E-bike displays, why there are some awesome and some are just terrible?

Stefan Mikes

Active Member
I am a fan of gadgets and statistics. I'd love to have an e-bike display to tell me everything I'd like to know, for instance my cadence, my power input, and I'd like to configure Pedalling Assistance Support Levels with my smartphone. How naieve I was!

See this review of Bosch displays. Most of them seem rather hopeless and limited, and offer not very much of configuration options from smartphone. The latest Bosch Smartphone Hub is not mentioned here. Riese & Mueller promise miracles with that latest device but... Fancy you would like to purchase the Bosch ABS braking option from R&M. Can you? No, if you opt for the Smartphone Hub. You need to choose the Kiox (that is somewhat limited) to use the ABS braking.


The situation becomes even more hopeless if you want to buy an S-Pedelec, the Class 3 e-bike. Here, the options are even more limited. With R&M HS models, you are at best limited to Kiox display which does not offer 100% Bluetooth configuration capability. How strange.

Probably, the most advanced of displays/Control Units is the Specialized Turbo Connect Display (TCD) that really works with a smartphone and ANT+ devices. Mission Control App works with the TCD and BLEvo works with TCD. The problem is, these displays are available on Turbo Levo and Kenevo and perhaps the new TCD-W (wired) works as well. However, TCD-W is unavailable for most of Specialized Speed E-bikes.

I despised the BLOKS display found on older Turbo Vados since that display cannot work with Mission Control or BLEvo. Was I right? Not necessarily. The dreaded BLOKS display at least tells you your cadence, shows the relationship between your and bike's power input, calculates kilocalories you burn and performs all other functions of a regular bike computer. And most importantly, it shows the battery level in percent. Not that every e-bike display in the world can show anything more than bars.

I am green. I do not know very much about e-bike displays. Tell me your experience!
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
I paid extra $50 for the LCD display for my first power wheel kit from ebikeling.com. The speeds were about 35% high, the speeds dropped out when you weren't using the motor downhill, the km ridden was about 35% high. There was no miles option. This is the USA. The battery was always 5 bars until the display blanked out because the battery was dead. The watts used was mildly interesting, turns out neither of the first 2 batteries could deliver more than 50 watts without losing connection. The total distance traveled reset every time the battery disconnected.
Then that display fogged over from the humidity in my shed. I wasn't even riding the bike for a year with a suspect battery. Had to haul the 18 lb battery to town on a pedal powered bike to a setup where I could prove battery bad - after 31 day warrenty expired.
I bought the 2nd power wheel kit with only a green, yellow red LED on the throttle to tell battery voltage. Pretty accurate my DVM tells me, and that throttle can withstand most rains without dropping out. The throttle function died once in a drenching rain, but the leds were still working.
I know how fast I'm going, I've driven without a speedometer most of my life in a '59 Ford my Dad gave me. I know how far I've gone, I can read a map before I leave. Battery voltage is key, the LED's do that. PAS level was mildly interesting but that corresponded to fixed speed on that first kit, level 1 was too fast at 11 mph and 2 was rediculous. The 2nd kit had no PAS crank pickup or buttons, just the throttle. I realize the European Union views me as a psychopath for having a throttle, but I only use the electricity in prolonged headwinds over 12 mph or after 24 th mile on trips. I pedal for exercise, but 5.7 hours exercise into a headwind is too much. There are very few roads where I can travel 11 mph consistently, so the PAS was worse than useless. It is usually 6 mph uphill or 25-30 mph downhill. If I used the PAS 1 all the way I don't think the 17 AH battery would last 15 miles with all these hills. LED was hitting red on the last hill then dropping power 30 miles from full charge with me only using electricity the last 6 miles, with the DD motor. Geared hub it uses 2/3 of the charge in those last 6 miles.
The only statistic I'm interested in is elapsed time and pulse; a sweep second hand watch is nice but a flip phone in pocket is adequate for elapsed time. Pulse I can do by touching, I'm an amateur musician. I know 168 bpm is about max for a 66 year old, and 84 indicates I'm not trying hard enough. Never got pulse above 144 this summer, getting lazy in my 69th year.
 
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Feliz

Well-Known Member
There's good displays with Bluetooth etc you just have to buy a bike that has one. Some people treat a display like an afterthought not realizing most of them can't be changed willy-nilly after you purchase the bike.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
The more serious the bike and rider the less important a bunch of meritless display parameters matter. It's a bike.

The battery level, assist level (if more than one), and maybe the speed are important but what else do you really need to know. If you want ride statistics just sign up for Strava. If you cant more bike parameters consider a model that has blue tooth to your smart phone and display everything you really don't need to know.
 

Stefan Mikes

Active Member
Thank you @indianajo for extensive sharing your interesting thoughts! Two points:

I realize the European Union views me as a psychopath for having a throttle
Not really. A throttle e-bike in Europe has to be registered as a moped and insured, with all the consequences of riding a moped. All depends on one's needs. A throttle is not for me; I need to pedal for health reasons; your mileage may vary.

The only statistic I'm interested in is elapsed time and pulse; a sweep second hand watch is nice but a flip phone in pocket is adequate for elapsed time.
Things I have been always interested with since my youth were "how fast am I riding right now?"; "how fast do I pedal?" and recently "what power input can my poor legs produce?" I never had a bike computer. Now I know the speed, I'm glad to learn my original preferred cadence was 77 and i have improved into 80's now; and I know my input is still very weak compared to what the motor gives me. However, I cannot set up the PAS power plans and that is the thing that prevents me from feeling like I'm in the Heaven ;)

The more serious the bike and rider the less important a bunch of meritless display parameters matter. It's a bike.
That is pretty minimalist approach similar to what Specialized offer with Turbo Levo and Kenevo. The idea is you should enjoy your mountain ride and concentrate on your trail instead of the statistics. You can check your statistics either at home or during a break on your smartphone. However, what the Mission Control App or BLEvo can do about the Turbo Control Unit and about the statistics after your ride is breath-taking.

There's good displays with Bluetooth etc you just have to buy a bike that has one.
Let us concentrate on what the market can offer for leading brand motors. As we can see, the giant Bosch only came up with the Smartphone Hub as the ultimate solution. For strange reasons, they cannot use that display with their own Performance Speed Line. Specialized struggle with their displays for speed Vados. Not sure what Shimano STEPS offer but Shimano motors are for "slow" e-bikes only. Which leaves us with Yamaha but I don't know very much what Yamaha can offer for their speed e-bikes.

General thought is: the leading brands can be masters of bicycle construction, they can make perfect bicycle components or fantastic electric motors but they are all depending on the Chinese wisdom with the electronics. How many displays/Control Units are really designed outside China?

Yes, we all can almost do what we want with a smartwatch and a smartphone. However, we pay grands after grands to leading manufacturers and they are only able to provide half-baked electronics to us. How strange. All mid-motor e-bikes have torque and speed sensors. What problem is it really to calculate and present your cadence and power input? Gosh, Shimano and other pedals can do it for "acoustic bikes" but e-bikes have issues to provide exactly the same information, having all tools at hand!
 
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harryS

Well-Known Member
We might be embarrassed to see the low torque numbers from our legs when riding an ebike.

All of that electrical info is nice the first time you see it, but the third time around, you know how much power you needed to go somewhere.
 

Solom01

Active Member
Designing good software is hard and expensive, not to mention keeping it up to date. The largest bike company isn't even a rounding error compared to Google, Apple or Microsoft. I like a minimal display like the ebikemotion display. If I want more I use my Garmin or the ebikemotion app, but normally I want to enjoy the ride, not mess around with electronics.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I’m bored by the glitzy showy color displays. Another reason I like my own conversions. Better controllers and actually useful displays from Grin. eBikes.ca

CA3 displays are feature rich. But no glitzy full color show. Programable by computer or from display.

Here are some of the more popular features you can include by using the V3 CA as your central ebike/EV console:

  • Thermal Rollback: A temperatures sensor input allows the V3 Cycle Analyst to scale back power as a motor heats up and prevent overheating damage.
  • PAS Sensor: The V3 Cycle Analyst can take the pedal pulse inputs of almost any ebike pedal rotation sensor to display your pedal cadence. It can use this to provide automatic power whenever you pedal (PAS mode) .
  • Torque Sensor: There is an analog input to sense a pedal torque sensor (such as the THUN bottom bracket), display your human power input, and give proportional no-throttle pedalec control.
  • Ebrakes: A digital input for ebrake sensors to plug in directly to the CA3, without needing to run another set of cables all the way down the bike to the controller.
  • Throttle Input Mapping: The CA3 can map your input throttle range to an output range suitable for the controller in order to eliminate dead-band zones at the beginning and end of the throttle motion.
  • Throttle Modes: Setup your throttle in Pass-Thru mode for conventional voltage control, or have your throttle directly regulate the battery current or motor power instead.
  • Throttle Ramps : Reduce the sensitivity and off-the-line kick of high power systems by setting ramp limits on the CA’s output throttle signal.
  • On the fly Limit Adjustments: Use a potentiometer or multi-position switch to instantly adjust any of your current/power/speed or pedal assist limits.
  • Mode Presets: Configure up to three distinct power mode presets each with their own limit settings and PAS/Throttle behaviors, and then easily switch between them with a double button press.
  • Battery SOC and LVC: Accurate State Of Charge (SOC) estimator based on your cell chemistry and voltage. Configure up to two batteries each with their own details and Low Voltage Cutoffs.
Plus many advanced capabilities to discover, and of course all the functionality that you have in the V2 CA like volts, speed, amps, amp-hours, %regen, watt-hours/km etc.
 

fooferdoggie

Active Member
sometimes I like lots of info but it is only so useful after a bit. I do really like the miles remaining on the bosh display its so useful.
 
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steve mercier

Well-Known Member
I do not want to be looking down much beacuuse my 66 year old reflexes /reactions/ motor skills are not getting faster and I know that everything is already trying to kill me out there on the streets. I mostly measure my excersize in hours not in watts and for that I only need to look at a clock. If I started at 10 am and stopped for lunch at noon and I got home ar 2:30 pm then I must have done at least a little work ,even in turbo.
 

Stefan Mikes

Active Member
The largest bike company isn't even a rounding error compared to Google, Apple or Microsoft.
Bosch is not a bike company. I wouldn't call them "a rounding error" 😊

E-bike computer is not the rocket science. As I mentioned earlier, all necessary information is there. and for example Specialized can use all that info for their e-MTBs. They chose to be minimalist with the display but all the info can be retrieved with a smartphone.

Shimano can use all information retrieved from their power meter crankset or from their power meter pedals; such sensors are a vital part of Shimano STEPS yet again, the Shimano STEPS display is rather minimalist.

We might be embarrassed to see the low torque numbers from our legs when riding an ebike.
Oh, absolutely. The BLOKS display on the Specialized Vado 5 makes me embarassed; good it is just a sliding bar not the numerical value of the rider's input 🤣

Funny fact, however, is every display for Speed e-bikes needs to be certified for given e-bike. That makes the selection of displays for S-Pedelecs quite limited. Moreover you cannot liberally replace the S-Pedelec display as that would legally be the equivalent of replacing the speedometer/odometer in your car.
All of that is so confusing...
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I do not want to be looking down much beacuuse my 66 year old reflexes /reactions/ motor skills are not getting faster and I know that everything is already trying to kill me out there on the streets. I mostly measure my excersize in hours not in watts and for that I only need to look at a clock. If I started at 10 am and stopped for lunch at noon and I got home ar 2:30 pm then I must have done at least a little work ,even in turbo.
Riding is far more fun than display watching. I scarcely look at mine. Rather use its features to monitor temps and battery conditions. Usually before and after a ride. But on my biggest flat foot frame the display sits quite high.
 

Stefan Mikes

Active Member
I do not want to be looking down much...
That is why the Bluetooth connectivity is so important. You could watch your statistics at home after the ride. I do not say some good displays do not exist. Oh yes they do.
I can only tell you, the display on the Vado helps me improving my cadence. That is the bonus of having the needed information on demand.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
I'm kind of a display geek but after the first 25 miles I rarely look at it. The displays that come with the new Brose, Yamaha, Shimano, etc. are all Bluetooth compatible and have all the information anyone ever needs. I have boxes of older displays I used and still use with the Bafang mid and hub drives, anyone living around me is welcome to have them.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
That is why the Bluetooth connectivity is so important. You could watch your statistics at home after the ride. I do not say some good displays do not exist. Oh yes they do.
I can only tell you, the display on the Vado helps me improving my cadence. That is the bonus of having the needed information on demand.
Our line of batteries have BT BMS. Best battery tool ever. Making troubleshooting a breeze.
 
Pretty happy with my Yamaha PW display, circa 2017 version, the big one. When riding, I keep it on battery percentage remaining, while it also displays the time and speed. Really don't need anything else but those 3. Anymore doodling with the display while pedaling puts me at risk in running over some nail in the roadway!!