Sunday, October 19, 2008

Heartland Love

It's not all that often that people take the time to review a comfort bike, so I was nonetheless intrigued when my co-worker Tim "Masi Guy" Jackson, forwarded me a review that somebody wrote about their Haro Heartland Express LE.

The post came from a blog simply called "Jon's Bicycle Blog" I would assume the owner of the Heartland Express LE is named Jon. Jon's relationship with his Heartland Express LE started when he decided he needed what he described as a "Florida Bike": a bike he could do decent mileage on, was zippy, and was comfortable. Based on his love for his Masi Gran Corsa, Jon decided to check out what Haro had to offer (for those of you who don't know, Haro and Masi are "sister" brands...we share the same ownership and same building). After doing his research, Jon headed to one of our dealers called The Energy Conservatory where he purchased his Heartland Express LE.

Jon goes on to describe his first ride about his Heartland. He set out for a quick 10-mile ride without any water, tools, or tubes. As he headed down the Pinellas County Trail, he soon discovered that he was doing more than just cruising along on his new comfort hybrid, we was flying along at 20 mph. As he continued along at his brisk clip, thoughts about being "deceived" by his perception of his Masi road bike entered his head. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he'd be able to pedal so smoothly, quickly, and comfortably on a comfort bike. He pedaled onward until he realized that it would be getting dark soon, so he reluctantly turned around and pedaled home, basking in the "I love my new bike" glow.

At the time he wrote the review, Jon had put on over 500 miles on his Heartland Express LE. In his own words, Jon says, "And I still love the bike. 500+ miles later, it’s my weapon of choice here in Dunedin. It’s not comparable to the Masi, but that’s not its purpose. I can roll out, do 20 miles, and roll home, or roll into work and back. Or just pick up groceries, or toss a tent in the saddlebags and head out to camp".

I couldn't have said it better myself.

It's great to hear feedback this good about a bike that we put a lot of effort in "getting right". Since the comfort category represents a large chunk of Haro's business, we really wanted to make sure the new Heartland series was spot on. We looked at lots of different comfort bikes and examined what other manufacturers were doing right and what they were doing wrong. We looked for ways to improve the common comfort bike. In fact, we even went as far as purchasing a very popular comfort hybrid that one of our competitors makes just so we could analyze how it rode. The brand will remain nameless, but underneath the flashy looks and big brand name was a bike that had such poor handling, it's a wonder anyone buys them.

Once we had done all of our homework, product managers Pat Crosby and Wayne Doran set off to make what we feel are the best darn comfort bikes on the market. Here are just a few of the things that make Heartlands superior:
  • We steepened up the head angle so the rider wouldn't feel the dreadful "wheel flop" our competitor's bike had.
  • We got the seat angle's just slack enough to be easy on your back, but not so slack to where you can't pedal efficiently. The super-slack seat angles that some of our competitors use that put your feet too far in front of you just isn't efficient. Once you start to pedal up any sort of an incline, you'll see why.

  • We welded the seat stays higher up on the seat tube; this provides a better platform to mount racks and child carriers. We noticed many of our competitor's bikes welded their stays too low on the seat tube, making rack mounting difficult or impossible.

  • We added extra water bottle cage mounting holes: 2 pairs on both the standard and step-thru frames. Having an extra mount is nice if you want to mount an extra bottle for longer rides, lighting system, or a tire pump.

  • We use sealed bottom brackets and cassette rear hubs for longer life and less maintenance.

  • We use nice tall bars to put you in a comfortable, upright riding position.

  • And above all, we use the most comfortable seats and grips we can find.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop there. I guess one of the points I'm trying to make is we're not all that surprised that Jon loves his Heartland Express...a whole lot of "love" went into making those bikes.

So Jon, if you happen to read this...thanks for the kind words and taking the time to write up a nice review of your Heartland Express LE. And for the record, the Haro MTB and Asphalt line does have a Tim Jackson...that would be me. I just don't blog as much as I used to. But who knows...that just might change here real soon.

Happy trails, ya'll...

Jon's Heartland Express LE

4 comments: said...

Great post. Can you do the same for the Mary XC? I am looking to get a 29'er and the Mary is on my final list of 3. One final that really you pictured going down the boulder? Oh my! I've notice you on, it's great how you communicate with the community.

jill hamilton said...

Hi Carl,

Do you mean post a review someone did about the Mary XC? I don't happen to have one quite like this one, but if you frequent, you have probably heard all of the good things people have had to say about the bike. Mountain Bike Action did a review of the Mary XC in their Sept 2007 issue. I may have some reprints around the office or I'm sure if you contacted them, they could send you a PDF of the review. The editor that reviewed that bike liked it so much, he still has it and rides it all the time.

And yes, that is me on the rock riding my Mary SS in Fruita, CO. :)

Jon Paul Baker said...

Hi Jill,

Imagine my surprise earlier in the week when I went to check the seatpost size on my Haro and found my blog quoted on the Haro website!

I do like my Haros (I have a step-through Heartland Express LE house bike as well as the LE I blog about). When I'm in the market for a MTB again, I'll definitely check out Haro. I wish I'd known about it in 2005 before I bought a different bike.

I look forward to your blogging more. When I was getting ready to buy my Masi in 2006, I had concerns about the bike. I loved the bike, but Masi had a lot of bad PR online. Tim's blog gave me confidence that the firm stood by its products and that the people who work there actually rode and love the bikes they make. I know you ride and love your bikes too.

I get a lot of comments about the Haros. I've been stopped and asked about them several times by strangers ("What kind of bike is that?") and all of my friends who have ridden one are very impressed. My wife, who uses an old bike to commute short distances, found it amazing. My parents, who hadn't ridden in 15 years, did 18 miles on the two I have and loved it.

Thanks for a great bike! Perhaps it might be worthwhile for Haro to check out the local dealers.

Dave said...

We just bought a Heartland LTD for our eleven year old daughter -- we chose it out of a thousand bikes at Tempe Bicycles as the best bike for her.

The parts look really great and work well, especially the matching bead-blasted finish on the brakes and derailer. We especially appreciate the sensible cable routing and light weight. Both the shock and seat post actually move well, meaning the bike is truly comfortable for her.

Not everything was perfect though. Slight dimple on the seat tube just below the clamp, and horrendous sloppy-loose spoke lacing on the front wheel -- problem easily corrected, though. The rear wheel was well-made and well-tuned. Go Figure. Gotta work on that quality control.

My daughter will be riding the bike for years to come -- our first ride today was out to the park for a game of nerf ball.

My wife has a Trek Navigator, a similar bike. The Heartland is a better bike, with better parts, and is a better value. Good Job.