Quebec e-bike shopping.

Denise

New Member
#1
Hi everybody, this is my first post and it's about my shopping impressions on some Canadian (Quebec) e-bikes and a short review on the one I finally chose - the Toba Edwin with Bion-x drive. I was mostly coming to get info and to know opinions and reviews from others. Although Court looked into some Canadian e-bikes, he cannot test ride every single e-bike on the market, so I had to go and check some for myself. I'm not as nimble to hold a camera and pedal at the same time, so this will be only in writing. Here's a picture of the Toba Edwin:

toba-edwin-electric-bike.jpg

First off, I went to test ride Velec and Toba Edwin - they both have step thru petite/shorty sizes and were available closer to home - Sherbrooke, QC. The Toba Edwin has the added bonus of being a pedal forward bike. I'm a 5'1" (1.54 m) female.

The Velec, although with cadence sensor, felt good on pedal assist, but the bike, albeit full suspension, did not feel right and this, because I'm a recumbent owner (Bacchetta Bellandare) and have accustomed to a more relaxed, feet forward position. I thought about electrifying the Bacchetta, but it's already too heavy in the back and the lower you sit, the less visible you are to drivers. The Velec has a headlight and the Toba has rear light in the rack battery. Later, my take on the Toba.

After my 2 first test rides, I traveled to Drummondville to try out the Evox step thru, and then to St. Hyacinthe to test ride the Solexity, which I was looking forward to. At the bike shop in Drummondville, the gentleman, which I think was the owner, was friendly and helpful and the Evox was fully charged and ready to go. The battery is said to fully charge in one hour.

It felt like it had cadence sensor, not torque - the throttle was abrupt, sudden and jerked me backwards. It was a bumpy ride without any suspension and although the step thru is for short riders, the handlebar was not close enough for me to ride comfortably and could not be adjusted. He suggested bringing the seat forward instead, but then the Evox would lose its crank forward design.

Next stop, St. Hyacinthe for Solexity and I was really excited about that. I just called to ask if they had the e-bike demo for test ride, but did not say when I was coming, since I was not sure when that would be.

First, they could not find the keys for the battery, then they realized the battery was drained, vide, empty, kaput. The staff was helpful and willing, but there's nothing you can do with an empty battery, except wait hours for at least half a charge. He did inflate the tires and sent me out to try it anyways, so I did. The bicycle is a beauty to look at, I had a comfy ride and felt like there was a good suspension on the seat. No rattling at all. Although it's not a crank forward, I would have taken it for the sum of $2,300. This Solexity runs on Bion-x 350W motor.

solexity-electric-bicycle.jpg

The Solexity 400 ($2k) runs on a different electric system so I wanted to see what was the difference between those 2, but as I learned its battery was also empty, I put it off. If I lived in the same location as the bike shop, I would have come back the next day or whenever those e-bikes were fully charged, to choose between the 2, which were covered by a 2 year warranty. But living far away, I cannot risk taking an e-bike that might need service under warranty, since it was left without charge, who knows how long.

All the e-bikes felt heavy to me, but I was able to lift at least one end/wheel off the ground. I returned home and purchased the black Toba Edwin (BionX 48 V x 6.6Ah) demo for a little over $2.4k, since I could not wait any longer to get my own e-bike and the Canadian summer is passing by.

As I mentioned, I had my eyes on the most crank forward e-bike I could find and the Toba Edwin has 24 speed, when usually, in that category, you get 7 speed, 8 speed max. But I'm not entirely happy with the Shimano gear shifting - I do prefer grip shift or twist. There's no set up for installing a bottle cage onto the frame. I have 80 $ credit with the store that I want to invest in a front pet basket but the thick cables in front have to be squashed for the basket to be installed, so I'm questioning whether or not to install it.

front-bicycle-basket-for-pets.jpg

I inquired the salesperson about adding a seatpost suspension and was told it's not recommended for a crank forward like the Toba, and to that, I pointed out the Devinci Comfort, an 8 speed crank forward that comes with a Suntour seat post suspension.

Before I purchased the Toba, I was considering electrifying the Devinci Comfort, but the cables would've been exposed as it's not intended to be an electric bike. For a while, I was having a bit of buyer's regret. Today I rode 18 km and was very pleased and I'm getting used to the Shimano shifting. The tires rarely skid, even on gravel trails. No strange noise or rattling.

I will pursue the suspension seat post for the Toba, since my tush took some beating. It cannot add to the seat height, as the bike is barely short enough for me. The saddle also needs replacement - not comfy at all on long rides. A front suspension would've been great - my arms and hands still feel the vibrations. Full suspension crank forwards are rare.

As I climb and descend, I switch A LOT between the 4 levels of regen and 4 levels acceleration on the Bion-x control, much more than the bike gears. I'm not sure how the constant level changing may affect the battery. The regen is useful in slowing downhills. I have not used the throttle much - I go fast on pedal assist alone, even when climbing, but still have to work hard and when leg muscles need recovery, I can coast and avoid the burning. The 4th level assist is much more powerful than the 3rd - it gives a big boost.

I've been riding mostly on the 1 x 8 gears, so maybe high gears are not necessary for e-bikes. It's nice to know they are there, if ever the battery runs out of juice.

Battery level can be checked either in console or battery itself. There's a nifty finger touch sensor on the battery, that informs through different colors the level of charge. It comes with only a power adapter, much like a laptop power adapter. The manual says to disconnect once it's fully charged and red light turns to green. The charger is in the battery and I wonder how much weight is added because of it. Is it better to have the charger inside the battery? For what purpose? Maybe I can worry less about it over charging and damaging the battery?

I'll also be shopping for an outlet adapter with timer, so when I travel, I can leave the battery connected and the adapter will turn itself on for 5 hours every 1 or 2 months. I think some batteries can hibernate and dismiss recharging every month or so.

You can't have it all and I'm satisfied with my Bion-x bike. It's quiet, responsive, it will take me on long rides and hopefully, have a long life. At the end of my 18 km ride, the charge level was green, which indicates above 75%, according to the manual and it took less than 1 hour to fully recharge.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Hey Denise! I hope the Toba works great for you. Hopefully an updated saddle will improve the ride and maybe you can find a suspension seat post to dampen the bumps even more. Your writeup was enjoyable and helped expose me to some new ebikes. I think the BionX system will hold up well for you and I'm glad you found a dealer that had a complete ebike.

Is it better to have the charger inside the battery? For what purpose? Maybe I can worry less about it over charging and damaging the battery?
I wanted to help explain this based on what I've heard from some ebike manufacturers. They said that most chargers are kept separate from batteries because electronic devices that connect to the wall have to be UL rated which takes time for testing and approval. If the battery had a charger built in (even if you plugged a wire into the wall before the battery), the battery would have to be UL rated and that would complicate and slow down the process. It also introduces more complexity and failure points into the bike vs. separating it and making service and replacement easier. Hope that makes sense, it definitely changed the way I viewed it and made me realize why so many electronics like computers and video game consoles have big power bricks outside the main device... I suppose in some cases it also reduces heat near sensitive electronics :)

ps. I definitely want to see a picture of a cute animal riding in that awesome front basket thing. Do you have a puppy? Some hedgehogs perhaps? Maybe some kittens? I love kittens :D
 

Denise

New Member
#3
Hi Court, I already have a trailer to hitch on the back of the Toba, but I'd be more reassured that my < 10 Lbs merrier (Maltese X Terrier) is doing ok and enjoying the ride, if I can see her in front of me. She's the little one in my profile avatar. The one closest in the shot is Lotus, a slight bigger Beagle that would not fit in a basket. Those are the two most fit of the bunch. The 3rd one is a Lhasa Apso X Shih-Tzu, that runs out of breath quite easily on our walks, but is always willing to join us in all activities. They enjoy car rides, so hopefully, they'll get used to the bicycle trailer ride.

I just found out about the buddyrider and think it would balance the weight better and avoid interference with the steering of the bike. But I would still like a basket for my tablet and bottle, since I cannot install a bottle mount on the frame. My handlebar is getting crowded with Bion-x console, bell - people can't hear me coming behind them, just like a regular bike.

buddyrider-dog-bike-seat.png

About the built-in charger: It's puzzling how Bion-x tries to make motor and battery as lightweight as possible and then do this kind of setup. Do you know if there are any benefits to it?

I think dh is finally coming around and thinking about electrifying his Trek to join me. He had a previous bad experience with the Ecolo Cycle years ago when the battery died out after just 1 summer, but now he knows those batteries are like pets or plants, that you have to feed once every 1-2 months. Hopefully that will change soon and I've heard some batteries hibernate so the recharging is not necessary to keep it going.

Sorry for my English, it's not my 1st language.

trio parada dura.jpg

(From left: Tinky, Genie and Lotus) the terrier on the lower step is Ringo, our friends' pup.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
#4
Hi Court, I already have a trailer to hitch on the back of the Toba, but I'd be more reassured that my < 10 Lbs merrier (Maltese X Terrier) is doing ok and enjoying the ride, if I can see her in front of me. She's the little one in my profile avatar. The one closest in the shot is Lotus, a slight bigger Beagle that would not fit in a basket. Those are the two most fit of the bunch. The 3rd one is a Lhasa Apso X Shih-Tzu, that runs out of breath quite easily on our walks, but is always willing to join us in all activities. They enjoy car rides, so hopefully, they'll get used to the bicycle trailer ride.

I just found out about the buddyrider and think it would balance the weight better and avoid interference with the steering of the bike. But I would still like a basket for my tablet and bottle, since I cannot install a bottle mount on the frame. My handlebar is getting crowded with Bion-x console, bell - people can't hear me coming behind them, just like a regular bike.

View attachment 1454

About the built-in charger: It's puzzling how Bion-x tries to make motor and battery as lightweight as possible and then do this kind of setup. Do you know if there are any benefits to it?

I think dh is finally coming around and thinking about electrifying his Trek to join me. He had a previous bad experience with the Ecolo Cycle years ago when the battery died out after just 1 summer, but now he knows those batteries are like pets or plants, that you have to feed once every 1-2 months. Hopefully that will change soon and I've heard some batteries hibernate so the recharging is not necessary to keep it going.

Sorry for my English, it's not my 1st language.

View attachment 1439

(From left: Tinky, Genie and Lotus) the terrier on the lower step is Ringo, our friends' pup.
Your English is quite good Denise! Thanks for the cute photo of your dogs :D I also love the puppy-seat idea for your bike. I visited the website and poked around a bit. I think the BionX system does separate the charger from the battery (but they still have to include a controller and other electronics in the battery pack area to drive the bike). I think they've kept weight as low as possible and are actually one of the first companies to add "deep sleep" functionality to their packs that will cut all power after two months of inactivity (or 10 days if the pack is < 10%) which will save them from being damaged like your husband's was. Sorry to hear about that btw... no fun to have a heavy bike with no battery power after spending so much money :(

You seem pretty knowledgeable about ebikes and I must reiterate, your English is very impressive, I had no idea that you were not a native speaker. Is your first language French? I was just up in Montreal and had a really great time poking around the city. The architecture, restaurants and views of the river are beautiful.
 

Denise

New Member
#5
French is my broken language. My native language is Brazilian Portuguese. Have you ever been to Brazil? Or South America?

I've been very excited about Edwina and I hope we have long rides ahead of us. The other day I rode 24 km total, all on pedal assist. Pulling the Croozer mini pet trailer with my ~10 kg dog in it was a breeze.

I wish my e-bike had a "deep sleep" battery, but I checked the user manual and it says to "recharge the battery at minimum every three months." o_O

Do you log your rides online with something like mapmyrides.com or viewranger.com? I might try 47.8 km today.
 
#6
Hi Denise and Court ... I'm new to the forum and have been looking at the exact bike you have Denise. Between you & Court I've learned alot, most of it positive and informed for my purchase. This may seem like a silly question, but with the battery being attached to the bike how do you charge it? Or does the battery come completely off the bike for the purpose of charging? Please excuse my naiveness. Cheers ;-)
 
#7
You are excused, @scrndoor ! BionX batteries are designed to be charged either on or off the bike. Nothing naive about that question; very smart! That's also handy in really cold or hot climates where you can store the battery away from weather extremes. When its possible, remove the battery from the bike in extreme temperature situations and store or charge in a stable indoor environment; it charges better than in extreme hot or cold temperatures which in the long term will lengthen the life of the battery. Cute dogs, btw! My little Italian greyhound would rather run beside my ebike than ride on it; he like most of our furry friends, just wants to be along for the ride :)
 
#8
Bonjour, Denise. I just bought the Toba Edwin E-Bike ( BionX) yesterday! I have a question about checking the tire pressure- my tire gage won't fit, and neither will the air compressor. I went to a bike shop today, and they sold me little converters to screw on, but they still don't help. Did you have to buy special equipment to check the air pressure in your tires? Merci!
 
#9
Well, Denise. Thanks to youtube I now realize that I have a Presta valve and not the traditional Schrader valve. There is lots of info on how to convert... Bonne Journée!
 
#10
@Lucie Desjardins, yes to the Presta Valve :). You just have to open or unscrew the valve core of a presta valve like you were going to put air in it, then thread the converter onto the valve stem, then you should be able to read tire pressure and add or remove air. Think that's the only issue.

Recently did some tune-up work on a Toba Edwin; a very elegant bike with a comfortable shaped frame. Let us know more of your experiences with the Toba.
 

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