We have used the phrased 'Bish, Bash, Bosch!' a number of times over the last few years to describe how Bosch e-bike systems have managed to gain and maintain dominance of the premium electric bike market.
New for 2017 Bosch will be:
- A new integrated display and thumb control called the Purion which may have illuminating buttons
- Bosch Dual Battery set up allowing up to 1000Wh of battery capacity
- No USB charging port
- A lighter, smaller and slower charger
- More automatic gear options including compatibility with Shimano Di2 and Nuvinci
To get more details and a review of what they have in store for 2017 see here.
Our View on Bosch e-bikes 2017
The market leader has taken some risks with a smaller display and slower charger but when the benefits of these changes are understood customers are likely to receive them well. If slower charging is an issue a faster charger can be purchased. We believe Bosch have positioned themselves well and are clearly responding to the key selling points of their main competitors Yamaha and Shimano. They have also removed the final reason for anyone to take a risk on an Impulse system by offering a way to increase the onboard battery capacity. The Bosch system has to date been the most reliable system and they have offered warranty replacements for our customers outside of warranty when a fault has become known. With their organised and seemingly sensitive approach to aftersales we continue to recommend the best electric bikes using the market leading Bosch systems.
In 2015 Yamaha returned to a market in which they have been one of the pioneers. We still see Yamaha XPC-26 electric bikes coming into our stores for servicing with the yamaha motor systems working perfectly despite being 20 years old. The XPC-26 bikes were sold in the UK between 1996 and 1998. That's a great legacy and in our view the new Yamaha system with the exception of their partnership with Giant (who mixed some of their own eGroupset with Yamaha components) has proved to be a huge success and saw Bosch adopting a few of the most effective Yamaha features for their 2016 system eGroupsets.
New for 2017 Yamaha will be:
A new Yamaha PW-X motor
- More responsive
- More Powerful
A new integrated display for Haibikes only.
eConnect app for Haibikes only.
Our View on Yamaha e-bikes 2017
While Bosch have focused on reliability and a 'natural feeling' while riding the Yamaha system saw an opportunity to liven the experience up and with a higher torque output and zero cadence / maximum torque capability the Yamaha system has found a very appreciative customer base in the electric mountain bike market. Particularly on the Haibike sDuro range the Yamaha system excels on trails and downhill. Several eGroupset manufacturers have paid the price for trying to beat Bosch when it comes to the feeling or perception of power and Yamaha too have had more issues than Bosch. The main issues have been bike chains breaking if the rider is starting in too high a gear (which is possible with the zero cadence / maximum torque feature) the chains can break and the bike transmission will certainly incur more wear and tear. Also a standing start on a very steep incline can be tricky with the power curve a little too aggressive resulting in the front wheel rising even in a lower power setting. Still we've had virtually no motor or battery issues and lots and lots of fun with the Yamaha eGroupsets - as have our customers. Yamaha are now pushing the initial torque curve even harder and we have faith in the Haibike / Yamaha partnership to get this right but it is territory where many others have failed. Haibikes with this motor will now come with a specially made chain to cope with the increased transmission stress. We can confirm the new motor is even smoother, quieter and feels more powerful.
Considering eConnect versus Nyon we will have to see. eConnect seems to have boiled the connectivity features down to the pure essentials where as Nyon tries to enter terratory many people don't consider when choosing a bike but may well do in the near future.
The Yamaha thumb control will still have the usb port should you want that option.
Shimano are one of the latest premium drive systems to enter the e-bike eGroupset market. It is surprising given that electric bikes have been a huge hit in Japan and neighbouring Asian countries for over 2 decades. In Japan in 2012 e-bike sales for the first time outstripped the combined sales for non electric bikes, mopeds and motorbikes. Shimano is clearly a manufacturer focused on the Western markets. They initially launched a pretty poor hub drive system several years ago but have since developed a very reasonable crank drive system called Shimano Steps. We haven't had many Shimano STePS e-bikes in our stores mainly because the price points don't hold up against the Yamaha and Bosch systems. The STePS system just isn't as well made (give the display a little wiggle while in it's mount to see one example of this). Although its performance is reasonable it needs to cost less if it's going to compete with the market leaders and currently that isn't the case.
New for 2017 Shimano will be (more to come): Shimano M8000 STePS or STePS MTB XT combined with Shimano XT groupset the system boasts a 70Nm torque output and a 500Wh battery. The display is nice and small. If you can't read it you probably shouldn't be throwing yourself off the edge of a steep hill holding onto a bike.
Our View on Shimano e-bikes 2017
We would suggest that unless STePS powered bikes offer a very high specification for the price relative to Bosch and Yamaha that they will only be competing on the basis of their long established relationships with bike manufacturers and the 'comfortable' bias traditional bike shops have towards the Shimano brand.
Will Shimano M8000 MTB XT change our view - we will let you know soon.....
Panasonic have been producing e-bike pedelec systems for more than 20 years with their crank drive system at one time being the most popular e-bike system in Europe. However they have quickly lost market share to Bosch and Yamaha and it seems they have to release something spectacular to make a come back. Panasonic have a reputation for innovation and quality and we know that they have booked space at this years Eurobike event and are not releasing any further details in advance. I expect they have something special in store and I will certainly be looking out for them and letting you know what I find. I have heard Panasonic Cycle Technology Co. are working on a double speed crank motor and this could certainly give them a performance edge....more after Eurobike 2016...
New for 2017 Panasonic will be (tbc):
Our View on Panasonic e-bikes 2017
The Impulse 2 system has had a really tough 2016 due a plague of issues. The system owned by Derby Cycles and offered on Gazelle and Kalkhoff ebikes had great success with their 1st generation Impulse branded motor but things went wrong. The motor systems are German made and competed well with Bosch during the early days of the EU made pedelec market. The Impulse system offered more torque than the Bosch system and sold well because of this stronger feeling of assistance but where Bosch seem to have achieved a balance of performance and reliability the Impulse system has suffered. They provided an firmware update for their customers during 2016 but this left the bikes underpowered and sluggish. It's good for consumers to have a competitive marketplace so hopefully the Impulse 3 system will arrive with improved reliability and performance. You'll find out here first.
New for 2017 Impulse will be (tbc):
Our View on Impulse e-bikes 2017
Manufactured in Berlin and one of the newest entrants to the electric bike eGroupset market Brose have quite rightly found a bit of a cult following having their motors adopted by smaller MTB OEM manufacturers. Owned by a giant German car parts manufacturer they have access to great engineering skills and already produce the parts required in very large quantities. The Brose system claims to offer 90Nm of torque which is more than Bosch Performance CX and Yamaha and any other crank drive and it does feel lively but no more so than the Bosch CX or Yamaha PW system and the 90Nm claim appears to be unsubstantiated through fair production model tests. It appears to have a small shell case and with the alignment used on most of the ebikes certainly looks good - less obvious.
There have been a number of reports about power drop outs and surges. I have not yet read of a solution or manufacturer response to these issues yet. Hopefully Brose ebike team will be sort for 2017.
New for 2017 Brose will be (tbc):
Our View on Brose e-bikes 2017