- A full suspension 29er with mid-drive motor, slim battery and removable display by Yamaha, offers 80 Nm of torque and zero-cadence pedal assist response
- The RX trim level is top of the line with light weight hardware from Shimano, Fox and RockShox, it offers a 20 speed drivetrain for comfortable cadence at a higher range of speeds
- The larger wheels carry momentum, span cracks and elevate the frame for excellent cross country riding but suspension travel is limited to 100 mm, the angled top tube lowers stand-over height
- The motor is smooth and quiet but slower to cut out, the RPM output is a bit limited with becomes noticeable at lower speeds, no shift sensing but torque is measured so ease off to shift
Despite the many, many models and trim levels that Haibike is producing for model year 2016 they are only offering the FullNine (full suspension 29er) models with the SDURO Yamaha drive system. I got to check out the RX version with a taller friend who was able to appreciate the larger wheelset and frame size… This model balances performance with value and toutes zero cadence motor operation, impressive 80 Nm torque output and a large removable LCD display with remote button pad and Micro USB charging. There’s no shift sensing built in to the system but it relies on a combination of torque and cadence to activate so my experience has been that easing off the pedals a bit while shifting reduces mashing and will prolong your chain, sprockets and derailleur life.
Aside from the higher torque output, Yamaha has differentiated its drive system by offering a longer, slimmer battery pack design that slides in from the side. The result is tighter frame designs with lower top tubes that are easier to mount and stand over. If you’re someone who appreciates the 29 inch wheel size but but you don’t have long legs, this is a win and perhaps one of the reasons that Haibike isn’t offering an XDURO Bosch powered full suspension 29er this year. Whatever the case, this system performs and depending on the trim level you choose you’ll get 10 or 20 gears. The SL is less expensive ($3,499) but without those extra gear options your climbing ability may be somewhat impacted. For $400 more you can get the RC ($3,899) which has the extra gears and a couple of component upgrades). All models peak out around 20 mph and only offer pedal assist as this is a Class 1 ebike, permissible on the highest number of trails in California and elsewhere.
I love the quick release wheelset, the Micro USB charging port on the remote button pad (located near the left grip), the locking grips, the light weight fork and the fact that there are so many sizes to choose from to get the perfect fit. You really get 12 bikes to choose from with the FullNine model because there are three trim levels in four sizes each… that’s amazing for such a refined product, though they only offer each trim level in one unique color scheme. While I was reviewing this bike at the Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton, CA a gentleman came in and fell in love with the paint scheme of the highest trim (the RX) and was basing his purchase decision purely on this. Beauty and style aside, the Haibike models have been late to arrive this year and seem to be coming in limited quantities. The most popular sizes include 45 cm and 50 cm and some are already completely sold out, even as they arrive to stores.
My experience with the SDURO Yamaha system has been mixed. On the one hand you have the potential for more gears because the system uses a more standard set of chainrings (compared to Bosch) but then you don’t have shift sensing to help reduce wear so now two derailleurs are taking a hit if you aren’t thoughtful or find yourself in a precarious hard-shift situation. You get more torque and the zero-cadence response but this hasn’t been an obvious huge advantage over Bosch and of course the price is lower for most models in the SDURO line but the range of speed output seems more limited to me. That is, I have to shift up gears to hit higher speeds… I find myself maxing out with my own pedaling well before I’d prefer to shift up in some of the lower gears. I wish they would just extend the RPM range a little bit so I could shift down in preparation for climbs without taking a massive speed hit as the motor drops out. It’s difficult to explain but trying Yamaha and Bosch back to back causes many people to find preference for one vs. the other but it’s hard to dispute the beauty and unique offerings from Haibike as a company and I appreciate their great warranty and network of dealers. This was a fun one to test and it was great to have input from a shop owner and someone larger in terms of height and weight for the video review.
- This is a great model for taller riders like Sam (who is 6’4″) because the wheel diameter is larger and that raises the frame, since you can get it in four frame sizes from 40 cm to 55 cm it should work well for a range of body types
- The SLX brake levers have adjustable reach (tool free adjustable) so you can tune them as you ride or set them up for longer or shorter fingers… this is nice again for taller riders with potentially longer fingers
- With Ice-Tech calipers and rotors (Aluminum sandwiched between Steel plates and heat sinks on the rotors) heat is dissipated more quickly to reduce fade during long ascents and for heavier loads (again, larger heavier riders potentially)
- You get thru-axles front and rear which provide stiffness and strength, I find that they also make it easier to take the wheels off and line them back up when doing maintenance
- with quick release wheels, seat tube, a removable battery and removable display panel you can significantly reduce weight and size for transporting this ebike
- I like that the display is removable for moments when you’re riding downhill at higher speeds and might want to protect it in case of a fall, Haibike uses a negative angle stem and low-rise bars to create a space for the display mount and sort of protect it even if you leave it on
- The Fizik saddle is a nice upgrade for performance but I discovered a little clip-in area beneath where you can mount a light. This could free up your seat tube and saddle rails for an accessory pouch or bottle cage and it would probably stay straighter as well
- Despite being a full suspension ebike with an angled top tube there appeared to be enough space to mount the frame on a hang style rack which tend to be more common and affordable
- The display panel is large, easy to read, backlit and removable! I’d probably take it off when doing tricky downhill stuff in case of a crash), I like that the button pad is easy to reach, well sealed and has an integrated Micro USB port for charging accessories
- The Yamaha mid-drive motor operates fairly quietly in high and mid level gears (when it’s not spinning super fast)
- Excellent weight distribution, the motor and battery are positioned low and center improving handling, both wheels have quick release for easier transport or trail maintenance and the motor is well protected with a replaceable plastic skidplate (also color matched!)
- The larger 29″ wheels offer good momentum and terrain span but also require more power to get started and produce more drag with a larger contact patch, the suspension offered here is 100 mm vs. some of the 26″ and 27.5″ that go further because the wheels are so large but it’s well suited to cross country riding
- Limited motor speed range, I found that when switching down to lower gears the motor support dropped out significantly (even in the highest pedal assist mode) because it relies so heavily on torque as an input, this was a bummer when approaching hills at high speed riding off-road
- No shift sensing or shift detection built into the drive system, this could lead to more mashing, banging and premature wear on the chain, cassette and derailleur
- Large battery charger with cables that don’t come unplugged so it’s extra long even when the cables are tied up, it also weighs more than some other chargers I’ve seen
- I found that the battery pack can rattle a bit at times and that you really need to make sure it’s clicked in before riding off, you could turn and remove the key but then push to hear the click of the battery