The Heckler's geometry is fairly moderate, at least for a bike in this travel bracket. It's not crazy long or slack, which makes sense given its all-round intentions. The same goes for the 76.7-degree seat angle - it creates an upright position that avoids feeling cramped, and it remains comfortable even on flatter sections of trail. On an e-bike it's possible to stay seated much longer than you would on a bike without a motor, so that positioning is even more important.
I'm a fan of the mixed-wheel setup on full power e-bikes. It seems to make it easier really push into the rear wheel on extra-steep climbs, no matter if I was sitting or standing. For a 48 pound bike the Heckler is easy to maneuver, and the EP8 motor provides plenty of power for getting up chunky, tricky sections. There's a good blend of support and traction from the Super Deluxe shock too – even with 32% sag there wasn't any unwanted movement, and I never had to use the climb switch. Of course, the fact that there's a motor does help reduce concerns over things like efficiency or pedal bob – when it feels like someone's shoving you uphill with both hands there's not much to complain about.
The power delivery isn't quite as natural feeling as Specialized's motor, but it doesn't take long to adapt – the key is to pedal at a slightly quicker cadence than you'd normally use on a non-motorized bike in order to keep that assistance going.
Shimano's E-Tube app makes it possible to adjust the level of support that each mode provides in order to customize the bike's performance. Turning down the max torque or assist character in each mode can increase the battery life, or cranking it up can make for an extra speedy ride. Personally, I prefer Boost mode to provide as much power as possible, with Trail mode taking things down a few notches for a less frenetic ride. I typically ride in Trail mode for rides on actual trails, Boost for zipping up fireroads, and Eco when I've almost drained the battery and am trying to finish a ride without the battery completely cutting out.
Battery range will vary depending on factors like rider weight, the average grade of a climb, etc..., so I don't have any exact figures for how long the 720 Wh battery will last. I will say that I think it's a great size for this type of bike, especially since it's not much heavier than the 630 Wh battery. More power without more weight? That seems like a no-brainer to me, and that capacity makes it possible to crank out some decently long rides without getting the dreaded red bar on the battery display. On that note, it's still frustrating the Shimano's display doesn't show the remaining battery life in the form of a percentage. I'd be willing to bet that the next version will, but it's an annoyance in the meantime.