Early this year, during a stroll in downtown St. Petersburg Florida, I came across a store displaying a kit for adding an electric motor to a bicycle. For some strange reason, understood by many members of these forums, I became fascinated by a new technology. In the weeks that followed, I did lots of reading about electric bike on the Internet, and decided this was something I had always wanted.
I had not been a riding bike for many years, and after I tried an electric bike, in a store in New York City, I realized that I better get my bike riding skills back before doing anything with an electric motor. I spent the summer buying a new bike and getting comfortable riding. Two weeks ago I decided I was ready, and had a conversion kits installed on my bike.
Electric bikes fall into two categories: assist and throttle.
An electrical assist motor system has a torque sensor, for measuring the peddlers effort, and proportionally adds assistance according to the selected assist level.
A throttle assist system is basically like an motorcycle. There is a a control mechanism, which when twisted or pressed, causes the motor to be activated. The level of assist is independent of the user peddling. Actually, peddling is not required.
I had a Bionx system installed. This system, built by a Canadian company, is generally considered the best manufacturer of conversion kits. It supports both assist and throttle modes. The conversion kit added about 17 pounds. to the bike, including the lithium ion battery. The kit provides four levels of assist; 35% 75%, 150% and 300%.
In the lowest level, the bike essentially performs like it did without the motor, compensating for the added weight. At the highest level, I can cruise along at 20mph, with a reasonable effort, and most hills require little additional effort. The motor cuts out at 20mph, allowing it to not have to be registered and insured. Most of the time I use it at the two lower levels. This allows me to get exercise, while smoothing the hills a bit, and achieving extended distances and speed.
I am having a lot of fun riding my bike, and still getting good exercise. Overall, I would say I am getting more exercise because I get less fatigued on the hills, and I am able to ride much longer.
The first attached picture is a complete view of the bike. The triangular case, in the center of the frame, located where a water bottle normally sits, is the battery. The hub of the rear wheel is the motor.
The second picture is a closeup of the motor.
This third picture shows the control console for the system. On the right handlebar, is a control with a plus and minus sign and a red button. The plus and minus sign buttons can be used for changing the assist level, and the red button is a proportional throttle.