When it comes to reaching previously inaccessible terrain, there's no substitute for a proper electric mountain bike. Some are more capable than others, so if you want to tackle the most technical terrain, you need the right tool for the job.
The Cannondale Moterra, Santa Cruz Heckler, and Devinci eSpartan are some of the most capable electric mountain bikes you can buy. These fantastic bikes are designed for the same job using their own approaches to taking on punishing enduro routes.
But which best suits your needs?
We have pitched each of these bikes against each other to see how they compare. Check out our new article to see where each electric mountain bike shines and who they are best suited to.
Cannondale Moterra Vs.Santa Cruz Heckler Vs. Devinci eSpartan
Swinging your leg over an electric mountain bike gives you the power to explore further than ever before. There have been some impressive innovations in the ebike world, giving us some excellent battery-powered trail shredders, but which one do you choose?
Santa Cruz Heckler:
Frame And Geometry
Santa Cruz Heckler:
The Heckler is available in Carbon C and the more exotic Carbon CC. These materials make Santa Cruz's electric workhorse reassuringly expensive, but you get a lifetime warranty.
You can choose between a frame with 29" wheels or an MX frame. The MX puts a 29er at the front and a 27.5" at the back.
If you're familiar with the Santa Cruz Bronson, you'll feel very at home on the Heckler, as they have very similar geometry figures. However, the chainstay length is a little longer to accommodate the motor.
Santa Cruz has also given the Heckler a flip chip that allows you to adjust the geometry to a higher or lower position, depending on your riding style and terrain.
The Moterra is built around a carbon frame but is also available with an alloy option. Cannondale has made the Moterra's kinematics size specific. This means that the shock absorber mounting points and geometry are tweaked for each size, so everyone gets the same riding experience.
Cannondale has followed the modern trends by making the Moterra's geometry lower and slacker. This makes it more stable on descents and improves cornering over its predecessor.
Devinci has stayed away from carbon; instead, the eSpartan has a 6061-T6 aluminum frame. This gives it excellent durability and stiffness while still remaining lightweight.
The geometry has also been updated with a slacker head tube, a steeper seat tube, and a more extended reach.
So when you compare the Santa Cruz Heckler, Cannondale Moterra, and Devinci eSpartan, the Santa Cruz has a more traditional but well-proven geometry that you can adjust to suit your mood. It also has a tried and tested carbon fiber.
If you are a smaller or larger rider and have struggled with sizing in the past, you may prefer the Cannondale's size-specific kinematics.
However, if you like the bike to feel more "roomy," you'll like the extra reach of the Devinci eSpartan.
Santa Cruz Heckler:
Santa Cruz has stuck with their trademark VPP suspension design. Therefore the Heckler gets two short suspension links that counter-rotate to give you 150mm of smooth travel at the rear.
The design gives you a progressive leverage curve in an exceptionally linear manner. Therefore, the suspension gives you a predictable feel as the shock goes through its travel.
At the front, you get 160mm of travel, but which fork and shock your Heckler has depends on your chosen spec level. The "bottom" level gives you a RockShox Lyrik Select and a RockShox Super Deluxe Select. At the top level, you get a FOX 36 Float Factory fork and a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate rear shock.
The Cannondale Moterra comes in various spec levels. All versions have 150mm of travel front and back, apart from the LT, which has 165mm at the back and 170mm of squidge at the front. The LT version also has a mixed-wheel setup.
The suspension linkage design varies between frame sizes. Each frame size has its own suspension kinematics, meaning the shock mounting points and linkages are specific to each size. The result is more efficient pedaling, more active suspension under braking, and better traction.
This is known as Proportional Response suspension, which optimizes the suspension characteristics to suit your stature. Therefore, no matter your size, you'll still have the same riding experience as everyone else.
Devinci has fitted the eSpartan with an E-MTB optimized Split Pivot. This design isolates acceleration forces from braking forces, giving you an incredibly smooth ride enhanced by excellent vibration damping.
The E-MTB-optimized Split Pivot also keeps the suspension active, no matter what you're doing. Therefore you benefit from extra traction, so you can use all the torque the motor has on tap.
The eSpartan also has a new shock layout. This new placement means you have plenty of clearance around your motor and space for a frame-mounted water bottle. But the shock is also optimized for the specific kinematics of electric mountain bikes.
Currently, Devinci eSpartan only comes in one spec level. This sees Fox 38 Performance E-Bike Grip 180 up front and a Fox DHX2 Performance Elite | 230x65 rear shock.
Comparing the Santa Cruz Heckler, Cannondale Moterra, and Devinci eSpartan's suspension setup reveals that your choice is down to budget and personal preference. All versions of these electric bikes have excellent suspension components, and you can't go wrong.
However, the more expensive models have higher-end components. So it comes down to what you want to spend. But if you want an electric bike with as much suspension travel as possible, go for the Cannondale Moterra LT.
Battery And Motor
Santa Cruz Heckler:
The new Santa Cruz Heckler has a bigger battery than its predecessor. It now has a 720Wh battery that gives you more range than the old 504Wh unit. Santa Cruz doesn't share the bike's range capabilities, as it depends on many variables.
Santa Cruz has ensured the battery is super secure in the frame. To remove it, you need to use a 4mm Allen key, but it is very easy to do.
The battery powers a Shimano DU-EP8. This offers 85 Nm of maximum torque with a continuous rated power of 250 watts. The motor has also been upgraded since the older version, giving you more power in Trail mode, allowing you to take on more demanding and longer rides.
The Cannondale Moterra gets its grunt from a Bosch Smart System powertrain. This comprises Bosch's most potent eMTB drive unit, the max 85Nm torque Performance Line CX, and the Bosch PowerTube 625Wh battery.
This powertrain gives you up to 102km (63mi) of range, which is a significant improvement on the older version. In addition to this, you can have up to a 340% boost to your pedal power with a natural feel when you accelerate.
Like the Heckler, the eSpartan has a 725Wh battery. Devinci says that the 2023 version holds 30% more energy than its predecessor and is good for 135km (82 miles) on one charge.
The battery fits inside the Devinici eSpartan's aluminum frame. This gives the bike a tidy look and protects the battery from water, dirt, and rocks.
Another similarity the eSpartan has with the other two bikes is that it has the same torque value. The 85Nm of torque from the Shimano EP8 allows you to confidently tackle steep climbs and demanding trails. You'll be impressed with the smooth and intuitive power delivery.
The Santa Cruz Heckler, Cannondale Moterra, and Devinci eSpartan, all have the same torque from high-end and well-engineered electric motors. Therefore, you won't have any trouble scrambling up steep and technical slopes, especially with the optimized suspension linkages each one has.
It would be nice to know what range Santa Cruz thinks you should get out of the Heckler's battery, but it will probably be close to the Cannondale Moterra's 102km (63mi). If the electric bike's range is your main concern, the 135km (82 miles) of the Devinci eSpartan should appeal to you.
Wheels And Tires
Santa Cruz Heckler:
You can spec your Santa Cruz Heckler with 29-inch wheels or as a "mullet bike." The mullet design uses a mixed wheel-size configuration. The rear wheel is 27.5", giving the bike agile handling while reducing its weight. It also allows you to take tight corners with speed, thanks to the moderate chainstay length.
The 29" wheel at the front gives you more traction, reducing the likelihood of it washing out on wet corners. But it also smooths out the ride quality and rolls over large bumps more easily.
The wheels and hubs you get depend on the spec level of your Santa Cruz Heckler. Hubs are from SRAM, DT Swiss, and Industry Nine, and the wheels are carbon options from WTB, Race Face, and Reserve.
All wheel options come with Maxxis Assegai tires on the front, which is 2.5" wide, giving you a lot of grip. The rear tire is a 2.4" wide Maxxis Minion, which allows you to break traction when you need to.
The Cannondale Moterra sticks with the conventional wheel setup with 29ers at the front and rear.
There are several spec levels of the Cannondale Moterra with different tires fitted. You can expect Maxxis DHF, DHR, Assegai, Rekon, and WTB Breakouts.
The Devinci eSpartan also has 29" wheels at both ends. They are V2 Comp rims with Formula hubs and roll on Maxxis Minion tires. The front tire is 2.5" wide, while the rear is 2.4".
Most electric mountain bikes come with 29" wheels these days. 29" wheels combined with the suspension setups these bikes have to give you superb capability when riding the tough stuff. So when you compare the Santa Cruz Heckler, Cannondale Moterra, and Devinci eSpartan based on their wheel and tires, there's not much in it.
More expensive models get tougher wheels and hubs. So if you ride aggressively on challenging terrain, you may need to pay the extra cash for peace of mind. If the tires fitted to these bikes don't suit your preference or local terrain, you can easily change them for something more suitable.
The only exception to these electric bikes is the Santa Cruz Heckler's mixed-wheel size option. The smaller wheel at the back will give the bike a more playful feel while reducing weight.
Santa Cruz Heckler:
There are four spec levels of the Santa Cruz Heckler, which vary in price. At the "bottom" of the range, you have the Heckler R, which costs $8,749; next up, you have the S at $10,399, followed by the GX ASX, which will cost you $11,749. But sitting at the top of the range is the X01 AXS RSV, costing $14,249.
These are not cheap electric bikes, whatever spec you choose. However, they are all excellent.
Cannondale has a Moterra to suit most budgets. An entry-level Cannondale Moterra Neo 5 will set you back $4,550. At the top end of the Moterra-scale, you have the Carbon 1, costing $8,300.
There is only one version of the Devinci eSpartan, costing $7,799. This puts it under the cheapest Heckler towards the top end of the Moterra range.
The prices of these electric mountain bikes are what you should expect for a quality electric bike that can take the punishment of technical enduro trails. They are loaded with tried and tested components from well-known and established brands.
For many, the cost will be the main factor of which electric mountain bike you buy. The Cannondale Moterra offers the most accessibility into the world of electric mountain bikes, thanks to its lower-spec models. However, there are more exotic versions at the higher end of the price bracket if you can afford them, but they are still less expensive than the Santa Cruz Heckler.
All these electric bikes are fantastic and very cable of tackling hardcore enduro trails. Your decision comes down to personal preference, fit, and budget.
The mixed-wheel option of the Santa Cruz Heckler has its advantages, and the frame comes with a lifetime warranty. If you can swallow the extra cost, you'll surely love to hit the trails on one.
On the other hand, the other two bikes have just as much torque. They are packed with innovative tech while being significantly cheaper and offering a great range. If range is your priority, the Devinci Spartan is the best choice.