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Thread: Buy or Build?

  1. #1
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    Buy or Build?

    The new Bikes in Buildings law is live in NYC as of today. Buildings have a 30 day period to decide how to handle it, but my building put in some vertical racks and I was the first one to hang a bike on one this morning. It's in the loading dock by the security office so it's pretty safe. Time to get the ebike I'm thinking.

    I'm still looking at the Trek line since I do like their bikes but they're so expensive - $2400-2700 or so. And they can't be found. Bicycle Habitat says they will get some in a few weeks, a place out on Long Island says they won't arrive until March or so.

    There really isn't a big difference between spending $1900 for a Bionx Kit plus $700 for a bike and paying $2600 for a bike with the kit specially mated to it. What is Trek doing that makes a Valencia Plus different from putting a Bionx PL350 on a Valenica? The nice rear rack?

    I'm riding a Trek 7100 hybrid - pretty heavy and maybe 20,000 miles on it. I suppose I could just get the Bionx kit and install it on that? It's only a 7 speed rear wheel which I think is good if you're putting a hub motor on the wheel. I read somewhere that 8 and 9 speed bikes are more difficult. Still, with so many miles on the bike already I'm thinking that the bottom bracket might just fall off.

    And where does one get a torque arm anyway?

  2. #2
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgk02 View Post
    The new Bikes in Buildings law is live in NYC as of today. Buildings have a 30 day period to decide how to handle it, but my building put in some vertical racks and I was the first one to hang a bike on one this morning. It's in the loading dock by the security office so it's pretty safe. Time to get the ebike I'm thinking.

    I'm still looking at the Trek line since I do like their bikes but they're so expensive - $2400-2700 or so. And they can't be found. Bicycle Habitat says they will get some in a few weeks, a place out on Long Island says they won't arrive until March or so.

    There really isn't a big difference between spending $1900 for a Bionx Kit plus $700 for a bike and paying $2600 for a bike with the kit specially mated to it. What is Trek doing that makes a Valencia Plus different from putting a Bionx PL350 on a Valenica? The nice rear rack?

    I'm riding a Trek 7100 hybrid - pretty heavy and maybe 20,000 miles on it. I suppose I could just get the Bionx kit and install it on that? It's only a 7 speed rear wheel which I think is good if you're putting a hub motor on the wheel. I read somewhere that 8 and 9 speed bikes are more difficult. Still, with so many miles on the bike already I'm thinking that the bottom bracket might just fall off.

    And where does one get a torque arm anyway?
    Before investing much money in building an e-bike for use in NYC, you may want to post some questions in the general e-bike forum on Endless-Sphere. It appears that the NYC police department may be beginning to enforce the NY state-wide ban on riding e-bikes on public streets. A member of the Endless-Sphere forum there who lives in NYC posted that he was stopped 2 weeks ago and the police threated to seize his bike and Ping LIFEPO4 battery because he was violating the ban. You may want to check to see if others are having issues now, too.

    As for torque arms, you can get them from a number of kit vendors including e-bikekit.com, falconev.com, ebikes,ca.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Snowsurfer's Avatar
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    Yeah, check the ebike laws. They are illegal in NYC.

    The ES guy started a thread about concealing his motor. Cops know about them now and how to spot them. Panniers, or no, you could be stopped.

    If this is any indication of the cops in your area, watch out! The cop lied through his teeth. Cops can distort the truth, and will gang up on you. Not trying to turn this into a debate, cops mostly serve and protect, but there are bad ones there too. Just try to be on the right side of the law. Having a $500-$1000 Ping confiscated is no fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgk02 View Post
    There really isn't a big difference between spending $1900 for a Bionx Kit plus $700 for a bike and paying $2600 for a bike with the kit specially mated to it. What is Trek doing that makes a Valencia Plus different from putting a Bionx PL350 on a Valenica? The nice rear rack?
    You do get the nice rear rack, a more stealthy battery location, and a cute tail light. You lose the thumb throttle that a PL350 would include. The weight balance will be different -- the standard Bionx mounting on the down tube bottle fittings will have a lower center of gravity and less of the extra weight on the rear wheel. (Those of us who tend to commute with a lot of stuff in our panniers already put a lot of weight back there.)

    The more interesting differences to me revolve around service and support, and they're still open questions as far as I'm concerned. Trek dealers are not likely to be Bionx gurus, but then many Bionx dealers aren't either. It can be difficult for consumers to communicate directly with Bionx; it remains to be seen if Trek will provide an improved customer service experience. If you have the option of working with a local Bionx dealer who sells a lot of them like http://nycebikes.com , that might be a deciding factor.

    It's also worth noting that Bionx kit prices seem to be rising and the price difference may be less than you'd expect, especially if you end up buying a new and more flat-resistant tire for your Bionx wheel.

    Most folks don't seem to think that Bionx hubs need torque arms, especially for rear installation. Though I think the torque is perfectly adequate, they don't generate nearly as much of it as some of the geared/higher-voltage systems out there.

    I think folks tend to be pretty good about realizing what they're comfortable with. If you want a simple turn-key experience, the Trek is a fine answer. If you're willing to invest a little time to work with a dealer who can tweak the installation to your liking and save a little cash, the kit is probably better. Then again, if you're very price-sensitive you're probably looking at alternatives to Bionx in the first place.

    Charlie
    http://ElectricCyclist.com

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    I'm riding a Trek 7100 hybrid - pretty heavy
    How heavy is heavy?

    I really don't see why you shouldn't be able to install a kit on your existing Trek - that is if you like to tinker and are good at it.

    Personally, I'm more of a turn-key guy so I bought a fully assembled ebike. But that's just a personal preference.

    To be honest, I also think that there are some better value propositions out there beyond Trek and Bionx.

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    Like what? I really do like the Trek Valencia+ - well, I like the pictures and like the regular Valencia. It is expensive but is this a case of getting what you pay for?

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    I guess it depends on your budget and personal preference.

    For me I don't see how much more value you get from a kit by Bionx retailing for $1890 versus a kit from AmpedBikes retailing for under $500- at the end of the day both will propel your bike pretty much the same way.
    It's true that Bionx has some extra bells and whistles but I am not very impressed by them personally.

    There's no question that the Valencia is a nice bicycle, but it is very pricey. I think that you can find better values out there for complete solution ebikes.

    I work in the business and don't wish to use this forum for shameless self promotion so I will refrain from mentioning brands. If you are curious you can look at my profile or send me a PM.

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    In New York, you should just buy an expensive racing bike because e-bikes are illegal there. Sorry.

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    dgk
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    Quote Originally Posted by morph999 View Post
    In New York, you should just buy an expensive racing bike because e-bikes are illegal there. Sorry.
    I'm working on that; NY appears to be the only state where it is illegal. It won't be the first time I've done something illegal however, and some of the things I've done risked far more than a traffic ticket. I'm older now though. In fact, old enough that the geometry of a racing bike just doesn't really fit me anymore. Nor, in fact, does a nice mountain bike like my Trek 7000 that mostly hangs on a wall in the garage. A nice expensive racing bike also doesn't take care of the headwinds for me.

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    dgk
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    Quote Originally Posted by urbanadapter View Post
    I guess it depends on your budget and personal preference.

    For me I don't see how much more value you get from a kit by Bionx retailing for $1890 versus a kit from AmpedBikes retailing for under $500- at the end of the day both will propel your bike pretty much the same way.
    It's true that Bionx has some extra bells and whistles but I am not very impressed by them personally.

    There's no question that the Valencia is a nice bicycle, but it is very pricey. I think that you can find better values out there for complete solution ebikes.

    I work in the business and don't wish to use this forum for shameless self promotion so I will refrain from mentioning brands. If you are curious you can look at my profile or send me a PM.
    I'm asking for opinions so voicing them shouldn't be a problem. You clearly have more experience on the subject than I do.

    The big cost in the more expensive systems appears to be the Li Ion battery, the big benefits are reduced weight and more recharge cycles which should offset the cost difference - how much I can't say. But if I can use a Li Ion battery twice as long as an SLA, that sort of makes sense.

    I also would prefer a bike that is light enough so I don't need to use the battery at all some of the time or even most of the time. The Valencia seems light enough that I can likely add the whole kit and not be much heavier than my current 7100. I do think about just puting a kit on the 7100 but it's a cheap bike that has gone through a lot of all-weather miles. It just doesn't seem cost effective to do that.

    The old mortgage ends in 11 months - which is why I'm considering this at all.

  11. #11
    Jerry the Spinner
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    If you buy the BionX kit for 1,900 dollars it only has a one year warranty. If you buy the Trek Valencia+ the BionX system has a two year warranty. I currently commute 20 to 30 miles per day. My bike is the Montague with the Currie kit. The bike weight is 32 pounds and the Currie kit is 50 pounds Motor and two batteries. This is alot of weight and I normally only use the motor around 10% to 35% of my commute. The Valencia bike is 25 pounds and the BionX system is around 15 pounds. I know when I bike with only one battery which is 15 pounds less it does make a difference. I am hoping with the Valencia+ which is a better bike and lighter to bike 30 miles per day.
    Bicycle Commuter from New York City.

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    dgk
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    We're in serious agreement here. I'm really leaning towards the Valencia+. But one of the biggest Trek dealers in NYC (Brickwell) still says mid-April. Maybe Bicycle Habitat knows something else but I think it's going to be mid-April. I can wait but I don't like it.

    The Trek battery does appear to be the same capacity as the normal PL350 battery (that was a worry of mine). Now I just hope I can replace cells when it eventually needs to be replaced.

  13. #13
    Jerry the Spinner
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    It also seems that the Trek Valencia+ rear wheel is only 3.5 pounds additional then the wheel on the regular Valencia. According to BionX it should be 10 pounds for the Motor. After Taking with a Trek dealer it seems that the Bion X system is designed specifically for the Trek bikes. Therefore, the kit that you buy is generic that can be used on all types of bikes. That is why Bion X only gives a one year warranty. Since BionX worked with Trek Bike and know what type of bicycle the BionX system is running on. BionX is giving a 2 year warranty.

    I do agree it pays to wait. I was also hoping by the time the battery needs to be replaced I will be in such good shape and will not need a motor any more. The bicycle can be converted into a regular bike. I spoke with a Trek dealer and the rear wheel can be replaced with a regular non motorized Wheel.

    I was also wondering if you looked into the FX+?

    Bicycle Commuter from New York City.

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    What about buying an old moped and converting it to electrical? Before you convert it, get it registered and everything. Then you'll be legal and electrical. Look up someone who has done it. I heard about someone who bought an e-max scooter and it goes 40 mph. Not sure how he did it. Some of the older zapino scooter like the 2006 versions, are really easy to modify to go faster. That might be your best bet and then register it. If I was in NYC, though, I'd probably just buy a motorcycle. I don't use electrical bikes to be green, though. I just do it for fun.

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    dgk
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    Quote Originally Posted by morph999 View Post
    What about buying an old moped and converting it to electrical? Before you convert it, get it registered and everything. Then you'll be legal and electrical. Look up someone who has done it. I heard about someone who bought an e-max scooter and it goes 40 mph. Not sure how he did it. Some of the older zapino scooter like the 2006 versions, are really easy to modify to go faster. That might be your best bet and then register it. If I was in NYC, though, I'd probably just buy a motorcycle. I don't use electrical bikes to be green, though. I just do it for fun.
    Because I want a bike, not a moped. Mostly I plan on pedaling - that's how the heart stays healthy. Well, unless you're pedaling hard right next to a highway with a bunch of cars spewing out poison. Then I kick in the assist.

  16. #16
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    I came across a guy in Syracuse who had a Bionx kit. He was pretty upset that he was on his third battery in only a few years and it was difficult finding a place to replace them. I want to say it was several hundred dollars (7-900?) to replace the battery. My Ping was much less than that, is much lighter, will last much longer, and provides more volts and higher amp-hours (faster and longer-lived). Plus, if I upgrade my motor, the battery can still be used. This was really the nail in the coffin for Bionx, for me. I certainly understand the appeal of it, though. As far as quality of motor and battery- not an issue. I've ridden across a field of deep snow because it was the shorter route this winter, up and down Finger Lakes hills, through deep puddles, rainstorms, snowstorms, REALLY cold weather... I'm really happy with Ping and Amped. I know there are other builds that have more torque, faster, just as reliable, etc, so I'm just adding an opinion on what I've got!
    '02 Fuji Finest AL
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    13 mile roundtrip commute, 150 days/school year

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    dgk
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerryTheSpinner View Post
    I was also wondering if you looked into the FX+?

    [/FONT]
    The 7200 is the comfort bike, a slight improvement on my current 7100. The Valencia is the Commuter bike and the FX is sort of the 7.3 type, really more of a road bike. I mostly don't like the hunched-over road bike geometry anyway, and particularly not for commuting in Manhattan where I keep my eyes on things. I would actually prefer the 7200 but I do not need a front suspension fork nor even the saddle spring. The fork on my 7100 has been frozen for the last three years and I do not miss it.

    So, looks like the Valencia I think. I don't know enough about the different components to make an informed decision. But the Valencia does come with cool looking fenders and lights. And I will certainly need both fenders and lights.

  18. #18
    dgk
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucasgo View Post
    I came across a guy in Syracuse who had a Bionx kit. He was pretty upset that he was on his third battery in only a few years and it was difficult finding a place to replace them. I want to say it was several hundred dollars (7-900?) to replace the battery. My Ping was much less than that, is much lighter, will last much longer, and provides more volts and higher amp-hours (faster and longer-lived). Plus, if I upgrade my motor, the battery can still be used. This was really the nail in the coffin for Bionx, for me. I certainly understand the appeal of it, though. As far as quality of motor and battery- not an issue. I've ridden across a field of deep snow because it was the shorter route this winter, up and down Finger Lakes hills, through deep puddles, rainstorms, snowstorms, REALLY cold weather... I'm really happy with Ping and Amped. I know there are other builds that have more torque, faster, just as reliable, etc, so I'm just adding an opinion on what I've got!
    Doesn't the Amped kit include only the SLA battery? Or I guess you get one without and get a Ping Li Ion? So you say to get an Amped kit for around $400 and spend $400 or so for a 36v 15ah battery? Plus $700 for the new bike to put it on. Much cheaper than $2500 for the Trek. I gain 5ah, I think the Bionx is only 10ah. Cheaper replacement? Likely. Same length of service? Probably close. But I don't get pedal assist with the Amped... just throttle?

    Bionx folks, what do you say?

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    YOu can get a 36v20ah Thundersky lifepo4 pack for $380. That's what I got on my bike right now. http://elitepowersolutions.com

  20. #20
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    I wanted the Amped Phylion, but they were out, so I ended up with the Ping. I think I'm happier that way anyway. No, there is no pedal assist, but I'm the type to just mash the pedals anyway, so it's kind of irrelevant. I clip in, even during winter when I know a lot of commuters switch to platform pedals. I've lost 10 pounds in the past two months from riding my electric bike... and I wasn't really looking to do that! I consider myself in good shape, just wanted to arrive not so sweaty.
    $700 for a new bike? Heck, I put it on my 12? year old hybrid, which was probably 350 new. I almost bought a $250 new hybrid, but opted to just beat this one to a pulp first. My total expenses were: $330 for Amped, 450 for Ping, 75 to replace some components on my bike that had to go. I also ended up spending another 100 on GOOD tires. $950ish total. I can take my time and look for a new bike that I want to transfer it to, and I'm not limited to the models that Trek has chosen. I can go with virtually any 700c bike when the time comes.
    '02 Fuji Finest AL
    '97 Trek Multitrack w/Amped rear 500w 36v15ah Ping
    13 mile roundtrip commute, 150 days/school year

  21. #21
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    FWIW, the Bionx web site still quotes the same 2-year warranty they've always had.

    It remains to be seen if Bionx has tweaked their firmware in any important way for Trek. The motor casting looks slightly different, but it's hard to believe the internals are different in any important way.

    Charlie
    http://ElectricCyclist.com

  22. #22
    Thread Killer evblazer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morph999 View Post
    YOu can get a 36v20ah Thundersky lifepo4 pack for $380. That's what I got on my bike right now. http://elitepowersolutions.com
    I'm seeing $440 for apack.. Am I missing some other link on the site where they are cheaper or did you just get one without a charger?
    Last edited by evblazer; 01-22-10 at 03:47 PM.

  23. #23
    Jerry the Spinner
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    Quote Originally Posted by crichman View Post
    FWIW, the Bionx web site still quotes the same 2-year warranty they've always had.

    It remains to be seen if Bionx has tweaked their firmware in any important way for Trek. The motor casting looks slightly different, but it's hard to believe the internals are different in any important way.

    Charlie
    http://ElectricCyclist.com

    The battery is only a one year warranty. It seems Trek is serious about getting into the Ebike business. My understanding is BionX engineers worked closely with Trek engineers. Why would Trek extend the warranty on the battery 2 years?
    Bicycle Commuter from New York City.

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    yeah, I got them without a charger. Sorry, I should have said that. If you go into batteries and select 3 of the TS-LP20AH...you'll see that it adds up to $384. (at elitepowersolutions.com)

    I don't recommend the charger that they send out. I'm using a 12v black and decker. I've heard bad things about their charger so I didn't get that.

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