BionX Conversion Kit Comparison

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BionX Conversion Kit Comparison

I think there are two kinds of people who are interested in converting their bicycles to use electric power. First, there are the technology lovers who cannot get enough gizmos to mount on their handlebars, and who could never be fulfilled by all the spec sheets a bike shop could offer. Then there are the rest of us, who couldn't tell a volt from a watt if our life depended on it. Of the latter category, I think many see the wonderful potential in having an electric bike--its energy efficiency is astounding, and it allows many to travel to places they wouldn't or couldn't otherwise.

BionX kit completeHowever, it can be frustrating for the non-tech-savvy to compare the detailed differences between different electric conversion systems. Since we here at NYCeWheels want to help you get the exact product that is best for you, I thought I'd break down what you get with each of the BionX systems, and what the different wattage and voltage ratings for each mean for you as a practical user.

Power Doesn't Always Equal Speed

The entry level PL250 BionX kit includes a 250-watt motor and a 24-volt battery. Since the more expensive kits use 350-watt motors, and 36- or even 48-volt batteries, many people assume that these kits will always be "better". And it's true, all other things being equal, the PL350 and SL350 kits are more powerful and would be faster--if it weren't for the fact that all BionX kits top out at about 20mph by design. For legal reasons, electric bike conversion kits tend to be governed at 20mph, since above these speeds the vehicles would no longer by considered simple "bicycles", and would require further licensing.

BionX with disc brakesWhat the increased wattage and voltage does get you, however, is increased power. Practically speaking, this translates into better acceleration and the ability to more easily tow large loads of heavy cargo. Thus, anyone looking for an electric conversion kit to help ascend steep hills, or pull trailers would do well to invest in the higher-level BionX conversion kits.

That said, there are still some other practical advantages to the humble PL250 kit. Due to its smaller battery capacity and stripped down motor, it is the lightest of the three BionX conversion kits. But before you jump to the conclusion that a smaller battery capacity will limit the range of a bike equipped with the PL250, bear in mind that the 250-watt motor requires less power to operate, which helps to conserve battery life. The result is that the BionX PL250 kit achieves a similar range per charge as do its larger cousins with bigger batteries--all while keeping to a svelte 16lb package.

So, to summarize, the PL250:

  • Has the least raw power, acceleration, and battery capacity, BUT the same top speed and range as the other kits
  • Is the lightest kit at 16lbs
  • Is the least expensive
  • Best electric bike kit for: anyone looking to save money, who wants a lightweight setup, and doesn't need to climb lots of hills or pull cargo

Meanwhile, the PL350:

  • Is the heaviest kit, at 19lbs
  • Has the motor that produces the most torque of the three BionX kits
  • Best BionX kit for: anyone who needs to climb the steepest hills and pull heavy cargo, and for whom weight is less of an issue. For example, we used the PL350 motor in one of our biggest, baddest, arguably best electric bike conversions ever, the Surly Pugsley:

Finally, the SL350:

BionX special
  • Is the premium option, with a highly efficient 48v battery
  • Due to its advanced technology, is quite lightweight at 17lbs, but produces slightly less torque than the PL350
  • Best BionX conversion kit for: anyone for whom money is not an object, wants good acceleration, has to tackle hills, and wants to get the most range out of their battery

Hopefully that should answer some of the basic questions you have about BionX kits. Now that you know which conversion system is right for you, head over to the BionX page and order yours today!