Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Base of the Rocky Mountains, Canada. Wonderous things!
Bikes: 2010 Cannondale Hooligan 3
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Well, freewheels mean less gears, but not necessarily poor gearing. Shimano used to make an 11-34, 7 speed freewheel "megarange", which i'm not sure they do anymore. Its still an easy task to find a 13-34 or a 14-34, both of which are more than adequate for utility bikes. The only trick to these setups is that the higher ranges are evenly spaced, but there's a big jump between first and second.
As to why these companies are still doing freewheel over cassette, I don't know. I could see Crystalyte doing something like that as their product really doesn't evolve much, but with how "cutting edge" BionX is, you'd think they'd have figured out a way to work cassette into the mix by now.
Its still possible to obtain a good gear range, just impossible to do one which is evenly spaced all the way.
I wouldn't honestly suggest BionX for a utility bike to begin with, it doesn't put out a lot of torque compared to some other systems, I would personally value added torque output over a few pounds of weight.
Ebikes.ca also had some experimental Crystalyte motors with cassette systems on them a while back which had some problems but which could be solved as well, Email them and see if they have any solutions in this regard.
Personally, the Ezee seems like a pretty good solution as long as you're planning on mounting it into a rigid fork. These kits put out quite a bit of torque, and you could keep both things you love.