Bikes With Mike: 2015 Santa Cruz Heckler Won’t Disappoint

New bike?

NEW bike?

But my trusty 2003 Gary Fisher Sugar 3+ has served up 25k+ miles, 2 state championships, 4 hospital visits, and one chance encounter with a Toyota 4runner. Why would I want a new bike?
“…Well, you need new shifters, a new rear derailleur, a new chain, your cassette and chainrings are worn to the nubs, your brake lines are leaking, your rotors are warped, and your bottom bracket sounds like it went through Mudstock ‘94.”

I may be paraphrasing a bit.

hat it came down to though, is that right when I decided to get back into mountain biking for the umpteenth time, my trusty steed was not up to the task.

New bike… Okay, well it seems like at least 5, maybe even 6” of travel is the norm anymore. 27.5” wheels, I’m not sure what that malarkey is all about, but I’ll check it out. 10 speed rear cassette… isn’t that a road bike thing? Man, I’ve been out of this for awhile…
Santa Cruz Heckler. That’s a name I remember. And cheaper than offerings from the other manufacturers as well.

Okay, a trip down to Unreal Cycles then, check out what this Heckler is all about.

…I’ll skip the boring deliberation process, suffice to say I drained my savings account that night and picked up my R spec Heckler the next morning. I opted for the higher end bike based mostly on the rave reviews the Rockshox Pike fork receives. Santa Cruz does well with offering eye-catching colors, but I chose black – for stealth. As I was loading the new pretty bike up, Derek told me they were riding Jacksonville Forest Park that evening.

Heckler in the Forrest

Aside from the absolute failure that was my lungs and legs, that night was an incredible epiphany of why I just dropped $3100 on a NEW bike. 6” of travel pedaled up like the 3” sugar, but descended better than my 7” Yeti AS-X. The suspension was plush, but not spongy. The shifting was crisp and precise in the way that old XTR only hoped to be. The wheels rolled over everything smoother than they should have. That’s what that 27.5” malarkey was all about.

What is this witchcraft? It’s a 2015 Santa Cruz Heckler.

Since that day 7 months ago, I’ve logged close to 2,500 off road miles between short lap rides at Cathedral Hills, 20 mile Oakridge rides, a full day at Bachelor bike park, and one particular 42 mile sufferfest that involved climbing to the Mt Ashland ski area. And I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. I’ve added a few personal touches to the bike that exponentially improved the ride: A Rockshox Reverb seatpost, a set of 180mm rotor SRAM Guide RS brakes, a 40 tooth Wolftooth granny sprocket, and a Brooks Cambium Carve saddle for my delicate constitution.

Heckler Solitude

I have yet to find anything “wrong” with the bike. I’ve always had a complaint about one thing or another with every bike I’ve had, and although I had a disagreement with the Heckler about 2 months in regarding brakes, there is nothing wrongabout the bike. The Pike fork and CTD Fox shock offer the full range of suspension customizing that I would want, and the ranged lockout on the Pike is perfect. The 2×10 gearing has all the ratios I need whether I’m sucking wind trying to climb to 4 corners (which the 40 tooth sprocket helps immensely on), or bombing down Granite trying to PR. The frame is solid through jumps and rock gardens and the suspension geometry is spot on coupled with the parts; minimal pedal bob, sticks to the trails with the rebound set correctly, and the perfect head angle for hauling downhill while not lifting the front while grinding up steep singletrack.

The perfect bike? I doubt such a thing even exists, but the Heckler is as close to perfect for me as a bike has ever been. On the fence? Just buy it, you won’t be disappointed.
Source: Santa Cruz


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