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Tern spec’d the HSD S11 with a Shimano XT 11-speed drivetrain, an ultra-reliable workhorse drivetrain from Shimano’s range of mountain bike groupsets.

The Shimano XT drivetrain is one of the most revered groupsets in the mountain biking community, and is becoming a fast favorite on electric commuters. It shifts exceptionably crisp, is lightweight, affordable and utilizes a chain-keeping technology that helps the chain stay taught over rough surfaces. It’s also not too often we see electric commuter bikes spec’d with 11-speed drivetrains. Usually they’re 10-speed and below.

The Shimano XT 11-speed rear derailleur peaking out beneath a pannier bag.

Brakes: Magura hydraulic disc brakes

The brakes on the HSD S11 are a mixed set from Magura. The Magura MT5 with a 180mm rotor handles braking at the front wheel and the Magura MT4 with a 160mm rotor handles braking at the rear.

This setup slowed and stopped the bike exceptionally well with little brake fade on even the longest descents. I rode the bike with little additional weight aside from myself (I had a backpack with a laptop and heavy chain lock), but I highly doubt these brakes would have issue slowing down a much heavier load.

Other notes: An adjustable cockpit and rack choices galore

The HSD S11 we rode during the Big Gear Show was outfitted with a small briefcase-like bag mounted to the front and, most notably, Tern’s huge Shortbed Tray bolted to the rear rack. But this is far from the only configuration of the HSD.

The HSD can be configured to handle duties ranging from child carrier to grocery getter, depending on what accessories you choose to bolt to its rack and frame. Utility is a big deal to Tern’s design team, who view their bikes more as tools than toys. Again, the rear rack is rated for 132 lbs, so while a full-sized adult may be a little much the HSD can carry pretty much anything else.

Tern HSD S11 Electric Bike Review rear rack

Tern’s Shortbed Tray rack is an optional accessory for the HSD, but it sure demonstrates the little bike’s capability.

All of Tern’s electric bikes are fitted with their innovative fit system which, by way of a telescoping seat post and Andros adjustable stem, allows riders to heavily customize the fit of the bike. It also makes it easy to easily share one bike between two people, no matter their height or size.

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