In this post, Tim Castleman, founder of Practical Cycle - Sacramento California Xtracycle Dealer - reviews his Bionx equipped Xtracycle, which just clicked over the 10,000 mile mark.
Tim's full review is reprinted from his shop's website, with his permission. Click 'Read More' below to read the review, or hop over to Practical Cycle's site.
I commute rain or shine year round 10 miles each way from my home to work and I have been doing this daily since we opened the shop in March, 2010. I accumulated several thousand miles on Pedego electric bikes until I started riding the 3G Venice XtraCycle in mid November. I have added a larger chainring on the front and an 11 cog freewheel on the back so enjoy cruising at 18 to 20 MPH without the frantic pedaling it took before to maintain that speed. They are both fine machines but I find myself choosing the smoother ride and cargo capacity most of the time.
On November 17, 2010 we added the BionX electric assist drive system to an XtraCycle that was installed on a 3G Venice bike we have on on hand for demonstration rides. Since then I have been riding this bike home daily, a 20 mile round trip, and for a variety of other trips such as grocery shopping weekly, office supplies, hardware store runs etc. On 7/21/2012 the odometer went past 10,000 miles so now seems a good time to write a few words about this cargo cruiser. Unfortunately the BionX odometer doesn't have enough digits to count above 9,999.9 miles so it goes to 0000.0 instead of 10,000.0. I snapped a picture when it was at 9947.0 but just missed getting a shot of the 9,999.9 so we have to settle for one at the 0000.0 point.
Smooth ride and upright posture.
From the start I like the amazingly smooth ride that the long wheelbase provides. Because the seat is now more or less centered between the wheels, and there is a long space between them, bumps are much smoother while handling isn't compromised at all. After a few thousand miles I added a Thudbuster seat post and switched from a cushy Cloud 9 saddle to the much smaller Easy Seat so that now this is surely the most comfortable bike I have ever used. The 3G Venice has geometry that puts the riders feet further forward than traditional bikes and this combines with the Royal handlebar to enable an upright riding position. I don't get a sore neck from being hunched over the handlebar and enjoy a safer all around view.
The XtraCycle extension provides room for 4 grocery bags or can carry a passenger up to 200 pounds. I have used it weekly for groceries and what a joy it is. For years I have been using my Worksman tricycle for this task and could carry just 2 bags of grocery in the rear basket plus a few things in the front basket. I have hauled everything from rolls of Christmas lights to furnace repair parts and office supplies on this XtraCycle with only one small problem so far. When a buckle on the XtraCycle broke I learned it is better to attach the straps together over the top of the deck when carrying a heavy load to prevent this problem. This cargo capacity has enabled me to be car-free for over 2 years now!
Power and ease of use
Perhaps the best part is the BionX Intelligent Mobility system. This is the best electric drive system available on the market plus it is made in North America. The system amplifies my effort by a factor I control with the console that is mounted on the handlebar. The console also shows my speed, distance, battery level and much more. The BionX is silent and has plenty of power to make riding a joy no matter what the terrain or conditions are.
After riding over 10,000 miles on this bike I remain impressed with the practical usefulness and super performance. I'm using it as both a commuter and a cargo bike and find it quite luxurious and functional. I replaced the Planet Bike 1 watt front light with a 3 watt Xceon Music Light and still use a Planet Bike super bright blinky rear light. I also added an Origin8 handlebar coffee cup holder and tapered insulated coffee cup that works great for hot coffee in the winter and cold water in the summer. I'm still using the original XtraCycle FreeLoader bags that I started with and have added their padded "Magic Carpet" and "Stoker Bar" for passengers on the rear deck. I have hauled furnace repair parts, a color TV, a toaster oven, shop supplies and other bikes among the variety of things we use it for.
Mechanical performance and issues.
There have been some mechanical issues. During the rainy winter of 2010-11 I got caught in a flood in Discovery park and learned the system is not submersible. After riding through a waist high body of water the motor failed and a few months later I replaced the battery. In February of 2012 the rim split at the wear indicator line, which turns out to be a known issue and BionX sent a replacement at no cost. I am on my third set of brake pads, which is remarkable given the miles and can be credited to the very effective BionX regenerative braking. I have been using Schwalbe brand tires and at 6,000 miles replaced the first pair of 26x1.50 Citizens with 26x2.35 Fat Franks. When the rim split it ruined one of the Fat Franks so I installed another pair of 26x1.50 Citizens as I decided I like the thinner tires better anyway. In all this time I remember just one flat that was caused by a hunk of glass that embedded itself in one of those first Citizens. I have replaced the pedals with a more robust pair to keep my shoes from slipping in the rain and I lubricate the chain often. The cables have all stretched now so there have been no need for adjustments since I got it all dialed in after a couple thousand miles.
I'm still riding this bike because I haven't found anything better and it still works great.