In the world of electric bicycles, there are two very different schools of thought about how the motors should operate. On one side, there are the electric-assist aficionados. Concerned mainly with keeping the pedal-power intact, this group just wants an added boost for a long uphill climb or a strenuous marathon ride. For them, the electric assistance is a bonus, not a necessity.
On the other side are the throttle twisters. This group of "bike" riders is concerned mainly with power and speed. Whether it is a physical disability, weak joints, or a brutal commute, they like having the option to sit back and relax while the motor does all the work. Sure, it makes the experience feel less like a bike ride and more like a scooter cruise, but who cares? It's fun either way.
These two warring factions have been trying to win over electric bike manufacturers in favor of one style over the other, and so far there seem to be an equal number of both kinds of electric bikes. There is one company, however, that managed to incorporate both systems into their quite ingenious design: The BionX electric bike motor kit.
BionX bike kits are known for their intuitive levels of pedal assist. Appeasing the cyclist, there are four different levels of assistance to choose from that range from 25% up to 200% of the rider's pedal power. How does this work? Well the motor wheel has a torque sensor built into the hub of the wheel. As soon as the chain feels tension from the pedals, the motor responds with a proportional amount of assistance. For long, flat rides, level 1 (25%) is great. It still allows for pedaling, but takes a bit of the strain off of the rider. Need more help going up a big hill? Switch up to level 3 or 4 (100% or 200%). Using the different assistance levels help to conserve battery life. The lower the assistance level, the longer the battery charge lasts.
The best thing about the BionX bike kit is the regenerative braking. Every time the rear brake is pulled, the motor switches from assist mode to regenerative mode. This pumps life back into the battery while the brake is pulled, and can allow the rider to extend the trip by ten or fifteen miles. Additionally, there are four levels of regeneration that counteract the rider's pedal power, kind of like an exercise bike. Set it to one of these levels on a long downhill and use the momentum to charge the Lithium battery. The combination of assistance and regeneration make BionX one of the longest-lasting electric bike motor kits available. But what about the throttle twisters?
One feature that was omitted from the description above is the unique thumb throttle that allows the rider to use 300% of their power and fly up hills with absolutely no trouble. At maximum speed, the throttle allows the rider to hit 20 miles per hour (on the BionX PL350) and maintain it, even without pedaling. Sound dangerous? Luckily BionX thought of a built-in safety cutoff: the throttle won't work from a dead stop. This means that when the bike is parked, you can't accidentally grab the throttle and run over that baby stroller or your neighbor's dog at 20 mph. The bike must be moving at about 2-3 mph first before the throttle can kick in. This also conserves the massive amount of energy it takes to power a 200-lb vehicle from a dead stop. On most throttle bikes, much of the battery life is depleted on the initial acceleration. With BionX, the ability to pedal the bike first really saves the life of the battery.
The BionX electric bike kit is one of the only options on the market that allows the rider to use both a throttle as well as an integrated pedal-assist. It has the ability to appease both groups of electric bike riders, and this is most likely the reason BionX has been so successful compared to the other electric bike kits. NYCeWheels has BionX kits available for test riding, and offers various motor sizes, mounting styles, and wheel sizes. Come in and take one for a test ride!