Cyclone Motor Performance Testing

For almost everyone that is interested in a Cyclone motor or kit, the first questions that come to mind involve performance. How fast will it go? How far will it go? How steep of a hill will it climb? These are the most frequently asked questions.

To answer those questions we have fitted the 360 watt and 500 watt motor kits to several typical bikes and taken them out on the road to see how they perform. To document our tests, our bikes have been fitted with speedometers which have been calibrated to the bikes. They've also been fitted with our Watt's-Up watt meters so we can accurately document the performance of the batteries and know how much current is being drawn at various points in our test rides. We also measured the temperatures of both the motors and the batteries at the start and end of our tests with a highly accurate non-contact temperature meter.

It is extremely important to understand that electric bicycle performance is effected by a wide range of factors. Small changes in some factors can cause huge differences in performance. For example, given the same weight and speed, it will take almost twice as much energy to climb a 1 degree grade. (A 1 degree slope will rise 1 foot for every 57 feet of forward travel.) A 2 degree grade will require nearly 3 times the energy required for level running.

Bicycle wheel size and gearing are another extremely important performance factor. In our tests, you'll see that the maximum speeds obtained with our 20" folding bikes are somewhat lower than those obtained with 26" mountain bikes. Basically, at the same rpm, the 26" tire travels 1.3 times farther than the 20" tire. In effect, the smaller tire is like having a lower gear, consequently the 20" folding bike will climb slightly steeper hills than the 26" mountain bike if both are using the same gearing.

About my testing...
While I am the importer/distributor of the Cyclone products, I have tried to do fair and honest testing. Rather than guessing at values, all test bikes have been fitted with speedometers and wattmeters so that actual information can be reported. In my trip logs, you will note that many of the rides have been done for the purpose of obtaining maximum distance. To that end, the speeds have been lower than what many bikers would consider a good or fun speed. Like everywhere else in Southern California, the bike paths are often crowded with other bikes, pedestrians and at times, even horses. Under those conditions I've found that just following other bike traffic will dictate an average speed of about 12-15mph.

The bulk of the tests below were conducted on the Santa Ana River bikeway in Orange County, CA. This is a 30 mile long paved trail that is completely off the road and has only a dozen or so places where you need to completely stop or slow below 5mph. At each street crossing, the bike trail has an underpass. These underpasses typically have a 100-200' length on both the down and up sides. For the tests, I coasted down the underpass and used the throttle to climb up the other side. This is a fair simulation of starting out from a stop on the level like you would encounter at a typical stoplight.

Critics will probably say that these tests are biased, possibly even phoney. To those folks, I say, bring your bike to Southern California and I'll be happy to meet with you and we'll ride together. When we're done, you tell me if the tests were fair or not. When reading through the test results, you will be interested in the test of the 500w motor with the Li-Ion battery on the 26" mountain bike. For this test I averaged over 19mph and still got over 23 miles. In my trip notes you'll see that later tests of the same setup yielded over 30 miles when the speed is taken down below 15mph. If you're a throttle jockey and love to do fast acceleration runs, you'll need to cut my results by 25-50%. If on the other hand you like to pedal, you'll be pleasantly surprised that you can get around 40 miles out of the Li-Ion battery pack even with the 500w motor.

If you're used to the results of some other motor system (Currie, hub motors, etc.) remember that the Cyclone system has a huge advantage by working through the bike's transmission. This allows you to optimize the power vs. battery drain balancing act like no other system. Drawing too much current, shift down - it's just like being a human rider - get it in the 'easy' gear. In some cases this means that if you're riding with the motor only, you will actually be in a much lower gear then if you were pedaling. For example, I can cruise with the motor at 15-16mph in 3rd gear (44/14). I could never pedal fast enough to go 15mph in 3rd gear - this is the optimum gearing for the motor. If I want to pedal along, I shift into a comfortable gear for me, and the motor acts as an assist. It's all about optimizing the available power.

I should also mention that I not a little guy. I weigh over 220 lbs. so all of these test (except where noted) are done with a big rider. If you weigh 165, you'll get 10-15% more mileage than I did and your advantage will be much greater if you climb lots of hills. It takes much more power to haul my ass up the hill than it does for a smaller rider.

Drop me a line, give me a call. I'd love to ride with you any time to verify the test results below.

Jim Olsen

Each of the following links will give details of our performance tests for a particular combination of motor, battery and bike. To get some idea of how your project will perform you can look at the performance of a similar combination in our tests.

360 Watt Motor, Two 12v 18Ahr SLA Batteries, 20" Folding Bike
360 Watt Motor, Two 12v 18Ahr SLA Batteries, 26" Mountain Bike
360 Watt Motor, 24v 13Ahr NiMH Battery, 20" Folding Bike
360 Watt Motor, 24v 13Ahr NiMH Battery, 26" Mountain Bike - - COMING SOON
360 Watt Motor, Two 24v 13Ahr NiMH Batteries, 20" Folding Bike
360 Watt Motor, Two 24v 13Ahr NiMH Batteries, 26" Mountain Bike - - COMING SOON
500 Watt Motor, Two 24v 13Ahr NiMH Batteries, 20" Folding Bike - - COMING SOON
500 Watt Motor, Two 24v 13Ahr NiMH Batteries, 26" Mountain Bike
500 Watt Motor, 24v 24Ahr Li-Ion Battery, 20" Folding Bike - - COMING SOON
500 Watt Motor, 24v 24Ahr Li-Ion Battery, 26" Mountain Bike
PREVIEW... 500w Hill-Killer Bike - Our latest project bike.
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