2021 eMTB SHOOTOUT
HARO SHIFT PLUS I/O 9 REVIEW
Photos by Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics
When our test crew looks back on the 2021 eMTB Shootout it is hard to not think about the Haro Shift Plus i/O 9. This 160mm travel, mullet-equipped eBike is insanely fun, super capable and surprised the hell out of us. Of course, we are all familiar with Haro as a brand, but we are probably not the only ones that think of them as a BMX brand, not a mountain bike brand, and certainly not an eMTB brand. After about 20 minutes on the trail, we realized that we were about to have our biases get checked, hard! We love when that happens. Available in three models, Haro offers the Shift Plus i/O 5, i/O 7 and i/O 9 in prices from $4,599 to $6,199.* A recent price increase across the industry took this bike up from $5,999. While we already had a couple critiques about the perceived value of this bike based on spec alone, the increase is a little bit tough. Although it is an industry wide increase, and we are happy to see Haro’s increase of $200 is less than some others. Regardless of price and value, the performance of this bike stands up with bikes that cost twice as much, and we will get into that soon.
Several months ago, we did a Dissected Feature where we conducted an in-depth look at the then new Haro Shift i/O 9. Since then, Haro has added the Shift i/O 7 to the lineup, which retails for an impressive $5,599, comes with the Shimano EP8 drive unit, a 630Wh battery and a 12-speed Shimano SLX/XT drivetrain. In many ways this would be the ideal bike for us to recommend and use as a starting point for upgrades. Sadly, inventory is a major issue across the industry, and we are hoping to see the Shift i/O 9 come with some updates, like an EP8 drive unit, when inventory returns.
Our Haro Shift Plus i/O 9 has served us well and honestly the Shimano E8000 is not a huge deterrent, we still were able to keep up and ride with EP8-equipped bikes just fine. We did not love the Di2 XT 11-speed drivetrain however and would have much rather seen a price drop for a non-electronic XT drivetrain. Another major spec issue was the 125mm dropper post. On smaller sizes we understand the shorter post, but Large and XL bikes definitely need a 150mm at the very least and ideally something even longer.
This aluminum frame utilizes a four-bar linkage suspension design with an aluminum rocker and vertical shock mount. Enduro bearings are used throughout and the 160mm of travel is fully usable and very sensitive. Haro did a great job selecting the tune with Fox on the Float X2 Trunnion rear shock. Up front a Fox Rhythm 36 Float E fork handles the hits just fine and never slowed us down. Since we had a garage full of parts, we did experiment with a 38 up front and loved how it rode with the bigger fork too.
Geometry on the Haro Shift i/O 9 is pretty solid without being overkill. It is part of why the bike is so fun, snappy, and easy to ride. The size large features a 475mm reach, 450mm chainstays, 1,259mm wheelbase and 636mm stack height. A 76.5-degree seat tube angle helped keep the power down for climbs and get the seat down (after some manual assistance due to the short 125mm dropper) for the descents. The 65-degree head tube angle was not an issue for our testers, although we are sure that some may find that to be too steep. We think going to a 170mm fork may also be a fun option and slacken out that head tube by half a degree or so, which could be great all around.
Before we get too into how this bike rides there is one unfortunate incident we need to bring up. Our bike was a pre-production unit and after months of abuse and our days in Utah the seat stay snapped as one of our testers went off a small drop. We called Haro, who overnighted a new seat stay to us and took the broken unit back for examination. Hopefully, we will get an update if anything strange happened, but as it sits right now, Haro is confident that since we are the only people who have snapped one so far, it was an issue from manufacturing a pre-production unit. For what it is worth, we bolted that new seat stay up and instantly took the bike to our huck-to-flat competition and sent it hard off the Sender Ramp we brought with us. It was a brutal break-in and was the lead in to another four days of bashing in St. George, Utah. We are still riding without issue.
As we mentioned above, this bike has been in our possession quite a while and our Bend, OR testers were lucky enough to arrive in Utah with some solid beta on how this eMTB would perform. When we suggested other riders from SoCal take it out first, there was some suspicion and hesitation at first. Like we were setting them up. It was that much more awesome to see them complete their first lap with huge grins and disbelief at how well it did everything. Simply put, the Haro Shift i/O quickly became one of the bikes that was constantly getting taken out for more rides.
On the climbs we found the Haro Shift to be more than capable and although it was the only bike with the Shimano STEPS E8000, it had no problem keeping up. Yes, we would love if it had an EP8, but quite frankly, we would rather have this bike with E8000 than poorer-performing bikes with EP8. Similarly, the 11-speed drivetrain wasn’t much of an issue for us, but we would have much rather seen a mechanical derailleur instead of the Di2 and save a few bucks off the price tag.
What we really liked about the Haro Shift i/O is that it wasn’t a one-trick pony. While many enduro eMTBs can get you up just fine but live for the downhills, the Shift i/O does not need World Cup downhill tracks to come alive. We’re sure part of that is the suspension tune but think that the 65-degree head tube angle helps keep the bike snappy and fun too. On flatter transfer trails, or mellow bits of trail, we simply Boosted up to 20mph and had a blast popping, gapping and slashing this thing all around the trail.
When it came time to hit the gnarly stuff, ride mini-Rampage lines, charge DH trails and generally attack the Utah rocks as hard and fast as we could, the Haro Shift i/O was equally capable. What is awesome is that even with a mid-tier suspension package, this bike was near the front of the pack and charging hard. Halfway through the week we put a Fox Factory 38 up front, and yes, it rode even better, but the Rhythm 36 did plenty fine and will get you down the trail without a hiccup. You just may need to add a few extra volume reducers.
The Wolf’s Last Word
When it came time to evaluate bikes at our eMTB Shootout and which one we would like to own, the Haro Shift i/O 9 was constantly near the top of the list. While some bikes may take the edge in certain areas, or have a more desirable spec, the performance you get out of the Haro Shift for the price is unmatched in our test. We would possibly consider stepping down to the Shift i/O 7 and take advantage of the EP8 and sell the new suspension and upgrade it to our liking, but even without, making those changes, the Shift is a real contender.
Haro’s Shift i/O 9 is one of the most well-rounded bikes in our shootout and is certainly one of the most fun and playful bikes too. We love the suspension feel, how it blends traction and compliance with playfulness and feel the geometry strikes a nice balance of stable yet nimble. Simply put, this bike surprised the hell out of us, and we have personally recommended several of our close friends in the market for a new eMTB to get on one.
Frame: Shift Plus I/O X6 Aluminum | 160mm
Fork: Fox Rhythm 36 Float “E” | 160mm
Shock: Fox Float X2
Motor: Shimano STePS E8000 | 70Nm
Battery: Darfon internal 630wh
Display: Shimano LCD
Brakes: Shimano BR-MT520 4-Piston | 203mm
Shifter: Shimano XT Di2 11-spd Switch
Headset: FSA Orbit 1.5E ZS No.57E
Handlebar: Pivit Alloy riser bar | 780mm | 20mm Rise
Stem: Pivit 3D Forged alloy | 35mm
Saddle: WTB Volt Comp
Seatpost: X-Fusion Manic | 125mm
Wheels: WTB ST i35 TCS 2.0
Front tire: Schwalbe Magic Mary 29 x 2.6″
Rear tire: Schwalbe Big Betty 27.5 x 2.6″
Cranks: Shimano E8000 forged | 34t | 165mm
Cassette: Shimano Deore XT M8000 | 11-spd | 11-46T
Derailleur: Shimano XT Di2 | 11-spd
Chain: KMC e11T | 11-spd
Proved us wrong
Balanced suspension feel
Supple and active rear end
Some spec critiques (see review)
Not in stock
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