Apples to Apples? Bosch vs. Bafang Ultra

I currently ride a bike powered by the Bafang Ultra - 1000 w of power. It's a monster, and it gets my oldish, biggish self up the mountains where I ride - my typical ride days are a slow climb up 10 miles of fire road to the top of one of the Cascade foothills, taking in the view, and then zooming back down. But I look longingly at rigs like a Kenovo and love their true mtb soul - but balk when I think of the total power of the Bosch. I hear that the Bosch motors convert their power ultra efficiently, but I still have concerns that all of the Bosch clones just don't have the beef to get me to the top. So my question is: is comparing these two motors true apples to apples, just looking at numbers? Or is there more to the picture that I am not seeing?

Thanks in advance, all.
 

McCorby

Member
Bosch clones.....lol! Brose, Yamaha, and Shimano mid-drives are not clones.
Can you test ride or rent a Bosch mid-drive bike in your area? That will be your best bet versus relying on others opinions. In my opinion anyway.
 

BoHappy

New Member
I currently ride a bike powered by the Bafang Ultra - 1000 w of power. It's a monster, and it gets my oldish, biggish self up the mountains where I ride - my typical ride days are a slow climb up 10 miles of fire road to the top of one of the Cascade foothills, taking in the view, and then zooming back down. But I look longingly at rigs like a Kenovo and love their true mtb soul - but balk when I think of the total power of the Bosch. I hear that the Bosch motors convert their power ultra efficiently, but I still have concerns that all of the Bosch clones just don't have the beef to get me to the top. So my question is: is comparing these two motors true apples to apples, just looking at numbers? Or is there more to the picture that I am not seeing?

Thanks in advance, all.

i did a lot of research on other brands motors and actually purchased one
the bike drives nice with ???? 1000W power
but i also have 2 bikes with Bosch performance and performance plus
simple distinction: day and night difference
its like comparing Tesla and Nissan Leaf - trust me on that one -there is absolutely no comparison again (day and night difference)
just my 2 cents worth of opinion
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
You really need to ride both. I haven't ridden an Ultra powered ebike, but I just purchased a Cannondale Topstone Lefty 3, with the Bosch Gen 4 motor (85Nm of torque).
So far I haven't done too much trail riding, but I have done a few steeper climbs and the Gen 4 has more than enough power.
 
Bosch clones.....lol! Brose, Yamaha, and Shimano mid-drives are not clones.
Can you test ride or rent a Bosch mid-drive bike in your area? That will be your best bet versus relying on others opinions. In my opinion anyway.

I didn't mean Brose and Yamaha, etc. - I meant the plethora of bikes out there with Bosch or Brose motors, not just the specialized I referenced.
 
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Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
As someone who has ridden both systems and trying to build a startup based around Bosch system, I can share a few points from my experience:

I will start with Bafang

  • Even though a relatively new company in the world of E-bikes, they build thousands of hub motors for the Chinese market and have become a dominant player in the hub motor and after-market mid-drive systems.
    Bafang had a shaky start into the E-bike market. Another company "Sunstar" (defunct now, just like BionX) was furious that Bafang simply stole their IP and started producing BBS-01. You can read some blurb here.


  • Their first gen BBS-01 and BBS-2 had a lot of problems, controllers would burn down and other issues. Until, better MOSFETS were introduced in 2015. Read more here:

  • They enjoyed some success because BBS-02 was able to combine the benefits of mid-drive gearing, provide decent power and being able to bolt-on to any bicycle system and relatively affordable price.
    In the US market, companies like LunaCycle marketed them heavily and the later iterations was well received. Many of the controller issues were resolved.

  • Their biggest issue until that point was the lack of torque sensing. They would tout the ability to install it on any bike as a positive but then they had to adapt to the market and bring in a torque sensing motor.
Features and Performance of the ultra

If you look at them from the perspective of power alone, the motors are quite powerful but it lacks the finesse, engineering meticulousness.
  • It is a very powerful motor and the armature is double the size and mass of most other mid-drives like Yamaha or Bosch.

  • The torque sensing sub-par and the features are average. The motors don't have shift detection and the gear sensors are made by someone else.
    Just look at the number of displays they have had and it lacks a sense of cohesion and planning.

  • Anyone with a Alibaba account can purchase them from a wide range of sellers on Alibaba

  • They are unwilling to test their product to UL standards, maintain QC and provide long term support and that has made them a no-go candidate among OEM's like Trek, CUBE, Specialized, Giant etc.
    It lacks robust communication protocol and the controller/sensor unit is not upto the standards that most OEM's require. This puts liability risk on OEMs. All it takes is one recall and you could lose millions of dollars.

    Giant is one of the largest bike manufacturers in the world and a stone's throw away from Bafang but they refuse to use Bafang M350 or M500 or the ultra but instead chose to go with Yamaha. That is weird.
Support and parts availability

This is where I had trouble being able to understand their company's vision and philosophy. They change stuff so often that even OEM will be caught off-guard and it can be very frustrating for an OEM.

Bafang has no US presence and there is not one stationed personnel that provides service or parts warranty. OEMs and sellers have to take it up as their own responsibility.
Their product philosophy is very different and they really don't care. Because the E-bike market is exploding everywhere,their success has made them blind to certain things.

My point is not to disparage them but from the perspective of a startup, there are the things I have to think through before investing tens of thousands of dollars.


Let's move to Bosch

Bosch has a LONG engineering history. They literally invented the CANBUS protocol that is now used in all cars. Their automotive division is HUGE and along with it comes nasty issues like the involvement in Volkswagen scandal. Nevertheless, every single car in America has several components made by Bosch. They utilized that strength to build E-bike motors.

  • Bosch entry to the US market was late (2014) and through a German company called Haibike. Back in 2014, the market was so nascent and the manufacturer were few and far between. Even Trek used BionX hub motors in their lineup. But, Bosch quickly realized the opportunity in the space and spent millions of $$ of R&D into their products. Their motors don't have 1000W of raw power but you can tell, for the most part, it is engineered well.
They spend hundreds of thousands of $$ to ensure all their motor, battery components are certified to high safety standards. UL certification costs upwards of $60,000+ for 1 item and it is a lengthy process.

  • Their Gen 1 motors were big and noisy. Folks in Germany used to call them "coffee grinder" machines.

  • Later in 2014, they introduced their performance line and the E-bike market took off. Their Gen 2 motors were a big improvement

  • For many customers in the US, given the commute distances, this was not an ideal motor. But, it provides more than adequate power in a very controller fashion.
    But as more companies started getting into the space with lighter, better motors like the Shimano E8000 and Yamaha PW-X.
    Bosch was not the sole leader anymore and their motors had a lot of room for improvement.
Where Bosch really shines is their product roadmap, support, parts availability and their engineering wherewithal. I have experienced both Bafang and Bosch support process and Bosch is leagues ahead of Bafang.

Their new Gen 4 motors are quite good in every way. The whole system works seamlessly and it better be for the money it costs!

If you are looking for a powerful motor, then Bosch may not be the best choice. If you are looking for a motor with excellent features, moderate power and very good support, then Bosch certainly is one.

In a world where you could import Bafang powered E-bikes from China for half the cost, I chose to go the other way and invest my money into this because I know Bosch is playing the long game and they are in it for the long haul.
 
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Law

Active Member
Bafang recently Made the decision to change to canbus correct?

If so, then a lot of new bike designs have to be re-engineered.
 

reed scott

Active Member
Bafang recently Made the decision to change to canbus correct?

If so, then a lot of new bike designs have to be re-engineered.

This is the second mention of this situation in two days. Please ... someone try and explain what this means for us dummies. 😶
 
Holy cow @Ravi Kempaiah what a breakdown - thank you so much. I guess I'm just searching for the right system for me, which entails the need for enough power to push a big fella up 10 miles of fire road but secondarily to also take advantage of the great single track around where I live when I can - most of the really good stuff is off limits to emtbs, sadly. My Bafang-powered rig is like a tank but it gets me up to the top, but as agile as a bull moose in rut. Reliability is also starting to be a concern (I blew my first rear freehub within 200 miles of its arrival and have had a few other niggling issues) and part of my thinking is to be able to embrace a system that I can take directly back to the person who sold it to me when it breaks down, too.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
the wife and I do light mountain biking on on e tandem with a bosch performance motor. Americans like a lot of power we tend to be lazy.
 

TForan

Well-Known Member
I have an Ultra powered Fat bike and have ridden Bosch powered bikes. Absolutely ,no comparison. The Bosch bikes had zero balls. They might be Ok for some but not me. And I have no complaints about the smoothness of the Ultra power delivery. I'm going on my fourth year and I've had no problems .
 

reed scott

Active Member
the wife and I do light mountain biking on on e tandem with a bosch performance motor. Americans like a lot of power we tend to be lazy.

I watch the adventure videos of those EMBN guys a bit. Those are young guys who've been riding mountain bikes forever and they literally thrash themselves regularly. I Ain 't doin that. Not at my age and weight. I'm not fat at all but I'm a big person. I want a motor that can get me home from 10 miles out ( with hills ) when my legs feel like noodles. Bosch and the others should make motors for OUR market. Those of us who want to do more than tour but a lot less than technical single track. I actually think there is some spite involved.
 

McCorby

Member
Bafang recently Made the decision to change to canbus correct?

If so, then a lot of new bike designs have to be re-engineered.
Please explain. CAN bus is simply an electronic serial communication bus. Why would the bike hardware need to be redesigned??? At most, the wiring would need to be updated. What am I missing?
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Bosch clones.....lol! Brose, Yamaha, and Shimano mid-drives are not clones.
Can you test ride or rent a Bosch mid-drive bike in your area? That will be your best bet versus relying on others opinions. In my opinion anyway.
In fact, Yamaha has been building ebike motors a lot longer than Bosch has.

If anything, Bosch is Yamaha clone ;)
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Holy cow @Ravi Kempaiah what a breakdown - thank you so much. I guess I'm just searching for the right system for me, which entails the need for enough power to push a big fella up 10 miles of fire road but secondarily to also take advantage of the great single track around where I live when I can - most of the really good stuff is off limits to emtbs, sadly. My Bafang-powered rig is like a tank but it gets me up to the top, but as agile as a bull moose in rut. Reliability is also starting to be a concern (I blew my first rear freehub within 200 miles of its arrival and have had a few other niggling issues) and part of my thinking is to be able to embrace a system that I can take directly back to the person who sold it to me when it breaks down, too.
Ravi has designed his own ebike and his own company too 😁

 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
I watch the adventure videos of those EMBN guys a bit. Those are young guys who've been riding mountain bikes forever and they literally thrash themselves regularly. I Ain 't doin that. Not at my age and weight. I'm not fat at all but I'm a big person. I want a motor that can get me home from 10 miles out ( with hills ) when my legs feel like noodles. Bosch and the others should make motors for OUR market. Those of us who want to do more than tour but a lot less than technical single track. I actually think there is some spite involved.
I am 57 and the bike does fine. I am not even healthy but I ride 30+ miles a day. wife and I and our tandem is a bit over 400 pounds and we can go light trail riding and if we are tired turbo mode gets us home just fine. she has only been riding the bike for 3 months or so. we dont need more power. I can get up 20% grades on my bike with a little work. I ride with less and less assist as I get stronger.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
New Bafang, and Bosch, are both parts nightmares. Both lock users into LBS only repairs. Bafang refuses to release parts schematics, parts lists, and there's no info to tie versions to serial numbers.
 

reed scott

Active Member
New Bafang, and Bosch, are both parts nightmares. Both lock users into LBS only repairs. Bafang refuses to release parts schematics, parts lists, and there's no info to tie versions to serial numbers.

We direct purchase folks ( no real alternative for me ) may just have to have two motors per bike. One on the bike and one in the mail either to or back from our suppliers.