2021 Santa Cruz Bullit E-MTB Review

170mm travel trail bike with new Shimano EP8 motor

News

The new Bullit is a 170mm travel bike with the new Shimano EP8 motor

Santa Cruz is hitting its stride with the introduction of this 170mm travel Bullit trail e-bike. Less than a week after they introduced an updated Heckler with one of the first Shimano EP8 motor equipped bikes in the US, they’re announcing and selling (with availability) this new Bullit, designed from the ground up for the task at hand.

While the Heckler was a conservative, ‘get on base’ approach, this new Bullit takes a mighty cut and swings for the fences. It uses the most sought after motor today, the Shimano EP8, and mates it to a 170mm front and 170mm rear travel bike. The mullet wheel size combo is used with a 27.5 inch rear and 29er front suspended by a coil rear shock and Fox 38 up front.

It is gnarly with a 475mm reach, 64-degree head angle, and 77-degree seat angle. Double Down casing Maxxis Assegai tire up front with a DH level wheel on the back, 220 mm brake rotor up front are some of the highlights of the top build. And when you add it all up, ~48 lbs is what the scale dictates.

It is crazy what they’ve achieved in such a short time. The expansion team is suddenly vying for the championship in the most competitive class, the Trail Bike Category.

Bomb down, change direction, repeat.

Santa Cruz Bullit MX is aiming to be one of the most aggressive trail E-MTBs available taking cues from the big-hitting Nomad and Megatower and using a mixed wheel size to offset the weight of the motor system. The latest generation Shimano EP8 motor will allow this bike to climb up many peaks and open up riding options day to expand one’s ‘adventure bubble’.

With a new high-capacity 630wh battery and a light, low-drag motor, the range is increased significantly compared to an E8000 motor with a 504wh battery. The motor is improved over its predecessor in all the key aspects and it’s much more configurable too, giving the rider the ability to tailor it to his/her needs.

Details include a 170mm travel fork with 38mm stanchions, DoubleDown tires, coil shock, and a very modern and aggressive geometry. It complements the Heckler well by taking the ‘agility trait’ and injecting more abilities and powers with the Bullit.

Jump, jump, safe landing optional

KEY FEATURES:

    – Battery: 630Wh Shimano (removable) Motor: Shimano EP8
    – Travel: 170mm lower-link VPP (170mm fork) Coil compatible
    – Wheel Size: mixed 27.5 and 29 only
    – Materials: CC Carbon only
    – 170mm travel 38mm fork
    – Coil rear shock compatible
    – Double Down tires
    – 630Wh battery for more range

Track stands on steep hills are possible with this torque and response.

EP8 Motor Features

    – Lighter: 310g than E8000 (2.57kg)
    – More efficient: 36% less drag
    – More power: 85 Nm torque
    – Smaller volume, more clearance
    – More tuning via E-TUBE app
    – Quieter at all levels of output
    – More responsive and realistic riding feel

SCB Bulllit MXLoris VergierSan Remo / Molini, Italy.

We’ve had a full week to play with the Santa Cruz Bullit and have a few impressions to share. We rode it every day and twice in one day on a ‘hero dirt’ day after the first rain of the season.

PROS:

    – Descending prowess is absolutely bomber with coil rear and Fox 38 front
    – Changing directions is a delight indeed
    – pops up and catches air with enthusiasm
    – It’s quiet climbing, much more than the E8000
    – Motor is absolutely responsive to torque inputs
    – Riding feel is very realistic and not overboosted
    – Motor torque and low-end grunt is excellent
    – Motor tuneability is first-rate
    – Grips and motor control switch surfaces are excellent
    – Tires are perfect. Grippy up front and agile out back
    – Brakes are very capable with a 220mm rotor up front
    – Range is excellent with the big battery and an efficient motor
    – Battery swaps are best in class in terms of speed
    – Great to have an E7000 option for cost and reliability.

 

CONS:

    – The rattle during descending and coasting is omnipresent on rough terrain
    – The motor had great 85nm torque but peak torque but not at high rpm.

    – The saddle is small and painful considering how much seated climbing will be performed
    – The motor switch is cute and hidden but far from easy reach
    – The charging cover is always difficult to put back on.
    – The most affordable model has an E7000 motor which is a couple levels down.

Bottom Line:

Santa Cruz has pulled a coup with this bike. They’ve gone from ‘just participating’ to becoming a pack leader with this Bullit. It is a bike with a devastatingly big sweet spot, really pursuing an E-MTB with few compromises. The situation with the Shimano EP8 rattle is unfortunate but every EP8 bike will have this issue until Shimano addresses it with a running change.

But the fact that this bike can be purchased today from the showroom floor is a cause for celebration.

Models:

Something worth noting is the lowest end model is spec’d with a cheaper Shimano E7000 motor instead of the EP8. It is a significant downgrade but gives the buyer a chance to avoid the EP8 ‘clatter’ if quiet descending performance is a key requirement.

Pricing:

More information: Santa Cruz Bicycles


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.



Comments:

  • Steve Jones says:

    Thanks for the review Francis, would love to try this one out! You say “Santa Cruz has pulled a coupe with this bike.” I guess with 85Nm of torque you could pull a coupe! Or even a sedan…….

  • Loll says:

    Following the naming logic, the next ebike from Santa Cruz should be a light e-mtb with reduced battery using an ep8 motor, and my assumption is that it will be called the Nickel with 130mm out back for trail riding.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>Following the naming logic, the next ebike from Santa Cruz …
      Brilliant. Someone said Bantam too.

      The cool news is this motor is light enough and is efficient enough to have the range. Just limit the top end torque, design a small, modular battery system and it’s a good light building block.

  • Ozzer says:

    They need to make a Turbo Levo SL/Orbea Rise less-powered and lightweight contender and call it Tazmon.

  • Jack says:

    I agree, the charging cover sucks. I think have the same one on my new Canyon. I hope Santa Cruz includes a SM-BTE80 charge adapter with each bike – so you can charge the battery off the bike.

  • Jake says:

    No thanks…….9k for a motor that rattles…..do these guys test this stuff before bringing it to the market?

  • David says:

    Yes, they test them on people with no hearing or tactile sense.

  • Morris Deppi says:

    Shimano, we have faith you. Now FIX the rattling issue!

  • Searching... says:

    Waiting for a Dual Crown ebike because i think that is worth for climbing

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