Bike Review: House Of Lithium 50/50 Bike
HOUSE OF LITHIUM 50/50
House Of Lithium is a brand launched by TJ Aguirre, who previously worked for the pioneering electric motorcycle brand Zero. He’s now moved on and started his own e-motorsports companies with plans to start selling a variety of e-bicycles and e-motorcycles. His first offering is the Halfbreed, which is a BMX-inspired e-bike with more than a few interesting technical twists.
Currently, TJ is bringing in a host of e-bikes based on this same oversized folding frame, which will eventually take on the guise of several different configurations—from a flat-tracker style to a tandem. For the 50/50, he pulled straight from the BMX style book by consulting with legendary BMX rider Rick Thorne to set the bike up.
There aren’t too many full-suspension folding bikes out there and even fewer that are fat bikes. This isn’t a typical folding bike with a fold-down stem/handlebars. The frame folds, but that’s about it.
Rick’s input brought in quality components like Profile BMX cranks and stem. Because no one has done a 20-inch e-fat bike, TJ faced some challenges. He runs a traditional BMX spider/sprocket combination, but has to run the chainring on the opposite side of the spider to maintain the proper chain in-line. Unlike the other House of Lithium bikes that are geared, to stay true to the BMX tradition, the 50/50 is a single-speed.
Profile was the only manufacturer who made a spindle wide enough to handle the really wide bottom bracket. The tolerances are still so tight that TJ shaves some extra material off the inside of the pedal boss on the left crankarm to clear the chainstay.
“The ride turned the three of us quinquagenarians into teenage hooligans!”
The bike offers 80mm of travel via a Rockshox Monarch shock and the no-name fork with adjustable pre-load and lockout. The rear shock offers all the adjustability you’d expect in a Monarch shock.
Because the bike is a bit unusual, TJ had a hard time sourcing the quality of parts he wanted to use. He’s still searching for a 20-inch fat bike air fork with the right hub spacing. The fork that’s currently spec’d works pretty well, but a higher-quality air fork would definitely improve the ride quality.
One important priority for TJ is to have as much of the bike made in America and using American-made parts as possible, outsourcing parts like the Profile products and Cane Creek headset to small businesses or other local companies. He even has the frames powder coated—in a wide choice of colors—at a local Southern
The 50/50 runs a 750-watt direct-drive rear hub from Yamee. Normally, this setup includes a cadence sensor for pedal assist, but for this model it’s throttle only, so riders can control when power is added, getting no surprises if it kicks in suddenly.
The Yamee system is really smart. If you hold the throttle open (at any speed) for five seconds, it activates cruise control so you don’t have to keep holding it. Turning the cruise control off is accomplished by tapping either of the brake levers, as they both have cutoff switches that also actuate the rear brake light. The bike also features a regen capacity, thanks to what Yamee calls their I-PAS (Intelligent Power-Assist System).
While the 14-Ah battery is nowhere near the bigger batteries found on other systems, it is larger than what is inmost folding bikes. The way it’s set up, you’d probably never fold this bike, as the handlebars don’t fold, but it does open to let you remove the battery if you’d rather charge the battery off the bike. You can also buy a second battery for $500, but owing to the range we got out of the bike, that probably won’t be necessary.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
Odd-looking as it is, this is a versatile and fun bike to ride. It’s good for urban riders who want to have fun in the city, and it’s worth a look for BMX riders who want to add an e-bike to their collection. Commuters can use it to get to work without breaking a sweat, then jump off curbs and ride some trails without the risk of damaging their suits on the way home.
Owing to its girth and fat tires, the Halfbreed isn’t the easiest e-bike to pedal without power, but that’s where the throttle comes in handy. Because it’s throttle only, the power-assist setting doesn’t change the top speed.
Cruise control is a nice feature, especially when riding with friends. You can all pick a speed and not need to keep modulating the throttle to carry on a conversation. Bunny-hopping the bike requires about the same effort as doing so on a full-suspension mountain bike, but you can use the suspension to your advantage by preloading it and
Thanks to the knobby tires, the bike lets you just point it anywhere—paved or just dirt/rocks—and head off in that direction. Between the plush suspension and high-volume tires, it’s like riding on a cloud. You don’t feel bad pavement or rutty, rocky trails; the bike just glides over almost anything.
What surprised us most was the range. Our first 13 miles on the bike, using the throttle almost exclusively, used less than 25 percent of the battery. That may be partly because of the regenerative braking, but it was still impressive. We didn’t expect that much range, but being able to get 50 real-world miles out of a throttle-driven bike means there’s little range anxiety.
As such, we’re happy to report Yamee’s I-PAS system actually works, and works well. This technology is quite remarkable, and we’d love to see it make its way to other parts of the industry. Most electric bicycles don’t have enough mass to regenerate significant power. We’ve seen motorcycles do it on long descents, putting 1–3 percent back into the battery.
We weren’t sure what to think about a 20-inch wheeled, full-suspension e-fat bike. On paper it makes no sense, yet the Halfbreed surprised us with its level of playfulness, lively ride, forgiveness of its geometry and suspension—all of it. From something that is so unique, it surprised us. We’ve seen so many of the mini-bike-style e-bikes tooling around on the streets, and though they have a certain retro style to them, the Halfbreed is in a class by itself.
HOUSE OF LITHIUM 50/50
Motor: Yamee XL 750W
Battery: Samsung 14.5 Ah
Charge time: 3–4 hours
Top speed: 28 mph
Range: 30–50 miles
Drive: Single-speed, Profile
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc, dual piston with motor cutoff switches and 180mm rotors
Controls: Yamee color LCD, 4.3”
Fork: Aluminum spring fork with adjustable preload and lockout
Rear shock: Rockshox Monarch RL
Frame: 6061 aluminum, folding
Rims: origin8, aluminum
Hubs: Yamee hub motor (rear), Origin8 (front)
Tires: Chaoyang 20×4” all-terrain
Weight: 62 lbs
Color choices: Red, white, blue, green or black
Sizes: One size