Honbike U4 offers a unique belt-drive electric bike that looks slick

Electric bikes are great for a lot of things. They get you where you’re going faster than a traditional bike, cut through traffic faster than a car, and are more fun than both. But the downside is that they can often be rather chunky looking. Some are even downright chonks. But not the Honbike U4, as this is one new e-bike that looks so sleek and elegant that you’d never guess it had an electric motor or battery on board.

Honbike U4 e-bike launching soon

Heading to Eurobike 2022 (Europe’s massive bicycle trade show that Electrek will be covering on site), the Honbike U4 is set for its worldwide debut on July 13.

The design speaks for itself with a strikingly minimalist use of round tubing in a modified X-frame.

As the company explained:

The Honbike U4 has a simplistic yet contemporary angular-free unisex design, making it ideal for urban use and a perfect for every user. Honbike’s new U4 is an e-bike that looks just like a traditional bicycle, but brings users all of the benefits of the features inherent in simple, easy-to-use e-bikes.

That sleek frame is ultra-lightweight, yet rigid, thanks to the use of the 7000 series aircraft-grade aluminum instead of the more common 6000 series aluminum we see in most bicycles.

This isn’t Honbike’s first stab at a new e-bike. We tested the company’s previous model and came away majorly impressed. You can check out our video review of Honbike’s first e-bike model below.

The design was created without any sharp curves or steep angles, resulting in the round and polished-looking frame with single side-supported wheels. Unlike the single side-supported wheels we saw in Honbike’s last model, this time Honbike used more standard mounting while still innovating with one-piece magnesium rims.

We rarely see single side-supported wheels in e-bikes and scooters due to the engineering challenge, but when companies can pull it off it results in a very distinctive appearance. Even with more traditional wheels supported on both sides, the magnesium rim here looks quite impressive and also helps remove the hassle of spoke maintenance or concerns of wheel truing.

The bike is powered by a built-in 432 Wh battery. It is frame integrated, which has its advantages and disadvantages. On the upside, it’s so slickly hidden that you’ll basically never know it’s there. The tradeoff though is that it isn’t easily removable for charging off the bike, so you’ll need to bring the bike close enough to an outlet to charge. If the battery ever needs servicing, it can be accessed with tools, but it isn’t designed for daily removal.

Honbike says the U4 can get an honest 62 miles or 100 km of range from that battery. At around 7 Wh/mile, that would require a lot of pedaling on your side, but would likely be doable on the lowest assist setting. For those that want more power and can sacrifice a bit of range, the Honbike U4 has two other power settings that are likely to give you a bit more push. The bike is also apparently smart enough to auto-select the appropriate power level based on the riders’ own pedaling input. There’s no word yet on whether or not that means a true torque sensor-based pedal assist system, but it’s something we’ll want to look at closer at the Frankfurt show next week.

honbike U4

While the exact mechanism for engaging the pedal assist is still a bit hazy, the drivetrain itself is much more clear. We know the bike is packing a Gates Carbon Drive belt system, allowing it to offer a smooth and silent pedaling platform that is free of the oil and maintenance concerns of bicycle chains.

Honbike’s Managing Director Quinton Pullinger put it best, explaining:

Our e-bikes are designed to promote no chain, no fuss and our Honbike U4 is no exception. It is a model of true craftsmanship, thanks to the technology and design that buyers offer an affordable value, so it is the smart choice for anyone who has ever considered an e-bike but not yet made the move. Ideal for those on a budget, compared to competitors, the Honbike U4 does not compromise on any of the features that e-bike lovers demand and have come to expect.

The belt drive also means its a single speed, which is either awesome or a downer depending on your own cycling views. As someone who rides in mostly flat areas, I’m a big fan of single speeds. Even for light hills though, the electric assist often does the work of a lower gear by adding more oomph for riders while climbing inclines.

The rear wheel motor doesn’t come with a power rating, but is likely going to bear a 250W label for legal reasons as the bike will debut in Europe. Thanks to Europe’s more restrictive e-bike laws, higher powered motors aren’t common on the continent.

The first Honbike U4 models will become available next week in the UK, where they will be priced at £1,599 including tax (approximately €1,880 or US $1,920). EU sales should follow soon after.

Early shipments will begin in August, but don’t expect the bike to become available in the US until this Fall at the earliest.

I’ll hopefully get to give the bike a test spin at Eurobike, where we’ll let you know our thoughts on the ride quality.

Until then, let’s hear your opinion on the design. Could you see yourself on an e-bike like this?

honbike U4

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