electric bike motor systems
The beating heart of a great electric bicycle is its drive system. We've compiled this rundown of drive systems that The New Wheel have supported over the years.
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The beating heart of a great electric bicycle is its drive system. We've compiled this rundown of drive systems that The New Wheel have supported over the years.
Representing Stromer's latest and greatest, The SYNO Drive Sport featured on the top of the line Stromer ST5 delivers up to 650 W of peak power and and 48 N/m torque to the hub. Sport Mode, exclusive to the SYNO Sport motor and the ST5, provides even more power at the push of a button.
The SYNO Drive ll motor found on the new ST3 delivers a massive 600 W of torque and 44 N/m torque to the hub. Translated for your life: arrive at work neither soaked in sweat nor completely exhausted – unless, of course, you want to.
Part and parcel to the evolving motor technology reflected in the SYNO Drive II, the ST3 draws its energy from a very powerful battery with a range of up to 100 miles. Regenerative battery technology reabsorbs the released braking energy when bringing the bike to a stop.
The Stromer ST1 X uses an exclusive hub motor developed by TDCM for Stromer that is being marketed as CYRO Drive. Based upon the highly successful and smile-inducing SYNO Drive found on the ST2, and ST2S.
The CYRO Drive is a 48-volt, 500-watt, direct-drive rear hub that supplies ample power and speed (up to 28 mph) plus tiered levels of regeneration which recharges your battery while reducing your brake pad wear. The CYRO drive clocks in at 35 N/m of torque compared to the SYNO Drive's 40 N/m.
The SYNO Drive hub featured on the Stromer ST2 has a number of design elements that make it perform better, weigh less, and run smoother than any other drive system we've tried.
The first major change is the location of the controller outside the motor. As a result, Stromer can put more power into the motor, increasing performance and all but eliminating overheating. The controller itself is redesigned with CANbus communication and more precise motor controls, a big part of the smoothness of the drive.
The second big change is that the motor now runs at 48V, making the motor both accelerate and regenerate much more efficiently and powerfully. Finally, the fit and finish of the SYNO Drive has been considered from the perspective of service. Instead of a bolt-on axle, the SYNO Drive uses a modern thru-axle for added rigidity and easy removal.
The Bosch mid-drive motor system has quickly become the leading motor system in Europe since its debut at Eurobike in 2010. Bosch's quick success can be chalked up to many things, but perhaps most important has been its renowned reliability and performance. By building on the middle motor pioneered by Panasonic in the mid-90's, Bosch started with an efficient and reliable design. But Bosch improved upon what Panasonic had been doing in important ways: adding more sensors (torque, cadence, and speed), a single chainring design like Impulse, for better reliability, and designing an advanced console for better control.
Performance Speed drive the fastest Bosch E-Bike motor with top assist at 28 mph and with the model year 2021 software update, eBike riders can look forward to even faster daily journeys with a maximum torque of 85 Nm. Sporty start-up characteristics include 250 watts of power and pedal assistance up to 275%. As a class 3 motor - bikes with the Performance Speed motor are limited to roadways - as with all our bikes we recommend wearing a helmet and using lights at night.
The most powerful drive from Bosch for ambitious riders is particularly lightweight, compact and is extremely powerful and efficient. The new Performance Line CX (MY20) accelerates extremely powerfully, responds without delay and features convincing agile handling and even more control. With up to 340% of perfectly delivered support and dynamic responsiveness, it pushes the joy of eMountain biking to the next level. That's what we call: double the fun.
From making deliveries, collecting the kids from kindergarten to doing the shopping - the new Cargo Line, which is designed specially for cargo bikes, makes transport easy. Whether laden or unladen, the efficient Cargo drive unit provides support up to 20 mph or, as a speed variant, up to 28mph, and enables load-controlled acceleration, even when starting off. Ideal for longer distances: the Cargo Speed version, which unleashes its power in combination with DualBattery, even at low cadences.
The Active Line drive is designed for casual, comfortable cruising and pairs particularly well with bikes equipped with an internally geared rear hub. Featuring the full suite of sensors - including cadence, speed, and torque, the Active Line offers great hill climbing torque for moderate to steep hills. The Active Line drive offers a maximum assist speed of 20 mph.
The new Active Line Plus offers up to 50 Nm offers of pure, natural riding enjoyment. Perfectly integrated into the frame - the silent, lightweight drive engages seamlessly with your pedaling.
The Bosch Performance Speed motor is the only Bosch motor rated to assist up to 28 mph. Bringing not just exciting speed but also impressive torque of 65 N/m, the Performance Speed is ideal for anyone looking to conquer a longer commute in record time.
There are two variants of the Performance Line. The quiet, lightweight Performance Cruise provides support up to 20 mph and torque of 65 Nm, it offers a convincingly natural riding sensation. The Performance Line Speed accelerates your daily routines with up to 75 Nm at speeds of up to 28mph.
The Bosch CX Drive was specifically designed for the demands of mountain biking, offering 25% more torque than the regular Performance Line motor - up to 75 Nm at peak output. Not only does it offer more torque, but it also ramps up assistance at a slower pedaling RPM, giving a very satisfying, peppy ride fell. In addition to the increase in torque on the CX Drive system, Bosch has redesigned the motor casing to offer a narrower Q-factor that will feel at home on a mountain bike. eMTB mode will automatically adjust your assistance level depending on pedal pressure.
The new lithium-ion Powertube from Bosch is a simplified, elegant aluminum design which can be integrated into an ebike frame by a bicycle manufacturer. Once inside, the battery is essentially invisible, not to mention well protected. Will be available (as spec'd by the manufacturer) in single or double battery arrangements for up to 1kWh in on-board battery capacity.
The Bosch PowerPack is a 36V battery pack that powers Bosch equipped electric bikes. Bosch now offers two batteries of different capacities for the US market: 400 and 500 Watt-hour packs. The PowerPack 500 offers 20% more battery capacity than the 400 Watt-hour pack and adds only 3.5 oz to the overall weight of the battery. All Powerpacks can be charged on or off the bike using one of two Bosch chargers. The standard Bosch charger will fully charge the PowerPack 500 in 4.5 hours and the PowerPack 400 in 3.5 hours. The compact Bosch charger weighs 1.3 lbs and is 40% smaller in size than the standard charger, but takes longer to charge the PowerPacks - 7.5 and 6.5 hours respectively for the PowerPack 500 and 400.
DualBattery is the perfect solution for tour bikers, long-distance commuters and cargo bikers or eMountain bikers. The combination of two Bosch batteries delivers up to 1,000 Watt hours and can integrate nearly all battery combinations from the manufacturer. The system switches intelligently between the two batteries both during charging and discharging.
The SmartphoneHub syncs your ebike with your life - offering fitness tracking, music streaming, weather forecast. The smartphone app turns the SmartphoneHub into an intelligent control center for navigation, recording activities and connection to other services. Your ebike can be started and ridden without a smartphone. The integrated display in the SmartphoneHub shows the most important riding data.
Kiox is the on-board computer for ambitious sporty riders. Kiox has all the classic functions of an on-board computer, while at the same time giving you access to the digital world via the smartphone app. The colour display gives you all riding data at a glance, while the separate control unit allows you to stay in control of the handlebars and keep an eye on the terrain. Kiox can record your trips and send all the relevant data via the smartphone's Bluetooth connection to the eBike Connect online portal. This makes Kiox your perfect companion on every ride.
Also new for 2017, Bosch has introduced the Purion, a simple 2-in-1 electric bike controller and console - putting everything you need to monitor and control your bike in one simple package. Scroll through your current speed, assist level, range estimate, and more with the click of a button. A non-glare backlit display makes information easy to view. The Purion, combining controller and console, frees up valuable space on your handlebar for lights and other items.
The Bosch Intuvia console consists of a thumb controller and a larger console mounted at the middle of your handlebar. At the console you can select between four levels of assist and no assist. You can also track your trip computer settings, see how much further, in miles, you have on a charge, and track your speed. The Intuvia console is operable when removed from your bike, and is programable here at the shop via USB.
The Specialized Turbo 1.2 E motor, built from the Brose C motor, offers 50Nm of torque and 450 peak watts. Geared and tuned for efficiency and range, the 1.2 E motor offers plenty of torque at low speeds for easy acceleration from a stop. Specialized brings their special sauce in the tuning of this motor to work especially well for the bikes where it is spec'd. The Brose motor series is unique among mid-drive motors in the clutch that allows for a friction-free pedal experience when using your ebike without a motor.
The Specialized Turbo 1.3 motor, built from the Brose S motor, offers 90Nm of torque and 550 peak watts. Specialized brings their special sauce in the tuning of this motor to work especially well for the bikes where it is spec'd. The Brose motor series is unique among mid-drive motors in the clutch that allows for a friction-free pedal experience when using your ebike without a motor.
The Specialized Turbo 2.1 motor, built from the Brose S Magnesium motor, offers 90Nm of torque and 560 peak watts. The Magnesium housing on the 2.1 motor enables the motor to be 15% smaller and about 1 lb. lighter. Specialized brings their special sauce in the tuning of this motor to work especially well for the bikes where it is spec'd. The Brose motor series is unique among mid-drive motors in the clutch that allows for a friction-free pedal experience when using your ebike without a motor.
Foundational to every Specailized Turbo SL ebike is a brand new, ultralight motor designed by Specialized and a German automotive company (yet unnamed) exclusively for Specialized. The SL 1.1, delivers 35 Nm of torque and up to 240 watts of peak power at assist speeds of up to 28mph. While lower in power than other motors in its class, the motor weight of 1.95kg places it at about half the weight of its competitors. This motor is ideal for riders wanting some assist but requiring a lightweight, nimble bike - a bike that can be ridden easily with the motor on, and just like a regular bike with the motor off.
Want to go further? Not a problem. Specialized's compact SL Range-Extender Battery provides up to 40 additional miles of hill-flattening power to complement any Turbo SL ebike's internal battery. The range extender is the size of a large water bottle and fits inside a composite water bottle cage mounted to the bicycle.
Mission Control is a Specialized app dedicated to the Turbo range of electric bikes. It allows you to tune the support modes, plan & record rides, and to diagnose problems with your bike.
The SL 1.1 motor also outputs power data that can be recorded to the Mission Control app, an ANT+ Garmin or Wahoo head unit, or Specialized’s Turbo Connect display unit.
The powerful Shimano Steps E-8000 motor is strong enough to handle the steepest of trails, yet intuitive enough to give you just the right amount of support every pedal stroke along the way.
Designed specifically to give you that natural feel of riding a normal MTB, offering stable, smooth intuitive power for improved bike handling over every section of trail. Shimano's E-8000 mid-drive solidly supports speeds up to 20 mph and weighs only 6.2 lbs, representing one of the lightest motors available.
Bafang (8Fun) is a Chinese manufacturer of electric bike motors. Bafang is one of the world's largest producers of motor systems, primarily front hub geared motors for the European market (primarily the Netherlands). Besides front hub motors, Bafang also produces a range of rear hub drives, a simple mid-drive motor, and ebike components such as consoles (HMIs) and battery packs.
The Faraday Porteur uses a custom controller similar to the controller in the Stromer ST2, combined with a 250 watt 8Fun geared hub motor in the front hub. Rider input is registered by a FAG bottom bracket torque sensor. On the whole, the system makes for an incredible smooth, responsive ride.
The motor, while geared, is very silent and compact and offers great torque for the size and weight. As with all geared hub motors as compared with direct drive motors, there is more possibility of wear over time due to the added complexity of moving gears inside the motor.
Derby Cycles, Kalkhoff and Focus's parent company, has been hard at work for the past years optimizing the design of their flagship product: the Impulse motor system. Learning from Impulse 1.0, which was introduced in 2012 and is in active service on over 150,000 ebikes around the world, Impulse 2.0 is a next-generation drive that offers better performance, quieter operation and some really bright new ideas to make what was already one of the best drive systems on the market even better. In 2015, Derby Cycles introduced the next iteration of the Impulse system, the Impulse Evo drive.
The Stromer ST1 uses a direct drive hub motor (like Bionx) made by the Taiwanese company TDCM. TDCM focuses on the development and production of electric drive systems for electric bikes as well as for other applications—including medical devices, starter systems, and wheelchairs, to name a few.
The TDCM configuration on the Stromer ST1 is an exclusive design for Stromer. The heart of the system is a direct drive, brushless motor featuring a nominal wattage of 500 watts and a peak torque of 40Nm. The TDCM motor is a large motor that, while heavier than other motors such as Bionx, benefits from less sensitivity to heat buildup when climbing.
Like the Dapu motor used on BH Easy Motion bikes, the TDCM drive does not have a torque sensor built into it. Stromer uses a TMM4 torque sensor built into the rear dropout. Unlike the Dapu motor, however, the Ultra Motor hub does have a specially configured controller built into the hub.
The benefit of an integrated controller is easy troubleshooting, while the drawback is inability to service a bad controller as well as a lower heat tolerance for the motor as a whole. The good news is that after many years of development, the TDCM hub is extremely reliable—we can attest to that!
Yamaha's newest entry into the electric bike market shows a lot of potential. It's no surprise: Yamaha has been building electric bike systems for more than 20 years, has millions of systems on the road, and produces nearly 300,000 units annually. The new PW Series middle-motor system resembles the Bosch system in many ways.
The standout feature of the Yamaha system is its ability to run a dual front chainring—unique among middle motor systems here at The New Wheel. This allows for a wider gear range on bikes equipped with a Yamaha PW system.
The Bionx motor system is a direct drive hub motor assembled in Aurora, Canada, outside of Toronto. Bionx is connected with Magna International, the largest car parts manufacturer in North America, and has its headquarters at Magna's campus.
There are a number of things that make Bionx unique. Bionx pioneered the introduction of torque-sensed pedal assistance by creating a drive system with a torque sensor and controller integrated into the motor. This allowed for clean and easy installation, minimized reliability issues that can result from faulty wiring, and simplified servicing.
In 2010, under Magna's direction, the sophisticated CANbus communication system was builtinto each motor, allowing for updates to firmware, more precise motor and battery control, and computer monitoring.
Bionx is the perfect system for moderate to steep hill climbing and instant acceleration. Bionx's regenerative mode is unique in both its efficiency (up to 15%) and its usefulness—it will automatically slow your bike down when the brake is applied lightly, saving your brake pads and extending riding range per battery charge. Finally, the direct drive motor design allows for extremely reliable performance—the two bearings in the motor are the only wear points—and completely silent operation.
The Xion motor is a new drive system available on Focus and Kalkhoff electric bicycles. The drive was developed in cooperation between Derby Cycles, the parent company of Focus and Kalkhoff, and Alder, a German-based wheelchair motor manufacturer. The Xion drive is a traditional, reliable direct drive hub motor with a twist: it uses a sophisticated optical sensor to precisely determine the position of the copper windings relative to the magnets and apply power in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. This allows the Xion drive to work at an extremely high efficiency (up to around 80%), doing more with less wattage, and thus not heating up too quickly while giving plenty of torque.
In fact, in our testing of the new drive we’ve found it to be on par with a mid-drive motor system in terms of giving consistent torque on extremely steep hills. Other benefits of the Xion drive include a sophisticated control panel, regenerative brake assist, a quick release rear hub, and one of the most smooth performing torque sensors on the market.
The Dapu geared hub motor is made by a Japanese company in Shanghai, China. The Dapu motor is a geared hub motor. This motor type is distinct from a direct drive motor like Bionx, and has a variety of benefits stemming from its design that can be appreciated in its unique ride feel and performance.
Geared hub motors work by transmitting power from a high RPM motor to the slower RPM wheel through a system of planetary gears. Because of the physics of electric motors, this "gearing" allows for higher torque and efficiency from the motor. Thus, the ride feel of a BH Neo bike is extremely sporty with consistent torque, even up very steep hills.
The only two drawbacks of a geared motor is a higher possibility of wear due to more moving parts, and a higher noise level than a direct drive motor. But we believe the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks and make the BH Neo bikes a highly compelling option.
The Dapu motor does not have a torque sensor or controller built into it. Thus, on a bike like the BH Neo, the torque sensor is designed into the rear dropout, and the controller is attached to the frame behind the battery.
The Panasonic mid-drive motor is a remarkable bit of engineering. The basic motor design has stayed the same since the early 90s, when Yamaha and Panasonic began building drive systems for pedal assist electric bicycles. What has changed dramatically is the battery technology, which has allowed the Panasonic drive, which since the beginning was extremely reliable, to get better and better, offering riders more power and better range per charge. Today Panasonic remains a top-tier electric bicycle drive manufacturer being spec'd on a wide range of bikes from companies such as Kalkhoff, Focus, Raleigh, KTM, Helkama, and BH Easy Emotion.
What makes Panasonic the benchmark in the industry for performance and reliability is an initial, consequential design decision: the middle motor. By placing the motor in the middle, the motor is able to gain the mechanical advantage of the gears on the bike, which amplifies the power of a small motor and allows it to efficiently power a rider up any hill. The placement of the motor in the middle also allows for simpler servicing—as the motor is one unit that can be easily removed—as well as keeping most of the rest of the components standard, another benefit for service.