Santa Cruz just unveiled a new electric mountain bike that it says is designed for tackling the "steepest and deepest" of trails, with optional coil shocks and a premium carbon fiber frame.
The Bullit MX, as it's called, is a long-legged bike with 170-millimeters of travel and a 38-millimeter front fork for hitting sustained downhill trails. That long front fork means that the suspension has a lot of room to compress as you tackle steep drops. DoubleDown tires provide an extra layer of protection from sidewall gashes.
Tear up the trail — In terms of battery life, the Bullit MX has a 630 kilowatt-hour Shimano battery that will power it for "long, tough climbs." Either a Shimano STEPS E7000 mid-drive motor or the high-torque EP8 motor powers the bike, depending on which model you purchase. Both should offer assistance up to speeds of around 15 mph. The EP8 is said to improve on the E7000 with better heat resistance to allow more torque to be applied as conditions become more challenging. Riders should feel a smoother cutoff as they reach the maximum pedal-assist speed.
The tire setup is a 27.5-incher on the rear and a 29-incher on the front, which is supposed to help with front tire traction on the descent. And Santa Cruz makes it clear on its site that descending is what this bike is for — "What goes up, loves coming down," the company writes on its site.
Safety first — The range of the Bullit MX should be similar to Santa Cruz's recently revived Heckler mountain bike. That bike's 504-kilowatt-hour battery gives it a range of around 30 miles, but it's designed more for smooth trails while the Bullit MX is built to take a beating. “Where the Heckler puts a premium on agility and playful handling, the Bullit comes to brawl with a no-limits attitude," Santa Cruz explains. With the extra boost of speed on trails, you're going to want to wear extra protective gear, of course.
Both bikes have premium carbon fiber frames so they're lightweight while still being tough.
Check your local laws — The Bullit MX is pedal-assisted, meaning it provides a boost as you peddle rather than propelling you solely on the motor. Riders benefit from getting exercise from pedaling against resistance but the boost from the motor allows you to ride longer before reaching exhaustion. You'll want to make sure e-bikes are allowed on your local trails, however — regulations regarding the relatively new form of bicycle vary by state and municipality. New York just recently legalized electric bikes and scooters, for instance, though with some confusing caveats.
Thanks to the pandemic encouraging more socially-distant commuting and an increased interest in fitness, both electric bikes and scooters have seen a big lift in sales with bike shops working overtime to meet the demand for purchases and repairs.
The Bullit MX has a starting price of $7,499 with the lower-end E7000 motor. That's not affordable, but also not surprising considering the Santa Cruz name and custom carbon fiber frame. For only about $500 more than the Heckler, the MX weighs less but has a larger battery, larger wheels, and more travel.
Coil shocks are available at no extra cost if you upgrade to the Bullit XT MX variant, which costs $9,499. The bike is available on Santa Cruz's website now and available in two colors — Gloss Lavender (our favorite) and Matte Copper.