By Alex Boyce
Today Bosch launches their new E-bike motor, the Performance CX. Available in 5 different versions, according to the type of bike usage. We were present at the official launch in Stuttgart Germany and have all the details. The performance CX has 75 Nm of motor torque and the new Powertube battery which jumps to headline grabbing 625 Wh. Bosch has now been present in the bike motor market for 10 years, with almost one million e-bikes sold in Germany last year and all other countries showing large growth this motor will be a fundamental development for pedal assist transport. Bosch has total sales of 78.5 billon Euros and supports a work force of over 410.000 people.
Bosch has taken a while to come to market with the latest product, with a huge range of products from bike companies expected, which will use the new motor, 2019/2020 is going to be a busy year for testing.
The new motor is around 1 kilo lighter at 2.9 kilos, it has a housing made of magnesium and is fifty percent smaller than the previous generation. These changes allow for a greater range of bike construction styles and design flexibility which will affect bicycle performance.
Bosch has focused a lot of energy on improving riding sensation creating a more natural feel and a normal size 104mm chain ring. With 340 percent support the BOSCH Performance CX also includes some software upgrades that improve the ride experience. The most notable technical change is the almost total decouple of the motor from rider when passing 25km/h or riding with the motor switched off.
Specifications of Performance CX and Power Tube Battery
– 2.9 kilos
– magnesium casing
– 75 nm torque
– size reduction of 50 percent.
– 360 percent of support
– Dynamic power adjust.
– Electronic Suspension control and dynamic adjust with Fox Live Valve systems.
– Kiox display.
– New Smart hub Cobi control system option.
– Electronic locking of motor via display
– New power tube 600 battery with 625w/h of power weighing 3.5 kilos.
– Improved charging times 50 percent in 1. 5 hours.
– New variants, CX Speed, CX cargo and CX Speed Cargo.
Variants of the CX
Bosch has also diversified their range of motors this year with a motor for every type of pedal assist bicycle use.
CX – Speed
A 45km/h version of the Performance CX designed for speed pedalled ebikes that require lights and number plates.
Cx – Cargo
A Performance CX motor that provides up to 400% of support and designed for transporting loads that total up to 250 kilos including bike and rider in a cargo bike.
CX – Cargo Speed
A performance CX Speed motor that is designed for cargo bikes that can reach speeds of 45 kmh and have a system weight of up to 250 kilos.
New Performance Line
Motors for lower end bikes, 300 percent support and a smooth riding experience aimed at easy going ebike usage.
Testing The CX
The press launch was an apple style launch with the world’s bike press invited to a special event with a dynamic presentation. Some bikes were available for testing, but in a reduced form, in the immediate area. We managed a short time on the Performance CX for MTB, Plus some time on a Speed pedelec Performance CX. Our main impressions come from the Performance CX MTB test we did.
Motor System Opinions and Tests
We only really got to ride the MTB around a park and up and down some steps for 30 minutes, so we can’t give an exhaustive test, but what we did find was a new motor that feels a big step up from the previous generation. Firstly it is a lot smoother and the sensation is more natural, with a power support that is strong but does not give a mechanical boost sensation in use. The motor reaches 20 km/h very quickly in Turbo mode, but doesn’t hit you with the power in one big lump. We noticed the acceleration tapers off after 20 km/h and as you pass 25km/h on our short test we noticed it was imperceptible we had ridden through the limit. The old Bosch motor was like running into a wall at 25 km/h, which displeased many riders and was a consequence of the multiplication gearbox.
The motor now uses a standard chainring and chain layout, with a one to one ratio on pedaling, all this will please bike designers a lot as it will give a better ride feel and also more flexibility for chainstay design.
We didn’t spend enough time on the motor to judge it’s torque performance and “emtb” mode which is dynamic according to rider input pressure on the pedals. For what we could understand it’s feeling has been improved compared to the old version. However, Turbo mode has been improved, which eMTB mode was originally designed to supplant, as it mitigated the old power “thump” that Turbo mode had. Now Turbo mode is as sweet and powerful as eMTB mode was. At the end it’s another option, which is good and probably will improve over time as Bosch launches software updates.
The torque feeling of the new motor is different to the old. There is plenty of power but, we didn’t have enough time to find the sweet spot when cadence and power meet perfectly, the most notable sensation was an improvement in smoothness on smooth surfaces, we will be interested to see how that translates to trail. Bosch now also uses metal gears inside the case, this gives a stronger gearbox, but does cause some mechanical whine. We would say it is similar to a Shimano sound but different in tone and slightly quieter, but not silent like a Brose, which uses a belt drive.
This was a problem on the old motor when compared to the competition, now no longer. The new motor is 50 percent smaller and a lot lighter. This gives bike makers the ability to better integrate the motor into the frames they design. The Bosch “visual look,” has been retained which is an important part of their marketing and sales influence. The motor is less of an obvious monster and more of a hidden power source. Previous Bosch equipped bikes were defined by the motor more than new Bosch bikes will be, which is important and hands back to bike makers the power of making bikes that sell.
Bosch had on display for our preview launch a Kiox based display and controller and a Cobi display and controller. Both aim to connect the rider to internet better and give more data channels than before. The Kiox display we have used before, it also acts as a digital lock, take it off and the bike is rendered unusable. This is similar to what Greyp introduced earlier in the year, and is a good idea.
But… we really don’t like the display sat in the middle of the bar sticking out. It is vulnerable to damage and not everyone likes the display. Making it optional would have been a better option. The Bosch product manager commented that he understood our concern about this. We actually wondered why they have done this, the only idea we can come up with is maybe it is down to development cycles. The motor has been a huge undertaking and is actually a year late, it was rumoured to be launched last year, but wasn’t. So we can assume they have focused all energy on the motor and will introduce a display update on the next product cycle. Other high end bike makers make displays an option or discrete, which is better in our opinion.
We have no details on whether the Purion controller will work, Bosch were light on exact specifications at the launch, we will discover more in time.
The Cobi.Bike app was added to the motor control system and acts as a smartphone hub. It’s designed to hold your smartphone and then give you all kinds of controls including navigation, incoming call and music control, plus many other digital possibilities, this is obviously a feature for use in a more urban setting than on the trails. We did not get to try this system, and will hopefully do a feature on it in the future to see how digital connectivity affects mobility.
This was on the horizon and Bosch are the first company to release a motor and suspension integration. Technically it means any Fox live valve shocks or forks that are connected to the motor will work together to switch damping modes based on not just the terrain but also the motor inputs from the rider. Pedal hard and the suspension locks out or slows down, clever stuff, we look forward to trying a bike with this feature. Probably an expensive option though.
Bosch have repackaged the powertube design into a slightly longer form factor and increased it’s power to 625 w/h weighing only 3.1kg. That’s an extra 125 w/h which with a more efficient motor is going to mean more range. It is always hard to measure this as there are many factors that affect range. Charge times have been improved with batteries now recharging 50 percent in 1.5 hours. To increase charge times significantly high voltages would have to be used. Bosch have chosen to stay with the standard 36V but do now have a 6 amp charger, whereas before most charges were 3-4 amps. Better battery control circuitry and improved cells are the main developments here.
Other Motor Versions We Tested
This motor is designed for Urban use, with bikes having to be registered and insured. In reality the motor seems to be the same but it has a different software tune. On the road the motor is fast and powerful and gets you to 45 km/h very quickly. We rode around Stuttgart a bit and found ourselves moving through the traffic at a quick pace. This type of system is going to be appreciated in cities. The motor’s ability to react quickly and smoothly was improved compared to the older system. Our rider weight is around 85 kilos, even lighter riders are going to be really happy with this performance on Urban bikes.
Bosch have made a solid statement with the new Performance CX for their 10 year anniversary. There are many details we can’t cover here because we don’t have enough time or space or any finalised bikes to test the new motors and batteries on. We suspect the first bike launches will be coming soon which we will have a chance to try. Until then we can state clearly that Bosch have set a high quality standard of features for the market to design bikes around, better integration, greater connectivity and better ride feeling seem to be the main takeaways from these product launches. We look forward to getting out on the trail and examining them in detail.