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Bosch vs. Yamaha Electric Bike Motors and Drive System – Weight, Power, Ride Test

Court Rye: I’ve got 2016 versions of both
the Bosch Center Drive and Yamaha electric bike drive systems here. One of the first things you’ll notice is just
the larger battery pack and larger charging unit for the Yamaha motor but a slightly larger
actual drive unit. While the other accessories and battery pack
are a little bit smaller on Bosch, including the display panel. Let’s just hit some specs real quick. These Bosch motors offer 250 to 350 watts
peak output, 60 Newton Meters or 75 Newton Meters if you get the Performance CX High
Torque version. By contrast, Yamaha offers 250 to 500 watts
peak output with 80 Newton Meters of torque. You can’t see it because I don’t actually
have the sprockets installed right now but the Bosch drive units use these smaller sprockets
with 16 teeth or 18 teeth versus the Yamaha drive system, which uses a more traditionally-sized
38 tooth, at least as far as I’ve seen doing my reviews. They’re fairly comparable if you get the Performance
CX High Torque but you’re still getting a little bit more torque from the Yamaha drive
unit. They do perform differently. I’m going to take them out to the trail and
comment on that a little bit more later but this is still just all about the specs. Let’s hit the battery chargers real quick. This is a 2.2 amp charger from Bosch. Pretty light, only weighs 1.7 pounds. Very compact and you can even unplug the wall
side so you can make it really, really small. Proprietary plug at this end. It’s a nice little unit. What we’re looking at here is a European Yamaha
charger. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a US
version but they share a lot of similarities. I’m just going to touch on this. Four amps output. Two pounds, so it’s a little bit heavier than
the Bosch unit and it’s definitely bigger. You can see that the wall side does not unplug. If this were the US version, it would be very
similar but maybe not quite as tall. You can see it has a proprietary plug at the
end and this is a unique plug because it actually slides. It connects right under this rubber nipple. It’s much smaller, whereas the Bosch is a
little bit heftier, a little bit tougher-looking. Both of these batteries can be charged on
or off the bike. You don’t need to take them off. They both lock, which is nice. The Yamaha battery pack doesn’t have any metal
reinforcement or anything. It just has that little plastic notch and
it slides in from the side, versus Bosch, which pivots in like that and it does have
a little bit of a metal lip, so it seems a bit more secure to me. The Yamaha and Bosch batteries offer the exact
same watt hours, 36 volt, 11 amp hours for 396 watt hours total. They both round and say, “Hey, power pack
400,” so it’s slightly less than 400 but it’s very close. The Yamaha pack weighs 6.5 pounds, whereas
the Bosch pack’s slightly lighter, 5.3 pounds. When you add the motors and the batteries
up, they both weigh exactly 14.1 pounds and I weighed these myself. I was really surprised. I was thinking, “Man, that motor 8.8 pounds
versus 7.6, I mean, Yamaha has the edge,” but then you look at their battery pack and
it’s slightly heavier at 6.5 pounds versus 5.3. That was just really interesting to me. Of course, you can take the batteries off,
so you get a bit of an edge with the Yamaha system if you take the battery off and you’re
lifting it onto your car, or a bike rack, or something. It’s going to save a little bit of weight. Both of these have removable display panels,
like you can see here. Gray scale, back-lit, lots of viewing area
and I think this one goes to Yamaha. It’s slightly larger. They both have independent batteries so you
can use them while they’re off the bike. This one even has a little hole for adding
a leash. You could put it on a key chain or something
so you wouldn’t lose it. That’s nice. I have heard from some of the hardcore mountain-bikers
that if you crash an electric bike and it goes tumbling, those display panels can get
banged up. Having something that’s a little bit slimmer
isn’t such a bad thing. The Bosch does have four buttons on it, as
well as an external button pad with three buttons. Whereas, the Yamaha display panel does not
have any buttons on the display unit and it has, I think, six on the button pad. Also, on the button pad, which is located
near the left grip, you’ve got a little micro USB port. Whereas, the Bosch unit has the micro USB
built right into the display. That can be used for, maybe charging your
phone if you’re using it as a GPS unit or listening to some music. Again, both of them back-lit. This one has the light right on it. Both of these drive units are pretty advanced. They’re measuring wheel speed, cadence and
pedaling torque. The Bosch system claims to do that a thousand
times per second. In my experience, it’s very, very responsive
and that front sprocket spins at a higher RPM consistently. You do hear it. It’s a little bit more pronounced, kind of
a [Weeeeeng 00:05:16]. Whereas, Yamaha is slow, steady and a little
bit more power but it doesn’t have that range of support. I’ve noticed when I shift gears down, it feels
like I’m getting less power until my cadence slows, in which point, the Yamaha system kicks
back in. It’s always difficult to try to explain that
to people without showing it, so let’s go out there and let’s hit the trail. I’m going to ride with both-
Let’s talk about starting this thing up. How does that work? Well, first of all, we’ve got a display panel
right in the middle. A nice big screen. It pivots so you can reduce glare. Then, we’ve got a breakout button pad over
here on the side with everything you need. You can really be holding on with these locking
grips, handling yourself on the bike really well but have this intuitive like, “Oh, I
need more support,” click, click, arrowing up, or “Oh, I need less.” I’m going downhill. I want to save the battery, get a better,
whatever, click down. I love that there’s a little bit of tactile
feedback built-in. Jumping into the display itself, the first
thing you see is your speed. Right now, it’s in miles per hour. I could reset that if I want by holding reset
and I at the same time. Then, it goes into configuration. Then, you just press I again. We could set the clock, the wheel circumference,
language, I’m in English right now, units, kilometers per hour versus miles per hour,
time format, 24-hour shift recommendation. This is a new thing. As you’re pedaling, if your RPM, your pedal
cadence gets higher and higher, there’s these little arrows that appear that say, “Hey,
shift up.” If you’re a really good cyclist, you don’t
need that. You could turn it off if you want but it’s
a neat little feature for 2016, that they added. Power on, display version, just a bunch of
other information. To get out of this, we’ll hold the reset and
I again for a couple of seconds. This display is back-lit. You can’t see it because it’s super-bright
out right now but that’s cool, just a faint glow. It makes it easy to read. We talked about speed. We’ve got our battery up there. It’s got five bars to give you some general
idea of how full it is. Then, if we press I here, or over here, we’re
going to cycle through the different other menus. Right now, we’ve got trip distance, clock,
maximum speed, average speed, trip time and range. Range is really cool. It dynamically senses how much battery capacity
is remaining and then what level of assist are we in and as you change assist level,
it’s going to give you some estimate for how far it thinks you can go. Right now, we’ll go to the lowest level assist,
Eco. The pack is fully charged right now and it’s
saying, “Hey, 76 miles.” Then, as you go a little bit higher, tour,
our range drops way down to almost 40 miles. Sport, 29 and turbo, 24. Here is the button pad I was talking about. Four buttons on the front, one on top for
power and one for walk mode on the bottom. Then, right down here, that’s where the little
micro USB is. You probably can’t see it too well here but,
yeah, it’s nice that it has that. Really big, easy to read. I think the speed miles per hour is very similar
in size to the Bosch Intuvia display but you get your power meter over here and just a
little bit more space for those other readouts. 10 bars on the battery level. We’ve got odometer and if we press the S button
over there, you can see, there’s the odometer, distance, battery percentage, as well as those
bars. That’s nice. Then, rotations per minute and average speed
and max speed. There’s tons of information here. Clock and trip time. Then, this power meter that goes up and down
depending on how much power the motor’s actually putting out. You can get an idea as you’re riding, “Oh,
how hard is the motor working? Therefore, how quickly am I using that battery
capacity?” I like that. Then, there are really four levels of assist
to choose from. If we click up here, we go from no assist
where it’s just like a mountain bike, to Eco plus, to Eco, to standard, to high. It’s really like there’s these three different
names and I feel like they just added Eco plus because maybe they didn’t have room on
the display. Plus just gives you an even lower level. The other thing I like about the display is
that you can adjust the angle right here. It does have these teeth, so once you’ve got
that set, it sticks but then the whole thing actually swivels on the bar if you don’t over-tighten
it. Very similar, again, to the Intuvia system. Actually very pleased with this. It’s large. It’s right where you want it, looking straight
down. Very nice. Then, the button pad’s easier to reach while
you’re riding, so you don’t have to look down. You can even just get used to it. You can feel a little click and you can tell
that you’re getting more power. I’m maxing out at 17 because I’m not in the highest gear. Just going a little slower. There we go. Basically, the motor, it’s got me up to that
10 mile per hour mark and then it just backs off because it’s just got that limited RPM. On the Bosch-powered Hy-bike, I was cruising
through this section a lot faster. Okay. Onto the really steep section, which is where
I switched to gear one with the Bosch. I’m going to try and stay seated the whole
way. It’s struggling a little bit. This is where Bosch started to struggle too. It’s a similar experience, I’m just spinning
a lot slower but the motor’s doing most of the work and that’s the RPM thing that I was
mentioning before. Bosch just seems to have more power at higher
RPMs. Whew. Oh, yeah. I think I got more of a cardio workout with
Bosch. I wasn’t pedaling as fast with Yamaha but
I got similar good power support in that last stretch. It just felt like I was just getting that
little push in the lowest gear on both of them. Pretty great experience. I’ve been curious about these drive systems
for a long time. We’ve been hearing about Yamaha entering the
United States, offering electric bikes, including hy-bikes that are almost a thousand dollars
cheaper than Bosch. You wonder, “Well, is it worth the extra thousand
dollars to go with a Bosch drive unit? What are the differences?” I hope this has helped you to come to some
conclusions. People who want to be more active and pedal
and feel like they’re moving the bike, I think the Yamaha system is actually good for that. Whereas, Bosch, it’s always there for you. It’s very responsive and it activates and
deactivates extremely quickly. It also has shift sensing, which the Yamaha
system does not. This one might produce less ware on your drivetrain. Whereas, you’re going to be required to shift
and you’re going to be a little bit more sensitive when you’re shifting on Yamaha. Because it relies a little more heavily on
torque versus torque and cadence, I find that it doesn’t mash the gears quite as much as
some of the lower-end drive systems. For more electric bike reviews and information
like this, I’ll see you back at the website I’ve also got a forum where you can chat and
exchange ideas. If you have ideas for other guides like this,
feel free to sound-off in the comments or if you want to make a correction or provide
any feedback. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do this again in
the future.

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