Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

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dgk
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Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

I posted this on bikeforums.net but figured I should also put it here. And I guess the Bionx forum is the appropriate location?

It arrived over the weekend and I rode in to work today. While I like it, I'm not sure it wouldn't have been better to install a Bionx kit on my old Trek 7100 hybrid. The most disappointing feature is the battery. Rather than using the 10 Ah battery that should come with the 350 motor, it comes with a 6.4 Ah battery that normally comes with a PL-250 kit. Slightly different because the 6.4 listed on the Bionx site is 22.2 volt while this one is 6.4 / 40.7 volt.

The bike is heavier than I thought - I guess it would be even heavier with the 10 Ah battery though. It's ok on level surfaces without using the assist at all, but I wouldn't want to do it for too long. Assist level 1 overcomes the extra weight of the system and adds a bit of a boost. I'd like to use level 2 much of the time.

My major concern is that I have a 30 mile r/t commute, and while being pretty conservative (mostly using assist level 1) it's still about 1/2 used after coming in. And that's with using regen modes coming down most hills. I'm guessing that it's going to get a bit better as it breaks in but I understand from the folks on this forum that the battery shouldn't be run down that much. An extra charger is around $70 and I already ordered one. I'll keep one at work and the other at home.

The charger (fan) is very noisy and I don't look forward to having it in my office but I don't really see an option. Maybe I can put a pillow over it or something. Astonishingly, the instructions call for disconnecting the battery from the charger once it's full rather than just leaving it attached until ready to go. I find it hard to believe that a system this sophisticated could actually hurt the battery by leaving it plugged in but that's the implication. I'll review the manual tonight but that's what I recall.

The light that comes with the kit is decent but is really only a "be seen" light. It will not replace my MagicShine. It would be nice it if at least had a blink mode but it doesn't. The rear light (on the battery) is nice. Again, no blink mode though.

The rack doesn't seem too well thought out, or maybe it's just my bag - which is designed for the Topeak rack system. Using the Velcro fasteners, the placement of the bars doesn't allow for much of the velcro to grip and I worry that it won't remain stable. I'm likely to get front panniers anyway, just for the weight distribution. The battery does slide in and out and lock nicely.

When in mode 3 or 4, this baby does fly up the hills. Even being very conservative this morning I got in 10 minutes faster than normal. It will be much quicker when I'm not afraid of killing the battery.

Well, that's the initial report.

Canis-Lupus
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Please correct me if I am wrong, but this is the new BionX motor which has 3 internal gears, isn't it? If it is, are the gears automatic or do you change them manually?

dgk
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

I'm not aware of any gears. If there are any they are automatic. I hope not though; gears mean maintenance and part of the beauty of these systems is that there is virtually no maintenance of the hub motor at all.

I should update my post to having second impressions. I do love this bike. I used the highest assist level heading up the steep portion of the Queensboro bridge and flew up it like I had a 100 mph tailwind. I sometimes would walk up that portion if I was feeling tired or my knees were showing signs of strain. What a pleasure to essentially ignore that hill.

The instructions say to drain the battery the first three times, down to a single bar on the display so I'm now doing that. I kept it on the lowest setting for much of the ride in today and only managed to knock it down 3/8 of the way. I did hit regen a few times though. It's looking like the battery is capable of doing my 30 mile r/t without needing to be recharged at the office but I'll probably recharge it anyway once I'm done with draining it three times. I understand it's better to keep it pretty much charged rather than knock it far down on a normal basis. I'll probably take the long way home just to use the battery up some more.

I've put rear panniers on instead of my pack; that keeps the weight on the rear a bit lower and has the added benefit of concealing the battery. It isn't legal in NYC to have an Ebike yet, so I figure that's a good move. I knew that I had once ordered a cheap set of panniers from Nashbar so I dug through the crap in the garage until I found them. The big pack I had, sitting higher than normal because of the battery on the rack, was hitting my butt. Now that problem is gone.

I ordered a front rack and panniers from Nashbar so I'll be putting more of the weight in the front for now on. The balance isn't really a problem while riding, but handling the bike while off it is tricky but I'm getting used to it. It's like carrying a squirming child. A fairly heavy squirming child.

One of the things that I'm pleasantly surprised about is how easy it is to ride without using the electronics at all; sometimes I catch myself getting ready to drop the assist and realize that it isn't on. I find that sometimes on the flats I put it on the lightest regeneration mode and charge the battery a bit while getting a decent workout. It's sort of like using a Spinning bike at the gym. Except instead of turning the knob to the right when the drill thrall (StarTrek reference) yells, I just turn it to a higher regeneration mode.

Well, so far, I'm pretty pleased.

dgk
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Please correct me if I am wrong, but this is the new BionX motor which has 3 internal gears, isn't it? If it is, are the gears automatic or do you change them manually?

Ah, I just read about the 3 speed hub. That's a combination of the hub motor and a 3-speed internal gearbox. I wouldn't want that, I like my normal 24 speed bike. The 3 speed hub sounds like a dumbed down design for folks who can't handle gears but want to ride a bike. It's only a 250 watt motor, but oddly, uses a 10Ah battery while mine is just 6.4. Or so it says.

electricscott
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Does it come with the throttle lever? in the EU it is not allowed yet in the UK it is. is it possible to add a throttle lever as i am considering buying the Trek T80+

regards mike<

\regards Mike :0)
"there are 3 types of people those that can count and those that cant"!

dgk
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

The bike does not have a throttle; it is only pedal assist. The Bionx PL-350 kit does have the throttle but when Trek mated it to the Ride+ bikes they removed it. I'm very happy the way it is since I never planned on using it as a motorcycle anyway.

electricscott
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

thanks for the reply, i have been talking to the rep in the UK and he maintains that all the + trek bikes have the 250 watt motor even though trek advertises the T80+ as a 250W HT! he also maintains that Trek have made the BionX motor their own and have blocked any de-restriction codes, he also said that the 2011 bikes is due out in the next 3 weeks with a few changes. they are determined to keep to the EU regulations of 15mph even when many importers are advertising bikes with an 'off road option' such as the A2B and oxygen pro s.

\regards Mike :0)
"there are 3 types of people those that can count and those that cant"!

reikiman
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Trek have made the BionX motor their own and have blocked any de-restriction codes,

a) I'd also read somewhere the motor on the Ultra Metro is from BionX.

b) BionX also has blocked de-restriction codes. I talked with one of their people at Interbike last fall, asked him about derestriction codes, and he had this grin and said yes they'd blocked the code.

dgk
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

I'm pretty sure the US Trek Ride+ models are 350 watt motors - at least so says this page.

Also, it's a pretty big hub motor to be anything less. But it is paired with at 6.4AH battery which should be very limiting but surprisingly isn't. I can do my 30 mile r/t commute and still have plenty left over. Of course, I do leave it mostly at the lowest assist level except for the big hills and then mostly just use the second level (50% assist).

JoVdV
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

I have this Valncia+ for one week now and I must say it is a real pain that the support speed is limited to 25km/h. For me this is not fast enough. I use it for biking to work for about 36 km and most of the time I ride above 25 km/h to about 30 km/h; so the BionX is of no use! I even have to work out more than on my regular bike because of the double weight.
Moreover, the +/- and power/mode buttons are switched. On my console the +/- buttons are on the left side and power/mode is on the right. The console is on the right side of the steer, so it should be manipulated with the right hand, to easily increase or decrease the power support. Who ever made the decision to switch these buttons in place????
The de-restriction codes are blocked indeed!
If I can't find a way to make it go faster, I will have to sell my bike because now it is really useless for me.

dgk
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Then I have very good news for you. I brought my bike in about a month ago to upgrade the firmware, a new revision came out in July. While the guy was doing the upgrade, there was an option to set the bike for Econo or Sport mode. I asked about that and he said that Sport mode gave it more of a boost while Econo was easier on the battery. So I had him set it for Sport mode. Since then, my top speed with pedal assist has gone from 16 to 20 mph (26 to 32 kph). That makes a huge difference and I haven't noticed much of a drain on the battery; it seems to last the same amount of time. The shop needs to know how to do a firmware upgrade of course, or at least how to switch the modes.

I've been in touch with Trek and they say that the end user cannot make the change.

One other update. I've had big troubles with breaking rear spokes, on average once every 45 days or so. Trek is aware of this of course and has swiched production to use better spokes. They will be supplying them to us early adopters as soon as they can get production ramped up - I didn't get a firm date but it seemed like a matter of weeks rather than months.

JoVdV
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Okay! I can't wait to see my dealer and try to fix the problem.
I only hope this goes also for Europe. Because I asked the same question to BionX, Canada, and they gave me this answer: "All systems delivered in Europe need to have the maximum speed governed to 25 km/h , this is the rule we have to obey to do business in Europe . Sorry but nothing can be done to overcome that limit , both the motor and the control console are locked."

I'll keep you informed.

Jo

JoVdV
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Hi,
I just come in from the bike dealer.
As I expected, even in sport mode, the max. pedal assist stays at 25kph.
Too bad!
But I will keep searching to speed it up, I'm sure there must be a way (legal or not!)

Electric bikes have a reputation that it is meant for older people.
If Trek wants to promote the Electric bike to younger people, they will have to do something about the speed limits!

Edbel
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

JoVdV,

If you want to get the 25kph limit of, buy a console from a dealer in the states, or in Switzerland either trek or a Bionx, should work.
I tried it with another branded locked Bionx and it works great, I mean you get up to 32kmh assist and a nice smooth decreasing fashion instead of the abrupt break when you reach 25kmh. Keep the old console so you can take it back for warranty issues.
Unfortunately Pedalc regulations in Europe are written by people that ride on Mercedes, and have scarce knowledge of what are they talking about.

JoVdV
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

Edbel,

Are you really sure this will work? Reading other forums, I'm beginning to have my doubts. I really would like to try it out, but a new console costs about 200 USD. If it does not work, I will have spent money for a useless console. Rules are different in the US vs. Europe, I guess.
I'm sure there must be a simple way by (de)coding the software. But BionX nor Trek would like to give this solution, I'm afraid.

Aconite
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

I purchased the Trek Valencia+ about a month and a half ago. It did not come with a throttle on the console. I wanted a throttle for the occasions when I have doctors appointment after work, or other times when I am in dress clothes on a hot day and I don't want to break into a sweat, etc.

I ordered a new console with a throttle from JVBikes.ca. It came in the mail two days later. Just make sure whereever you order from for the Ride+ bikes you get the "CanBus" console and not the "I2C" version. I didn't realize it when I ordered, but I found out when I brought my bike in for a firmware update to the latest (5.6) that I could have ordered a G2 console for my bike. So if you are ordering a new console to get a throttle, you may as well order the G2 version ... looks real good!

Anyway, my bike now has a throttle. It has come in handy once already in the last few days ... I was on the way home from work and my chain came off (not a usual occurrence). So I just throttled until I got home and fixed it there instead of getting my hands (and possibly my clothes) greasy.

I have done some informal test rides with the throttle. It sure chews up the battery if you use it constantly, but I find in general use, it is quite handy. For instance, while travelling in cycle mode, or assistance level 1 or 2, and I hit a small hill or need a temporary boost, it is more convenient just to hit the throttle with my thumb for a second instead of having to press the A+ button once or twice and then the G- button to get back down to my desired assisstance level when hitting these humps.

Often, I don't travel at the max 32 km/h for whatever reason, I might be happily travelling at 20-25 km/h, and for a quick little speed boost in traffic to change lanes, get through an intersection before the light turns red, or even some extra power when starting from a stop while in traffic without having to press the buttons is very handy.

So even though I don't plan on many throttle only rides, the throttle sure is handy. I would miss it if suddenly it disappeared from my bike.

As for my Valencia+, the only issues I have had with it were loose spokes (no broken spokes yet). My wifes Trek 7200+ has been having troubles left and right and is currently in the shop because it suddenly will not power on. Hers is two weeks newer than mine.

dgk
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

That's nice to know about the throttle. I recently bought a Currie Ecoride (250 watt chain drive motor) for the Significant Other as well as for a spare. I won't leave the Valencia+ outside at all but I'm willing to leave the Ecoride with a real good lock. The Ecoride has a throttle and it is fun, but I'm almost glad that I don't have it on the Trek. I'm surprised that any non-Trek console will work but glad to know that I have that option.

Oh, the spoke breaking problem is fixed. My bike shop just had no idea how to deal with it. I brought it to Bicycle Habitat (in NYC) and they used other spokes and also seem to know how to build a wheel. That was around six months ago and I've been using the bike at least 75 miles per week since then with no problem.

I really love the Valencia+. Well over 4000 miles on it and it's just a pleasure to ride to work and back.

Aconite
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Re: Trek Valencia Plus - first impressions

The first thing I did when I put my new throttle console on is upgrade my firmware. I am now sitting at version 5.6. I did this at a non-Trek dealer as it is the only place within two hours where I live that I found that does firmware upgrades. So I am not using any Trek firmware now, if they even customize firmware at all.

Anyway, I am sure that since I upgraded, I am getting better battery performance than I was before. I can now make it to and back from work with two less notches used up on my battery meter. I make it home with a little more than half a charge left whereas before I got home with just under a half a battery left.

This is peddling using assist levels, not using the throttle.

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