Differences Between Top Mid-Drive Electric Bike Motors
Electric bicycle (eBike) motor technology has steadily improved since its inception back in 1895 ( US Patent 552271 A ). The crude 10-volt battery-powered eBike patented by Ogden Bolton, Jr. set the stage for what is now an ever-growing class of bicycles. Multiple companies have emerged as of late and are mass-producing mid-drive electric bike motors that offer varying power, total energy and torque specs. Below are the highlights and differences between the top mid-drive electric bike motors available today.
Bosch CX eBike Motor
- US market motor offers a healthy 80 Nm peak torque unit
- Torque, speed, and crank sensors allow for continuous maximum torque of 70 Nm
- One of the lightest drive units allows bicycles to be fitted with double chainrings for wider gear ratios
- Fantastic Japanese system that offers a lot of value for the price
- One of the more reliable units on the market and it’s been proven on Germany’s Haibike SDuro eBikes
80 Nm max, 70 Nm continuous
7.7 lbs (3.5 kg) motor; 6.4 lbs (2.9 kg) battery Total: 14.1 lbs (6.4 kg)
7 lbs (3.2 kg) motor; 5.9 lbs (2.66 kg) battery Total: 12.9 lbs (5.86 kg)
No matter which eBike you choose, keep in mind that no mid-drive motor is the same. Electric bike manufacturers will agree that different mid-drive motors are suitable for different styles of riding. Where a Bosch Performance Line Speed motor offers top speed with a heavier motor for commuting, the Yamaha PWseries motor provides a lighter unit that can be fitted with double chainrings to offer more gear options for trail riding. Knowing the differences between the most popular mid-drive motors on the market will help you make a more intelligent decision when choosing your new eBike.
Electric Bike Mid-Drive Motor Comparison Chart
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And what does Yamaha do? Simply adapt its ebikes, which have been available on the US market for years, to European specifications, update them minimally in technical terms and then present them as one of the “most exciting new chapters in Yamaha’s history”. In the accompanying press release, the manufacturer emphasises that for all three bikes, the frame has been developed together with the associated drive system. This holistic approach allows for “ideal frame dimensions, the best balance between power delivery and handling”. In this way, an “extremely natural, comfortable and light riding experience” is achieved.
Perhaps the riding experience on the three models is indeed that great. Since we have not had a chance for a test ride so far, we cannot say anything about it. However, from the pictures provided, it is difficult to see any visual gain in the integration of motors and battery. Rather, the impression is that other bike manufacturers integrate the drive into their bikes much more skilfully. If you look at the corresponding data sheets, you will notice that Yamaha apparently couldn’t save much weight either. The 23.9 kilograms for a trail e-mountain bike with a 500 watt-hour battery in frame size M are mediocre at best. The same applies to the urban ebike, which weighs 23.9 kilograms without accessories such as mudguards, rear carrier and lighting in the medium frame size.
Yamaha Moro 07 – the e-mountain bike
Basically, there is only one piece of news to report. The Moro 07 e-mountain bike now features the PW-X3 motor. With a torque of 85 Newton metres and a weight of 2.75 kilograms, it is the most powerful, lightest and at the same time smallest drive unit from Yamaha. In addition to these figures, it offers numerous technological advantages. Whether it’s immediate power output with minimal pedal movement thanks to the Zero Cadence function, a narrow Q-factor for excellent power transmission or an extensive sensor package for additional power when riding uphill – the unit is definitely in good hands in the Moro 07.
The rest is quickly told because it has long been introduced in other international markets. The basis of the Moro 07 is an aluminium frame that allows 150 millimetres of suspension travel at the rear triangle and 160 millimetres at the fork. Its top tube and down tube are both double-tubed. The latter, however, disappears almost completely, as the battery compartment fills the space in between. Thanks to the 27.5 inch wheels, the Moro 07 retains the necessary agility that makes riding on narrow, nimble courses an absolute fun discipline.
Yamaha Moro 07 e-mountain bike with Yamaha PW-X3 motor
Yamaha Moro 07 at a glance
- Frame: Dual-twin frame
- Motor: Yamaha PW-X3
- Battery: Yamaha Lithium Ion 500 Wh
- Display: Yamaha Interface X
- Suspension fork: RockShox Lyrik Select RC
- Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT
- Brakes: Magura MT5
- Weight: 23.9 kg in size M
- Colours: Icon Blue; Raven/Silver
Yamaha Wabash RT – the gravel ebike
The Wabash RT is the first bike that begs the question why Yamaha did not switch from the PW-ST motor to the current PW-S2. Both the 600 grams of weight saved and the more compact shape would have been good for this gravel e-bike in any case. Not to mention the extra torque.
So it remains a solid ebike whose frame geometry was designed for relaxed and comfortable riding. There are enough mounts for attaching bottle cages and accessories. Even the attachment of mudguards is possible without any problems. With this addition, the Wabash RT quickly becomes a bike that could fit very well into the everyday cycling life of many.
The choice of the display seems less fortunate. Firstly, the Display A was placed rather poorly to the left of the stem with a mount. Secondly, it is difficult to reach the buttons from there without taking your hand off the handlebars at the same time. In our opinion, going for the Interface X with the control unit on the handlebar would have been a better choice.
Yamaha Wabash RT at a glance
- Frame: Yamaha Hydroformed aluminium frame
- Motor: Yamaha PW-ST
- Battery: Yamaha Lithium Ion 500 Wh
- Display: Yamaha Display A
- Fork: Aluminium
- Drivetrain: Shimano GRX RX600
- Brakes: Shimano GRX RX400
- Weight: 21.4 kg in size M
- Colour: Blue Steel
Shimano electric bike motors
Shimano STEPS is another leader in E-bike drive systems. With long lasting batteries and powerful motors designed for both on and off road performance, Shimano makes E-biking great for every kind of rider. City commuters and cyclists who ride mostly paved roads benefit from the lightweight and quick E5000, E6000, and E6100 motors. Mountain bikers benefit from the high torque and durability of the E7000 and E8000.
Shimano STEPS (Shimano Total Electric Power System) motors come with three boost modes: Eco, Normal, and High. An easy to see LCD display paired with handlebar-mounted switch units makes controlling your ride support effortless. The 250W motors deliver enough torque (40-70Nm depending on the model) to get you up the hills with speed and control. Weighing in at under 7lbs, they are some of the lightest drive systems on the market.
Shimano touts the long life of their 400Wh and 500Wh batteries as well as their range and fast charge times. These batteries can take up to 1,000 charges without any significant loss in power, so you can rest assured that your E-bike will continue to perform well for a long time to come. Riders can feel confident in the battery’s ability to go the distance. Maximum ranges on city and trekking motors hover around 100 miles, and the mountain bike motors can even reach distances of over 60 miles. Plus, the batteries can be charged up to 80% capacity in only 2-2.5 hours.
Fazua electric bike motors
Fazua specializes in lightweight ebike motors with an impressively small profile and natural riding sensation. The German brand is now owned by Porsche, a nod to the high-performance technology inside each of their drive systems. The motors’ compact size and streamlined integration make them a popular choice for electric road bikes, as well as hybrids and lightweight eMTBs.
Fazua drive systems are among the sleekest on the market, allowing for narrower downtube widths and preventing bulkiness around the bottom bracket. The Fazua Drivepack houses the motor and battery and is longer than most, distributing the mass through the frame and connecting to its proprietary bottom bracket. Depending on the model, the Drivepack is fully removable so you can ride the ebike like a standard bike too.
Ride 50 Evation: Fazua’s original drive unit that weighs only 4.6 kg and delivers 55Nm and 250W of power.
Ride 50 Trail/Street: Upgraded motor with 10% more power, better cooling, and maximum power of 350W. Available in two versions with specifically adapted radiators optimized for either trail or road riding.
Ride 60: Fazua’s newest, most powerful motor that’s fully integrated into the frame. The slim unit has a 430Wh battery and 60Nm of torque, weighing a mere 4.2 kg.
Each Fazua motor offers 3 preset assistance modes: Breeze, River, and Rocket. There’s also a Boost function and all these levels can be customized in the Fazua App. Fazua-equipped bikes have one of three different touch-sensitive remotes to control the system mounted on the handlebar, drop bar, or integrated into the frame.
TQ electric bike motors
Another Germany-based manufacturer, TQ stands out from the pack with its unique motor design. The small engineering company made waves in the industry when Trek outfitted their new Fuel EXe electric mountain bike with TQ’s lightweight motor. The innovative TQ-HPR50 motor is now featured on high-end electric road models and other eMTBs.
TQ specializes in robotics and aerospace and leveraged its expertise to create the motor’s Harmonic Pin Ring (HPR) technology. The ring design uses a direct drive speed reduction instead of multiple gears that makes the motor lighter and virtually silent. The design also allows for the components to fit concentrically and achieve a more compact profile and narrow Q-Factor of only 135mm.
TQ-HPR50: TQ’s lightest and quietest motor with an ultra-compact profile. 300W of power and 50Nm of torque from a motor that weighs in at just 1,850 grams (3.9kg entire unit).
TQ-HPR 120S: Powerful motor that provides a whopping 120Nm of constant torque and serious acceleration. This beast of a motor comes in at 3.88kg, not including the battery.
The TQ-HPR50 motor hooks up to a 360Wh battery that’s just as lightweight, combining for a total of just 3.9 kg for the entire drive unit. TQ claims it is the lightest ebike system in its category, achieving the most natural-feeling handling possible. The handlebar-mounted remote lets users toggle between 3 assist levels and a Walk mode. The 2” display is neatly integrated into the frame and TQ also offers a 160Wh Range Extender that’s only the size of a water bottle.
Yamaha electric bike motors
Yamaha has been taking its legendary motor mechanical tech to the E-bike industry for years. The 2019 Yamaha models like the 250 watt 2019 PW-SE and 500W PW-X are powerful mid drive motors that offer riders calculated support to do more on bikes. For 2020, Yamaha makes 3 different pedal-assist motors for electric bikes. The PW series TE is great for commuters and recreational riding. The The PW series ST offers more power for a sportier ride that can be used on a quick commuter, road, or mountain E-bike. The PW-X2 is their higher end motor stocked on high end mountain bikes that ride more aggressively on rough terrain.
Yamaha motors come with Quad Sensor Technology. This simultaneously measures the gradient of the terrain, bike speed, crank rotation rate, and pedal torque. The result is beautifully smooth yet powerful assistance in all situations. Yamaha’s Automatic Support Mode can intuitively select the appropriate amount of boost and automatically toggle between Eco, Eco, Standard, and High modes depending on rider input and terrain.
PW-X2 motors come with an additional EXPW mode for up to 80 Nm of torque and more refined ride characteristics. Automatic Support Mode can be turned off if you desire to manually select your level of assist. Yamaha batteries come in 400Wh and 500Wh capacities and are easily removable. Every Yamaha battery includes an industry-leading 700 charge-cycle warranty.
Yamaha Power Sport e-MTB Overview
The Yamaha YDX Moro and Moro Pro are Yamaha’s full-suspension, Class 1 electric mountain bikes. On paper they have the basics spot-on:
- The 27.5″ rear wheel keeps the chain stay short and the wheel mass light. This favors dynamic downhill action.
- 160 mm travel in the front forks is the preferred travel for most situations. Most riders agree that 160 mm is the perfect balance for controlled and shock absorption on rough tracks. The YDX Moro uses RockShox Revelation RC forks while the YDX more Pro sports RockShox Yari front forks.
- The frame on the YDX range has a patent pending split top and down tube. The split tube increases rigidity while lower the standover height. In addition, it adds a neat styling feature, unique placement of the rear damper, and lowers the COG.
- A 250 W, PW-X2 motor, is a winning power plant with several tricks up its sleeve. This e-bike motor delivers potent power effectively and controllably.
On paper then, Yamaha electric mountain bikes should go head-to-head with the big name specialists of the sport.
Yamaha Power Sport has built the YDX Moro, and YDX Moro Pro, on the same patent pending, duel twin, frame. The frame houses a quality 250 watt, high efficiency, PW-X2 motor for pedal friendly electric assist.
Protracted 1,253 mm wheelbase keeps the front planted on challenging hill climbs.
Power management algorithms on the motor deliver power intelligently to the rear while the slack seat tube angle pushes rider weight back. The combination work in harmony to maximize rear wheel traction.
On fast, rough, downhill tracks, the slack seat tube angle and long, 160 / 150 mm suspension travel, compliment the extended wheelbase to provide stability.
The key feature of this patent pending frame is the dual crossbar and downtube. This key design feature gives the frame greater rigidity for the weight. The battery nestles neatly into the centre of the downtube and the rear damper pivot fits inside the dual crossbar.
Mounting the damper pivot inside the crossbar allows a lower standover height. This delivers a low center of gravity keeping this e-bike agile for its relatively long wheelbase.
Why is standover height important?
Standover height is the first measurement to take when choosing the correct frame.
The standover height is measured from the ground to the crossbar at a point approximately 70 mm in front of the saddle post.This is the fundamental measurement that a rider needs to ensure the bike frame is correct.
Standover height can never be too low, but it can limit frame selection if it is too high. The rider should be able to straddle the bike comfortably.
In addition, lower standover height translates to a lower centre of gravity (COG). Bikes with lower COG are more maneuverable than higher COG bikes of the same weight.
Yamaha MTB Performance
The PW-X2 has a few hidden gems that set it apart from other motors.
PW-X2 electric motors fitted to YTD Moro e-bikes are conspicuous as they point skyward. The unusual engine position improves clearance by raising the front of the motor.
This unique engine angle helps shift weight back in the frame. Weight over the rear wheel improves traction and lightens the front of the e-bike. This makes it easier for the rider to lift the front wheel over obstacles.
These Yamaha electric assist mountain bikes utilize technology developed from MotoGP racing to increase traction.
Sensors in the engine detect tilt angle of the bike. Yamaha PW-X2 electric motors use these sensors to regulate power delivery in critical situations. Engine management sensors monitor sensors to determine tilt angle, gradient of the track, rider pedal force, crank rotation, and speed of the bike. If the rider is climbing a hill, Yamaha’s automated power management will add more power. If the rider is leaning into a corner, the ride management software adds power smoothly. Ride management algorithms interpret rider intent to adjust power delivery. Intelligent power management results in more efficient battery use, while subtle power management helps to maximize traction on loose surfaces.
With cadence support up to 170rpm, the motor also supports the rider at higher pedaling rates than other e-bike motors.
The biggest trick the PW-X2 holds is that the boost feature can double the power output to 500 Watts in short bursts. The power of the PW-X2 engine on the YDX Moro makes steep inclines easy to conquer.
New helical driven gears, and vibration reducing mounting bracket, minimize engine noise. The PW-X2 is not as quiet as some motors, but it has a change of pitch from earlier models.
Unlike other whiny motors, I found that I didn’t notice the engine noise after a while.
The beauty of this motor is in the natural power delivery. than any other pedal assist motor, the PW-X2 feels as though you have just grown some extra muscles.