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Hero's performance brand is Urban Trail and as the name says UT caters to both on and off road riding needs. From the 2016 range of Urban Trail we got the oppurtunity to test ride the EH1 hybrid bicycle and here is what we thought.
The front triangle of the EH1's 6069 aluminium frame would be at home on a mountain bicycle, but at the back, the sleek chainstays and seatstays hint at a bicycle that is designed to be stable and comfortable. The whole bicycle has an air of 'overbuilding' about it it has clearly been designed to last, rather than to provide lightning-fast speed. The frame is fairly compact, with a short top tube and steep seat tube. This means that putting the saddle up has little effect on the reach to the bars, so it's important to buy the right size it comes in a 18'' and 19.5'' size options. The Suntour XCT HLO front suspension fork has minimal travel which eases the impact when bumping over speed breakers, but can be locked out for when you are on smooth tarmac.
The frame design of the Urban Trail EH1 2016 is commute ready, with enough space for mudguard mounts at the front and rear, and would even be suitable for light touring. There are two sets of bottle cages as well. The bicycle I test rode came in a light silver colour with red a secondary colour and the gloss finish was fairly ordinary. The simplistic design could be preferred by a few riders but could also be looked down upon by some. The full black front suspensions also contribute to the aesthetics of this bicycle.
The 24-speed Shimano Tourney/Acera gears with EF-51 Rapidfire shifters provide slick changes and a good enough range not just for the urban commutes but also to tackle some pretty serious flat trails. The combination of Tourney/Acera is quite a reach when it comes to difference in performance. This can be felt clearly when the front chainrings come into effect during the climbs as there were some evident lag in gear shifts during the test ride. The shifters were at good reach but the rear thumb shifter required more push than usual which was discomforting.
The Tektro Novela mechanical disc brakes on the Urban Trail EH1 2016 provided enough stopping power during the test ride. Be it zipping through traffic or cornering at fast speeds, these brakes give the rider a sense of control at crucial times on the road. The brake levers were not matching the quality of the disc brakes, the levers felt too fragile and were not smooth in operation.
Like in the previous versions of the H1 series, the EH1 2016 is also controlled by the Zoom Alloy handlebar. This 660mm bar felt slightly cramped for the medium sized frame. The 30mm raise helped in keeping the posture less aggressive and more commuter centric.
The Double Wall Alloy rims on Kenda 700 x 35C tires threw up no problems during the test ride. They rolled fairly quick and had enough tread to cope with the occasional off-road forays. The stock saddle on the EH1 2016 is surprisingly shaped well with the sit bone anatomy in mind. Lack of padding doesn't mean the saddle is any inferior, the shape and size of the saddle is all that matters. The overall ride quality on the Urban Trail EH1 was good on city streets but not the best on trails.
The Urban Trail EH1 2016 is comfortable and easy to manoeuvre, sturdy yet light, built with high-end equipment and still affordable at Rs.26,500. I's a well-adjusted cross of a mountain bicycle and a Hybrid bicycle, providing the perfect ride for mixed surface commuting and flat trail riding.