The year 2020 was a devastating year for many of us, for obvious reasons. Much of our misery can be attributed to none other than our dear friend, Coronie (as I like to call him), forcing us to stay mostly indoors, alone, and isolated. It was most likely this sense of isolation and feeling trapped in my own home that brought about the need to be outside, explore somewhere — anywhere! — without a clear destination in mind. This may be why I started to daydream about owning an electric bicycle that could give me the excuse of “exercising” outdoors without really breaking a sweat. It was the perfect solution to scratch my itch to be outdoors, explore, while still staying relatively safe and socially distanced.
There are a lot, I mean a lot of new electric bikes that are popping up left and right. Just doing a quick search on IMBOLDN yields dozens of results, all from newcomers with shiny new products. Choosing the right bike was going to be tough, but with a set of realistic parameters — led by price considerations — I set out to hone in on the right bike and the choice quickly became clear.
While most electric bikes start above 2 grand, the Himiway Cruiser slides in just under $1,500, a relative bargain compared to other offerings.
The Himiway Cruiser is a no-nonsense, get straight to the point, honest and simple electric bicycle that gets the job done. And it gets it done well, especially given that it has carved out a nice little niche with its compelling price point. While most electric bikes start above 2 grand, the Himiway Cruiser slides in just under $1,500, a relative bargain compared to other offerings. Unlike some of its rivals, it’s shaped more like a traditional bike, albeit with fat tires to not only look the part but also enable its riders to tackle pretty much any terrain that a sane person would want to traverse. The Himiway Cruiser looks robust, feels substantial, and felt like the perfect introduction to the world of electric bicycles. So I decided to take the plunge into this uncharted territory.
First off, a bit of disclaimer: The bike was given to us to review, but the opinions of this review are ours and ours alone.
I’ll be honest, the Himiway Cruiser and I didn’t really get off to a good start. It must be said that I was nursing a thumb injury from a kitchen mishap from the week before, but I was determined to assemble the bike myself. Without a properly working thumb, however, just unboxing and assembling the thing turned out to be rather challenging. This may have been the first time I truly understood the significance of opposable thumbs and their evolutionary importance. However, it wasn’t necessarily just my injury that made the first impression less than stellar.
I found the instructions to be rather disappointing – for instance, some parts of the instructions will guide you to assemble the headlight, without elaborating on what screws were needed or going more into detail about the actual assembly process. It also instructs you to go to the website to watch a video, which I couldn’t find on the website. After a bit of Googling, I found a YouTube video that was two minutes and 48 seconds long, with the same level of detail as the instruction manual. For example, the taillight part simply showed a woman somehow magically attaching the taillight to the body of the bike, when all I could see were four holes, some loose screws, no washers that would make the screws fit into the hole, and a dangling tail light. But I’ll let you decide for yourself. You can see the video in question below.
It should be noted that Himiway does suggest getting the help of a professional to assemble the bike and, in retrospect, maybe I should have listened. But now that it was assembled, I was determined to get this thing on the road. And thankfully that’s where this bike really shined.
This is perfect for inner city jaunts to the park, store, or even commute.
The first few yards with the Himiway Cruiser was met with a burst of joy, as the bike was easy to handle and propelled itself competently. The hardware is worth mentioning, starting with its 48V 17.5Ah Samsung lithium battery, with a range between 35 to 60 miles, depending on how aggressive you are with the pedal assist and throttle. This is perfect for inner city jaunts to the park, store, or even commute. With the average commute being 19.7 miles, this is perfect for those who can make sure to ease off on their lead foot to make sure that they have enough juice to come back home. But you’ll most likely be able to find a way to charge the bike at work if needed.
The bike offers five levels of pedal assist, which is perfect for people like me who want to set it at zero for about half a block to pat myself on the back for the daily workout. From one to five, the assist gradually gets more aggressive so you can set it to your liking or set it to whatever works best for the particular terrain you’re traveling on. The one issue that I had, even at its least aggressive setting was that the transition from my pedaling to when the assist kicked in seemed a bit abrupt. It wasn’t to the point where the bike felt uncontrollable, but a smoother transition would have been nicer to ease in from my pedal effort’s speed to the speed at which the bike wanted to travel. It sort of felt like those engine start-stop functions on modern cars, where the engine would abruptly start or stop to save fuel, which can feel unnatural.
USB charging was the cherry on top and a Godsend, as I found myself fumbling with a dying iPhone at one point, trying to figure out my way back to the office.
Once on the road, the fat tires and coil suspension did an admirable job of smoothing out the imperfections underneath the bike. Regular asphalt was obviously no problem, but over broken pavement, going over train tracks, and even light off-roading were no issue for these fat tires. Controls were very intuitive and easy to operate as well, with the left thumb controlling the power, headlight, and basic functions on the centrally mounted information screen, as well as the +/- buttons for the variable pedal assist control. The right thumb was in charge of shifting the Shimano gears. The central LCD screen displayed battery level, speed, pedal assist level, and also had a odometer and wattmeter as well. USB charging was the cherry on top and a Godsend, as I found myself fumbling with a dying iPhone at one point, trying to figure out my way back to the office.
The bike got a lot of envious glances on the street. Everyone was doing their best to social distance, so no one was coming up to me, but from afar it was clear that people were curious as I zoomed past them. Maybe it was the fat tires, since these types of tires are still not common in the wild, or it was the purposefully handsome look of the bike itself. One co-worker mentioned that they preferred the more traditional bicycle-like design of the Himiway Cruiser over other electric bikes that were trying too hard to purely stand out. As futuristic and provocative as they may seem — I’m looking at you Cleveland Speedshop — most of the time the design doesn’t justify the price and the fussy operation. In contrast, the Himiway looks like a traditional bicycle, operates mostly like one, and is easy to understand as the learning curve is low if you already have ridden a traditional bike.
In the end, I was left with a big smile on my face as the Himiway Cruiser proved to be a fun and easy to operate eBike. I had my reservations about it, as with most things in life you pay for what you get. However, in the case of the Himiway Cruiser, it outperformed my expectations and the affordability doesn’t feel like a caveat but more like a very positive asterisk on a list of impressive features.
In the case of the Himiway Cruiser, it outperformed my expectations.
Apart from the initial assembly woes which tarnished its first impression a bit, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Plus, I blame myself and my thumb injury for this mishap as most people online seem to have no issues figuring out how to assemble the bike with ease. Maybe it’s more a matter of ingenuity than following a precise set of instructions, which may also apply to how we deal with the current state of our lives. Armed with a face mask and a sense of exploration, this might be the most fun you’ll have during this pandemic, and beyond.