The Honbike Uni4 is a low-maintenance, easy-to-ride bike perfectly suited to daily commutes and low-mileage cycling…
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$1,699 / £1,799, honbike.com
- Easy set-up and uncomplicated ride
- Comfortable seat
- Low to zero maintenance
- Can’t remove the battery
- A design that you’ll either love or hate
Value for money: 5/5
The new Honbike Uni4, with its chain-free, carbon belt drive and high-capacity 432Wh integrated lithium-ion battery, is marketed as a low-maintenance, stress-free commuter bike.
While it can never compete with lightweight, high-end competitors, it does more than live up to its marketing brief as a low-cost urban e-bike.
As such, the Honbike is the perfect entry-level e-bike for those wanting to beat the fuel hikes and ditch the car on those short and intermediate-length journeys to the office, the shops, or out for an evening in town. And what’s more, it comes at an affordable price.
Honbike Uni4 design
Every non-essential element has been removed, giving the Honbike a sleek and minimalist look. However, the ‘sharp-edge free’ frame, with an off-centre continuous crossbar running from the handlebars to the rear wheel (negating the need for seat stays), is a standout feature which not every rider will immediately fall in love with.
But given that it is made from high-strength, fatigue-resistant, 7000 series aluminium (the same kind used for the structural parts of aircraft) even the most old-school ‘bell and basket’ cyclists might learn to love the minimalist frame shape.
The die-cast magnesium wheels not only absorb much of the chatter on the road; they add to the bike’s modern, almost futuristic appeal. Combined with the unusual frame shape the bike is sure to turn some heads.
Honbike Uni4 features
The mechanical disc brakes are responsive and quiet, with no discernible difference from many non-assist bikes at the same price point or even slightly higher.
The manufacturer claims the bike has an up to 53-mile range, making it more than suitable for a reasonably long commute. After riding for approximately 30 miles, on both hills and flat, moving between assistance levels accordingly, the bike had two of its six bars left. So, while a 50-mile round trip commute might be pushing the bike to its limit, it could be within its capabilities.
As with the rest of the bike, its integrated front light and sleek digital readout come with an IPX6 rating, so it can withstand a shower or perhaps even a brief dip in a shallow puddle or ford. The front, integrated light can be turned on at the touch of a button.
But although the rear light comes fitted as standard, it’s not integrated: instead requiring batteries and a flick of a switch on top of the light itself. While that is no different than turning on a standard rear light, with all the bike’s other safety features it feels like a bit of an oversight.
The readout was clear with the speedometer showing the bike’s speed in bright, friendly digital digits. There was no needless extra information shown other than speed, assistance level, battery life and Bluetooth connection.
The bike has a built-in gyroscope, which is not something you would expect on a bike at this price. This recognises the difference between riding uphill and riding on the flat, supplying the right amount of power to the 1:13 high reduction ratio rear hub motor.
Trying the bike out on the Mendip Hills, it coped fine with smaller inclines and it was only at the end of long, continuous gradients that it began to really struggle. What was interesting was that both on the flat and uphill, the motor felt much the same.
There are four levels of assistance. The first is Bicycle: essentially the bike with the motor switched off. This is where the bike falls down a little. Despite weighing in at only 20kg, it feels on the heavy side. Although it has an excellent battery life, if it were to run down, it would be an effort to take it home.
The next three modes are Eco, City and Sport. While the Eco did supply less power than the Sport mode, all three gave a push. Rather than incremental, it basically feels like the power is either on or off.
Is the Honbike Uni4 any good?
So, if you are looking for a low-maintenance run-around at an affordable price, the Honbike Uni4 is for you. It rivals most of the bikes in its class, even punching up a little into the ranks of more expensive ones.
For longer-distance, weekend rides or a day out on the trails, it might not be the bike I would immediately choose. However, it is a good, sturdy city bike and fine if you just need a boost up a hill to the local shops or popping out to meet friends.