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Falco vs. BionX (D-Series Comparison with Falco f7 Series)

Falco f7 series is approximately 50% more powerful, has 21% more range and with more than 2x the warranty of BionX systems (not considering that it is considerably cheaper).

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Abstract: This article presents a side by side comparison between Falco eBike conversion systems and BionX kits. Both companies offer direct drive motor platforms for eBikes and eTrikes. Published Specifications and website information are taken into consideration. Parameters such as cost, motor power, torque, weight, installation, warranty etc. are compared between the two companies.

Introduction: Direct drive (motor in the wheel) platforms for eBikes have been gaining in popularity over the past couple of years. Mid drive platforms (motor in the cranks) gained popularity after Bosch’s launch of such platforms in 2011. However, mid-drive platforms have struggled on many fronts and re-engineering has been required of almost all components of an eBike. Direct drive motors have not been without disadvantage either. The overheating and extra wheel weight have been two most prominent complaints. Direct drive manufacturers such as Falco, BionX, Go Swiss etc. have worked hard to address these issues. With the ever increasing complexity of mid-drive motors and high maintenance costs, direct drive platforms have seen tremendous resurgence recently.

BionX launched its original eBike systems in 1998 [1]. The original inventor of the system Jean-Yves Dube filed the first patent application in 1999. BionX enjoyed major success after the use of their systems by Matra in 2005 and then by Trek in 2009 followed by some major European manufacturers. However, the earlier motors were underpowered and suffered from some serious quality issues [2]. With Bosch’s introduction, BionX was virtually knocked off of the European continent. BionX had to re-invent itself to survive. With the introduction of their D-series and Elby in recent years, things have began to look up for BionX.

Falco launched its eBike systems in 2013 and its inventor Rakesh Dhawan filed its first patent in 2013 as well [3]. Falco hub inventor had previous history in the electric bike industry with his work at Wavecrest Laboratories LLC (Tidalforce Electric Bike), Matra (Introduction of Tidalforce in Europe), Accell group (redesign of ION propulsion system) and Electric Motion Systems LLC (E+ electric bike). Falco’s inventor was well aware of issues in the eBike systems. Falco system was invented with the following advantages in mind - high power and torque density, high efficiency, simplicity (all intelligence and smarts must be in the motor and not in the battery or console), Zero resistance pedaling and total independence from a closed battery system (aka an open system). Falco hub has gone through a number of revisions in the recent years to meet the highest standards of performance and reliability. Falco hubs are made to exacting quality with industry leading 5-year warranty higher than BionX, Bosch or any other eBike propulsion supplier in the market.

BionX eBike Platforms: BionX platforms can be categorized into two power categories: 500W and 350W. 500W platforms use their D-series motor and 350W platform use their smaller diameter motor.

BionX 500W Platforms: The system uses their D series motor and is referred to as D 500 DV. It uses a 48V/555 Wh Lithium battery.

BionX 350W Platforms: There are 5 platforms in this category. They are called P 350 DV, P 350 RX, P 350 DX, P 350 RL, and P 350 DL. The main difference is the display and the battery each system uses. Let us try to summarize them below:

Table 1: Summary of BionX 350W Platforms

Table 2: Summary of 500 and 350W BionX Kits Specifications

Falco eBike Platforms: Falco currently carries 5 platforms. All platforms use Falco’s 750W motor. Battery capacities range from 400Wh to 700Wh.

Table 3: Summary of Falco eBike Platforms

D Series BionX Kit Comparison with Falco f7 Series: Table below summarizes the comparison between the two companies.

Table 4: Bionx D-Series Comparison with Falco f7 Series

Discussion on BionX D-Series vs. Falco f7 Series: In the table above, we have highlighted in green the various advantages for each of the companies.

Motor Power and Torque: BionX claims a power of 500W vs. Falco’s claim of 750W. BionX claims a torque of 55Nm vs. Falco’s claim of 45Nm. BionX uses a 3-phase technology vs. Falco’s 5-phase technology. Falco produces 50% more power than BionX where as BionX produces 22% more torque than Falco.

Free-Wheeling Resistance: Falco uses a 5-phase hub which has a substantially lower free-wheeling resistance than any existing 3-phase motor including BionX.

Price: BionX’s D-series is $300 or 13.5% more expensive than Falco’s f7 series.

Battery Capacity and Range: Falco’s f7 series offers 672Wh battery capacity as compared to 555Wh by BionX. That is roughly 21% more capacity and range than a BionX D-series.

General Philosophy of Operation: BionX like all other major motor and drive manufacturer likes to chain together the battery to the motor to the display etc. The problem with that approach is that a single weak element of chain destroys the whole chain. Maintaining a chain is quite complex. Falco does not believe in complexity or linking the motor to the battery to the console through a complex chain. On an electric bike there are no advantages of such arrangements. Falco believes in utter simplicity. Falco hub has the most intelligence. It can interface with any battery and can be operated with one of the Falco HMIs (Human Machine Interface) or Falco smartphone apps.

Pedal Assist Operation: BionX has a built in torque sensor allowing for a proportional pedal assist operation. Falco’s 2018 hubs have integrated torque and speed sensor allowing the hubs to have a much better and safer pedal assist operation. A simple torque sensor is not able to determine all of user intent accurately. Both torque and speed sensors are required for such purposes. BionX hubs do not possess a speed sensor at the moment.

Open System: Many riders have lost value of their investment when the battery dies or is obsolete and they need a new battery. In case of BionX, the rider has to have a BionX replacement battery causing a sort of monopoly for BionX. Consequently BionX can charge a very high price for the replacement battery. Instances have also happened where the battery is obsolete and BionX has failed to provide replacement outside the warranty period. Such arrangement hurts riders. Falco has avoided this scenario by making the batteries not be part of the chain or allowing Falco hubs to be interfaced with any other batteries in the world. This arrangement safeguards consumers magnificently.

Conclusion: In a nutshell, Falco f7 series is approximately 15% cheaper, 50% more powerful, with 21% more range and with more than twice the warranty of BionX systems. BionX is 14% lighter with 18% more torque than Falco.

References:

1. https://goo.gl/d9e7Kq

2. https://goo.gl/GTgdek

3. https://goo.gl/2HSzB7