases max power
Max Speed with Assist
20 mph (32.2 km/h)
Frame Material
Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details
Carbon C front and rear triangles; molded chainstay and down tube protection
Rear Travel
Rear Shock
RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, 210mm length x 55mm stroke
RockShox Lyrik Select+
Fork Travel
Head Tube Diameter
Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Cane Creek 40 Integrated, IS41 upper, IS52 lower
Santa Cruz e35 Carbon, 800mm width
Burgtec Enduro MK3, 42mm length
Santa Cruz House or Burgtec Bartender Pro Minnaar
SRAM Code Bronze Stealth, 4-piston, SRAM HS2 200mm 6-bolt rotors
Brake Levers
SRAM Code Bronze Stealth, tool-free Reach Adjust
SRAM Eagle Pod Controller, 12-speed, AXS electronic wireless, Bridge mounting bracket
Front Derailleur
Rear Derailleur
SRAM GX Eagle Transmission, 12-speed, AXS electronic wireless
OneUp upper slider
Praxis eTor AL, 165mm length
SRAM Eagle Transmission, 104mm BCD
SRAM GX Eagle Transmission, 12-speed
SRAM GX Eagle Transmission XS-1275, 12-speed, 10-52 tooth
Reserve 30 SL, 6069 AL, 30mm inner width, 28 hole
DT Swiss 370, 15mm x 110mm (Boost) front with Torque Caps, 12mm x 148mm (Boost) rear with 36 tooth freehub and XD driver
Front: Maxxis Minion DHF, 3C MaxxGrip compound, EXO casing, 29" x 2.5" WT
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II, 3C MaxxTerra compound, EXO+ casing, 27.5" x 2.4"
WTB Silverado Medium, CroMo rails
OneUp V2 dropper
Seatpost Diameter
Seatpost Clamp
Single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions
12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Max. Tire Size
27.5" x 2.6"
Bottle Cage Mounts
One inside front triangle
Gloss Magenta, Matte Silver
Lifetime frame, pivot bearings, and handlebars
42 lb 9.1 oz (19,310 g)
• Lower-link VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) rear suspension design
• Mixed ("Mullet") wheels: 29" front, 27.5" rear
• Geometry adjustable via flip chip in lower link shock mount
• Internal cable routing
• SRAM UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger)
• Power settings customizable via FAZUA Mobile App
• Includes FAZUA battery charger
• Includes SRAM AXS Powerpack battery charger
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.

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