October 26, 2020
Halfbike 3 stand-up bike hands-on: A full workout

Halfbike 3 stand-up bike hands-on: A full workout


Joseph Kaminski/CNET

I spend much of my time testing e-bikes, electric scooters and other battery-powered rideables. The Halfbike 3 is not one of those. This compact, three-wheel stand-up bike is fully powered by you. While it won’t revolutionize your commute, it will get you from point A to B with a workout in between. 

The Halfbike 3 starts at $699 (which converts to about £540 or AU$975), and the model I tested included fenders and lights, which are not part of the base package and add about $40. It arrives in a small box and the bike requires some assembly; it took me about 30 minutes to put it together.

At first glance, you’ll notice some of the same elements you would find on a bicycle, but the Halfbike rides nothing like one. It’s equipped with an 18-inch front wheel and two 8-inch rear ones. You ride it standing up and it has a skateboard-like truck on the rear. That means to make turns, riders must lean the bike to the left or right instead of turning the handlebars. Getting the hang of the turns is probably the hardest part.  

It’s second nature for me to stand on a regular bike to generate more power to tackle hills or get some extra acceleration. That’s sort of the idea here, but riding the Halfbike is different. My initial instincts were to hold onto the grips extremely tightly and shift my weight forward. Instead, I found I had to get my weight centered on the bike because I was tiring out my arms too quickly. 


Joseph Kaminski/CNET

In fact, before you buy the bike the company requires some basic information to make sure you get the right size for your height and weight, as well as your arm distance to the ground. You’ll need to measure the distance to the ground with your arms down in front of you so you’re not reaching too far when riding.  

Once I got my weight centered it made a huge difference in the ride. Still, the Halfbike isn’t meant to replace a traditional two-wheel bike but just give another fun option for travel. The Halfbike is built to be agile and flexible, and the rider is meant to control every movement. It can even be hopped on and off sidewalks with its durable frame. You can hit some decent speeds, too, but not like on a typical two-wheeler. 

The Halfbike 3 has four speeds in its internal gear hub manufactured by Sturmey-Archer. The hub also houses the drum brake, which is an upgrade from the Halfbike 2’s rear brake. Since it’s not a full-frame bike, the Halfbike is extremely lightweight at just under 20 pounds (9 kg) and folds down easily for storage.  


Joseph Kaminski/CNET

Design-wise the Halfbike 3 is sleek and slender, and its laser-cut aluminum frame is strong. I put a lot of pressure on it when I was initially learning to ride and it shows no signs of stress. It’s rated for riders up to 225 pounds (100 kg) — I exceed that and the Halfbike 3 seems to be holding up just fine. 

There is a slight learning curve so it does take some time to get the hang of riding it. It is a great workout, though, and it’s fun once you get going. But since I’m still working my way back into pre-COVID shape, I had to take some breaks. I also found myself starting off in second gear most of the time because a little more resistance from the start made it easier to get my balance on takeoffs. One other thing: You should expect some looks and questions while riding around. It’s definitely an eye-catching ride. 

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