Posted by Steve Newbauer
This is an update — Many of you know that I purchased a 350 watt hub motor kit from Bionx. Everything was fine at first with the exception of not getting many miles out of the battery. I was truly disappointed in that factor as I found myself having to stop during my daily rides to plug in somewhere and recharge my battery. That was no fun. I wanted to be riding not sitting around waiting on a wee bit of charge to go back into my battery. One hour of charging was then used up in ten minutes or less. I shared my disappointment with the Bionx dealer and they told me to bring my trike in and they would check things out. It is a 2 hour drive to the dealer so I am not crazy about having to drive down there any more than I have to. I went down and they checked everything out saying it is all normal. That being said, Bionx was good enough to send the larger battery free of charge to replace the medium size battery I had purchased which was rated at 65 miles. I was getting about 27 at best. The larger battery is rated at 80 miles. One of my friends has this battery with his 350 watt hub motor. He gets far more miles per charge out of his battery than I was … probably twice or more miles. While waiting on the larger battery to arrive my pedal assist mode quit working. All I had available to use was the hand throttle which uses up the battery even quicker. Again, I had to take my trike back to the Bionx dealer. Bionx determined that the problem was in the hub motor so they sent a replacement under warranty. Once it arrived I, of course, had to make another trip down to the Bionx dealer to get the new motor and the new battery installed. The pedal assist worked again, but now this larger battery didn’t perform as well as the smaller battery. I only got about 22 miles out of it before it was used up. And when charging it it got extremely hot as did the charger. So another trip back to the Bionx dealer was needed. They tested everything out and said that it all checks out okay (normal). They did however, replace the 2 day old battery installation with another battery. This one doesn’t overheat, but it still takes way too long to charge and two out of the three times I have charged it thus far it never showed that it was charged up. The green light never came on. Bionx states that their batteries should charge up in 4 to 5.5 hours, but I have been dealing with batteries that sometimes take as much as 11 hours to charge. As I said, the battery I have now most of the time never shows a green light indicating it is charged. It just remains red. BTW, they state in their manual that it first shows red indicating it needs charging and then when the charging begins it changes to amber and finally to green when it is charged. Well with 3 batteries it has never had an amber light … only red and green. My friend says he has never seen an amber light either. With this new battery and over inflating my tires 5 psi I finally got about 40 miles out of the battery charge. I am happy enough with that, but I sure am not with the matter of charging the battery taking so long and not showing it is charged after such a long time.
I also complained about the hand throttle not working right with this new motor and battery. They test rode it and said it works fine. They don’t know what they are talking about. It has no power when applied. Before when it worked right using the hand throttle was like having JATO assist. The trike really took off. I could shoot across a road getting out of the way of traffic or I could zip up a hill. Now I have to pedal up the hill as the hand throttle does next to nothing. My two friends who have this same setup both have hand throttles that work like mine used to. I could not believe that the dealer claimed that the hand throttle works the way it is supposed to.
So …. I have emailed Bionx and shared with them what is going on. I am hopeful that they will do whatever it takes to get me a system that works right and stays working right. I am not a happy camper at this time. I told them that if they can’t get me a system that works right I want my money back. I am waiting to see what happens. I will let you know.
From what I have seen I think Bionx has a serious problem with quality control. I sure hope they get their act together. I really like their system, but I sure can’t recommend it as things stand now. I mean … I want to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
(and not driving back and forth to the Bionx dealer.)
Update – My battery problems seem to be doing much better now. I can ride much further on a charge and the battery seems to be charging normally now. Bionx instructed me to run the battery completely down so that the sensor would refresh and reset itself properly. That seemed to work. Now if they can just get the hand throttle working right I will be a happy camper.
“verdict is in“
Update – As instructed to took my trike back to the dealer (which is about 150 miles round trip) as BionX was supposed to resolve the hand throttle issue. It was a wasted trip as they accomplished nothing and said that there is nothing they can do to get it working like it used to. So I am stuck with an expensive system that doesn’t work right and there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. I am considering requesting my money back. I have no idea what would happen if I were to do that. I have also considered attempting to file some sort of a consumer complaint against BionX which is a Canadian company. I have no idea how to go about that. Needless to say I am not a happy camper and as a result of all of this the jury is in and I give BionX and thumb down. It truly saddens me as for the most part I really like this system. I think they have a serious problem with quality control, but this is to be expected when one is dealing with Chinese made products. Advanced western nations never should have got involved in getting any products made in foreign countries with cheap labor. We should only make our own and thereby benefit our own people.
BIONX HAS PROBLEMS
Posted by Steve Newbauer
It took several years, but I have finally succumbed to the concept of my using electric motor pedal assist. It is a matter of aging I think and finding it a bit more challenging climbing hills. I can still climb them, but oh so slow and if I am riding with others I just watch them ride on away from me as I can’t begin to keep up. So I bit the bullet and got myself some help. Now I can shoot up those hills and don’t have any problem keeping up with my friends should I choose to ride with them.
The electronics are quite sophisticated and pretty well thought out. The reviews of Bionx are extremely favorable. Pretty much everybody say they have the best system going. The company is out of Canada.
They have 3 different size batteries. They are all 48 volts, but their power in amperage varies providing a choice of 50 miles, 65 miles or 80 miles between charges. At least that is their claim. In reality the distance is far less like maybe half. The battery pictured below which fits under their rack is the middle one. The largest battery mounts down low behind the seat alongside of the frame.
Although with this battery mounted up under their rack means the weight is carried up high effecting the trike’s center of gravity and handling it also means that the battery is positioned so that it doesn’t get nearly as messed up from water, mud and other crud being splashed up on it like would happen if it were mounted down lower alongside the frame. Also having it higher makes it much easier to get at to charge it or remove it.
Their controller (shown above) has been upgraded as have their display console.
This display unit (shown below) has replaced the larger combination display controller they had previously.
This next video features an older version of the console and controller which has been replaced with the ones shown above. I offer it here as it still is helpful in understanding some factors of the Bionx system.
The new electronics also offers a Bluetooth connection to their free smartphone app which among other things is a tracking and reporting info of the route, ride and even pulse of the rider. The Bluetooth module sells for $175.
They offer 250, 350 and 500 watt hub motors. I understand that Bionx limits the top speed of 20 mph for all units shipped to the United States to comply with the law.
If your trike has a 20 inch rear wheel you are limited to the 350 watt hub motor as the 500 watt is too large in diameter to be laced into a 20 inch rim. If you have a larger diameter rear wheel such as a 26 inch or 700 the larger 500 watt hub motor is available for them although the larger motor may not be needed. The bike shop dealer told me that unless one lives someplace with a lot of steep hills to climb the 350 is more than enough power to use on a trike.
Having a FAT trike with electric motor pedal assist sounds like a very helpful addition for off road riding. It might require someone skilled at wheel lacing to come up with a wheel laced to a hub motor.
It is my understanding that the batteries can be charged approximately 1000 times. Replacement batteries cost between $900 and $1000 so they ain’t cheap.
The bike shop I am involved with is a Bionx dealer. He told me about the high tech system Bionx has in place making trouble shooting and repair easy for the dealers. They simply plug the unit into a computer with Bionx software installed on it and it connects with Bionx while running diagnostics on the system. The dealer gives permission for Bionx to remotely do various things while connected to your unit over the internet and they can remedy most problems or at least know what is wrong so it can be remedied. With this system the dealers don’t have to learn and know a lot about the Bionx system yet they can take care of the customer.
Here is the Bionx installation video. It shows the older system however.
In closing I want to mention that there are more powerful hub motors made and available which can propel a trike much faster (not legally mind you) and even at 70 years old there is still a part of me that is attracted to riding along at 45 plus mph on my trike, but I am wise enough to know that when you play with fire you are likely to get burnt. I would probably wrap myself around some tree or telephone pole. Nope, I best stick with the 20 mph option. That is plenty fast enough.
With the use of electric motor pedal assist it can help us to …
ENJOY THE RIDE & kEEP ON TRIKIN’
Update (5/3/17) – I now have the Bionx hub motor system installed on my trike and I am loving it. I haven’t been able to ride it much as it has been raining for 3 days straight. I took some pictures of my trike with this unit installed. I remounted the controller from where the bike shop had located it. I like it much better now as I can see it much better and get at it much handier. I probably should paint the blue piece of steel tubing I used to place on my mirror where I mounted the controller. I need to paint it black so it is not so conspicuous. 🙂 Anyway, riding with this motor assist is amazing. For the same effort I used to exert to ride 5-7 mph I can now ride about 14-16 mph. And for the same effort it took to ride 10-12 mph I can now ride 19 mph. The battery has a built in LED taillight which is extremely bright. Above the taillight is a large red reflector. As I said, I haven’t been able to ride it much yet, but hopefully I soon will be. And it surely looks like I will most definitely …
ENJOY THE RIDE!