- The most affordable Haibike in the 2016 line, features the Yamaha drive system with a basic fixed LED display console, basic saddle, heavier oil suspension fork and cheaper Kenda tires without liners
- Solid nine-speed SRAM X-4 drivetrain, no shift sensing or motor inhibitors, large 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes, quick release wheels and seat
- Removable battery pack, larger and slightly heavier four Amp charger, available in four frame sizes and one color scheme: satin gray with white accents
- Only offers three levels of pedal assist vs. the LCD Yamaha display that offers four and has a Micro USB charger, no bottle cage mounts and limited rack and fender bosses, a bit heavier at ~49 lbs
The Haibike SDURO HardSeven SM is the most affordable model in the extensive Haibike lineup… and I’m going to help you understand why. While it still looks awesome thanks to an exciting paint scheme with matching fork, grips and saddle and the frame itself – still hydroformed with gravity cast mounting interface – is great, the components have been downgraded… pretty much across the board. The one exception might be the hydraulic disc brakes with 180 mm rotors, I’m glad they kept these vs. going mechanical because they perform much better on trail or mountain terrain and given the 30 to 60 mile range of this thing, you don’t want your hands to get tired.
Okay, so let’s list off the differences between this model and the more expensive SL and RC which are $300 and $700 more than the SM (which costs $2,499). Both of these models deliver a removable, backlit LCD display panel with tons of extra readouts (odometer, max speed, time, clock etc.) and an extra drive mode called Eco+. Additionally, you get a Micro USB port for charging lights and other portable electronics that’s located on the remote button pad. Moving on to comfort and portability… instead of a heavy oil-filled suspension fork on the SM you get an air fork with remote lockout and rebound adjust. The SM does have preload adjustment but it’s pretty basic and the lockout uses a crown-mounted plastic swivel (all forks offer 100 mm travel). While the SL and RC offer Schwalbe tires with puncture protection and precision mount Presta valves the SM has generic Kendas with old-fashioned Schrader stems. The saddle is more basic and doesn’t include a clip at the rear for adding a bag or lights and you only get nine speeds and a cheap SRAM X-4 derailleur (one step up from their lowest level offering) vs. 10 Shimano Deore or 20 Shimano SLX respectively (both solid mid-range components). The color scheme is also toned down with white accents on a flat gray background vs. blue and yellow accents on gray and white for the higher two models.
So are all of these trade-offs worth it?! Yes, definitely if you’re already stretching your budget from $2k just to get into a Haibike. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the LED console and didn’t mind the extra few pound on the suspension fork. The motor and battery used here are exactly the same as what you’d get on the SL and RC… and the missing “Eco+” drive mode isn’t something I used much while testing. If you can afford the $300 upgrade to SL I think that’s the best value because the nicer tires won’t get punctures as frequently and the air fork rides better. But hey, you can always swap forks out later (they might not match perfectly) and the tires are going to get replaced eventually anyway. I love that all of these models offer quick release wheelsets and am in love with the purpose-built frames, internal wire routing and tuff plastic skid plate protecting the motor. For riding to work or around the college campus the HardSeven is a real winner!
I touched on this a bit in the review but let’s dig into the motor a bit here. It’s mounted low and center, well protected and uses speed, cadence and torque to operate quickly and efficiently but the motor speed itself seems more limited than the Bosch systems. I simply prefer their technology over Yamaha at this stage. Bosch offers shift sensing which will reduce wear on your chain, sprockets and derailleur but for an urban rider that’s not a huge deal, just don’t mash the gears… ease off when shifting. I found myself pushing harder to maintain a 20 mph average speed and was almost always pedaling in the highest two gears because torque is the key ingredient in activating pedal assist with this ebike. My one ask to Yamaha would be to make their motor spin faster at times so I could shift down to lower gears and still hit 20 mph. All things considered, this is a winning electric bike and one that I’d feel comfortable locking up outside and seeing get banged up and worn out because it’s just more plain and less expensive. The first thing I’d add would be a beam rack and pannier blockers for use with bags so I wouldn’t have to constantly wear my backpack and yes… a bottle cage mounting point somewhere on the frame would be nice but I see that most of the downtube is taken up by the battery pack. It’s all about trade offs but I can appreciate the ones made to hit this lower price point and aside from some clicking heard in the review (from the chain guide) it operated quietly and eased my concerns about longevity given the two year comprehensive warranty and excellent dealer support.
- Haibike is touting their Yamaha powered electric bikes as offering “uncompromising performance” geared for a younger demographic, zero cadence assist is meant to be more immediate (verses the Bosch Centerdrive which requires 20 rpm for the motor to kick in), in my experience both systems start extremely quickly and Yamaha’s primary advantage is that it costs less and is compatible with two chainrings vs. just one for a wider gear range 455% vs. 420%
- Even though this model uses the more basic LED console from Yamah, I like how it performed… the readout was visible and all of the most important menus were there (assist level, battery percentage, speed, range estimate)
- The Yamaha motor operates without producing much noise when pedaling at slow and medium cadence speeds (especially in Low and Normal mode), you hear it more when pedaling in lower gears in High mode
- You can charge the battery pack on or off the frame and since it slides on from the side vs. straight down like Bosch and other brands, it allows the top tube of the frame to drop lower for a decreased stand over height
- I like how easy it was to open and close the rubber cover that protects the charging port on the left side of the battery, on some ebikes this type of cover is difficult to seat and comes undone easily which could allow water/debris in
- Professional color scheme, the matte gray with white accents looks cool and even the saddle, grips and fork are color matched
- Decent suspension fork upgrades, you get preload adjust and a slider lockout… because this is an oil-based shock vs. air it weighs more and rattled a bit when riding during my tests
- 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 skid plate
- Available in five distinct frame sizes! This makes it much more accessible to short and tall bodied riders, improving comfort and making it easier to ride for long periods of time
- The Yamaha motor seems to have a limited range of speeds compared to Bosch, in practice this meant that as I shifted down going into climbs my assisted-speed would drop, only the highest two gears would reach ~20 mph assisted and I had to strain my legs and knees more when climbing with mid-level gears or relent and drop all the way down to the lowest gears which reduces speed
- 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
- No bottle cage bosses on the frame though it appears that you could add fenders or at least mud guards and possibly a rear carry rack… definitely a rear beam rack like this and consider pannier blockers
- More generic parts here including Kenda tires with Schrader Valves vs. Schwalbe with puncture protection and Presta Valves on the higher level models, the saddle is no-name and the derailleur is lower level SRAM X-4, you also get one fewer levels of assist (just Eco, Standard and Power vs. Eco+ with the LCD display unit), the display panel is not removable and there’s no USB charging port