The end of BionX? - An interesting post on ES by Justin Lemire-Elmore

Oct 25, 2006
40,251
228
113
#2
It's always a pity to see one of the best known long established players threatened with closing, but the writing has been on the wall for a long time.

Principle causes have been the proprietary battery system, the insanely expensive battery prices hitting £1050 for 346 Wh years ago, more recently the debacle following Trek unwisely adopting Bionx motors and their failure to entice German companies to use their motors long term in both pedelec and S class bikes.
.
 
Jan 26, 2015
6,949
138
113
The European Union
#3
They should have got a clue the day Microsoft adopted Open Source... Way too expensive to ever have been on my shopping list.
 
D

Deleted member 4366

Guest
#4
No sympathy from me on this one. Selling stuff to innocent people who are locked out of being able to diagnose or fix ant problems when the dealer network is so sparse that they've got no chance of getting their bikes fixed, then add to that fleecing their loyal customers for spare parts, they deserved to fail. Good riddance as far as I'm concerned.

I help out at the local ebike shop fixing all the bikes that they didn't sell. I've fixed Bosch, Impulse, Suntour and all sorts of weird and wonderful relics from the past. The only bike I turned away was a Trek with the Bionx system. My only suggestions were to rip out everything and pay £600 in parts for new motor, controller, sensors and display or find a Bionx dealer, who would be able to connect his bike up to the diagnostics, reset the software and probably charge the same amount. The nearest listed dealer to Telford is 110 miles away, and it was the same shop chain that sold a forum member a 75p pedal sensor for £600.
 

jdallan

Pedelecer
Jan 18, 2013
285
41
43
#5
I am not surprised that BionX have gone. My second ebike was a Rose bike with the BionX system and it proved to be a disaster. The bike itself was superb however I had repeated faults with the BionX system which led to the bike being returned to Germany several times to be put right - all at Rose's expense I'm pleased to say! Happily, on its last visit to Germany, I was able to negotiate an agreement with Rose to take it back against a refund I was happy with.

It was not a happy experience however I could not fault Rose Bikes for their handling of the matter.
Jim
 
Feb 17, 2011
2,490
112
113
#6
It is not so much a matter of faults, they will always occur, but how easy is it to rectify them?
My daughter has just told me that her car won't start. Tomorrow I shall call the local garage, they will tow it away and repair it. Should be ready Monday.
To deliberately build a device, bike or otherwise that can only be repaired by the manufacturer should be a crime because it is an attempt to lock the purchaser into a profit making deal with one supplier and is therefore a restraint of trade which might yet prove to be illegal under the Treaty of Rome.
 
Oct 25, 2006
40,251
228
113
#7
I haven't been as harsh as many commenting here since I remember from a dozen and more years ago when the Bionx was a very good e-bike motor with very happy owners. That was before lithium batteries took over the e-bike market and Bionx like others used an NiMh battery. There was just one version then, 350 watt with reliable software.

In the early days of this forum we had some owners, in Britain having imported direct and we had some in other countries. One enthusiast member in Australia owned three Bionx motored bikes!

The start of their troubles seemed to coincide with two things. The introduction of Oriental lithium batteries after their German battery supplier's factory burned to the ground and the introduction of four different powered versions with the later software and locked in battery system. They were the 250, 250H, 350 and 500 Watt versions.

They've been bad news ever since then.
.
 
Oct 25, 2006
40,251
228
113
#8
Footnote:

This Bionx declared bankruptcy on 27th February 2018.

They are not connected in any way to the BionX company who make advanced prosthetics, including what is claimed to be the world's only active prosthetic ankle-foot joint.
.
 

spanos

Finding my (electric) wheels
Feb 18, 2011
238
10
18
#9
No sympathy from me on this one. Selling stuff to innocent people who are locked out of being able to diagnose or fix ant problems when the dealer network is so sparse that they've got no chance of getting their bikes fixed, then add to that fleecing their loyal customers for spare parts, they deserved to fail. Good riddance as far as I'm concerned.

I help out at the local ebike shop fixing all the bikes that they didn't sell. I've fixed Bosch, Impulse, Suntour and all sorts of weird and wonderful relics from the past. The only bike I turned away was a Trek with the Bionx system. My only suggestions were to rip out everything and pay £600 in parts for new motor, controller, sensors and display or find a Bionx dealer, who would be able to connect his bike up to the diagnostics, reset the software and probably charge the same amount. The nearest listed dealer to Telford is 110 miles away, and it was the same shop chain that sold a forum member a 75p pedal sensor for £600.
I still recall the day I entered my local giant store to get the B.B. removed from the bike I just bought(to fit a mid drive) . I didn’t have right tool.

I stood behind a gent I guesstimate was around 70. He wanted his recumbent converted . They were quoting the man around 5 grand plus 80 per hour in labour (and refusing to even give a ballpark number). The told him it was bionix or nothing. There was categorically no other solution. I was disgusted.

I waited outside for quite awhile just to speak to him. I told him about the many many options and prices. He actually thought I was. At first he assumed I was a snake oil salesmen due to the prices I quoted him !

I pointed him here and I hope he corroraborated my info and told them to stick their system right up the oversized bottom bracket

So 600'quid for 75p doesn't surprise me

Still shocked and appalled , but not surprised
 
D

Deleted member 4366

Guest
#10
I still recall the day I entered my local giant store to get the B.B. removed from the bike I just bought(to fit a mid drive) . I didn’t have right tool.

I stood behind a gent I guesstimate was around 70. He wanted his recumbent converted . They were quoting the man around 5 grand plus 80 per hour in labour (and refusing to even give a ballpark number). The told him it was bionix or nothing. There was categorically no other solution. I was disgusted.

I waited outside for quite awhile just to speak to him. I told him about the many many options and prices. He actually thought I was. At first he assumed I was a snake oil salesmen due to the prices I quoted him !

I pointed him here and I hope he corroraborated my info and told them to stick their system right up the oversized bottom bracket

So 600'quid for 75p doesn't surprise me

Still shocked and appalled , but not surprised
The story had a happy ending. The bike was unrideable because they did such a bad job of converting it. When he asked them to make it rideable, they couldn't so they had to give him back his £2600, which is what they charged for fitting what was basically one of those cheap Ebay DD kits.

The guy was blind in one eye and only had one leg. They took his driving licence away because of his health issues and he needed some sort of transport 20141111_141558_zps4fac3324.JPG . I felt sorry for him, so I converted it with a high-torque geared hub-motor for about £600.
 

Cephalotus

Just Joined
Mar 22, 2017
14
5
3
41
Germany
#11
Main BionX problems have been the Chinese 48V battery disaster in 2011.

+ their software problems in 2012+2013 with version 4.x and 5.x.

Since version 6.0 the software is very good.

the BionX P motor is very good and imho quite reliable.

actual 48V batteries are said to be quite good and the last price is 600 Euro for a 52 cell battery with 3 years warranty, that's okay in my opinion, too. Sometime there is a failure with the 48V BMS, in my opinion the balancer system is quite shitty. (you can run hardware 6.2 batteries with software no older than 111 without the balancer)

Display has always been good, cables and charger, too.

I had never any sensor failures (just don't oil the axle!), but this can be fixed.

The BionX SL motors from 2011 have not been a good idea. That motors just weights 3.4kg and I assume it is quite expensive to make with double the windings and magnesium shell. Those motors overheat quite easy which is not what people expect from a electric motor in hilly regions. I'm one of the last fas of that motor because of its light weight for a silent 1300W direct drive system which is perfectly legal in EU.

The D motor is quite an engineering masterpiece (look at reason endless sphere discussion and the d-series in the simulation tool which Justin just recently added) and alone in the field in regards of weight to power/torque rating. It would also have been an excellent s-Pedelec mot easily reaching 45km/h (I ride one in an sPed, so I know).
But I assume they are quite expensive to make (just look at the inside construction!) and sometimes you have to deal with noise from resonances and I don't like the rim problems. BionX also does/did not sell replacement freewheels/clutches (correct word?) for this motor.

Me and my girlfriend have 4 bikes with BionX and all of them run silent, powerful, are freely configurable, have a legal throttle option and rarely have problems besides the typical thing of getting hot on steep and long hills. This problem is very significantly reduced with d-Motor and even the SL and P series could use ferrofluid or heatpipe through the axle which I'm experimenting with.

I own around 10 BionX motors (most of them I bought dirt cheap as "defective") and several BionX BMS, the CAN tools, the software and some spare parts. Aging battery cells are quite easily replaced in the BionX world. So I hope and assume that I will be able to enjoy the only motors with 48V 30A controllers that are perfectly legal within 250W EU rules for maybe 15-20 years to come.

I was also able to get approval + insurance for a 45km/h s-Pedelec with d-Motor that is as powerful as the most powerful s-Pedelec that are out there but with a 250W sticker and not even an obligation to wear a helmet on it, because it is based an old BionX s-Pedelec with it's 20km/h official max speed (20km/h when the rider does not move)

It's sad that people did not see and tell about the advantages of the system and sad that many people dis-advised against it, not even owning one, but I agree that you need knowledge to learn how to make the best out of a BionX system and how to fix it...

Overall the EU market seems to be quite dead for hub motors anyway. There are some motors from TDCM in Klever and Stromer with very small market share, some GoSwiss/Ortlinghaus in even smaller niche markets and maybe somewhere is a bike with an Alber motor? Add some discounter bikes with a cheap Chinese hub motor and 7 speed freewheel. I have never ever seen a bike with a Falco E motor. Anything else?

all I see is Bosch and some small competition from Yamaha, Shimano and Brose but all of them driving the chain.
 
Oct 25, 2006
40,251
228
113
#12
I agree that you need knowledge to learn how to make the best out of a BionX system and how to fix it...
Our member in Australia with three Bionx equipped bikes that I mentioned in my post above also seemed to have much more knowledge of the systems and software upgrades than most e-bike owners.

Trek adopting them on their bikes for the general public certainly seemed to be a mistake.
.
 

E-Wheels

Pedelecer
Aug 16, 2016
163
21
28
Sunset Coast, Western Australia
#13
Our member in Australia with three Bionx equipped bikes that I mentioned in my post above also seemed to have much more knowledge of the systems and software upgrades than most e-bike owners.

Trek adopting them on their bikes for the general public certainly seemed to be a mistake.
.
So what is the alternative now for a quality DD rear hub kit?
 
Dec 30, 2016
277
25
43
51
London
#14
The story had a happy ending. The bike was unrideable because they did such a bad job of converting it. When he asked them to make it rideable, they couldn't so they had to give him back his £2600, which is what they charged for fitting what was basically one of those cheap Ebay DD kits.

The guy was blind in one eye and only had one leg. They took his driving licence away because of his health issues and he needed some sort of transport View attachment 23621 . I felt sorry for him, so I converted it with a high-torque geared hub-motor for about £600.
Bless you
 
Jan 26, 2015
6,949
138
113
The European Union
#15
D

Deleted member 4366

Guest
#16
So what is the alternative now for a quality DD rear hub kit?
If you mean by quality, an over-priced, heavy and unreliable system, that gives dealers the opportunity to fleece their customers, I don't think there are many alternatives now.

The general definitions of quality include such things as customer satisfaction, reliability, durability and fit for purpose. Most Chinese geared hub-motor kits seem to fit with those definitions.
 
Oct 25, 2006
40,251
228
113
#17
So what is the alternative now for a quality DD rear hub kit?
Other than the SwissDrive mentioned by AK, there's only the Alber NeoDrive DD motor from Europe, also known under other names such as Xion by Derby Cycles.

You'll find information on both of these on this translated page.
.
 
Jan 26, 2015
6,949
138
113
The European Union
#19

Woosh

Trade Member
May 19, 2012
8,642
140
113
Southend on Sea
wooshbikes.co.uk
#20
I still recall the day I entered my local giant store to get the B.B. removed from the bike I just bought(to fit a mid drive) . I didn’t have right tool.

I stood behind a gent I guesstimate was around 70. He wanted his recumbent converted . They were quoting the man around 5 grand plus 80 per hour in labour (and refusing to even give a ballpark number). The told him it was bionix or nothing. There was categorically no other solution. I was disgusted.

I waited outside for quite awhile just to speak to him. I told him about the many many options and prices. He actually thought I was. At first he assumed I was a snake oil salesmen due to the prices I quoted him !

I pointed him here and I hope he corroraborated my info and told them to stick their system right up the oversized bottom bracket

So 600'quid for 75p doesn't surprise me

Still shocked and appalled , but not surprised
There are always more than one side of the story. Rule #1: No two jobs are the same when you deal with conversions. Rule #2: even when you keep telling yourself: the customer is always right, trust me, if you want what's best for the customer, you need to tell him/her that some of their wishes are just not practical.

Kits are not for everyone. If you are a good DIYer and capable of looking after your own bike(s) then no problem. If you have to get a bike shop to do the job for you, please ask for their labour rate first.
Like hotels, some shops charge £80 an hour, others £30 an hour and there is no telling sign which one is more competent than the other until you get the bill and see what you get for yourself.
 

Related Articles

Advertisers