HORWIN CR6 (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Retro look meets electric tech
  • 1p-per-mile ‘fuel’ cost
  • Excellent low-speed balance

At a glance

Power: 8 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.1 in / 815 mm)
Weight: Low (295 lbs / 134 kg)

Prices

New £5,047
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

This retro-styled electric commuter is a Horwin CR6: Austrian designed; Chinese-made. It costs a shade over five grand, road tax is free and fuel costs are as low as a penny a mile. Imported into the UK by Artisan Electric, it’s an intriguing take on solving the electric puzzle.

The idea of taking a short hop across town and back quietly, cleanly and cheaply, then recharging in the garage overnight, offers plenty of advantages over petrol power. And the Horwin CR6 would be a fine bike to do that kind of journey on – more presence and power than a scooter, yet still light and slim enough to slice through traffic. For city-based early adopters, there’s plenty to like. But there’s also no escaping the fact that a traditional 125cc roadster is both cheaper and faster.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The CR6 is slim, low and unintimidating. Ignore the way-out 870mm seat height that’s listed on Horwin’s website – our tape measure shows the café-racer saddle sits a perfectly manageable 815mm high. Overall the CR6’s proportions are comparable to a 125: compact, but not too cramped for a 5ft 9in rider. In fact, at 134kg it’s actually lighter than a KTM 125 Duke.

At city speeds the chassis is very well balanced. Plentiful steering lock gives a turning circle that feels as tight as a trials bike, while a low centre of gravity means feet-up, full-lock figure-of-eights are a piece of cake.

Outside of the urban jungle, the basic nature of the chassis is more obvious. Upside-down forks and the monoshock rear feel a touch crude but give a reasonable ride quality. Cast 17-inch wheels wear CST (Cheng Shin Tire) rubber in ultra-skinny sizes – just 100 front and a 120 rear – with a slightly retro tread pattern. Brakes lack ABS but are instead linked: pulling the brake lever operates two of the front caliper’s three pistons; the third moves when you step on the rear brake pedal. Strangely, the front brake pads appear to make contact with only half the front disc’s surface, suggesting the stopping power would be better if the caliper was positioned differently.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Horwin claim the CR6’s air-cooled electric motor makes 8bhp, or around half a typical 125cc petrol bike. Top speed is 60mph on the digital display, which proves to be a GPS-tested 54mph. So, while it can nibble away at empty backroads, the Horwin’s primary purpose is nipping around town. From a standing start it’s fairly brisk and willing, aided by being twist-and-go – no gears or clutch to interrupt things – with a smooth, eager delivery low-down.

However, be sure to take Horwin’s outrageous torque claim (around 200lb·ft) with a whole ocean of salt: that number is rated at the rear-wheel axle after being multiplied by gearing, giving a massively misleading implication of gruntiness. The motor itself actually makes 30lb-ft. On an open road it won’t keep with a sporty 125, but in the city the CR6 is plenty quick enough and incredibly easy with it.

One charge of the 3.96kWh Panasonic lithium-ion battery lasts 90 miles, reckon Horwin. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Importers Artisan claim a more modest 60 miles, which is more or less what we got when sticking resolutely to 30mph. Ride flat-out, however, and range halves to a little over 30 miles. These numbers might not look too impressive, but bear in mind this is conceived as a city commuter and the whole of central London is only 15 miles across.

Recharging needs nothing fancier than a standard three-pin household socket. A flat-to-full recharge takes about four hours and costs around 60p. That means your commuting cost could be as little as a penny a mile.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Horwin are brand-new to the UK, so reliability is a complete unknown for now. The battery comes with a three-year warranty, which offers some peace of mind. Component quality looks mixed – the aluminium frame looks nice, but some of the details (sprockets, tyres, brakes) are clearly from the budget end of the spectrum. Still, nothing at all went wrong with the CR6 during our short test.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
2 out of 5 (2/5)

Compared with plenty of other electric bikes, the Horwin CR6’s five-grand price tag looks relatively affordable. But that price is nearly a grand more than a Honda CB125R, perhaps its closest mainstream petrol rival. And there’s absolutely tons of choice when it comes to even more affordable retro-styled Chinese-built 125s from firms such as Lexmoto, Herald, Sinnis and Mutt, among others.

While the Horwin’s running costs look to be extremely low, the superb fuel economy of most 125s mean you’ll need to ride thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of miles to recover the difference in initial cost. Residual values and depreciation of the CR6 are unproven at this early stage too.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The ‘fuel tank’ is really a small lockable storage space, which is ideal for stashing the self-coiling charge cable. There’s a USB port in there too, to let you charge a phone or other gadget on the move. The ignition can be switched on remotely via the keyfob, though that neat feature is slightly undermined by needing the physical key to undo the steering lock. The CR6 jingles a cheery tune when you turn the bike on or off, and an alarm is standard.

Most of the circular clock unit is taken up by a dial-style rev-counter, which is bizarre given the CR6’s twist-and-go transmission means that’s one piece of information you don’t need to know while you’re riding. Below this, the all-important speed, trip distance and battery status info is all crammed into a small LCD panel.

Specs

Engine size -
Engine type Air-cooled electric motor
Frame type Aluminium-magnesium twin-spar
Fuel capacity -
Seat height 815mm
Bike weight 134kg
Front suspension Upside-down telescopic forks, no adjustment
Rear suspension Monoshock, adjustable preload
Front brake 265mm disc with linked three-piston caliper. No ABS
Rear brake 220mm disc with single-piston caliper. No ABS
Front tyre size 100/80-17
Rear tyre size 120/80-17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax -
Annual service cost -
New price £5,047
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Three years

Top speed & performance

Max power 8 bhp
Max torque 30 ft-lb
Top speed 54 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2020: Horwin CR6 introduced. Retro-style electric commuter with a range of 30 to 60 miles, four-hour recharge from a household socket, and a 54mph top speed. Easy to ride, with superb low-speed balance. But £5047 price is steep compared with conventional 125s.

Other versions

None. 

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