Tern Link D8 with BionX Review

Tern Link D8 With Bionx Electric Bike Review 1
Tern Link D8 With Bionx
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Motor Suntour Cassette
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Removable Battery Pack
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Display Throttle
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Portage Rack
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Rear V Brake
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Steel Fork
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Electric Bike Review 1
Tern Link D8 With Bionx
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Motor Suntour Cassette
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Removable Battery Pack
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Display Throttle
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Portage Rack
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Rear V Brake
Tern Link D8 With Bionx Steel Fork

Summary

  • High quality folding frame from Tern combined with sophisticated and quiet drive system from BionX
  • Four levels of pedal assist and regen as well as regenerative braking and variable speed trigger throttle
  • One of the most compact folding ebikes around, display panel and battery pack are removable for convenience and reduced weight

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Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

Tern

Model:

Link D8 with BionX

Price:

$2,700 USD

Body Position:

Upright

Suggested Use:

Travel, Urban

Electric Bike Class:

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

Warranty:

5 Year Frame, 2 Year Electronics and Battery

Availability:

United States

Model Year:

2015

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

42 lbs (19.05 kg)

Battery Weight:

6 lbs (2.72 kg)

Motor Weight:

9 lbs (4.08 kg)

Frame Material:

7005 Aluminum

Frame Sizes:

(Folded Size 38 cm x 79 cm x 72 cm)

Frame Types:

Folding (Patented OCL Joint, DoubleTruss Technology)

Frame Colors:

Black with Blue Accents

Frame Fork Details:

Hi-Tensile Steel

Attachment Points:

Fender Bosses, Rack Bosses, Bottle Cage Bosses

Gearing Details:

8 Speed 8x1 Suntour Neos 1.0, (12-32T)

Shifter Details:

SRAM MRX Comp Half-Twist on Right Handle Bar

Pedals:

Folding Aluminum and Plastic Platform

Headset:

Flux, Cartridge Bearings, Tri-Seal Technology

Stem:

Physis 3D, Forged Aluminum

Handlebar:

Flat (Aluminum)

Brake Details:

V-Brakes

Grips:

BioLogic Ergo

Saddle:

Velo

Seat Post:

SuperOversize, 6061 Aluminum with Micro Adjust Clamp

Rims:

Aluminum (With Brass Spoke Nipples)

Spokes:

Stainless Steel

Tire Brand:

Schwalbe Citizen with Puncture Protection, 20" x 1.6"

Wheel Sizes:

20 in (50.8cm)

Tire Details:

Reflective Sidewalls

Accessories:

Front and Rear Fenders with Mud Flaps, Rear Portage Rack with Bungee Cords

Other:

Magnetix 2.0 Folding Clasp Connector, Water Bottle Cage Bosses on Right of Main Tube

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

BionX

Motor Type:

Rear-Mounted Gearless Direct Drive Hub
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

350 watts

Motor Torque:

40 Newton meters (10 Nm Nominal)

Battery Brand:

Panasonic

Battery Voltage:

48 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

6.6 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

316.8 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium Manganese Cobalt

Charge Time:

3.5 hours

Estimated Min Range:

35 miles (56 km)

Estimated Max Range:

50 miles (80 km)

Display Type:

Backlit LCD (Removable, Symmetrical Integrated Buttons for Right or Left Handed Users)

Readouts:

4 Proportional Assist and Generate Modes, Lighting Controls, Battery Voltage, Trip Distance, Odometer, Chronometer, Average Speed, Clock

Display Accessories:

Independent Button Pad (With Variable Speed Trigger Throttle) (With Variable Speed Trigger Throttle)

Drive Mode:

Torque Sensing Pedal Assist, Trigger Throttle (Throttle Will Not Activate Below 2 mph, Assist Levels 35%, 75%, 150%, 300%)

Top Speed:

20 mph (32 kph)

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Written Review

The Tern Link D8 with BionX is an ultra portable folding electric bike with a higher-end drive system from BionX. It folds perfectly with the battery attached but you can also take it off to reduce weight or charge separately. The motor offers excellent torque, multiple levels of assist and regen, regenerative braking and throttle operation and it runs extremely quiet. Both Tern and BionX are respected manufacturers, known for quality builds and good support. In my opinion they’ve created one of the most functional, well balanced and beautiful folding electric bikes around with the Link D8. Its smaller 20″ wheels enable the super small form factor (when folded) but aren’t as smooth as the larger 24″ wheels chosen for the Node D8. Depending on your needs, either bike performs well but costs a bit more than some entry level folding ebikes that lack assist and some of the nicer accessories in use here.

The motor driving the Tern Link D8 electric is a 350 watt gearless direct drive hub from BionX. It’s located in the rear wheel and painted black to match the Tern frame. Note that this motor has a larger diameter and higher weight than some equally specced gearless hubs but delivers increased toughness and quieter operation. I’m not aware of many folding electric bikes that offer regenerative braking or regen modes but the Link D8 with BionX has both. There are actually four levels of regen here to help you recapture energy while simultaneously slowing the bike and sparing your brakes when coasting down hills. This feature can also be used as a form of increased challenge if you want to raise your heart rate and don’t have any hills around to climb. While this bike does not have a rear quick release mechanism (only on the front wheel) the rear wheel remains easy to service because the motor has a built in torque sensor vs. an external dropout strain gauge.

Powering the Tern Link D8 is a BionX-made Lithium-ion battery pack containing Panasonic cells (known for being super high quality). It offers 48 volts of power which is above average. This has several benefits including increased torque, improved climbing ability and more efficient electricity transfer. In terms of overall capacity, this pack is slightly smaller than the stock BionX kits but that enables the folding feature mentioned earlier and keeps the overall weight of the bike down. At 42 pounds (with the 6 pound battery attached) this isn’t the world’s lightest folding ebike but that’s due in part to the high quality fenders and rack that add utility. You could always remove these extras to shave a bit off and reduce any rattling noise that can develop over time with use, folding and storage.

The control panel on this bike is one of my favorites because it’s slim, removable, backlit and packed with readouts but not overly complex to use. It’s a second generation display from BionX with four buttons (two on each side) that are symmetrical – designed to be usable on the left or right hand side. What I’ve found is that I usually only press the upper right hand button on the display to get the bike powered up and then rely on the stand-alone button pad and throttle which are mounted on the right handle bar. Many ebikes forego throttles but it can be useful when your legs get tired (especially on a smaller bike like this) or when trying to balance groceries or packages. The rear rack helps out with the latter experience but you get the point… imagine crossing a puddle and wanting to keep your feet raised temporarily but still needing to move forward, that’s where throttles can really shine. On this system (as well as other BionX) you have to get the bike up to 2 mph before the throttle will activate and this is a safety feature. Aside from the display and buttons I like the ergonomic grips and simple grip-shifter on the right side of the handlebar. You might consider adding a bell and lights to this setup depending on your intended use. I should mention that only the right brake lever has a motor cutoff and regen activator built in. If you brake with the left lever, regenerative braking will not activate. This is a minor gripe and again, a design feature related to all BionX kits at the time of this review.

The Tern Link D8 with BionX combines two proven platforms. The locking mechanisms and folding design from Tern are superb and I love the magnetic clasp designed to keep the bike from unfolding. The silent and durable motor from BionX feels zippy and the removable battery is very convenient. I’m a fan of pedal assist but see the value in throttles so it’s nice that this folding ebike offers both. The eight speed cassette delivers a good range for climbing or pedaling fast (which can be precarious on a smaller 20″ wheel bike like this). I like the reflective sidewalls on the wheels and am okay with the standard v-brakes and plastic folding pedals. The crank arms on this bike are actually quite long for a smaller bike and that makes pedaling feel natural. While many folding electric bikes opt for rear mounted batteries I love that this one has a more balanced weight distribution and appreciate that they even added water bottle cage bosses on the side of the downtube so you can still bring some fluids along (you could also store water in a bag on the rear rack). If you’re looking for quality but need an extremely small footprint on your boat, RV or closet then the Link D8 would be an excellent choice.

Pros:

  • Solid two year warranty on the frame, drive system and battery pack – Tern and BionX are both large, well established companies
  • Beautiful aesthetic with matching black and blue frame, custom black hub motor and black battery casing featuring co-branded Tern + BionX art
  • Just about every drive mode you could ask for including four levels of torque sensing pedal assist, four levels of energy regeneration and variable speed trigger throttle
  • Independent button pad on right side of handle bar is easy to reach (to change assist mode or use the throttle) doesn’t require that you take your hand off the grip to use
  • Battery pack can be charged on or off the bike, does not have to be removed for the frame to fold completely
  • Motor is powerful, durable (thanks to the gearless direct drive configuration) and very quiet to operate
  • Full length front and rear fenders with mud flaps, rear carry rack includes built in bungee cords for securing cargo
  • Several nice extras including reflective sidewalls on tires and backlit LCD display panel for improved safety during evening and night riding, ergonomic grips for improved comfort and magnetic clasp for secure folded position
  • Good weight distribution with the 9 pound hub motor at the rear and the 6 pound battery pack mounted forward on the downtube
  • BionX battery has a deep sleep protection feature that keeps it from discharging in a way that could hurt the battery over longer periods of storage
  • Satisfying to pedal thanks to the longer crank arms and eight speeds cassette, good for climbing or riding faster

Cons:

  • Smaller 20″ wheels allow the bike to achieve an extremely small folded footprint but don’t offer the same cushion or gap-spanning potential as larger wheels, consider the Tern Node D8 which has 24″ wheels if this is a concern
  • Only the right brake lever cuts power to the motor and activates power regeneration mode, it would be nice if both did
  • Rear wheel does not feature quick release, will have to use traditional tools during maintenance or fixing a flat

Resources:

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Franco Bujosa
2 years ago

Where can I purchase this? I have looked online, even Tern’s website and NYCEWheels and with no success. When will you review the Tern eLink?

Reply
Court Rye
2 years ago

Hi Franco! I reached out to Tern regarding availability of the Link D8 and they said “If interested in locating a Tern Link D8/Node D8 with BionX please contact north.america@ternbicycles.com so we can assist you in finding a Tern retailer in your area.” sorry I can’t be more specific… I feel like NYCeWheels should be able to special order one for you? I hope to review the eLink eventually and will post it here as soon as I do :D

Reply

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Sergeyt22
2 months ago

Hi! Thank you for noticing - the correct link is this - http://www.bigxionflasher.org/unlock-bionx.html

The device on the picture is what I have made out of my DYI project...:-) It is AVR CAN module, connection cables and some box from old flash cards reader.

Velome
2 months ago

Velome,

Many thanks. This is the "base Turbo" that was originally introduced in late 2014 as a 2015 model. At that time it had a price of $3,800. In late 2015 the price was dropped to $3,000 for the 2016 model year. In late 2016, the price was again dropped to $2,500 for the 2017 model year. Now, as the Turbo Vado is about to be introduced, stores are "clearing" these out at prices below the suggested Specialized price of $2,500, as in the case of your LBS. In virtually all cases, these are bicycles originally manufactured for the 2015 model year and sold as "carry over" stock in succeeding years. These are either new bicycles that have been in Specialized warehouse for some time, or dealer display/demo stock. In my case, I purchased a "2016" base Turbo that was ordered for me and delivered to my LBS in November of 2015. The actual build date was October of 2014. The manufacture date is on a data plate on the underside of the top tube of the frame.

Having said this, the price from your first URL is a very good price for the same model Turbo as mine. It has the 200 W motor and the 468 Wh battery with no bluetooth capability. It has an SRAM X7 10-speed derailleur with 11-32 cassette and Formula C1 brakes. This is the same bike as reviewed by Court Rye in may of 2015 here: https://electricbikereview.com/specialized/turbo/.

You can get the full factory specs by clicking on the hidden link in the second URL that says: "VIEW ALL TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS"

In any case, great price. I would suggest that you consider investing in an SRAM 11-36 cassette and some Kool Stop brake pads to give you a bit better climbing ability and better braking. The combination of both would add around $140 to your bike. Also, the Bionx D500 definitely has more torque than this rear wheel, but a lower top speed. I am sure that you would have no problem keeping up with your friend. You might even put him in the weeds!
Thank you so much for the very thorough write-up. If I understand you correctly it’s possible this bike might have been manufactured two plus years ago. If this is the case would that be detrimental to the life of the battery? The bike is being delivered to a local bike shop here from another shop so I won’t see it until Thursday at which time I’ll check for the date on the bike. Previously I had found all the specs on both the local bike shop website and Specialized website. Of course neither one indicated the wattage of the motor. I’d heard of the Kool stop pads but mostly in regards to no squeak which always bothers me with disc brakes. I’ll certainly consider your two recommendations if I purchased the bike.

I dictated this because I injured my hand on a fall on my bike. I was riding on a bike path next to a four-lane highway and a vehicle was coming out from a side street and didn’t stop before the bike path where there is a stop sign, so I stopped so quickly with my disc brakes that I couldn’t get my foot out of my clipless pedal in time and fell over on my left side injuring my right hand, which has been in a brace for five weeks and will be for another three weeks. So in 30 years of riding my bike this was only the second time that I have fallen. The first time was when I was much younger and I didn’t injure myself. If I purchased this bike I’m going to stick with platform pedals. However, I will leave clipless petals on all my other bikes.

Thanks again for all of the information.

Douglas Ruby
2 months ago

Velome,

Many thanks. This is the "base Turbo" that was originally introduced in late 2014 as a 2015 model. At that time it had a price of $3,800. In late 2015 the price was dropped to $3,000 for the 2016 model year. In late 2016, the price was again dropped to $2,500 for the 2017 model year. Now, as the Turbo Vado is about to be introduced, stores are "clearing" these out at prices below the suggested Specialized price of $2,500, as in the case of your LBS. In virtually all cases, these are bicycles originally manufactured for the 2015 model year and sold as "carry over" stock in succeeding years. These are either new bicycles that have been in Specialized warehouse for some time, or dealer display/demo stock. In my case, I purchased a "2016" base Turbo that was ordered for me and delivered to my LBS in November of 2015. The actual build date was October of 2014. The manufacture date is on a data plate on the underside of the top tube of the frame.

Having said this, the price from your first URL is a very good price for the same model Turbo as mine. It has the 200 W motor and the 468 Wh battery with no bluetooth capability. It has an SRAM X7 10-speed derailleur with 11-32 cassette and Formula C1 brakes. This is the same bike as reviewed by Court Rye in may of 2015 here: https://electricbikereview.com/specialized/turbo/.

You can get the full factory specs by clicking on the hidden link in the second URL that says: "VIEW ALL TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS"

In any case, great price. I would suggest that you consider investing in an SRAM 11-36 cassette and some Kool Stop brake pads to give you a bit better climbing ability and better braking. The combination of both would add around $140 to your bike. Also, the Bionx D500 definitely has more torque than this rear wheel, but a lower top speed. I am sure that you would have no problem keeping up with your friend. You might even put him in the weeds!

steve_rolfeca
4 months ago

The Bionx kits have an internal strain gauge that continuously monitors how hard you pedal. It provides the smoothest, most silent and organic-feeling pedelec boost on the market. Once you get going, there is no surge or delay in turning on or off, creating the intoxicating feeling that there is no motor involved- you just inherited superman's legs!

Range is excellent on the lower assist levels, with matched, proprietary battery packs and safe lithium cobalt technology. The battery and motor unit communicate with each other, and aftermarket packs are not an option, although there is at least one vendor who rebuilds the Bionx packs. This makes for a less expensive option when your pack wears out.

Bafang-based hub drive kits do not offer nearly as good a pedelec experience. Sensing is crude and laggy, gearing is noisy, and most users rely on throttle control. As good or better than Bionx if you just want effortless no-pedal power, but poor if you want a seamless electric pedal assist that seems to disappear into the background.

Battery packs are completely up to the user, allowing more scope for customizing range VS power and cost. However, it's also buyer beware, with lots of questionable choices out there.

Bionx are also as close to zero maintenance as you can get- designed and built in Canada, water sealing is excellent, the hub drive has no internal gears to strip or need replacement, and doesn't stress the drive chain. The warranty is longer than Bafang.

In contrast, the Bafang-based drives (mid or hub drive) all have internal plastic idler gears that are a weak link, problems with drawing water into the electronics, and a history of controller failures. Maintenance and repair issues are commonly reported on the forums.

The latest mid-drive Bafang versions seem to be better developed, but they place tremendous stress on the derailleur and chain, twice as much or more than human power alone. Expect to blow chains and other driveline parts regularly if you ride aggressively.

However, Bionx kits are very expensive- at least twice the price of any Bafang-based product. Tech support is excellent in North America and Europe, but I don't know about India. Best if you want a sealed, no-fuss experience.

Bafang kits are much more affordable, have a strong DIY community on various forums, and there are more sources for replacement parts when they break. Best if you want to experiment, tinker, and especially if you want to hot-rod your kit for more power.

nebula722
3 years ago

I like thumb throttles as they are easier to use with gloves on.   Does this bike have a cruise control?

ElectricBikeReview.com
3 years ago

+nebula722 Very interesting, this is great feedback that might help others to consider what it's like riding an ebike and how to use this feature. Definitely makes me think differently about the feature. Thanks!

nebula722
3 years ago

+ElectricBikeReview.com I set the cruise control at a speed a little lower than I want to go and then I pedal and add some speed to it.  This is really a power lock as it does not apply more power on a hill.  I leave the cruise set where it is and downshift till I can make it up the hill.  I use it as soon as I turn out of my driveway and I use it often.  With the cruise on I pedal as hard or soft as I want.  Perhaps this is a feature seniors will use more often than younger riders. 

ElectricBikeReview.com
3 years ago

+nebula722 I'm really glad you brought it up, most people don't think or talk about it but it sounds like you've found a good use for cruise control on ebikes. I'd like to hear how it comes in handy for you - when do you put it to use?

nebula722
3 years ago

+ElectricBikeReview.com IZIP has a lot of interesting products.  When I purchased my Magic Pie with throttle and pedal assist I laughed when he told me of the cruise.  I use it constantly to my surprise. 

ElectricBikeReview.com
3 years ago

Great question! No cruise control here, I actually know of very few ebikes with that feature but many of the 2015 IZIP models will have it: http://electricbikereview.com/category/izip/

wojtek1425
3 years ago

Do you really think the all four regen modes matter?
After riding the ST1 for over a year I still can't find any significance in the two modes it offers. It looks more like a gimmick than a significant feature.

visualray
7 months ago

I have a Tern Link D8 with a 250W Bionx, and I can say that I use all the regen modes. When you're going down a super steep hill, it makes it so that I hardly use my brakes plus it does put a decent amount of energy back for the short amount of time.

wojtek1425
3 years ago

I wanted to do a comprehensive review of ST1 but stumbled on the issue of two regen modes, and even the tech support could not offer a reasonable explanation other than design features (in this case the wagon is ahead of the horse). Having said that I saw some designs with more significant energy return modes (forgot where). With regen modes being presents in many electric bikes, it is time to evaluate them and see who the winner is.

ElectricBikeReview.com
3 years ago

+wojtek1425 Great question, this is something I'd like to test but I haven't had the time to focus on it. Currently doing my best just to keep up with the site and add some new sorting features and reviews from Interbike :)

wojtek1425
3 years ago

I know nothing about BionX, but wanted to know best case scenario percentage-wise. How much power can you possibly get back? I tried the ST1 but 1 bar was all I could get (long downhill coasting)

ElectricBikeReview.com
3 years ago

The four levels of assist and four levels of regen on BionX are pretty well spaced out. I could see myself using the first, second and third levels of regen when riding on flats or coasting down hills. The fourth level is pretty aggressive but I think they added it to balance out the four levels of assist. If they only had one level then it would likely feel too powerful and be less useful for actual fitness training or small hills... you'd have to pedal while going downhill vs. the very light regen level 1 that can actually still let you coast. I don't think it's a gimmick.

Marc Ariss
3 years ago

I try and I try to find something about folding bikes I like.....still no success, good review though.

markharrispt
3 years ago

Tern, like dahon, Brompton etc are a good frame to build an ebike on. More integrated battery solutions, integrated motor solutions, & disk brakes, a minimum.

hassmann2000
3 years ago

Very nice. 

Way over my budget though. 

There's a bike called the "Cyclomatic folding bike" which is similar to this but is about £500 (or less). 

It's obviously not as nice as this bike, but would you recommend it anyway?

ElectricBikeReview.com
3 years ago

Interesting... I've reviewed a very similar bike to this called the EG Vienna http://electricbikereview.com/eg/vienna-250-ex/ and thought it was decent. I liked the suspension elements but felt the body position was more squished. Could be good for a shorter rider. The battery and motor size is also significantly smaller and the bike doesn't have regen. It's a trade off but yeah, those bikes seem to work alright :)