Last week we reported on the CYC Photon mid-drive e-bike conversion kit. On paper it certainly sounded impressive, its 3.3kg weight and 110Nm claimed torque and max 750-att output meaning it has one of the highest power to weight ratios for any (potentially) UK-legal motor out there. The CYC Photon motor kit is now available for order.
Prices start at $850 (around £690) plus duties, shipping from abroad and any extras required (all likely to add up to quite a lot extra...). There are also more technical details available.
It's a good opportunity for us to take a more in depth look at this very interesting sounding mid-drive conversion kit that sounds like a relatively affordable way to achieve a high performance e-bike.
CYC Photon in detail
Mid-drive kits do take rather more technical know-how to fit than most hub drive kits (for an overview of the best kits out there and some common questions on the subject check out our selection of the best e-bike conversion kits).
So, given the slightly advanced bike DIY skills needed to fit the CYC Photon, it makes sense to look at the tech spec in detail so potential purchasers can see if it really would be suitable for their recipient bike.
Is it UK legal?
Probably the most important question of all, as there are plenty of illegally fast and powerful kits. CYC don't appear to make any explicit claims on legality in the UK, but reviews of previous CYC mid-drives suggest that the CYC app lets you programme the motor with a 250W UK style mode. Whilst it comes with a twist and go style throttle (illegal in the UK), it also features torque sensing so the throttle doesn't appear necessary for operation.
What do you actually get for the money?
- Motor body with Gen 3 torque sensing freewheel module and integrated controller
- Proprietary chainring with chainring cover (choose from 34, 38 or 50 teeth)
- Bottom bracket assembly
- Crank set (ISIS standard)
Peripherals including display, wiring with connectors, thumb throttle, speed sensor - brake cut out sensors and lights are optional.
Bottom bracket standard
The main job in fitting the CYC Photon, as with any mid-drive, is to remove the pedal cranks and bottom bracket and replace it. There are a number of widths of bottom bracket and you need to specify on ordering whether you want the 'standard' BSA 68-83mm width, 92mm press fit, 100mm or 120mm. The latter two should fit some oversize frames - for example, fat bikes.
What batteries will it work with?
Batteries are not included, though CYC sell them here. The Photon should work with voltages between 36V and 52V.
For more detail on component options and fitting, see this comprehensive video from a US-based conversion retail specialist.
How hard is it to fit?
You need reasonable DIY bike tools, plus the right tools for bottom bracket removal and fitting. It's probably best classed as a moderately complicated job. Any shops specialising in e-bike kit fitting should not find it difficult.
What is the warranty?
CYC say, "This kit and it's major components have a 2 year warranty. Man-made failure excluded. Please refer to our Returns & Refunds policy for detailed information. Warranty starts on the day that your parts are delivered. Using this product with components not supplied by CYCMotor Ltd will not be supported or warrantied."
Who would it suit?
The Photon is clearly aimed at mountain bikers who want the advantages of a powerful mid-drive motor without adding too much weight. The 34T chainring opton in particular means you can have a low-geared e-bike with high torque - just what mountain bikers want.
However, the different bottom bracket standards mean it may also be made to fit the likes of cargo bikes, fat bikes or even recumbents. Note though the more 'non-standard' the recipient bike, the more extra work may be needed, such as making custom extended wiring runs or being creative with battery mounting.
What's the competition?
The most popular and most tried and tested mid-drive conversion kit is from Bafang. The UK legal version is known as the BBSO1 and is available from the likes of longstanding conversion kit retailer Dillenger.
Whilst the Photon costs considerably more than the BBSO1 (once postage from abroad and duties are added in), it's considerably lighter. Motor-only quoted weights are 3.6kg and 5kg respectively. If a UK retailer were to stock the Photon it would make it considerably more attractive price-wise, reducing shipping costs and providing a UK point of help, which is always a big bonus.
Having said all that, if you already have a donor bike and want a lightweight, powerful mid-drive conversion kit then the Photon may be a good option to give you an e-bike with Bosch equivalent power (possibly more power) for less money.