Court's Bosch vs. Yamaha Mid-Drive Comparisons

Jack Tyler

Active Member
Court just released a Youtube video on the side by side comparison of the Bosch & Yamaha mid-drive units. Especially worth watching for those of us scratching our heads about these two relatively high-end motor/battery systems. For those of you using one or the other, what would you add?


Jack
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I rode one of the haibike hardnine bosch bikes at @Crazy Lenny Ebikes on saturday - it was smooth, and acted similarly to riding my easy motion evo snow awd bike - nice, good power, nothing to complain about. We were down there to get a bike for my wife, and ended up with the sduro hardlife sl (or is it rs? the white one with pink and black accents!). The Yamaha motor is definitely not the same, in a very, VERY good way. It wants to go, and pulls harder right away. I LOVE it! So much so, that I am seriously considering an upgrade myself - just have to make room first. I am a big guy, and the mid-drive (based on about 6 miles of me riding my wife's bike) seems like it will eek out about 25-30% better distance over the evo snow as well, given they are about the same battery size.

A couple of additional comments - the lack of a motor cut is easily mitigated by easing off the pedals, and I didn't have any trouble with the no motor cut off with brakes - my wife also hasn't commented on that which means she probably hasn't even noticed it! You can also quickly kick it down to no assist if you'll be standing for a few minutes - the computer is quick to respond, and I love that it shows you a small graph of the power output (would love to have seen a corresponding watt # along this graph, but it is still useful). Being a bigger guy, I found the most use out of standard assist level, but eco does well - it just seems to give less power at higher speeds mainly, while standard I can keep it at 18-20mph with light to medium pedaling. Standard gives even me a range over 40 miles and so far it seems quite accurate.
 
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Jim123

Member
I wonder if the Yamaha is cutting out at higher rpm because it is trying to stay below a certain speed, or is the motor at it's maximum rpm?
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
To clarify, I wouldn't say it is cutting out, but easing back in relation to the amount of torque I'm applying myself - if I press down it responds in kind, especially in standard/high modes. I do think in the eco and eco+ modes that the motor is just limiting itself, so the amount it puts out feels like a natural decline as you reach a higher speed. Regardless, the motor itself doesn't cut out until 20mph. I do wish it operated like the easy motion which doesn't cut until 23-24mph.

Have you seen the simple speed hack? Move the sensor to the outside of the rear bottom wheel arm, and put the magnet on the pedal facing the sensor - the pedal rpm is about half that of the wheel, resulting in motor speed up to around 30mph. Would mess with your odometer though, and battery life would obviously suffer, but it might be fun!

Edit: did I mention how quiet the yamaha is? definitely quieter than my easy motion awd, to me it is barely audible (I admittedly don't have the best hearing though!) - still, not much louder than the hum of the tires.
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
For those of you using one or the other, what would you add?

The Yamaha doesn't require a secondary set of cases around the motor which to my mind is a plus in respect of not having to worry about the fit and durability of a plastic outer case, but on the downside of not having a plastic outer case, any marks or scratches or knocks are going to be permanent, and possibly costly. Replacement plastic cases are never going to cost much in comparison to replace.

As mentioned, the Yamaha battery is also larger, which makes the carrying of a spare battery less desirable or easy in a pack back. My spare Bosch battery fits neatly into my Camelbak Mule, the Yamaha battery would never fit in.

The control buttons on the Yamaha are more fiddly than those of the Intuvia set up for off road use.

Generally over here in the UK, the Yamaha range of motor is fitted to the lower end/spec bikes, but oddly when I looked a few days ago, the actual motor unit is more expensive to buy as a replacement. That was only from looking at one shop/site though, and may not apply in the US.

Bosch are shortly bringing out a dedicated mtb display that can be fitted in place of Intuvia. From the photos that I have, it is about half the size, so far more practical for off road use.

Court isn't quite correct in his comment about range reading on the Bosch system. The readings are based upon the last known use of the bikes, so the calculation assumes that the continued ride will match that of the last. For off road use, I don't see it as a worthwhile or trust worthy addition.

I don't think that one system is better than the other though, and both have their place. It's just up to potential buyers to try both and to see which system suits their need the most. I'd include warranty and back up service within that comment.
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
@EddieJ , I'm not sure about across the pond but Haibike is the only yamaha option over here at this point - warranty for the state side folks wouldn't be a factor. The bosch also carries a full $1K price difference over here - considering bikes in general are viewed more so as recreational in nature, the added cost of the bosch becomes a bigger factor.

I was curious about your comments on the controls - aren't some of the bosch control buttons on the center display? I find the sduro controls much more responsive than my easy motion setup. Also like that it has a micro USB charge port - does the bosch sport one of those?

On battery size, isn't the difference measured in just a few ounces? it may be slightly bigger, but the handle is nice, and as someone who is also into photography I know there is a bag for every occasion!

I heard that haibike is shipping many more sduro bikes for sale here, sounds like the bottom line in our market might just be US buyers will see a better value in the yamaha.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
To clarify, I wouldn't say it is cutting out, but easing back in relation to the amount of torque I'm applying myself - if I press down it responds in kind, especially in standard/high modes. I do think in the eco and eco+ modes that the motor is just limiting itself, so the amount it puts out feels like a natural decline as you reach a higher speed. Regardless, the motor itself doesn't cut out until 20mph. I do wish it operated like the easy motion which doesn't cut until 23-24mph.

Have you seen the simple speed hack? Move the sensor to the outside of the rear bottom wheel arm, and put the magnet on the pedal facing the sensor - the pedal rpm is about half that of the wheel, resulting in motor speed up to around 30mph. Would mess with your odometer though, and battery life would obviously suffer, but it might be fun!

Edit: did I mention how quiet the yamaha is? definitely quieter than my easy motion awd, to me it is barely audible (I admittedly don't have the best hearing though!) - still, not much louder than the hum of the tires.

I rode several Sduro's at the Interbike and really liked the quiet engine.
Bosch CX drive felt more zippy but Yamaha felt like a steady, calm presence. I really enjoyed it. It's a subjective experience but the assist felt bit more seamless.
For the same money, I would get a top-end Sduro (SLX, XT, Fox) + a spare battery instead of an Xduro with no spare batteries.
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
pxpaulx, speaking for my own use with the following.

I only use the centre display to turn the unit on and off. Beyond that the only information that I need is battery life, and the very occasional look at assist level. The new system will be far better in respect of both, but I would like to see the addition of being able to turn the back light off for night time use.

Bag wise, I wouldn't want to go any bigger than a Camelbak Mule. The bag is the optimum size for my off road use. As it is the Camelbak catches on low hanging branches, and frequently causes an issue. Going any larger in order to carry a Yamaha battery would not be an option. But as I probably won't ever be buying a bike with the Yamaha system, it is a bit irrelevant to my use. :)
 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
A good explanation & demo of what @pxpaulx is describing about the Yamaha motor's performance can be found in Court's review of the sduro Hardlife SL. Start watching at ~14 mins into the review and you can see Court demo the limitations on the bike's speed as it relates to the gear chosen as well as the relative noise generated by the motor.

And one Bosch vs. Yamaha comparison point I haven't seen emphasized elsewhere is that the Yamaha motor is not offered on speed pedelecs, at least as stated by Court in this same review.
 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
Bosch is still the winner in my book. It's really smarter and much more refined. The sensing technology is much more developed in my opinion. I noticed this the first time I tried the Yamaha drive two years ago at Eurobike. When riding at higher cadences the motor system generally doesn't assist smoothly. I still found that to be the case on the new bikes. I found the Bosch system to more seamlessly adapt to any riding style you might choose.

They are still great and it's nice to have additional options. And I guess some like more of the Easy Motion type kick. I like it when the drive system very smoothly integrates into my natural pedaling, I think this goes a long way.

Maybe I'm being too fickle. But it's really all about the riders individual preference right? I think electric bikes are awesome and I generally find enjoyment riding ANY of them!
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
A good explanation & demo of what @pxpaulx is describing about the Yamaha motor's performance can be found in Court's review of the sduro Hardlife SL. Start watching at ~14 mins into the review and you can see Court demo the limitations on the bike's speed as it relates to the gear chosen as well as the relative noise generated by the motor.

And one Bosch vs. Yamaha comparison point I haven't seen emphasized elsewhere is that the Yamaha motor is not offered on speed pedelecs, at least as stated by Court in this same review.

The problem I see with Court's review is that he is talking about not getting past 10mph, but no comment about what speed setting he was using, and I also don't see him using the gearing either. The motors are going to act differently since the yamaha is 1:1 while the bosch is what, 2.5:1? It is clear the motors act differently, but in my book $1K can go towards some nice upgrades, a second battery or stay in the bank too. Maybe I like the yamaha more since I'm a larger guy and the extra low end torque suits that need better? I did ride the bosch drive far enough to know it wasn't anything different from riding my evo snow - smooth, nice but not really much different. On the other hand, I'm listing my current 2 bikes on craigslist to get an sduro, for what its worth!

@Chris Nolte - I thought the bosch was much more like my easy motion awd snow than the yamaha! My wife although thought the evo was much smoother.

I think maybe I find the yamaha more bike-like, could be just me though.

Also, on the speed limit of the bike you can buy dongles from europe, or do this:

 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
"The problem I see with Court's review is that he is talking about not getting past 10mph, but no comment about what speed setting he was using, and I also don't see him using the gearing either."

@pxpaulx, perhaps I mentally blended the Hardlife SL review with Court's comparison video of the Bosch & Yamaha motors...but he does specifically address the questions you raise in the Hardlife SL review, both in the written section and in the riding section of the video review. The video comments about a narrower speed range (of the Yamaha over the Bosch) are especially detailed, and he does discuss being in the lowest gear at the highest assist level after finding the speed dropped noticeably as the gears moved lower. In the written review, he discusses it in one section this way: "The motor offers enough of a speed range that the top couple of gears can help you reach 20 mph but the further down you shift the slower the assisted top speed becomes and for me this meant more knee pressure." This narrower speed band seems to be one of the key criteria that results in his higher rating of the Bosch unit.

Having said all that, I agree with you re: the price difference. I've somewhat arbitrarily set my own ebike price limit at $3K so, straightaway, the excludes the Bosch units...and what's becoming apparent to me is that there are a wide range of ebike choices that promise fun riding at that price point and below. That's why I'm looking at the Yamaha CD bikes. Besides...most of that $1K difference you mention is what it will take to finish outfitting (hitch and carrier, biking gear, insurance and so forth).

Jack
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I wonder if perhaps the Yahama motor in particular is just tuned in a way that is mis-matched with Court's particular riding style? Court keeps a high cadence in general (I've watched many reviews!) and may not necessarily get down to the lower gears in order to get to 20mph on most bikes, but that is maybe a result of his small size and knee issues. As a larger rider and bigger guy, I have pretty strong legs that don't go quite so fast from a cadence perspective. As a result I can put out more torque in the lower gears at a slower cadence, and this motor seems to suit that riding type. For instance, I can pedal along in the bottom 1st or 2nd gear easily around 17-18mph, but can then push harder and still feel the motor respond at that speed up until it cuts out.
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
Watching the clip again, Court didn't actually mention which Bosch system was fitted to the bike.

Active line usually has a grey console surround, and the Performance system black. But the way that the motor was performing in the clip, it came across a being an Active line system.

I currently have both systems, and take delivery a further bike next week that has the CX system, so from my point of view, it is going to make for some interesting riding.
Comparing the current two bikes isn't really that easy or even possible for me to do, as the bike fitted with the Active Line motor, is a road bike with very low rolling resistance 28" wheels/tyres, and only front suspension, whereas the Performance Line bike is an FS e-mtb, and is fitted with highly aggressive deep mud tyres, and pedalling above cut off point is a real problem to do.

The Active line does kind of give more of laid back softer feel, but because of the nature of the two bikes, sadly comparisons can't be made.

I'm certainly looking forward to trying the CX out though. It's going to be along week! :)
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
I made a comment to the video, and then Court commented on my comment, at YouTube. I don't think the Yamaha is set up right for that kind of climb. My guess is they will correct it. But with a PAS only system, you are locked in to the programming. A throttle might be handy to get some extra power, here and there. I don't know how much power is enough, but 600 watts is a lot of power in a mid-drive with gear leverage. This is where the DIY have a big edge, especially if you stretch the rules. I just think Yamaha will tweak the settings, because what Court describes in detail in the comment is not logical. I don't know how much a user could tweak the settings on bikes like this, maybe down the line. The Bafang Max might be an integrated mid-drive to watch, but it's been slow showing up. A Chinese company with the huge home ebike market probably sees things differently from the Europeans who are doing these PAS ebikes.

@pxpaulx -- why not add a second magnet to the wheel, on that hack?
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
you know, a second magnet would be a lot more seamless! you'd need a new front chain ring to go with it though, I don't think I could pedal the bike much beyond 22-23mph with the current gearing - I think it is quite small, maybe 30 or 32t - for their hardtail bikes, only the most expensive version gets the two chainring setup, but even so it looks like the larger is the same size as the single, or close to it (I think there are 3 models in 27.5 and then the same for 29er, and for the women's bikes there are just the 2 top models in 27.5 size). It makes more sense to buy the mid-level bike (unless you absolutely need the rockshox over the suntour...which is also an air fork on the SL bike) and add a dual chain ring yourself - the top tube has the slot for the wiring, and the seat post tube has the necessary holes to add the front derailleur.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I tend to agree with pxpaul's comment that the Yamaha has more "grunt" at lower speeds going uphill. But I too have a rather slow pedaling cadence. When riding a Bosch powered bike, I often find myself wondering if I'm really in the right (optimal) gear for whatever conditions I'm facing. The Bosch sometimes feels a little "hollow" for my taste. The Yamaha seems to "fall under my foot" more naturally. That being said, if there were such a thing as mid-drive e-bike cycling lessons, I would probably get a D- for not changing gears enough. I guess it's a bad habit I should really try to lose...

My wife rides like that - when we first went out with her on the sduro, she said I still can't keep up! You have to change gears to get to top speed in order to get to 20mph though. Didn't help that the bike she replaced was an e-joe epic lite single speed folding bike. I rode a lot in high school many years ago so am used to making use of the bike's gearing - I agree it isn't necessarily natural at first. My bike in high school had the old rotating dial that didn't click into the gears like the nice trigger shifters we have these days.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
from EB Action review: difference in fork and brake spec justifies a $1,000 difference in price (29'er Sduro vs CX Xduro) meaning with equiv. specs the price diff is really $200. "For a good portion of our test crew that difference was an immediate decider. "CX has a fun, quick and effective feel with almost no acclimatization time. "The Yamaha PW is less forgiving of pedal rpm or cadence, so it does require a learning curve and shifting more often and more precisely". "No matter which, both make the parent co. proud".

They are much more similar than they are different. ;)
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure the specific models they reviewed, but apples to apples, all other components being the same, the Xduro demands a $1,000 premium. for example, the hardseven RC is $2,800 Sduro and $3,800 Xduro (ebikesofne website). The trouble is pricing isn't that obvious - some stores do and some don't list msrp, some are closing out the 2015 xduros at the same time as selling the new sduros, which would more likely be full price.

On their comments about shifting - I agree, you need to know and/or learn how to shift properly - but if I were to tell you all you need to do is ease off your pedaling power when shifting - and you understand what it is I'm talking about - then you'd be good to go with the yamaha. They are going to sell well here in the US I think.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
The Xduro premium is in the suspension and brakes, not the motor. It's $1,000 better suspension and brake components, not the motors.
I agree they'll sell very well. Fabulous bikes. The motors are pretty much a wash, so it's what's more important, cheaper price or better components. If all you're doing is street work it's a no brainer for the cheaper bike. if off road and over 180lbs, the better bike suspension is worth a fair piece buying new. Though you could swap on a better fork later for cheaper. ;)
 
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