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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
|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|
|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)|
|Shifter||SRAM X01 Eagle|
|Seatpost||Fox Transfer Factory|
|Rear shock||RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate|
|Motor||Shimano STEPS DU-EP8|
|Brakes||SRAM Code RSC|
|Handlebar||Santa Cruz Di2|
|Frame||Santa Cruz Bullit|
|Fork||Fox Factory Float 38 GRIP2|
|Chain||SRAM X01 Eagle|
|Cassette||SRAM X01 Eagle|
|Wheels||Santa Cruz Reserve|