There are lots of bike manufacturers out there, so Bosch has come up with a great way of getting its ebike technology to a mass-market audience. The German company has partnered with a whole host of bike brands and struck a nifty deal. What that means is they can mate their Bosch ebike drive systems with designs from the likes of Apache and Atala right on through the alphabet to Winora and Zemo, plus all points in between. In fact, they’ve got pretty much anyone who is anyone in bike manufacturing on-board.
What that means is volume, which allows Bosch to get its products to a wider cross-section of bike buyers, without having to come up with the whole bike. For a company like Bosch, with fingers in so many innovation pies, this seems like a great idea. Similarly, it allows bicycle makers to carry on doing what they do best too.
There are technical considerations to bear in mind though, with added weight being one of the biggest concerns for manufacturers. After all, there’s not much point in adding electric power if the bulk of the motor and battery cancel out the benefits, but we’ll address that point a little later on.
For 2019 the range of Bosch accessories is increasing to include a brand new drive unit in the shape of the revised Performance Line CX. Bosch reckons it’s good for maximum Torque of 75Nm and there’s a range of modes that deliver a potent supply of power with settings that include Tour, Sport and the tempting though perhaps slightly overblown Turbo option. The unit is also intuitive, so depending on the amount of pedal pressure that’s applied the progressive motor adjusts the level of assistance dynamically.
In addition, an eMTB mode, specially designed for the Performance Line CX, also dynamically varies between the Tour and Turbo riding modes for easier trail riding. The new drive unit is compatible with other accessories in the Bosch range too, including batteries and a range of on-board computers such as the Kiox and Nyon.
Going forwards more efficiently is one thing the new power unit is sure to help with, but Bosch has also tackled the need for better brakes. In fact, for 2019, the company is adding Bosch eBike ABS, which is an anti-lock braking system that takes its inspiration from petrol-driven counterparts – motorcycles in particular.
However, getting ABS to work safely and efficiently on a bicycle is a slightly different conundrum. Adding more weight on top of that power unit and the battery is the last thing you want to do on a pedal cycle, but Bosch has worked hard to produce a system that consists of discs, brakes, sensors and a control unit/ABS light that weighs in at just 800 grams or so. Ride over 6 kilometres an hour and the system is activated.
Bosch isn’t just focusing on the stopping and going part of the ebike equation either. The company has developed a selection of other accessories all of which are designed to enhance not only the ebike experience, but give you much more data about your journey both during it and afterwards.
New for next year is the aforementioned Kiox on-board computer, which is a neat new variation on previous handlebar-mounted info screens. While it’s tempting to think you can do a lot of what the Kiox does with your smartphone, this little box of tricks packs more useful features on top of the usual fitness monitoring.
The main benefit is that you can carry on cycling without distraction, so it’s a practical safety solution for starters. There’s a Remote Compact component that can be controlled with just your thumb and works using Bluetooth.
It can be attached to your body with a strap, which allows fitness fans to keep on top of their performance monitoring while not risking their safety. And, in a nod to our smartphone dependency, if you’re making use of the Kiox system then the built-in USB port lets you recharge your handset while you’re on the go.
Rough and ready
The Kiox has been designed to be tough too. If you’re planning on going off-road then there’s a screen that comes armed with Gorilla Glass and a magnetic holder keeps everything in place no matter how hard the terrain. We also like the clean, easy-to-read typeface and the 1.9-inch transmissive colour display that’s great at fending off light pollution when you’re riding in the great outdoors. We also love the indicator on the display that shows whether or not you’re doing your best; no slacking at the back please.
Alternatively, there’s the COBI.Bike system, which Bosch reckons will transform your two-wheeler into a fully networked smart bike. What do they mean by that? Well, instead of using something like the Kiox you can add this hub for your smartphone to the handlebars as an alternative. There’s some obvious stuff that you’d expect such as navigation and fitness tracking through to music streaming and being able to make calls using Bluetooth.
However, the added value with the COBI.Bike setup is that the system will monitor your bike and a smart alarm system detects suspicious movements. With ebikes being highly valuable and appealing to thieves as a result this is a wise addition. Oh, and there’s an electronic bell for good measure.
There are other handy ideas integrated into the COBI.Bike system, with an automatic lighting system called AmbiSense being particularly useful. The rear light even features turn signals.
Philips has also created a thumb controller that lets you operate the controls in safety and central to its operation is an accompanying app, which lets you work through the different menus. And, if you’re hopeless with directions then the crisp and clean bike navigation, which is based around OpenStreetMap, will get you from A to B without fuss.
Naturally, anyone buying an ebike is going to need to charge the battery along the way. Bosch has therefore also developed a new Fast Charger for 2019. This unit is currently the fastest one on the market and can recharge your ebike battery to 50% capacity in just over an hour. If you’re out for the day and want to stop for lunch then that means you could be ready to go again before you’ve finished your dessert (as long as you don’t mind lugging it with you in your backpack or panniers, that is).
So, to go back to the point we touched on earlier, what about the weight that this bundle of tech wizardry will add to your two-wheeled machine? Well, the Performance Line CX does weigh 4kg, but for that you do get rewarded with a decent range of performance options. Add on the ABS, battery and on-board computers and your bike isn’t going to be as nimble as a no frills racing bike, but it will get down the road nicely all the same.
The power unit even offers walking assistance, so if you find yourself stranded in terrain that’s too steep or rough to cycle over the bike helps both you and itself along. There’s also an Eco mode if you’re looking to conserve energy or happen to be riding on flat, super smooth surfaces with little in the way of friction. As if all that isn’t enough, the dynamic gearshift detection to the derailleur system makes your journey a breeze and means that you can enjoy powered assistance right up to 15mph with little in the way of gear management.
Bosch has spent the summer touring events around the UK showing off its new kit using a big truck chock full of ovens, freezers, vacuums and heating systems. But, it appears to be their focus on ebikes that has garnered most of the attention. With this level of innovation on offer, that’s hardly surprising.
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Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.