BMEBIKES BM-Helio Review

Bmebikes Bm Helio Electric Bike Review
Bmebikes Bm Helio
Bmebikes Bm Helio Race Face Nw Chain Ring
Bmebikes Bm Helio 48 Volt Panasonic Ebike Battery
Bmebikes Bm Helio Bafang Display Panel Button Pad
Bmebikes Bm Helio 9 Speed Shimano Deore Xt Shadow
Bmebikes Bm Helio 160 Mm Rear Rotor Tektro Hydraulic
Bmebikes Bm Helio Bbs02 Mid Motor
Bmebikes Bm Helio Oval Concepts White Saddle
Bmebikes Bm Helio Rear Rack Bosses
Bmebikes Bm Helio Schwalbe Smart Sam Tires
Bmebikes Bm Helio Electric Bike Review
Bmebikes Bm Helio
Bmebikes Bm Helio Race Face Nw Chain Ring
Bmebikes Bm Helio 48 Volt Panasonic Ebike Battery
Bmebikes Bm Helio Bafang Display Panel Button Pad
Bmebikes Bm Helio 9 Speed Shimano Deore Xt Shadow
Bmebikes Bm Helio 160 Mm Rear Rotor Tektro Hydraulic
Bmebikes Bm Helio Bbs02 Mid Motor
Bmebikes Bm Helio Oval Concepts White Saddle
Bmebikes Bm Helio Rear Rack Bosses
Bmebikes Bm Helio Schwalbe Smart Sam Tires

Summary

  • An off-road capable "conversion built" electric bike using an overclocked 8Fun BBS01 mid-drive motor, it offers trigger throttle and pedal assist modes
  • Good weight distribution across the frame, premium Panasonic cells in the battery pack, upgraded Suntour suspension fork with remote lockout, rear-rack mounting points for use as a trail-ready commuter
  • Wires are not integrated into the tubing but blend in with the black paint scheme, hydraulic disc brakes are powerful but lack motor inhibitors

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Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

BMEBIKES

Model:

BM-Helio

Price:

$2,899 USD

Body Position:

Forward

Suggested Use:

Urban, Trail, Mountain

Electric Bike Class:

Throttle on Demand (Class 2)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

6 Month Comprehensive, 1 Year Frame

Availability:

United States

Model Year:

2015

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

48.4 lbs (21.95 kg)

Battery Weight:

7.2 lbs (3.26 kg)

Motor Weight:

9 lbs (4.08 kg)

Frame Types:

High-Step

Frame Sizes:

21 in (53.34 cm)23 in (58.42 cm)

Geometry Measurements:

Large 21" (630 mm Top Tube, 533.4 Seat Tube, 1143 mm Wheelbase, 890 mm Stand Over Height)

Frame Material:

6061 Aluminum Alloy

Frame Colors:

Matte Black

Frame Fork Details:

SR Suntour SF15-XCM-RL with Remote Lockout, 100 mm Travel

Attachment Points:

Fender Bosses, Rear Rack Bosses

Gearing Details:

9 Speed 1x9 Shimano Deore XT Shadow

Shifter Details:

Shimano M430 Rapid fire on Right Bar

Pedals:

Wellgo Aluminum Alloy Platform

Headset:

FSA 1 1/8" Semi-Integrated, Caged Bearings

Brake Details:

Tektro HD-M290 Hydraulic Disc with 180 mm Front Rotor and 160 mm Rear Rotor

Grips:

Oval Concepts 600 SLO, Dual-Density Kraton, Composite Lock-On

Saddle:

Oval Concepts 200 with Steel Rails

Seat Post:

Oval Concepts 300, 6061Alloy, Double-Bolt Micro-Adjust

Seat Post Length:

350 mm

Seat Post Diameter:

3.6 mm

Rims:

Vera Terra DPD22 Rims 32 Hole, Formula DC-20LW Front, Formula DC-22LW Rear Disc Hub

Spokes:

14 G Stainless Steel, Black

Tire Brand:

Schwalbe Smart Sam, 27.5" x 2.25", 30 TPI

Wheel Sizes:

27.5 in (69.85cm)

Tube Details:

Presta Valve

Accessories:

Race Face NW Sprocket Available in 38T and 42T (Replaces the Standard BBS01 46T or 48T)

Other:

Locking Removable Battery Pack, Quick Release Wheels

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

8Fun BBS01

Motor Type:

Mid-Mounted Geared Motor
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

750 watts

Motor Peak Output:

1200 watts

Motor Torque:

80 Newton meters

Battery Brand:

Panasonic

Battery Voltage:

48 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

8.8 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

422.4 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium-ion

Charge Time:

4.5 hours

Estimated Min Range:

20 miles (32 km)

Estimated Max Range:

40 miles (64 km)

Display Type:

Bafang C965 Fixed Monochrome Backlit LCD

Readouts:

Speed, Battery Level, Assist Level (1-3), Watt Output, Trip Distance

Display Accessories:

Independent Button Pad Near Left Grip

Drive Mode:

Cadence Sensing Pedal Assist, Trigger Throttle

Top Speed:

20 mph (32 kph)

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Written Review

The BM-Helio is one of the most enjoyable models I’ve tested from BMEBIKES because it’s powerful, sturdy and upgraded in several important ways. Unfortunately, the extra power it offers exacerbates one of the concerns I have about many of the BMEBIKES which is a lack of motor inhibitor brake levers. This ebike is not for everyone given the larger 21″ and 23″ frame sizes and high-step only configuration but for those larger riders who truly want an off-road capable hardtail at a good price, it delivers. Adding to the larger frame size, 27.5″ wheels lift the bike and strike a balance between rolling momentum and smooth gap-spanning performance while still feeling nimble. This is a great wheel size for cross country riding but replacement tubes and tires often cost more. The SR Suntour SF15-XCM-RL fork features remote-lockout for seamless transitions from rocky mountainous terrain to hard pack and pavement. The drive system is very powerful and uses quality parts from Panasonic and Bafang / 8Fun. What you’re getting here is a professional conversion, each part was chosen to optimize performance and extras like the Race Face NW front chain ring make a noticeable difference. Compared to a purpose-built electric bike like the IZIP E3 Peak, the Helio has more exposed wires but the black paint and strategically positioned zip ties blend in well enough. In practice, I could see myself using this as an around town bike during the week because it has mounting points for fenders and a rear rack. Once the weekend hits, the rack and fenders would come off and it would be a blast to ride on trails.

Driving this bike is a BBS01 middrive motor that’s mounted directly to the bottom bracket. It’s a compact, versatile drive system that keeps weight low and centered on the frame while leveraging your rear cassette for efficiency and strength. Even though it’s not as sophisticated as a Bosch or Impulse centerdrive, it’s a big step up from the older EVELO and iGo mid-drives I’ve tested. One way they’ve really supported the motor here is to add a custom CNC made chain ring adapter along with a smaller Race Face NW (narrow wide) sprocket as mentioned above. The alternating narrow and wide teeth reduce chain slip which is important on bumpy terrain. They let you choose between a 38 tooth or 42 tooth sprocket which replaces the standard 46 tooth or 48 tooth ring for increased leverage (this keeps the motor running cooler). In terms of drive modes, you can choose between throttle on demand and three levels of pedal assist. Unfortunately, the system does not offer shift detection and this could lead to more mashing, potentially damaging the chain and cassette if care is not taken to ease off momentarily while changing gears. The drivetrain is sturdy, a high-end Shimano Deore XT Shadow derailleur manages nine speeds on the rear cassette and you control it with a standard trigger shifter on the right side of the handle bar.

The BBS01 mid-drive motor here offers 750 watts of nominal output and is receiving 25 amps on this bike which is above average. with ~60 Newton meters of torque at your disposal, it’s noticeably stronger than all of the other BMEBIKES I’ve tested, as they use use the BBS01 set to ~350 watt output. It’s a fairly compact design but the bottom portion does extend down from the bottom bracket and may take direct hits if you get high-centered on a log or rock. The cadence sensor that the motor uses for pedal-assist mode is fully integrated and the exterior casing is painted black so everything blends together and feels seamless. I did notice that the front derailleur was left on the frame even though, in its converted form, there is only one chain ring there. It may act as a sort of chain guide which is nice for bouncy terrain as seen in the video. The only real complaint I have about the drive system on the BM Helio is that it does not feature motor inhibitors on the braking system. In short, you can sometimes end up competing with the motor to stop because cadence sensors are less responsive than torque or advanced multi-sensors. Given the more powerful motor settings on this ebike, I feel that motor inhibitors would improve ride safety and make gear changing easier because you could manually pause the motor while shifting by tapping the brakes. Given the capable Tektro hydraulic disc brake hardware and oversized 180/160 mm rotors that are included here, you should be able to overcome the motor but it’s a lot more difficult here than on the lower powered BBS01 models from BMEBIKES.

The battery powering the BM-Helio electric bike uses premium Panasonic cells that deliver a higher discharge rate (higher C Rating), offer higher energy density (lighter for the same amount of stored energy) and extended life (should age well). To really take care of the pack, store it in a cool dry place and try to keep it between 20% and 80% charged when not in use. The cells are all 18650 sized and are packed into one of the sleekest aftermarket cases I’ve seen, though it is quite long. It slides easily onto a metal rail mounted to the downtube that’s reinforced with extra rivet-nuts in addition to the factory installed bottle-cage braze ons. The battery pack includes an integrated keyed lock for security and can be charged on or off the frame. Unlike some other packs, this one does not require you to press an on/off button before activating the display panel to get the bike running and that saves time and avoids confusion when troubleshooting. I really came to appreciate this battery for the price, weight and aesthetic balance it offers and with 48 volts and an 8.8 amp hour capacity, it’s quite capable of boosting the larger motor and worked great for climbing as seen in the video review above. For optimal range, use pedal assist and help the bike up to speed vs. gunning it with the throttle from standstill.

The drive system on this electric bike offers two primary modes and a bunch of intuitive readouts akin to a cycle computer. Once the battery is secured to the frame you press a rubberized power button on the control pad (mounted near the left grip) and the large backlit display comes to life. Most ebikes I’ve tested in the US put their throttle hardware on the right bar which feels similar to a motorcycle or moped but BMEBIKES have put theirs on the left side here. This may free up space for the remote suspension lockout and triggers on the right but it means that you do have to reach past the trigger throttle to get to the button pad for changing drive modes. It’s certainly doable without completely letting go of the handle bar and that’s important for off-road riding. I appreciate the trigger throttle vs. twist throttle because it means you don’t have to worry about the grip spinning unexpectedly as you bear down in a tense moment. The Bafang display panel shows your speed, battery level, assist level (preset 1-3 but configurable to 5 or 9 levels), watt output and trip distance. Unfortunately, the display doesn’t swivel easily to reduce glare and is not removable so it may take more wear through exposure, otherwise it’s sleek and easy to read. The vertical setup is nice compared to the traditional “wide screen” that many other ebikes use, it makes the cockpit feel more open. When you first turn the system on, assist is actually set to zero and unfortunately you cannot activate the throttle in this mode… that’s one of my gripes because sometimes you don’t want assist to accidentally kick in while navigating difficult terrain. Once you click up to 1, 2 or 3 pedal assist becomes active and anytime you turn the cranks the motor begins to spin. In any of the assist levels you can also use the trigger throttle for an extra boost as an override but power is somewhat limited by the mode you’re in. This is another area where I feel like the system could be improved, I’d prefer the throttle just go to full power in any assist mode because it’s a variable speed design and you might need the extra power in a pinch. As mentioned earlier, the mid-drive motor helps you pull the chain and therefore benefits from the rear cassette just like you do. If you’re climbing a hill, just switch to a lower gear to help the motor.

Despite the lower star rating I’ve awarded to the Helio in this review, it was actually a blast to ride. Unfortunately, its strength is also its weakness and the powerful motor felt unresponsive at times when I wanted to stop. The hydraulic disc brakes are nice but they didn’t help with shifting and really had to be forced when the motor wasn’t responding immediately. For a more active mountain bike like this I think a torque sensing system could feel more responsive and complimentary while reducing the need for motor inhibitor breaks. Imagine easing off the pedals and having the motor match that action vs. with this system where as long as the cranks are moving it will be providing a full boost according to the chosen assist level. The suspension fork with remote lockout is handy and the rack and fender mounts add a lot of potential to this platform for urban riding. Because the battery takes up most of the center triangle space on the frame (obstructing the bottle cage mounts) you may want a a CamelBak or seat adapter for porting water. For those who are already considering the BBS01 or BBS02 systems this bike basically gets you in the game and requires a lot less work and fiddling around. The frame is solid, the “all black” color scheme works well and the six month warranty is decent. it seems like many people who consider this kit are looking to save money or over clock their system for higher speeds. BME may be able to help you unlock the Helio for off road use in this case.

Pros:

  • Excellent weight distribution with the motor and battery low and centered on the frame, total weight is about 48.5 pounds
  • High quality battery made with Panasonic Lithium-ion cells, they should last longer and have a higher discharge rate than cheaper packs, I also like the the pack doesn’t require its own on/off switch
  • Sturdy reinforced battery bracket, in addition to using the standard braze-ons BMEBIKES also adds rivnuts which create more mounting points on the downtube for strength
  • The frame looks nice in all-black because externally-routed cables and zip ties are also black (along with the battery and motor itself)
  • Custom made chain ring adapter fitted with a Raceface NW (narrow wide) sprocket to make climbing more efficient for the motor and reduce chain slip
  • Great components including a 9 speed cassette with Shimano Deore XT derailleur, 180 mm front disc brake rotor and 160 mm rear rotor as well as a Suntour suspension fork with remote lockout
  • Independent button pad is mounted close enough to reach without taking your hand off the grip, the trigger throttle is also nearby and doesn’t compromise the grip the way a twist throttle might which is a good solution for off-road use
  • Quick release wheels, front and rear, thanks to the mid-drive motor… this makes servicing and trail maintenance easier as well as transporting the bike if you have to stuff it in your car
  • Battery is locking and removable for convenient charging and reduced weight during transport
  • Mounting points for fenders at the front and rear as well as seat stay braze ons at the back for adding a carry rack if you want to use it for commuting
  • Six month warranty is better than nothing and the company has been around since 2010 and has a retail shop where you can see the bikes or pick up locally

Cons:

  • Brake levers do not include a motor cutoff switch and the pedal assist activation and deactivation can lag a bit… so depending on the terrain, the motor is not as responsive and you may end up fighting the motor with your brakes which is a bigger deal on this more powerful 750 watt model
  • Bottle cage bosses are not accessible on the seat tube and the battery pack takes the space where they might otherwise mount, get a Camelbak
  • Only available in two larger frame sizes which are best suited to tall riders, it’s 21″ or 23 inches and only available in high-step style (which tends to be sturdier than step-thru)
  • Because this isn’t a purpose-built (specifically to be used for an electric bike) the wires aren’t integrated and create a bit more clutter… the black frame helps them to blend in
  • The BBS01 mid-drive motor does not offer shift sensing and may mash gears as a result, ease off the pedals while shifting to reduce wear on the chain and sprockets
  • Display panel can be adjusted to swivel forward and back (to reduce glare) but may require a tool and the LCD screen is not removable for safe storage

Resources:

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Joey Taylor
12 months ago

Just bought the BM Helio E-bike. Should be here in a few days. This will be my daily commuter, and a once in a while weekend trail bike.

Court Rye
12 months ago

Nice! I hope it works great for you and would love to hear an update once you've broken it in a bit and learned all about the systems :D

AaronW
8 months ago

I love this bike so much. I came very close to getting a bike from a company called Dillenger but cancelled at the last minute due to customer service issues. Someone on an ebike board recommended I look at BM Ebikes and I'm so glad I did. There isn't much information about their bikes on their website but they always have bikes for sale on Ebay. A quick Ebay search will turn up their four main models and sometimes some others. It's a solid bike. I mean really really well built. Excellent components and tons of attention to detail during the build and packaging. After unboxing and spending 10 minutes putting it together I just stared at it. I still find myself doing so. It's just a beautiful bike. I'm 6'2" 255lbs and it was hard for me to find companies that sold bikes in sizes other than just a medium. The Helio only comes in XL (21") and XXL (22.5" I think). I have the XXL and it's a PERFECT fit. I have the BBS02 750W and to be honest I think it's plenty powerful.. For me there's no need for the BBSHD yet and when the time comes these motors are really easy to put on once a bike is set up for it like this one. I took the throttle off and just use pedal assist. Power levels are 1-5 and I rarely use a 3 and typically stick with 2 to conserve battery and also because 2 gets me up to 20mph with a light pedaling. I love that, with a mid-drive, all of the ability to work on the bike is retained. Meaning it's easy to swap out parts like seat posts, etc, and change tires. My only regret, and it's a small one, is that with my size the battery (48V 8.6Ah) gets me anywhere between 10-20 miles depending on terrain and whether I stay in pedal assist 2 or go higher. Again, this is mostly because of my largeness. But this leaves me slightly nervous on longer treks because I still haven't figured out how to accurately guess whether I'll be getting, say, 12 miles or 18. I commute on this rig every day and even 12 miles of battery gives me several miles to spare. And the battery (case is called "Thunder type") is gorgeous and made of thick aluminum, so it adds to the beauty of the bike. Still, next spring I plan to add a beefier battery. I should also add that Tim, the owner (I think) and his colleagues at BM Ebikes are very cool people. They respond to emails fast and are just nice people. They are definitely pricier than the cheap ebikes on Amazon and Ebay but much less than most of the lower powered systems being sold at the chain stores and LBS in my area. If I had that the chance to do it over I would do the exact same thing. Definitely one of the best purchases I've ever made. Have fun and be safe!

Court Rye
8 months ago

Great feedback! Appreciate your detailed overview and the reasoning behind your choice, how Tim and the others helped you and just the ease of maintaining and working on the bike.

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modernwize
1 year ago

How does this compare to Haibike Sduro Cros SL?

russellolmedo
1 year ago

How tall are you, and how big was this particular bike?

Z StHope
2 years ago

Have you read about the Karmic Koben?

brighton dude
2 years ago

13:40 - It is too close to the edge! :)

CobraNeo
2 years ago

What are the pros and cons of a hub motor and the crank motor like this bike.

Thanks

3dkiller
2 years ago

Why did they not put a motor brake lever ?? other then that the bike is sweet.

ElectricBikeReview.com
2 years ago

+3dkiller I'm not sure, probably because they wanted a nicer set of hydraulic brakes and they just used the same levers that came with the rotors and calipers instead of doing a mixed set with Tektro ebike brakes or going with a Tektro offering throughout. Maybe this set of brakes came stock with the frame before they converted it to being an ebike and they didn't want to waste that hardware. Remember, this is a normal bicycle that has been converted with the BBS01 kit, it wasn't purpose built from the ground up like these: http://electricbikereview.com/category/izip/

KomentatorVseyaRusi
2 years ago

Nice location

3dkiller
2 years ago

+KomentatorVseyaRusi i love the view

BIG1TOWER
2 years ago

awesome video like always

ElectricBikeReview.com
2 years ago

+BIG1TOWER Thanks :)

Gardener Rob
2 years ago

Beautiful area, great spot for testing the off road e-bikes. That bike has a lot of power got up that hill with little effort.

Rotormatic
2 years ago

Nice locale.  Excellent detailed review.  If I bought a commercial e-bike, it'd be a mid-drive type like this. I don't have the machining or welding skills to secure a motor to the frame! :)