Honbike Uni4 review in a sentence: a fun and funky electric bike that stands out from the crowd with distinctive styling while packing in some innovative features to boot.
Finding the best electric bike with an identity amongst myriad variations on the theme is getting increasingly difficult. In fact, I’ve seen so many battery-powered two-wheelers now that I fear the market may have reached saturation point. That’s a good thing if you’re a buyer, with rich pickings if you fancy sidestepping the best road bike and moving into the world of electric motor-assisted cycling. But what to do if you want an electric bike with a bit of character?
The Honbike Uni4 e-bike, which has recently arrived on these shores, has got something of a vibe going on, thanks to the chunky tubular frame design that’s all funky angles combined with a slightly left-field construction. Along with a very distinctive frame, there are cool six-spoke wheels, a belt drive instead of a chain and, naturally, motor-assisted battery power with up to an impressive 53 miles of range.
So, aside from the tantalising design, is it any good? I’ve been living with one for a while now, and I’m quite smitten with the experience overall. I’ll take you on a tour of the best bits and highlight a few things that aren’t so hot. Oh, and before you hit the road on any new bike, don’t forget to check out the best bike lights and best cycling helmet guides so you can be seen and stay safe on your new investment.
Honbike Uni4 review: Price and availability
At the time of writing, the Honbike Uni4 is going to cost £1,699 in the UK and can be purchased direct from Honbike and, interestingly, from Currys too. Meanwhile, the price looks to be the same in the US, with a $1,699 price tag, which makes the Honbike Uni4 a very attractive package if you’re looking for a go-anywhere, urban-style electric bike, I think.
Honbike Uni4 review: Design and build
The Honbike Uni4 comes in either black or white, although the example I’ve been trying is more grey than black. The design is distinctive, with an aluminium frame fashioned out of large-diameter tubing. The way it’s been put together is offset, which gives the bike a really different appearance, although up close, it can also prove to be a little disconcerting due to the way it is seemingly unbalanced.
Sit on the bike, and this feeling becomes even more apparent, but this isn’t a negative; I was okay with it once I got used to the unorthodox styling approach. Honbike has decided to create the Uni4 with an integral 432Wh lithium-ion battery, which means your first and, indeed, subsequent charges need to be done with the bike close to a power outlet. No biggie, really, and this internal power works the headlight too. Curiously, the rear light runs on a pair of AAA batteries.
Setting the bike up out of the box proved reasonably straightforward, with not too much to do in the way of work. As always, the biggest deal is getting it out of the box it arrives in due to the 20.2kg weight. My only issue was how the front brake pads were super snug on the front wheel. A little fettling was needed as I’d accidentally put the cable on the wrong side of the mudguard when I fitted it, causing it to compress the pads. Other than that, though, the fit and finish of the parts are good overall.
I love the wheels on the Honbike Uni 4, which are six-spoke, die-cast magnesium, fitted with thick 27.5 by 2-inch tyres that make the bike ideally suited to all sorts of terrain. This is definitely a bicycle that will find favour with riders in the UK, given its terrible road surfaces. A Gates carbon belt drive means there’s no oily chain to worry about, and power delivery is smoother than many comparable chain designs. Electric assistance comes from the 36V, 250W hub motor mounted within the rear wheel with three modes; Eco, City and Sport; there’s also a Walk mode.
Front and rear disc brakes, a very comfortable saddle and a handlebar-mounted LCD round out the main design features. Again, everything looks and feels nicely thought out and well put together. This is even more impressive considering just how competitively priced the Honbike Uni4 is.
Honbike Uni4 review: Riding experience
The Honbike Uni4 is a single-speed electrically-assisted bike, so there are no gears to worry about. That’s good news if you want to get on and go, but if you like a bit of diversity in your gearing, it may not be quite so appealing. The belt drive is smooth as silk when you’re pedalling, and there’s nil maintenance to be done on that front too.
Getting ready to go is easy enough, with the handlebar-mounted computer housing the power button and your options for the different power settings. The display is colour-coded, too, so green, blue and red arrows indicate which mode you’re in, which is a handy visual indicator when you’re on the move. Simply press the plus or minus buttons to work up and down through the modes as it suits you. Easy as.
The Honbike Uni4 looks like it’ll be comfortable to ride, and, unsurprisingly, I found it precisely that. The saddle is wide and spongy enough to make a day out on the two-wheeler a breeze. The upright riding style and similarly comfy handlebars also work well, so, in terms of rideability, the Honbike Uni4 is something you can spend hours on without feeling any after-effects.
There’s also the quality of the ride too. I think this is largely down to those fatter tyres, which help absorb bumps in the road. There’s no suspension, but I barely noticed that fact, thanks to the spongy feel coming from the wider rubber. The other bonus with this design is that it’s great for heading off the beaten track or shaving minutes off a commute by taking shortcuts. I found the wider tyres more than capable of handling grassy surfaces, mud and gravel with no problem at all. That’s a big plus in my book.
Honbike Uni4 review: Verdict
I really like the Honbike Uni4. It’s a perfect daily rider, offering comfort and more than enough power to help you on your way, and everything works as expected. The quality of the design and build is excellent, which is even more impressive when you look at the cost of buying this bike, which puts some rivals to shame. The quirky frame design might prove a little offputting to some people, but you get used to it, and the super smooth belt drive is fab.
Granted, the realistic range isn’t quite as good as the official Honbike figure, but if you take it easy, you’ll get something close. Those thicker tyres make this an e-bike you can take anywhere. Add in the fact that it comes with full mudguards, lights and a brilliant kickstand, and you’ve got an out-of-the-box e-bike solution that is up there with the best of ‘em. The Honbike Uni4 is a resounding success, I think.
Honbike Uni4 review: Also consider
Sporting an equally unique design, the Supertrata E might catch your attention with its unusual 3D-printed frame. The custom frame size options are a nice touch, but the components used to complete this bike are decidedly hit-and-miss. Plus, this e-bike delivers a somewhat lacklustre ride, which, coupled with the hefty price tag, might put off some riders. Read my full Superstrata E review.
Need even more options? Check out Duncan's VanMoof S3 review. With its urban styling, this e-bike is fun to ride and cuts a dash. It handles well for a big bike but feels reassuringly sturdy, and you can get it up to a decent speed. The range is quoted as 60km to 150km – obviously, that upper figure is based on having minimal electric assistance and never turning on the lights.