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Old 06-15-09, 04:43 PM   #1
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The Bionx Tourer - First Report

Athletic Disclaimer:

From the very beginning I purchased my Bionx PL350 as an enhancement for touring, so this short series of reports will be concentrating on the effectiveness of that motor/battery combination over distance: rather than commuting.

I am not an athlete - and don't pretend to be an athlete - so my ambitions for the motor are to help me during multi-day trips (around 50 miles per day) and to help me extend my range during long single day trips (to accomplish 60 and 70 mile rides).

Purchase and Installation

The mating of motor to bicycle was easy in my case ... since I paid someone else to do it. The Bionx kit was added to a Montague Paratrooper bicycle by my local Bionx dealer: Eco Moto, in Salt Lake City.

The Montague is a full size folding bicycle ( - giving me an advantage in eventually packing, or shipping, the folded frame to remote locations. It has a military look about it, which I thought was cool. And the Montague frame has its water bottle bolts in an unusual location: which allows the Bionx battery to be mounted in a very low position, almost dead center in the frame (front to back).

The primary disadvantage of the Paratrooper is that it is not really designed to carry a lot of stuff. Adding racks, fenders, and water-carrying capacity to that bicycle turned out to be a real exercise in improvisation. Although everything did finally fit.

The Maiden Voyage

The first long ride with the modified bicycle took place last weekend. It followed what I call the Misery Loop: about 18 miles of steady, steady, steady climbing up on the East Bench of Salt Lake ... with a white knuckle descent at the end.

My Reactions to the Bionx Unit (First Ride)

- The Surge. If this has been discussed on this forum, then I must have missed it. The sensor in the motor gives its biggest "push" in response to the biggest effort. So, from a standing start, there is a Surge of power (pretty exhilerating) ... and then a feeling of drag as pedaling effort decreases, and the motor stops pushing. Then another Surge ... and another feeling of drag. And so on. Since this is inherent in the design of the product, it seems that it is up to the user to understand how to manipulate the hardware to get the best result. This is something that I will have to work on in the future.

- Gearing vs Assist Combinations. Some of these combinations certainly work better than others. For this ride, the biggest transition was understanding that "spinning" meant that the motor would not be helping very much. On an unassisted bicycle, "spinning" is just second nature on a climb: to compensate for lack of leg strength and to reduce pressure on the knees. But the Bionx motor is measuring effort - so its effects during a climb seem to be more dramatic in higher gears. It seems to reward "mashing" much more than "spinning". (What effect this is going to have on my knees is yet to be seen).

- Raw Power (Lack Of). The idea that I could just relax and throttle up any hill has been effectively dismissed. For a rider/bicycle/motor combination around 275 pounds there were some grades that the motor just could not handle by itself. Since I hate to climb, this was a disappointment.

- Battery Life. I was heavy on the throttle the first time out, trying to see what the motor would do by itself ... so there were only 3 bars showing at the end of 18 miles. For someone looking forward to extended rides, this was very discouraging. Obviously, my future experiments will have to concentrate on getting more distance out of the battery.


The key question in the months to come is whether, or not, the weight of the battery/motor combination is justified by the performance boost I get from the electric assist. For the maiden voyage, I would estimate that the Bionx unit only helped me by a factor of about 20%. I was able to pass some other riders in an area where I normally would not be able to pass ... but the Misery Loop took about as long as it takes on an unassisted bicycle, and I felt only marginally less fatigued when I returned home.

So ... more experiments in store.

Thanks for your attention.
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Old 06-16-09, 12:34 PM   #2
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you could have installed it yourself.

it's sooo easy that you wouldn't believe it.

there is no real fine tuning per say, except unless you have a weird rear axle for the wheel, then you might have had to do some tweaking, but over all, it's plug and play, as it was for me

re: carrying stuff, i went with Panniers, and Velcro extensions to water bottle cage, etc, as the empty triangle spot was used for the battery.

re: "surge"
it's working as designed.
as the name suggest, it is not a motorcycle, the bionX is designed for ASSISTING your pedalling, it does not pedal for you, as other brands of eBikes bold ons do.

for that reason i've chosen BionX vs. the competitors products, as i just wanted assistance for the uphills, but wanted to keep the biking experience as a BIKE, and not a "e-motor-cycle"

i always try to maintain my pedalling as steady-fast as possible to prevent the drag feel you are referring to.

Actually there should be no Drag Feel at all if you have that, then something is not set up right.

when i do not pedal and coast "free wheeling" it can go on for a good looooong distance on flats and specially on down hill without that DRAG feel.

if you have a DRAG feel, check that your "G" recharge is not activated.

You might want to have some one recheck your bike setup, it just doesn't sounds right.

hmm... re: "raw power" as stated previously the design for the BionX is based on Assisting, not "be a e-motor cycle replacement"

the PL versions of the BionX has the level that lets you push raw power, but it can only do so much on its own, it was meant to throttle you on flats, not on hills.
(i did my research before buying )

However it does work well if you have an average weight, in a few occasions i've been just too tired to pedal up a long uphill, and i simply throttle up the rest of the way, the bike net weight is 55 lbs (this includes the 17lbs of the BionX itself), me 165 lbs total some 220 lbs that the bike motor was hauling up on its own, so i'll say it's not bad, quite shabby instead

keep the Assist level at 2 or 3 for hills, and keep Assist level 1 for most of the ride then you can get some 80+ km (50mi) out of a single charge.

i do this on a daily basis for my 45km each way commute.

the Regeneration helps archive the extra 9~10 Km of the short coming of the battery life.
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Old 06-16-09, 10:16 PM   #3
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Thanks guys for the information. I am very interested in buying a bionx and you have talked about a lot of things that aren't talked about. Please keep up the good reporting.
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