Shaft-drive folding ebike offers clean looks and a clean ride
Following successful crowdfunding campaigns in Japan, e-mobility startup Honbike has made a few tweaks and is bringing its award-winning folding ebike to US shores courtesy of Indiegogo. The Honbike Pro comes with a low-maintenance shaft drive, lightweight hub motor, automatic hill assist and a proprietary unisex saddle.
Since breaking cover in Japan, the Honbike has managed to nab a few prestigious design awards from the likes of iF and red dot. And the minimalist ride is made up of just 57 components – the thinking being that fewer parts equals fewer problems.
Where the Japan-only version came with a 200-W motor, the company has treated the Honbike Pro to a small and lightweight 250-W front-hub motor that tips the scales at just 4.2 lb (1.9 kg). There are currently no plans to offer the Honbike with a larger hub motor, so riders are limited to pedal assist via torque sensor up to a top speed of 15.5 mph (25 km/h) over five power levels, which might not be enough for some but is something that European ebikers are very familiar with.
This two wheeler doesn't feature an oily chain drive but rocks a fully enclosed shaft drive system instead, which isn't exactly new technology though Hanbike has managed to secure a patent for its setup – one that's reckoned to offer maintenance-free durability for tens of thousands of miles.
"Bike riders often face problems regarding the chain than any other part of the bike," Honbike told New Atlas. "A chain may stain their clothes, rust, fall off or break. Honbike’s shaft-drive design is tested at 40,000+ km maintenance-free, it solves all the issues that traditional bike chains may have."
There's a removable Li-ion battery housed within the aluminum alloy frame for almost 25 miles (40 km) of per-charge range. The transmission is automatically adjusted to offer more help as the rider pedals uphill, thanks to a built-in sensor that continuously monitors the riding terrain. And a smart safety system has been cooked in that will automatically cut motor power if a lean angle of more than 30 degrees is detected to help with ride stability.
The low-step folding ebike can be collapsed down to 33 x 39 x 18 inches (990 x 840 x 455 mm) for between-ride transport in under 15 seconds, and tips the scales at 45.9 lb (20.8 kg) so it should be a relatively painless carry on public transport or up the steps to the office building.
Seat tube height on the Pro model has been increased to accommodate North American riders, and is suitable for users between 4.9 and 6.2 ft (1.5 and 1.9 m) in height.
You've probably noticed that funky saddle. Honbike told us that "it's unisex, users who wear skirts and dresses, baggy shorts or trousers are less likely to get stuck when getting on/off the bike, making dismounting in an emergency stop safer. Designed for a wide range of 'sit bones' and comfort. Users with wide sit bones can sit higher up/further back, and those with narrow sit bones can sit closer to the front. The design allows users to move their thighs more freely, which allows for better pedal efficiency." A replacement kit will be available for folks who prefer a more traditional saddle.
Other changes from the original Honbike include pedals that now fold in when the ebike is collapsed down, and the Pro now has a kickstand. Elsewhere, the mid-handlebar display auto adjusts brightness depending on ambient lighting, there's integrated LED lighting front and back, fenders are included, the ebike rides on 20-inch magnesium alloy rims wrapped in 2-inch street tires and stopping power comes from mechanical disc braking.
A companion iOS/Android app is available too, where riders can remotely check battery status, lock/unlock the power system and apply firmware down the track.
Honbike is currently raising funds on Indiegogo for the Pro model, where pledges start at US$1,499 – which represents a saving of 37 percent on the expected retail price. The folding ebike is available in black with either white, red or black accenting, and if all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start from June.