First look: BionX retrofit electric bike kit

Turn your commuting machine into an e-bike

Canadian company BionX specialise in making retrofit kits that can turn almost any bicycle into a pedelec (a bike with electric power assistance), and these are now available in the UK and Ireland for the first time.

Distributors Zyro are offering four packages, each of which consists of a lithium manganese (LiMn) battery, handlebar console and rear wheel with motorised hub.

BionX aren't the first to produce a retrofittable e-bike kit – we reviewed a model from Alien Bikes last year – but they reckon it's the lightest available in the UK, will fit virtually any frame shape and is the only system that can use energy from braking and freewheeling to recharge its battery.

The idea with pedelecs is that instead of having a throttle, the motor kicks in when you start pedalling. Pedal a BionX-fitted bike lightly and it will give a gentle boost. Step things up a bit and it will respond with greater assistance. Under UK law, the motor is limited to 15mph.

The digital console offers a choice of four power assist modes and four regenerative modes, as well as measuring trip distance and speed, and displaying battery levels.

We tested an Airnimal Joey folder fitted with an earlier BionX motor a few years back and were impressed, describing it as "relatively discreet" and "very 'bike-like' to ride" but with a "very firm, virtually silent and constant assist up the hills". It'll be interesting to see how the latest version performs.

BionX kits

  • PL250 Light: £1,099.99; 5.5kg; range of 35km from 3-4 hour charge (not including regenerated energy); frame mounted battery; for 26in, 24in and 700c wheeled bikes
  • PL250: £1,299.99; 6.3kg; 65km range; frame mounted battery; 26in and 700c
  • PL250 HT: £1,599.99; 7.7kg; 80km range; higher torque motor; frame mounted battery; 26in and 700c
  • PL250 HTRR: £1,699.99; 80km range; same higher torque motor as HT; battery comes built into rear rack complete with a rear light; 26in and 700c

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