Anyone who has been following this blog knows I had a BionX hub motor system installed on my trike and that I experienced various problems with it that BionX never got resolved to my satisfaction. Consequently I requested a full refund and got it. Dispite the problems I experienced I really liked having the hub motor system on my trike and I really miss it now that I am without it. It has always been my intention to replace it with some other brand. I have spent a whole lot of hours researching to learn what is available in order to make a decision I am hopeful is the right one for me. I have listened to the counsel of others and considered the options.
I ruled out mid-drive systems as they just don’t appeal to me. If for no other reason I don’t like the idea of putting all the strain and wear and tear on my drive train. Also most mid-drive motors I have heard while watching videos of them were loud and I found that objectionable. I don’t like the idea of having a motor hanging on the end of my boom and I am not willing to give up two of my chain rings up front in order to have a motor placed there. I have 27 speeds and I want to keep them.
I like hub motors even though I know it makes dealing with a flat tire more complicated and difficult. But I usually run Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and don’t get flats so that isn’t much of a concern. There are two basic types of hub motors … brushless gearless and brushless geared. As with most things there are pros and cons to both. After much studying I made the decision I wanted to stick with the brushless gearless type which is what BionX is. Hub motors with gears inside of them require replacing the gears periodically as they wear out. I didn’t want to get into that. Also brushless geared hub motors are usually noticeably louder that the brushless gearless type. I like my motor to be quiet. I mean … I may want to sneak up on somebody. 🙂 Seriously, I just like keeping a low profile. I would rather not draw attention to myself and my trike by having it produce noise others hear. Besides it is both annoying and embarrassing.
In my research I found that it is extremely easy to find hub motor kits for 26 inch wheels (and larger). However, finding them for 20 inch wheels is somewhat challenging. The lead mechanic at a local bike shop was also looking for a hub motor system for me and said the same thing. He found it difficult finding a hub motor kit for a 20 inch wheel. But with a lot of time and perseverence I did find a few. Within these “few” I had to select one and that can be difficult. I read all I could about the different ones. Only a few of the few had much of anything written about them so that narrowed it down some as I didn’t want to go into this blindly.
There are various sizes of motors available. My BionX was 350 watts. I have seen 250, 350, 400, 500, 600, 750, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, 5000, 10000, 15000 and even higher. I am sure riding a trike with a large motor would be exhilirating. However, I am pretty sure I would end up wrapped around some tree or worse. Besides the larger the motor the more battery power it requires and uses. The bottom line is one only needs enough power to do the job. My 350 watt BionX motor was pretty decent power-wise so 500 watts should be about perfect and sensible. BTW, here in the U.S. the legal limit for road use is 750 watts. In Canada is it 500 watts and in Europe it is only 250 watts. (I sure am glad I don’t live in Europe.) 250 watts is ridiculous. That won’t even climb many hills.
Most of the hub motors have the wires coming out of the end of the axle. That absolutely turns me off so I didn’t consider any of them. I don’t like the idea of their vunerabilty of getting damaged. So with this criteria the candidates were narrowed down considerably.
I am not going to name brands here for fear of offending someone who happens to have one of those brands. I may or may not have something against any of them. I am not here to put any other brands down or to advise others what I think they should buy. I am only concerned about what I think will be the best choice for me.
After a lot of deliberation i chose the Golden Motor Canada Magic Pie Edge hub motor. It is not the cheapest by far, but it is still reasonably priced. I bought my battery, charger and rear rack for the battery seperately as Golden Motors didn’t have what I was looking for. The total cost for the hub motor kit with the extra options I selected was $781.50. The battery, charger and rear rack was $560.49. Altogether it comes to about $1350. The BionX system I just had was nearly $2500 so you can see there is quite a difference is cost. As I said earlier the BionX was a 350 watt motor. This new one is 500 watts. The BionX battery was only 11.6 aH (the largest they offer). This new one is 20aH. I have seen as high as 50aH. I based my decision on this 20aH battery on what I experienced with the 350 watt motor and the 11.6aH battery. The range I got out of that combination was not very impressive … only about 35 miles on a good day. In colder weather it drops way off. The replacement cost of the BionX battery is over a thousand dollars. I can replace this battery for less than $400 (at least that is what I see currently looking at batteries). I would probably opt to spend more however and get a lithium-polymer battery next time instead of lithium-ion. They are still far less money than the BionX battery costs and are a much more powerful and higher quality battery than the BionX battery. I wanted to get a lithium-polymer battery at this time, but I also wanted to hold the cost down so I opted for the lithium-ion.
One thing I want to address here is the matter of the pedal assist mode and torque sensing being built into the circuitry inside of the hub motor. BionX does this. It is great until something happens to it like what happened to mine. My pedal assist feature stopped working. Fortunately it was under warranty so BionX replaced the hub motor. Unfortunately the motor they sent to replace it was the wrong motor … much less power than the one I had that went bad. This new motor I ordered does not have pedal assist or torque sensing built into the circuitry inside of the hub motor. It is a seperate external component which costs about $145 or so extra as it is optional. At first I was upset about this, but after thinking it over I changed my tune. If something were to happen to the torque sensing unit and it quit working it is a far easeir repair (for me) than BionX repair would be. Warranties don’t last all that long and then we are on our own. Repairs are out of pocket at that point. I don’t know what BionX charges for a new printed circuit board, but I would much rather replace the external torque sensor than have to open up the hub motor and replace the printed circuit board inside.
Lastly, this new motor has a few features BionX doesn’t have. It offers a reverse feature so one can use the motor to back up. It can be programmed offering three different selections of the rider’s choice as to how much power the motor is delivering. Typically one programs it to have a low power choice, a medium power choice and a high power choice. These can be selected as one is riding. By law here in the U.S. an e-bike (e-trike) can’t go any faster than 20 mph on roads when being powered by the motor. It seems so silly when there are riders who can obtain 40 mph or so thru pedaling. Many motors are capable of propelling the bike/trike faster than 20 mph, but by law they must be limited to a top speed of 20 mph. With this motor being programmable one could choose full power as one of the 3 available selections. That would propel the cycle much faster than the 20 mph top speed allowed. I tell you what … I won’t tell if you won’t. 😉 I am sure there are many who would choose to have full power available as one of the selections. It not only would provide the highest top speed obtainable, but it would provide maximum acceleration and performance. Anyone up for a drag race? Am I getting too old for that?
By the way, the rim that came with the hub motor laced into it turned out to be a major problem when it came to mounting the tire on it. I use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and the rim was slightly larger in diameter making it nearly impossible to get the tire onto it. I had to use tire tools and even then it was difficult and this was while working out in the garage on a workbench. I can’t imagine trying to deal with it while out riding. I never have had to resort to using tire tools while mounting a tire on my Catrike rims. They have always gone on okay just using my hands.
Well, that’s my story thus far. It is all on order. And yes, I am very anxious to get it and get it installed and working. And then I hope to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I will keep readers updated. BTW, as stated, this is round two and hopefully it will be the final round.
Note – sadly it was not the last round. HERE you can read about round three.
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
13 thoughts on “ELECTRIC HUB MOTOR SYSTEM … ROUND TWO”
Hello Steve, I really appreciated the électric Hub motor system Round Two. Where I can read the Round one?
Thank you for your good job.
If you read this posting you are commenting on the whole story is right there. Apparently you didn’t read it if you are asking this question.
This motor is my choice for my velomobile project.
Leiba XStream, because it have bigger ground clearance (a must for snowy Québec).
This motor is fully adjustable, have a regenerative braking and even a reverse (can plug the foot hole).
With 2 battery LIFEPO4 30Ah (many 100’s Km at 40 Km/h).
No, I have not looked at motors that are not designed for use on bikes. There is no reason to since they are not designed for bikes. I am only interested in a hub motor system.
Steve, have you researched motors other than those offered in the bike industry? That looks like a good option to save money and possibly find better quality.
Great deal of GREAT data. I learned a lot! Thanks Steve,,
Steve, I sure appreciate your info on this. My local bike shop out here in Phoenix just took on BionX and I have been considering it. But you bring up several good points. I had not heard of Golden Motors so thanks for that. At 73 even though I’m in fairly good shape, I kind of overdo it sometimes trying to go as fast as I can. In October I strained my hip flexors and was in PT for 3months. The electric assist is looking better all the time. Thanks for your time and research!
I’m glad I already have an excellent e-assist trike -HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs 26 S-Pedelec. However, I am very interested in knowing more about various options available in order to recommend options to other trikers. Very much appreciate your comments and wish you all the best with this new system.
As I read this, I can smell the Wintergreen on my knees telling me–get a damn ‘electric assist’ of some kind. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the research you’ve done that helps me narrow my decision field. Thanks.
Very good topic..! And I agree with you, you don’t need to get the motor that is just short of making you a contestant on the Pikes Peak run, or at the Bonneville Salt Flats.. You just need what is a respectful speed without becoming a road hazard for yourself, or others… And lets not forget 1 the weight of the battery needed to power that motor, 2 that high pitch whine, that I would have to believe is not only noisy for you but to others who are riding along in the group closest to you.. and 3 always looking over your shoulder for that Sheriff’s Deputy coming up behind you signaling for you to pull over for excessive speed…! And last but not as least of issues #4 having an accident because of a high rate of speed to yourself, or others around you, surely an issue you don’t want to have happen to you.. Well Steve I wish you the best of luck with your new addition to your ride, and hope you will video that maiden voyage, and share them with us here on tadpole rider 2….
Thanks as always…….Armadillo Zack
What a great letter and description of the pros and cons of the different motors available. I am just gradually learning about these as I am thinking of adding them to our trikes this year. We’re just getting too old to be pushing that hard uphill any more. Thanks again for the great education Steve!