Belt-Driven Bikes

Honbike Uni4 Review: Long-Range Belt-Driven E-Bike Tested

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I’ve got a confession: I’ve fallen in love with e-bikes over the past 18 months.

It’s like cycling within an endless tailwind.

I understand some people enjoy the grind of cycling. The ups and downs. The hard and the easy.

But when I’m cycling to my office, I enjoy not arriving in a sweaty mess. I enjoy not having to worry about how hot the weather is. Or if I’ll be pedalling into a strong wind. I enjoy the unadulterated leisure.

With that in mind, I’ve been testing out various urban e-bikes in the pursuit of finding the perfect electric bike for commuters.

And when I discovered the Honbike Uni4 I got very excited.

IMAGE CREDIT: HONBIKE
Honbike Uni4 E-Bike
  • Range
  • Terrain
  • Style
  • Value
  • Quality
4.3

Summary

A beautifully minimalist urban e-bike that has been tailored to city riding. The Honbike has a very good range (40 to 50km on full power), is very comfortable to ride and has sturdy tyres that can easily handle most terrains. Comes with built-in lights, splashguards and throttle as standard.

Pros

  • Very good range
  • Stylish urban bike
  • Great for commuters
  • Handles different terrain well
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • Unusual assymetric frame design
  • Calf can rub against frame
  • No gears
  • Can’t remove battery

The Honbike is a belt-driven e-bike with a claimed 100km range. It has built-in lights and splash guards. And with its bold minimalist look, it certainly looks the part too.

In this Honbike Uni4 review, I’ll run through my experience of getting this e-bike and, ultimately, whether it’s worthy of recommendation.

How the Honbike Uni4 arrived prior to assembly
IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS

Honbike Uni4 Assembly

Assembling an e-bike can be a bit of a pain. But (thankfully) that was absolutely not the case with the Honbike.

Obviously, a bike isn’t going to arrive 100% ready-to-ride if it arrives in the post. But Honbike have taken the step of assembling everything they possibly could prior to shipping.

That means, when the Honbike arrives, all I needed to do was attach the front wheel and pedals, plus align the handlebars. A total 15-minute job – even for someone as technically incapable as myself.

IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS

Honbike Design

This bike really does look like it’s from the future and it has taken a daring approaching to style in two main ways: The wheels spokes (or lack thereof) and its unique tube-like frame.

I must admit that I adore the wheel design. They look so clean and modern.

The “tubing” design is a bit more controversial though. The effect is basically that it looks like one piece of tubing that that runs down from the front wheel to the back wheel before seemingly looping around the wheel and return on the other side of the bike, before finally jolting up towards the seat post.

From afar, the design is very cool. But when you’re sat on the bike, the lack of symmetry can be a little disconcerting.

When looking down towards the handlebars and frame of a normal bike, you’ll basically set a perfectly symmetrical “T” shape (the handlebars being the top line and the frame at a 90-degree angle beneath). But because of the single tubing design of the Honbike, you no longer have a satisfying 90-degree angle, which initially made me think that I hadn’t adjusted my handlebars correctly.

Image of how the bike frame appears from the rider position on the Honbike Uni4
RIDER VIEW OF FRAME (IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS)

This doesn’t affect your ride and you do get used to it, but it’s just a mental block that you need to get over.

The only other negative side effect of this design is that my right calf does occasional brush against the tubing when pedalling if I plant my foot too far inwards. Not a fatal flaw, but a bit annoying.

All-in-all, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the tubing design. From afar I love it. Up close, not so much.

Rear view of the Honbike Uni4
IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS

Low Maintenance Belt-Driven E-Bike

But what I do absolutely love about this e-bike is just how easy everything is. The Honbike Uni4 is virtually maintenance-free. Give it a wash every now and then. Pump up the tyres. Charge the battery. That should do you. Yhere’s no need to worry about a weekly maintenance schedule with this e-bike.

Belt-driven bikes are becoming increasingly popular – and there are some clear pros and cons to this type of design. The major benefit is maintenance – in that there is effectively none. Belts don’t need fancy cleaners and lubes like chains do. Just give it a rinse every now and then and you’ll be good to go.

The downside of belt-driven bikes is that they aren’t quite as efficient as chains, and adding gears becomes complicated (you need an expensive internal gear hub built-in if you want gears on a belt-driven bike). However, gears aren’t anywhere near as important on an electric bike as on acoustic bikes – especially if you have a throttle to help get you moving (like the Honbike does).

The only other thing to keep an eye on maintenance-wise is the rear light which runs on two AAA batteries, rather than the battery. Therefore, keeping some spare batteries in your bag is a good idea. The front light is built into the frame and runs off the battery (just hold down the plus arrow to turn it on)

Minimalist Electric Bike

Honbike have gone above and beyond when it comes to maintaining the minimalist design of the Uni4.

Not only is it chainless thanks to its Gates Carbon Belt Drive, but Honbike have hidden several features to optimise the look of the bike. For example, the cables for the disc brakes are hidden in the tubing and the battery itself is built inside the frame.

Now, a built-in e-bike battery has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it looks a lot more elegant and also disguises the fact that this is an e-bike (a useful deterrent for potential e-bike thieves). However, as the battery can’t be removed, you’ll have to bring your entire bike to the next plug socket – which can be fiddly.

Image showing the Honbike Uni4 being charged
Charging the Honbike (IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS)

Honbike Unexpected Bonuses

There are some other things about the Honbike Uni4 that I wasn’t expecting, but absolutely love.

First off, although this looks a like a standard city bike, it’s actually really decent off-road too, thanks to its chunky tyres. I often skip through some trails in the forest on this bike and it remained a very comfortable and easy ride.

There is also some exceptional reflectively detailing around the rim of the wheels which is extremely vibrant when a light hits it at night.

Lastly, the Honbike Uni4 has the best kickstand I’ve ever encountered. This might sound petty, but it’s extremely durable and pops out with no fuss. It may only be a small detail, but it fits well with this bike’s solid and dependable feel.

IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS

Honbike Uni4 Range

The Honbike Uni is a 250w electric bike that claims to have a range of up to 70km (53 miles).

However, like every electric bike I’ve encountered, the range is inflated. It’s not because the company is lying per se, but instead because they “test” their range based on the lowest power settings. Basically, if you pedal like a maniac and barely ever let the power assistance help you, maybe it will last you for 70km.

In truth, though, I like to ride leisurely, but enjoy the maximum legal speed on an electric bike (25kmh/20mph). So, with the highest level of power assistance and a moderate cadence on my part, I’ve managed to get about 40-50km of assistance from the Honbike Uni 4.

The Honbike has three power settings (represented by green, blue and red arrows on the built-in screen) which can easily be controlled from the plus/minus buttons on the handlebars.

Honbikes controls and throttle
IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS

Honbike Uni4 Review [SUMMARY]

So, is the Honbike Uni4 worth it? Yes, 100%. Especially when you see the very reasonable price tag of £1,699/$1,699.

Considering the range of features this bike offers, it’s stylish look, a very good range, plus its versatility to handle a range of terrains, this is my favourite urban electric bike currently.

While “e-bike” typically stands for “electric bike”, I’d say that in this case it should stand for “easy bike”. Honbike have created the ultimate low-fuss electric bike for commuters. There’s no maintenance. There’s nothing needlessly complicated. You can ride where you want. And it looks cool.

Riding the Honbike Uni4
IMAGE CREDIT: PETE REYNOLDS

Ride in style

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