This week has been a good one for innovation in the electric bicycle industry, with two major players both unveiling new designs for mid-drive motors built specifically for electric mountain bikes.
Brose dropped the new Drive S Mag, a magnesium update to their previous Drive S that both increases power while reducing weight, and Shimano showed off their new STEPS E7000 motor, designed for recreational riding.
Mid-drive motors are an alternative to the older design of hub motors. Instead of housing the motor in the hub of the wheel, mid-drive motors use a centrally located frame-mounted motor that ties into the bicycle’s crank and pedals.
We’ve talked about the advantages of mid-drive motors over hub motors for electric bicycles before. Essentially, most of the advantages including superior weight balance, wider motor gear ratios and better hill climbing performance are more important for mountain bikes than road bikes, which is why you see a lot of electric mountain bikes with mid-drives.
The original Brose Drive S was a popular motor, but its one major flaw was the larger physical size of the aluminum housing, which made it more difficult for electric bicycle manufacturers to incorporate the motor into their designs. Now, Brose has updated the motor line with their new Drive S Mag, which is smaller and lighter than the previous model while still increasing the overall power of the unit.
According to Brose Antriebstechnik GM Joachim Volland:
“Thanks to its innovative magnesium housing, it is 15 percent smaller and 500 grams lighter than the current drive models and achieves an even higher power-to-weight ratio. Our Brose Drive S Mag meets the demands of ambitious e-mountain bikers. At the same time, we enable manufacturers to reduce the weight of their bikes even further. Thus, they can respond to the market trend towards lighter e-bikes.”
The previous model provided up to a 380% boost over pedal-power alone, while the new Drive S Mag can provide up to 410% of assist thanks to a combination of software tweaks and internal upgrades to the controller and electronics.
The Drive S Mag also includes a new driving mode in the top assist level known as Flex Power Mode, which allows assist at higher pedal speeds by combining torque readings with the pedal cadence sensor. And in addition to the larger cadence range, the Drive S Mag also increases the available torque to 90 Nm (66 ft-lbs).
Lastly, Brose introduced three new display options for the Drive S Mag, including a larger information-packed display, a smaller vitals-only display and a display-less button-only option.
The Drive S Mag is rated at 250 W continuous, 500 W peak, and 25 km/h (15 mph) maximum, keeping it street legal for most countries around the world.
Not to be outdone, Shimano also introduced their newest electric mountain bike mid-drive, the E7000. This motor is something of a little brother to the existing Shimano E8000, a heavier duty off-road mid-drive designed for more hardcore mountain biking.
The new E7000 is a smaller and lighter version meant for recreational riding, and is set to become available in September.
The E7000 has similar base specs to the Brose system above, including 250 W continuous power, 500 W peak, and a maximum motor-assist speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph).
Power can be controlled in three different power settings, including Eco, Trail and Boost. The motor also has three different riding style modes, Explorer, Dynamic or Custom, which can be altered and selected via the monitor or by smartphone. The different modes allow the user to dial in custom settings including acceleration profiles and battery savings options.
The Shimano STEPS line of motors uses wireless data transmission, meaning that the motor and battery info are not only available on the bike’s display, but can also be accessed via other devices such as GPS units, data trackers or smartphones using the unit’s minimalistic EW-EN100 connector.
Both of these new motors represent the continued “better, stronger, lighter” trend in the electric bicycle industry. With so many different options available, companies have to keep innovating to stay relevant and competitive.
These motors are mountain bike specific, but other companies such as Bafang have recently come out with their own lighter and smaller road e-bike designs as well.
With Europe’s largest bicycle trade show EUROBIKE opening in just a few more days, we’ll likely be seeing more innovations like these in the e-bike world soon.