Video: The Places & People That Inspired Santa Cruz's New Heckler eMTB

Feb 11, 2020
by Sarah Moore  


bigquotesWhen someone like Greg Williams tells you that you should really hurry up and make an e-bike you pay attention.

Greg was the visionary that put Downieville on the map for mountain bikers. Santa Cruz Bicycles have been supporting Greg Williams since 1993, first by supplying him with first generations Tazmons and then Heckler bikes for his shuttle business, then supporting the Downieville Classic for many years, helping seed fund the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and then donating and fundraising every year to keep the dream of creating sustainable communities through recreational trail development alive.

Greg has for a long time said that the area is “a big empty space full of empty trails”, and he wants more people to experience more of the trails. The main trails are ridden over and over again because they’re the easiest to access by van shuttle. But Greg wants to spread people out across the thousand of miles of trails. Bigger, “two sandwich rides”, as he puts it, are there, waiting for riders and e-bikes are the ideal tool to access these trails.

Some of these trails have been under the nose of riders for years, they’re just protected by nightmare climbs that deter even the toughest riders. But with the help of a little boost these pieces of singletrack shoot you right from town, fast-forwarding through the torment of 5000ft climbs, to trails like Chimney Rock and Empire Creek - the exact kinds of trails that the title “world’s best downhill trail” was made for.

The next step in Greg’s masterplan is the “moonshot” idea of connecting 13 disadvantaged communities in the Lost Sierras with trails that it’s hoped will spread a little bit of the modest prosperity that Downieville has seen. There’s over 300 miles of new trail construction planned – some of it is being built already – but also the plan is to also revive old, forgotten existing trails, the kinds of trails that trail whisperer Kurt Gensheimer revels in finding.

Heckler makes rare rides the norm, turns climbs into sections of trail to enjoy and then it’s still as agile and capable as a regular bike so you can enjoy the really great bits of trail. It was made for places like the Lost Sierras and for adventurous, imaginative riders like Greg Williams.
Santa Cruz Bicycles



123 Comments

  • 81 26
 Making more remote trails more accessible? That's funny - the last all day 65mi mountain bike ride I did, the guys on the eBikes had to cut out after 30-40 miles when their batteries died.
  • 13 9
 ...and up until that point they weren't going any faster than the fit guys in the group, because they were out of shape and pedaling in eco mode so their batteries lasted as long as possible.
  • 29 4
 We're in the presence of greatness.......
  • 25 9
 @reggiep2020: if you think that's an attempt at self-congratulation you're wrong.

I think it's stupid how companies either try to sell eMTB's using the goodwill argument (for those who can't ride a regular bike!) or the "go farther" argument. The "go farther" argument is ridiculous - how many all-day epics or bikepacking trips do you see people doing on eMTB's? None, because you have to recharge after a few hours (or stash a battery in the bushes).

They're really about making the uphills easier for people who want them to be easier, and making it possible to squeeze in another downhill lap or two for people who want to do more downhill laps within a ride lasting 3-4 hours max. Not to conquer previously unreachable areas, like Santa Cruz, Mark Weir, etc. are trying to spin to us with Pinkbike content.
  • 6 2
 Ride what you brung, so Why brought motorcross out in Downieville....no need to shuttle and we have longer range!
  • 15 8
 @gumbytex: actually I've got a big all-day backcountry shuttle ride I've been eyeballing for a while that my buddies and I are going to do on E-Bikes. 60 miles, 12,000 ft of descent with 7,500 ft of climbing. We're all expert or pro-level riders with above average fitness. It will still be an exhausting day, but it will be slightly more reasonable with the assist.
  • 5 0
 @gumbytex: You are so right gumby. People who ride e-mtbs, at least the ones I've seen, are typically people that don't ride that much and are more mature and want to maximize their ride distance, or reduce climbing effort. I have nothing against it. Two of my buddies have them. I just haven't got to the point at 45 that I can't handle a 30 mile ride fairly easily. And honestly, I doubt I'd want to ride 50 miles in a day...except on very special occasions. e-bikes have their market, just not with me.
  • 13 8
 Sad the see the pretentiousness of egotistical roadies so prominent on pb. You either go hard like a super athlete or you're shit? MTB has devolved into elitism...RIP
  • 4 1
 Wow, we're all impressed by you!!
  • 6 5
 I plan in way bigger rides now with the ebike. Biggest have been about 50 miles and 5500ft of climbing. They are awesome for doing big hills and big rides. Main reason I bought an ebike tbh. And yes, you have to totally put the effort in to get these distances but you can still take the sting out of the steepest climbs. Sometimes you can plan in recharge stops depending on where you're riding.
  • 4 0
 @slayerdegnar: I agree the language makes it seem that way but there is an underlying issue that causes this retaliation from within the industry. All across the world, especially here in the US, trail access and support for mtb is pretty poor as I'm sure you have had first-hand experience like many of us. Just last week, my hometown wanted to put a pumptrack in and people went ballistic. Non-mtbers are skeptical enough of normal mountain bikes and actively pushing back against new trails or even existing systems. The typical, "erosion", "too dangerous", "hiker/horse superiority" is enough to deal with before even putting e-bikes into the equation. We need to fix one problem before we can work on another. Sure if regular mtb's had great advocacy and reception in the greater public eye, then pushing e-bikes would be the next step, just right now it seems like we're piling one fragile thing on to another. Just my take on it though.
  • 14 2
 @gumbytex: Who cares why people use e-bikes? What kind of mountain biker can't get on board with doing more downhill laps faster? Very weird.
  • 1 0
 @gumbytex: Seems battery life/range is only increasing..
  • 1 7
flag gumbytex (Feb 12, 2020 at 14:37) (Below Threshold)
 You guys are silly. The point is that a bike that can never be more than 15 or 20 miles away from a charging outlet is never going to be a backcountry exploration machine opening up previously unreachable zones.
  • 1 3
 @slayerdegnar: truth spoken, amen brother.
  • 4 0
 @CoffeeHouseMedia: Think you missed my point and the point of the video. Downieville embraced mtb and got the local land manager on board with motorized trail construction and designations. Its a win, win story. It can happen with community support and rational land managers. But yeah, ebikes are most controversial with a minority of elites mtbers and wilderness fanatics.
  • 2 0
 So what did they go out and ride ? Did they have fun? Did this in someway impact you, what’s the problem? @gumbytex:
  • 2 0
 Thank you, what is going on with this sport in the last few years? @slayerdegnar:
  • 8 1
 @gumbytex: i think the problem i have with all this is that the testosterone fueled dick measuring was historically the domain of road cycling....MTB has been about having fun with your mates.....laughing at them when they fall off, taking the piss when they turn up for a ride and have forgotten their shoes.....yes i can afford theses crazy expensive bikes and i am close in age to a boomer.....i am competitive but i use it at work (how do you think you get to earning enough for these bikes) so at weekends and in my leisure i and i guess the majority of ebikers, we do it for enjoyment, an antidote to work, an escape from a competitive work environment... The truth is we don't want to be the fittest, the first, the fastest. Most of us are probably, when it comes to it, average riders, average weight, and average fitness. At 52 with three kids, a business and and and .....to be really "in shape" and a hero on the trails we would have to be incredibly self centred.

So if i have a beef about anything its this constant assumption that everybody needs to be uber fit. It is a fact that on an ebike, i can go further and longer in the mountains...that's why i bought the bloody thing....no matter how far or not that is....i can do more with one than without.....still totally worn out at the end of it but my day of 'Enjoyment' has been longer....

Ebikes are growing because they are bringing the fun back into MTB and i hope that the super elite hero's who look down on ebikes eventually f.ck off to road cycling where they can worry endlessly about their protein intake, BMI and take their anger out on car drivers !!!
  • 3 0
 @gumbytex ........cool bro
  • 1 0
 @smgishot13: Dirt roadies
  • 50 13
 They need an eBike to do a ride of 42.7km and 1445m elevation gain? This is a joke.
  • 36 22
 Yah because the USA invented Mc Donalds, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Burger King, KFC. Fast and easy that's the American slogan.
  • 33 45
flag nyhc00 (Feb 11, 2020 at 23:40) (Below Threshold)
 @sinterklaas: Who invented the internet to allow you to showcase your self righteousness?
  • 40 9
 @nyhc00: the internet was invented by a British dude
  • 21 3
 @Riwajc: while working in Switzerland
  • 7 2
 This is marketing
  • 4 6
 @Riwajc: that’s debatable being that it was a group effort and there were several versions starting with ARPAnet in the 60’s.
  • 3 3
 @dirtologist: J.C.R. Licklider of MIT is credited with the theory of globally connected computers in 1962.
  • 23 11
 @sinterklaas: In the USA we don't have 4 day work weeks and take two hour siestas everyday like you europeans.
  • 14 1
 @sinterklaas: While which continent sees the largest use of e-bikes? Hint, not the US.
  • 7 3
 @Riwajc: the World Wide Web was in invented by Tim Berners-Lee (British guy) in 1990 but the TCP/IP (internet) was American produced and adopted in 1983. Sorry you’re wrong.
  • 4 0
 @nyhc00: Tesla theorized a world wireless connectivity in the early 1900s
  • 7 0
 @andyelliott3: we do in Utah and Colorado 4 day work week is what’s up.
  • 7 0
 @andyelliott3: Nor 1 year maternity/paternity leave.
Sincerly,
A grumpy dad
  • 4 1
 @5afety3rd: Good to know...not being sarcastic either.
  • 5 2
 @sinterklaas: Back to back world war champs!! (Sarcasm).
  • 6 1
 @andyelliott3: @andyelliott3: nor does the USA have universal healthcare, paid maternity and paternity leave, free education, higher public health....
  • 8 6
 @sinterklaas: Lazy, slow, and easy is your slogan. You whine and cry, cry "only dentists can afford this" softly into your pillow as you go down for your 2-hour afternoon nap, like a little baby.
  • 8 1
 pretty lame scene in mtb these days. used to be about breaking the norm and having fun... now its all bout starva, ig glory posts, and talking shit.
  • 3 1
 @sinterklaas:
last time i check the USA invented every single thing known to man that makes the modern world go around minus supplied water and sewer systems...that belongs to the Romans.....embrace change brother you will have more fun and remain just as fit...remember 26'ers for life , not so very long ago?
  • 2 0
 @yamaboy2000: Don’t ya know, in Pinkbike land it’s totally acceptable to make broad generalizations about an entire country...but don’t you ever critique a Semenuk video.
  • 1 0
 To set the correct character of the location, many of these trails are ohv zones and open to motos. The climbs are honestly horror shows, and people are riding motorcycles by you. Why not have an assist in locales like this?
  • 29 1
 from environmental point of view it is BS that we have to conquer every acres of wildlife and woodland for trailriding with e-bikes where you naturally couldn't get there. Same for Heli-Biking..CAN and US should be proud of the big untouched areas as last refuges for wildlife..
  • 47 16
 3 articles in a row, you work hard for your money PB
  • 20 10
 It’s pretty shameless at this point.
  • 75 32
 If you want less eMTB articles, stop clicking on eMTB articles. Smile

I’m not even sure SC advertises with us, it has no bearing on how we’d cover this story. If you don’t think it’s a big deal that Santa Cruz finally made an eMTB then I don’t know what to tell you.
  • 39 1
 @brianpark: we can't stop clicking, we come for the comments. Its the PinkBike audience way.
  • 7 7
 You really have to admire the pinkbike work ethic. Full review tomorrow.
  • 6 3
 @brianpark: with Pon as their overlords, it was just a matter of time. Not surprising or particularly interesting at all
  • 10 13
 @brianpark: Not sure SC advertises with you? Is this a joke? Do you even visit your own website? What a load of horse shit.
  • 5 11
flag graniteandrew (Feb 12, 2020 at 6:42) (Below Threshold)
 @brianpark: They showed up 3-4 years late, with a bike thats very 2016 meh and all you do is sing praises and pretend its hot shit, how about you write objectively about how far behind the competition they are, what they did isn't new, isn't exciting and clearly isn't what they want to be doing. You can't take a 500wh battery on a 5k' ride.
  • 16 1
 @graniteandrew: they did dude, did you not see Levys interview with SC? m.pinkbike.com/news/santa-cruz-e-bike-heckler-interview-2020.html
  • 10 2
 @brianpark: I don't think its really that big of a deal... Roskopp also said he'd never adopt 650b and never produce a road bike again. Both things happened. SC has to jump on the bandwagon or get left behind... Unfortunately, other than the name, the bike just isn't that interesting.
  • 8 11
 @allredbikes: Yep, zero pushback, Levy either you're a schill selling ad space, or you're a journalist and are gonna ask pertinent albeit uncomfortable questions and push back when they spew propaganda. Just "more climbs like a goat" soft soap. How about, if it's been under development for 3+ years, what did you actually do differently? Oh we specced decent rubber...thats not a real answer. Zero new battery tech?, zero new motor tech?, he all but admitted they're gonna have a high failure rate and don't want to deal with warranty issues. Seems like some basic follow up Q's were in order. Industry leader...umm no. But they did prob give him a nice weekend in SC so at least there's that.
  • 5 0
 @brianpark: how can we be informed if we don’t click? I’m anti ebike but I like being an educated opposition
  • 6 1
 bitches be bitchin!
  • 4 3
 @slayerdegnar: Bitches need help pedaling.
  • 32 4
 A 26 mile long ride inspired them to get on e-bikes...Jesús. HTFU people
  • 27 4
 Ebikes have sweet profit margins and wealthy target demographic! Yay ebikes!
  • 5 5
 I was told specialized dealers are only making in the teens on margin.
  • 6 5
 i work in a shop. @pinkyscar you're dead wrong about the margins.
  • 13 0
 The places- The stock market
The people- The Dorel board of directors.
The inspiration- $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  • 19 6
 LET THE OPINIONATED SHIT TALK BEGIN!
  • 4 2
 That’ll do for a start Rolleyes
  • 8 6
 nah dude, this is the first video I watched where I am considering wanting to ride a ebike.
  • 3 1
 You can't handle my oPONion!
  • 3 6
 Santa Cruz just made Ebikes cool again!
  • 1 0
 @drivereight: nah that’s ain’t it boss
  • 17 7
 OMG - SC release an ebike and Pink Bike starts pissing itself like an excited dog. When exactly did Pon Holdings acquire its shared in Pink Bike I wonder?
  • 16 4
 Really liked the video, well done! Trails look awesome as well!
  • 7 1
 You can discover theses trails too. Just spend 7000$ on our cheapest bike...
And lucky americans, in germany they offer it for 7499€. Which is about 8200$...

I see the point for eMtb´s but I can not get over that pricetag.
  • 3 0
 The price is the same, the US is without taxes because the tax depends on the state that you are living in. Add 20% VAT and there is your 7.5K €. Wait two weeks and it will be -30% in one certain bike shop in Poland.. Wink
  • 1 0
 Only if Radon would sale their bikes in the USA! Seriously impressive ebike for half the price of SC
  • 10 4
 3 articles pushing the heckler in u see 24 hours
(I know a lot of bike launches are like this & santa Cruz always been good at playing the media game)


But it looks a lot like santa Cruz have a butt-ugly, very expensive bike with a lot of sunk production costs to sell.
  • 4 0
 I'm sure pon will have got a deal. I wonder if it's the same engine as other pon brands
  • 2 0
 Where’s the $16000 option you speak of?
  • 5 0
 why do we need to turn all day epics into an after work ride? theyre called all day epics becuase when your done it took all day, was hard, but was f*cking epic. if you cant make it that far on your bike looks like you just need a bit for fitness. isnt that half of biking? fun while getting fit? workout on the way up. shred on the way down. why does everyone think they can have their cake and eat it too? climbing mountains on a bike is hard wrk. imagine that?
  • 9 1
 E-bike or not, this place looks rad!!!!
  • 2 2
 You are right, right now this is a special place for MTB uplift and shuttle riding. But only a few, the super fit athlete types would be able to ride these proposed linked-up routes on their Bronsons. So step 1 is to rent a Heckler at Downieville and decide for yourself.
  • 8 0
 can´t wait for the forth article about Santa Cruz´s ebike!!
  • 5 1
 So is yuba expeditions going to go rescue all the Joey's that they send out in the rugged lost Sierra on ebikes when there battery dies or the thing has a mechanical..seems like a big clusterfuk to me
  • 5 2
 I still can’t get the ebike haters on here. Who give an F*** about another mans fitness level. Is possible ebike are popular just because there simply fun. Stop trying to compare them to moutain biking or dirt biking - ebikes are in a class of their own. A number of my friends are fast riders, yet ride ebikes for one reason - their super fun. Anyone who brags about being able do same ride on regular bike hasn’t riden an ebike - you can do it much faster if there is major elevations changes - if trails relatively flat or downhill it’s not going to matter much since their limited to 20mph . Battery wise a 500wh battery stretches 6000-10000ft if your not overweight and using your own strength in addition to bikes.

Until people stop shuttling or riding chairlift assist park please shut up about the ebike hating.
  • 7 5
 I have a downhiller, trail bike and an e-mtb and all of are fun! - Downhill - for park sessions - Enduro to ride with my boys - eMTB for quick runs during lunch breaks or after work. Stop complaining, get out and just ride whatever bike!
  • 3 1
 Get yourself a motorcycle and you’ll never ride your bicycles again!
  • 6 1
 "The Places & People That Inspired..." - I thought it'd be a 360 degree video of a corporate boardroom meeting.
  • 6 1
 McDonald's? (Answering to the title)
  • 7 6
 This new sub-category is not going to be for everyone but equally there are lots of sheep masquerading as Lions...........grow a set and ride what you like.....slagging off Boomers or Dentists as you like to call them is fine. But remember those same people aren't sitting back and waiting for it to be cool before they get involved....
  • 1 1
 not really a question of waiting for it to be cool, more like remotely affordable. If i could pick up a decent ebike for the same price as the top notch ‘obselete’ 26” inch i’m riding i’d probably try it
  • 6 5
 "By riding on terrain that necessitates it, my opinion of E-bikes has changed."

Exactly. Most of the E-haters miss this. It's all about terrain. I am about 1.5 months into owning an ebike after 20+ years on regular bikes and I have only used mine to access trails that when I'm on my regular bike, have significant portions that are hike-a-bike only. When you're on climbs that are basically impossible on a regular bike, it still takes a lot of work to get up the climbs on an ebike. I find that I end up in a higher heart rate zone for longer because on a regular bike I blow up and have to hike for 20 minutes instead of continuing to pedal.

If all someone has access to is gentle grade climbing and they are fit and healthy already, then they shouldn't get an ebike as it will likely result in less of a workout. But if someone lives near super steep climbs to access their descents then ebikes are a great fitness tool. I think the only bummer part about e-bikes for me is that when I get back on my regular bike it takes a few minutes to not feel like I have two flat tires and dragging brakes.
  • 3 1
 Where the hell is this terrain that necessitates an e-bike?
  • 4 1
 and whts wrong with hike-a-bike? Lots of that on some of my back country rides. Good for the soul and keeps out the riffraff
  • 4 0
 @badbikekarma: I don't disagree at all. HAB builds character and is really a form of cross training but it's not something I want to do on every ride. I just happen to have some terrain right out my back door that is HAB access only on a regular bike so I used to do it only occasionally, but now with the power of lithium I can climb it so it's added a few extra local loops I can do when that's all I have time for.
  • 1 0
 That place looks cool for sure. I feel like there’s a bit of pretending going on like we couldn’t do it without an ebike "MAN" but now we can even know I’m telling you a story about when I did it in 1993 "MAN" but for real like ebikes do make this easier "MAN" and it’s a dream of mine to be able to ride all these trails but we just couldn’t do it but now that Santa Cruz has made an ebike we can! Give me that ???? Santa Cruz you’re a golden god and really represent what core mountain bikers want so if you do it’s cool and you speak for all of us.
  • 1 0
 I have ridden Downieville several times, fun place for sure...and hell yes i would love to explore more of the off chutes i see and an ebike for sure would be the best way to go about it, without a doubt....Just cant figure out why most ebikes are less than 160mm travel in the rear?? Makes no sense to me, since the bikes are heavier and blow through the travel easier...Great job SC, beautiful bike and I do actually make enough money to buy one and not just complain and make excuses because I aint got the cash or my parents wallet..
  • 2 1
 Instead of focusing on the narrowminded ebike hate. I think the same commentators should be focusing on the amaing work and commuity spirit achieved by Greg and the Sierra Trails Stewardship. stop hating go give them your support, ride, there, buy something, share this as a link, talk about that, not what they happen to be riding. I just inspiration/aspirational stuff.
  • 7 5
 Seems faster and more fun with less work than a regular bike - sounds horrrrribleee why on earth would anybody want this!!!?!?!?!? (sarcasm)
  • 1 0
 Honestly, trails for all.. Let the people ride whatever they want, Everyone of us is getting older or fighting with issues that they don't allow them to pedal this big laps like we are able to..
  • 3 0
 I didn't see a view of bank account at all.
  • 2 1
 Yes please ride your ebike to the middle of nowhere and get off my chairlift mtn!! Can’t understand why people buy ebikes to ride a chair lift.
  • 3 0
 Why ebike at Downieville when you can ride a motor cross on the trails!
  • 1 0
 Reaching remote trails? Reality is, they will drive there by car with ebikes loaded vs !analog! biker will get there on bike. That's what I see every other day...
  • 9 8
 With their latest offering I think they should change names to San Jose bicycles. Or maybe Silicon Valley bicycles?
  • 2 1
 This is the part where Weir re-enters the SC/Downieville universe. Weirwolf. C'mon home.
  • 2 0
 I don't see Benjamin Franklin on this list...
  • 3 0
 I came for the pons
  • 2 0
 Always thought ebikes wehe inspired by the Eight Circle of Hell
  • 8 7
 It’s like Santactuz invented the Ebike with this guys at PB.
  • 1 0
 If we ignore them they will go away
  • 2 1
 Only a Joey is going to rent a scooter for 200 dollars .....
  • 1 0
 Always thought ebikes were inspired by the Eight Circle of Hell
  • 1 0
 'Expand your adventure bubble.' Wise words.
  • 1 0
 eMtb’s are for fat lazy people who ride rollerblades and scooters.
  • 3 3
 No excuses, justifications or explanations pls Wink
  • 3 6
 f*ck E Bikes you are ruining it for every one. Lazy idiots with no heart. Earn it. It’s a bicycle. Just because it exists you don’t have to buy it. f*ck e bikes and everyone who rides em.
  • 3 5
 @PinkyScar... So do a majority of the bikes we already ride. Whats your point?
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