Since we first launched the Santa Cruz Heckler review a while back, we’ve been asked to do a Heckler 29 vs. MX showdown. We won’t shy away from an excuse to go ride bikes in the name of “science.” So consider this the ultimate Heckler 29 vs. MX comparison.
This article is going to look a little different. We will set up the test and then lean on some commentary from Conor and Zach. Cool? Good, because there’s not really anything you can do to change it at this point.
Santa Cruz Heckler 29 vs. MX Highlights
Really what you should do right now, if you haven’t already, is read/watch our Heckler review. We will even make it really easy. Here are the links:
If you refuse to do that, we’ll give you the barebones info here. The Heckler is a 150mm rear travel, all-mountain ebike. It’s quickly rising to the top of our favorites list due to its lively ride quality. Because of the incredible suspension design, the bike rides much lighter than its actual weight. If you want more info than that, go read/watch. We don’t want to type it all twice.
We wanted to cover our bases on this test loop, so we ensured it had a little bit of everything. It had rolling, steep, and steeper climbs, steep descents, loose descents, tight stuff, jumps, berms, roller — you get the point. We made sure we covered enough varied terrain to find their differences. We were afraid the bikes would feel too similar. After all, they are the exact same bike with a different-sized rear wheel and a couple of minor geometry changes to accommodate that. We each took out a Heckler and rode our test lap. Then we switched bikes and did it all over again.
Santa Cruz Heckler 29 vs. MX Ride Impressions
“I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the ride position on the 29 was far more balanced for me. I’m a tall guy, so I prefer a slightly longer chainstay length than a lot of shorter folks. On flatter sections of trail, I didn’t notice too much difference between the 29 and MX, but I felt like I was pretty far off the back of the MX on the steep climbs.
There’s something to Zach’s ‘faster to accelerate’ theory. He was pulling away from me on the MX, but when I Was on the MX, I could half-wheel him the entire time.”
“The MX felt a bit punchier on the climbs. It got up to speed quicker because of the smaller rear wheel. The motor has the same output, and when you combine that with a smaller rear wheel, the bike accelerates faster. It was more noticeable on steeper terrain.
The 29 had a more balanced ride position on the steep climbs. The front end stayed down better and gave you more traction.”
“I started our first descent on the MX. It immediately felt quick and snappy. It was easy to push the back wheel through corners. I didn’t notice that it was getting hung up on rocks and bumps at all. The only drawback I found was that it lacked a little traction compared to the 29.
The 29 felt much more stable and grounded on our test track. I wouldn’t ever say that it felt dead or boring, it was a little slower to change lines compared to the ultra-nimble MX. There was a noticeable difference in traction too. Where the MX struggled to hook up, the 29 dug in with ease.
“The MX was easier to get into corners, and with a couple of pedal strokes, really snaps out of them. It had tighter, more snappy handling across the board. On the tighter sections of our trail, it was easier to manage.
The 29 felt much more stable at speed. Our test track had a nearly 40mph section on it. The 29 gave me a lot more confidence holding it open at speeds like that.”
“It’s funny that we chose the bikes that we did. I preferred the 29 even though I tend to goof around on the bike a little more than Zach. I tend to ride steeper and rockier trails, so I’ll take the added traction and stability all day. I don’t feel like there was too big of an agility penalty on the 29.”
“MX for me. I’m not as aggressive as a rider as Conor, so the MX feels more natural to me. Interesting because I’m normally a 29 guy. I just preferred the tighter handling of the MX for the trails I ride most days. In the end, get whichever you can get your hands on. These are the same bike, and both are awesome. We’re splitting hairs here. A minimally experienced rider might not be able to feel the difference. ”
So there you have it, folks. We want to stress that these bikes are the same bike. They aren’t drastically different. The suspension design is the same, and the geometry remains essentially the same. Their differences are minor and aren’t worth beating yourself up over.