Just about a year ago my 26" front wheel kit arrived from ELifeBike (more or less http://www.elifebike.com/peng/iview.asp ... GR8W.234ME
this kit) and my battery arrived from BMSBattery (sort of like this one http://www.bmsbattery.com/packs/622-36v ... -pack.html
). The differences are that the motor on my kit didn't have Hall sensors - I guess that's the M model as opposed to my Q model? And the battery case is different, which turns out to be important as I'll mention later. As for the motor, some motors have a connector between the motor and the wire that leads to the controller. That makes it easier to remove the wheel without having to undo the wiring - my motor didn't, the wire runs from the wheel all the way to the connector by the controller. That hasn't been an issue; I can change a flat without disconnecting the wire, and could even have it trued if I needed that but the wheel has been fine.
Cost was around $200 for the kit and $400 for the battery, including shipping. That's for a 24 volt Q100 motor and 36 volt battery. I was assured by folks here that the Q100 would have no problem with 36 volts and they were correct.
I chose front wheel because I didn't want to have to worry about the cassette/freewheel issues, and because I wanted the weight better distributed. The battery is on the back and most of the bike weight hits the back wheel. I think it was a good decision for my use. If I was going for a 1000 watt 48 volt system, that's a different issue.
I dumped all the parts on the floor and started trying to figure out what each thing was for; there were no instructions but mostly the connectors could only fit together one way, and with tremendous help from this forum I started to put the bike together. I had a Schwinn ClearCreek comfort bike, which at least has an alloy fork - supposedly you shouldn't use an aluminum fork with a front drive motor. I do have a torque arm installed just to be safer. The dropouts are what holds the axle in place, so you don't want those to break and let the motor spin out. A bike isn't designed for power pulling from the front wheel. I was worried that the front fork and other parts wouldn't be up to having a motor on the bike, but the power of the motor isn't enough to have that be a consideration. The dropouts are more of a concern.
Mostly I had little problem getting it together, but I'd never removed cranks before nor the bottom bracket, and both of those are necessary to put the PAS (Pedal Assist) sensor on the bottom bracket. And it turns out that I needed a longer bottom bracket to hold the PAS correctly. Otherwise the brakes went on easy enough, and the throttle and main display (called the 810).
The three speed deal was confusing. Folks were telling me that the bike would go faster if I shorted two of the wires to each other but I had no idea what wires we were talking about. It turns out that those wires were already being used by the 810 Display unit, which has a mode button that controls which of the three speeds are selected. By speeds, I mean how much power is available to power the bike. On the lowest setting, the bike will go 13-15 mph. Middle setting, 16-18, high setting, 19-22.
Now a quick bit about PAS and the throttle. More expensive setups have real torque sensors, like BionX actually knows how hard you're pedaling because it measures how much the rear axle is bending. Cheaper kits, like this one, use a sensor that knows how fast the pedals are turning, but not how much effort you're putting into it. So the BionX really can say that it's adding 25%, or 50%, etc, to whatever you're doing. My cheap piece of crap, much as I love it, is essentially an on/off switch. As soon as PAS determines that I'm pedaling fast enough, it kicks on the motor. And it's going to go 15, or 18, or 22 depending on that mode switch. It doesn't matter how much effort I'm putting in. Since the gearing on my bike is meant for old fogies (like me), it's tough to actually do any significant pedaling on either of the higher two modes. Still, mostly I leave it on the low setting so I get some exercise, and always pedal even if it isn't doing much (or anything).
The throttle overrides the PAS. Any use of the throttle and PAS cuts out and the throttle controls the assist, but within the limits set by the 3 speed modes. In low mode, the throttle will go 0-15, in high, 0-22. So, often I use the throttle as a brake
. If I want to go slower than the full-out speed that PAS wants, I use the throttle to hold it to what I want. That's a bit counter-intuitive but works. I've gotten very used to using PAS and the throttle; I rarely even realize what my thumb is doing on the throttle. Sometimes, and this is weird, I'll release the throttle so I can get ready to stop, and the bike actually accelerates a bit since it takes PAS a few seconds to realize that I've stopped pedaling. That sounds worse than it really is because the motor just isn't strong enough to do much in the few seconds between releasing the throttle and PAS cutting out. And of course the brakes cut off any motor use instantly and easily overpower the motor even if it was still on.
Battery life for my 15ah 36 volt battery is around 50 miles. I ride it 25 miles most days and use half the battery.
Now for a bit about BMSBattery. I made two key mistakes putting the bike together. Before I had the rack together so the battery used the proprietary rack/battery interface, I was using a thick gauge solid copper wire to connect the battery to the controller. The connector on the battery looks like a standard US AC receptacle. So the thick gauge wire was actually pushing the internal metal plates too far away from each other and now the connector is failing because it isn't making good contact with the male prongs. The other critical mistake was not having the rack fastened securely enough to the seatpost when I took my maiden voyage on the bike and it snapped and the battery end slammed into the ground, breaking the back of the case. Both are my fault, so I just ordered a replacement case from BMSBattery, and I described the part that was failing and whether I could get a replacement. Last night I received an email from them, in perfectly good English, asking for a more detailed description and a picture of the part. So, while I haven't actually gotten the parts I need, I'm now hopeful that they will send the right parts. Of course, the case is $25 and shipping is $70, so I ordered an extra controller and a bunch of other parts just to have them.
And, the new battery cases that BMSBattery are selling, like the one you'll likely get, make a big deal about using Anderson connectors. Those are much better connectors than the one that my battery had. So apparently they do learn from past issues and their communication seems to be improving as well.
Well, that's my report. Let me know if I can help in any way.
Trek Valencia+ (BionX), Currie EcoRide, and a Schwinn Comfort Bike with an ELifeBike kit