Heckler vs. Bantam- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Heckler vs. Bantam

    Has anyone ridden both bikes?

    I am looking for a new bike and am 90% sure the Heckler is the bike for me. I am coming off a 2010 FSRxc that I bought used a couple years ago. It got me back into the sport after being out of it for ~7 years. However, it is very flexy, shifts poorly, and has lousy brakes. I want a bike that is simple and reliable, and the single pivot SC's looks like the perfect bikes for me.

    I am leaning towards the Heckler as I love the downhills. I also do a lot of dirt biking and want a mountain bike that handles the rough stuff more like a dirt bike, in that I can point it at something rough and nasty and just plow through it without having to use a lot of finesse. I mountain bike on some of the same dirt bike trails I ride, which from a mountain bike perspective are steep, whooped out, and rocky.

    At the same time, the majority of my riding is more traditional XC as those are the trails closest to me that I can ride after work a couple times a week. That is the part that has me curious about the Bantam.

    Unfortunately neither of the Santa Cruz dealers near me offer demos on the Bantam or the Heckler. They only offer demos on the Bronsons and 5010s. I am not interested in either of those bikes, both from a complexity and a cost standpoint.

    So, has anyone ridden both the Bantam and the Heckler? How much better is the Bantam to pedal than the Heckler? Is the Heckler noticeably better on rough and downhill trails than the Bantam?

  2. #2
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    Not those exact bikes but models that might have the same type differences, Bronson/Heckler and 5010/Bantam.

    I just rode the Bronson vs the 5010. Something didn't sit right with the feel or geometry of the 5010 to me (note it wasn't set up as well and seat was all out of whack) but I will try to give some feedback. The Bronson blew it away on the rough root sections, you could just plow through anything like floating through air. The 5010 felt more like my Highball but I didn't really get anything out of it over the Highball.

    The 5010 felt a little more efficient over the Bronson but there was no comparison to the FUN factor of the Bronson charging thru rough sections. My Highball was faster and more efficient than either bike until I get worn out really quick.

    To sum up the 5010 is slightly more efficient, a harsher ride, potentially faster XC but a lot less fun to me and maybe a little more tiring.

    I am 100% buying a Heckler R after today.

  3. #3
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    Re: Heckler vs. Bantam

    Thanks for the thoughts, that is what I expect the difference to be. Maybe the Bantam is just too new for people to have tried both.

  4. #4
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    I haven't ridden a Bantam but I did purchase a Heckler R about a month ago and have ridden it 4-5 times per week since. Suspension wise it doesn't give up much over my 4" 29er XC bike, the biggest difference I notice is the wheel size and the 29er wheels just roll along trails much more efficiently than the smaller 27.5 wheels do.

    That being said, some of the trails around here have very technical climb/descent sections, as well as flowy XC-style singletrack. I haven't ridden the 29er much since I got the Heckler (if that tells you anything) which hasn't let me down on any of the various terrain I ride. It does the obvious and goes downhill much better, but surprisingly I also find I am clearing sections on the techy climbs much easier than I was on the 29er. I don't notice any more pedal bob, brake jack, or any of the other things people like to complain about on a single pivot over any other FS I've ridden. That was my main concern with going to a 6" bike because I do ride a lot of singletrack as well as the other stuff.

    I was trying to make the decision of Heckler v. Bantam and ended up going with the Heckler solely for availability reasons, but I'm glad I did because I think the extra inch of travel and slight geometry differences have far more benefits than I notice in setbacks (at least when compared to a solid XC oriented bike).

  5. #5
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    I have ridden both. Honestly, I didnt notice a huge difference performance wise between the two. The extra travel of the heckler made for a more compliant ride on small stuff, but over all performance was about equal between the two. I ended up going with a Bantam because it felt more efficient while maintaining performance. I switched the rear shock from the crappy Fox CTD Evo to a Monarch I had laying around which uses a much better damper design.(anything that says Evolution is junk) found it to perform better than the Heckler in every aspect once I did. Just bought a new Monarch for it, but haven't had a chance to see how the new stuff feels on a trail yet.

    Bottom line, I think you will be happy either way.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mullen119 View Post
    I have ridden both. Honestly, I didnt notice a huge difference performance wise between the two. The extra travel of the heckler made for a more compliant ride on small stuff, but over all performance was about equal between the two. I ended up going with a Bantam because it felt more efficient while maintaining performance. I switched the rear shock from the crappy Fox CTD Evo to a Monarch I had laying around which uses a much better damper design.(anything that says Evolution is junk) found it to perform better than the Heckler in every aspect once I did. Just bought a new Monarch for it, but haven't had a chance to see how the new stuff feels on a trail yet.

    Bottom line, I think you will be happy either way.
    How's the Bantam with the new Monarch?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMac47 View Post
    How's the Bantam with the new Monarch?
    Only have a few very short rides in on it, but its very good. I ended up putting a fox volume spacer in the air can to make it more progressive. The rear end is much more lively and tracks the ground much better then the CTD and has much better small bump sensitivity than both the original CTD and the older monarch.

    The new monarch is a RT3 debonair. The extra volume of the negative chamber makes a huge difference

  8. #8
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    OP, did you purchase yet? I have the Bantam, and had the brief thought of getting the Heckler because it would be better on trails that are NOT the trails right outside of my door... but I finally convinced myself that for what I ride 90% of the time, the Bantam is the ideal bike. I couldn't be happier with it.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  9. #9
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    I did. Purchased a Heckler 2 weeks ago. Only have 1 ride on it so far as life has gotten in the way, but is vastly superior to my old FSRxc in both suspension performance and pedal efficiency.

    I took it off a few drops and jumps that would make the FSRxc shudder, and the Heckler made it seem like nothing. Definitely a bike for me to grow into ability wise, which is what I wanted. I have been riding since the late 90's, but only recently moved somewhere that I can really ride jumps and drops, which I love and want to go bigger.

    I posted some pics and a longer ride report here

  10. #10
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    I know this is an old thread, but I am looking at both of these bikes too. The LBS has one of each for the same price. Haven't been able to do a long demo on either one. The Bantam is supposedly the better climber, which would make sense with less slack in the head tube angle and less travel, but I'm curious if anybody can back that claim. I'm kind of leaning toward the Heckler, but climbing is probably more important to me than 25mm more travel. Also, how would the handling compare in tight, twisty singletrack situations?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shining_trapezoid View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I am looking at both of these bikes too. The LBS has one of each for the same price. Haven't been able to do a long demo on either one. The Bantam is supposedly the better climber, which would make sense with less slack in the head tube angle and less travel, but I'm curious if anybody can back that claim. I'm kind of leaning toward the Heckler, but climbing is probably more important to me than 25mm more travel. Also, how would the handling compare in tight, twisty singletrack situations?
    if you want a sweet climber and playful bike, get the Solo

    watch this

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGbCSC0oZTI

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by nauc View Post
    if you want a sweet climber and playful bike, get the Solo
    I'm sure it's a sweet bike, but the Heckler and Bantam are already over what I should spend this year.

  13. #13
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    The Bantam is very similar geometry wise to the Solo. The difference of course is the VPP vs Single pivot, but the Santa Cruz single pivot bikes ride really well IMO. As far as climbing and playfulness, I wouldn't think you'd be missing out on much by saving the money and going with the Bantam.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by shining_trapezoid View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I am looking at both of these bikes too. The LBS has one of each for the same price. Haven't been able to do a long demo on either one. The Bantam is supposedly the better climber, which would make sense with less slack in the head tube angle and less travel, but I'm curious if anybody can back that claim. I'm kind of leaning toward the Heckler, but climbing is probably more important to me than 25mm more travel. Also, how would the handling compare in tight, twisty singletrack situations?
    If the LBS has both, test them as much as possible, even street or parking lot tests will tell you a lot. I tested the Solo and Bronson (basically the VPP versions of the bikes you are looking at), and it didn't take me very long to know which one I preferred (Solo).

  15. #15
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    I love my Bantam. Handles everything very well, but runs out of travel on anything over a 4' drop to flat. More than capable on any trail I've ever ridden that didn't have built stunts. I ride in the mountains of western North Carolina, and there has only been one time that I could have used more travel. For me, it's not worth dragging around the extra travel.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I love my Bantam. Handles everything very well, but runs out of travel on anything over a 4' drop to flat. More than capable on any trail I've ever ridden that didn't have built stunts. I ride in the mountains of western North Carolina, and there has only been one time that I could have used more travel. For me, it's not worth dragging around the extra travel.
    To add a bit to the discussion, I think the 125mm Santa Cruz SP bikes rock. They are pretty dern burly too. I have a 2012 Nickel (125mm modified single pivot w/ swing link) which has very very similar numbers to the Bantam. I have hucked it super comfortably over 15'+ gaps and it takes it in stride. Heck there is a new 22' gap locally that it loves to hit. There are times I wished I had a Heckler (or Butcher, the APP version) but they've been rare.

    IMO if you are a trail rider and need to stay focused on climbing or, like me, climbing like a bumbling fool, then I think the Bantam makes more sense. If you climb fire roads mostly or truly take your time and have blazing descents on your local trails, Heckler.

    Again...shock makes all the difference. The single pivot can be very efficient with modern shock tech.

    Good luck, you probably won't regret either one!

    A good shock (DB Inline or new Monarch) should get you in good spirits.

  17. #17
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    santa cruz heckler is amazing bike

  18. #18
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    I was pretty sure I wanted a Bantam, but after riding the 5010 and Bronson, now I am leaning toward the Heckler. I just had more fun on the Bronson when dealing with roots, rocks, etc., and when pointed downhill the 67 degree HTA made a difference to my sense of confidence and stability. I found the differences to be pretty subtle in truth, but I am also new to the sport (coming from the road). I found that while climbing technical sections I couldn't tell much if any difference if I had the Fox shock set to the "trail" or "medium" or "propedal" position. With the ability to switch from open/plush for descents or really technical sections to trial/firmer when climbing or on flowier sections of trail, there isn't much penalty in terms of pedal bob going up but you get the advantage of the extra travel when going down or when it gets technical.

    I wish the demo tour had the single pivot bikes so I could have actually tried the ones I want to buy--or, rather, can *afford* to buy--since I'm not sure that the difference between 125/150 in single pivot will feel the same as it does on the VPP. I loved the braking ability of the VPP even when going downhill over rocks and drops, and I worry that the Bantam/Heckler will firm up and skid under those conditions. I'm sure as my skills develop I won't feel the need to brake in those areas, but for now it makes the difference between having fun and charging ahead vs. getting scared and walking around.

    Aside from the 67/68 HTA and inch of travel, the Bantam has mounts for a water bottle cage while the Heckler has stealth routing for a dropper post. I guess AM is less water-bottle friendly and that at 125mm travel there's less need for a dropper post, but I'd like both on my bike! The Bantam is also .3 lbs heavier.

    All in all, I think that since I liked the slacker angle and found climbing to be fine using the trail setting, I'm not sure what advantage the Bantam really has over the Heckler. Why not get the extra inch of travel, even if I don't really need it now for my current skill level?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by b3an View Post

    All in all, I think that since I liked the slacker angle and found climbing to be fine using the trail setting, I'm not sure what advantage the Bantam really has over the Heckler. Why not get the extra inch of travel, even if I don't really need it now for my current skill level?
    Well, I figure the Bantam is a little more efficient climbing even if you don't feel it, but you are right that being able to flick the shock over to trail mode makes it less of an issue.

    The Bantam also has a shorter wheelbase and steeper head angle. Some would choose it for it's more nimble handling, but you tried and liked the longer slacker bike, so go with what you like.

    The Heckler is a really cool bike. I'm sure you'll like it.

  20. #20
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    I just bought the Bantam frame and built it. I also picked up a new Fox Factory 34 140 for the front. It rides great, I first wanted a Heckler but am not upset with the Bantam. Ended up for me that I doubt I would really use the extra inch in the rear travel to justify it. So far loving the bike, pictures to come soon of the build!

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