FIRST PUBLISHED April 2007 in A to B 59
Lithium-Polymer, as readers may recall from the chemistry lesson in A to B 57, is a safer variant of the increasingly common lithium-ion battery. Polymer batteries have been used for a while in mobiles and the like, but big examples are still rare, so we think Powacycle is pretty brave introducing the first Li-pol battery on a budget bike at a budget price (Urban is close on its heels, but at a rather higher price). All the experts agree that these batteries are safe and user-friendly, but there’s no consensus over how long they will last in this sort of environment. The LPX battery can be retrofitted to the Windsor and Salisbury (price to be announced), or specified on either of these bikes from new for an extra £100.
The LPX weighs 2.4kg,against 3.7kg for the old NiMH unit, so it’s easier to carry, and it knocks the overall weight of the bike down to 22.4kg, which is more or less as light as a full-size electric bike gets.
The lithium-polymer battery is claimed to have capacity of 273Wh, against 192Wh for the old version. We only had a few days to try it, but our results of 20.6 miles on a hilly ride (including the notorious 1:5 Ham Hill), and 29.5 miles in easier going, was an improvement, but not the 42% claim. We have to be cautious,because batteries vary with temperature and conditions, but the Li-pol battery went 11%-19% further than the new NiMH and some 40% further than the old one, which has deteriorated quite a bit in 1,000 miles. Despite the larger capacity, the Li-pol charges a little faster than the NiMH unit, taking 4hrs 30 minutes, against 5hrs 10 minutes. And the Windsor felt perkier at 14mph, although this effect seemed to wear off after a few miles.
Is it worth it? If carrying the battery is a problem, it certainly will be,as long as you’re comfortable with the role of technology pioneer. The lithium-polymer battery might fail relatively quickly, or it might last for years – no one really knows. If you’re less concerned about weight and showing off your techie credentials, a spare Powacycle NiMH battery costs only £100, giving a slightly heavier machine,but a range of up to 50 miles. That’s the common sense alternative, but we still suspect the LPX will outsell the NiMH. Powacycle Windsor or Salisbury LPX £599.
A to B 59 – April 07