I was lucky enough to pick up the 200W with 10 Amp/hr lithium ion phosphate battery kit. I travel 30kms each way each day via train and I was very conscious of the range offered by the kit – therefore shunning the 350W or higher kit and the water-bottle-style battery. I had some initial difficulties with the kit and the installation (doing it myself), and Matt helpfully resolved all of the problems I had created. Although the system is exceedingly simple to install if you know what to do, I botched it up royally, and would really recommend that the $90 installation fee is well worth the expense!
As for the performance of the kit it is awesome! It looks great, is very well finished and easily holds 30+ km/h along the flat with no pedalling. I do pedal as fast as I can as well, but being an overweight, ex-smoker having turned 40, it is probably not too much. My average travel time for the 30 km trip to work is currently 57 minutes and should improve soon; this is actually faster than my old method of commuting, which involved a bike ride, a wait, a train ride and and a walk – all up about 65 minutes. Riding a non-electric bike all the way probably would take me about 2 hours and just wouldn’t be feasible. Hills are the best part for me – instead of dropping down to a low gear, I can stay in a high gear and keep travelling at 25 km/h+, rather than dropping to sub 10 km/h. Along the flat I now tend to be able to cruise above 35 km/h with relative ease.
The 30 km trip uses around 50% of the battery, I have actually ridden the entire 60 km return trip on one charge, however this used 90% of the battery (270 minutes to recharge) and I do not unnecessarily want to reduce the battery life so charge at work also. I researched the battery options extensively, eventually justifying the substantially more expensive LiPoFe04 Solar Bike battery based on performance, lifetime, weight and packaging. It is definitely worth the extra initial investment and is actually cheaper over the battery lifetime – roughly 40cents per complete recharge cycle. The battery itself can be key-locked to the rack, and easily removed so that you can take just the battery to your chosen charging point. The rack that the battery fits in to is well designed, and when you look at it in profile, it is very stealthy – hardly hinting towards it’s true purpose. You can see in this picture where the battery slides into the rack (battery has been removed).
I put the kit on a new Trek FX7.0 and it looks great. A heavier battery would not have been a good choice, as you do feel the bike to be substantially heavier with the additional 10Kgs added by the kit. Mind you, I expect to lose 10Kgs over the next 6 months so things will even out. I now ride the bike to work every day, saving my $6.90 train fee and expect breakeven to occur in one year (bike, kit and extra accessories). I am about to get a 2nd charger, so that I can leave one at home and one at work.
The kit gives me the confidence to ride to work – in a mere hour, and although I have never just coasted along, I potentially could if desired. Each day I now get that little bit stronger, fitter and healthier, and potentially one day, the electric motor will only be engaged for the toughest of hills on the hottest of Perth days. Without the kit, the option to ride simply would not have been feasible for me.
The final thing I have discovered is how friendly the bicycling community is, with most of the hard-core lycra-clad riders quite impressed by the kit when they eventually catch up to me at the pedestrian crossings – eager to find out all about the kit. Some have mentioned it is “cheating” and in a road race it would be, but on my daily commute, I am only either cheating the trains, the traffic jams and the parking inspectors- certainly not cheating myself!
Troy Hemetsberger, L7 Solutions – Internal Account Manager