Heybike Brawn E-Bike Review: Excellent Suburban Bike With Off-Road Chops

I live in an area that’s perfect for riding an e-bike. Taking long rides around the countryside on paved roads? Check. Riding down rough forested cross-country paths? Double check. Riding 15 minutes to the local store on tricky roads? Yup, got that too. All the different ways you might need an e-bike are here, and the Heybike Brawn lets me experience all of them.

When I first lifted the Heybike Brawn out of the box, I was instantly pleased with the look of it. The battery is enclosed in the frame of the bike, offering protection from the elements, making it harder to steal and improving the overall look of the bike. Although it’s clearly larger than a standard bike, it doesn’t scream “I’m an e-bike” at you all the time.

Putting it together was simple enough. If you’ve ever put a bike together, you’ll know what to do: Attach the wheels, pedals and handlebars. Simple really. At 73 pounds, the Brawn is not light, so have someone help you when it’s time to flip it over and tighten the wheels up. Everything went together smoothly though, and I was riding in less than 30 minutes.

Heybike Brawn Specifications

Tire size26×4 inch
Motor750-watt brushless hub
Battery size18 Ah
Max speed28 mph
Factory max mileage65 miles pedal assist
Gear type7-gear Shimano
App enabledYes
USB-A outNo
BrakesHydraulic disc

The Brawn is a class 3 e-bike with a maximum speed of 28 mph. I was able to get it a couple of clicks above that going downhill, but 28 mph is fast enough for just about any trip. The maximum range is 65 miles using the pedal assist system (PAS), according to Heybike. That may be correct in perfect testing conditions, but I found the real number to be closer to 50. That’s still a decent number, but it’s likely to vary depending on your elevation changes and the effort you want to put in. Heybike does include a fast charger that fills up an empty battery in about 4 to 5 hours.

I use a healthy mix of PAS level 3 and the throttle to get me places I need to go, and PAS level 2 when I’m just out for a nice ride. PAS 2 gave me around 46 miles on average, while PAS 3 and throttle dropped that down to around 38. These numbers are by no means top of the line, but they aren’t that bad either. If you want to get yourself to the local store and back, these numbers will be fine. I did find that both the app and the bike computer gave me a really good idea of how much battery I had left, changing the number as needed if I switched to full-throttle riding.

While not amazing, the app is functional in all the good ways, and the fact that it exists at all is a huge plus. It can track your rides and gives you a running total of your riding time, distance and the number of rides you have taken. It also has a proximity locking system that turns your bike off when you step away from it, which can be helpful. I’ve had a few issues with it being a little too aggressive, turning off when I get off the bike to check the gears for example, but if you want some protection from theft, this is a good idea.

The handlebars of an e-bike with an LED display in the center

James Bricknell / CNET

While I don’t like the thumb throttle on the Brawn — I prefer a twist grip — there is no denying the immediacy it brings to the table. When I’m sitting at a set of lights, instant acceleration makes getting through the intersection quick and easy. There is a little more delay when pedaling, which can be a little confusing, but once you get used to the timing, the ride becomes smooth and comfortable, at least on the road.

Getting the bike into the dirt was a lot of fun. I wish it had some rear suspension, but the front handled every bump and tree root I rolled over. Having a smooth ride at the front but a hard one at the back is somewhat jarring, though the big chunky tires did offset that somewhat. I especially liked the hydraulic dropper seat that let me raise and lower the seat without getting off, so I could easily transition from the high-riding style of the road to the lower center of gravity needed for dirt tracks. It saves time, effort and frankly, it’s just a cool feature to have. On-the-fly adjustment lets you fine-tune your riding position for any terrain and also makes sharing the bike with other riders easier.

The rear view of the Heybike Brawn The rear view of the Heybike Brawn

The dropper seat allows for some quick change in riding positions.

James Bricknell / CNET

I really enjoyed the time I spent with the Heybike Brawn. The 750-watt hub motor seemed to punch above its weight and always felt like it had more to give. Even the headlamp was helpful in a way that most aren’t. It would come on when needed and increase brightness as the night turned darker. These little touches helped offset some of the more frustrating features. For instance, I wish that a bike designed to be an off-roader had a better suspension system. But for what it has, the Brawn did a good job with everything I threw at it.

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