BionX PL-350 – an Awesome Electric Bike System
The BionX PL-350 is a perfect kit for anyone who is challenged in their biking. The BionX PL-350 kit offers a way to keep on cycling, and that’s a beautiful thing. You can buy a BionX system here from Amazon.
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Remember how we all wanted to be superheroes when we were kids? Well, five years ago when I first used a BionX electric bike system, it was like all those childhood dreams of being a superhero had finally come true. Even though it was just a bottom-of-the-range PL-250 BionX electric bike, my legs were suddenly bionic, and I could fly up hills with the greatest of ease. I went instantly from lagging behind, or not biking at all (I had been having some health problems) to metaphorically flying along, even overtaking younger people on uphills.
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My Secret Superpower
The cool thing is that as the BionX electric bike system is so silent, people often don’t even realize you have an assist. Especially as the engine is hidden in the back wheel, so that, as you can see in this photo, the fact that you have an assist is not blatantly obvious.
Sure, I had a secret, unfair advantage – but so do ALL superheroes. Comes with the territory – trust me, I know my superheroes.
Two years ago saw new challenges, when a different health issue reared its ugly head, AND my commute changed to include a MASSIVE hill. My doctor approved the commute provided I had all the help I could get. So I upgraded to the PL-350 BionX electric bike kit, which has a much higher torque, and much more power.
BionX bills the BionX 350 electric bike as “the best in class for climbing, long rides and fast accelerations” – and that’s absolutely true. Yet it is even more silent than the BionX 250 electric bike, so that I can still keep my superpower secret from many as I zoom up hills.
BionX Electric Bikes – a Truly Great System
Bottom line is that the BionX PL-350 electric bike kit is a GREAT system. You basically just retrofit your existing bike with a new back wheel (which has the motor built in), a large battery, and a console to control it all. (Well, in my case, I paid a bike shop to retrofit it.)
You still have the great feel of regular biking (although the bike is a lot heavier). And you can cycle without assist whenever you want, such as on flats (although in reality I almost never do that, because I love the extra speed I can get with the engine).
You can also choose from a huge variety of bikes that are already fitted with an integrated BionX engine – including Trek, Norco, Matra and Wheeler.
Advantages of Having a BionX PL-350 Electric Bike Kit
Make no mistake, I am still pedaling, and building up a sweat – I just go a WHOLE lot faster than I would without the BionX PL-350 electric bike. So the system is helping me build up my fitness, health and strength, and this is really apparent when I ride my regular bike on the weekend. I am now overtaking MUCH younger cyclists without an assist!
Also – and this is perhaps the greatest advantage – I bike much more often than I would if I did not have the BionX PL-350 electric bike kit. I really don’t think I could face that huge hill twice a day, every day, without the BionX electric bike – it would just be too daunting. But with the BionX PL-350 electric bike, it’s fun. Plus on the BionX PL-350 electric bike I can be at work in 35 minutes, as opposed to an hour or more on the bus.
Another advantage is that after the initial really large outlay, it’s very, very cheap to run. The electricity it takes to charge is so minor I cannot even detect in on my electricity bill.
I have written more about why I love commuting with my BionX PL-350 electric bike here.
Problems and After Sales Service
In five years and with two different BionX electric bikes, I have had very few problems. The worst was when the back axle on the BionX PL-350 electric bike broke. Completely. In half. The system was then two years old.
On the negative side, it took about three weeks to get it fixed, as the whole wheel had to be shipped back to Montreal. But on the VERY plus side, it was all done under warranty, no questions asked – I did not even have to produce my purchase receipt. So I would say this is a company that definitely stands by its products. You can read all about the great after sales service I got in this post.
Bottom Line on the BionX PL-350 electric bike kit
I have ridden this bike non-stop through two rainy Vancouver winters, and even once got caught in snow. When that happened the BionX electric bike saved me, because my gears starting slipping so much I could hardly move, but the BionX PL-350 electric bike kept right on going like it was nothing (it was born in Montreal, after all).
Similarly, the PL-250 electric bike has not given me a single problem in five years. Oh, and the battery is still going strong after all this time. I use it as my back-up commuter now.
I would unreservedly recommend the BionX PL-350 to anyone who is challenged in their biking by either very long distances, very steep terrain, or any kind of health issues. It’s a way to keep on biking, and that’s a beautiful thing. You can buy the latest, greatest version of this kit here on Amazon.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy my post “Five Reasons to Get a BionX Electric Bike Kit”.
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Tom Childs says
I have a quite similar experience with BionX. Have had 2 near fatal heart attacks which got repaired with a couple titanium spring loaded tubes in my coronary artery. After the first heart stopper decided to fit out a Norco Rideau w/the PL250. Loved it ever so much on the hills of Vancouver! Then after a couple years decided to to ditch a 1979 Chev van to the BC Scrapit program and it rendered a new Dahon Matrix full sized (26″wheel) folding bike. I immediately fitted it out with the BionX PL350. Have kept the Norco so I have a 2nd e-bike for reserve and gets my 30 year old daughter and I out together riding too.
I’m going on 7 years with e-assist thru jvbike.com in Vancouver. JV is a great bike shop for service and likewise the BionX people in Quebec make really smart e-assist systems! I hope they go public someday as they will be a great investment!
Thanks Tom. Coincidentally, I got my Copenhagen by scrapping my 1995 Pontiac Transport through the BC Scrapit program – got $1,200, as I recall, which paid for the Copenhagen, and then paid for the PL-350 myself. What a great program that is! The interesting thing was that after scrapping my car, I had such a huge feeling of relief. I realized for the first time what a stressor it is to have a car – every time it makes a funny noise you wonder if you’re going to have to fork out another few hundred dollars to keep it running – and for what? So it can keep making you more unhealthy! When the brakes go on my bike, it usually costs just a few dollars to fix – and sometimes I can fix it myself!
I have said for a few years that if I had money to invest, I would invest in e-bikes – it’s the wave of the future, especially with all the ageing baby boomers (like me) trying to stay fit and alive.
Glad to hear that you could come back from two serious heart attacks to be a bicycle rider – that’s amazing, and really impressive. Keep riding!
I love your blog. I have been working on an article about ebikes, and now you are motivating me to finish it. I have had a Bionx L-350 for 3 years now. It is mounted on the top of the frame, and now I wonder if it is hurting my bike. They are making a rear-mount battery that is smaller, but more costly. There really is no easy answer- I used to have it on the saddle rack at the back, which made my bike unsteady to ride. Plus, I had to carry it around, cuz it was in one of those Battery bags. Any body want a flicker case?That was my second pack. Also unstable. Having a mount on the frame is the best option for me.
Jenna, THANKS for saying you love my blog! I put a lot of work into it, so it’s great to know that it brings some pleasure to others. I still don’t know the answer to the best way to mount it – I wish they would hurry up and invent smaller batteries! Everything electronic seems to get smaller over time, so why not batteries?
Thanks for posting about the BionX systems. Ive really wanted to invest in one but I just wasnt sure what to expect in terms of a commute. When I read about the commute time being cut down (especially on sardine-like Translink buses) I had to go try one out. Cheers to a revolutionary commute!
Hi Voytek. Yes, I think BionX is a revolution in commuting. If I went to work on transit it would take me 1 hour 15 minutes. On my BionX it is around 35 minutes, even fully loaded with laptop and clothes etc. Not to mention that cycling is such fun, and gets me to work all exhilirated and happy – whereas I really hate being sardined on Transit in rush hour traffic, not even able to read because there are no seats … it’s just dead, depressing time. Hey, by the way, my post later today is going to be about BionX … about my first ever test drive on BionX.
Does the BionX make it easier to cycle, or just faster? I have read some comments that state the latter, but my interest in the product is based on the belief that my knees are going to give out in a few years, and I can’t stand the thought of giving up the only real exercise I have ever actually enjoyed. I’m not so sure that pedalling with the same or increased resistance (even if for a shorter time) to go up hills would be a good thing.
I am saddened to hear of the damage to your bike. As you know from comments and photos I posted on your Central Valley Greenway article, I too have had to cope with damage to a beautiful Devinci. Perhaps we should start a support group.
Hi Graeme. I am going to ask my wife to respond to your question about the knees, because she had exactly the same problem.
Maggie says: “The answer to your question is actually both, but it depends how you use the assist. Joe likes go fast and therefore uses the assist differently than me.
My doctor advised me to cycle to rehab my knees (injured by running) so that the muscles around my knees would strengthen. When I rode, whether on level spots or elevations, I focussed on my knees and increased the assist until my knees felt comfortable with minimal resistance. After a year of riding assisted on the Bionx/Devinci I have now graduated to a regular mountain bike and can handle many hills and our longer touring rides, under my own steam!”
Back to Joe: based on Maggie’s experience, I would say BionX would be ideal for your situation, Graeme. I also have times when my knees develop pain (I think pretty much all cyclists probably have some degree of knee pain from time to time). When that happens I let the BionX do most of the work for a day or two, use my magical castor oil treatment, and then my knees are usually fine again. Also when there are heat waves and it feels unsafe to exert too much energy, I let the BionX do most of the work. With a PL-350, you can actually go on the flats without pedalling at all, if you need to from time to time.
With regard to the Devinci, it seems I am going to be luckier than you (with your folded, dead bike). Pol at the Bike Doctor has gone to bat for me. He is negotiating with BionX and Devinci to find a solution for me. He has come up with a plan I like. I don’t want to jinx it by writing about it before it all comes together; but if it does come together as planned, I will do a post on it. It looks like my 12-year loyalty to Bike Doctor is going to be justified, because they are really going the extra mile for me on this one.
Devinci seems very good at working with your LBS (or else Rocky Cycle has even better customer service than I thought). I had a problem with my disc brakes pulling my front wheel out of the dropouts a bit, and ended up with a free carbon fork upgrade. I was told that my old (aluminum) fork was bent; no idea how that could have happened, but I’m happy with the carbon fork, even if it does look a bit out of place.
Good to know that Devinci is usually very good, as they are our best Canadian option, in my opinion. I love the lines on their bikes; they just seem more sophisticated than Norco, for example. At least for hybrids that is … not so sure about mountain bikes and road bikes which I know less about?
Hey Graeme – your mention of your knee pain made me decide to do a post about my own, magical cure for cyclist knee pain – check it out at https://averagejoecyclist.com/?p=1188 !
Arthur Horne says
Joe, I should point out right away, I’m selling BionX motors in SLC, Utah at Le Velo L.L.C. Having said that: I felt just the way you did, like a super hero. I thought I feel like I did when I was a kid, if I could bottle this and sell it, wow! I can, I did, I sold everything I had and opened Le Velo in March. Motors are slowly taking off in America as people reconsider the automobile culture. I have never had so much fun in my life. I wanted to chip in about mount alternatives. I bounce, I jump, I hop rocks and curbs, I broke my water-bottle mount the second day I rode my PL350. Couple really cool tricks exist. If you choose wood scraps or leftover old innertubes to build a crushable layer under the battery mount. You can screw it down with no wiggle. In addition you can slide cheap $2.00 pipe clamps through the slots in the side of the mount and then put on max pressure with the screws. Be careful here you can deform the battery mount with too much pressure. Snug it is very stable. I have done a very successful mount with a seat tube. This makes for easy battery removal in high traffic parking place. With the power cord extension which is fairly inexpensive I have the battery for my PL500 mounted in a back pack which I can wear or secure in the Bob- trailer. One of my customers needed an extra battery because he pulls a trailer up and down allot of hills on dirt roads. He carries the extra battery on the trailer and just switches the power plugs on his lunch hour.
I love your site, I’ll be back.
Le Velo LLC
Salty Lake City Utah
Hi, nice to hear from someone in SLC! Thanks for the input on the mount issues. I think my bike shop is going to get it all sorted out with a new frame; they are also planning to stabilize the battery in some way on the bottle mounts. They are pretty sure it caused the frame damage because of wobbling. I agree with your idea of rubber padding – I tried it a while ago and it really stabilized the battery. However, I did not know that the damage was already done with the mounting holes on the frame.
I often say that if I had money to invest, I’d open an electric bike shop. I really think it’s the way of the future, once more people realize the incredible potential. For example, my 69-year-old mother could easily do her shopping with an electric bike – AND she’d be getting enough exercise to make her fitter and stronger!
Good for you, living your dream. I wish you all the very best with your venture. And thanks for saying you love the site – I love to hear that. It’s strange communicating with a largely invisible audience, so I love it when someone becomes “visible” – especailly when they give me such great feedback. 🙂
Max Read says
I’m lucky; a friend of a friend lent me her BionX electric bike for a couple of months, and I think I’m hooked! It’ll be a financial stretch for me to get my own bike, but for all the good reasons above (enjoy riding, easy fitness, quick non-bus commutes) I think I’ll have to. (I want to!) So it’s good to hear that the BionX systems are reliable, fairly durable, and that JV Bikes is good to deal with – I’m in Vancouver. Thanks for sharing all the helpful advice!
Average Joe Cyclist says
You’re welcome Max. Check out the combo Valencia + Trek sold by CAPs in New West (ask for Marie, if she’s there – she’s helpful and knowledgable). I think if I were to replace my own set-up, I would seriously look at that. BionX and Trek have this mutual agreement right now, so Trek is making bikes pre-customized with BionX. I saw one in the New West CAPS, and It was just so totally cool looking (in matte black) that I wanted to buy it immediately. Resisted the urge … I have no justification as I already have such a great bike … but you’re free to choose, buddy!
As an experienced ebiker, do you think there’s any detriment to Treks’ having the battery stored in a rack over the back wheel, as opposed to being more central as it is on the “classic” BionX configuration? I know that I sometimes have to lean way forward when pedalling my mountain bike up a steep hill; would this be true in a “rear battery” situation as well, or is it less of an issue when the feet aren’t pushing as hard?
Average Joe Cyclist says
Graeme, my best bet would be that it is not going to be a problem. Mainly because you will not have to lean forward much, if at all. I would be more concerned about how easy it is to remove the battery. It looked to me a bit like it was pretty much ensconced and would be hard to remove. I frequently remove mine – at work I am not close enough to a power source to plug it in while parked, so I take the battery up to my office. And if I am parked in public, I don’t want to leave a battery that would cost hundreds of dollars to replace attached to the bike.
Mark Milo says
This bike arrived on time. However, it was not the bike pictured on amazon. It is, however similar, and equal in power. Well, it was so badly dammaged in shipping, that the 2 racks that go over the fenders were cracked. The panel on the handle bars that has the power button also has a button for headlight, but there is no head light. Also, a spoke was broke. The assembly instructions were extremely poor. I did not call customer service because I knew they would tell me to box it up and send it back… which would of taken several hours. I took it to one bike shop, and they told me they dont do electric bikes. …. so beware, your local bike dealer may not service this bike. Fortunately, I was able to find a shop to put it together.
After assembly and a charge, the ride was nice and smooth, and the power from the moter made riding on a flat surface effortless, and going up hills very easy. I rode for 1 hour before the energy gague went down 1 notch (1 of 4). So, aside from the fact that the bike is not the one pictured, and minus 2 broken racks, inadequate assembly instructions, and a missing headlamp, and a broken spoke, I am reluctant to allow this item to be more deserving of anything over 2 stars. I would expect that anyone who pays $1500 for a bike should at least get the bike pictured, and not have all these problems.
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I just came across this thread and decided to post my comment…. being a guy past my prime and with a hip problem I decided to hop on the e-bike wagon. Well, to cut to the chase – I couldn’t be more happy!!! I can ride again!! Conquering North Vancouver hills, against the wind, no matter. Evolution Bikes, that’s the place I got my ride from. Very friendly folks. Why didn’t I think of it sooner?
I can’t decide between the ‘down tube’ mount and the ‘rear rack’ mount for the Bionx system.
I have read that the water bottle solution has failed in some cases and conversely there are concerns about stability issues if I opt for the ‘rear rack’ option. I have no intention to let my Kona Dr. Dew bike fall over, but it does seem that the rear rack would be a better choice if my bike were to fall over. The battery might be better protected and better secured, I really don’t know.
I too, live in North Vancouver and intend to shop at JV Bikes.
Any thoughts, comments, or suggestions?
Average Joe Cyclist says
I really think that the down tube is more balanced, so you are less likely to fall over in the first place. Sadly, it will also be protected on the down tube, because your legs will protect it! I think most people agree that the down tube is better, BUT as batteries become ever lighter, this is certain to change. So either one would be a good option.
Tana Elva says
I have a 2012 Trek 7200 WSD Hybrid, & am considering the BionX 350SL 48V LiIon. Does anyine know #1-if I can do the Down Tube one on my bike (no answer from Trek or BionX!)? #2- can a Burley Nimad or Cargo trailer still be hooked up to it?thanks much.