Haro Sonix LT Review

Pro Reviews

Without fail mention of the name Sonix around the MBT office conjures images of a blue video game hedgehog from a few years ago who, among other things, was known for moving very, very fast. Haro could very well have been thinking of the same thing when they set out to build the Sonix LT: a $2,400, 5-inch trail bike that effectively combines functionality with clean lines and a nice low profile. What the MBT test crew wanted to know is whether or not Haro made the right decision in not painting their Sonix blue.

Specs

We’ll get the technical mumbo jumbo out of the way by listing off the pieces and bits that made our test steed what it is. Fork duties were handled by the Rockshox Revelation 426 (U-Turn) 5.1 inches of travel while a Rockshox MC3.3 (4.7 inches of travel) air shock handled squish in the rear. Avid’s Juicy 5’s handled braking both front and rear and Mavic XM317 wheels came wrapped in WTB’s ExiWolf Race rubber. The transmission was an interesting blend of components starting with SRAM X.9 shifters, a Shimano Deore front derailleur and SRAM X.O rear, and Truvativ Stylo GXP cranks. Other odds and ends included a Ritchey Pro stem, bar and seat post, WTB Rocket V saddle and Moto grips. Clipless pedals (included) came in the form of Shimano M520s.

All told our Medium (18 inch) bike weighed in at 29.5 pounds.

The Stare-Down

We’re not sure how well the bike’s profile transfers into print or pixels, but in person the Sonix LT is an exercise in clean looks without over-the-top frame curves, bulging linkages, or unnecessary baggage. Almost like the sharp profile that brands like Turner, Titus and Pivot have made popular, the Sonix LT’s profile hints to an unspoken confidence that most bikes aim for but few achieve.

We’ve been around long enough to know that a clean design means squat out on the trails where bikes are forced to put up or shut up. We took the Sonix LT out into an intermittent thaw amidst a long cold New York winter. What wasn’t stone was mud and what wasn’t mud was soup. Did the Haro become a hero? Read on to find out.

The Ride

Okay so you’ve heard enough about the bike’s specs and looks and now you’re ready to read about what its like to drop the hammer. We must delay one more time in effort to explain the suspension design. The simplest way to effectively describe Haro’s virtual link would be to compare it to GT’s I-Drive or Mongoose’s Free-Drive system in which the entire drivetrain floats independently of the main frame and the rider actually stands on the rear triangle (since that’s where the cranks attach). Haro engineers went a step further by adding small links smack dab in between the bottom bracket and the swingarm pivot in the hopes of keeping the suspension active even when hankering down. So in all, yes this is a four-link design with a couple of twists designed to optimize pedaling performance while keeping the suspension active over the rough stuff.

We go through the trouble of mentioning all this before telling you about the ride because our first impression was that the Sonix scoots from a dead stop and probably like yourself, immediately wondered how Haro was able to develop such a lively chassis. Pumping the cranks while standing is quite rewarding on the Sonix as there is almost no bobbing or kickback to report. Like the GT and Mongoose systems mentioned above, the location of the cranks is critical when it comes to translating pedaling motion in bursts of forward momentum.

For as great an accelerator as this system is we did notice some stiffening of the rear suspension under hard effort. This makes sense too when you stop to consider that everything from the crank all the way to the rear wheel move in unison upon impact. It isn’t until the rider takes some of the load off the rear triangle (by sitting down) that the suspension suddenly becomes more active.

The linkage was a definite sweet spot in the Sonix’s overall charm but that isn’t to take away from the honest performance of the Rockshox suspension components either. The MC3.3 seemed perfectly mated to Haro’s virtual link by providing very linear yet plush motion that coincided perfectly to the ramp ups provided by the chassis. Just how good are we talking? We found that the chassis was so dialed that we could get away with under inflating the MC3.3 (85 psi) and used the Motion Control options to pick up any clatter that the chassis may have missed.

The 426 U-Turn up front offers six complete turns of travel adjustability, which means a setting for just about any trail circumstance. Bump resistance is not only spot on but also sensitive enough to prevent sharp impacts and jarring loads from overworking the rigid rear portion of the main triangle. We fine-tuned the Motion Control threshold to soften things up (keep in mind conditions were muddy during our test) and let the 426 do its thing.

Climbs, Jumps and other Behaviors

Much of the Sonix’s competence on the flats transfers well into climb-mode again thanks to the fact that the rear triangle allows for very little wasted pedaling effort. The fairly narrow (24-inch) Ritchey Pro bar and 100 mm stem lend themselves to staying in the saddle, selecting a low gear and spinning as if the ground weren’t rising at all. Thanks to a design that puts a majority of the rider’s weight over the rear wheel, we were able to find traction where it looked like there was only trouble.

Descending on the Sonix isn’t quite as foolproof. That narrow bar and long stem forces the front to get jittery when the speeds really start increasing. Even still braking on the Juicy 5’s is linear enough to slow things down in a hurry without threatening the rider with a trip over the bars. Once settled back into its rhythm, the front end of the Sonix is laser-sharp.

Sure, five-inches of suspension is no longer big-hit territory; we still had to know what the Sonix felt like when taken into flight. Surprisingly, this bike handles its own in the air! We again attribute this to that rear triangle as the rider’s position directly above it keeps the suspension from trying to simply absorb the take-off. It’s not quite hard tail friendly, but make no mistake, for a 5-inch travel trail bike, the Sonix LT pops off the ramp with confidence and lands without bone-jarring effect. Could we go as far as to say this bike could make for an all-day ripper at Whistler? Believe it or not, yes indeed. It’s light enough to keep from grinding down rider endurance but stout enough to make repeated timing sections a blast.

Complaint Department

If we had an unlimited budget on the day we picked up the Haro Sonix LT from the LBS, there would be a few purchases that could turn this great bike into something even more focused, depending on what we intended to do with it specifically. If pressed into cross-country detail, we would seriously consider making the move to tubeless wheels. If we were going to hit the trails hard or take her to Whistler, we would be interested in trying an 80mm stem on for size and more importantly, swapping the 2.1 inch wide tires for 2.3 inch versions (yes there is enough clearance to make the swap). The effect of these mods is chilling to even consider when you take into effect how well it handled with a component spec intended to meet somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

Conclusion

Painted blue or otherwise, Haro has created an homage to one of video game’s most memorable characters whether they indented to or not. The Sonix LT plays very competitively within our own personal favorite class of bikes that have spawned such entries as the Yeti 575, Fuji Reveal, Santa Cruz Nomad and Ibis Mojo and best of all does it for only $2395.

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  • Drake says:

    man I’m so glad MTBR has been running Mountain Bike Tales’ bike reviews.
    I seem to always forget to stop by there but love their tests when I happen upon them.

  • Brian Murphy says:

    I have owned a Sonix since it was introduced. Great bike that does exactly what you said. I had to change the original fork as it finally gave up the ghost due to my lack of maintenance. I also changed the wheels after they blew up, also due to my lack of maintenance. I race XC and the bike is great. Very happy indeed. I am considering buying another as I would love to have newer parts and a new frame.
    You just can’t go wrong for the price and Haro’s service is great. I can email them and get a reply quickly. They even remember me from when I went to demo the bike 4 years ago. How great is that?!

  • JC says:

    I own both a GT I-drive and a sonix. The sonix has a lower BB, and feels more nimble – probably because the gravity centers are different. I also like how the sonix gives me more stand over height.

    The shock does not move at all when pedalling in a seated position (where my i-drive has a slight movement) – and that is very impressive as both bikes have the same RP23 shock (the sonix runs 110psi, the GT around 180psi).

    I am faster on the sonix because it does feel more nimble, and I have been known to take risks I would not normally take (when compared to the GT).

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