Electric Bikes - BionX PL350 Review
Bikeforums.net is a forum about nothing but bikes. Our community can help you find information about hard-to-find and localized information like bicycle tours, specialties like where in your area to have your recumbent bike serviced, or what are the best bicycle tires and seats for the activities you use your bike for.
07-24-08, 05:47 PM
This is going to be a review from day one and I'll update as I get more experience with it.
A little background:
I had a scooter for those really hot days I didn't want to ride my bike to work. I sold my scooter and used that money to order a BionX PL350 from NYCE Wheels. It took about a month to receive the package. I quickly plugged in the battery so it would be ready when the bike was ready, but unforunately they forgot to send the battery mount. It appears if you order a "custom" setup even if it's exactly like the PL350 system it costs more. I still don't have an answer as to why this is but I'll forward that as soon as I find out.
I'm a commuter and have ridden over 4000 miles this year and I just wanted to give this a try and if I don't like it will put it on my wifes bike so she can keep up.
The packaging from NYCE Wheels was excellent, everything arrived in good shape. The battery had the decals scuffed on one side, but that doesn't bother me any and won't affect how everything works.
The rim is of good quality, it is a double wall rim that is machined (not welded), the spokes are double butted with the thicker side at the hub and they are 1 cross. The rim is eyeletted, but the eyelets look a lot larger than the spoke diameter (I hope these spokes won't pull through the rim.) I find it weird that the heads are out on one side and in on the other side (usually this alternates on both sides.) There is a nice cloth rim strip, and the rim is drilled out for Schraeder tubes. I put it in the truing stand and it was round, but out of true by a few milimeters.
I am glad I bought the 2nd lightest system out there, but was still really surprised at the overall weight of the rear wheel. I ordered my wheel with a 9 speed freewheel (also very heavy) that hopefully will work with my STI shifters. My wheel with a Specialized Nimbus 35c tire and tube weights 13.5 pounds. The battery is just under 7 pounds bringing this system to just under 20 pounds more than my stock bike. (This is lighter than most, but this sure is a lot! I suggest putting this much weight on your bike and see how it handles before you buy.)
The charger is of very high quality too, after the battery is charged it stops charging and shuts the fan off in the unit so it doesn't waste energy.
The controller is of good quality too, but I have an oversided 31.8mm bar, and BionX only has a mount for the standard 25.4mm bar. I will end up with some sort of zip tie holding this on for now and see if I like it on my bike.
I am not sure how I am going to mount the regenerative braking on the STI levers, as they are farther away from the controller than the cable is long. I do have cyclocross levers, but they are not setup in a way that would be easy to accomplish this. I guess this will be left off for now.
The rear wheel spacing for all sizes is 135mm so you have to stretch the frame on the 700c wheels (most are 130mm spacing) which isn't a whole lot, but could fatigue an aluminum frame over time.
That's all of the review for now, as I wait for my battery bracket in the mail.
I am putting this wheel on my 2007 Tricross Sport and will probably run a single 53T ring up front with the 9 speed freewheel in the back.
If anyone has specific questions I can answer about this product or anything else please let me know.
07-24-08, 06:05 PM
Yes, can you take it for a range test? I'm curious to see how it compares to my system (PL500HS which uses the same battery). The test I used was assist level 3. I rode until the battery meter was empty (as soon as the last little dot disappeared). You can still ride more until the controller turned off, but it's better to stop before that.
If you ride 4000 miles a year on a regular bike, chances are, it'll likely go up with this system. You'll enjoy riding it that much!
07-24-08, 07:06 PM
That's 4000 miles so far this year, probably will be closer to 8000 by the end of the year.
So you want a range test on assist level 3? I definately think it will be a YMMV as I may pedal a lot more than other riders (getting used to riding fixed gear where all I do is pedal.)
Was there a speed that you maintained or averaged?
What type of bike do you have yours on?
Did you report your range anywhere on the forum?
I'll report back on my findings after I get the battery mount (hopefully early next week.)
07-24-08, 08:27 PM
I reported it at http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=438465.
I got 45 miles out of it. I never use the throttle so it's always with pedaling. I didn't measure the average speed over that 45 miles, but I'd say it was about 18-19. This includes hills as well. On the flats, I'd usually go about 23 mph. I have a cyclocross bike with 700x28c tires.
That's quite a lot of miles just on a regular bike. That's over 21 miles a day! This Bionx will be quite a time saver!
07-29-08, 11:00 AM
I received the battery holder yesterday and installed it. Everything went together smoothly. The snap connectors work great. I ended up putting the battery on the water bottle mount since I was sent the wrong mount. It keeps the weight lower on the bike, but now I have no water bottle on the bike.
I am bothered by NYCE Wheels lack of response to my e-mails and questions. Such as why did I pay $41 more since I ordered it custom? (I did this because I didn't want another rack) The regular system WITH the rack would have been cheaper... Are they just screwing people? I have no answer yet, but I'm not very happy with how they have responded, and even when they sent me the missing part, it was the wrong part.
The battery after installed does not show a full charge, I rode it anyways. I must mention I did set the wheel size and turned the speed limiter off.
The setup gives you one heck of a Grin factor, I couldn't stop smiling. At assist level 4 it makes you try to hang on. It accellerates up to ~20mph REALLY QUICK! I went ahead and rode it farther down the road ~3 miles. I felt like I was flying, but at 24mph it no longer assists, the gauge shows it's not helping at all. I pushed as hard as I could and only got to about 28 MPH mostly on flats. After 24mph you have to give it all you got to get the bike moving any faster.
I was surprised at how much resistance the hub had before I put it on the bike, but didn't notice it much until it's out of the electric assist range (of course).
I tried to charge the battery again overnight, but this morning it was still at 3 bars from full.
I rode the bike in today on my usual commute route 8.5 miles, I made it in ~27 minutes (close to my fastest time without the pwoer), 10 minutes faster than my usual ride in, and about 2 or 3 minutes slower than by car. I found myself getting a little lazy and not shifting to a lower gear when I stopped. My regenerative braking is not hooked up yet either, and I can see how this will be a huge brake pad saver, as a few times I put it in full regen mode to slow down.
I hit 30mph as a max, in a place I can usually hit mid 30's. The motor seems like it's slowing the bike down at those speeds.
I was amazed at how hard it pulled even with my panniers full of clothes for the week and my lunch. I can't wait to load the trailer with groceries and see if that will slow it down.
So far so good, it has some positives and negatives to it that's for sure. My wife said she wants one now after seeing me ride it in just a few minutes. It will probably end up making it to her bike after it cools back down (~99F before heat index ~110F super humid.)
I am relying fully on Power assist level 3 to see how far it will go, but I know a lot of people want to ride it so this figure may be thrown off, and my battery is not fully charging.
I'll report more as I test it out.
07-29-08, 12:50 PM
Your experience sounds exactly like mine when I had the PL250 before:
- The battery would not show a full charge initially (only off my one bar though). Nycewheels had me press some button combination for 10s to recalibrate the battery meter after checking my full charge voltage.
- Beyond 23/24mph, you have to really push hard to get it to go any faster. The fastest I could ever get on flats was 28 as well. I had to really push it to get it there.
- I noticed the resistence in the wheel as well. I thought it was a defect, but as I learned more about motors, it's just inherent in these kind of motors. (cogging effect)
- I'd go downhill slower on my bionx than my regular bike. Your numbers sound just like mine. This is inherent in how this motor is designed and is related to cogging.
I've been riding around on an Electra Townie fitted with a PL350. The kit has been well worth the price as I have been out on the bike much more than before. The bike performs well with the kit and was relatively easy to install in spite of the cryptic instruction sheet. As kermit 43 already pointed out, the acceleration at assist level 4 is breathtaking and makes you feel like a superhero. After a few days of travelling back and forth to visit my mother-in-law in hospital, my riding habits have changed. Instead of staying on level 4, I switch to 'regenerate' mode when going down longer hills. This has a positive effect on the battery level and replaces braking on most hills. The PL 350 comes with a throttle but this is redundant for most occasions. Pedalling seems to be the best way to move the bike although there is a ~2 second lag between not pedalling and the motor disengaging. This can be a bit alarming to find yourself accelerating at the crest of a hill!
There is a widely available list of tweaks that allow refining the forces and controls. This is a great thing for guys! I waited a few days before tackling these.
08-04-08, 01:58 PM
Greetings from Salt Lake City:
I'm still considering the PL350 for addition to my long distance bicycle.
One seemingly contradictory thing I have noticed in the YouTube videos is the noise level. Depending on which video you watch, the noise varies from a soft whir to something like a farting sound.
The farting sound is a real concern. :o)
Thoughts on this?
Don't worry about strange noises. I have a PL350 attached to an Electra Townie and the noise is minimal when using pedals or the throttle. When in regen mode the braking effect is quite powerful and produces some noise but not much greater than you would expect from brakes anyway. In fact, I like the bike to have a bit of noise so that I don't startle people when passing them. I don't believe that anyone would think the noise sounded like farting.
08-10-08, 06:28 PM
I have a Giant Comfort Bike (recovering from bad back surgery and a nerve injury) with full suspension and disc brakes. I got the PL350 from NYCE Wheels. t took 6 weeks to get due to backorders (not the shops fault). It's only a two man shop, so sometimes they dont always answer emails.
I weigh 206 lbs. My range goes between 16-32 miles. I can get it down to 12 miles if i use 100% throttle. i never expected the high end of the range advertised. I got this due to gas being so high, ona fixed income, and for physical therapy. I have actually seen the bike on its own hit 22mph. The regen actually works well. Todays pleasure ride over the brooklyn bridge, the battery pack recharged itself. I really do not notice any noise. The battery pack is on a bike rack. i am using a much bigger Bike Bag then the one bionix supplies. That was the only disapointment with the system. The boost on level4 catches me by surprise sometimes. I tend to use levels 1 and 2 for the most part, ocassionally 3.
The only thing i wish it had was a power tap for a headlight and tail light.
I just passed the 400 mile mark on the system, and only had one goofy reboot at 23 miles. The bike is heavier then i expected, but since I have worked on electric cars in the past, I wasnt shocked by it. I am thinking about adding more batteries for more range. Starbucks being starbucks, i have plugged in there for some extra juice with my coffee break on occasion :).
I am very happy with this purchase. This is great if you are disabled or are recovering from an injury.
08-11-08, 05:34 PM
I got my refund from the difference in cost. I ended up taking the kit off my commuter less than a week after I got it. I found myself not shifting, and just getting lazy overall. I ended up putting it on my hardtail mountain bike. My wife now rides it and she can keep up, and usually out accellerate me on my Fixed gear.
I found myself making it to work faster with it, but I took more direct routes and that's the only reason.
I was able to tow my trailer full of beer on a social ride and out accellerated everyone else so that was fun. And it will definitely be used for the grocery runs.
I do like the kit, but I don't know that I would buy it again for myself (maybe the PL250 for my wife.) My kit got what was estimated for the mileage, but I think on a mountain bike it will get less. Regenerative brake is nice, and reduces the wear and tear on your bike from the added weight. I ran it in regenerative mode to and from work and it charged up 1 bar, and the next day I was able to keep the battery at the same level by using the regenerative braking and keeping it on assist level 2.
I charged the battery when it was 1/2 full and it used .19 Kilo watts. And at 8 cents a kilowatt (more after green power) it's super cheap to operate.
Very fun! All my friends that rode it thought it was really fun, but since it doesn't get over 24mph easily it has drawbacks for people that can easily ride faster than that.
I wanted to add, I mounted this waterbottle style battery mount on a bike that doesn't have water bottle mounts with some hose clamps, you can mount this way easily, and the bracket has slots for this mounting style. It is hard or maybe impossible to remove the battery with it this way. But it's an added theft detterant, and I keep the bike inside anyways.
I also read a review elsewhere of the 9 speed freewheel sunrace makes. I had no problems using this with my STI shifters on either my mountain bike or my cyclocross bike. I'd make sure your hanger is straight if you are having problems.
08-15-08, 07:20 PM
I wanted to add that I rode the bike today in the pouring rain with no ill effects. I was very surprised.
01-28-09, 09:04 AM
hello Kermit 43!
Reviving this old thread to ask if you used the Bionx to go up any steep hills, like hills that are not graded for cars, I mean REALLY steep hills!
If so, how did it do?
02-02-09, 10:36 AM
Yes. On the NYC Bikepath along the Hudson there are two VERY steep hills. I use the motor assist going up (you have to pedal along to maintain balance). It will get you up but not at lightening speed. What is amazing is that on the downhill side it almost recovers all the power that it used going up.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.1.12 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.