Santa Cruz Heckler 27.5 – first look

Now with 650b wheels and updated geometry

The Heckler has been in the Santa Cruz line-up for 18 years and has gone through seven iterations along the way. The latest version of this popular single-pivot all-mountain bike sports 650b (27.5in) wheels and frame geometry that mimics the Bronson in a more affordable package.


The Heckler is the fourth bike in Santa Cruz’ spring assault on 26in wheels. The California-based company started things off with the introduction of the 150mm-travel Bronson, followed shortly thereafter by the 125mm-travel Solo and a lighter version of the Tallboy.

If you’ve been lusting after a Bronson but can’t afford the price of admission, the Heckler might be for you. Like the Bronson, it has 150mm of rear wheel travel and is designed to take 150-160mm suspension forks. It also shares nearly identical frame geometry in a more affordable, single-pivot package.

The shift cables are routed along the top of the downtube, while the rear brake line is tucked underneath the top tube: the shift cables are routed along the top of the downtube, while the rear brake line is tucked underneath the top tube
The Heckler can be thought of as a simpler, more affordable version of the Bronson

The frame with with Fox CTD shock costs US$1,299, which is US$651 less than the aluminum Bronson. The new Heckler has a claimed weight of 6.76lb (3.07kg) for a medium frame with a Fox CTD shock, which makes it 18g lighter than an aluminum Bronson. These weight savings are due in part to the frame’s dead-simple single-pivot suspension—no counter-rotating rocker links that comprise the company’s VPP suspension design, just a swingarm and a pivot.

The Heckler is available in four builds kits ranging in price from US$2,599 to US$2,999. It’s a welcome relief from the wallet-scorching price tags that accompany the top-end Bronson and Solo build kits. (UK pricing TBD.)

The 650b heckler’s geometry is nearly identical to the bronson:
Both the Bronson and the Heckler are designed around 150mm suspension forks, but can also accommodate 160mm travel forks (Geo shown here is with a 150mm fork)

Compared to the 26-inch version it replaces, the 650b Heckler has a head tube angle that is .5-degrees slacker and a seat tube angle that is .5-degrees steeper. The former should make the Heckler a more surefooted descender, while the later will better position the rider for extended climbs. Additionally, the bottom bracket drops by 4mm, while the chainstays grow by 5mm to accommodate the slightly larger wheels.

The pivot is mounted to the downtube, just in front of the cranks: the pivot is mounted to the downtube, just in front of the cranks
The swing-arm now pivots on a single collet axle and uses angular contact bearings (versus the pinch-bolt style of previous generations), which should bolster rear end stiffness

In addition to sporting 650b wheels, the Heckler now has a 142×12 rear axle and can use a standard or direct mount rear derailleur hanger. Some frame features remain unchanged: the new bike still has ISCG 05 chain guide mounts and, like all Santa Cruz mountain bikes, uses a tried and true threaded bottom bracket shell and IS rear brake mount.


The Heckler is available now and comes in loud and proud “Club Tropicana” and an understated gloss black. 

…and a basic gloss black: …and a basic gloss black