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.
However, 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.
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.
What 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:
Meanwhile, the PL350:
Finally, the SL350:
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!