Dave gave me a chance to test the Bionx on his Jai Bike prototype. It has four assist settings. Even on the lowest one, “1”, I felt a very solid boost.
“4” just made me laugh. It was so different from regular bicycling, I didn’t know what to make of it. But Dave’s analysis (and Todd’s from Clever Cycles) is that the electric assist is more for carrying heavy loads up hills than ‘cheating’ on the flats.
The problem is that once you have the 18 pound Bionx system installed on your rig, it will feel, well, 18 pounds slower unless you use the boost. So you’ll probably end up boosting all the time. The battery is easy to remove, but not the hub motor, obviously.
I’ve now ridden the Bionx, the Stokemonkey, and my friend Sean’s home brewed electric rig. I’ve enjoyed each test ride, but they don’t stick with me. I don’t wake up, ever, saying to myself “I need one of those.” I’m glad it’s out there as a car-trip-replacer, though.