2017 Electric Bike Motor Buyers Guide
The biggest hurdle in buying an electric bike is choosing which motor to go for. There are 100s of companies out there making the motors, hub driven, crank driven, ones you can retrofit, ones which come as standard on a purpose-built bike.
We're a firm believer that mid-drive trumps all, due to reliability, weight distribution and riding experience
We then narrow it down to the big 5 players in the market. Bosch, Brose, Impulse, Shimano and Yamaha. Each of these companies produce several models, and we'll go further into that further on.
Bosch have been making electric bike motors since 2009, when they came into the market with their classic-line system. Many changes have been made from then, and now they are considered as one of the market leaders with over 70 brands using their motors on their bikes. Their range of 3 motors means that for whatever you're going to be using your bike for, they'll have one to suit.
Brose is a relatively new company to the e-bike scene, but have been making motors with other uses for many years. Widely regarded as the quietest and most powerful motor on the market due to its unique gear-reduction system using a belt instead of cogs.
The Impulse system has been around since 2012, and now it's in it's 3rd generation. Being designed by Derby Cycles, their two systems (Impulse 2.0 & Impulse Evo) is specced on all of our Kalkhoff e-bikes. The main thing that sets the Impulse system apart is its enormous battery capacity and powerful motors.
Bikes featuring this motor : Kalkhoff
Shimano released their first motor, the urban e6000 series, back in 2013. This has been followed up with it's more mountain bike friendly e8000 range which the first models are dropping in early 2017. We find that customers coming from a serious cycling background prefer the Shimano motor over everything else down to how close it feels to a non-electric bike with the power delivery.
Their first system debuted in 1993, and ever since they have been in and out of the market. The Yamaha PW motor can be found on all of our Haibikes roughly under the £3000 mark, with it's bigger brother, the brand new PW-X being on their top end bikes. Giant use the PW motor and combine it with their SyncDrive system and software across their whole range.
This is the main thing that customers want to know. Just how much assistance are you going to get from your bike? The best way we measure it is using the torque rating. Whilst it's not 100% spot on, it's the closest you can compare without trying the bikes out.[table id=1 /]
The higher the capacity of the battery, the further you'll go. We recommend as a rough guideline, that you'll get anywhere between 10-15 miles for every 100wh's the battery has.[table id=2 /]
Range isn't everything though, you also need to take into account just how long the battery will last. Bosch's batteries are guaranteed to last 500 charge cycles in the first 2 years. Yamaha quote 700 charges before the capacity drops down to 60% of it's original capacity. Impulse are quoted at roughly 1,100 charges until 60% and Shimano reports look to be around the 1,000 mark.
Other Key Features
With a crank driven bike, the drivetrain can wear down a slightly faster rate than a conventional bike. For this reason, a few manufacturers incorporate a sensor to ease off the power of the motor when changing gear. Bosch do this using software built into the motor so it can tell when you are changing gear. The Impulse motor has a hardware sensor which can tell when the gear cable is moving, which gives you an instantaneous cut out for roughly 150 milliseconds.
GPS & Tech
Both the Bosch and Impulse Evo motors can be used in conjunction with your smartphone, and display maps and directions for your ride. None of our bikes come as standard with the Bosch Nyon, but it can be retrofitted at a later date. All bikes with the Impulse evo, come as standard with the Naviki maps, all you need to do is download the app