1998 Santa Cruz Heckler Redux

30 03 2010

Heckler Redux

My friend Sean wanted a new mountain bike, but the sticker shock of a new full suspension ride was putting him off.  He had access to a 1998 Santa Cruz Heckler frame so we decided to upgrade it a bit so he’d have a sweet rig at a reasonable cost.

New LX dearailleur...

I put a new LX derailleur on back as well as a Schwalbe Fat Albert 26 x 2.4″ tire. I kept the existing 8 speed cassette since it was in decent shape.

New V-brakes and existing rear rim...

I replaced the beat up v-brakes for a set new of Deore stoppers.  I kept the old rear wheel after tensioning and truing it.

Robust single pivot suspension...

The robust single pivot suspension design of the Heckler was in good shape with no play.  The rear shock was working fine.

Race Face Turbine LP cranks...

The cranks, BB and front derailleur were all serviceable so I just cleaned off the crud and adjusted them.  I put a new SRAM 8 speed chain on.

Nice paint job...

The paint was in good shape so I cleaned off the bike and polished it with some Pedros Bike Lust.  I pulled the cables and housing at first, but ended up reusing everything, but the brake cables.

Fox Float RLC 100

The old Marzocchi Bomber came off and a new Fox Float RLC 100 fork went on…mmmm…buttery smooth suspension travel.

Avid BB7

The Fox fork won’t accept v-brakes so I binned the old ones as well as the old front wheel.  A new Sun Ryhno Lite/Deore disc wheel shod with a Schwalbe Fat Albert took its place.  An Avid BB7 and 160mm rotor will handle the braking duties now.

Ergon Grips and a Salsa Moto Ace riser bar...

The cockpit got a complete upgrade with a Salsa stem and bars.  Ergon grips and Avid brake levers.  I kept the old 8 speed XT shifters.

One nice ride!

I was amazed how well the bike rides now.  I used to own a Heckler of the same vintage and it did not ride this nicely.  I’m giving most of the credit to the Fox 100mm fork which jacks up the front end an inch slowing down the steering and providing some excelent suspension action which seems to be a good match for the ~3″ of travel in the rear.  The Schwalbe Fat Alberts are light for a big tire and roll nicely adding a welcome dose of traction and even more plushness.  The wide riser bar and Ergon grips are really nice on the hands and give you lots of leverage for precision steering.

This bike rides so sweetly I’m sad to give it back to Sean….=-)

This is why you buy quality – not many FS frames from 10 years ago would be worth upgrading and even fewer would give you such an amazing ride compared to modern FS bikes.  Nicely done Santa Cruz.



21 responses

30 03 2010

i have been thinking a bit about my next bike. trying to decide between a CC or a KM or a 1×1, but have also been thinking about a dedicated mtb. something lighter than a pugs (not hard to achieve, of course. i haven’t really thought much about FS rigs until recently, and they got me thinking hard. your post isn’t helping me not think about new bikes! 🙂
looking around on the local CL, i see a few santa cruz blurs for under a grand. don’t know much about what i want besides something that will handle trails and climbs. this is going to require some lengthy internet research over the next few weeks…

30 03 2010

Alan – SC hasn’t made any lemons and there is a big community of SC riders out there to help with any issues you may encounter on an older bike.


My one suggestion is don’t buy a used FS bike that needs work on the suspension. The cost of replacement forks, shocks, bearings, pivots, etc… can cost a lot more than the bike is worth. It makes sense to hunt a little harder for those lightly ridden FS bikes that may cost more, but that don’t need any significant repairs.

31 03 2010

yeah, i can’t quite decide what i want it to do yet. kinda want something for UL touring that could also thrash some trails. right now i am kinda leaning toward a hardtail and i am still undecided as to whether i want suspension at all now. i have an old hardrock frame laying around and a few parts for it as well. i might see what i can build out of it….and just do some riding and pondering over what i actually want to achieve. been checking out mmeiser2’s flickr and getting inspired about the whole UL world.

thanks for the tips on the SC’s. i just always seem to go back to wanting to tour/bikecamp.

3 04 2010
Bow Cycle | Vik’s Picks » Sean’s New 1998 Heckler

[…] Normally I wouldn’t recommend investing a bunch of $$$ on a 12yr old full suspension mountain bike, but this one was in good shape and Santa Cruz Hecklers are a classic for a reason – they rock!  Upgrade details are here. […]

3 04 2010

Most single-pivot bikes upgrade really well. I updated a 1998 K2 Proflex 4000 a few years back.


It had a wonky 4.5″ rear/3″ front travel from the factory, and ended up with 5.5″ rear/6″ front with disk brakes and a 9-speed drivetrain when I was done. I rode that for another 4 years before finally dropping some money on a brand new bike.

Of course, with some semi-slick tires the Proflex does duty as a commuter now!

9 06 2010
Why I love the internet… « The Lazy Randonneur

[…] When I revamped my buddy Sean’s Santa Cruz Heckler I had to modify the seatstay brace to allow clearance for fat 2.4″ rubber in the back. The mod worked, but it wasn’t particularly pretty.  I had posted the build pics on MTBR.com and one of the members took pitty on me and made me the brace shown below so Sean’s bike would be as good looking as it is nice to ride….sweet!  He not only made it for free, but wouldn’t accept any $$$ to cover shipping to me from the US.  Amazing…=-) CNC'd Heckler bling… […]

8 08 2010

Can you add disc brakes to the rear of the 98 heckler?

9 08 2010

If there are no disc tabs on the rear of the frame then no. The rear brake is not really important or used much so I wouldn’t bother upgrading it….if you get a fork with disc tabs you can mount a disc up front where it matters.

9 08 2010

You could always use a conversion kit to get disc brakes on the rear wheel:


9 08 2010

I would never recommend adding discs to a frame or fork not specifically designed for them. The forces are totally different then a rim brake.

28 09 2010

i am buildin up the same bike, its at the shop gettin powder coated right now but im havin troubles finding some parts could u help me out?

29 09 2010

What parts are you having a hard time finding. The frame takes pretty standard components.

29 09 2010

im having troubles finding the bushings and linkage kit for the rear suspension… its a 1996 heckler (01), i dont wanna start ordering parts for it until i know i can get all the parts for that lol

29 09 2010

@Mike – I’d call Santa Cruz and tell ’em what you need. I bet they will help you out or at least point you in the right direction. Just be super enthusiastic about your Heckler.

9 03 2011

I have this kind of Heckler.
Is it possible to modify the rear v brake to be a disc brake ?
Is there any adapter ?
Need your advise,


9 03 2011

@Herry – no there is no way to reasonably add a disc brake to the back on a vintage Heckler. Given that the front brake provides most if not all of your braking a v-brake on the rear is more than adequate.

4 05 2011

I recently got my hands on a Heckler like the one you have pictured here (only much more crap-tacular). I need to clean the frame and start fresh. Any tips on where I can get decals to replace the originals? They don’t have em from that far back on their site and I can’t seem to find them anywhere except in your pics.

5 05 2011

@Tyler – take my photo to a sign shop and they should be able to make you some decals that look similar or get them to make you something totally custom. Enjoy the new bike.

11 05 2011

I’ve got a heart-warming story for all to hear……..Many moons ago my my friend and I rode all day every day. We used to ride to Mt. Gretna bikes back when it was in Lebanon, PA. There was this one bike that I swore I would never need another if only it were mine. $3000 might as well have been a million when you’re 15. It was, of course, a Santa Cruz Heckler. So I’ve been scouring the internet for a bike, a Trek Y in particular, when I come across this ad in Virginia 3 hours away. It was this random box with parts frame, fork, Chris King headset, XTR stuff……..all for 150. When I get to talking to the guy it comes out that he bought the bike, AT Mt. Gretna bikes. This is the VERY EXACT same bike I had looked at, touched, and dreamt about as a kid…………….and I was finally buying it and bringing it home. The thing that really tipped it off for me was the green Caramba crank with the blue Kooka chainring bolts, which is broken unfortunately.

So that being said I feel I have a responsibility to take this bike back to my dream. Nukeproof wheels, replacement arm for the crank, Syncros stuff and especially the decals. So that is good a idea. I took your pictures to my friend who is a graphic designer however and he couldn’t pull any good shots out. The decals on mine are half gone so that was out of the question too. If I had some good shots I could get him to put together a full size decal sheet and post it for anyone else in search of perfection like myself.

I can’t wait to start bopping around on this baby but perfection takes time!

12 05 2011

@Tyler – that’s great! Congrats…=-)

12 05 2016
jason cook

Always wanted one now I have two. mark 1 and 2 hekler. well one and a half anyway. I’m just waiting for the new wheels to turn up.

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