Easy Motion vs Bosch Second Generation Drive Systems

eDean

Active Member
Easy Motion vs Bosch Second Generation Drive Systems
This review compares the second generation Bosch 36 volt mid drive 350 watt to the BH Easy Motion 36 volt rear geared hub 350 watt 2014 drive system. These drives are used across multiple bikes. Bosch is used by many manufactures and BH drive is proprietary to BH. I wrote this on a 10 day cruise with way to many sea days.


This is not really an apples to apples comparison. The Bosch drive has a higher cost than the BH unit. An equivalent bike with the Bosch drive will run around $1000+ or more retail. So what is the relevance? Bikes with a Bosch drive and BH bikes are high quality ebikes with good warranties. Someone looking for a bike like this may very well end up considering bikes with these two excellent drive systems. Does the Bosch warrant the extra money? What are the tradeoffs and real day to day ownership takeaways? I will attempt to answer these questions and a bit more.

BH Pros:
1. Throttle allows for no pedal operation.
2. Less effort required from the rider.
3. Lower cost and complexity.
4. Allows for scooter like operation.
5. Higher speed possible with pedal assist.
6. Frame integrated battery with high stealth.
7. Lazier riding, gear selection is less relevant.
8. Low noise levels.
9. Allows for mutligear front derailleur and therefore wider range of gearing.
10. Higher value.

Bosch Pros:
1. Significantly more responsive intuitive pedal assist at all levels.
2. Eco mode is more comfortable and is not awkward.
3. More demanding of user effort but makes it easier to provide it.
4. Very sophisticated design.
5. Significantly better fuller featured head unit. Nyon may set industry benchmark and will be backward compatible.
6. Easier battery off bike transport due to smaller size and handle.
7. Fixing rear flats is much easier and less frustrating.
8. Overall weight distribution means a more bike like feel and ride.
9. Less chain drop.

Both:
1. Are quality systems.
2. Assist well with climbing.
3. Handle turning at speed with expected results. Weight is low.
4. Have sophisticated assists.
5. Have reasonable warranties.
6. Are safe and will not surprise anyone but the newest of riders.

Motors
Both the BH and Bosch drives utilize torque, cadence, and speed sensing. Information from the sensors is sent to a controller that sends power to the motor. The drives have very different motors. The BH drive is placed on the rear wheel. The Bosch is located in an assembly where the pedals attach to the bike. The location impacts a number of performance issues.

1. Having a hub motor in the rear of the bike puts weight low and back. Low is good but back is not. Optimally the weight should be low and centered. As far as weight goes they are very comparable.

2. The weight of the BH motor rotates with the wheel and there is an associated inertia.

3. In the BH rear hub, changing the rear tire is complicated by the fact there is a motor attached to it. My personal experience matches what I have discussed with other users is that once you get a rear flat on a rear hub motor especially without quick release, your next stop is to the bike shop to buy the most armored tires that will work on your bike. The weight of the motor significantly complicates removing and especially returning the tire to the bike. In some cases, you need tools to remove and restore the wheel.

4. The mid drive uses the bike gears and chain for power. This will be covered in detail later.

5. Having the motor on the rear wheel separates the motor from the crank. In the mid drive, you pedal into a series of gears that powers a chain whether or not power is on. In the rear drive, you pedal a standard front derailleur that attaches to a standard rear derailleur.

6. The rear drive is a much simpler system. It is also less expensive.

The experience of driving both bikes is impacted by the location of the motor. Both motors freewheel meaning that when unpowered, they do not add drag. This is a big advantage of both these engine types. What they don’t do is allow for regenerative braking. For that you typically require a gearless hub motor which don’t make any noise but are less capable at climbing.

When the bike is operated just under human power, they both are very bike like for bikes that weight roughly 50 lbs. The Easy Motion configuration allows for a full complement of gears in the front derailleur. This allows for deeper climbing ratios and for higher speed ratios as well. The deeper climbing ratios make pedaling the bike up hills unpowered an easier task. On the mid drive system, you can feel and hear the reduction gearing - if you look you can see the front gear is very small, and turns twice per pedal revolution. It is something that you get used to, but it is there. On the BH, the inertia of the motor on the rear wheel makes the bike seem even heavier than it is when accelerating. This is apparent when riding the bikes back to back. Like many things, high definition TVs for example, only when you compare side by side can you see what you are missing. If you never do the comparison your screen seems good enough.

Overall, the Bosch system feels more like a regular bike. This is in part due to having the weight very low and centered. Both bikes will corner at speed and follow your intended line though a turn. Any bike with a rear hub and rack mounted battery will struggle at higher speeds around twenty mph. The Bosch system does it more naturally and feels even lighter when pedaled. Unpowered, my opinion is the center drive is slightly better when it comes to the bike experience due to there being no intertia. This given, the BH is surprisingly bike like given the placement of the battery in the down tube and smaller geared motor. The Bosch is more fun to ride as long as you have some level of energy. The difference becomes more important is if you plan of doing any level of technical mountain biking where precision placement, power delivery, and balance matter.
 

eDean

Active Member
Power Delivery
There has been a lot written about the difference between having motor assist via a chain and gears and having a rear hub. What I want to cover is the algorithms and sensors and how they playout and ultimately differ in user experience.

BH
It seems every year BH makes the claim they have tweaked the eco mode and made it better. One way to view this is that getting a natural feeling of assist out of a geared hub at reduced assist is not simple. My only complaint about the Neo Jet even before getting the Bosch was that in certain situations holding a specific speed at a comfortable effort level was difficult to achieve. My typical ride has a gradual uphill section that lasts for miles. The trail is crowed and going 23 mph is just too fast. If I try to hold 15 mph in eco I’m required to “balance” my effort to keep a target speed. On BH PAS 1 (eco), you have to provide enough torque to get the assist as there is a threshold in eco where the bike will not assist until you reach a certain torque at a speed. Kicking up the assist up a level results in over assist and holding 15 becomes difficult as the bike wants to go faster. The sensation is that bike responds to torque inputs a bit too strongly when it engages pushing you a bit too hard, like someone pushing you on a swing. The inclination is to increases your speed as you have to catch up in effort to the new speed. If you don’t the speed will come back down and you start the process over. Now, if you don’t mind going faster, it’s not a problem just go with the flow and hold 18 mph or whatever speed is natural. The top two assist levels will get you to max speed with very little human input and seem a bit redundant. I spend most of my time in eco mode so the way eco operates is really important in my case. It seems like eco mode is the biggest challenge for the rear drive system, so focusing on it when testing a bike might be a good idea if you care.

Bosch
The Bosch system is very responsive and does not have the “balance” behavior of the BH and goes a step further by allowing you to change the gearing for even more refined control. Bosch is able to respond almost instantly to inputs. The sensation is more like being bionic where your input is getting directly multiplied. The response is instantaneous. One of the interesting differences is that there is not a moving threshold where the Bosch system will start assisting unlike the BH. If you have assist on and you pedal with any force it will assist unless you exceed the max speed or are going downhill. The BH in eco will only assist after you pass a torque threshold based on the speed you are going. The BH is cutting on and off more and has a more perceivable assist and will over assists. The Bosch assist is less perceivable in feel and is not turning off and on so frequently, it’s mostly on if you are pedaling and is easier to forget it’s there. This is one of the major differences between the two systems. Being its always on when you are pedaling means there are fewer abrupt transitions.

On the road, the BH wants to go fast especially in the top two levels. In my experience these two modes just keep you at full speed with anything by the slightest assist. Perhaps if you are carrying more weight the difference is more obvious? The experience is less of your effort getting multiplied to more of a cadence sensing bike - if you are pedaling you are going fast. If you back off the effort the bike will back off but at that point your inputs must super light. The bike is willing to do the work for you and you use the pedals as a throttle. Let’s compare this to the higher levels of the Bosch drive. On the Bosch at any level, the system feels like it is simply multiplying your inputs until the 20 mph cutoff. Each level predictably increases the assist. You must be pedaling and putting in some work for the bike to move. Less and less as you move up in assist. More user input required at the lower eco level than the BH. The whole experience is very linear, mathematical, and understandable when compared to the BH where you can sense there is an algorithm ”trying” to make things work and the results are not so linear. This is reflected in reviews, often people will note the power delivery does not seem even on BH systems and perhaps their torque sensor needs adjustment. I speculate this is the result of using an algorithm to make due with a less responsive motor, processing power, and sensors.

Range
When you see range estimates of the Bosch system, keep in mind that at all levels, the rider is providing effort. Whereas on the BH your effort is less needed at higher assists. Comparing range is really hard, I find that my inefficient Bosch mountain bike with its knobby fat tires has around the same range as the more efficient Neo Jet but that I tend to have a slower average speed on the mountain bike since I find the eco mode much more livable and don’t minding putting in some effort. With less boost from the system and less efficiency from the tires there is less speed for a given amount of pedaling. . The obvious conclusion is that the Bosch is more for peddlers. The BH is both for peddlers and passengers who are happy to have the bike to more of the work. The BH system is a bit more flexible around being a scooter or a bike where the Bosch is always a bike. If you want to get in shape both bikes will support your efforts. If you want to commute the same. If you want to have the bike do most of the work, BH is better. If you want very fine tuned control and have a better eco experience Bosch is superior, in my opinion. For application that require control and user effort, think racing bikes and mountain bikes, Bosch really makes more sense.

Throttle
In the US the walk button on the Bosch is deactivated, sad since I could use this on the hills around my home. The BH has a throttle that can be used to walk the bike and will take it up to 20 mph. I rarely use a throttle but I must admit when walking a 50 lbs bike up hill, or in snow or mud, having one is nice. If your chain breaks or detailer fails you have a fall back of the BH throttle. The Bosch systems are pedal only. Not having a throttle really has little advantage as a user other than simplifying the handle bar by removing an input? Without a throttle, you must pedal. This is the most telling aspect of the Bosch design. By eliminating a throttle it says this is a system for people who want a bike with pedal assist period. It’s a bit hard core. Bosch excels in that particular function at the cost of flexibility.

Going uphill
Weighting 175 and living on a hill in a hilly area I find both bikes can get me up a hills no problem. After reading about the Bosch I expected it to really outshine the BH system, but really they are very close in my experience when it comes to climbing at least at my weight. The BH geared rear hub provides lots of torque and get up hills around the same speeds as the Bosch. BH tends to be a bit more liberal with the assist, so maybe it provides 75% assist where the Bosch is providing 50% in eco, at higher levels they both do much of the work. With the throttle alone the BH will do all the work and on tougher hills a little user effort goes a long way. Both bikes have really gotten me up some crazy steep inclines. Interestingly, the BH feels more response to inputs going up hills than on flats since it has to output more and the torque is enough to keep the motor always activated. The Bosch, using the bicycle gearing, must be in the right gear, but it goes up no problem with a higher degree of control. For technical mountain biking the Bosch is clearly an advantage. Again, I was expecting more of a difference based on my reading of the two systems. Perhaps the mid drive is more efficient at hills. I have not done enough measured uphill riding to really tell the difference. Plus living in MD, half my rides are in the 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the other are in the 60’s.

Noise and stealth
The Haibike makes more noise. In eco the motor is on most of the time providing limited assist. The more work it provides the louder the sound. The BH is not as loud at a given assist level. In eco and touring it is not on as much and the sound is behind you. The Bosch system is more noticeable to the rider until you get going fast when wind noise covers up the motor sound.

The Bosch battery is not stealth. This bike is clearly an ebike. The BH bikes with integrated batteries and small hubs are much more under the radar. People have noted and commented on both bikes a number of times. The Bosch comment tends to be “look, that bike has a battery.” The BH is “is that an ebike?”

Direct Hub vs Chain Drive
Having power delivered though the chain on the Bosch means you have to be in the right gear. The BH motor could care less about what gear you are in and will push from a standstill no matter what. You can be lazy with gearing and forget to down shift at stops. On the Bosch you must keep your gears in line with respect to your plans. You need to shift more constantly. In my comparison bikes, the BH has more gears and they shift smoother, I think because there is less chain tension but it could be that the bike is just tuned better. I question whether to point it out. I drop the chain every 200 miles or so on the BH usually due to bumps. Seems almost impossible to drop the Bosch chain.

Bosch has a chain protect system to keep you from hurting the gears and chain if you shift during high output situations. It’s a major Bosch selling point. It is undetectable so far. Note, I’m not looking to thrash my chain and tend to be careful about putting too much pressure on the system when shifting. There have been some shifts that seems a bit harsh in any case, perhaps they would have been worse without this feature. The good news is that it does not impact your riding.

Head Units
The Bosch head unit is large and beautiful. The BH system is small and utilitarian. Both are easily removed. My BH head unit came with a small defect in the quartz but it does not hurt anything and I just let it be. The BH unit let you switch assist modes without moving your hands to the middle, provides you with your speed, trip distance, and odometer. Both are removable. The Bosch adds a clock, top speed, range, immediate assist level, and trip time. It also has a break out control that mounts near your hand in addition to a center display. The Bosch is obviously a much more expensive unit that is easier to read and use with higher quality tactile buttons. The BH is fine, the Bosch is luxury. I do find that the clock is helpful as is trip time. When it is cold, getting to my watch can be difficult and I’m usually trying to either fit in a workout or get somewhere on time. I understand there is a larger display now for the BH. Bosch has introduced a new system that has built in mapping and user configurable assist modes among other features. No question as to what I want for Christmas this year, it seems incredible. I did not think head units would be a big deal, but in actuality I find I use the increased functionality more than expected. I’ve stopped mounting my iPhone unless mapping is required on the Bosch bike. Just don’t need one more thing to worry about.

Batteries
The BH integrated battery system is wonderful as it integrates so well with the bike. It really works well for me especially since I remove the batteries when charging. The negatives are it is bulky and can be scratched and worse dropped and scratched which happened to a friend of mine who is very ebike experienced the other day. Also, the form factor means the down tube is going to be long which puts design limitations on the bikes and makes building smaller frame bikes challenging. I have a Neo Jet step though for example designed for shorter rides. It has far less stand over clearance than the 40 cm Haibike with a top tube. Why? The BH battery design forces the overall frame design. Now, this is not a problem if you are average in height for a male in the US, otherwise it does and become the biggest issue in ebike selection. As a shorter person ebike fit can be frustrating as many come in maybe two sizes, medium for average male and up and large for even larger people.

The Bosch system uses a battery that mounts to the down tube. It is very high quality and feels and looks that way but it is not stealth in the least. It has a handle which is very helpful. Its compactness means you can carry two around easier if you can stomach the over $900 retail which seems ridiculous. The BH battery is more like $600. The Bosch has LEDs that show a level of charge. I find it useful when charging to know progress and to let me know when the battery charger has charged and turned off and gone to trickle mode.

The BH charger is very basic with a simple led that shows red or green. It comes with an adapter for the battery. Once you apply the adapter you can basically forget about it. My BH charger has been problem free and gets the job done. The Bosch charger is higher in quality both in build and design and does not feel as cheap. There is no adapter needed. Both units are around a 1.5 pounds. Light enough to take with you on longer rides and charge over lunch.

I cannot really compare charging times. I usually take a battery down to 20% at most and don’t pay much attention to how much time it takes to top off. Once I start doing longer trips this summer, it will be more of an issue and something I’m sure will be noticed. I can only suspect the Bosch charges faster but don’t have my own numbers to back it up yet.

Top Speed
The BH will assist to around 22 mph with pedaling and 20 mph with throttle. The Bosch cuts off at 20 mph sharp. Both manufactures make bikes with 28 mph cutoffs if you want to spend more money.

Ownership cost
The Bosch system is expensive and complex. I speculate the long term cost to be more. There have been issues with Gen 1 Bosch systems which Bosch has addressed. I would think that any failure will be costly given how expensive the replacement batteries are. The BH bike came with a very thoughtful 4 sets of keys. Bosch came with 2 keys. The Bosch keys seem nicer, however, I’m sure they will be costly to replace as well reproduce as they are not standard keys. The almost excessive amount of keys BH ships with it really like them saying, we know over time you will lose keys so we’ll just make that a non-issue for you. Bosch is not being as thoughtful in this department even with higher pricing.

Efficiency
It is hard for me to compare efficiency given how different in purpose my two bikes are. Both get great range and I have never come close to running out of juice. As noted before, I seem to go slower on the mountain bike but get around the same range. It’s less efficient with big knobby nicks 27.5 inch tires and full suspension compared to 700c tires with front suspension. Efficiency has a lot of variables. If I had a Haibike Trek, that would be more apples to apples.

Safety
Safely matters on ebikes. Having owned other bikes with high rear weight configurations that did not corner well at 20mph I can attest to this. Also, the two bikes in this comparison will not dart out from you from a stop unless you do something really stupid like slam down on the pedals while in a very high assist mode and not holding the break. Cadence only sensing bikes are much more likely to throw you forward unexpectedly. The BH type configuration is where you want to start looking if you care about long term safety – low weight distributed across the bike with torque sensing. The Bosch just takes this up a notch. I cringe when I see batteries in rear racks mounted high. Been there, done it, I’m now a battery placement snob.

Parting thoughts
For the money BH bikes are a good choice. They are carefully constructed and have reasonable price points* and excellent warranties. Mine has had 0 warrantee issues (not counting small defect in head unit) in 10 months. I don’t see major issues or recalls, this seems notable in ebikes at this time and I assume reflects an investment in QA. The Bosch system is more specialized in nature and expensive which gets reflected in the pricing of any bike utilizing it. The Bosch system allows for greater flexibility in bike designs. It is this flexibility and the Haibike design that allows for a full suspension bike that actually fits me well. While I miss having a throttle, it’s not as often as I appreciate the engineering of the Bosch drive which is impressive. If you are choosing between these two systems you are having to make some choices but not having to choose or compromise quality. Both are enjoyable systems that make a lot of sense.

*In the US market, ebike retail pricing is a bit outrageous.
 
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stevenast

Well-Known Member
Wow! Great report!

I'm not sure if you mentioned unsprung weight directly, although you do mention rear-hub weight. That is one of the biggest benefits of the mid drive location, besides the ease of removing the rear wheel!

I also want to point out that Haibike does make 27 speed mid-drives.

Also, I agree the pricing is outrageous, and my reply is - don't pay even near retail!

Another thought: on rereading I can't find it, but I think you said the BH has the sophisticated 3-way pedal-sensing like Bosch has. I thought BH was torque sensor only. I know from experience that the Evo series motors are slow to respond, while Bosch is instantaneous. (Edit: It is the first sentence under "Motors" in the first post)

You own two great bikes. You were very wise in your shopping and the depth of thought that you put into it is shown in this post!

What an excellent, unbiased, detailed report!! Thank you!!! :)
 
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stevenast

Well-Known Member
I think you should post this in the Easy Motion and the Haibike forums so more people can see it. At least the brand - specific parts...
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Well done comparison of not only the BH and Haibike but hub drive and mid drives and throttle/PAS in general. I hope many people will gain insight from this to better understand what their e bike needs might be.

I am sure it took some time to put that together but it was well spent!
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
As you know I own a neo carbon. I am torn between the two motors as the geared rear hub has a nice kick which I like. The Kalkhoff mid drive is my preferred mid drive as it is both powerful and and very linear. It is also a 28mph speed pedelec. The mid drives offer a more natural bicycle gestalt and have a wonderful assist up hills. I find the time/effort to speed to be a little higher with mid drives. My next bike is the Focus Aventura Speed Impulse that comes with an Alfine 11 hub, gates belt drive, and a 28mph mid drive. It sounds like a solidly built bike and its only $5K.

I'd consider the Stromer ST2 but only if they raised the price to $8K.
 

NoDTMF

Active Member
Nice report. Not sure if I agree with your speculation on ownerships costs. If "keys" are part of the equation then we should consider all things like chains, sprockets, spokes, batteries, etc. Focusing on motor complexity could be a red herring.

BTW I posted in the Bosch forum how to get keys. Cost me 8 bucks.
 

eDean

Active Member
Nice report. Not sure if I agree with your speculation on ownerships costs. If "keys" are part of the equation then we should consider all things like chains, sprockets, spokes, batteries, etc. Focusing on motor complexity could be a red herring.

BTW I posted in the Bosch forum how to get keys. Cost me 8 bucks.
Good to know. I agree that it extrapolating battery price to other areas is not fair.
 
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eDean

Active Member
Wow! Great report!

I'm not sure if you mentioned unsprung weight directly, although you do mention rear-hub weight. That is one of the biggest benefits of the mid drive location, besides the ease of removing the rear wheel!

I also want to point out that Haibike does make 27 speed mid-drives.

Also, I agree the pricing is outrageous, and my reply is - don't pay even near retail!

Another thought: on rereading I can't find it, but I think you said the BH has the sophisticated 3-way pedal-sensing like Bosch has. I thought BH was torque sensor only. I know from experience that the Evo series motors are slow to respond, while Bosch is instantaneous. (Edit: It is the first sentence under "Motors" in the first post)

True about sprung weight. I tried to keep it about the motors and pedal feel and not about the ride since it was a FS compared to a front suspension. The FS MTB better over uneven surfaces but does not allow for a full set of panniers is is less efficient.

I'll check the Neo Jet. It has speed and torque for certain as speed is used to determine motor cutoff in eco.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
I'll check the Neo Jet. It has speed and torque for certain as speed is used to determine motor cutoff in eco.

I think you will find that speed certainly controls the assist cutoff, but that the actual assist is only activated by a torque sensor.
 

Herb

New Member
I've owned three E-bikes with three different architectures and now ride a BH Neo Volt Sport, with 20 inch wheels, folding frame and rear hub drive. I may not be qualified to enter this discussion, because I've never ridden a mid drive bike, but I'll throw in my two-bob's worth, anyway.

My bike is for commuting and errands, so I'm looking for convenience, not speed. My first demand is that you integrate the battery pack with the frame. My first bike had a long rectangular battery that slipped between the seat post and the rear wheel. That was neat, convenient and had a low centre of gravity. Unfortunately, the controller was physically small to suit the packaging, It was jammed into a small box overcrowded with wires and the controller was ultimately killed by a combination low build quality and excessive heat. I built my second bike from a 500W kit and a good quality double suspension mountain bike. Comfortable and very fast, it was like sharing a tandem with Lance Armstrong (our drug of choice was Lithium Ion). But the battery looked like a small suitcase, rack mounted on a cantilever support from the seat post. My legs are short and I could never extend the seat post enough to keep the battery rack clear of the 29 inch rear wheel when the suspension was on full bump. I'm an inflexible grandfather and I caught my leg on the battery a number of times when trying to dismount. This led to many low speed crashes wih total loss of dignity. These problems are eliminated by my BH Neo Volt Sport, which has 20 inch wheels, low frame and beautifully integrated battery.

Going back into history, my first E-bike managed to jam it's chain in the gap between second and third gears on the cassette. I had no tools with me and was unable to fix the problem on the bike path. It was a throttle control bike, with a rear hub motor, so I was able to ride to work on electric only, ride home in the evening and fix the problem in my shed. That same bike, due to poor quality design, would suffer electric failures at random times leaving me with an overweight pushbike. This still beat walking, so my ideal bike must have totally independent drive trains for the electric and the human motive force. A mid-drive bike has all it's eggs in one basket, so I won't buy one. A pedelec bike has the same problem, so I won't buy one (again). My BH Neo Volt Sport has pedelec and I hate that feature for many reasons (no chain no ride) including the fact that the chain sensor, not the rider, decides when it's time to go. A few times the bike has decided to go when I'm standing next to it and I've ended up doing ungainly pirouettes around a bike that's standing vertically on its back wheel. One of these events occurred when I was re installing a derailed chain. Another occurred when I was walking the bike and hit a bump on the footpath. I've since learned to kill the electrics any time I'm not actually astride the machine. I bought the bike over the internet from a dealer on the other side of Australia and he assured me I could easily obtain a throttle kit from America (no I could not). Throttle control makes it much easier to manoeuvre in tight, twisty places.

Time for a happy thought. All BH bikes seem to have the same 360 Watt motor, with perhaps the internal hub gearing altered to suit various wheel diameters. I have no complaints about power and speed. Fairly relaxed pedalling gives me 28 kmh. It's 30 kmh if I'm in a good mood and I can hold 32 kmh for a kilometre or so, if I'm trying to annoy a MAMIL (middle aged man in Lycra). As I've found with all my E-bikes, if I can't take him on the flat, I'll breeze by next time we go uphill.

Time for another happy thought. I love the hydraulic disc brakes on my Neo Volt Sport. Self-adjusting, robust and solid. They work fine even if you have spokes that are a bit slack or if you have bumped the bike and put a wobble in the rim. I never want anything other type of brake. There's a caveat, though. If you remove the front wheel (to put the bike in the car, say) and bump the front brake lever, the brake pistons extend and you cannot get the wheel back in without major pain. BH provide a brake piston spacer to clip in whenever you remove the wheel.

My first bike had calliper front brakes and the brake blocks took ages to align properly. I had retro-fitted a balloon tyre, and the calliper wouldn't spring wide enough to pass the tyre, unless I removed a brake block. The back brake was a drum brake with two internal shoes. Changing a rear tyre was a nightmare. The power cable had almost no slack. The brake had to be dismantled completely and I seemed to be surrounded by hundreds of nuts, bolts, washers, springs and wires. It was like someone had smashed a cookoo clock on the floor of the shed.

I think that any talk of regenerative braking is just a waste of time. Bicycle riders hate to use the brakes, because any energy you burn off with the brakes must be replaced with the legs. Check how many seconds of braking you do in a half-hour ride. Not many. Normal (non-regen) bike motors have a free-wheel between motor and wheel, so when you get off the gas going downhill, the motor (almost) stops and the wheel keeps spinning. The only drag in the system is the drag in the freewheel - not much different to the drag in a pushbike's derailleur when you stop pedalling. But in a regen system, wheel and motor are locked together, so any time you are going downhill and get off the gas, the magnetic drag on the motor will slow the bike. Check the magnetic drag by turning your drive wheel backwards. Kinetic energy is lost and it will have to be replaced before you tackle the next uphill section. Admittedly, the regen system will try to store energy it collects in the battery, but you pay a conversion fee. When you take kinetic energy, convert it into electrical energy, then convert it again into chemical energy stored in the battery, then reverse the process so you have kinetic energy available for the hill, you pay a conversion fee of about 30%. Much better to preserve the kinetic energy and avoid the fee.
Things are different in the car world. A car weighs much more than a bike and rider. Around town, a car spends a much bigger percentage of its time on the brakes, so it's worth collecting and storing energy that would otherwise be burned off by the brakepads. But when a car is cruising city to city, it spends a very small percentage of time on the brakes and regenerative systems take more than they give.

The ideal bike would have hub drive on the front wheel, to give that perfect separation of electric and human power and also to simplify access to the rear tyre, but there are important problems that must be resolved. I ordered a front drive kit for my second (speedy) bike. In normal, push-bike mode, the forks don't have to resist any axle torque, so the jaws at the end of the fork can be simple and light. My kit included a very rudimentary, inadequate arrangement to resist axle torque and in about six months, the motor broke the jaws off my $300 front fork. From this I have learned that front drive kits must have torque reaction arms that are bigger and stronger than you think you need. Better to have a factory built machine than a kit. The other important part of a front wheel drive bike is a disconnector plug for the motor cable, mounted on the fork. This is so you don't need to dismantle the wiring harness when you want to remove the front wheel. But the motor cable carries three power conductors and six sensor conductors, so any plug and socket arrangement will be quite complex. And it must be waterproof.

I guess this means that my front wheel drive bike is still a pipe dream
 

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eDean

Active Member
A month in I'm able to start commenting on build quality of the Haibike and BH. The Haibike FS RX has some issues. One is a rattle that comes from the front fork area that seems to echo a bit though the bike, I am hoping it gets worse to make diagnostics easier. The second is a missing screw that fastens a bracket where cables enter the bike. The company that sold me the bike shipped me the part. The third is that some of the engine mounting bolts were lose and the bottom cover was not installed correctly (according to my LBS). Because I purchased the bike mail order these had to be fixed on my dime. Even though the LBS is Bosch certified, neither Bosch or Haibike would cover the work apparently. Also, this was the first Haibike they have ever seen at the LBS and after the repair my bike now squeaks when ridden due to what appears to be an issue introduce during repairs to the rear suspension. Sigh. It works, just makes a lot of odd sounds now. Should be repairable over time.

The BH has not had any build or other issues in 11 months of ownership.
 
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Cameron Newland

Well-Known Member
As you know I own a neo carbon. I am torn between the two motors as the geared rear hub has a nice kick which I like. The Kalkhoff mid drive is my preferred mid drive as it is both powerful and and very linear. It is also a 28mph speed pedelec. The mid drives offer a more natural bicycle gestalt and have a wonderful assist up hills. I find the time/effort to speed to be a little higher with mid drives. My next bike is the Focus Aventura Speed Impulse that comes with an Alfine 11 hub, gates belt drive, and a 28mph mid drive. It sounds like a solidly built bike and its only $5K.

I'd consider the Stromer ST2 but only if they raised the price to $8K.

I'm considering buying the Focus Aventura Speed Impulse, too. I wish it was priced more competitively, but I guess with all those premium components (carbon drive, etc), it's probably worth it. I can't stand riding an ebike with a traditional chain and derailleur (2015 IZIP E3 Dash). My chain hops off the front crank twice a week – how hard can it be to design a single-crank system where the chain doesn't hop off constantly?! Gates Carbon Drive + mid-drive is the way to go.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
A month in I'm able to start commenting on build quality of the Haibike and BH. The Haibike FS RX has some issues. One is a rattle that comes from the front fork area that seems to echo a bit though the bike, I am hopping it gets worse to make diagnostics easier. The second is a missing screw that fastens a bracket where cables enter the bike. The company that sold me the bike shipped me the part. The third is that some of the engine mounting bolts were loses and the bottom cover was not installed correctly (according to my LBS). Because I purchased the bike mail order these had to be fixed on my dime. Even though the LBS is Bosch certified, neither Bosch or Haibike would cover the work apparently. Also, this was the first Haibike they have ever seen at the LBS and after the repair my bike now squeaks when ridden due to what appears to be an issue introduce during repairs to the rear suspension. Sigh. It works, just makes a lot of odd sounds now. Should be repairable over time.

The BH has not had any build or other issues in 11 months of ownership.
Do you feel a LBS would have resolved all the problems trouble free?

I am considering spending $8K on an HPC bike. All service is handled via shipping. I have strong reservations about spending so much without a local shop to support me. I want to get rid of my car.

I tend to abuse/break sports equipment, including my body. I split in half, rather than tear, the meniscus in my knee in a martial arts sparring accident. My doctor told me surgery is useless. So I started doing everything on foot to strengthen my knee.

I can just visualize a bike being a complete hassle without a local shop for my situation.
 

NoDTMF

Active Member
I'm considering buying the Focus Aventura Speed Impulse, too. I wish it was priced more competitively, but I guess with all those premium components (carbon drive, etc), it's probably worth it. I can't stand riding an ebike with a traditional chain and derailleur (2015 IZIP E3 Dash). My chain hops off the front crank twice a week – how hard can it be to design a single-crank system where the chain doesn't hop off constantly?! Gates Carbon Drive + mid-drive is the way to go.


Interesting. With my KTM bike, Bosch mid-drive, I have had no chain derailments. While I have not exposed the bike to heavy mud conditions (wherein other issues have been documented), I do expose it to high torque hill climbs and very rough trails, including high speed descents. And I commute with it daily (15 miles round trip)
So I am happy with the design.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Interesting. With my KTM bike, Bosch mid-drive, I have had no chain derailments. While I have not exposed the bike to heavy mud conditions (wherein other issues have been documented), I do expose it to high torque hill climbs and very rough trails, including high speed descents. And I commute with it daily (15 miles round trip)
So I am happy with the design.
According to KTM, the have addressed the issue in a couple of ways. Do you think the following prevents the problem, other than mud?

The Macina Action e-bike has a normal dropout and the chain tension is thus produced by means of a chain tensioner. The elegant chainstay protection together with the primarily used Shimano Shadow Plus derailleur prevents the chainstay from direct chain-hitting.
 

NoDTMF

Active Member
RE: According to KTM, the have addressed the issue in a couple of ways. Do you think the following prevents the problem, other than mud?

I guess it does. The chain stay has a rubber protector but there are no marks. I don't hear it hit either. I can tell you the chain tensor has pretty strong spring. Bit of a PITA installing the rear wheel getting the disc aligned and all.