Airminal Rhino 2006 model converted to electric pedal-assisted power February 2019. (Conversion done by e-Bici of Villajoiosa firstname.lastname@example.org 902 996 416)
Road test 27 February 2019
Since I first did a road test of an Airnimal Chameleon in the Alps and central Italy in 2005 for a cycle magazine, I have been impressed with the practical side of these folders, and the ease of transport by rail. (I took the Chameleon on the Eurostar from Ashford to Paris then to Luzerne by train and cycled over the St Gotthard pass into Italy, doing various local and long-distance trains home again.)
Later, after road testing the Chameleon, I was offered a good price by Airnimal to buy my own Rhino in 2006 and I used it for touring once, but mainly for local rides in the mountain tracks near my home in Costa Blanca. To be honest, I have never found the Airnimal very comfortable over long journeys – maybe due to the high centre of gravity and the consequent extra physical effort expended in balance. The practicality is its great advantage: being easily and instantly packed away inside a small car or taken on a train in a carry-bag.
I first decided to convert my Rhino to electric two years ago, seeing that kits were available, but only recently had the spare cash to finally afford the outlay. The cost of the kit was 899.00 Euros. (In this conversion there was an extra cost to replace the original 9-gear Shimano block and chain which were the wrong gauge to match the centrally placed power unit, so that was an additional fifty Euros.)
Specifications: 350W central mounted power unit connected to 9-gear rear Shimano block; 36V seat-pin mounted battery; 9-levels of pedal-assist.
Road test over a 40 km ride through mountains near Aitana ridge, Costa Blanca, in order to test maximum range on one charge. The battery managed 40.1 km after pushing it to its full limit from full-charge to empty. The 9-levels of assist were all tried, in various gradients, on and off tarmac, and the higher levels of pedal-assist (from level 6 to level 9) were mostly used in order to see maximum distance possible using maximum assist, i.e. with minimal pedalling effort.
Finally, to return to the comfortable riding theme, after this test ride I replaced the saddle with something more suited to my age and laziness: a slightly wider gel-padded saddle. This is much more suitable for one who spends a longer time sitting on a bar stool than perched on the bicycle, in any jaunt of more than an hour these days. 😉
For comparison, on YouTube you can see an e-conversion of a similar Airnimal Rhino, with a front wheel mounted 500W motor unit and a luggage-rack battery position. The luggage rack might be better than my seat-pin battery option, which raises the centre of gravity quite considerably. And the owner of this machine has also invested in a more comfortable looking saddle!