I am not sure what is going on with Bionx since they went into “receivership” Feb. 27th. I know that their website was more less unavailable (non-functioning) following that news. There doesn’t seem to be much of anything available online to read about it. I was just checking out the BionX website and see that it is back up and functioning with no mention of their recent woes. If I hear anything more I will share it here.
update — One reader of this blog reports in a comment that he heard that BionX has been bought out from receivership and is indeed back in business. Sadly, the dealer nearest me has not heard anything out of BionX since all this started.. I have emailed BionX asking them what their current status is, but they haven’t emailed me back yet. It will be interesting to see if the new ownership does anything about the propietary structuring of BionX. I sure hope they make some needed changes.
Some of you know I have had 3 different brands of e-motor conversion kits installed on my trike. I can only speak from my experience with these three motors.
The first was a 350 watt BionX conversion kit. While it worked properly I loved it. Admittedly I didn’t love the price nor the replacement cost for the battery. Also I was not impressed that the largest battery BionX offers is only 11.6aH … only good for about 30 to 35 miles. The motor was a brushless gearless direct drive type which was relatively small yet quite powerful. It had a lot of torque for such a small motor. BionX is a proprietary system which was what I believe caused their downfall. They filed bankruptcy last February 27th. It is all such a shame as they really did have an excellent system. Everything fit and installed normally and easily.
The second hub motor I tried was a Golden Motor Magic Pie Edge. It was large and very heavy (19 pounds). It too was a brushless gearless direct drive type. It had quite a bit of torque, but far more resistance to pedaling with the power off due to the magnets. According to the dealer I bought it from it apparently had a bad controller built into the hub as the voltage from it was too low and the motor would only propel me at 14 mph top speed and that was only for a short time when the battery was fully charged. It ended up down around 12 mph once the battery power started dropping off. The motor was too large in diameter to properly fit in a 20 inch wheel. There was very little room left between the motor and the valve stem so removing the valve core and working with some tools/gauges was impaired and difficult. When I went to install my tire on the rim I found it most challenging and difficult. I had to resort to using tire levers to accomplish it. Once the tire was on the rim it would not easily center up concentric. I had a terrible time trying to get it centered and inflated. I have never had any of these issues with any other rims. When I went to install the wheel in the rear stays I discovered that the axle assembly was too wide and would not go in. (I had previously had 3 different BionX wheels and they all slipped into place quite easily.) I ended up having to spread my rear stays apart in order to get this Golden Motor wheel installed. I read that some of the e-bike wheels are made for a maximum of 7 cogs in the rear cassette. At 7 cogs they are suppose to be 135 mm. If one installs 8, 9 or 10 cogs the width increases and so the wheel won’t fit in a 135 mm space. Again, I didn’t have that problem with the BionX. Lastly, I noticed that the disconnect for the various wiring cables from the axle were far from the rear wheel meaning that when I needed to remove the rear wheel I would have to tear the wiring all apart to get to a place where I could disconnect it. That is ridiculous! It would involve cutting plastic cable ties, removing Velcro wraps, turning my trike over on its side in order to get at this wiring. With BionX and with my 3rd and current motor the disconnects are provided right near the rear wheel. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to repair a flat tire while out riding. It was a nightmare to work with it in a shop where I had all the tools I might need as well as a means of suspending my trike up in the air off of the floor. Overall I was not impressed with much of anything about this Golden Motor and could not recommend it to anyone.
The third and current hub motor conversion kit I bought and installed is an eZee 350 rpm. As far as I know that is the only identifying information to set it apart from their other motor offering which is a 250 rpm motor. The difference is the 350 rpm is designed for 20 inch wheels while the 250 rpm motors are designed for 26 inch, 700 and similar diameter wheels. The 350 rpm means that it can propel the smaller diameter wheels about the same speed as the 250 rpm motors propel the larger diameter wheels. Unlike the BionX and Golden Motor the eZee motor is geared which means it is suppose to have more torque at low speed but less top speed. That is what I have read. However, my experience is far different. I have found just the opposite to be true. This hub motor lacks the torque the BionX and Golden Motor had, but I have a far higher top speed. The physical size of this eZee hub motor is slightly smaller that the BionX unit. It only weighs about 8.34 pounds so it is much lighter than most hub motors. I am disappointed with its lack of torque for climbing hills. The other motors would “shoot me” up a hill while this eZee motor lacks the ability by itself to climb much of a grade without my pedaling to assist it. Never the less, I am enjoying it immensely and thus far have no regrets about buying it. I would recommend it to others.
I like the fact that I am no longer tied into a proprietary system like BionX. The battery I have now is a 20aH and it costs about 40% or less than what BionX was charging for their 11.6aH battery. With BionX being in bankruptcy I don’t know what the future holds for BionX customers. Right now they have shut down operations and let their 80 employees go. They are looking for an investor/new ownership. I wish them success as I would hate to see all their many customers left with a hub motor system with no support nor parts to keep them operating. I have a couple of friends who have BionX. At this point in time I am just glad I returned my BionX unit and got a full refund. I am not faced with this concern like my friends are. Perhaps someone will start rebuilding BionX batteries and selling them … if that is permitted. If only BionX could survive and get away from this proprietary nonsense which got them into this trouble.
UPDATE: Good News! BionX has been bought out
of receivership and is back in business!
On February 27th the Canadian hub motor manufacturer BionX filed bankruptcy. In taking this action they did not say anything to their dealers. The overall picture is looking pretty bleak. It is possible that they are attempting to “reorganize” and salvage their business. However, with the problems they have my guess is that this is unlikely. I reckon we will just have to wait and see what happens.
Because BionX chose to design and manufacture their system proprietary and charge way too much for it … especially the replacement batteries … they cooked their own goose. I would think that the only way they could possibly save themselves now would involve changing all this so that they are competitive in the marketplace and attractive to customers. That would be a huge undertaking.
I read that some dealers who are trying to sell BionX items they have in stock at discounted pricing in an attempt to get rid of them before they get stuck with them. It is my understanding that BionX is not selling anything from their website. They probably are not allowed to under the bankruptcy laws. Mind you I know nothing about bankruptcy laws and procedures.
This does not look good for those who have a BionX hub motor system as it is likely that they will not be able to obtain any repair parts or batteries. They will be stuck with a system that is dead in the water leaving them dead alongside of the road or trail. I am so thankful now that I returned my BionX system for a refund. I have a couple of friends who have BionX installed on their trikes. I feel for them if all this comes to pass.
I have more less painted a gloomy picture for BionX and BionX customers … BUT … hey, who knows … they may pull out of this and survive. I am sure lots of folks would be happy if that happens. The truth is I don’t know what all is going on so anything I am saying here is pure speculation and may turn out altogether different than it is appearing at this time.
Below are some links to websites where you can read about this.
And HERE is the official announcement:
“On February 27, 2018, Grant Thornton Limited was appointed as receiver and manager (in such capacities, the “Receiver”) of the assets, undertakings, and property of Bionx Canada Inc.”
For what it is worth I would like to see BionX stick around as they have a nice product. They do need to do away with the proprietary approach to business however and lower some of their pricing … especially on the replacement batteries.
Those who have followed my trek concerning electric motor pedal assist on my tadpole trike know about my experiences with BionX. After returning the 3 BionX hub motor and components for a full refund I ordered a Golden Motor Magic Pie Edge hub motor conversion kit. Right off the bat I experienced problems and regretting buying it. The rim was different than any other I have ever had and my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire was extremely difficult to mount on it. After getting it on the rim it was even more difficult to get it “concentric” on the rim. As difficult as it was to work with in a shop atmosphere I can’t imagine trying to change a flat tire while out riding. Then when I tried to install it on my trike the width was too wide to fit between my dropouts. All 3 of the BionX wheels I had went right into place like any other typical wheel. I didn’t want to, but I ended up spreading my rear stays to gain some width in order to get the wheel into place. Once I got it into place and hooked things up I test rode it and discovered that even though it had very good torque it only had a top speed of 14 mph … and that is only with a fully charged battery. It dropped off down into th 13 and 12 mph range within a couple of miles of riding. It should have been capable of at least 20 mph. It turned out that it had a faulty controller (which like BionX is built into the rear hub). The dealer would have sent me another controller that I would have had to install. That is not something I cared to get into. Then he offered to send me an entire new wheel assembly, but it would have been the same nightmare I ran into with the first one so I said no, I just want to return it for a refund. Unfortuately this dealer won’t refund the shipping charges either direction so I am out a good size chunk of money. I am not happy about it, but there is nothing I can do about it. I returned it and am waiting for a refund.
Another factor that helped me dicide to return it was that there in no place near the rear wheel where the wiring can be disconnected if one needs to remove the rear wheel. I would have to cut a bunch of plastic cable ties and turn my trike over on its side in order to get at all the wiring tucked up underneath the seat to access the nearest plug connection to get it apart. That is ridiculous and I wanted no part of it.
Meanwhile I ordered yet another hub motor conversion kit. This time I ordered an eZee brand (http://www.ebikes.ca/shop/electric-bicycle-kits/ezee/ezee-rear-kit-advanced-pas.html). It is the 350 rpm viersion which is what the 20 inch wheel size requires so that the speed is about the same as a larger diameter wheel has. The 26 inch and larger diameter wheels use 250 rpm motors. According to what I have read about e-bike motors higher rpm is better than lower rpm. Up until now the 4 hub motors (3 BionX and 1 Golden Motor) were all direct drive (gearless), but this eZee is one with gears. It is slightly louder, but not alll that bad. Upon installing it and trying it out in the street in front of my house it accelerated up to 27.5 mph. They only claim a top speed of about 20 mph so I was a happy camper to discover it goes faster.. I took it out for a longer ride and so far I really like it. It doesn’t have the torque that the first BionX motor had nor the Golden Motor so I am a little disappointed in that regard, but overall I like it quite well. I expected the torque to be equal to or greater than the direct drive motors since it has a 1:5 gear reduction and the motor is rated at 1000 watts at 48 volts. I discovered that the top speed I obtained of 27.5 mph dwindles down as the voltage of the battery goes down. Only when I had voltage in the low 50s could I obtain the higher speed. As the voltage dropped down into the high 40s my speed fell off to about 25 mph where it stayed for quite some time. By the time my battery voltage fell off down into the mid 40s my top speed reduced down to about 23 mph. I am plenty satisfied with that.
Between this hub motor kit and the battery, battery charge and rear rack the battery mounts in the cost was less than $1800 and I am not locked into a proprietary system like BionX where they charge 2.5 to 3 times as much for a replacement battery as I can buy one for now. And I can get a far more powerful battery for less money. BionX doesn’t even offer such a battery.
As to the physical size of this eZee hub motor it is about the same as the 350 watt BionX hub motor. One thing I don’t care for with this eZee hub motor is that the wiring comes out of the end of the axle rather than out of the side plate of the hub motor like BionX and Golden Motor did. I think that is just plain stupid, but a lot of hub motors are made this way. In fact, most of them are.
Yes, I could have bought a cheaper hub motor kit, but I don’t think I would have been satisfied with it. I did a lot of research and reading about various hub motors before making my decisions. unfortunately my choice of the Golden Motor turned out to be a bad choice and it was an expensive lesson. Now only time will tell if my last choice was a really good one. Right now I am a happy camper. I don’t yet have the torque sensor installed and working so I am only using the hand throttle. I am waiting on a new crankset to arrive as the torque sensor is the wrong sloine size for my existing crankarms. Having to replace my perrfectly good crankset is an additional expense I was not counting on, but if I want the torque sensor to work I have no choice. And I do want the torque sensorr installed and working so it will be a true “pedal assist” unit.
Dec. 16, 2017
NOTE: Today I sent an email to BionX requesting a full refund. The new hub motor they sent still has the issue of not being able to obtain the advertised top speed of 20 mph. It also does not have as much torque as the first motor I originally had. As much as I like their designed system I am tired of all the problems and not getting anywhere getting them to resolve them. I will buy a different hub motor system later on after I get the refund.
Nov. 21, 2017
NOTE: I just got off the phone a few mintures ago. A man from BionX called me to discuss my issues. They admitted that they had sent me the wrong motor as replacement under warranty and this is why I have been having this issue with the hand throttle. They will be sending out the correct motor which has considerably more torque. This has made my day. Below is what I had written for this posting which will be published Nov. 24th. I am leaving it here so readers will know what has transpired prior to this phone call I just received. Needless to say, if they get my problems/complaints all resolved I will gladly change the thumbs down to a thumbs up as I really do love the BionX system on my trike.
As many of you know I have been having problems with my BionX hub motor kit I purchased last summer. Although BionX has taken care of some of the problems I am still dealing with the hand throttle problem and BionX is not doing anything further to help me on this despite my pleading, attempting to reason with them and even threatening them. I eventually filed a complaint against them with the Better Business Bureau hoping they would be concerned about having that on record against them, but it hasn’t made any difference. They didn’t even bother to respond to the complaint. I don’t know what is going on, but I have pretty much written them off as a company that business dealings should be avoided. I had told BionX I would be filing a complaint if they continued to ignore me and refuse to resolve this issue. I truly don’t understand why any legitimate business would not want to address this complaint and satisfy their customer rather than receive a bunch of bad publicity. They don’t seem to take this seriously nor take me seriously, but I am most serious. I paid a lot of money for this hub motor kit and I want and expect it to work right like it did when I first bought it. I don’t think that this is asking or expecting too much. It is looking more and more like I have ran out of options and won’t get this made right by BionX. They don’t seem to care. And so as a result of all I have been dealing with and continue to deal with I can not recommend BionX to anyone. They get a big thumbs down from me.
Remember – they finally contacted me and say they will take care of me and get this resolved to my satisfaction. If they do as they say I will be most happy to give them a thumbs up.
By the way, just as a side note … I have noticed that battery performance is only about 50 % in cold weather of what it is in warm weather. My friend who has an identical setup as mine says the same thing.