The HardNine 4.0 is one of a few entry level price point electric bikes from Haibike. With some scaled down mechanical components, and even a slightly scaled down electric system, this bike offer an excellent value in total. At £2,599 for a brand name production mid drive by Yamaha, warranty and all, it can be pretty tough to pass up for a budget minded cyclist looking to experiment with road or off-road pedelec riding. The HardNine 4.0 is a great bike anyway, offering a lot of bike (electronics aside) that doesn’t make any safety compromises. Brakes, shifters, frame, fork, tires; all up to par for most uses. While this is a lower-end Haibike, it shouldn’t be confused with a lower end bike from other companies. The HardNine 4.0 already has a much higher component grade than where other bike companies cap out.
Despite the lower entry price for the bike, the 4.0 still includes the same 250 watt Yamaha PW motor that all the other SDURO bikes use. Personally I really enjoy this motor on the road, as the 20 mph cut-off isn’t harsh. On the trails, it really hold its own against competing e-bike systems. The motor is cased with a protective plate that prevents impact from off-road obstacles, which is pretty nice for heavy use. Another great feature of the Yamaha motor is the ability to add multiple cogs to the front chainring. This particular bike only has one chain ring up front, but in other 5.0 models this feature is utilized. Although the motor is rated for 250 watts, the power output can easily keep up with, if not slightly out-do other 350 watt motors in the same category. The peak output of this motor can reach up to 500 watts and it offers 80 Newton meters of torque which is what I consider to be one of the most important considerations for climbing. I find it to be less noisy myself, but it’s hard to objectively measure how much motor noise the rider will experience. It’s going to increase as you raise the power level and pedaling RPM.
What is called the 400 watt hour pack technically holds 417 wh. The 36 volt 11.6 amp hour pack comes standard on this, and many other Yamaha powered bikes and offers above average range. On a personal road test we did from our shop, we encountered 31.4 miles of range on full blast pedal assist, until the battery died. Toning down the assist a little will increase the range, as pedaling the bike will reduce draw on the battery. Rather than clicking the battery pack down into a mount on the downtube like a lot of other e-bike modesl, the Yamaha pack slides in from the side and this allows for a lower top tube. The side swing battery may seem less robust, but the locking mechanism is strong enough to keep it on the frame without rattling. The battery has a loop on the top of the unit, which is nice for carrying around, but tough to stuff in certain bags or panniers on account of the length. Also, in my opinion, the charger for the Yamaha system isn’t the greatest. It charges just fine, but the cords are permanently connected to the rectifier, meaning that a fault in one of the cords would necessitate and entire replacement. Also, the battery terminal uses a clip feature to secure the charger to the battery, and requires the user to detach the terminal only 1/2 an inch from the battery itself. Pulling the charger cable may inadvertently yank the battery around or tip the bike.
The more basic Yamaha display mentioned earlier is an LED design, as opposed to their LCD display found on most other bikes. It’s mounted near the left grip, is backlit and has 5 buttons, 7 indicator lights and a 2 digit number readout. The read outs don’t provide as much information; it scrolls between 3 metrics: MPH, Battery Percentage, and estimated miles left. The left side assist up and down is pretty simple, though the display only indicates 3 levels of assist: ECO, STD, and HIGH. Haibike’s website claims a 4th level of ECO+, but this is likely a typo from the other LCD system. The display won’t show more typical things found on eBike LCD displays, such as an odometer, trip set, clock, timer, or power output. In my opinion, this display is a good way to save a few bucks on the overall price, but personally I enjoy the larger read out, and especially the odometer. Having this information on hand is very useful when relaying any electrical issues, personal range estimates, mapping progress and more. I also appreciate having the ability to remove the fancier display, especially when riding to a public rack or in a steep precarious downhill section where the bike could get dropped in a fall.
As a bicycle, the HardNine 4.0 is phenomenal for the price. It holds a brand name mid-drive system, that only compromises on the display. Also, the mechanical system is perfectly acceptable for an eBike in this price range. The hydraulic disc brakes work fast and bite hard, and the front shock is enough to handle obstacles on a moderate off-road ride. The 9-speed gear set doesn’t have the refinement, speed, durability or weight that a higher component level carries, but it’s enough to get going for a still-new bargain price. This bike excels in the hands of a casual rider, going off road in lighter trails. In less rocky cases like this, the 29 wheels can overcome obstacles fairly well, and the gearing has enough of a range to move through many inclines and a little bit of downhill. Steep uphill or hairy downhill will showcase the weaknesses of the bike, and will likely feel too big and stiff to handle. The bike will certainly operate just fine, but the rider will need a fair amount of balance and skill to overcome the higher frame (on account of the wheels) and the weight/rigidity of the frame. This is where 27.5″ wheels, full suspension, and seat post droppers begin to shine and when you’d be better off upgrading or switching platforms for all-mountain or trail use.
With little exception, it’s pretty easy to recommend this bike to someone who has looked it over and is still considering it. You get a lot of bike for the money. With most Haibikes, the sky is the limit and the rider may not utilize the higher component level. With the HardNine 4.0, the rider can easily see where the line is between performance and price. This is very nice for the budget conscience who don’t want to spend money on something they won’t use. My only gripes are the display, and the pedals. The plastic pedals will last for awhile, but may eventually break. Depending on use or behavior I’ve seen pedals like this brake from 300 to 5,000 miles. I didn’t mention this earlier, but the RPM limit on the Yamaha PW motor is 100 vs. 120 RPM on some of the newer motors or Bosch Performance Line. In practice, this means you will have to shift through gears more actively to achieve the full range of speed up to 20 mph. The display is impressive for being so basic, if you need the extra stats, that’s another area worth upgrading for. If you’re the kind of person who either doesn’t need to know those details, or you already have a cycling computer or app to track it, then the display functionally powers the system and you’ll likely love saving that money. Overall, I think that the Haibike HardNine 4.0 is a great bike for casual off-road, or even regular commuting. This review was performed by Mikey Geurts from Blue Monkey Bicycle in Utah in conjunction with Electric Bike Review and was paid for by EBR but was not sponsored or connected to Haibike in any way.