eBikes 101 From Bosch Has Some Good Basic Information

CC BY 2.0. e-bike with Bosch crank drive/ Lloyd Alter

Thinking about an e-bike? This infographic might help a bit.

Remember infographics? They used to be all the rage, serious clickbait. They have fallen out of fashion, but sometimes one pops up that is worth the bandwidth. Now that e-bikes are all the rage, Bosch put out this ebikes 101 explaining to an American audience how they work. (We need an infographic explaining whether it should be e-bikes or eBikes).

bosch drive unit

© BoschInterestingly, while they have this section mentioning the Bosch drive unit, they do not use the infographic to examine the three common drive systems -- front hub, rear hub, or crank (mid-drive) unit like the Bosch. I asked why, and Jonathan Weinert (Sales and Marketing Manager, North America, Bosch eBike Systems) responded:

The eBike market has changed a lot in the last decade, when hub motors used to dominate the industry and Bosch was one of the only suppliers to offer a mid-drive. Now, the majority of North American and European bicycle manufacturers have shifted from hub-drive to mid-drives due to many of the inherent advantages described above. Over the next decade, we expect the shift from hub to mid-drive to accelerate, especially as these miracle machines get smaller, lighter, quieter, and more seamlessly integrated into the bike frame. These improvements will help eBikes, one of the world’s most sustainable transportation tools, appeal to an increasingly expanding demographic.

I like the mid-drive units, and think that the choice of drive is a big deal. Units like the Bosch keep the centre of gravity lower, and you know that the bike has really been designed to be an e-bike, rather than just having a motor thrown on the front or rear wheel. Front hub drives can be dangerous, and rear hub ones have some issues with gearing. But hub motors are cheaper and do not require as much tooling, and are still more popular in North America.

A real expert, Joe at the ElectricBikeBlog, notes that both kinds of drives have advantages and disadvantages, but crank drives, or mid-drives, “usually work in concert with your gears. Crank drive motors tend to be more about smooth and efficient performance than simple brute force.” He also notes that “crank motors can do well with quite low power levels because they work so efficiently. As a result, you don’t need to pay for a huge motor to get up hills.”

So with that out of the way, here is the infographic, courtesy of Bosch:

infographic re ebikes

© Bosch