One day with a Horwin CR6
A first go with an electric motorcycle: I rented a CR6 for a day
Turns out the easiest way to the question "How does it feel to ride an electric bike?" is to just get one for at least a day. Why choose this one and not anything bigger? Well, it's the strongest machine I could get in the whole city of Görlitz.
First things first: The Horwin CR6 is an electric light motorbike, matching for the the european A1 driving license, so it's set as an alternative to 125ccm-models. Keep in mind that this is the standard model, not the CR6 PRO!
It's powered by a mid-engine which provides unimpressive 6,2kW, but on the other hand an impressive 260NM of torque, the engine revs to a modest 6000 rpm. There is just one gear and it uses a chain transmission, but two selectable engine settings. Horwin says the top-speed is 92kph (about 57mph), but as all bikers know, this number is more of a guess.
As for the battery, there is a 55Ah Li-battery from Panasonic on board, which is fixed and not removable without bigger effort. It can be charged at a normal power outlet and comes with a 3m long cable, a full charge should last about 4 hours. But there are no other ways to quick-charge it on any better charging stations. The range should be 150km at an average speed of 45kph, according to the official data sheet.
With a weight of 134 kg or 295lbs it's actually lighter than some 125ccm bikes. You can load additional 170kg or 375lbs. Disc brakes are standard on both wheels, but there is no ABS, ESP or traction control.
The price is listed with 6.290,00 € (incl. VAT), which is a lot for this class.
Disclaimer about performance and range
When I got the bike, it had a mileage of exact 0, it just got a license plate and wasn't used at all. For context: new batteries need several charging cycles to reach their full potential. Additionally, my own weight almost matches the bike weight, so this honestly didn't help with performance or range. At least my size of 1,86m can be considered average. With this in mind, everything I write about these figures should always be seen in relation.
The bike itself looks quite nice, a good "naked bike" style (minus the obvious cover for engine and battery). Classic designs for the lights with small indicators and a seat which reminds of old cafe races match quite well. With a wheelbase of 1395mm it is compact, perfect for cities and windy roads. The key looks just like a car key, you can decide if you use it in a classical fashion or rely on the keyless-go system. Most of the switches and buttons are very well placed and intuitive, but the selection of the engine setting with the right thumb is a bit tricky and not easy to reach while moving. Also the display should show different informations (remaining range, day trip etc.), but there was no button for it and I didn't find out how to switch to all the nerdy details I wanted.
With the looks sorted out it's time to jump on. An almost upright position with a moderate knee angle and a decent seat are leading to a relaxed ride. Turn the key, switch it to "ready" and off we go. Of course no clutch or gear is needed, just a moderate amount of throttle and a smooth acceleration sets in. Very unspectacular but steadily a city speed of 50kph is reached. Everything feels settled and solid, city traffic is handled without any trouble and low noise levels. The suspension is moderate, for bumpy roads and cobblestones it feels a bit stiff but anywhere else works just fine and handles just like a light bike should. The brakes don't need much force, are easy to dose and will bring you to a decent halt. Even stop-and-go traffic is as easy as it gets as you just need to release the throttle and brake, any rush hour traffic feels more relaxed without gear selection and clutch.
Engine setting selection and cross-country ride
Yes, there still is this mysterious switch for the engine settings, I only used setting 1 yet. This one feels weaker and is limited to a top-speed of 61kph, but is meant to use less energy. It does provide enough power for the city and reacts smoother to the throttle. Once you go for a cross-country ride, setting 2 is needed. Now the bike reacts stronger to throttle and has full power and speed. While speed is actually one of the weak spots I had to realize. Uphill I would struggle constantly to reach 65-70kph, downhill I momentarily reached a whopping 99kph. Mostly I would just cruise with 80kph to spare engine and battery, while the speed limit was 100. The acceleration just fades with higher speed quite consistently, which makes longer rides either slower and/or kills your range. Still the bike always stayed settled, handling and brakes always were up to the task. Carrying on through some villages was a speed the bike felt way better.
Time to recharge
The plug for the charging cable is hidden beneath a little cover on the left side.
As mentioned, I was on a tour in a hilly area with almost no charging stations. So I headed back and reached my garage after about 65km with only 7% battery charge remaining. Given the already mentions factors and the fact that I wasn't used to this bike this was probably expected. Without any additional setup you just turn off the bike and connect the charging cable to a little covered power connector on the left side of the bike. In a private garage this is fine, but on public charging station you must be aware that this cable isn't secured and can be removed by anyone. After about 3 hours the battery was up to 90% again and I went for a second ride, mostly through the city including bumpy cobblestone roads, tram tracks, trourists standing in the middle of the road and more rush hour traffic.
Practical use and loading capacities
As already mentioned, you are allowed to load up to 170kg on the bike. But where? The glovebox holds only a few litres. There is no rack to store anything else. But it is a two-seater, at least officially. But the style of the seat - which is quite short as well - doesn't seem to allow a passenger to enjoy the ride. He would basically slide to the front and lay on the back of the rider. I didn't find anything about additional racks yet, but who knows what will be available in the future. Besides that, for one person it's quite comfortable, you can charge your smartphone or tablet and carry whatever fits in your backpack.
The sounds of an electric bike
As expected, the normal sound while riding electric bikes is mostly the whistle of an electric engine. Which is present all the time, luckily not on an annoying level. But many other sounds honestly grinded my gears. Let's start with the jingle it plays everytime you switch it on, which annoyed me quite quickly. Also everytime you switch the burglar alarm on or off a quite loud beeping signal goes off. The indicators received a clicking noise just like it was in older cars, loud enough to hear it in your helmet, while a visual is also shown in the instrument. This is loud enough that people give strange look when you wait on a red light. I'm not aware of any way to turn this off, lower the volumes or even replace the sounds, but I would prefer any of these options.
Riding an electric bike through an area with a low level of EVs yet really turns a lot of heads. Tourists standing in the middle of the streets to take pictures are a common sight to me, but they still rely on the fact that they hear approaching vehicles. They didn't hear the Horwin, so they were rather shocked when someone sneaks up on a bike - which was quite funny to be honest. From many other people you get interested and questioning looks. Some dogs don't like (or just don't know) the sound and can react quite agressive. On the sleepy villages you only get confused looks from everyone and everything: cyclists, pedestrians, cats, cows and geese just didn't know what passed them.
A few screws showed a bit of rust on a new bike already.
On the most parts the Horwin looked and felt quite well made. As expected there were no breakdowns, no warning signs or anything else. But randomly I heard some squeaking noise from the front, which I couldn't locate. The screws on the engine cover showed a bit of rust, while everything else was in best condition. The dealer told me that before he received it this bike was stowed away in a barn for a few months - probably not very weatherprove. This fact combined with obviously low quality screws doesn't look good on a new bike. Replacing this screws isn't a big deal, he agreed that he will do this quickly.
After a bit over 100 kilometers it was time to give back the Horwin CR6. I really like the design, even if blue isn't my favorite color. For me this feels like a nice bike for a daily commute through the city, unless you need a rack. If you look for a bike to go on a full day trip or more a combustion engine still is the better choice. The missing option to use any form of quick-charging on public charging stations is an obvious downside, charging opportunities at home or at work are preferred. It is comfortable for the rider and easy to handle. As already mentioned the top speed is quite low and mountains will give you some grief, for me this is a nice city bike. So will I replace my Moto Guzzi with an electric bike soon? Most likely not! But still I had a nice day and learned about electric motorcycles. And I will keep my eyes on the evolution of electric alternatives.
So this was my first bike review I wrote. Any thoughts about this? Let me know in the comments.