Cytronex review

barrycoll

Pedelecer
Sep 14, 2009
235
10
Review off Cytronex kit

My wife and I, have been around and toying with electric conversions for touring bikes for quite some years now.
Starting with cheap Chinese front wheel conversions with just a hand throttle, which not unexpectedly,didn't last very long.
We then progressed to a pair of KTM E-bikes that were Bosch powered and a bit noisy, but worked quite well, as long as you overlooked the weight and absence of fun when is Cycling with the power off.
The problem was solved with these, when they were parked up with quality D locks in central London.....and then stolen.

These were replaced by a pair of heavyweight and chunky looking German Haibike MTBs. These again were noisy despite being Yamaha powered, and again no fun to cycle with the power off.

The search for renewed Cycling fun, led us to a pair of 9 1/2 kg Islabikes which have worked well for two or three years, as the extra low gearing compensated for the inevitable loss of leg power at 80+ years.
So exploring the E bike scene once again showed us that InFrame batteries would not work on holiday, as charging would be a real problem.
With rear wheel drive units, the possibility of a puncture was too daunting, and no advantages of being super light

But need to bridge the gap between conventional ultra and mid- heavyweight E bikes, and the fun of lightweight touring bikes still existed, and was interestingly solved to some extent, by a subscription to David Henshaw's A2B Magazine

David has been a longtime supporter and proponent of the Cytronex conversion from Winchester. I have been aware of this kit for sometime but considered it possibly too fragile for bikes transported on a towbar bike rack down to Spain or Italy
I couldn't have been more wrong.

After easily fitting two kits to a pair of road, orientated, mountain bikes a Trek 3 and a low step Whyte , we then drove across Europe in some pretty atrocious weather, so at that stage I had my doubts as to whether we would doing any E-biking at all?

Once again, I couldn't have been more wrong
1400 kms away, the hills of Italy in the Tuscany region were no place for old folk without some electronic assistance. Unlike the UK, 5 km+ climbs were commonplace, with some gradients putting a big question mark over the wisdom of having front wheel rather than central or rear wheel assistance.
Once again, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Despite being rained blasted on the back of the car for hundreds of miles, both bikes performed perfectly.
We tended to set them up with the yellow lowest power assistance at the minimal setting, and more or less this was good enough for most modest gradients. But definitely not all.
Of course, when the road conditions were just give-and-take, the lack of any resistance from the front wheel motor meant that Power Off riding felt just like well sorted touring bikes. So fun was very much restored

The only weakness or change that I would like to see, came when we were cycling, ridiculously steep gravel tracks as per our itinerary in northern Italy.
Very loose gravel and some sudden increases in incline which meant going rapidly for more power with the left thumb. This on at least three occasions Meant unfortunately, turning the power off rather than increasing it.
This in turn meant pushing the bike as restarting on these gradients was not possible.

I would like to see the power button turned 90° so that the plus sign is in front of the handlebars, and the minus -is behind the handlebars, and Off is in the middle. The natural movement of the thumb tip when the hand is stationary on the hand grips is a gentle arc, so tracing an easy line from
+ to - via a central Off position

When doing a 30 mile ride around undulating Hertfordshire north of London, we found that 30 miles used about 30% of the battery as per the iPhone app. in the yellow support position, but with lots of total power OFF Cycling. This is the only conversion that supports this possibility, in our experience.


So our experiences of the Cytronex conversion is not a gentle commute to work, nor a Sunday fun ride, but some pretty hard-core cycling which would not of been possible for people of our age without some assistance.
The conversions came through with flying colours, despite the conditions of travelling on the back of a car and being blasted by motorway, downpours for many hours....then many kms of rock and gravel surfaces not particularly recommended by Mark S of Cytronex
These are not the conditions most people would use their bikes for, so this must confirm the possibility of a pretty bullet-proof conversion in even extreme circumstance.
Highly recommended.


Ps
(It would be interesting to use a power meter and assess whether power On plus leg power is using much less effort than power off and a low gear plus leg power, of course at a much lower speed.)
 
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saneagle

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 10, 2010
5,170
2,501
Telford
How big is the battery? Last time I looked a few years ago, the batteries were 5Ah, which is 180Wh, but maybe they're bigger now. 1/3 of that would be 60Wh for 30 miles makes 2Wh per mile, which means most of the time you were travelling, you weren't using any power. At an average speed of 10 mph, your 60 Wh would have to last 3 hours, which means an average power of 20W from the battery or approximately 14W of output motive power. That's very low . It's about the power you'd need to overcome the additional mass of the electric stuff. Are you sure your figures are correct? With those figures, you might be better off without fitting the kits.
 
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sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
3,730
2,693
Winchester
I think the expectation of a kit like that is that you won't be using anything from it for a lot of the time; but it's there when you need it. Steady speeds and almost flat riding means the weight isn't that important. Certainly not the kit for me (event though they are almost our closest bike shop), but the helpful first post confirms its value for a certain kind of riding.
 
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StuartsProjects

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 9, 2021
1,729
974
A nice kit, and I did consider buying the one they do for the Brompton.

One dissapointment for me was they did not seem to make much of an effort to disguise the battery\controller to look more like a water bottle.
 
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Bikes4two

Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 21, 2020
951
424
Havant
  • I'm glad to read Barry (@barrycoll ) that you've had a positive experience with your two C1 kits as so often forums feature "it's broke how do I fix it" type of posts.
  • You've obviously had experience with other ebike systems - can you tell me how you got on with the power delivery which is I understand, a 'cadence sensing' system rather than a 'torque sensing' system?
  • As others have already posted, with a battery of now 198Wh (as per latest version), clearly to only use 1/3rd of battery power over 30 miles means that for a lot of that distance the system was not deliverig much if any power.
  • In our local tandem group there are three I think C1 conversions and those riders often get similar range/consumption figures, but then again they are all relative fit (septuagenariun) riders. Some clever electronics/harware/algorithms going on here I suspect.
  • The handlebar controls and bluetooth function do lead to a very discrete implementation although as has already been commented on, the bottle battery is for some reason, rather strangely positioned well clear of the frame mounts - not aesthetically pleasing for many an eye I'd have thought?
  • Pricing is not cheap and on just checking, a kit is around a £1k but of course you get to keep your favourite bike rather than some monster of a thing weighing in at 25Kg plus.
  • For those not familiar with the C1 kit, there's a nice review HERE.
Happy cycling, cheers B4t
53132
 
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barrycoll

Pedelecer
Sep 14, 2009
235
10
  • I'm glad to read Barry (@barrycoll ) that you've had a positive experience with your two C1 kits as so often forums feature "it's broke how do I fix it" type of posts.
  • You've obviously had experience with other ebike systems - can you tell me how you got on with the power delivery which is I understand, a 'cadence sensing' system rather than a 'torque sensing' system?
  • As others have already posted, with a battery of now 198Wh (as per latest version), clearly to only use 1/3rd of battery power over 30 miles means that for a lot of that distance the system was not deliverig much if any power.
  • In our local tandem group there are three I think C1 conversions and those riders often get similar range/consumption figures, but then again they are all relative fit (septuagenariun) riders. Some clever electronics/harware/algorithms going on here I suspect.
  • The handlebar controls and bluetooth function do lead to a very discrete implementation although as has already been commented on, the bottle battery is for some reason, rather strangely positioned well clear of the frame mounts - not aesthetically pleasing for many an eye I'd have thought?
  • Pricing is not cheap and on just checking, a kit is around a £1k but of course you get to keep your favourite bike rather than some monster of a thing weighing in at 25Kg plus.
  • For those not familiar with the C1 kit, there's a nice review HERE.
Happy cycling, cheers B4t
View attachment 53132
Hi b4
despite having owned both Bosch (KTM) andYamaha (Haibike) I have experienced no power delivery issues with the C1 on a Trek 3.
I couldn't say whether it's cadence or torque sending when actually riding in power On mode
the feeling is one of having a pair of top $ legs that have slept well, rather than a pair of 83 year old slightly knackered ones, even in the lowest (yellow) power setting.
having + or - of 70% of the battery left after 30 miles, means that for a good chunk of time we were cycling unpowered, as the Trek (although not "light") feels great unpowered, and not too dissimilar to our 9.5 kg Islabikes Janis.....
the front wheel motor offers no resistance and you wouldn't know it was there.

The hills around Hertfordshire can be steep but usually short, so with the 40x40 gearing on the Trek, a lot can be ridden before using the 'get out of jail free' button.
Having just come back from Tuscany, the hills there are a different story, meaning sometimes a 5km+ climbs
And old legs (my wife is 81) means a lot of power is needed, but even so a 25mile 500 meter climbing day left 12% in the battery

we are just booking for a weeks cycling on the Spanish/Portuguese border, where distances are 35+ miles and 5/600meters of climbing.
September should still be warm, but we will carry our very small battery chargers with us as you get 25% in 30 mins coffee stop.....IF there is a coffee shop en route of course!

aesthetics of the battery bottle are mmmm, but in frame batteries just wouldn't work either on holiday or at home, so basically "needs must"

a pretty bullet proof kit, as all electric connections are made in house, and nothing really exposed to the elements.
Even after 1000 miles on the back of the car in foul conditions!

cheers Barry C
 
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