Tern HSD P9 review: the everything e-bike

One of the best measure of an electrical bike is how simply it slots into your on a regular basis life. By that metric, the Tern HSD P9 is among the higher ones I’ve examined.

Tern let me borrow one on the finish of July, and I rode it no less than 12 miles every single day round my suburban New Jersey neighborhood for a few month and a half. I took my son to daycare, went to the grocery retailer, the farmer’s market, the liquor retailer, the drug retailer, and quite a lot of different locations too menial to recollect. It saved me socially distant from my neighbors as I rode round city and saved me out of my automotive, which I at all times admire. And whether or not I used to be hauling twin panniers loaded with groceries or simply myself, the journey high quality was impeccable.

To be clear, this isn’t the quickest, strongest, and even the best-looking e-bike I’ve ever ridden. However it was a stable workhorse that obtained the job executed. That’s largely because of the Bosch Energetic Line Plus mid-drive motor, among the best available on the market at this time, silently churning away between the cranks.

However it’s additionally as a result of the HSD is an especially versatile e-bike. The low-step body mixed with the adjustable handlebars and seat put up, in addition to a customized SunTour entrance suspension fork, assist make this a motorbike that may simply be handed round amongst members of the family or pals. Riders of all styles and sizes will really feel relaxed on the HSD.

If it appears to be like a bit shrunken down for a cargo bike, that’s by design. These in want of one thing bigger can degree as much as the Tern GSD, which has an prolonged rack that may carry much more stuff than the HSD. (I’m testing a GSD proper now, and I’m very infatuated with it.)

Throughout my month-and-a-half check interval, the HSD barely demanded my consideration, nor did it draw any stares from passers-by or take up an excessive amount of area in my storage. (I obtained one looky-loo from a woman who was impressed with the fingernail crimson paint job.) And whereas the $3,199 price ticket means this gained’t be an reasonably priced possibility for a lot of, you do get lots of bike for that worth.

Regardless, relating to cargo bikes, I attempt to not evaluate it to different non-electric bikes, however reasonably to the automotive I’m attempting to exchange.

Tern obtained its identify when a number of founding members of the corporate have been hanging out poolside after a motorbike convention in Las Vegas, ingesting beer and speaking in regards to the 2010 browsing documentary 180° South, which features a deep dialogue about how folks reside with nature.

Biking by means of some potential names for his or her nascent firm, the group ultimately settled on Tern, the identify for an Arctic migratory chook that’s light-weight, a worldwide traveler, and long-lived. It was additionally a homophone for “flip,” which fed into the group’s concept of “turning round and transferring ahead to face the challenges head-on,” in keeping with Tern’s web site.

Tern, which is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, fancies itself an city transportation firm, however it’s largely identified for its non-electric, folding bikes. In August 2014, the corporate introduced its first electrical bike, the eLink, which weighed 46 kilos (21 kg) and will fold in below 10 seconds. The next 12 months, Tern launched its first lineup of electrified fashions utilizing BionX motor programs. Later, the corporate shifted to utilizing extra standard powertrain programs by Bosch and Bafang.

The HSD P9, which first got here out in 2019, is described as “enormously helpful [and] surprisingly small.” Certainly, the HSD is a good bike for anybody in search of cargo-carrying energy with out these cumbersome cargo bike specs. It’s not precisely light-weight, clocking in at roughly 56 lbs. However when in comparison with electrical cargo bikes from corporations like Rad Power Bikes (73 lbs), Carqon (88 lbs), or Urban Arrow (104 lbs), the HSD P9 is virtually a featherweight.

Talking of specs, right here’s what it’s good to know in regards to the Tern HSD P9:

  • Motor: Bosch Energetic Line Plus
  • High velocity: 20 mph (32 km/h)
  • Vary: 26–69 miles
  • Battery: 36V 11Ah (400 Wh)
  • Weight: 56.5 lbs (25.7 kg)
  • Brakes: Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
  • Tires: 20 inches
  • Extras: SunTour suspension entrance fork
  • Value: $3,199

The HSD P9 is a Class 1 electrical bike within the US, that means it’s pedal-assist with no throttle and a high velocity of 20 mph. There have been instances once I missed the twist throttle, particularly when getting began from a standstill on a steep incline with a child and further cargo on the rear rack. However I additionally perceive why some producers abhor the throttle — and truthfully consider that throttles will ultimately run into regulatory points sooner or later — so I attempt to not begrudge any bike for its exclusion.

HSD stands for “haul stuff every day” — or in the event you’re out of earshot of your children, “haul shit every day.” Arleigh Greenwald, the eponymous Bike Store Lady who lately obtained a job as a product supervisor at Tern (congrats, Arleigh!), calls the HSD “the crossover of electrical bikes,” and I wholeheartedly agree. If Riese and Muller’s Load 75 is the Cadillac Escalade of e-bikes and the RadWagon is the Chevy Suburban, then Tern’s HSD is certainly the Toyota Rav4 — a extremely succesful every day driver with simply sufficient area for a child and a few cargo.

The HSD isn’t fully incognito — simply take a look at that cherry crimson paint job. It does have some attention-grabbing design touches, from the “HSD” emblem carved out of the body beneath the pinnacle tube to the rear rack that additionally doubles as a stand for whenever you wish to park the bike vertically. That’s an excellent space-saver for anybody who retains their bike of their residence, for instance.

Tern makes a few folding bikes, just like the Vektron, BYB, and beautifully named Verge. I’d classify the HSD as a quasi-folding bike because it lacks the total folding capabilities of Tern’s different fashions. The handlebars can fold down, however that’s about it. Nonetheless, it’s a helpful function if it’s good to transport the bike behind your automotive, for instance.

The rear rack is rated for 132 lbs, whereas the entire bike can carry a mixed weight of 374 lbs. Tern despatched me two of its Cargo Maintain 37 panniers, every of which might maintain a number of massive grocery luggage. When empty, the luggage will be cinched tightly to the facet of the bike.

Efficiency-wise, I wasn’t that impressed with the 400Wh battery pack. Whereas Tern claims the HSD has a spread of 69 miles (110km), I discovered myself needing to recharge the battery after as little as 30 miles of driving on largely flat surfaces with a couple of steep hills combined in. This will likely appear paltry, however it’s pretty customary throughout e-bikes, particularly whereas driving within the highest setting provided. That is my most well-liked driving type, and I do know that’s true for a lot of others. That stated, extra vary could be good, particularly contemplating the HSD’s $3,199 price ticket.

The battery, whereas not built-in within the body like I would like, was neatly saved behind the seat put up, parallel to the rear rack. It’s a placement that I believe is pretty distinctive to Tern, and it avoids the unsightliness of a bulging battery pack perched on the downtube. Plus, it helps distribute the load to the again of the bike, which helps stop it from toppling over when parking it vertically.

The HSD’s small, quick wheels imply there’s a a lot decrease middle of gravity than most cargo bikes, which made cornering way more enjoyable. And it’s shorter than the common street bike, which makes it simpler to maneuver and retailer. The upright seating place gave me an excellent vantage level to see the vehicles round me, which made me really feel safer whereas I rode.

I discover myself torn over the worth proposition of the Tern HSD. It’s a smaller, lighter cargo bike than most, which is actually a bonus, and but, it prices noticeably greater than different, extra highly effective cargo bikes. What do you get for that additional money? Straightforward storage is good, however most of that price is for the Bosch mid-drive motor. The German firm arguably makes one of the crucial dependable and reliable programs on the earth — and that comes at a worth.

General, the Tern HSD P9 is a sturdy electrical cargo bike that’s simple on the eyes and simple to stash away when wanted. It’s extremely adaptable and has a decently highly effective drivetrain that shrinks most hills all the way down to dimension. Whereas I don’t suppose the HSD is for everyone, I do consider that it aspires to be simple and approachable sufficient that anybody can journey it.

Images by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge

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