The e-bike craze shows now signs of slowing down, and that’s good news if you’re out shopping for one. Performance aside, there is an incredible variety of price points and design choices, which means you can zero in on one that fits your needs. If you need to turn heads, check out the e-bike from Honbike.
This E-Bike Turns Heads, Even In NYC
CleanTechnica had an opportunity to take a pre-production Honbike through its paces on a 20-mile suburban commute and a couple of short hops around Manhattan a while back. We’ll get to the performance angle in a minute, but first let’s take a look at the head-turning factor.
There are millions of bicycles and e-bikes in New York City, or at least it seems that way. With the exception of the Citibike rentals, you can ride around all day without seeing two of the same kind. In other words, people in New York have seen everything out there in terms of two-wheeled zero emission mobility, and they are not likely to look twice when an e-bike passes by.
Not so with the Honbike. It attracted attention like honey to bees. It sparked several conversations with people who were thinking about getting an e-bike, and hopefully I convinced them to take the plunge.
So, if you’re looking for an attention-getter, this e-bike is it. The social aspect really is an unexpected bonus. One of the many fun things about an eye-catching e-bike is the opportunity to be an ambassador for low impact, zero-emission transportation and enjoy a friendly chat with passing strangers.
What About That Crazy Design?
As for the design, the biggest question people had was: what’s up with that wacky looking seat?
The seat may look a bit strange, but it is padded and it felt just as comfortable as any other small-sized bicycle seat I’ve sat upon, and definitely more comfortable than some.
The next question was about the bicycle chain, of which there is none. The absence of a chain is just the most visible aspect of a whole raft of award winning design and engineering extras, so let’s have Honbike explain that:
“We creatively introduce shaft drive technology once used in the motorcycle industry to the electric bicycle industry. At present, almost all bicycles or electric bicycles are chain or belt-driven. Everyone who has ridden a bicycle has encountered the problem of the chain falling off and transmission failure, and even if you buy a high-end derailleur drive train system, you need to clean the chain and adjust it regularly.
“Our shaft drive technology eliminates the chain drive, the drive shaft is fully enclosed and immersed in a closed shaft tube. This ensures that you don’t have to worry about dropping the chain, getting it on your trousers, tangling your skirt, or having to clean and maintain the chain on a regular basis for the bike’s life. Let your bike serve you, not the other way around.”
Talking Up Your E-Bike
If you end up buying a Honbike, you will have lots to talk about aside from the seat and the disappearing chain.
The project was a success thanks in part to four design awards and these bennies:
With a built-in smart sensor system, HONBIKE provides the power you need immediately from a standing uphill start. Easier and Safer.
Honbike’s Tri-sensor system allows the bike to sense when the rider is going up or downhill and will adjust the power assistance based on the terrain and input from the rider.
HONBIKE can be broken down into only a few main modules. Compared to other regular ebikes that have over 250 components, HONBIKE only has 57. Less parts mean less repairs and fewer problems.
HONBIKE merges the absolute best power, torque, and efficiency into the smallest and lightest motor possible.
Built-in smart sensor shuts off the motor if the bike tilts beyond 30 degrees, protecting you when making a turn
This E-Bike Performs In The Suburbs, Too
Honbike is billed as an urban bike, and it really did shine in the streetscapes of Manhattan. I took it from Canal Street around the Holland Tunnel to the Intrepid at Pier 86 on the West Side, and from the same starting point to the East Side around 100th Street, with a detour through Central Park.
However, don’t let the marketing fool you. Honbike does a great job in the suburbs, too. I test-ride e-bikes on a 9-mile inbound commute to work that goes from a small suburban city, down a mountain (a smallish mountain, but still a mountain), through some gentle rolling hills and finally into flatlands.
The first and last mile are 2-lane roads but the rest is a 4-lane county thoroughfare with posted speed limits up to 40 mph, with dozens of intersections, innumerable driveways, and a couple of freeway off-ramps to negotiate. The whole commute is also a bus route, and trucks are permitted on most of it, too, and there are exactly zero miles of bike lanes.
In other words, taking a bike of any sort on this commute is an adventure. The Honbike went through its paces brilliantly, and that was just the inbound commute.
The homebound route adds two miles to avoid rush hour traffic on the county road, so it’s 11 miles for a total round trip of 20 miles. The homebound route also adds a really steep one-mile climb, with one especially steep stretch of a few hundred feet in the middle. That’s a big challenge for any bike. If you happen to live in an area with incredibly steep, annoying hills you might want to take the opportunity to test-ride an e-bike on your home turf before buying one.
Other Cool Things About This Bike
The other thing that makes Honbike a good suburban ride is its portability. It is relatively light and it folds. Some folding bikes do not actually fit in compact cars, but the Honbike slid easily into the back seat and trunk (I tried both) of my Hyundai Accent, which is pretty compact.
So, if you can’t use an e-bike for your whole suburban commute, Honbike is a good last-mile, park-and-ride piece of equipment that can help you avoid annoying parking and traffic issues at your destination.
That’s all I have to say about the Honbike for now. Next up is my first ever test ride of a cargo bike, so stay tuned for more on that.
For more insights into the 20-mile suburb-to-city commute and other rides on various electric bicycles, check out the fat tire experience, the throttle plus gearshift experience, and the infinity gears (here’s another take on the infinity gear).
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Photo: Honbike e-bike by Tina Casey.
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