This is an in-depth review of BionX electric bike kits, plus information about the different kits that are available. The high quality BionX electric bike kits can be retrofitted to almost any bike, turning an ordinary bike into an electric bike in less than an hour! The BionX motor is supplied already laced into a rear wheel (BionX does not do front-wheel drive). Wheel sizes are 20, 24, 26 inch, and 700 cc. Here is a video about BionX electric bike kits:
The BionX electric bike kits are best suited to hybrid bikes, but are seen on an incredible variety of bikes these days. The kits come with a two-year factory warranty. I have had great results with fitting them to hybrid bikes.
Direct Drive Gearless Motor in BionX Electric Bike Kit
The motor in BionX electric bike kits is robust, direct drive, gearless, fairly boxy and heavy, but absolutely silent. In a world full of generic electric bike kits, BionX is the undisputed leader in quality. I have never yet had a kit fail on me – even after cycling through snow, and torrential downpours as well.
If you are going to get a great bike, get a great bike lock. This is the best selling bike lock on Amazon, and it’s great value for money.
The battery of the BionX electric bike kits is usually mounted in the triangle of the frame, making for a well-balanced bike and a great bike-riding feel. The entire system is integrated, which is great when it works (and it almost always does). However, you cannot replace parts with non-proprietary parts. So you will always need to pay BionX’s fairly high prices if you want to replace parts. And you will not be able to hot-rod the BionX kit in any way.
On the other hand, even though BionX electric bike kits are expensive, if you are retrofitting a BionX kit to your existing bike, it is going to be about the same price as, or cheaper than, buying one of the wonderful new factory electric bikes (such as the Haibike Xduro Trekking Pro, reviewed here). And if you decide you don’t need electric assistance any more, you can just remove the BionX kit. Although, to be fair, I have never heard of anyone doing this. Once you go electric, you never look back (except perhaps to enjoy the amazed faces of the younger cyclists you just passed).
Pre-fitted BionX Electric Bike Kits
BionX electric bike systems were first introduced over ten years ago as purely a retrofit product for any bike, but in recent years BionX has also teamed up with dozens of quality bike manufacturers in Europe and North America, so that you can buy a new bike with a BionX system pre-fitted. These include great brands like Trek, Norco, Matra and Wheeler.
Related: Review of one of the best Crank Drive Electric Bikes in the World – the Haibike Xduro Trekking Pro
The Components of the BionX Electric Bike Kit
The BionX electric bike kit is so versatile that it can be fitted to almost any bike frame, including smaller bikes and folding bikes. One restriction is that the BionX e-bike systems are only compatible with 135 mm axle sizes.
The BionX electric bike kit consists of a handlebar-mounted console, an electric motor in the hub of the rear wheel (hub motor), and a lithium ion battery that can be easily removed for charging. And of course, there is cabling to connect all the components. See near the bottom of this post for the weight of the various systems.
The BionX electric bike kit also offers a lot of choice when it comes to power levels. You use the handlebar-mounted console to choose level of assist. It offers four levels of proportional torque assist via a motor built into the hub of the rear wheel, so that you can use as much (or as little) assistance as you like. It is based on a pedelec system, matching your pedalling input with electric assist. The advanced pedelec system does not just sense that you are pedaling; it also senses how hard you are pedaling (how much power or torque you are expending), using a torque sensor on the rear axle. It matches its assistance based on that (and on the assistance level you have chosen).
BionX electric bike kits are perfect for many people. For example, they are ideal for anyone who is challenged while cycling (due to knee problems, heart problems, etc.). BionX electric bike kits offer a way to keep on cycling for those with challenges, as well as a way for completely able-boded people to take on very challenging rides and commutes. It’s also ideal if you need to tow a load of goods, or children. And I found it useful for long bike tours, carrying a lot of luggage.
Introduction to electric bikes Video
As you can see, electric bikes are great for a variety of people and uses. And BionX is one of the best of them. My first electric bike was a BionX electric bike kit retrofitted to a Devinci hybrid bike.
Here’s a review of my BionX 350 electric bike kit, and here’s a post about what it feels like to commute on a BionX 350 bike.
When I first used that BionX electric bike kit, it was like all my childhood dreams of being a superhero had finally come true. A champion professional rider’s average speed over a two-hour ride is 20.5 mph. That’s almost exactly the legal top speed of electric bikes. On a bike ride, champion cyclists expend about 3730watts of power, continuously. Most electric bike motors operate continuously in the range of 300 to 600 watts.
So basically, most electric bikes will enable you to get up hills like a champion!
BionX gives you this kind of power in a silent, vibration-free motor. Thanks to the light weight and silence of the motor, you really do feel like you are riding an ordinary (somewhat heavy) bike – except that you are suddenly bionically strong!
Deciding which electric bike is the best electric bike for YOU is not easy – and it’s important that you make the right choice, because it may be a big investment. I have written a book about how to choose the best electric bike for you. The book includes reviews of many of the best electric bikes on the market today. Click here to find out more about this book.
How to Install a BionX Electric Bike Kit
Here’s a video that shows what’s involved with retrofitting a BionX kit to your bike. You can do it yourself, or get your local bike shop to do it for you. It takes about an hour and will cost you about $100, if you get a qualified bike shop to do it.
Every BionX electric bike system comes with a top quality lithium ion battery, plus a charger. One drawback with these electric bike systems is that a replacement (or extra) battery is very expensive. On the other hand, if you take good care of your battery, it should last you for years. In this post, I supply valuable tips on how to get the most out of your lithium battery.
Throttle on the BionX Electric Bike System
This does not look like much, but it is actually one of the better quality throttles. It consists of a small switch, which responds based on how hard you touch it. You can mount it right next to your left or your right thumb (most electric bike systems don’t give you this choice). The throttle is just great for pulling off on a hill, or for an extra burst of speed if you suddenly need to get clear of traffic.
Just next to the throttle is a button to adjust assistance levels. It is great to be able to adjust power levels on the fly without moving your hands. You will be amazed at how handy this is.
BionX is one of the very few brands of electric bike systems to offer regenerative braking. These can save you some energy and help to slow you down on steep downhills. They will keep your brakes cool, and help your brake pads to last longer. The system works well, kicking in the second you apply brakes.
However, it is my experience that the power gain from regeneration is pretty negligible, even on these high quality BionX electric bike systems. Bear in mind that even the hi-tech regeneration on electric cars gains less than 10% of the original charge. Therefore, this will probably not help you much unless you have an exceptionally hilly route. Even then, the savings may be more on your brakes than on your battery expenditure.
Note that just as there are 4 levels of assistance in the A (assistance mode) there are also 4 levels of assistance in the G (Generate) mode. I must say that I do actually find the 4 differing levels of regeneration quite useful, especially on very hilly terrain. It is great to be able to engage the highest level of regeneration and really slow the bike down on steep descents, or just engage the lowest level of regeneration to slow down approaching a red light.
Range of BionX Systems
A few years ago BionX was available only in 250W and 350W systems. Now it features 250W, a whole range of 350 systems, plus the new BionX 500 that is combined with a new 555 Wh battery. However, you can only buy the 500 system in Switzerland – they are illegal everywhere else. In fact, your choice of BionX system will be dictated by what is legal where you live, as you will see from the list of BionX motors below.
Some people scoff at BionX because they cannot buy a 500W system, let alone a 750W. However, in my experience, almost nobody needs that much power. You will get great electric assistance from the 250W and the 350W systems, both of which are awesome. I have personally owned and ridden both systems for years, and in my experience you simply cannot go wrong with BionX. There is a range of choices of the 350W, along with choices of different battery styles. BionX claims that the S 350 DV system gives you superior power and a range up to 135 km.
Please see my post on How to Figure out the Range of your Electric Bike. I will believe a range of 135 km when I ride it one day.
However, in case that sounds too negative – I love BionX and think they are one of the most awesome inventions of modern times. In fact I love all good electric bikes, and the BionX electric bike kit is definitely one of the best. The engine is a sealed unit, a geared, brushless motor that requires no maintenance and just keeps going, apparently forever. I have never yet had one malfunction.
I found the 250W motor was perfect for everyday commuting without many hills, while the 350W was great for a long commute with really steep hills.
On the other hand, if you are a speed demon or need to climb massive hills, it is possible that you will find the 350 W under-powered, and may want to choose a 750 W bike (which is legal in the United States).
The New Mountain Mode for BionX motors
A recent innovation in BionX is the “Mountain Mode.” This is designed to optimize performance in alpine terrain. BionX recommends that the Mountain Mode should be activated right at the beginning of a long uphill, and will give you optimized performance, sustaining your power up to the top of the hill. They claim that it is not a “level 5″ of assistance; rather, it is a different setting.
Another innovation in the BionX is an LED touch port on the battery. You simply swipe your finger slowly over the touch port; the port will illuminate to show you the charge status of the battery:
- 100-75 % = Green
75-20 % = Amber
< 20% = Red
The cool thing is that as the BionX electric bike system is so silent, people often don’t even realize you have an assist. Especially as the engine is hidden in the back wheel, so that, the fact that you have an assist is not blatantly obvious.
BionX Electric Bike Kits – a Truly Great System
The bottom line is that the BionX electric bike kit is a GREAT electric bike system. You just retrofit your existing bike with a new back wheel (which has the motor built in), a battery, and a console to control it all. Or you pay a bike shop to retrofit it.
You still have the wonderful feel of regular biking (although the bike is a lot heavier). And you can cycle without assistance whenever you want, such as on flats or downhills.
Advantages of Having a BionX Electric Bike Kit
With BionX you will be still be pedaling and building up a sweat – but you will be able to cycle a whole lot faster, and get up hills with ease if you use level 4 assistance. The system lets you build up your fitness, health and strength, without exhausting yourself. If your commute is not too hard and you use a lot of assistance, you can get to work without being sweaty.
For me the greatest advantage is that I bike much more often than I would if I did not have the BionX PL-350 electric bike kit. BionX makes cycling fun. In fact, research clearly shows that electric bikes cause most people – especially women – to cycle much more.
My BionX electric bike kit also makes it possible for me to manage my very long commute, with lots of hills. Interestingly, research shows that people who buy electric bikes are likely to get fitter than people who buy regular bikes, because they are likely to use them much more often and for longer rides. So electric bike riders are getting prolonged, regular aerobic exercise, which is pretty much a prescription for good cardiovascular health.
Many people like electric bikes because they can cycle to work without getting too sweaty, by using maximum assist. Then on the way home, they can use minimal assist to get a lot of exercise and work up a sweat – then enjoy a shower when they get home!
Another advantage is that after the initial really large cash outlay, a BionX electric bike kit is very, very cheap to run. The electricity it requires to charge is so minor that you will not be able to detect it on your electricity bill.
Different Kinds of BionX Motors
The new BionX motors are even bigger than before, so forget about being “stealth.” Personally I don’t care at all about being stealth. I’m like “Yeah, it’s an electric bike – deal with it.” I am also not secretive about my electric toothbrush, or my car (which has a MUCH bigger motor than my electric bike). And I shamelessly take elevators every day, in public. And I am frequently seen on buses and trains. In short, I am comfortable with being seen to use machines that make things easier for human beings, and my electric bike is no exception!
This is the original BionX motor, using a brushless DC hub motor technology.
- Nominal power: 200W (AU & UK), 250W (EU), 350W (NA)
- Torque: 9/40Nm (6.6/29lb-ft)
- Weight: 4.7 kg (10.4 lb)
- NEW: cassette body, compatible with 8/9/10 speed cassettes from Shimano or SRAM
The S-Series motor is 25% lighter than the P-Series motor, with the same performance.
- Nominal power: 200W (AU & UK), 250W (EU), 350W (NA)
- Torque: 9/40 Nm (6.6/29lb-ft)
- Weight: 3.5kg (7.7 lb)
- Compatible with 8/9/10 speed cassettes from Shimano or SRAM
The latest and newest BionX motor, the D-series is said to further advance the BionX motor, being extremely sporty, lightweight and powerful.
- Nominal power: 200W (AU & UK), 250W (EU), 500W (NA)
- Torque: 25/50 Nm (18.4/36.9lb-ft)
- Weight: 4.0kg (8.8 lb)
- Brushless, gearless
- Generate mode for energy recuperation
- Integrated torque sensor
Bottom Line on the BionX Electric Bike Kit
I have ridden this bike non-stop through many rainy winters, and even once got caught in snow. When that happened the BionX electric bike saved me, because my crank shaft frose up so much that I could not pedal, but my BionX electric bike kept right on going like it was nothing (it was born in Montreal, after all).
BionX electric bike kits are tough, reliable, high quality, high performing, powerful, reliable and cheap to run. Backed by a two-year warranty, these kits are expensive to buy, but offer cheap, healthy transportation once you have them. They are worth every cent. I would unreservedly recommend BionX electric bike kits to anyone who is challenged in their cycling by very long distances, very steep terrain, or any kind of health issue. Or just someone who wants to get home quickly without the stress of driving or transit. It’s a way to keep on cycling for almost anyone, no matter what, and that’s a beautiful thing. You can buy the latest, greatest version of the BionX electric bike kit here on Amazon.
Deciding which electric bike is the best electric bike for YOU is difficult. I have written a book about how to choose the best electric bike for you. The book includes reviews of many of the best electric bikes on the market today. Click here to find out more about this book.
Thinking of buying an Electric Bike? Check out my new 2017 edition of How to Buy the Best Electric Bike! Buy it here.
Read all about How to Buy the Best Electric Bike here.
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