Interview: Santa Cruz's Rob Roskopp Talks eMTBs

Feb 11, 2020
by Mike Levy  

Did you hear that Santa Cruz has just launched their first e-bike? The Heckler has 150mm of rear-wheel travel, a 160mm fork, and is powered by Shimano's 250-watt E-8000 Steps system. If the name sounds familiar, it's because Santa Cruz first it used on way back in 1996 for one of their early full-suspension trail bikes. Given the flak that some battery-powered riders have to deal with, especially online, it seems like an appropriate name to bring back for their first e-bike as well.

Above, we quiz Rob Roskopp, one of Santa Cruz's three original founders, and Aaron Foley, the lead engineer on the Heckler, about the new bike, why it's happened now, and what to expect from Santa Cruz when it comes to motors and the future.

The 150mm-travel Heckler uses Shimano's E-8000 Steps motor, a 160mm e-fork, and is on 27.5" wheels.

Santa Cruz has entered the world of e-bikes with their all-new Heckler, a 150mm-travel all-mountain machine that's powered by Shimano's 250-watt Steps E-8000 motor and rolling on 27.5" wheels. It's no coincidence that their first e-bike looks an awful lot like their non-motorized Bronson, too, with Santa Cruz saying that their goal was to mimic how that bike's performance but with the addition of a battery-powered boost.

Santa Cruz will offer the Heckler in four different configurations, ranging from $7,399 to $12,599 USD, with all of them based on their top-tier CC carbon frames. There are no less expensive C or alloy Hecklers in the pipeline, I'm told, and there's no frame-only option, either.

Heckler Details

• Intended use: All-mountain
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Rear-wheel travel: 150mm
• Fork travel: 160mm
• Shimano Steps E-8000 drive system
• Head angle: 65.5-degrees
• Sizes: S - XXL
• Weight: 46lb (as pictured)
• MSRP: $7,399 - $12,599 USD (X01 RSV $10,899 pictured)
• More info:
All of the complete bikes get four-piston brakes with 200mm rotors, Eagle drivetrains from SRAM, and a RockShox Super Deluxe shock. Up front, you'll find 160mm-travel forks from RockShox and Fox, and you can upgrade any of them with a set of carbon fiber Reserve DH wheels.

If you want to learn more about the new Heckler, you can find all of the details, pricing, and initial ride impressions here.

Rob Roskopp on the Heckler's design brief:
bigquotesOur goal for this was to make a bike that felt like a mountain bike. Yeah, you get the assist, but the main thing is the performance of it.

Roskopp on when they first began working on the Heckler in 2017:
bigquotesAt that point, it was going crazy in Europe - Europe's pretty far ahead of North America as far as e-bikes go. It was the same thing that happened with 29ers. We started to get people asking us when we were going to do an e-bike, so we starting looking into it seriously. That was the push.

Roskopp on early reaction to Santa Cruz's e-bike plans:
bigquotesWhen we first started the project, I'll be honest, there weren't a lot of people in the company that were too excited about it. But I was really excited and riding a lot of stuff, and I probably put ten-times more time on that mule than anyone in the company, and I rode all of the competitor's bikes to get a really good feel for the reviews and what people were saying.

The Heckler prototype that was tested in Scotland.

Roskopp on if PON purchasing Santa Cruz in 2015 was a factor:
bigquotesWhen we first sold, they asked if we were going to do one. At that time, we said no. We told them we'll address it when we feel the need to or the desire from within to do it. That's how we've always acted with bikes we want to come out with. They're bikes we personally want to ride.

Roskopp on what percentage of the Santa Cruz catalog will be battery-powered five years from now:
bigquotesI think a safe answer might be 50-percent. I don't see pedal bikes going away. I mean, we've grown year over year considerably over the last four years, and I think that's due to a really good product, customer service, warranty, and this will be another bump for us because the platform is really good.

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Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 242 15
 "We started to get people asking us when we were going to do an e-bike, so we starting looking into it seriously".

My wife always asks me when I'm going to grow up, doesn't mean I actually have to do it.
  • 111 6
 I didn't realize it was this easy to make Santa Cruz do something.

Let me try: Hey Santa Cruz, when are you going to do a gearbox bike that costs under 2000 bucks?
  • 12 5
 Hey Santa Cruz, can I have a Hightower...please?
  • 10 3
 Hey Santa Cruz, Al nomad with coil shock please...?
  • 54 2
 Translation: It’s a profit segment we could no longer afford to ignore... so we made an E- bike.
  • 12 4
 @shredb4dead: I don't know if that's a bad thing... Sounds like it's just good business.
  • 3 1
 The heckler just got electrified
  • 8 2
 was it just me or did it sound like the SC bros were forced to be there and sell this? like almost unenthusiastic?
  • 3 1
 @shredb4dead: imagine. Capitalists trying to capitalize
  • 2 3
 Yo Santa Cruz / Rob Roskopp, could you motorize my Roskopp II ? Wait WTF did I just say! Never Mind, I wasn't here. I'll keep my analog, low-tech, man-powered deck and bike please, thank you.
  • 5 1
 @pargolf8: Never said it was a problem, mans gotta eat.
  • 12 6
 E-bikes....Make America Fat Again
  • 4 4
 Haters gonna hate
  • 57 1
 "If the name sounds familiar, it's because Santa Cruz first it used on way back in 1996 for one of their early full-suspension trail bikes."
It might also sound familiar because the last iteration of Heckler was in their lineup until 2016.
  • 12 4
 Dude, 2016 was a long time ago. Not like any is still riding bikes from back then!
  • 5 5
 @skelldify: I ride a 2013 Bronson.....
  • 2 0
 and just the name, cause last time I checked the heckler was the simplest form of single pivot
  • 4 0
 Well they’re obviously making the old heckler reference because some marketing dimwits thought that would give this bike some instant credibility. It’s just cringy af
  • 4 1
 @emptybe-er: I think it's a tongue-in-check reference to the amount of negging banter / hate (Heckling) e-bikes get. I'd argue aligning this release with the whole trails advocacy was more a cynical marketing move.

Their marketing campaign plays heavily on this: "Let The Heckling Begin"
  • 1 0
 @OrangeGoblin: 'Red tide' is a Bronson colorway. Someone there has a sharp sense of humor.
  • 2 0
 @OrangeGoblin: You’re probably right. They did say just that. I’m not pissed about it, or even ebikes, really. I just have an aversion to bro-brah advertising ethos, especially for an $11k ebike.
Why the need to bring up that it was originally a reference to Rob’s favorite beer or whatever? Then they had to mention how it was so edgy to design such bike as the heckler (when we all know everything coming out in the mid 90’s was whack), but the SC boys were like, “we’d tap that so we did” Just felt a bit contrived, like, “don’t forget we’re not doing this for the $” They’d be stupid not to have an ebike, but spare me the bs
  • 107 46
 Still prefer the CR450 F
  • 81 72
 Jesus dude. Let it go. Pretty much anyone with a functioning and critically thinking brain knows it's not the same thing at this point.
  • 22 13
 wblh has a good point. If you're seriously looking at this and think e-bikes are maximising the fun factor, a decent moto for the same price would blow your mind.
  • 12 2
 @Ritgut: Most of the review bikes on this site cost as much as a dirtbike, electric or not.
  • 16 22
flag karoliusz (Feb 11, 2020 at 12:48) (Below Threshold)
 @Dustfarter: bike + motor = motorbike. As simple as that.
  • 1 0
 @JC01: you can still find some pearl on the PB buy and sell....just sayin!!
  • 8 15
flag mikeyb76 (Feb 11, 2020 at 15:40) (Below Threshold)
 @Dustfarter: yep E-bikes are LAME - get a motorcycle if you want a motor
  • 57 14
 I'm not sure how I feel about 50% of SC's catalog being eBikes in 5 years Frown
  • 54 13
 What’s it matter? If you don’t want a battery don’t buy those bikes. Just because they make a Prius doesn’t mean Toyota doesn’t make some good vehicles.
  • 29 1
 "I don't see pedal bikes going away" - well that's a relief.
  • 1 1
 He might wanted to say sales...
  • 4 0
 @tremeer023: Yup...and that's just in the next 5 years !
  • 7 2
 @seraph Seeing as they are owned by PON Holdings who in turn own Cervelo, Focus, Kalkhoff etc I don't think they will have much choice, if the Heckler is a success, and it will be, they will be encouraged / forced to develop the range further.
  • 2 3
 @Gavalar66: I doubt PON is forcing them. Out of all these big brands on the racing circuit, it seems like Santa Cruz is one of the last brands to release their first bike with pedal assist. You'd almost say that PON was holding them back if we'd need to blame PON. In the case of Accell though, I get it. With their Sparta brand they've been working on bikes with assistance for a good while. So I get that Haibike and Lapierre (also Accell brands) were quite quick to bring it to the mountainbike scene. But I don't quite see that from PON.
  • 9 10
 @onemanarmy: because, instead of putting 100% of their resources into pedal bike they are now putting 60% of their resources into ebikes. The pedal bikes will most likely suffer.
  • 1 2
 The guy at the beginning of the video really needs to improve his use of words....
  • 8 3
 How about this: don't buy them if you don't want them.
  • 6 7
 @cole-inman: Unfortunately, you're subsidizing ebike development if you buy any pedal-bike made by the manufacturer. Do you know what the margin is on a standard bike from SC, S or Yeti, etc.?
  • 3 3
 @vandall: That's not how it works. Not at all.
  • 11 2
 @downcountry: So. What's the problem with e-bikes? What does margin have to do with it? It doesn't change because they add models? Margins are margins.

If you're concerned about subsidizing things you don't like by purchasing something from a brand you should just buy a yurt and move into the woods.
  • 13 13
 @onemanarmy: I have a serious issue with ebikes. They threaten access to local (legal trails), many of the users don't follow the posted trail rules, and many of them don't do sh*t for the mtb industry. If you want to lazy and barely pedal, go ride a dirt bike. By the way, I don't support bike manufacturers who also make electric powered scooters. gtfo

I already live in a yurt in the woods.
  • 19 6
 @downcountry: in San Jose? Crazy. Most expensive yurt in America.

There are good users and bad users of normal bikes and e-bikes. Hikers have been saying the same exact things about mtb riders since day one. That's why Santa Cruz County has so few truly legal trails. I run into people not following the rules all the damned time. So often that I have gotten to the point where I don't always know what to do when I see another rider coming up or down. It's like a bad dream at a stop light... you go... no you go... or... f u I'm going.

I don't know if you've ever truly ridden an e-bike... but it's not lazy. I do more miles and often end up much more sore after an e-bike ride than a pedal bike ride.

The other side of it is this... it allows people that are less fit to keep up with their fitter friends. It allows older folks to keep up with their younger kids/friends. It increases the amount of laps you can do with the boys. It increases trail access. It's opening up new rider markets which will likely INCREASE trail access. Look at how much these bikes cost. Who's going to buy them? Who are the people that are normally active in legislation?

I don't think they're truly threatening access to legal trails at all. Only place I've seen it be a real issue is Demo where there's posted signs not to ride them.... which if you're actually in San Jose I'm guessing is the place you ride most?

If you're buying a $8-16k bike you're doing shit for the mob industry. And from what I've seen a lot of the folks riding them are active in trail maintenance and working on increasing trail access.

Today I'll be riding my pedal bike. Friday maybe I'll pedal an e-bike. I guarantee you the trails I ride Friday will be better than the trails I ride today. LOL!

Bottom line... they're relatively new. So in many cases you've got newer riders out on trails you usually don't see newer riders. Of course they're not all gonna know wtf is going on. Best thing to do... let them know... nicely. They'll learn and/or they'll taper off and sell their bikes to people that do now wtf is going on.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: I agree in part, I'm not blaming PON, but seeing as Santa Cruz is part of the PON portfolio it's a natural progression.
As Roskopp states in the interview, Santa Cruz have experienced significant growth since PON bought them, he intimates that this is down to customer service and warranty etc, I would also suggest that it is also down to the financial power PON has brought to the brand thus enabling them to invest in R&D, maybe this is why Santa Cruz are now confident of bringing their first e-bike to market, whilst not innovative it is after all their first shot at the market, I imagine their second iteration will be more at the forefront of the ever evolving market sector, interesting times as it will also bring a new audience to Santa Cruz.
  • 4 3
 @downcountry: Did you once have a bad experience at the dentists??? just think, over the years you've been inadvertantly funding ebikes. That must sting a bit !!!!!!
  • 1 0
 @Gavalar66: As I mentioned, compared to other bike brands operating in the same high end market, Santa Cruz is relatively late to the pedal assist game. Brands like Norco, Rocky Mountain, Pivot etc all already have e-bikes and it just was a matter of time for them to develop one too. As part of PON or not. Rocky Mountain, Norco etc aren't part of PON either, after all. What I do think that happened after PON acquired the brand is that they limited their focus on the more expensive end of the market. They ditched all their single pivot designs shortly after acquisition (including the quite freshly developed Bantam) so there just aren't any relatively affordable SC bikes anymore. I think that brought in a more of a different audience than how the pedal assist is going to change that. I don't know anyone riding their bikes at the moment so I'm just speculating but it seems to me that a rider with such a focus on preserving energy (to favor the "it doesn't sap your pedal energy but still remains active" suspension design over a workhorse single pivot and happily spends thousands more on saving weight by means of carbon) would probably also be tempted to get that extra nudge from a motor (preserving even more of their own energy). So yeah, I think they already catered for the same audience that would buy a bike with pedal assist.
  • 1 1
 @downcountry: the co-founder? Yah he seems to have zero enthusiasm for their new Ebike!
  • 6 2
 @onemanarmy: I don’t get why people associate ebike riders to thrashing around like idiots destroying trails. Maybe since it’s an ebike they assume they are new to biking and lazy. If this is true than they wouldn’t ebikers be riding mellower trails? I’m with you I ride both, just depends on what I feel like doing and how much time I have. All the haters and supposedly purists still.... haven’! If they had they’d shut up... or be a little nicerSmile
  • 5 0
 Pointing out that dirt biking is lazy shows how uninformed your opinion is. @downcountry:
  • 1 0
 @downcountry: Lupin? hahah
  • 2 1
 @robway: Word. I believe it's been stated quite a few times over the years that super cross riders are up there with the fittest athletes in the world.
  • 4 1
 @allredbikes: " If this is true than they wouldn’t ebikers be riding mellower trails?"

That's part of the problem with e-bike riders. They can more easily get in over their skills than those that have to earn their turn.

And yes I've ridden ebikes both on street and trails. Good people aren't the problem, it is the idiots that are. And ebikes let idiots be bigger idiots than a pedal bike.
  • 1 1
 @allredbikes: I think a lot of the trail damage concern has to do with increased ability ride while the trail is too wet. Not as big of a deal in loamy soil, but clay based soil or powdery volcanic soil Yep. Those ruts can turn into rivers that take out entire sections of trail
  • 2 2
 @onemanarmy: In today's world voting with your dollar is the more powerful than the ballot. It's called being a conscious consumer. You don't have to move into a yurt. I boycott numerous companies because of my beliefs environmental or political beliefs.
I was proud that the last two bikes I owned were Santa Cruz because they didn't make ebikes. (And Ibis before that)
  • 2 0
 @vandall: If that's your stance you shouldn't have been buying Santa Cruz Bikes at all over the last couple years. Pon Holdings owns at least 2 companies that make e-bikes.

Santa Cruz is still a very solid brand. Making 1 e-bike does not change the principles of the company.
  • 1 0
 @onemanarmy: I would argue that it does indeed change their design principles, as Roskopp states in the interview, he sees 50% of the Santa Cruz catalogue been e-bike specific in the next 5 years, that's a monumental shift in business principles from a company that said they would never make an e-bike, they won't be the last to the party at least, we still have Evil, Ibis , Transition and Yeti to welcome to the dance floor.
  • 2 0

I don't really see Evil/Ibis/Transition making e-bikes unless they get bought up. Those companies have a hard enough time with production demand as it is. I don't Santa Cruz would have made one if they had not been purchased.

I don't read it as they're going to replace current models with E-bikes. I think it will be an increase of sku and I think 50% is a stretch in a 5 year span unless they've got 5 more bikes in the works right now.

I don't think their pedal bikes are going to see any less attention. Suspension companies are creating e-bike specific components but they're not sending less time designing non e-bike parts. Wheel companies. Car companies. etc.

The goal is to get into new markets and carve pieces out for yourself, not eat away at your own market.
So as that focus expands and t hey capture more market percentage they'll need to hire another engineer or 3.

You think Specialized bikes got crappier as they've added more e-bikes. Nope... in fact, I'd argue that their pedal bikes right now are the best they've ever had. And they're getting ready to release new pedal bikes just after making updates to the Levo and adding a couple new e platforms.

Do it all. Do it well.

I would not worry for one second that SC will put any less attention on their pedal bikes. That will be the core of their business for a long long time.

I don't think one equals the other.
  • 39 6
 If you look at the new specialized levo sl, this looks already dated
  • 13 15
 Yeah, look at the Levo SL, it ran out of battery in half the time.
  • 15 0
But this runs out of battery in 1/2 the time of the 700w levo . Levo sl 300w & 17kg . this 500w and 20.5kg Levo expert 700w . 21kg. Still out of date.
  • 5 3
 @Hillfarmer: I agree, just don't get the fawning over an ebike with less battery, when more is what we want. I don't mind the weight of my normal Levo.
  • 12 1
 @LemonadeMoney: i dont think that there is a "we" -i just want a bike that rides like an actual mtb but does not kill me on climbs and liasons if i put propper tires on it. my rides are also mostly less than 40 km. it may still be a niche, but hey here i am. one could argue: "then train more you dont need an ebike then", but for an ex dh racer (lazy to begin with) with 2 kids, 1 house and the whole selfemployement thing its not that easy.
  • 5 0
 @Hillfarmer: levo expert is 23.7 kg dude, dont fall for specialized's bullshit.
  • 2 0
 To be honest, compared to the LaPierre E-Zesty the Levo SL already looks kinda dated to me. That said, dated isn't necessarily bad. Pinkbike did feature some E-bikes from bike shows. Not sure what brand it was, probably Bianchi or so. It looked futuristic. I think dated is good.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: i was in the market for the ezesy, it has major flaws though. Mainly the motor is too weak and has 12 degree engagement. The hub has 12 too, so you can rotate the crank by almost 30 degree without doing anything. On the road its no big deal on a techtrail really anoying. Degressive linkage too-we still have to wait for the future. The s motor seems better than the fazua though. Would love to buy the 7k version as my new companycar, if budiness goes well maybe..
  • 1 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: Alright, so it needs another iteration then. I think there is definitely a place for less power and better modulation. Apparently Specialized nailed that better than Fazua. I recall Shimano also has their E7000 motor (instead of E8000 seen on most bikes) which is also supposed to deliver the same thing. Less power but better feel. I think that would be higher up my list of priorities too should I go for an e-bike. As it is now though, I'm not there yet. That is, I get the point but for how and where I ride it just doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money.
  • 1 1
 @b45her: Don't care what my Levo expert weighs. It's still fun. Going up and going down.
  • 3 0
 @LemonadeMoney: Its only 2lbs heavier than my trail bike. Running out of battery isn't an oh shit moment, even on a 50lb E-Bike, much less the Levo SL.
  • 2 0
 @b45her: My 2019 levo expert XL with Cushcore is 22.2kg/49lb
  • 1 0
 @Murchman: That's the carbon with the 500 battery right?
  • 2 0
 @onemanarmy: Carbon with 700 battery.
  • 1 0
 @Murchman: Wow. That's pretty good then. I've got some miles on the Levo. Solid bike. My only complaint is the rear triangle is a bit noodly.
  • 1 0
 @onemanarmy: Now the Comp Alloy version in XL weights in at 53lbs/24.2kg and the medium comp alloy is 51.12lbs/23.1kg. Weighed them all myself with pedals.
  • 2 1
 @LemonadeMoney: You should check out Rob Rides EMTB Youtube. He rode his with his camera guy on the Levo and battery lasted basically the same. Just a bit more effort from Rob. But efficiency makes it much less than a 1/2 proposition, and the point of the SL is also that if you brick it you can still reasonably ride it. Even better, you can ride it without the main battery at all and just the range extenders. So imagine have a couple of them for a shuttle climb. Leave them locked to a tree or something after each climb, then pickup at end of day with your vehicle. Bike without any battery at all is like 34lbs.
  • 3 3
 @Chuckolicious: be aware that rob rides emtb is a total specialized shill, he will never ever say a bad word about the big S because they give him mountains of free shit. dude cant ride for shit either.
  • 4 1
 @b45her: He rides just fine. Believe it or not it's not everyone's goal to send huge jumps or do backflips. He is probably as good as 80percent of the people on this site.
  • 3 0
 @BeerGuzlinFool: indeed your correct but being able to get down a fairly mild trail without getting off and pushing sections should be within the capabilities of someone who is supposed to be pointing out riding characteristics of bikes.
  • 2 0
 @Murchman: you pull the tubes out before you weighed em? LOL

Kidding. Yeah I know how much those bad boys weigh. Been putting miles on a large alloy with upgrades.
  • 2 1
 @b45her: Oh come on. He reviews lots of other brands too. And he even discussed how he modified his Levo to make up for some shortcomings he perceived. Really, it’s like he peed in your Cheerios or something, what a terrible world it must be to you. :-/
  • 2 2
 @Chuckolicious: yes he does, and he picks faults with just about anything that doesn't have the big S on it (unless they have flown him somewhere nice for a launch ofcourse)
He will always get a few levo plugs in too in most vids, total shill. should declare it as sponsored content like others do.
  • 3 2
 @b45her: I disagree..Having someone with a similar set of riding skills explain how a bike handles is more relatable than having a pro rider with skills most of us will never explain how a bike handles.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: So how then do you feel about EMBN. They were just as enthusiastic about the SL.
  • 1 1
 @Chuckolicious: yes they were because they were all reading from the same script, it was a press release not a test, they too are sponsored by specialised, you only have to do the maths to work out that all the big S have achieved in reality is to bodge a hub drive into a box and make a pretty weak motor that is only 800g lighter than a full powered gen four bosch or 900g lighter than a shimano E8000, where is the game changing here??
the e-zesty and nox helium both weigh near enough the same for half the price and if specced with the same components will probably be lighter. also you can remove the drive units to effectively have a normal bike.

It's the usual specialized nonsense, mediocre product will millions in marketing thrown at it.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: sadly your statement concerning the ezesty is not true, the lower tier version of the zesty costs 6 k, the comparable specialized 7k, not really double the price. the fazua is weaker and has a modulation not very well suited to mtb. the difference between a levo sl and and other top tier ebikes is also about 3 kg in average, comparing just the weight of the motor does not tell you very much about the ride ( and 800g used to be a big deal too back in the day when there was no engine support). I am not a big secialized fan and never owned one but they have nailled the concept way better than lapierre ( i wish it was the other way round).
  • 1 1
 @optimumnotmaximum: your missing the point, the only thing that is a variable from a standard ebike is the motor, specialized havend made a magical battery ALL ebike batteries are the same weight to within a couple of % batteries havent changed for 20+ years you could bolt a small battery and a pile of underspecced parts to any carbon ebike at only an 800gram penalty, and thats for a proper motor not this castrated thing.

e-zesty am ltd £6400
nox helium £6670

both with proper all mountain components.

sworks levo sl £11000 built up with cross country suitable parts.

could even mention the mondraker crafty which is a little over 19kg with a full power motor and 625wh battery. Add 2xrange extenders to the levo to roughly equal the capacity and your at 19.3 kg, please explain where the ground breaking engineering is??
  • 2 0
 @b45her: Ok dude, clearly that story in your head is way more powerful than any e bike. Now I feel like I’m talking to a flat earther. Well, I’m demoing one tomorrow in LA, going for a full day ride in Calabasas area. Not that it’ll have any effect, but I’ll report back tomorrow night. Cheers.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: i never said there is groundbreaking engineering and to be honest i also dont care. i also dont share the addiction of many ebikers for more power. a fullon ebike is a castrated emx bike if you want to put it that way. i want an ebike that rides like a regular mtb without killing me uphill riding dh tires. i dont care if i get a fullon ebike for just a couple of kg more. for me it comes down to who makes the best lets say "hybrid enduro ebike" and with the flaws the lapierre frame (degressive linkage) and the fazua motor (weak ,12 degree engagement) has the levo sl might be the best out there. sure everything could be better but you have to compare whats there.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: Alright guy, here it is. Since you can check out my history here on PB, it's pretty clear I'm not a "shill" or whatever other conspiracy nonsense you might want to entertain. Thing is amazing. Did a massive ride in Topanga/Malibu with three huge locals only descents. Local guy on a first gen Levo took me out. He's a monster on a regular bike, E-Bike, whatever. First thing, yep, on the road climbs he could easily pull away from me even when I was redlining my heart rate and on Turbo. So if you're gonna ride with full power rigs, just like Rob and EMBN said, you're gonna have to put in a lot of effort. However, at the end of the ride, we each had 2 bars left. So just like everyone said, battery-wise you come out even, though the SL rider comes out more spent. And the real magic is on the downs. A totally normal bike. I road a first gen Kenevo in the LA area for a week two summers ago. Runaway school bus on the downs. Having just done two days on my regular rig that I brought with me, I can say 100% there is no discernible difference in handling. My rig weighs 29lbs, and the extra few pounds on the SL didn't show at all. Motor is noisy, so what, thing is dope. I'll give it two more model years then I'm in. And if by then some other company trumps Specialized, fine by me, I'll get that. But right now, I don't think anything comes close to this, and anyone who wants a full power rig will not want this at all. There ya go! Now back on my regular rig to hit Flow up in Santa Cruz.
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: I’ve been on quite a few ebikes now. Specialized motor/battery combo is hands down the best.

Most fun I’ve personally had so far was yesterday on a cannondale. Gonna smash it for like 3 more hours tomorrow morning
  • 1 0
 @b45her: Hey man. I noticed you didn't have anything to say regarding my experience on the SL. I actually came back to ask you what you thought of Rob's just released Radon Render review. For the life of me, seems completely positive, going exactly against your claim that he's a Specialized Shill that craps on everything else. Interested in your thoughts.
  • 1 1
 @Chuckolicious: you obviously didn't watch the last 5 mins then when he complains about a load trivial non-issues.
or the part at the start of the video that says "includes payed promotion" just like all the specialised videos do.
I'm sure the levo sl is a tidy enough bike what irritates me is all the "innovation and years of development" shite they spout.
it's nothing ground breaking its an existing motor thats been used by another manufacturer for a couple of years already in a box with a small battery, nothing more. the cheaper models which cost about the same as most brands high end stuff are barely lighter than a full fat ebike. its the iphone of the bike world.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: Huh? Of course I watched it. Yea, like with every bike, there are small things and basically all of them were component things, not frame things. Yes, the controller is stupid with all those buttons. Yes, the janky wire wrap around the bars is janky. Did you miss the actual end where he puts the post-it basically above everyone else? Says he will be telling friends and family to BUY IT? Even SL is below because of price.

And what are you talking about? The Creo is a totally in-house designed and unique motor, to which Specialized has the exclusive to for 5 years. Man, you seem to be doing all sorts of mental gymnastics to avoid maybe having to simply admit you were wrong, and actually just being better for it. Here, this is reality: Rob is a perfectly reasonable reviewer. And Specialized is a big corporation that will behave...wait for a big corporation, and got so big because they actually build pretty good stuff. Nope, don't even try to say somehow they brain control people into buying their stuff, that's condescending BS and totally shameful. Peace out man, you need it.

Oh hey, just noticed the iPhone quip. Now it all makes sense, you're one of them. Those people who somehow feel personally threatened by successful things. No, man, other people's success and popular items do not shine a light on your weaknesses. They really don't. But if you're hobbled by that particular kind of neurosis, certainly nothing I can do about it other than give you my sympathies and hope that someday you come out into the light. It's way fun out here, I promise!
  • 1 0
 @Chuckolicious: the creo is a mahle hub motor in a box, there is nothing unique about it.
still refusing to aknowledge the "paid promotion" tag at the start of the "review" the guy does adverts mate not reviews.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: You're just flat wrong, like 1+1=3 wrong, or the Earth is flat wrong. What else can I even say to that? And yea, here's his actual disclaimer:

DISCLOSURE: Radon paid for my time for production, filming and accommodation for this video but in no way had any say or influence over any of the content. Hence this video will be marked as 'Includes Paid Promotion'. All editorial content is my own.

So on one hand you claim he's paid by Specialized to crap on everyone else, but now that he's paid to, I dunno, not crap on others, but then, you whine that he points out some flaws, but then you whine he's paid? So totally off-kilter, mate. Get a grip, seriously.
  • 28 3
 I feel bad for Levy on this one, the interview felt very forced and that co-founder at SC seemed like he just wasn't interested in either the product they were offering or answering questions. All felt a bit lethargic.
  • 28 1
 Yeah, the enthusiasm in this video seems to equal that of a first time colonoscopy patient.
  • 3 0
 This aint Nottingham boy! Its Cali style brah
  • 31 1
 @packfill: you get more enthusiastic on your second colonoscopy?
  • 1 0
 @mat-massini-media: maybe he did after the first "ride"...
  • 1 0
 @mat-massini-media: Second time's a charm.
  • 4 0
 Didn't get my breakfast Monster Smile
  • 1 0
 @mat-massini-media: I know I was!
  • 1 1
 @packfill: ???? best comment
  • 6 1
 We can’t all be YouTube tech “reviewers” lobbing softballs at Elon Musk. Smile

I thought Roskopp and co gave some thoughtful, transparent answers to some difficult questions, and I appreciate that they took the time with us.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: I appreciate that

wasn't meant as a criticism of Levy, i thought he came with good energy, he just didn't get any back.
  • 23 2
 Well, in 13 years when I'm 60, I hope all the eMTB's are light years ahead of the portly tumorous bastards they are now. (including the Spesh Turbo Levo SL which people around here seem to holding up as the gold standard for the moment)

I work very hard to stay in shape and I'll do all my own pedaling for as long as I can, but with 3 fused vertebra and significant arthritis, the cracks are already showing.

I'd rather buy an eMTB at some point than quit completely. That's assuming I'll have somewhere to ride them.
  • 3 4
 How old is RC now? Has he been spotted riding with pedal assist?
  • 8 0
 @vinay: No idea on either of those questions regarding RC.... but to assume everyone has the same body type, injury history and genetic predisposition is silly.

I ride with a 64 year old now that is UNBELIEVABLY fast (no ebike). I hope I can be like him when I'm that age, but the early signs are not good.
  • 1 0
 @krka73: Yeah, I get that. Plus I'm not one who'd say e-bikes are for the old. Just meant to say to not necessarily expect yourself to be so much less capable than you are now. Of course you will be somewhat but I think RC is a good role model to inspire yourself that you can be that old and still fast and capable. But again, I don't view pedal assist as a replacement for limited strength. I think Voullioz would still outride most of us on an unassisted bike even though (and probably also because he was on Lapierre) he really was one of the early adopters and started racing these (properly).
  • 2 1
 @krka73 this is one of the most reasonable comments I’ve read about ebikes and a responsible attitude towards them. Well done.
  • 23 11
 My first REALLY good bike was a 2003 Santa Cruz Heckler. I still reminisce and relish riding it and all the hours of fun I had on it. And Santa Cruz as a brand still carried a nostalgic bonus and a boutique premium I'd have gladly paid. But that's come to a halt now. Yes, there's lots of money to be made with E-MTBs in the short run. Lots of pros and cons. blablabla

I won´t lust after Santa Cruz bikes as dearly, now that they are just another mtb/e-mtb company owned by some rich virtual entity.
I might decide to only buy boutique bikes from now on from specific BIKE companies who don't promote e-mtbs. I bet there's or there'll be a niche market.
I don´t hate if you want to ride your e-mtb. All things said, biking is a hobby (aside from commuting) and therefore not rational in any sense, except it is one of the most fun activities I can imagine.
And in my personal, subjective fun filter bubble - E-MTBs are not a thing.
  • 2 0
 Me too. I traded my DH bike and XC bike and built a Heckler up into what is now an enduro bike. I loved that bike.
  • 13 1
 "When we first sold, they asked if we were going to do one. At that time, we said no. We told them we'll address it when we feel the need to or the desire from within to do it."- Rob Roskopp

"When we first started the project, I'll be honest, there weren't a lot of people in the company that were too excited about it."
-also Rob Roskopp
  • 3 0
 That's the thing with being a mass market brand
  • 4 0
 Guy is kinda spitten BS all over the place...
  • 4 0
 "That's how we've always acted with bikes we want to come out with. They're bikes we personally want to ride."

Seems to contradict your second quote about people in the company not being excited about it....
  • 15 0
 Heckler? I hardly know her?
  • 15 1
 Dude has zero enthusiasm about their new e-bike.
  • 7 1
 It's interesting that ebike critics think a bike brand has somehow 'sold out' by expanding it's market segment. These critics do not have a clue how important new markets are for any company. Simply being accepted as being 'cool' doesn't pay a company's production expenses. Take Chromag: hardtails and parts. Now they sell riding and casual clothing, wheel sets, etc. People wanted Chromag riding gear and Ritz responded. Santa Cruz have customers who want an eMTB, so why would they ignore the numerous requests and risk losing customers?
  • 16 8
 Quit whining people, bikes are fun with or without a battery. Grow up, and evolve.
  • 8 4
 I'm not surprised most people in the company were not "excited" about this project.

Selling out to the ebike market, at least in the U.S., is pretty much the opposite of trail advocacy, something which Santa Cruz has been known for.
  • 2 4
 Considering how hard they push their DH bikes, I find it very amusing they prefer "pedal" power, what a bunch of morons.
  • 5 5
 ebikes and trail advocacy are not mutually exclusive. I think we should follow the example set by British Colombia on this one.
  • 7 3
 I see this as a similar situation to when Porsche started to make SUVs. That resulted in:
1) Saving the company from bankruptcy
2) Funding development of more sports cars
3) Then funding a big boring heavily saloon car, and another boring SUV, and some kind of boring electric car

And look at them now: they are an SUV/ Electric car company, their sports cars are heavy and still with engines in the wrong place.

So in if my comparison holds true, Santa Cruz is ****ed.
  • 4 2
 Wait what? The Cayenne allowed for the development of the Cayman! Porsche have since been killing it with their 911 and Cayman/Boxster models. Caymans are sub 3,000lbs and the base Carreras are ~ 3,500lbs. Both are significantly lighter and more refined than any comparable BMW/Ford/Chevy/Benz.

Porsche is doing great and Santa Cruz will be fine.
  • 2 0
 That was worth the time, thanks for sharing. One thing eMTB regs need to consider is power to weight, not just raw power rating.
  • 5 0
 He makes good points. It held my interest until he referred to standard bikes as "analog" and ebikes as "digital". Ugh. Let's stop this nonsense now. ebikes are both digital AND analog. And standard pedal bikes are mechanical, but not inherently analog.
  • 5 0
 i was really proud of santa cruz for holding out and not producing an e-bike. guess everyone is a sell out when there's money to be made...
  • 6 0
 Great questions. Really like this interview format. Would love to see more.
  • 1 0
 More to come Smile
  • 5 2
 $17000 Canadian dollars out the door for the top spec... so you can buy 2 sick dirt bikes for that.. so please tell me it's because of your health, or you want to ride after work, or whatever lame ass excuse you got.

You're just a sellout.
  • 7 0
 Roskopp did the best fakie thrusters. Vert God!!
  • 4 0
 Levy- "Why'd you go with 27.5?"
SC- "..."
Levy- "But did you test it against a 29er?"
SC- "Yes we-"
Levy- "WHY ISNT IT A 29ER?"
  • 5 0
 You're not wrong haha
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: couldn’t be more obvious that a 29er ebike is imminent
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: I have owned a few e-bikes and honestly the motor powers the smaller wheel better. They are just faster. I've ridden jam2(650b)( trailfox 650b) (speedfox 29) instinct 29 and altitude 650b.
  • 1 1
 Companies following same marketing trajectory as 26-27.5-29.

Once all 27.5 and 29 itches have been scratched, we'll have 30.5", or maybe 775mm metric wheel size.

  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: The funny thing is. If I'm concerned ONLY about average speed I'd take my 2020 Hightower out, but 3 out of 4 rides I grab the Bronson. It's simply more fun and my DH times on it match or beat the Hightower. The Bronson jumps better, turns better, and it makes every bit of trail a playground. Can I do those things on the HT? Sure, but it requires much more work and thought while the Bronson is effortless.

If I'm racing I'll probably take the Hightower but 90% of my rides aren't races.
  • 1 1

I'm a 27.5 guy myself. I love riding them. In the E-Bike world I'm a huge fan of the mullet set up and that's the first thing I would do with this bike. Instant mullet.

Full 29ers are awesome too but tend to monster truck a bit. Completely different riding style to anything else.

If I was releasing ONE bike a launch it would have been a mullet. Followed by a 27.5 and 29 bike at the same time a few months later.
  • 2 1
 @mtbgeartech: I have a Trek Remedy and I feel the same way. It's just way more fun to ride than anything else I've ridden. I've been trying to sell it and no one wants a 27.5. I can't wrap my head around it. Sucks because I'd like to get another 27.5 to replace it with but with how hard it's been to sell my next bike will be a 29. I'll run a mullet hard tail and I guess smash around on that when I feel like getting silly.
  • 3 0
 50% of their catalogue of bikesin 5 years time, WOW, times they are a changing, but what percentage of sales in 5 years time ????
  • 1 0
 Levy asked the same exact question I was thinking, did they think about a lighter weight more nimble version like the Specialized Levo SL. I think that is were the e-bikes are headed. Not many folks need or want all that power. Most people don't ride for more than 4 hours as well.
  • 2 0
 That is his job. Smile
  • 2 1
 Best point Robb said was the older crowd and peeps with past injury problems can now get back on a bike. Lower back and many other physical issues I have from major crashes is gonna make me get one at some point. So all the haters get your head out of your ass and think before you "Heckel" someone with an e-bike on the trail...they might be hurting and still might be able to hurt you tho...
  • 3 0
 £12,000 for the top model on the UK SC website. Twelve. Thousand. pounds....
  • 1 1
 Champ it has always been that way. It is as if the pound is not worth 1.3 US dollars!
  • 3 0
 That's pretty heavy for a bicycle
  • 5 1
 "Well, yeah, you know... We like Bikes. And Money."
  • 4 2
 Sorry, but what on earth is he talking about, no Haibike ever had a throttle, that would make it a motorcycle, not a pedelec. He is talking total rubbish.
  • 3 3
 Kill it with fire! So over not just the survival of these hideous creations, but the evolution as well. Everyone wake up and stop supporting this trend! Either moto or pedal, no mopeds! I bet we find out one day this trend is paid for by big tobacco
  • 2 0
 Levy should have asked if ebike projects are being given priority with research and development of new products over normal bikes.
  • 2 1
 Rob predicted that 50% of their lineup is electric within 5 years. That kinda answers your question no?
  • 1 1
 Damn, Roskopp actually looks sick in this interview

I know he seems disinterested, being an ebike and all, but I was recently watching some other footage of him from three or four years ago and he looked much fuller in the features and not so gaunt

Surely after the expenditure on a new division for development they could have come up with something a bit more current
And I've never heard an engineering director spew so much marketing-inspired "super" verbosity
  • 2 0
 @pinkbike. How about an article about batteries. Where they come from, how long they last until they can’t hold a charge etc. curious.
  • 2 0
 Sounds like they have MANY other ebikes in development already based on his 50% comment within 5 years.
  • 5 5
 If you don't embrace change, roll with the times you're gonna end up being the retard with a mullet haircut and wearing one leather glove, thinking you are still cool..... Everything evolves.....
  • 3 2
 Kind of seems like Roskopp needed to convince himself that this was the product he wanted....during the interview.....several times.
  • 2 0
 I love how companies are making the BB shell/ motor housing black for stealth. The new Decoys have it too.
  • 2 1
 why are all the drivetrains SRAM when they use Shimano motor? is their agreement with SRAM that draconian? XT is pretty good, you know...
  • 2 1
 Have a look at what Greg Williams and gang are doing in Downieville , then it might makes little more sense.
  • 3 1
 Interesting. That actually makes me want to rent an e-bike and do some of those longer loops.

I'm no e-bike fan, but Downieville is the rare mountain biking area in California where e-bikes really make sense. The trail system is large and remote, and has a long (ongoing) tradition of motorized vehicle use. (And what Greg W/SBTS/Yuba are doing is terrific, IMO.)

In most of the rest of California, it's much more contentious - extreme population pressure and tenuous trail access for non-e bikes make e-bikes a hard sell.
  • 1 0
 "We have a thing called 'no missed rides' around here" This explains why my warranty claims are always so quick and seamless! Thanks guys!!!!!!!
  • 5 3
 "We got that sweet PON cash and figured since we had already sold out financially, we might as well sell out ethically too."
  • 1 2
 The business side of me is laughing at are the person that hates when a rock band signs to a major label or a craft brew company sells to Miller Coors! Am I right?
  • 2 0
 Anyone buy levy doing that interview ffs...
O well can’t have everything go well
  • 1 0
 Couldn't get my morning Tim Hortons so I was feeling a bit off Smile
  • 1 0
 My biggest problem with E-Bikes - where the hell can you ride them? On trailforks every trail near me says they are not allowed!
  • 2 3
 If you don't want to pedal up the damn hill, buy a off road motorcycle. They're fun, awesome and totally shame there -but, for the love of God...don't bastardize two great endeavors by putting pedals on a motorcycle so you can feel like a cyclist while riding a motor bike.
  • 3 1
 wrong side of history mate...pointless view now
  • 1 1
 I’m excited to see last hold out release ebikes this year. Yes Transition and IBIS have ebikes coming out in their lineup. I don’t know about Yeti, but I suspect they will have bikes in the next year too.
  • 1 0
 Can we save a slow speed film, of huge drop offs to flat, on expensive eBikes?

Maybe a side by side with non-eBikes to see how much engineering is right.
  • 18 16
 Some probably won't want to hear this, but it's the future.
  • 15 3
 oh yeah, same as photography killed painting, eh?
  • 2 1
 @ismasan: But taking thousands of pictures at a time digitally has turned film into a niche.

(Whether or not this applies to mtb/emtb I do not know yet, but I see the appeal of self-shuttling up a fire road for 2x more laps than you would get on a regular mtb. Of course and also the hellscape that people showing up on e-motos is going to bring.)
  • 2 0
 Next e-bike in this world
  • 1 1
 The motor is irrelevant. How come they call it a Heckler but it isn't a single pivot rear suspension design. Didn't they foresee they just started the wrong hate train?
  • 5 0
 Because the target market bought hecklers 20 years ago
  • 5 3
 In 5 to 10 years E-MTB's will be 75% of the market.......Stamp It !
  • 1 0
What a brilliant observations. Allow me to virtue signal: I still elevate manually.
  • 3 2
 Different strokes for different folks. Whatever gets you out to enjoy nature. Just go ride your bike.
  • 3 1
 Roskopp sound bored, stoned or tired. Or all three
  • 1 1
 Ebikes are creating trails that are getting shutdown and taking other nearby trails out with them. Goodbye backdoor and bones.
  • 1 0
 I look at Roskopp and all I see is his skate part in Wheels of Fire from 1987
  • 3 3
 The bike looks quite good, for an e-bike, but SC are in fact behind the game. Nice touch on the handlebars though.
  • 2 0
 Crow meet menu
  • 2 1
 Start to sell e-MTB frames, please!
  • 1 0
 Rob is wondering if he got enough for Santa Cruz...
  • 1 1
 Sickening but true. How many of your bike will be powered by motor? "50%". Wow sad.
  • 8 9
 Good on you Rob, telling everyone how it is. Make waves. It’s a good looking bike, good work Santa Cruz!
  • 14 4
 Following the crowd is the opposite of making waves.
  • 7 1
 @packfill: He's making waves because all the SC fan boys thought this would never happen.
  • 1 1
 Make it with a 3sp gearbox and you got a deal!
  • 1 2
 In summary, what Roskopp meant to say is, "Why wouldn't you want to go faster?" in regards to ebikes.
  • 1 1
  • 3 3
  • 3 3
 Pretty fancy moped.
  • 12 15
 I kinda feel like a person I respect has died. A bit sad, but with the understanding that it is inevitable.
  • 3 6
 I wanna know what Steve Peat thinks of it. That’s the opinion that matters to me. And Syndicate.
  • 8 0
 They are going to promote it when Santa Cruz tells them to, so I guess you won't know what they really think of it...
  • 3 0
 How much you willing to pay to get the answer you want?
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