Anyone with BionX experience?

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Abneycat
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Anyone with BionX experience?

Hey! So I might have found a solution for putting together another e-bike. My last one was too heavy/unstable and was starting to come apart, so it was disassembled and shelved to preserve the core components. Now i've found a used bionx pl-250 system at an excellent price, and the weight of the components is *really* enticing, along with the great things i've heard about these kits.

How does the Bionx 250 stack up to the 350 or a Crystalyte roadrunner in terms of hill climbing ability? I don't need to be scooting up the hills at 35km/h, and i'm certainly not expecting it to fully compare, but i'd expect the thing to be able to put in some good power and help out noticeably. I'm 150lbs and the bike it will be mounted on is a (2000) Fuji 2 diamond.

Secondly, the kit has 2 things wrong for the set-up:
The wheel is 20", so i'd need a custom wheel, there arent any differences in the actual hub size right? And
The Y-Frame bike doesn't have space for the battery box. Are the batteries for the bionx kits all the same, and it can be thrown in a bag instead, or are the batteries mounted in the boxes specialized for that and stuck in there?

uriel8
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Re: Anyone with BionX experience?

I have the PL-350 Lithium and weight 245lbs. It moves me adequately although not as spritely as the old Tidalforce whos NiMH batteries went on vacation :-/ Since you are almost 100 lbs. lighter than me, I would guess that it will have fine power for you. I pedal hard and you can too. Could be some range reduction over the 24 miles I see, but your weight is much in your favor especially if you pedal some.

You'll have to have the wheel rebuilt from 20" to 26" at a shop or do it yourself. I'm 90% sure that the rear hub motor is identical for different wheel sizes and also for different battery kits.

You'll love the pedalec feature with selectable assist level and not having to use a thumb throttle. I run mine on 4 or 3 unless I need maximum distance when I do 2 sometimes. The bike plus my weight is heavy even tho not a complete pig like the Tidalforce was. Since I have a hamstring injury I don't like to do heavy pedal assist on the rig until after 20 minutes of riding when I am completely warmed up. I can ride pain free with my BionX, so it's a blessing.

If you do choose a lower assist level like 3, 2 or 1 you can use the thumb throttle, if on your kit, to boost the performance briefly without changing the assist level. That can be handy. The throttle boost level is always at level 4 regardless of what your A/G setting is according to the manual. Again the power of my kit is not startling with my weight and the weight of the bike with a full Topeak trunk loaded, but I find it adequate to get up virtually all hills. The effect is kind of like an overloaded Honda 50cc bike except that on the flats it runs right up to 20-22 mph like a champ and can maintain that speed at level 2 or 3 without extreme pedalling effort.

I have mine on a Montague Paratrooper folding bike which looks like this:

The poop is that the lower you can mount the 6 lb battery the better. If the battery is high it can affect the handling of the bike at speed. Try to pick the right bike to put it on, although the kit can be moved pretty easily.

I think that you'll like the BionX design when you get it assembled, which you must have by now, I assume :-D

ssimon
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Re: Anyone with BionX experience?

I purchased a Bionx PL-350 a little less than a month ago and I thought I would like to provide some of my comments. I have put on about 700 kilometers during the brief time I have used it. I live in the Seattle area which is probably the best place in the entire country to ride a bike because there are so many long bike trails to choose from.

1) System Lock Ups

My system has locked up twice, both times with assistance level 2 with two bars of assistance. Fortunately, the system went into regenerative mode rather than an uncontrolled throttle which I think is dangerous. I am guessing there are a number of safety mechanisms in place to keep the system from crashing while at the same time accelerating. If anyone has a different experience, please let me know.

The manufacturer told me the lock ups are not normal and to have the bike store re-inspect the connections which I have not got around to doing yet. To unlock the system, I disconnected and re-connected the cable to the controller, which took all about 3 seconds, no big deal. Each crash caused the system to lose about 2 kilometers of distance on the trip odometer.

2) Regenerative Mode

My experience has been negative with respect to this. I rode my bike 75 kilometers round trip up to the Snoqualmie trail which turns into the Pioneer trail. This trail is an old railroad line that has been converted to a dirt bike path. This trail has an average incline of 2.5% for many kilometers until you hit the summit at over 900 meters (I never made it there). On my ride, the first 10 or so kilometers are flat, and the remaining 27 kilometers are uphill with a 2% to 3% steady incline (about 25 meters up per kilometer or 675 meters for 27 kilometers) for a total of 37 kilometers.

Once my last half bar of energy disappeared, I turned around. The battery was at 36.3 volts. I pedaled all the way down the path (27 kilometers in all) in regenerative mode 1 and occasionally regenerative mode 2. When I reached the bottom, all I regained was ½ of a bar with the battery reading 36.8 volts. That half bar lasted about 1.5 kilometers. In my opinion, I wasted a tremendous amount of energy pedaling down hill to build such a tiny charge. I would have been much better off coasting down hill and manually pedaling the flat area should I run out of charge.

Based on this experience, unless my regenerative mode is defective (which I have asked the manufacturer about), it is wasteful to try to generate electricity by pedaling downhill. This seems consistent with a link I read about the little value regenerative pedaling has to offer.

3) Regenerative Brakes

I really like the regenerative breaks. This might sound like a contradiction to 2) above, but it isn’t. I view this as adding power brakes to a bike. I use this when I go down steep hills and have the bike automatically break for me without using my disc brakes. I want to always keep my speed under 35 k/h. The regenerative breaks keep my disc breaks from wearing down and heating up. In addition, the regenerative breaks are quite powerful and a light touch to my rear brakes quickly slows the bike down which is important given how heavy my bike is now.

4) The System is Heavy

Despite the fact that this system is probably the lightest add on system available, it is still heavy weighing nearly 20 pounds with the lithium battery. I would not want to run out of power while having to pedal uphill with all that additional weight.

5) The System has Terrific Range

I think the manufacturer has been conservative in their estimates of the range using a flat surface with zero wind. I took my bike on the Burke Gilman trial along with another totally flat trail for a total distance of 97 kilometers. The first 5 had significant downhill, the remaining 42 was flat going one direction. I used mode 1 and for about 10 kilometers mode 2. Upon returning at the 92 kilometer mark, I still had 2 bars of energy and was able to use mode 4 to complete the 5 kilometers of uphill at the end of the ride (using the throttle as well to get up those hills). I still had ½ a bar at the end of that trip.

The Bionx data suggested 90 kilometers on flat using mode 1. I think if I stuck with mode 1 only on flat I could probably get 120 or more kilometers out of it. Granted, mode 1 is very weak with an average speed of 20 k/h, but it made the ride somewhat easier and I was not too sore at the end.

I was also impressed that the battery could provide 27 kilometers of continuous uphill assistance on the Pioneer trail mentioned above.

6) The System is customizable but at the expense of range

Many posters have mentioned changing the bikes settings to modify the factory settings including removing the 32 k/h speed limit and changing the assist. I have left the 32 k/h speed limit in place. I think removing this is a mistake because if you get in the habit of riding faster, you will rapidly drain the battery just to overcome wind resistance. I think 25 -28 k/h is an efficient speed on the bike.

My software is firmware 2.7, but I can undo the speed limit despite posts that said the manufacturer would remove that code (they didn’t). I tried changing the code 0007 (assist level) from 1.0 to 3.0. I noticed a huge difference at assistance level 2 using 3.0 on code 0007. I could easily get to the pre-set limit of 32 k/h with very little pedaling effort. Using this setting, I noticed very little additional assist using levels 3 and 4. Basically, I think when you set code 0007 to 3.0 (it can be set up to 4.0), the bike will perform at assistance 4 even though it is set at 2.

I have done a 35 kilometer loop quite a few times and using code 0007 at 3.0 with assistance level 2 will nearly deplete the battery at the end of the ride. Setting code 0007 to the factory default of 1.0 and using assistance level 3 will leave 1 bar at the end of the ride.

I noticed that the 3.0 setting on code 0007 just wastes the battery charge on assistance level 2. On that setting, Bionx is providing assistance in all conditions including going down a slight decline even though assistance for a slight decline is totally unnecessary. When using a 3.0 setting on code 0007, it appears you lose all of the battery management capabilities and prematurely deplete the battery.

Using a 1.0 setting on code 0007 with assistance 3 gives plenty of power and the assistance rapidly cuts in and out to maximize battery life and no assistance is given for mild declines which makes sense.

7) I Don’t Like Proprietary Codes

The manufacturer is secretive about their codes. That really angers me because I feel as an owner I should have full access to all proprietary codes with the one reasonable exception of removing the 32 k/h governor as that could be a liability issue to the manufacturer.

For instance, there have been many posts about using code 3779 that allows access to the beta feature of viewing distance remaining on the battery using the last 20 seconds of pedaling effect and time remaining. That worked for firmware 2.3 but not firmware 2.7. I asked my bike store what the new code is and they didn’t know and the manufacturer REFUSED to give me the new code telling me to use the battery charge gauge and the pamphlet. That really ticked me off.

I had to spend my own time experimenting and determined the new code to use that beta feature for firmware 2.7 is code 2003.

8 ) What are the advantages of using Lithium MN

I have read posts that Bionx has always used Lithium MN. I don’t believe that is true. This chemical composition is new and is only used by Bionx and the Giant Twist to my understanding.

Per the Bionx website, they state “PL-250 Model- BionX launched a new and more efficient battery : the Lithium-Mn . Weighing only 2.8 kg, this new battery will provide 16% longer autonomy.”. I use the PL-350 but figure the same benefits apply that I get a longer range.

My main concern is reading that lithium ion batteries in general lose 20% of their retained power after 1 year under room temperature being maintained at a full charge. That concerns me since a long ride is so important and that a replacement battery runs a grand in price. I am wondering if Lithium MN suffers the same loss in retained power over time or is a better technology that not only has more energy, but degrades at a slower rate.

JDJ
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Re: Anyone with BionX experience?

:) Just thought I would make a comment or 2 re: my experience with BionX so far. Not sure exactly how most of you are using the BionX system but I have a P350 with NiMH battery mounted in a bag on the rear rack. The battery only takes up about 1/3 of the bag so lots of room left for "stuff". I usually ride in A1 or A2 and don't really use the throttle much. I find if I need more power, I do better just tapping up to 3 or 4. I have coded 3773 to 0 to get rid of the "wall" at 19 MPH and I will ride in no assist or G1 on flat ground with a tailwind at least for some part of my trip as long as I feel comfortable. On hills I don't use brakes but instead go to G2,3,or 4 and the regenerate certainly does replace some battery drain. A 1 on flat terrain with little or no wind lets me cruise easily at 16 to 18 MPH (not km) and I can run up to 22 or 23 pretty quickly if need be. I read a comment in one of the other forums about a rider who peddaled down a 3 or 4 mile hill and only got back 1 bar and I don't quite understand that as I can get back 1 bar from 7/8 full back UP TO full ON A 3 OR 4 hundred foot hill without peddling and going to G3 or 4 if the hill is steep enough. I am reading that many of you get only 20 to 30 Km's on a charge so I am assuming it is because many of you are writing from California and BC but I live in southwestern Ontario and it is mostly flat or mild hills here. I have 2 or 3 regular 20 to 25 mile runs that I do and riding as I stated above, I am never down more than 1/4 to 1/3 at this distance. The longest single ride i have taken is 46 miles and when I got home, the gauge was still showing exactly 1/2 full or 4 bars. Now I have only had it 3 months and I am just over 1000 miles , so am I in for some bad news after a few more months and miles with this battery? I have an article from another e-bike forum that states that you can expect 3 to 5 times the battery life if you only discharge them 1/2 or less between charges and more if only 1/4 or 1/3. i.e. if the manual says you can get 400 to 500 full recharges then you can recharge it (top ups) 1200 to 1800 times if you don't take it down to 90% discharge or more. Now I now this sounds like saying if you only take your car down to 3/4 full, you can fill it many more times and for less money than filling up up from empty and with gasoline consumption this is only logical, but it doesn't quite work the same with a rechargeable battery source. I don't know the rocket science explanation of it, but I do know that taking batteries of most any kind to a deep state of discharge and then recharge, will use up more of its' normal lifespan over time time than just a 1/2 discharge and top up will. This is why I was surprised to read about these 15 to 20 mile ranges that some of you are getting. I am 63 and weigh 220 pounds so some of you 40 year old, 160 pound whippets should be able to get a lot more out of the system than me. I would appreciate any feedback and I hope I don't come across as a wise critic because I sure don't mean to. I love my BionX system and I have it on a 2008 TREK Navigator 2.0. I have enjoyed the comments I have been reading for some time on this Voltage Forum and have found them very helpful in many cases, especially the detailed codes for fine tuning.
JDJ

davew
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Re: Anyone with BionX experience?

Now I have only had it 3 months and I am just over 1000 miles , so am I in for some bad news after a few more months and miles with this battery?

Nope. I've had mind for a couple of years and a couple of thousand miles, and the battery still works pretty much like new. I still get about 30-35 miles range based on what is left after I get done with shorter trips.

You're right about deep discharges and batteries, although NiMH takes it better than SLA does. I've never taken my battery below half. My longest trip so far was 20 miles.

"we must be the change we wish to see in the world"

JDJ
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Re: Anyone with BionX experience?

Davew; It was your original info about disabling the speed limiter than got me started in this Voltage Forum. You seem quite knowageble about the products and I have found your comments quite helpful. Glad to hear that the battery is not going to surprise me in the future. thanks again,
JDJ

davew
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Re: Anyone with BionX experience?

You are quite welcome. Actually I started hanging out on the old V forum because there were people who would take the time to answer my Wilderness Energy questions. Ain't it grand how life works out?

"we must be the change we wish to see in the world"

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