The Bosch E-Bike Cometh

Claus Fleischer and Brett Thurber with the Felt fat tire prototype at Interbike 2013

Claus Fleischer and Brett Thurber with the Felt fat tire prototype at Interbike 2013

This is a guest post from Brett Thurber, co-owner of The New Wheel electric bike shop in San Francisco, CA.

Two years ago I met Claus Fleischer, general manager of Bosch’s electric bike unit at Eurobike.

I told him that we needed Bosch powered ebikes in San Francisco. I knew a few things: a quality mid-drive is good for our hilly market, a company with a top tier reputation is good for ebikes, and Bosch had both.

Although Mr. Fleischer didn’t have a timeline for bringing Bosch ebikes stateside he was intrigued by the possibility.

Over the next years we kept in touch and a rotating retinue of Bosch executives passed through our electric bike shop on fact finding missions in the states.

The timeline started to solidify. 2014 seemed to be the year, and it couldn’t come soon enough.

Fast forward to today. I’m standing over a prototype Felt hard tail 29er Bosch powered mountain bike, peering up the road towards Mount Tamalpais in the distance, ready for an epic climb. You can imagine my excitement.

Heading out to tackle Marin’s legendary Mount Tamalpais

Heading out to tackle Marin’s legendary Mount Tamalpais

 

The drive unit on my Felt 29er is different from the Bosch systems of the past. It’s called the Bosch Performance Line system and has been re-engineered to be lighter weight, more efficient, and more powerful. The big change is that the new drive, like the Impulse motor from Kalkhoff and Focus, is direct drive, meaning that there is less energy loss and fewer moving parts than in a planetary gear mid-drive system.

Inside the new Bosch Performance Line Mid-Drive System

Inside the new Bosch Performance Line Mid-Drive System

 

Specs aside, the new Bosch drive translates into less weight and increased performance. We put the Felt prototype on our scale and found it to be hovering at 40 lb. That’s lighter than some downhill mountain bikes. And like a smartly constructed bicycle, the weight is distributed perfectly, falling right in the middle of the bike: an undeniable mid-drive advantage.

Climbing mountains on this bike is a revelation. Like all mid-drives, the amount of torque it’s capable of transmitting to the road is breathtaking. I pedaled up some highly technical terrain and 30% grades on the east side of Mt. Tam that is generally reserved for down-hilling. “You’re crazy” one mountain biker yelled as he passed me going down hill, not realizing that I was Bosch assisted.

While the 50Nm of torque that the Bosch drive is capable of putting out is powerful, the seamless pedal assist technology leaves you totally in control. It’s smart enough to come on when you need it, and while it has a nice carry on effect that smooths out power when you’re pedaling cadence slows, it never feels like it’s on autopilot. And that’s important when you’ve got a sheer drop-off on one side of you, and loose gravel ahead.

Bosch will introduce its drive system in collaboration with its partners with a focus on mountain bikes – thus the Felt 29er I’m riding. The official launch event is going to be at the Sea Otter Classic, a storied mountain bike race in Monterey, California, where Bosch is the official electric bike sponsor.

Choosing to start off with a big push in mountain bikes makes a lot of sense. Everyone understands that a serious mountain bike requires not just performance, but also supreme reliability and durability. While most people won’t be using their Bosch ebike for single-track on the daily, the fact that Bosch has the cojones to bring it to market on a host of mountain bikes speaks volumes: if it can perform in the roughest conditions, you know you can rely on it.

The New Wheel team with Felt’s ebike marketing lead (and daughter of Felt’s co-founder) Megan Duehring and a prototype Bosch powered Felt 29er

The New Wheel team with Felt’s ebike marketing lead (and daughter of Felt’s co-founder) Megan Duehring and a prototype Bosch powered Felt 29er

 

The light weight design, performance efficiency and reliability of the system is going to come in handy for a whole host of use cases. My Felt mountain bike was able to climb over three thousand feet over 20 miles on high assist and still have one bar of five to spare on the fuel gauge when I got home. That’s the type of experience and spec that will be useful for all sorts of riders from the urban commuter to the long distance tourer, and, of course, the mountain biker.

Alone at the summit as I peered out across the Marin Headlands and off to the East Bay and San Francisco beyond, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I got here. I’ll tell you the wait was worth it and I can’t wait to get you on a Bosch test ride soon.

On top of the world, with San Francisco in the distance

On top of the world, with San Francisco in the distance

End of guest post.

Brett Thurber, is co-owner of The New Wheel electric bike shop in San Francisco, CA.  His original post can be found here.

Now, checkout these post for more information on Bosch equipped electric bikes:

Putting the Haibike XDURO AMT Pro full suspension electric mountain bike to the test; a video and a BUNCH of pictures!

Custom electric bikes with the Bosch mid drive system.

Custom electric cargo bike with Bosch system.

Videos of the Haibike and Easy Motion electric bikes with Bosch electric bike system.

Video of Felt electric bikes with Bosch system.

P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!

Comments

  1. Raymond Dimock says

    That New Wheel is taking the next step into Bosch Mid drives is wonderful, looking forward to more Bosch e-bikes in North America. :^{D

  2. Allen Miller says

    It’s sad that North America is way behind in providing the perfect electric bicycle to the United States and Canada. I had to go to 50 Cycles in the UK to get my Kalkoff electric bicycle. I know there is a Kalkoff dealer in the U.S. but he is not carrying the current lineup of Kalkoff electric bikes. Also, Kalkoff USA does not ship to Canada…a loss of potential sales. I also tried to buy an electric bicycle from New Wheel, but he too told me they don’t ship to Canada. Its simply astounding that the U.S. won’t ship to Canada, but 50 Cycles in the UK were more than willing to ship to me.

  3. Robin Harris says

    I have been hearing so much about the Bosch Mid-drive electric bike motor but so far have not been able to even solicit a response from Bosch. I live in New Zealand and that seems to be a stumbling block as the is no agent for these motors in this country. At present I am fitting a Fun Mid-drive from China but am far from impressed with the unit.
    If there is anything you could do to help me with this I would be very pleased.

    Thank you
    Robin.

  4. Hugh Stewart says

    So many gears and things then onto noisy chains and sprockets not to mention maintenance and no regen brake and power savings. Give me the quiet smooth simplicity and regeneration benefits of a hub motor any day.

    • John Wade says

      Apart from gears and chains[antique and crude] e-bikes still remain remarkably expensive and all these new ones are no exception. But central to the issue is batteries – and apart from promises there is very little action on this front.
      I’d like to see an ebike for the average Joe Public with hub-gears[available 7-speed for years], belt-drive[spare my fingers and trouser legs], real mudguards, step-through, and brakes that won’t get caked with mud when I fancy a bit of off-roading. On top of that I’d like to SEE[not hear about] a decent, cheap battery.
      I’ve had a number of e-bikes over the years and they’re the way to go – but only if you can afford to buy and run them. Someone, please, make this happen!

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