I'm considering a hub kit. Right now I'm trying to decide between the Bionx and the Ezee hub kits with lithium batteries.
One of the issues I'm trying to resolve is which is the best method of controlling the speed.
Since I have never ridden an ebike, this Friday I made a trip up to Nycewheels in Manhattan to do some test rides and get some insight into the different control technologies.
The shop was very helpful and let me test ride to my heart's content. They have a Bionx PL350 kit mounted on a Dahon Mu (P8?) folder. They don't have the Ezee kit on any bikes, but I tried two Ezee bikes which use the same 350W hub that I'm interested in. I think they were the Forza and the Torq II. One had a grip throttle on it and the other used the Ezee Assist Dial. Both had the 350W hub.
Because I do a lot of city riding and wanted to see how the controls worked for this type of riding, I test rode all three bikes on the Upper East Side streets around NyceWheels. A lot of stopping and starting in moderate to heavy traffic. Then a brief speed run in Central Park.
The Bionx was incredible. I used the thumb throttle when pulling out of stops and could easily accelerate with all the cabs and cars around me. Then I could just let the pedal torque sensor handle things and cruise along. I found assist levels 2 and 3 were more than enough to easily cruise at 20 mph. There's a short, moderate hill on York Ave that I could fly up at this assist level. Over all, this was the most elegant experience of the three bikes I tried.
The Ezee bike with the grip throttle was OK. But I found it harder to have a really smooth experience as I was always adjusting the throttle position to maintain the proper speed. I imagine once I was more experienced I wouldn't even notice this. But the throttling was somewhat non-linear. It felt like I had two speeds - high and low - and not much in between. Again, this could have been my inexperience.
Then I tried the Ezee with the dial assist which is apparently an option with the hub kits. I thought the dial box was rather large and clumsy looking, sort of a retro 50's dial look. As I understand it, the system uses a pedal rotation detector. When it detects pedal movement, it supplies pulses of power. The length and strength of the power bursts is determined by the assist dial setting. So you'll be pedaling and feel a pulse of power every few seconds. It actually works better than it sounds when you are cruising. The momentum of the bike smooths the pulses and it ends up feeling pretty good.
However, because I was braking a lot I found myself fighting the pulses a lot. A pulse would start just when I needed to brake and continue even after I started braking. I suspect I was slowly turning the pedals as I braked and this is why the pulses continued into the braking. I do tend to slowly pedal even when I'm stopping to position the pedals for when I kick off again. So I could probably learn to always stop pedaling before braking and avoid this effect. Don't know.
In the "open roads" test I did in Central Park, I got on a long stretch of park road and opened them up. They all did about the same, although the Bionx had the best acceleration. But that's probably because the bike setup was much lighter than the Ezee bikes. The Ezees weighted 60+ lbs while the Bionx bike was around 40 lbs. But they would all weigh about the same if used as lithium battery kits on the same bike.
They all seemed like adequate systems. But overall I just really, really preferred the Bionx combo of the torque sensor with the thumb throttle. It felt like the best of both worlds. Too bad it's the most expensive system!
A question for this group - I've read elsewhere that bicyclists tend to get better mileage with a torque sensor than with a throttle. Perhaps because the torque sensor system only supplies needed power, while a person with a hand control throttle might be adding power even when he's coasting down hill.
Have any of you found this to be true?