Electric Mobility is a rapidly expanding transport segment and as the electrification of all transport modes takes place, naturally bikes are part of that conversation. One of the latest E-Bikes to enter the Australian market is the Himo C26.
Riding a bike usually takes a fair amount of physical exertion to get anywhere substantial. While some are chasing fitness outcomes by riding a bike, many are just looking to get from A to B efficiently.
In urban environments, traffic congestion can be so bad that riding your bike can actually be faster to reach your destination. With EV adoption in Australia remaining at less than 1%, the transport sector has a long way to go to be more environmentally friendly and E-bikes are one of the greenest ways you can complete your daily commute.
If you do select a bike as your mode of transport, then an electric bike, or electric assisted bike, is a great option to get you there faster, with less input from you. This has a number of inherit benefits like arriving at your destination without being covered in sweat, and for those who live in locations that are hilly, it can really make that task much easier, making it more likely you’ll chose the bike over the car.
The last couple of weeks has been quite a different experience for me, someone who hasn’t owned a bike in years, it’s been somewhat of a revelation and re-excitement for this mode of transport. Walking is fun, but I’m unlikely to walk 15km in a session, while riding that same distance on the bike is trivial.
Curves in all the right places
When you first set eyes on the C26, it appears like a modern, capable bike with suspension on the front forks and disc brakes. Take a second longer and you’ll see the thick frame section running from the handlebars to the pedals, where the battery is housed.
While the battery location certainly makes the forward section of the bike frame thicker, it’s actually really well resolved and other than that, it looks like a very normal mountain bike. I find far too often E-bikes are like early electric cars in that they try so hard to be different, they end up reducing their appeal to a wide audience. Thankfully that isn’t the case here.
This battery is removable which means it’s swappable, but given the range available, that’s an incredibly unlikely scenario. While battery prices remain high, it’s important the battery is secured, so the Himo C26 features a key locking mechanism to secure it in place. There is of course the issue of someone taking the whole bike, but let’s assume you have a bike lock to prevent that.
On the handlebars you’ll find another obvious sign that things are different here. On the left, you’ll find a display that display the battery level, current speed and current mode selection.
There are some additional functions that I would have liked to see dedicated buttons for, like the need to press and hold the + button to enable the headlight.
How does it perform ?
The Himo C26 features a massive 60km range, with a top speed of 25km top speed. This makes the bike a incredibly capable and ready for any challenge you throw at it. For the vast majority of people who will buy this bike, the range will be far in excess of what you need for a daily commute. In fact I expect many to only need to charge it once or twice a week.
This bike has 7 gears, which you may find strange when discussing an electric bike, particularly if you’ve driven an electric car that is essentially go and stop. This bike is electrically assisted riding, unfortunately they don’t offer the ability to accelerate just through battery power alone.
Once you’ve ridden it for a few minutes, you’ll start to appreciate that for the most part, you can treat it like a normal bike, but it just takes way less effort to get up to much higher speeds. The way the gearing works is this: Gears 1-3 are for slow speed, gears 4-6 are for medium speed and 7-9 for the fastest speed.
Stand out features of this display.
With a typical bike, your feature list is pretty straight forward, 2 wheels, seat, handlebars and you’re good to go, but with an e-Bike, there’s lots more on offer.
The battery is removable which enables you to charge it in a more convenient locations than where you like to keep your bike. An issue created by this removability, is the chance of theft, thankfully Himo has provided protection against that neighbough down the road that fancies a spare battery, the battery is lockable with a physical keys to ensure the battery stays in the bike.
On the handlebars, you’ll find the digital display that enables access to your riding mode, battery life, km/hr, Odometer and Trip data. This does what you need it to, in providing the right feedback to you as a rider, but I am used to seeing the quality and colour of LCD displays in 2021.
If you ever run out of battery (I really doubt you will), it is actually reassuring to know that this bike functions perfectly well as a regular bike. If you’ve been riding for a while and get used to the assistance, you will get a rude awakening of the effort normal riding requires.
When it’s time to fire up the assistance, you get to chose from Eco, Normal and High modes which offer mild to excellent assistance while pedaling up to 25/hr. The power does take a little time to get used to with it coming on differently across the gears. Ultimately the High mode will allow you to get to speed fastest, while also consuming the most battery and meaning you’re doing the least amount of exercise.
Riding during the day or night is possible thanks to a built-in headlight and tail light. While I wish these were connected systems that could be enabled with a single button press, the rear works independently. To enable it, just reach backwards and press the button under the bottom of the light, while the front light offers a bright field of view with a long press on the + button for 3 second.
This bike features a Shimano gear selector which glides the chain across 7 gears. These offer a range of resistances, starting low for getting off the line at a set of lights and ramping up to the top for the fastest speed. I did find having two different types of interfaces to switch between the gears a little hard to remember which moved the gear up and which moved it down, but after a few days, you commit it to memory and it feels more natural.
Suspension & Brakes
If you’re someone who goes off-road with your bikes, then you’ll appreciate the damping shock on the front. Turning the dial counterclockwise will open the shock absorber and enables downhill riders to have the bumps absorbed as they turn down the trails. While more advanced bikes offer front and rear suspension, having at least this option for the front forks enables this bike to be used in more situations. When you’re back on the flat stuff, just turn the dial and the suspension is locked again. This is a fast and easy transformation and a really great inclusion.
If you are an adventurous type, you’ll want to have confidence that you can stop, particularly if you’re facing a potential accident. Thankfully the front and rear disc brakes offer incredible stopping power and the braking application comes on smooth, so you while it’s strong, you don’t have to worry about being thrown over the front wheel.
Accommodating for different sized riders is important and thanks to the quick adjustable seat height, it’s pretty easy to share this bike across a couple. Just flip out the latch on the seat mount, adjust the height, then latch it again. It can be firm, but that also provides confidence it’s not going anywhere while you’re riding.
When you’re done riding, you’ll want to stand up the bike. The kickstand certainly does the job, but I’d say the angle of it allows the bike to lean more than I’d like. When I stand up a bike, I want to feel confident that a strong breeze isn’t going to send it crashing to the ground and I can’t say that’s the case here. Perhaps there’s some adjust-ability I’m missing, but out of the box, the lean is severe.
Not everything’s perfect
I didn’t think this bike had particularly wide tyres, but I did manage to find at least a couple of bike stands that couldn’t accommodate the wheel. Obviously you can still use the stand, but the idea of a bike rack is not only to just hold up your bike, say when you eat, but also to provide somewhere to chain your bike and secure it.
This is a fairly mild complaint and not something that will impact everyone who owns it and given this is really the only issue, it’s a testament to the designers and engineers at Himo.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
This Himo C26 is available for purchase now from Panmi, or JB HiFI and is available in 2 colours, Grey or White. It costs A$1,799.00 which is a significant premium over a regular bike of a similar size, but when you consider the capabilities in terms of speed and range on a single charge, it makes it much easier to justify.
It’s been many years since I owned a bike and after riding the HIMO C26, it’s clear the industry has moved on a long way in that time. Riding can be fun, it can be exercise, it can be sport, or it can be transport. The C26 is all of these things and is somewhat of a transformer in its capabilities.
After getting off an electric scooter and out of an electric car, I really do wish this offered a fully EV mode. In the manual, it actually looks like there’s a section for it, but it’s covered by a white sticker, so perhaps in other markets this is enabled. Further to that, the right grip rotates and does exactly nothing which makes me think this would act as the accelerator, much like a motorbike.
Regardless of why you buy this bike, you’ll have a great time with it. It’s applications are really diverse and for those wanting to get to the office without being all sweaty when you arrive, then this is perfect. If you want switch gears on the weekend and try some downhill, you can do that too. Alternatively, you can tone down the assistance and go for a casual ride with the family.
Given the amazing battery life and subsequent range of the bike, it’s really a no brainier, if you can afford the price of admission, then you should buy this bike.