Removable electric bike motor. Removable electric bike motor

How to Transform Any Bike Into an E-Bike With One Click Using the Skarper Motor

You don’t have to invest in a dedicated e-bike to enjoy the benefits. Here’s how to use the Skarper motor on your existing bike.

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For those who are curious about e-bikes, conversion kits can open up a new world of riding. And while they’ve been around for years, most of them are difficult to install and leave your bicycle looking like a Frankenstein creation with control mechanisms bolted onto seat tubes and a tangle of zip-tied wires ruining a once pretty bike.

In the future, e-bike conversion kits may become so small and powerful that they’ll fit inside your bottom bracket and other riders will have no idea you’ve got a motor built into your bike. A British start-up called Skarper is already moving the needle in this direction.

How the Skarper E-Bike Motor Works

E-bike conversion kits are a great option for people who love to bike, and research in Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives found that those who rode e-bikes got more exercise minutes per week than those who rode normal bikes. The Skarper motor aims to give you the benefits of an e-bike with as little hassle as possible.

The Skarper e-bike motor differs from most motors you’d consider when building your own DIY e-bike in one major way: it powers your bike with a specially engineered disc brake rotor called DiskDrive instead of a replacement front or rear wheel with an integrated motor, a friction-drive system, or a mid-drive bolt-on.

Because of its design, Skarper can be fitted to any disc brake bikes with 160mm rotors, which is the most common rotor size on bikes equipped with disc brakes. Bikes with a 140mm rotor will work with the Skarper when using an inexpensive brake caliper adapter.

Skarper’s vision is for a rider to attach a motor to their mountain bike to climb and then detach it and stick it in their backpack to descend. While this may work well on tame road climbs, it may pose a challenge for mountain bikers who ride any sort of technical ups or anyone who doesn’t want to carry a 3-kilogram weight in their bag.

Skarper has also engineered its e-bike motor to be fully detachable, which further distinguishes it from every other e-bike conversion kit on the market. This means that you can install a Skarper rotor on more than one bike in your stable, and transfer the motor between bikes!

If you already own one or more bikes, you’ll be able to transform every one of your existing bikes into an e-bike using a single unit.

Features and Benefits of the Skarper Bike Motor

What makes e-bikes so popular is that they come equipped with a motor, battery, and control mechanisms seamlessly built into the bike. The problem is that many cyclists who already own a decent bike aren’t ready to invest in a brand-new one. Or they don’t want to transform what they currently ride into a mechanical abomination.

Fortunately, Skarper’s minimalist design can be attached to any disk brake bike—from high-end carbon gravel bikes to super-comfortable commuters—in a clean, wireless way that doesn’t compromise the ride. It can also be easily removed, returning the bike to its original configuration.

The best part is that, when the motor isn’t in use, your bike will look and ride as if nothing changed. Most people won’t notice the slightly different-looking rotor, and it will add minimal overall weight to your bike.

The Skarper motor weighs just 300 grams, while the unit containing the motor and battery weighs about 3 kilograms. The unit attaches to tabs that you fit onto your non-drive side chainstay.

Skarper Motor Battery and Range

E-bikes come in a variety of different classes, each with its own battery size, range, speed, and power. Skarper claims the range of their 202Wh battery to be up to 60 kilometers with a charge time of 2.5 hours. If you’re running low and need some extra juice in a pinch, Skarper claims a 30-minute charge will give 15-20km of range.

While there are other long-range e-bikes that can travel over 300 kilometers on a single charge, most people who use their bikes in urban settings only ride their bikes for a few kilometers each day, so the Skarper should work for most people, such as those who commute to work and are looking for a little extra help to avoid arriving in a sweaty shirt.

The unit comes with its own charger, and you can charge the battery while on or off the bike. However, one major downside of the Skarper is that the battery is fully integrated and cannot be replaced like it can on most purpose-built e-bikes meaning that if you require service, you won’t be able to visit your local bike shop, you’ll need to send the product back to the manufacturer.

Skarper Motor Power

There are some really fast e-bikes out there. Skarper is not one of them. That said, the modest 250W motor puts out 50Nm of torque and claims a top speed of 32 kilometers per hour (restricted to 25km/h in relevant countries).

To detect the level of assistance required, Skarper claims to have developed something they call DynamicClimb what they call a bespoke algorithm—that measures your output and the incline of the road. By measuring the amount of effort you put out, Skarper can adjust its output to match your speed and cadence.

The best eMTB motor of 2021 – The 8 hottest motors in test

There’s no other topic as hotly discussed in eMTBing as the motor. That said, there’s also little point considering the motor in isolation. These days, every detail of the complete system plays a role in its performance and your experience while riding. We tested eight of the hottest ebike motors of 2021.

If you’re looking for a quick and simple answer as to which is the best motor, we have to disappoint you now: there’s no longer just one best motor. With the latest developments in ebike motors and batteries there are lots of systems suitable for different ebike concepts and rider demands. It’s for this reason you can no longer ask which is the best motor, but rather have to think about which is the most suitable system for you.

You’ll find everything from low-power minimalists to heavyweight powerhouses. However, besides the motor itself, the complete system is a sum of its integration, ergonomics, a sensible battery solution, the ability to customise support modes and of course the size and weight of the motor. The complete concept and its implementation is what matters most. What’s the point of having the most powerful motor if it only unleashes its full power at too high a pedalling cadence, where you can never really make use of it? What’s the use of natural feeling assistance if using the motor isn’t intuitive because of poor integration and ergonomics? With new motors like the Specialized SL 1.1 or the Shimano EP8 and an ever-growing number of in-house developments, custom solutions and motor models, the market has branched out in so many ways that it’s become impossible to make one-to-one comparisons. So, this time there will be no Best in Test. Instead, we’ll give you an overview of the most important players in the market and figure out the pros and cons of each system and what they’re best at.

A good motor forms part of a seamlessly integrated system, perfectly suited to the bikes intended use.

The motors

In this motor group test, we want to introduce you to the most relevant and innovative motors available on the market. To do so, we tested eight of the hottest motors, putting them through their paces in every imaginable scenario. Older or less common motors like the Shimano STEPS E7000 or the old Bosch Performance Line CX have already been tested by us thoroughly in the past, so we deliberately chose not to include them here. You can find our previous reviews and test reports of these motors on our website www.ebike-mtb.com. As a result, we were able to FOCUS on the newest and best motors currently available from Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, TQ, SACHS, FAZUA and Specialized. The motors from brands such as Panasonic, BAFANG and Polini are seldom seen on an eMTB. They remain a niche segment with limited relevance in today’s market, which is why they don’t feature here either.

Manufacturer Model Torque [Nm] Motor weight (kg)
Bosch Performance Line CX (Click for review) 85 2.79
Brose Drive S Mag (Click for review) 90 2.98
FAZUA Ride 50 Evation (Click for review) 55 1.92
SACHS RS (Click for review) 110 3.66
Shimano EP8 (Click for review) 85 2.57
Specialized SL 1.1 (Click for review) 35 1.95
TQ HPR 120 S (Click for review) 120 3.90
Yamaha PW-X2 (Click for review) 80 3.06

Attention! Don’t become too fixated by the quoted weights – the motor weight on its own tells you relatively little about the total weight of the system or complete bike. Various other factors, including the mounting and integration of components, additional hardware and the battery have a big influence on the total weight.

Which motor is most powerful?

Glancing at the table above, you’ll immediately see some major differences in the power and torque output of the different motors. The Specialized SL 1.1 is one of the weakest, generating a mere 35 Nm torque, whereas the most powerful motor, the TQ HPR 120 S, is capable of generating three and a half times that. This is by no means an indication of how good or how bad either of those motors is. Instead these differences are the result of completely different concepts: the compact FAZUA Ride 50 Evation and Specialized SL 1.1 motors belong to a category of light eMTBs which offer minimal assistance in a lightweight package – these are the motors that will make analog mountain bikes redundant. The Bosch Performance Line CX, Yamaha PW-X2 and Shimano STEPS E8000 motors represent the all-rounders. The Brose Drive S Mag also belongs in this category of eMTBs, though it is noticeably more powerful than the Shimano or Bosch, allowing you to get up the climbs just that little bit quicker. Both the TQ and SACHS motors are even faster uphill, with over a 100 Nm torque on offer. However, built around these systems tend to be heavier too, having to be matched with components that are more robust and requiring a bigger battery. These bikes are designed less for aggressive trail riding than for having as much fun as possible with maximum power.

We think that, if you’re not going to use all the power available to you, you shouldn’t carry around the unnecessary additional weight requisite for that kind of performance.

How much power do you really need?

It’s critical to note that the best motor can only ever be as good as the bike into which it’s built. As well as that, the motor has to be considered in relation to the battery capacity. There’s no use having the most powerful motor if you’ve got to ride your bike in Eco mode just to be able to reach your destination.

To better understand the importance of this question, we carefully analysed the feedback from our reader survey, including data from over 13,500 participants. We found that only 5% of our readers predominantly use their ebike’s most powerful support mode. 57% spend most of their time riding in the more frugal Eco or Tour modes. We think that if you’re not going to use the power available to you, you shouldn’t be carrying around unnecessary weight. That means that for a majority of these 57%. a weaker yet lighter motor with a smaller battery is likely the better choice than a powerhouse like the SACHS.

According to our reader survey, a bike’s handling on the trail is the most important criterion when shopping for a new eMTB. Again, smaller and lighter systems have the upper hand in this regard. However, if you want to shuttle up the climbs to get in as many descents as possible in the short amount of time you have available after work, the lighter, less powerful systems (Specialized SL 1.1 and FAZUA Ride 50 Evation) will definitely have you working harder than you would on one of the all-rounders. Here, the Shimano EP8 shines with its adjustable assistance levels. If it’s paired with a smaller battery it is able to combine the motor power of an all-rounder with the handling of a Light eMTB.

If they are thoughtfully integrated and matched with an appropriate battery solution, the classic all-round motors can also deliver great handling and lots of fun on the trail. However, the best all-rounders from the likes of Bosch, Brose and Shimano aren’t limited to aggressive trail riding or quick after-work rides. They perform just as well on long rides as do on your daily commute. The bikes in this category also allow you to pull a trailer or tackle multi-day adventures with racks and panniers.

The SACHS RS and TQ HPR 120 S motor, as found on Haibike’s FLYON range, are in a league of their own. If you want to fly up the climbs and ride as fast as possible with minimal effort, or you simply like having the most powerful motor available, these are the models to check out. Note: powerful motors demand a lot of electricity, so they require a correspondingly large and heavy battery. Just as you would if you put your foot down in a Porsche GT3, you’ll simply have to stop and refill/charge often.

Ultimately, it’s a question of personal preference. How much or how little power do you really want (or need)?

Tuning ebike motors

Tuning eMTBs continues to be a hotly discussed topic and a lot of eMTBers are enticed by the thought. Whether on your commute or quick after-work ride, a lot of you would like to go faster than the legal limit allows, which is 25 km/h in Europe and most other countries. Of course, you can ride an eMTB faster than 25 km/h, as long as you’re fit enough. However, you’ll no longer be supported by the motor and will have to rely solely on the power of your legs. As a result, tuning can seem like an obvious solution for less fit or ambitious riders. Some motors can easily be tuned via an app, or depending on the make and model, you can even buy special hardware that manipulates the signal of the speed sensor. Many riders think these measures make their ebike more powerful. However, that’s not the case – it simply allows you to ride faster. The motor continues to provide assistance above the 25 km/h threshold, which makes it possible to achieve speeds of up to 35–40 km/h on flat terrain. Tuning makes no difference at all on steep climbs where you wouldn’t reach the 25 km/h threshold anyway.

Enticing as it may be, we strongly advise against tuning your ebike. Illegally circumventing the 25 km/h limit isn’t a trivial offence and can have dire consequences. Legally speaking, in Europe tuning an eMTB so that it provides assistance above 25 km/h means that it is classified as a motor vehicle rather than a bicycle. Correspondingly, just like motor vehicles, you would be required to have insurance and a driving licence. Apart from that, making these kinds of unauthorised changes to an ebike is already considered a criminal offence in most European countries in itself. France has recently introduced anti-tuning legislation with fines of up to € 30,000 and two years imprisonment for ebike tuning.

On top of that, if you don’t have motor vehicle insurance for your tuned ebike you could incur significant debt in case of an accident that regular insurance doesn’t cover. When you tune your bike, you also void the warranty on the motor and battery. Even if you detune your bike before sending it in for a warranty claim, manufacturers will be able to tell whether you’ve tinkered with the hard- or software. We can only recommend that you stay away from tuning. It’s just not worth the risk.

The battery doesn’t just influence the range of your eMTB

Generally, the battery is one of the heaviest components of your eMTB. Because of its weight and where it’s positioned on the bike, it doesn’t just determine your range, it also has a major impact on handling. The motors we tested come with batteries with capacities ranging anywhere from 250 Wh to 1250 Wh. As with the motors themselves, there are a lot different approaches manufacturers can take here. Note: never think of battery capacity in isolation but also consider how power hungry the motor will be. Below we’ve summarised the most common battery concepts currently in use.

Standard: … an internal or external battery with a capacity ranging between 500–750 Wh.

Mini: a smaller battery means less weight may be a good match for a less powerful motor. FAZUA take this concept to the extreme with their 252 Wh battery, the lowest capacity in the test field. However, they’re not the only ones, with smaller 320 Wh Shimano systems such as those found on eMTBs from FOCUS too. Specialized’s SL 1.1 motor has to make do with as little as 320 Wh.

Modular: With this system, you can increase your total battery capacity with the help of an external range extender. For example, Bosch’s DualBattery system can give you a total capacity of up to 1250 Wh. Modular systems such as these are also available for Yamaha or Shimano motors, though they are offered by third party providers. Specialized make a super compact 160 Wh external battery pack for their SL 1.1 motor which fits into a bottle cage.

removable, electric, bike, motor

Modular battery systems offer a lot of flexibility and can usually be retrofitted at a later stage.

You’ll find a detailed overview of the most common battery systems as well as more specialised solutions in our big eMTB group test. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut way to determine the range that you’ll get from various battery systems. Apart from the battery capacity, range is dependent on many other factors including the support mode, terrain, vertical meters, temperature, rider weight, pedalling efficiency, cadence and more. This means it’s impossible and is why we refuse to make any statements about a motor’s theoretical range using isolated values or calculations. If you’d like to find out more, you can read about it in our in-depth article for you on our website: How far can I ride on a single charge? The truth about laboratory tests.

Which battery system is right for me?

To allow you to make the most of your ebike without having a negative impact on the handling, the battery should be as small as possible and as big as necessary. The question you have to ask yourself here is how, where and how long you want to ride your eMTB on a regular basis. You should also consider what the ebike charging infrastructure at your local trails is like and which battery system you prefer. We’ve noticed that a lot of eMTBers are extremely scared of draining their battery while they’re out on the trails. Because of this, most of them resort to bigger batteries or dual battery systems which they don’t actually need. According to our reader survey, the length of your rides generally ranges between 30 and 50 kilometres. On a ride of that length, the majority of you won’t empty a standard battery. If you predominantly use your eMTB for quick after-work rides, a mini battery will allow you to ride your bike full-throttle for an hour and after a short but intense session, you can enjoy a well-deserved beer. If you enjoy longer, leisurely morning or afternoon rides, you’ll usually get along perfectly with a standard battery. Modular battery systems such as Bosch’s DualBattery is only ever necessary on very long rides or multi-day adventures with few or no charging stations in between. However, dual battery systems also offer one big advantage, allowing you to add capacity at a later stage. So, if you’re dreaming of doing a longer ride in the future, perhaps crossing the Alps, you always have that option and you’re completely flexible.

Ebike motor integration

The topic of integration is becoming ever more important for eMTBs. Only a few years ago, eMTBs still looked like DIY projects with the battery and motor bolted to the down tube like they were an afterthought. Fortunately, a lot of progress has been made regarding both looks and functionality. We’re seeing more and more brands integrating the battery and hiding it inside the down tube. With Bosch and FAZUA systems, you can still remove integrated batteries from your eMTB. With other motors, the battery is sometimes non-removable, meaning you’ll have to bring the bike to a power outlet to charge it. If you don’t have a plug near your bikes, this could be something to keep in mind.

Most motors on the market have also become more compact, allowing manufacturers to seamlessly integrate them into the frame. It’s the same for the speed sensors, displays and remotes, now more securely integrated or attached to the bike, making them safer and more secure in the event of a crash.

Which display and remote are best?

The display and remote options range from minimalist solutions all the way to full-fledged command centres. For Bosch, FAZUA and Shimano systems, bike brands have to resort to the motor’s standard remote and display. In contrast Yamaha, TQ, SACHS and Brose give bike manufacturers the freedom to design their own solutions. That said, the likes of Shimano or the SIGMA EOX system combined with the SACHS motor, provide a range of options, allowing customers to mix and match plug and play components to customise the cockpit to suit personal preference. Specialized also allow you to customise the cockpit, using their own Turbo Connect Unit (TCU) or brand new Mastermind integrated into the top tube. In terms of connectivity and navigation, other manufacturers are finally coming up. With the new Nyon, Bosch have integrated a large and innovative navigation system into the eMTB display. Communication between the motor and smartphone is a standard feature for almost all systems. However, the functionality of associated apps ranges from simple route tracking all the way to tuning motor settings depending on the motor and manufacturer.

There is lots of room for improvement across the board regarding connectivity and navigation. We’re yet to encounter a usable navigation feature on one of the standard displays. Depending on the motor and bike brand, there are apps for everything from ride tracking to fine-tuning the assistance of the motor.

removable, electric, bike, motor

Despite the range of display options available, eMTBers still have to contend with three major issues. Often, the remote is so difficult to reach or so bulky that it compromises the other controls on your bars. The display or the remote are often so exposed that they’re prone to get damaged the moment you take a tumble. The display becomes unreadable in the glare of direct sunlight.

Motor software and hardware have to be in sync

Power is nothing without control. The most powerful motor is no use if you can’t control it, if it continues pushing long after you’ve stopped pedalling, if it engages violently or if it doesn’t react quickly when you get on the pedals. The motor should engage quickly yet smoothly, especially when pulling away or in response to changes in cadence, offering sufficient assistance to be of use without jerking you forward. The feeling of the motor depends on three main factors: the hardware, the software and the person riding the bike with all their irregularities and variables in pedalling cadence and stroke.

Motor software influences the ride feel

If you’re thinking that a natural ride feel imitates the feeling of riding an analogue mountain bike, you’re wrong. If that were the case, the motor would engage instantly as you push down on the pedals and cut out abruptly as soon as you stop. With the motor multiplying your power, that would be especially noticeable on the climbs with abrupt acceleration and deceleration. If you rode in tricky terrain where you have to time your pedalling to avoid clipping your pedals the motor would cut out immediately leaving you straddled on the obstacle. Pulling away on an incline or on loose ground would also be extremely difficult with so much power delivered all at once.

Since testing protocols give manufacturers a lot of freedom in their interpretation of data, you can’t always compare the specs of different motors.

It should be obvious that simply making the motor engage and disengage with your input is a far cry from natural-feeling assistance. It takes Smart software to smooth out the transition between man and machine powered riding and to achieve harmony and the most natural experience on the bike. It is this harmony that we refer to when we speak about natural ride feel. This way the motor’s assistance engages smoothly and in a controlled way, and disappears almost imperceptibly when you stop pedalling or reach the 25 km/h limit. Instead of cutting out immediately, the motor should modulate its output when you stop pedalling, fading out slowly as if you’re rolling to a halt. Natural feeling assistance shouldn’t actually be something you feel unless you pay attention to it, which just wouldn’t be the case with surges power and sudden cuts in assistance.

Support modes

All motors have different support modes to choose from, given as a percentage of assistance relative to the rider’s power input. With 410 % assistance in its highest mode, the Brose Drive S Mag motor puts out about four times that what the rider puts in. Depending on the motor, you can get assistance from 50 % to over 400 or even 500 %. The more support modes you can choose from, the more finely you can adapt the assistance to suit the situation. In Eco mode, you can extend the range, or you can select maximum assistance to get up those steep climbs. The power of the support mode you select has a big influence on the ride feel.

Smart support modes are able to recognise the riding situation you’re in and adapt support accordingly.

The motor will usually feel more natural to ride in Eco mode with minimal assistance than it does in the highest support mode. Smart modes that dynamically adapt to the situation feel the most natural and intuitive to use. Thanks to integrated sensors, the system is able to recognise whether you’re pedalling gently or cranking on the pedals, adapting the support to match your effort. The more effort you put in, the more assistance the motor provides in response. Smart modes such as these almost make it unnecessary for you to shift between modes manually. Bosch’s progressive eMTB mode adjusts the assistance between Tour (140%) and Turbo mode (340%), depending on the amount of force you put on the pedals and the situation you’re in. The assistance always feels exactly right, delivering enough power while remaining smooth and easy to control: it’s the best progressive mode currently on the market! Yamaha’s Smart mode includes data from sensors that detect the incline you’re on and always delivers a suitable amount of assistance, though it doesn’t feel as natural as Bosch’s eMTB mode. Shimano’s Trail mode is great too and it’s able to go even lower with the assistance than the Bosch motor, adjusting support between the weakest Eco and most powerful Boost mode.

Since testing criteria give manufacturers a lot of freedom in their interpretation of data, you can’t always make a direct comparison between the specs of different motors.

The motor tune chosen by bike manufacturers can be a deciding factor

A bike’s ride feel isn’t dependent solely on the motor system, but also on the bike into which it’s built. Different full-suspension bike designs offer major differences in pedalling efficiency. Some rear suspension bobs noticeably as you pedal, absorbing energy instead of it being transferred to the wheels. Other suspension kinematics can offer significantly better efficiency. As a result, even if they have the same motor, no two bikes will feel alike. Components such as the tires and wheels or the drivetrain and it’s gear ratios can also affect the ride feel of the motor. Of all the components, the length of the cranks can have a particularly noticeable impact on the ride feel of the motor. We recommend a crank length between 160 and 170 mm for trail riding.

We noticed the biggest differences in the characteristics of motors where bike manufacturers are able to tune the motor themselves. Brose, Yamaha, SACHS and TQ give bike manufacturers a lot of freedom in customising the number of support modes, the percentage assistance of each and how the assistance kicks in and cuts out. Some bike manufacturers succeed much better than others in doing so. Case in point, in many bikes the Brose Drive S Mag delivers a natural ride feel that just isn’t present in others. Here, the bike manufacturer’s software settings have a major impact on how the motor handles.

All the important ebike motor specs at a glance

We often look at the specs of eMTB motors, but you won’t really be able to tell how a motor ultimately feels on the trail simply by looking at this data. Instead it serves as a rough indicator of potential performance. Besides the motor’s mechanical output numbers, what it often comes down to on the trail is the software settings, how noisy the bike is, pedalling cadence and the pedalling resistance.

Nominal power, torque and capacity explained

The power output of an eMTB motor is given in watts. The average power output, the so-called nominal power, is not allowed to exceed an average output of 250 W over a period of 30 minutes, as stated by the law in the EU and several countries outside of the EU. According to the manufacturers of the motors we tested here, they all fulfil this standard. The Specialized SL 1.1 motor produces 240 W, providing the least output of the motors we tested. The others have a peak output two-, three- or sometimes even four times that.

Torque output is given in newton metres (Nm), which describes the amount of rotational force the motor is able to generate. The strongest motor in the test field is the TQ, able to produce 120 Nm. All the motors are powered by rechargeable batteries of different sizes. The range depends on its capacity and how much electricity the motor consumes. Battery capacity or the “size” of the battery is given in watt-hours (Wh). A 500 Wh battery would last 2 hours if it had to power a motor that was constantly drawing 250 W. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, you also have to account for losses in efficiency of various components, so the battery is unlikely to last two hours as energy is dissipated elsewhere in the system.

How loud is an ebike motor?

The amount of noise the motor makes has an impact on the ride quality. A quiet motor is much more pleasant on the trails and can help to emphasise a natural ride feel. Along with the humming of the motor, there can also be other noises besides, such as freewheel mechanism inside the FAZUA motor which is clearly audible as it engages. Due to variability and tolerances in manufacturing, motors of the same make and model can occasionally sound very different. The metallic rattle coming from the inside of Bosch, Shimano and SACHS motors is very loud and present on some models and barely noticeable on others. Brose motors also tend to vary quite a bit in the noise they make. Some you’ll hear only quietly in the background while others are more conspicuous.

However, it’s not only the motor but also the design of the frame that can have a significant influence on how loud the motor is. While a motor can be very quiet in one bike, humming gently as you ride, it can be unpleasantly loud in the frame of a different eMTB, where the tubeset seems to amplify the noise.

What cadence does an ebike motor ride best at?

Your pedalling cadence has a direct influence on the motor and how well it’s able to assist you. Every electric motor has an optimal pedalling cadence range in which it’s able to perform most efficiently. Depending on its construction and internal gearing ratios, a motor might be better able to perform at higher or lower rpm. A good motor should be able to cope with fluctuations in the rider’s pedalling cadence and perform well over a broad Band without lacking power at either extreme. The Yamaha PW-X2 performs better at a slow pedalling cadence than any other motor we tested, delivering full power from the get-go. Bosch’s Performance Line CX motor isn’t too bothered by fluctuating cadences either, performing consistently throughout.

How much pedalling resistance does an ebike motor have?

Your battery is empty and the motor is off. Now what? As soon as you go over the 25 km/h assistance limit or the motor is off, you’ll be confronted with the motor’s internal resistance. The resistance depends on the motor’s construction and the internal gearing, which is required to convert the motor’s high rpm to the slower speed of the chainring and cranks. Thanks to efficient solutions like the FAZUA Ride 50 Ride 50 Evation, Specialized SL 1.1 and the belt-driven Brose Drive S Mag motor, you’ll hardly notice any additional drag here. On the other hand, there is a noticeable amount of drag with Yamaha and SACHS motors the moment they stop providing assisting.

What makes a good motor?

In a nutshell: a motor is good if the system as a whole including the battery, integration, power output and ride feel suits the bike into which it’s built. As we all use our eMTBs for different things and ride them in different ways, ideally you want to be able to adjust and tune the motor to suit your preferences, either doing it yourself or having it done at your dealer. Shimano and Specialized lead the way in this regard. With these motors, the customer is given a lot of options to configure the remote and display the way they prefer and tune the support modes via an app. FAZUA go one step further when it comes to motor setup. Alongside the usual adjustments, the app can suggest recommended settings based on questions about the rider and type of riding they will do.

A good motor is part of a seamlessly integrated system and perfectly suited for the bike’s intended use.

This is particularly intuitive and quick to understand, but it’s exactly this kind of customisability that makes it so difficult to compare motors. That becomes even more apparent when bike manufacturers develop their own batteries, displays and, most of all, their own software and firmware. It’s a nice bonus if the motor features a progressive Smart mode, though it isn’t a must. Bosch show how it’s done with their eMTB mode, which is easy to control and always offers the right amount of assistance whatever the situation.

Haibike’s FLYON range featuring the powerful TQ motor comes with a 630 Wh battery. If you’re looking for a lot of power and you tend to keep your rides short, this is a great motor. However, you’ll run into problems if you want to go on longer rides unless you resort to using the energy-saving but also weak Eco mode. Specialized’s SL 1.1 motor is at the other extreme of the spectrum. It is an excellent concept for fit and aggressive riders who are looking for natural handling close to that of an unpowered bike thanks to its modular battery system, compact dimensions, low weight. However, the low power output means this is not the bike for those who want that eMTB-superman feeling on the climbs. As you can see, how you use your eMTB and how the system performs as a whole is the decisive factor here.

So, which is the best motor?

There is no longer just one best eMTB motor. The market has become too differentiated and on account of the countless variables and customisation options, there’s no way of rating the different motors in isolation either. The best motor is only as good as the bike into which it’s built. If the basic concept of the bike doesn’t work, even the best motor won’t be able to transform it into a good eMTB. Think carefully about when, how, and where you want to ride. Once you’ve figured that out, we’ve compiled an overview on the following pages to show you which motor is most suitable for you and your riding style.

All motors in this comparison

Other motors we’ve tested lately:

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Words: Felix Stix Photos: E-MOUNTAINBIKE-Team

The VIVI 26 Inch eBike – An Amazingly Inexpensive Electric Bicycle

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more affordable, good looking, and easy to use eBike than the VIVI 26 inch electric mountain bicycle. This black, white and red aluminum eBike (made in China) has everything you need for daily riding around your neighborhood… and is even equipped to handle a little dirt, gravel, or off-road riding as well. Plus, this amazingly stylish eBike is outfitted with a number of different options you’d only find on a bicycle with a much higher price-point, including front and rear disc brakes, 21 total speeds, a front headlamp, a rear kickstand, front and rear fenders, and even a bell.

With an online sales price of only 639 USD, the VIVI 26 inch eBike is one of the most affordable electric bicycles on the marketplace today. It’s easy to put together, looks great, and works like an eBike should – with electric pedal assist modes (low, medium and high), full throttle mode, and can also be used as a regular bicycle (with no assistance from the motor whatsoever)!

The VIVI eBike

When you order the VIVI eBike online (via Amazon for 639 USD or the official VIVI website for 719 USD), the bike will be shipped to your home at no additional cost. That’s right – FREE SHIPPING!

The electric bicycle arrives packed inside a standard, brown, cardboard bike box. The bicycle comes almost entirely assembled, but there are a few things you’ll need to do to finish putting the bike together completely.

You’ll need to install the saddle and seat post, insert and tighten the handlebars, screw in the left and right pedals, adjust the position of the front headlamp, and pump some air into the tires. The tools you need to perform this basic bicycle setup are included with the bike (another big bonus!)… along with instructions on how to finish the bicycle assembly process.

That being said, there is no air pump included with the VIVI eBike, so make sure you have a bicycle pump of some kind before your bicycle arrives. It’s a good idea to always carry a small hand pump on your bike rides anyway, in the event that you get a flat tire. So, if you don’t already have a pump, go out and get one right away!

Once you’ve set up the bicycle and inserted the charged battery into its holder positioned on the inside of the downtube of the bicycle’s aluminum frame, you’re ready to ride!

I suggest you start by riding the bicycle with its motor turned off at first – just to check and make sure that your handlebars, seat post and saddle are in the best positions for your body type. While the motor is off, also check that the brakes are functioning as they should and that you can easily shift through the 21 gears using the bicycle’s front and rear derailleurs. The VIVI eBike comes almost completely assembled, so you should, in theory, be able to jump right on the bike and start pedaling as soon as you have it properly put together, but you may need to adjust the brakes and/or front and rear derailleurs as these parts can shift slightly during the shipping process.

Once you’ve done a few laps around the block with the bicycle’s motor turned off, only then should you turn on the battery/motor and test out what the VIVE eBike can really do. This is where the fun begins!

To turn the eBike on, start by pressing the small, red, circular power button on the bottom of the battery. Then, press and hold the center power button on the power meter on the left-side of the bicycle’s handlebars. Once you do this, you should see the red lights on the power meter turn on. The lights at the top indicate the mode you are in (low, mid or high) and the lights at the bottom indicate approximately how much battery power you have left.

Now, just like you did a moment ago when the power to the eBike was turned off, step onto the VIVI eBike and start pedaling with the bike in the Low power setting. As soon as you make about one revolution of the pedals, you will feel the motor kick in and push you forward down the road. Keep pedaling in this manner and you’ll soon become comfortable with how the bike rides in the pedal-assist mode.

Once you become comfortable riding in Low, switch the bike into Mid by pressing the button on the right side of the power meter. Then, after you’ve become comfortable riding in Mid, switch the bike to High and see what the VIVI eBike is truly capable of.

Remember: The VIVI eBike is not a motorcycle and is not meant to transport you down the road at supersonic speeds. The maximum speed you’ll be capable of hitting on flat ground with the motor engaged is around 20 miles per hour (or approximately 25 kilometers per hour).

removable, electric, bike, motor

The final way to ride the VIVI eBike is in full eBike mode using the throttle located on the right side of the handlebars. This throttle allows you to ride the VIVI eBike and do no pedaling whatsoever. Simply twist the throttle, like you would on a motorcycle, and sit back as the bicycle’s electric motor transports you down the road.

You won’t go super fast using the bicycle’s throttle (especially when going uphill), but the throttle is extremely useful for new riders, or simply in the event that you want to go out on a bike ride, but don’t want to put in the work normally required with riding a bicycle.

As you can see, there are three ways to ride the VIVI electric bicycle: you can ride it as a standard bicycle with no motor assistance whatsoever; you can ride it in pedal assist mode, where you pedal normally, but the motor helps to make your bike ride a whole lot easier; or you can ride the bike with the assistance of the throttle, allowing you to simply sit back and do no pedaling at all.

Pictured above is the right side of the handlebar on the VIVI eBike. In the photo you can see the shifter, which allows you to change through the 7 total gears on the rear derailleur of the bicycle. The eBike’s throttle is located just to the right of the shifter. And in the foreground is the small, thumb-operated bell that comes as an added bonus with the VIVI 26 inch eBike.

Below is a snapshot of the bicycle’s battery specifications. For most people, these numbers won’t mean much, so what you need to know is that on a full charge, the VIVI eBike will transport you approximately 30 miles (or 45 km). Of course, this distance will vary depending on the mode you have the bike set to (Low, Mid or High), the terrain you are cycling over (steep vs. flat terrain), the wind, weather and other such factors.

During my time with the VIVI 26 inch eBike, I went on several long bike rides and found that cycling more than 20 miles on a single charge was no problem at all, as long as I left the bike in the Low setting for most of the ride. The battery indicator would sometimes show that there was only one or two bars left in the battery, but would then later jump to three or more bars later in the ride, depending on the mode I had the power meter set to and the steepness of the terrain on which I was riding at the time. Therefore, more testing needs to be done to see what the true limits are of the VIVI eBike’s included battery.

Whatever the case may be, the good thing about the VIVI eBike, when compared with other electric bicycle models, is that once the battery dies and the bike is no longer able to be powered by the electric motor, the bicycle functions normally as a regular bicycle. So, if you find yourself returning home from an especially long bike ride and the battery cuts out a few miles short of your return home, you can always pedal the bike home using the power of your legs for the final few miles.

The Wheels Tires

26 inch wheels and tires are what you’ll find on this VIVI electric bicycle. And while 26 inch wheels and tires are what you find on many mountain bikes, I suspect that most people who purchase the VIVI 26 inch eBike will not buy the bike for its off-road capabilities, but will instead intend to use the bike largely as a local commuter – allowing them to ride around their neighborhood, run errands and go on casual bike rides with friends.

While the Chaoyang 26 x 1.95 tires that come equipped on the bicycle have held up during my recent test rides, the long-term durability of these tires has yet to be determined, and I may have to update this article/review once I determine how long-lasting these tires truly are.

These standard, treaded, 26 inch tires are great for casual riding on paved roads, however, and also make the bike capable of riding on dirt and gravel roads with a fair amount of ease. My guess is that few people will purchase this bike to do serious mountain biking, but the bike can certainly be used in off-road environments of some kind, due to both the tire size, tread and front suspension (which allows the bike to absorb some of the bumps you are sure to find in an off-road environment).

The front suspension on this bike helps with small bumps and gravel on the roads you’ll be traveling, but the suspension is not good in super rocky terrain – nothing like the suspension you find on higher-quality mountain bikes.

The Mechanical Disc Brakes

One of the great things about the VIVI eBike is that it comes equipped with certain parts you would only expect to find on bicycles with a much higher price tag. For example, the VIVI 26 inch eBike comes equipped with front and rear mechanical disc brakes.

Disc brakes have quickly become standard on most bicycle models, but cheaper rim brakes are still often found on many low-priced bicycle models. So getting a pair of front and rear disc brakes with the purchase of the VIVI electric bicycle is a huge added plus.

The disc brakes come ready to use straight out of the box when your VIVI eBike first arrives, but I found that a small amount of adjustment was needed to position the brakes so they weren’t rubbing and squeaking during my initial test rides. This is a very easy adjustment to make, however, and almost anyone capable of watching a how-to YouTube video will be able to adjust the disc brakes on the bicycle, if need be.

Included Accessories

In addition to the bicycle’s electric motor, front suspension, and disc brakes, the VIVI eBike is outfitted with a number of other extras worth noting.

The first and most obvious of these extras is, perhaps, the saddle, which is an inexpensive bike seat decorated with a red and white “flame” pattern on its top. The saddle decoration is probably the only part of the VIVI eBike that I would change if I were in charge of the production of these bikes myself. I personally would prefer a standard, plain black saddle. But the saddle that has been chosen here isn’t really that bad. It looks a little childish when compared to the rest of the bicycle, but it’s comfortable and will work well for 90% of the bike’s users.

Another wonderful extra included with the VIVI eBike is the front headlamp, which comes pre-wired to the bicycle’s electric battery/motor. To turn the front headlamp on, simply press and hold the “” button on the right-hand side of the bicycle’s power meter. Then, to turn the light off, press and hold the “” button again. Lighting up the road in front of you has never been so easy!

While it’s common for more expensive bicycles to come equipped with no pedals whatsoever, because high-end bike manufacturers know that many serious cyclists will want to use a very specific type of pedal, a lower-cost bicycle such as the VIVI eBike comes equipped with a pair of standard, plastic flat pedals – like you would find on so many other low-end bicycles found in your local bike shop. The goal here is to give you a basic pedal that you can use straight away, right out of the box, so that you can start pedaling your bicycle the first day you get it. These plastic pedals are inexpensive, but they work well and will make most casual cyclists very happy. If, however, you wish to upgrade to a more advanced pedal, you can easily do so! Simply unscrew these basic, plastic pedals and screw in the pedals of your choice. Bingo!

Another big bonus found on the VIVI 26 inch eBiks is the included rear kickstand, which helps you keep the bike in an upright position whenever you go to park it. Not only does this rear kickstand make it easier to park the bicycle when you need to do so, but the kickstand likely extends the lifespan of the battery, motor and the bike as a whole, as you’re less likely to damage the bicycle or any of its parts if you simply use the included kickstand each and every time you go to park the bike.

The photos above show the kickstand in both its extended and retracted positions. This is a good quality kickstand that the bicycle manufacturers could very easily have left off in order to save money and produce larger returns on sales, but have included as an added bonus… and it’s a bonus that I think will be very much appreciated by those who chose to purchase the VIVI 26 inch electric bicycle.

The VIVI eBike – My Final Review

If there is any major downside to the VIVI eBike, it’s the fact that it is only available in one frame size. And unfortunately for me (at 6 feet, 2 inches tall), the size of the bike’s frame is simply too small for me. In order to properly fit this bicycle, you should probably be between 5 foot 2 inches and 5 foot 7 inches tall. If you are taller or shorter than this, the bike will still be rideable, but it isn’t going to fit you well. If the bike came in different sizes (small, medium and large), the VIVI eBike would be a total low-cost winner!

Overall, I’m very impressed with the VIVI 26 inch eBike. It’s a good looking bike that will make many first-time electric bicycle owners very happy. The bike is perfectly equipped for around-town riding, local commuting, running errands and could even be used on some kinds of mountain bike trails and terrain.

While the battery life and tires have yet to be tested long term, my experiences with the bike thus far have me very impressed. And even though the bike doesn’t fit me (I’m simply too tall for the one-size-only frame), I plan to keep the VIVI eBike for any of my shorter friends and family members who chose to come and visit me and want the assistance of an electric motor to help them keep up with me on the roads and trails in my area.

Overall, I’d give the VIVI 26 inch eBike a very high rating, considering it is such a low-cost electric bicycle. It really is incredible that they’ve been able to produce such a good looking, well-working, electric bicycle that costs so little and comes with so many extras!

So, even though this may not be the best bike in the whole world, I suspect that this is the perfect bike for someone who wants a basic, around-town electric bicycle, but doesn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a more expensive brand or model.

These are the longest-range electric bicycles money can buy right now

Some things in the universe are constant. Gravity, the slow march of time, and the same three questions that every new electric bike owner will get from friends, family, and strangers. Those questions are always “How fast is it?,” “Does it pedal when you charge it?,” and the most difficult of all to answer, “How far does it go?”

The range that any e-bike gets is a tricky question to answer because it depends on how the e-bike is used. Two e-bikes with the same size batteries could get very different ranges depending on whether the rider is pegging the throttle or taking a chill ride on low-power pedal assist.

It’s like how if I gave you a food allowance of 100 and asked how long you could survive, the answer would be different depending on if you ate at Red Lobster or sustained yourself on ramen and tap water.

In the same way that it’s better to judge that question by your food budget and not how you spend it, it’s easier to compare long-range e-bikes based on their battery capacity (measured in watt hours or Wh) than by the manufacturer’s stated maximum range.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the longest-range electric bicycles on the market today, judged not just on their stated maximum ranges, but also on their battery sizes.

FUELL Flluid 2

Motorcycle legend Erik Buell’s electric bicycle brand FUELL just launched two new electric bikes, with one of them being referred to by the company as the “World’s longest range electric bike.”

The Flluid-2 is described as an “ultra-long-range powerhouse” with its two removable battery packs totaling 2 kWh of capacity. That doubles the battery capacity of the first-generation FUELL Flluid-1 and enables an impressive range of up to 225 Mi (362 km) on a single charge.

The company also released an easier-to-mount step-through option known as the Flluid-3. That bike offers a single 1 kWh battery that should be enough for anyone that can live with a still-impressive 110 Mi (177 km) range. But for those seeking serious range, it’s the Flluid-2’s dual 1 kWh batteries that are worth taking a second look at.

Both models offer throttle-enabled 750 W continuous-rated Valeo mid-drive motors, though the throttle is limited to just 6 km/h or 3.7 mph in Europe for regulatory compliance. The motor will also carry a 250 W rating in Europe, though both the EU and US versions are listed at 130 Nm of torque, making the motor one of the strongest mid-drives available on retail e-bikes.

Optibike R22 Everest

Colorado-based Optibike is one of the oldest electric bicycle companies in the United States, and so they know a thing or two about building high-performance e-bikes. But the company’s Optibike R22 Everest seems to step it up several notches with an e-bike that supposedly can climb Mount Everest on a single charge thanks to its massive battery pack.

Just how much battery does an R22 pack into its carbon fiber frame? There’s an impressive 3,260 Wh of lithium-ion cells stuffed into the bike. The battery is designed in two packs that are removable from either side of the frame.

To put that in comparison, 3.26 kWh of battery is more than 6x the capacity of a common low-cost electric bicycle in the US.

Of course, the 18,900 R22 Everest also costs around 27x the price of that 799 low cost e-bike, so I’m not sure these things track linearly. But if your goal is to climb up Mount Everest on an e-bike, price probably isn’t your first concern. If it were me, riding across those ladders might be higher on my “big worries” list.

Watt Wagons HOUND

Watt Wagons, a US-based manufacturer of high-power and high-end electric bicycles, has a new model designed for serious off-roaders and adventurers. In fact, the Watt Wagon HOUND has several keys specs that sound almost foreign in the electric bicycle industry, such as a 200-mile range and built-in chargers compatible with electric car charging stations.

The Watt Wagon HOUND is actually available in two models, the base model and the “Supercharged” model. It’s the Supercharged model that you’ll want for the extra-long range.

While the base level HOUND has a respectable 52V 17Ah battery with 884 Wh of capacity for a real-world throttle range of 30 miles (51 km) and a pedal assist range of 80 miles (130 km), according to the company, the Supercharged model more than triples the battery capacity.

The massive battery on the higher-spec model is a gargantuan 52V 60Ah pack with 3,210 Wh of capacity. The company claims you’ll get 100 solid miles (160 km) on throttle-only riding or 200 miles (320 km) on pedal assist.

And not only do you get a massive battery, but you also get both a 52V 5A fast charger and an EV charger with a J1772 connector, giving you multiple options for quickly recharging that big battery. Not too shabby!

EUNORAU Flash

Some companies like Watt Wagons above use a single massive battery to create long-range e-bikes. Other companies simply slap on more and more individual batteries to reach higher total capacities. The EUNORAU Flash offers up to three batteries for riders that want the ultimate in long-range possibilities.

With its three large batteries, EUNORAU claims that this electric bike can have you cruising for up to 220 miles (354 km) on a single charge.

Fully maxed out, that means riders can have up to 2,808 Wh of total battery capacity across the three packs.

They leave the bike looking a bit overladen, but it’s an effective way to increase the bike’s range!

Juiced HyperScrambler 2

The Juiced HyperScrambler 2 is on its way to being sunsetted after a trademark dispute, but it is expected to be replaced by a similarly specced bike under a new name. And if the specs remain the same, that means it will come with the same pair of 52V 19.2Ah batteries for close to 2,000 Wh of total capacity.

The bike has a number of other impressive specs, too. It features a 1,000W Retroblade motor with a peak power output of 2,000W and a maximum speed (in unlocked mode) of a published “30 mph.” The true top speed has been shown by numerous riders to actually reach closer to 35 mph (56 km/h).

The HyperScrambler 2’s pair of high-capacity batteries are still one of its biggest claims to fame, ensuring that the power-hungry motor and controller can go the distance. In fact, that distance is listed as 100 miles (160 kilometers) of range per charge.

Even just one of the 52V 19.2Ah batteries on the HyperScrambler 2 offers more capacity than most other e-bikes, coming in at 998 Wh per battery. But the pair of them pushing close to 2,000 Wh is one of the highest-capacity battery load outs we’ve ever seen on a moped-style electric bike.

Electric Bike Company Model J

The Newport Beach, California-based Electric Bike Company recently launched its newest e-bike, the Model J. Not only did the launch reveal some impressive specs and massive battery capacity, but the introductory pricing bordered on unbelievable.

The Model J rolled out with an MSRP of 1,499 and an even more impressive pre-order price of just 1,199, though with a five- to six-week wait for delivery. Even without the promotion, 1,499 is a very fair price. But at 1,199, that makes this bike a steal.

That’s especially true when you consider how customizable the bike is, offering dozens of custom paint colors and thousands of color combinations, not to mention the three 48V batteries options to choose from: 14Ah (672Wh), 28Ah (1,344Wh), and 42Ah (2,016Wh). Those three batteries options offer maximum ranges on pedal assist of 65 miles (104 km), 130 miles (208 km), and 195 miles (314 km). All of the batteries even come with a five-year warranty, which is one of the longest battery warranties we’ve ever seen in the e-bike industry.

We’re excited to test a Model J soon and see if the awesome design and specs look and feel as good in real life as they appear on paper.

long-range e-bikes on the horizon?

These are some of the longest-range electric bikes we’ve seen anywhere, but that doesn’t mean that e-bike companies have stopped innovating.

We fully expect to see even longer-range models with even higher capacity cropping up in the coming months and years.

How far can the industry go? If these models are any indication, the sky is the limit!

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