Haibike Challenge RX review

German performance road bike with Ultegra Di2

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £2,500.00 RRP

Our review

High-rise position on a powerful frame makes for a fast, not overly punishing ride
Skip to view product specifications


Haibike are part of the same Accel group as Lapierre and Ghost, and shared moulds mean some obvious similarities, though Haibike do use their own carbon layup specs so the actual performances of the bikes are not the same.

Advertisement
  • Highs: Informative, encouraging, effort-harnessing frame with high-rise position possibilities
  • Lows: Most of the spec is slightly below par for the price
  • Buy if: You want a positive power bike and love the colour-matched frame and wheels

For all its very tall, back-friendly head tube, the Challenge is obviously a combative bike from the off. The chunky-legged, alloy-tipped fork, direct bearing onto carbon headset and broad rectangular section to the front of the top tube give a very precise and punctual steering feel. 

Add in the tightly laced, bladed spokes of the Mavic Aksium wheels and you’re provided with an immediately informative setup, which lets you stay the right side of the Mavic Aksion tyres in the wet, when they tend towards slipperiness.

The relatively slack seat angle and tall front end meant we used the drops more than usual to tack the front end onto the tarmac more convincingly in gusty or twisty descending situations. You’ll notice headwinds more on the Challenge than some other bikes too, unless you drop your elbows a bit lower than normal. Otherwise, wheelbase, front-to-rear proportions and bottom bracket height are all reassuringly neutral. 

Typically for German performance-orientated machines, the responsive front end is matched by an equally keen reaction to effort. Despite the significantly downgraded Shimano R565 chainset and relatively hefty wheels, the Challenge’s determination to make the most of your muscles is clear. 

The chunky carbon fork has aluminium dropouts and a tapered steerer:
Russell Burton/Future Publishing

The chunky carbon fork has aluminium dropouts and a tapered steerer

It’s not as direct as with some when it comes to torque transfer, but it’s definitely in the ‘stand up rather than change down’ camp. Even our most powerful testers had no complaints when it came to village sign sprints or short, sharp climbs. 

Considering the bike’s firm approach to going fast, you’re not a hostage to highway maintenance quality either; you’ll certainly know if you clip a cobble or pothole, and road buzz will shiver your spine, but it never gets hand-numbingly severe – or worse – even on all-day rides.

As much as we enjoyed the overall ride of the Challenge RX, it lags behind some similarly priced UDi2 bikes in terms of spec. The shifters and derailleurs are Ultegra Di2 but the chain and cassette are 105 and the brakes and cranks another level below that. 

Ultegra di2 levers but kit downgrades elsewhere:
Russell Burton/Future Publishing

Ultegra Di2 levers but kit downgrades elsewhere

And as much as the colour coding looks really smart, the wheels are heavy and the tyres average. The Ponza saddle and alloy post alone weigh 536g, while the 1,213g frame is average rather than aspirational in weight.

Advertisement

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Challenge RX road bike (13)
Brand Haibike

Available Sizes 49 52 55 58 46
Headset Type Orbit, 1 1/8in - 1 1/4in
Weight (lb) 18.1
Wheelset Aksium
Weight (kg) 8.2
Stem XLC EVO, oversize
Shifters Ultegra DI2 6770
Seatpost XLC EVO 27,2mm, Alu Patent,Clamp with Hexagon Clamping
Saddle Ponza
Rear Derailleur Ultegra DI2 6770, solder version
Handlebar XLC EVO Road, oversize
Bottom Bracket Press-fit
Grips/Tape Haibike Grip-Tape
Front Derailleur Ultegra DI2 6770, solder version
Frame Material UD Carbon ,Sector Layup Technology, Monocoque, Comfort-Geometry
Fork Haibike full carbon, 1 1/8in - 1 1/4in
Cranks R565, 50-34T
Chain 105 5701
Cassette Shimano 105 5700, 11-28T, 10-speed
Brakes R561
Brake Levers Shimano Ultegra DI2 6770