Alright, so here’s the deal. I just ate a dozen cookies, so I’ve got some energy to burn. Luckily, I have a Santa Cruz Skitch and an afternoon to myself. We’re going to take a stroll through Salt Lake City and see what sort of trouble we can get into. The Skitch appears to be the perfect bike for getting from point A to point B, whether you’re on pavement, dirt, or anything in between. Oh, and did it mention it goes 28? So yeah, this is going to be a fast one.
Santa Cruz Skitch Geometry and Details
So, let’s cover some basics about the bike before we talk about how it rides. The Santa Cruz Skitch is a bit of an odd duck, but in the coolest, “I don’t give a damn” sort of way. It’s tough to put it in a neat little box. It’s part gravel bike, part mountain bike, and two parts kick-ass commuter. Santa Cruz goes as far as calling it a teleportation device. We even went above and beyond and kitted ours out with some custom parts to make it even more category-defying. So, instead of trying to categorize it, I’ll just tell you what it is.
Fazua Ride 60
The Skitch uses the Fazua Ride 60 drive system with 60Nm of peak torque and a 430 Wh battery. Unlike eMTBs with the Fazua, the Skitch goes 28mph, which might be one of the best parts about it. The range on the Fazua system is pretty impressive, to begin with, but considering this bike is lighter and more efficient than a mountain bike (Santa Cruz Heckler SL & Transition Relay), the range is long on this bad Larry. It’s available in both drop and flat bar configurations, both of which are in the low 30s on the scale. Both flat and drop bar builds are designed around 700c wheels with tire clearance up to 50mm. The geometry falls somewhere between a modern gravel bike and a steep mountain bike. The head tube angle is 69°, which makes it slacker than most gravel bikes but steeper than modern MTBs. I wanted mine to fit and ride a bit more like an MTB, so I went with a XXL frame. That puts the reach at 450mm and the rear center at 430mm. Put it all together, and the wheelbase is 1135mm.
I rode the Santa Cruz Skitch in a stock GX AXS build in addition to a custom build with a riser bar, shorter stem, and 40mm Rockshox Rudy suspension fork. The Skitch’s stock, rigid, carbon fork is suspension adjusted, meaning the axle to crown height is similar to a 40mm gravel suspension fork. You can swap back and forth without affecting the geometry. With the custom build, the Skitch gave me old-school MTB vibes — I felt like I was teleported back to 1993. The tan wall tires may have had something to do with it. Now, let’s get into how it rides.
Santa Cruz Skitch Review
As you’d expect, the Skitch makes quick work of even the steepest hills. It’s efficient, fast-rolling and has a motor in it. The most impressive thing about the Skitch on the climbs is how well it transitions from pavement to dirt, rocks, roots, and back to pavement.
I made sure to get a wide variety of surfaces under the Skitch’s tires. I started out in the city on perfectly paved roads, cut across some open parks, sidewalks, and potholed city streets. Then, I hit the trails, dirt roads, and singletrack. I was blown away by the fact that the Skitch never felt like a fish out of water. It always seemed up for the task. That said, it never felt like the most optimal bike for any given situation. And that makes sense. A bike that can tackle a huge variety of terrain is going to be less adept at any one type of riding. On the streets, the wider tires and slacker geometry made it slower than a road bike. Out on the trails, the bike bounced around in the rocky bits, and traction was a bit limited. But take a classic road bike and try climbing singletrack like that, or a mountain bike on the streets — you’ll quickly see why the Skitch is so impressive at doing it all.
As a mountain biker with some crunched vertebrae, I appreciated the fit and feel of the Skitch. The body position is closer to what you’d find on a mountain bike than a road bike. It’s less stretched out and a bit more upright. It might not be super aero, but neither is my 6’2” frame covered in hair. I didn’t get the sore neck and shoulders I’m used to when I get on leg-shaver bikes. I could spend all day on this thing and not be worse for wear.
The frame offers a decent amount of compliance in the chattery stuff, providing enough traction for most climbs. On the steepest climbs, the back wheel wants to spin out when you stand up. I think that’s always going to be the case with slim tires, ebike torque, and no rear suspension. That said. I was able to climb steeper and looser bits of trail than I would have imagined. I imagine the motor contributes a lot here. Normally, on steep inclines, you’re going to have to stand up to get the power you need. The second you stand up, the back wheel is going to start to break loose. The Skitch provides the power you need, which allows you to stay seated with your weight over the wheel. Whatever it is, the bike climbs almost anything.
From bombing city streets (tentatively and cautiously because cars are way scarier than rocks and trees) to zipping around on singletrack, the Skitch is incredibly versatile. It’s stupid fun having one bike that goes from coffee shops to berms as seamlessly as this.
Again, on the descents, I tried to cover as much variety of terrain as possible — I was not disappointed. I didn’t ride any rough and rugged bits of trail, but I did spend a fair amount of time on greens and blues, as well as bike paths and pavement. The bike’s handling is fairly stable and confident. I rode through a couple of rocky sections and never felt like I was going to be shown out the front door. It makes sense, given the head tube angle is close to a lot of XC race bikes these days. The handling in the corners was nice and sharp. It makes its way around tight corners without much fuss. In the city, the Skitch darts and weaves, as well as hops up curbs and off driveways, and turns the world into a playground. It not only gets you from point A to B, it maximizes the fun between them.
After installing the 40mm suspension fork, the bike gained a degree of capability. With that little travel, the fork isn’t really there to absorb big impacts or make the bike feel plush AF. Instead, I see it more as a way to absorb vibrations and keep a bit more traction on the front tire. The Rudy fork made my hands significantly happier off-road and gave me a bit more confidence in my front tire. I think if you plan to spend all your time on roads, whether paved or gravel, the suspension fork isn’t necessary. If you want to unlock a new level of versatility and start exploring more singletrack options, the suspension fork is a nice addition.
The biggest limiting factors for me on dirt and trails were braking and traction. There’s only going to be so much ability to stop on a hardtail with skinny tires and small brakes. The lack of ability to slow down quickly without losing control is what kept me from really getting after it on the Skitch — otherwise, it’s down to party.
Who is the Skitch for?
Like I said earlier, this one is tough to categorize. I think there will be a huge range of riders who will like this bike. That said, the range is kind of all over the place. I’ll do my best to make these recommendations as clear as mud.
The first and most obvious group of riders who will like the skitch are the commuters. If I had any reason to commute to an office, I’d most certainly own the Skitch. With both flat and drop bars available, it will suit riders from different backgrounds easily. With a 28mph governor, you’ll be cruising to the office. I think there’s a bit of safety in that, too — you’ll keep up with the flow of traffic a bit better. The Skitch’s versatility will be good for commuters who have dirt, trails, grass, stairs, or whatever obstacle in the way.
The second group of riders who I think will enjoy the Skitch are the core mountain bikers. Especially with the suspension fork, it’s almost like the Skitch traveled back to the 90s. There’s something nostalgic about it, except for the whole battery and motor part. That’s where it brings a whole lot of the future to the table. The combination is pretty freaking fun. It has that old-school MTB feel in a way more versatile package.
I think the gravel riders and big adventure folks will like the Skitch as well. Get the curly bar option, and you’ve got a long-range adventure bike. Sure, multi-day and ultra-distance rides won’t be possible, but Santa Cruz claims a range of up to 60 miles on this thing. That’s a pretty decent gravel ride. Considering you can pedal this with the motor off, with no apparent drag, even if the battery ran out, you wouldn’t be totally stranded. You’d basically be pedaling a bike as heavy as a standard trail bike.
The last group of riders who I think will enjoy the Skitch are the family folks. Cruising around the neighborhood with the kids on this would be incredibly fun. Let’s face it: a lot of kids are freaks and way faster than their folks. If your kid can whoop your ass up and down the street, grab a Skitch, level the playing field, and at least beat them in fun having.
Well, that’s going to wrap it up for the Santa Cruz Skitch. This has been weird. I’m glad we made it here together. We’ll see you next time. Learn more about the Skitch on santacruzbicycles.com