Confessions of a BionX Convert
A confession from Bike Friday Co-Founder Alan Scholz:
Over the past 10 years I have had several folks from the Bike Friday community tell me that we should offer Bike Fridays with electric assist. They wanted it for themselves, and several had even done it themselves and brought them to me to show how happy they were with them.
Well, I apologize. I did not get it.
I had been looking at electric assist for more than 15 years and the ones I had seen were what I thought of as “not real bikes.” They were heavy, made funny noises, or for other reasons were an embarrassment to ride. Especially if I wanted to ride the bike without the assist.
I literally thought that it was about a cheap low-speed motorcycle so people did not need to pedal. I had not a clue what a really good modern assist was like. Worse, I had used myself as the judge of their potential value. As a designer of things for other people’s lives, that is a big no-no.
Since I was a fairly strong rider I always had been fit enough to do most things under my own power, and I transferred that sense to overall value. Until I started riding a BionX equipped Haul-a-Day this winter I just didn’t get it.
Perhaps worse, I have been married for 20 years and knew my wife sometimes felt bad not being able to keep up. That didn’t happen to me very often so I somehow didn’t realize how much a little boost would enhance her cycling. As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!”
I have been a bike commuter for more than 45 years. I am now riding a Haul-a-Day equipped with a basic BionX electric assist every day to the shop and back and on city business. I can’t believe how much better it is than me pulling a trailer all those years.
It is not just for small moms with a big load of kids who need to ride over a hill to get them home. I still ride my light road bike on the weekend ride. But I can tell you, having electric assist for day-to-day transportation has not replaced my cycling.
I get just as much exercise as I ever did, maybe more. It is an unbelievable enhancement in expanding my self-propelled capabilities.
I found it has very little down side. As long as you add it to a real bike that fits to begin with, I am convinced these will be very popular and seen as very good value for the cost.
Here is what makes it work for me:
- No noise.
- Bike rides fine even when system is off or battery is depleted.
- It has regenerative braking. Might not sound like a big deal but on steep down hills it is superior to any other kind of braking.
- You can leave the battery at home for a lighter bike. You can carry an extra battery for a much longer ride.
- I commute all week on one charge. About 50-60 miles. A long ride would be 100 miles at speed and with a load.
- The motor wheel has a standard cassette type 8-10 speed freehub. That means two things: Your regular drive train works just fine with no changes with the motor wheel in. And when you want that good old light touring bike stripped down you just put back in the original wheel.
- Depending who you are riding with or how tired you are at the end of the day, you can always add a little boost the even things out.
As you can see, I’m sold. The BionX electric assist is a well designed system that will enhance cycling for a lot of individuals. You might be one!