Santa Cruz created the Superlight as a lighter version of its Heckler, which over a decade ago evolved from the Tazmon as the full floater of choice for many riders.
I rode one of those early Hecklers when I was much more of a racehead than I am now. I was riding a very light Pro Flex at the time, preferring its 'taut under power' single-pivot ride to the sofa-soft four-bar linkage bikes I was testing. I liked the early single-pivot Marin Mount Vision too, but when the Pro Flex reached the end of its useful life and the Superlight was launched, I got one immediately.
You'll often hear it stated that Santa Cruz was the first to do the single-pivot full susser thing right, but when they launched their Virtual Pivot Point frames a while back I thought the Heckler would disappear. Not so. Santa Cruz boss Rob Roskopp is very aware that lots of riders still love the taut pedalling responses of well-sorted single pivot frames, and recent advances in 'platform' shock technology mean you can now find the perfect balance of efficient bump absorption and pedal-to-shock feedback to suit your riding style, at the same time as stifling the wallowy feel that a lot of riders can find off-putting on the more permanently active four-bar linkage frames.
Santa Cruz now makes a superbly revamped longer travel Heckler and a new race-tweaked Superlight that no longer uses the Heckler tag. The new Superlight was launched at exactly the right time for me. After seven years of loyal race and trail use, my old Superlight was battered and I had been looking for a replacement. We tested the new model for WMB earlier in the year and, despite my best efforts, I still haven't ridden another bike that I like as much for riding flat out on my regular XC trails and in races.
For more demanding trails I prefer my Ellsworth Epiphany, and I'm really not sure which of the two I'd pick if I wasn't so spoilt and had to choose a single bike for everything. The Ellsworth deals with big descents and high-speed rocky and rooty trails better. The Superlight climbs and accelerates better.
The Superlight's design overhaul has focused on improving both its performance and ride personality. It's a little longer and laterally much stiffer, and recent advances in tube forming technology have played a big part in a new look and some subtle changes in almost every single frame section. It's currently equipped with a full XTR groupset - including wheels - but as my loyal XC testing multi-tool it'll be treated to all sorts of other kit as and when the need arises.