Tested : Ben’s Santa Cruz Bullit CC XO1 Reserve Review.

At over £10,000, the 170mm travel Bullit is an absolute weapon of a bike. Ben has been thrashing it to see if the price tag is justified.

Long travel and mixed wheels, combined with an eye-watering price tag and an awful lot of carbon fibre, the Santa Cruz Bullit CC XO1 Reserve is an awful lot of e-bicycle.

Photos by Dave Price.

Key features:

  • Fox 38 Float Factory E-Tune 170mm fork
  • RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate air shock
  • SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-speed drive
  • Shimano EP8 motor
  • Shimano 630Wh battery
  • Santa Cruz Reserve rims on DT Swiss 370 hubs
  • SRAM Code RSC brakes
  • Fox Transfer Factory dropper
  • £10,499.00 RRP
  • SantaCruzBicycles.com

Frame and Build

Across its range of bikes, Santa Cruz usually divides the frames into either, ‘C’ or, ‘CC’ categories where the CC are higher end carbon lay ups offering the same strength and ride characteristics as C for less weight and more money. The Bullit is only available in the top end CC carbon layup, a hint towards its uncompromising focus on performance over anything else.

The numbers on the geo chart are bang on for a long travel bike like this. Highlights include 449mm chain stays, a 475mm reach in the size large tested, a 64 degree head angle and 77 degree seat tube angle. As you can see, the Bullit is a big bike and it gets bigger, as it goes all the way up to an XXL size with a whopping 515mm reach so taller riders are well catered for. At the other end of the spectrum, there is no size small available.

The big bronze Santa Cruz is a little unusual as it mixes suspension brands. Luckily the Fox Factory 38 fork and Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ultimate air shock play well together and never felt mis-matched as you will find out later. There is also a Rock Shox coil shock version available should you prefer.

The big bronze Santa Cruz is a little unusual as it mixes suspension brands. Luckily the Fox Factory 38 fork and Rock Shox Super Deluxe Ultimate air shock play well together and never felt mis-matched as you will find out later. There is also a Rock Shox coil shock version available should you prefer.

Gears and brakes are provided by SRAM, with the Code RSC being a real highlight for me. I have had a few sets on different test bikes now and every one has performed brilliantly and consistently. The set on the Bullit was no exception, and paired with 220mm front and 200mm rear rotors there was ample stopping power.

As I found out when I reviewed the Hightower last year, Santa Cruz’s Reserve carbon wheels are genuine upgrade compared to most alloy rims. Speccing them on an e-Bike did seem a little odd, after all, how much difference does a few grams of reduced rotational weight really make on a 21.2kg bike? Without back to back testing it is hard to tell, but I will say that for such a big beast it really gets up to speed well, obviously assisted by the motor. It is a nice touch to see the Reserve DH rim specced on the 27.5” rear wheel, with the normal Reserve 30 on the front.

Santa Cruz really do seem to be at the top of the carbon game, and their own brand Di2 specific bars are not exception. They have a great feel, and none of the harshness that a 35mm clamp carbon bar often has. The Di2 port is utilised for the STEPS cables and keeps things tidy.

Shimano EP8 Motor

This was my first time on the new Shimano EP8 motor and it did not disappoint. The increased torque of 85Nm makes a real difference when you first stomp on the pedals asking for assistance and the new software delivers it smoothly and intuitively. The modes can easily be adjusted within the ETube app depending on whether your goals are max speed or max range. Even on full power I was easily able to rack up 1000m of climbing at 80kg bodyweight plus kit. In eco mode, you get true all-day capability from the 630wh battery.

One thing Shimano has nailed is the small thumb operated buttons, that butt up against the left grip. They are readily available, never knocked by accident and had a nice tactile feel, unlike the large, clunky box found on Bosch units. Overall I was very impressed with the new unit from Shimano, although I have not ridden the newest Bosch or Specialized motors to compare it to.

eOne Sixty Carbon

Up Hills

Santa Cruz bill this as a bike that you just winch up to dominate the descents, but that really sells it short as this things climbs like a Sherpa on steroids. On the Bullit I managed to get up a few tech climbs that I have never even attempted before. The whole build and geometry comes together to give you outrageous traction and control. The long chain stays, reach, and wheelbase centre you in the middle of the bike so that you have enough weight on the rear to maintain grip and enough on the front to keep it down and to steer through the trail.

On fire road climbs it buzzes along nicely, with just a little pedal bob. The riding position is great for winching up big climbs, thanks to the steep, 77 degree seat angle and I found the Bullit to be a comfortable companion for all day rides.

Down Hills

Think of a bullet from a gun and you probably think of speed. The Bullit is no exception when it comes to descending, living up to its name with a thirst for speed over anything you care to point it at.

Big, heavy e-Bikes are inherently stable. Add to that the well sorted and balanced geometry and suspension and you have an absolute ripper of a bike that can charge into the roughest, chunkiest trails and remain calm, composed and on track. The bike felt well balanced, both in terms of the suspension performance and in terms of the front/rear centre with the decent length chain stays helping me to weight the front tyre.

There is not much that hasn’t been written about the Fox 38 in the last year and it certainly lived up to the hype, with the top of the range Factory fork soaking up everything we could throw at it. Aided by the weight of the bike, it was very supple off the top, but still held the bike up nicely when charging full speed down gnarly tracks. Much of the testing was done in the depths of a very wet winter where outright grip was the highest priority leading me to leave the compression damping wound fully off. As things dried out and speeds rose, a few clicks of low speed helped to hold the bike up, especially under braking.

Speaking of grip, the Santa Cruz is specced with some serious rubber, a welcome change from the gram and penny pinching specs found on many other e-Bikes. The Maxxis Double Down casings front and rear, Maxx Grip Assegai up front and Max Terra Minion DHRII out back were a formidable pairing, hooking up over the wettest and loosest of terrain. The tough casing was plenty supportive, even with low to mid 20s psi, helped in part by the profile of the Reserve carbon rims.

As I have mentioned, this is a big bike and it takes some muscling around in tighter sections of trail, and it certainly won’t just flick effortlessly from side to side. Thanks to the planted nature and quality rubber it resists skidding and breaking away, making it tricky to slide it around on the entry to a tight turn, preferring instead to set up early and wide and carve a line.

As previously mentioned, I am a big fan of the Code RSC brakes. The adjustment at the lever means I can get the position and feel I prefer and once they were bedded in they had tonnes of power and great feel which was super important as I racked up the winter miles on greasy, root infested trails.

Compare

The bike that comes to mind is the Mondraker Level RR that I tested back in 2019. Both are long travel bruisers with big price tags and a preference for ploughing, however the Santa Cruz is a lot more useable in a variety of situations. It is a chunk lighter and whilst I like longer chain stays, the 490mm ones on the Mondraker were a bit much. The smaller rear wheel and sensible chain stays on the Santa Cruz work well to give a balanced ride that is just as fast as the Level in a straight line, but way more willing to turn and change course.

What do we think?

Super capable and great fun, the Bullit lives up to its name and possibly even its lofty price tag. At the heart of it is a really well sorted frame and motor that remains the same across the whole range, starting at a still expensive, but more reasonable £6899 for the R build, making the Bullit experience more accessible to more people. Overall I loved the bronze bruiser and didn’t want to send it back.

We love:

  • Easy speed
  • Code RSC brakes
  • Fox Factory 38 fork
  • Mullet bikes

Could do better:

  • Tight corner manoeuvrability could be better.

You can check out the Santa Cruz Bullit range on their website here.