Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV review

Long travel Bullit ebike aims for total trail domination

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Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £10,499.00 RRP | USD $11,499.00 | EUR €11,699.00
2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike

Our review

Big-hitting ebike with plenty of high-speed confidence, but can struggle at slower speeds or on very steep terrain
Pros: Exceptionally fast plough bike most at home on flat out trails; great spec choice well suited to the job of high-speed antics
Cons: Possible to overwhelm the forks and brakes on steeper trails; seated position is quite aggressive for flat cruising
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Santa Cruz has revived the Bullit name for 2021, but in a form that many who remember the original bike won’t recognise because the new version is now an electric bike based around mixed wheel sizes.

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First launched in 1998 as a single pivot 152mm travel all-mountain come downhill bike, the Bullit is fondly remembered. The latest model hopes to retain the old bike’s hardcore credentials with the added benefit of Shimano’s latest DU-EP800 motor.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV frame and suspension details

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Reviving the Bullit name with a modern twist.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The Bullit’s got a full carbon fibre frame made from Santa Cruz’s top-spec CC material, which has been meticulously designed to save weight while retaining the required levels of strength.

It has internally routed cables from front to back, with internal cable guides to make installation much easier. There’s a single bottle cage mount on the top side of the down tube and inbuilt mud protection for the low-slung rear shock.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
The cables are internally routed from front to back.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The frame’s built around a mullet wheel setup, where the rear wheel is 27.5in in diameter and the front 29in.

Integrated chainslap protection on the chainstays and seatstays feature, while the large down tube stores Shimano’s 630Wh battery.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
The integrated guard protects the shock from rocks, mud and debris.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The VPP suspension has 170mm of travel and is coil and air spring compatible, which means it’s been tuned to be fairly progressive.

The Bullit CC X01 RSV uses Shimano’s DU-EP800 motor with 85Nm of torque and maximum assistance of 250W of power, and is fitted with that maximum capacity 630Wh battery. It’s user-tuneable via the E-TUBE Project app using Bluetooth on a smartphone.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV geometry

Santa Cruz has given the Bullit some 2021-worthy geometry. The size large bike (as tested) has a 475mm reach and a 64-degree head-tube angle.

It has a 1,268mm wheelbase and a 77.1-degree effective seat-tube angle. There are 449mm chainstays and a 630mm stack height. The bottom bracket is 348mm high, the standover height is a low 745mm and the seat-tube length is 460mm.

Although the Bullit isn’t the most progressive geometry bike out there, the numbers appear to be well thought out and complement its intended use.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV specifications

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
SRAM’s 12-speed Eagle drivetrain has enough gears to help with tackling any ascent.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

As the top spec – and most costly – version in a four model range, it comes as no surprise to see droolworthy kit bolted to the Bullit.

It has a 170mm travel Fox Factory Float 38 fork with the impressive GRIP2 damper. These are paired with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate air shock on the rear, but a coil shock can be specced.

The drivetrain is taken care of by SRAM’s X01 Eagle 12-speed system with a sequential electric bike-specific shifter. It also has SRAM’s Code RSC brakes with 220mm front and 200mm rear rotors.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
The carbon bars proved to be comfortable.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

There’s a 170mm travel Fox Transfer dropper post with a Fox lever and a WTB/Santa Cruz saddle. It has a Burgtec 35mm stem and Santa Cruz’s Di2 STEPS-specific carbon handlebar.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Out back, Santa Cruz’s 27.5in DH reserve rim provides strength.
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The RSV bike comes with Santa Cruz’s Reserve DH rear rim and 30 front rim laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs. These are wrapped in Maxxis Double Down casing Assegai 29 x 2.5in WT 3C MaxxGrip front and Minion DHR II 27.5×2.4 WT 3C MaxxTerra rear tyres.

Finishing off the build is a pair of Santa Cruz-branded grips.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV ride impressions

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Popping the front on the Bullit is tricky thanks to its weight and long chainstays.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

I took to the trails in Scotland’s Tweed Valley to test out the brand-new Bullit, aiming to mix old-school DH tracks with the famously tight and picky off-piste lines in a host of conditions.

Below are my findings after extensive testing.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV setup

Thanks to the fantastic Fox 38 fork and RockShox SuperDeluxe Ultimate air-sprung rear shock, the Bullit was easy to set up. I put 95psi in the forks and set the low-speed compression damping to -12 clicks of a potential 16 from closed. I left the high-speed compression fully open and set the rebound to taste.

I set the rear shock to 27 per cent – equating to roughly 180psi in the air spring – and left the low-speed compression fully open and adjusted the rebound to taste.

Using Shimano’s E-TUBE app, I adjusted each of the EP8 motor’s assistant modes – Eco, Trail and Boost – to sit at their maximum levels of assistance.

I inflated the front tyre to 25psi and the rear to 28psi and took to the trails.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV climbing performance

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
The Bullit’s geometry made climbing a challenge to relish.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The Bullit’s climbing performance instantly impressed me, offering copious amounts of control and grip.

Its ability to scale climbs normally too difficult or steep to handle wasn’t just a product of any one specific part of its spec, geometry or suspension rather a culmination of all parts of the bike coming together cohesively.

First up, the long 449mm chainstays, when combined with the 1,268mm wheelbase and 848mm front centre, meant my weight was more central on the bike compared to others with shorter chainstays.

This helped me keep the front wheel on the ground without needing to shift my entire body towards the front of the bike.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Whether out of the saddle or sitting down, the Bullit was easy to point uphill.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

And because I wasn’t having to move my weight so far forwards to maintain better control of the front wheel, I was able to focus on getting the maximum amount of grip out of the back wheel while sticking to my chosen line.

I also found Eco mode on Shimano’s EP8 motor – when set up with its highest amount of assistance in the E-TUBE app – provided the most control under power, making it easy to maintain rear wheel traction even over slick roots and rocks on particularly involved climbs.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Shimano’s DU-EP800 display in the Trail mode.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Compared to Boost mode, I did have to work harder ascending in Eco, but found the improved grip and control was worth the increased effort.

The bike’s ascending prowess was further improved by its suspension. Although it bobbed a fair amount under power, especially when standing up pedalling (although this arguably isn’t an issue with an electric mountain bike), it was smooth and supple over small and medium bumps, so the rear wheel conformed to the ground and provided both comfort and traction.

Comfort is key on an electric mountain bike because rough ascents and flatter traverses are usually tackled seated. Although the Bullit’s suspension excels here, its geometry did put me in a more aggressive forward-leaning position on flatter sections than I would have liked, which caused fatigue as more of my weight was put through my hands.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Santa Cruz’s Di2 bars hide the STEPS cables from view.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

A higher rise bar or more stem stackers under the stem could help reduce this problem on flatter sections, but could impact climbing performance.

The DoubleDown Maxxis DHRII 2.4in wide rear tyre was a good match to the additional forces delivered by the electric motor and weight, and the MaxxTerra compound certainly helped further improve its climbing prowess.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Technical, rock-strewn ascents were dispatched with ease.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

I didn’t find the saddle particularly comfortable. Its rounded shape with a high central point focussed pressure on my perineum rather than my sit bones. It would be good to have the option to spec a saddle of choice at the point of sale, especially on a bike that costs this much.

Fully charged, the 630Wh battery ridden entirely in Eco mode had a 57.31km, 1,755m ascent range until it entered its battery-saving limited-assistance feature. These figures are merely a guide and different conditions and riders will likely produce different results.

Overall, I absolutely loved climbing on the Bullit and found it transformed arduous climbs into technical challenges to be relished.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV descending performance

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
The Bullit’s at home charging on rough terrain.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

On the descents the Bullit didn’t hide its 21.25kg weight well, but then it didn’t need to. Over rough, fast and gnarly terrain it ploughed through obstacles and stuck to lines while carrying speed where a lot of other bikes would have faltered.

The suspension’s suppleness not only helped on the climbs, but also did a sterling job of smoothing out rough trails with total proficiency. Rock gardens or root-strewn cambers were absorbed and numbed down impressively, helping me to concentrate on riding the line I wanted to.

I found the best way to ride the Bullit was to point it where I wanted to go and let it deal with the terrain beneath me, its suspension, weight and geometry combining to create a remarkably calm ride.

The suspension was also impressively well-equipped to deal with bigger hits like large drops and flat or g-outs. It felt like there was ample progression tuned into the suspension’s kinematic, complemented by the natural ramp up of the shock’s air spring.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Thankfully, the Fox 38 fork was well equipped to deal with the extra weight of the battery and motor.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Once the trails got a little slower its weight was harder to manage and it took a lot of deliberate man handling to get it pointing where I wanted. Making on-the-spot line choices on trails that I didn’t know was tricky.

On lighter bikes it would be possible to flick between lines at the last minute, but the Bullit required more commitment earlier on, limiting my ability to flit between lines.

Although the Bullit is one of the slackest long-travel electric mountain bikes out there, considering how fast and hard it can be ridden I felt like the head angle could be slacker. This would improve its demeanour on steeper trails without any detrimental effects on performance elsewhere.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Fox’s 38 fork is a perfect partner for the Bullit’s pace and capabilities.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

On steeper descents, and especially when I was on the brakes, I could feel the bike’s weight driving into the front wheel, overwhelming the front end and causing twitchiness.

The Fox 38’s damping and chassis did a remarkable job of controlling the weight shift, but the way the bike behaved once it got very steep left me wishing for a slacker head-tube angle.

Overall the geometry was well balanced, and I found I could attack corners and straights confidently from the get-go. The 475mm reach meant there was plenty of space when standing up and, as well as the bike’s weight, helped reduce the effects of erroneous rider inputs.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Leaning over in turns required plenty of commitment.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

I found the SRAM Code RSC brakes – with a 220mm front rotor and 200mm rear – started to fade and lose their bite on prolonged descents when ridden aggressively.

Codes are some of the most powerful and popular brakes on the market, so having a bike that can push them to their limits is no mean feat. It would be good to see 220mm rotors fitted both front and rear, or a different set of brakes with more power specced from the factory.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
The Code brakes were overwhelmed by the speed the Bullit could achieve.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Elsewhere, I found the dropper post extended to the correct climbing position and dropped far enough – but only just – to be out of the way on the descents for my preferences.

I also had no complaints about the carbon fibre Reserve wheels feeling too stiff or flexing under the weight and speeds the Bullit allowed me to hit.

As a bonus, they resisted dings and flat-spots even after bottoming out the tyre, causing the rim to hit several rocks. Likewise, the Maxxis DoubleDown tyres fitted to both the front and rear didn’t puncture or tear during the testing period.

I also felt Santa Cruz’s Di2 bar was comfortable and I didn’t notice any undue harshness transferring into my hands on rough descents.

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV bottom line

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV electric mountain bike
Setting up early was key to riding the Bullit well when the trails were tight.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

It was the Bullit’s climbing prowess that impressed me the most. Pointing uphill, it just felt unstoppable as it gripped to the trail almost regardless of conditions, and the EP8 motor provided highly controllable assistance.

The large 630Wh battery and adequately powered Eco mode combined to give nearly 60km of range with 1,755mm of climbing, and made all-day epics without battery anxiety a reality.

On the descents there was no denying just how capable the Bullit is, particularly when tackling faster and rougher trails as it ironed out chatter and held lines that would make lesser bike wince.

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Slower, tighter and steeper bits of trail needed to be taken with less gusto, though, and a few geometry tweaks should improve its low-speed manners.

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €11699.00GBP £10499.00USD $11499.00
Weight 21.25kg (Large) – Size large, without pedals
What we tested Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV
Year 2021
Brand Santa cruz

Features

Available sizes Medium, large, extra-large, extra-extra-large
Rear derailleur SRAM X01 Eagle
Tyres Maxxis Assegai 29x2.5 WT 3C MaxxGrip Double Down (f), Maxxis Minion DHR II 29x2.4 WT 3C MaxxTerra Double Down (r)
Stem Burgtec
Shifter SRAM X01 Eagle
Seatpost Fox Transfer Factory
Saddle WTB/Santa Cruz
Rear shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate
Motor Shimano STEPS DU-EP8
Brakes SRAM Code RSC
Handlebar Santa Cruz Di2
Grips/Tape Santa Cruz
Frame Santa Cruz Bullit
Fork Fox Factory Float 38 GRIP2
Cranks Shimano STEPS
Chain SRAM X01 Eagle
Cassette SRAM X01 Eagle
Wheels Santa Cruz Reserve