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Bosch eBike Systems Q&A: Can I be of assistance?

19 Jan 2021

Before you buy your first electric bike, you’ll no doubt have a lot of questions. Tamara Winograd, Vice President of Marketing at Bosch eBike Systems, answers some of the most common queries to give you a head start

I’ve heard electric bikes described as a fair-weather product. How are the bikes and motors engineered to keep going even in wet conditions?

The Bosch system is an all-weather system with a protection rating of IP54 on each of our Drive Units – from Active Line through to the Performance Line CX. This means all of our Drive Units are dustproof and splashproof and engineered to be used all year round and in all conditions.

That is essential, especially for commuters. So from a technological point of view there are no excuses for not continuing to use your eBike all through winter.

I’m looking to buy an electric bike for commuting. Which motors and navigation systems are best suited?

With regards to motors, which is the most suitable depends on the topography of the commute and the desires of the rider. But in general terms, the Bosch Performance Line is an excellent solution for commuters.

This versatile drive system provides a natural sporty riding sensation and a smooth pedalling action over 25km/h [15.5mph] or in “off” mode. With up to 300% support it accelerates dynamically and powerfully, even at low cadences, and is designed for even more riding enjoyment over long distances.

If your commute is predominantly over flat or gently undulating areas, or just shorter distances within the city, then the Active Line or Active Line Plus Drive Units would be perfectly suited as well (up to 250% and 270% support, respectively).

If it’s acceleration away from the lights you’re looking for, the sporty Performance Line CX is the one to go for – it’s the most powerful in our range and offers the most assistance (up to 340%).

With regards to navigation, our connected displays are the way to go. They give the rider the choice between the SmartphoneHub that turns your mobile into a display solution and the connected on-board computers Nyon and Kiox.

They provide a range of additional advanced information such as heart rate data, and can link to third-party apps and services or security features such as the Lock premium function. 

Is there a specific charging routine or storage requirement that will help keep equipment in the best possible condition?

With regards to keeping the eBike in top condition, most emphasis is put on the battery, especially if you use your eBike in winter. In frosty temperatures the battery can lose capacity, so for longer journeys under such conditions it is advisable to use thermal protective covers.

After riding, we recommend removing the battery to charge, and storing it in a dry and well ventilated place at a temperature between 10°C and 20°C. Our advice is to only insert it back into the eBike shortly before the next ride.

Bosch has incorporated a sophisticated Battery Management System (BMS) within our range of batteries, which means it’s safe to run the battery until fully flat. It also means it’s safe to charge the battery with a 6A Fast Charger with no effect on the battery’s lifespan.

The BMS detects significant potential sources of error and effectively protects cells against overload. If you are going to store a battery for a long period of time without use, we recommend keeping the battery between 30% and 60% charge.

For city commutes what range might the average rider expect? Would a five-day week of commutes be possible for most of us on Eco mode?

Battery range is the most common question we get asked by new or prospective eBike riders. A huge range of different elements affect battery range: rider weight, topography, gear usage, start-up pace, weather, wind… the list goes on.

To help answer this common question, we have developed a very comprehensive range assistance guide on our website.

Here, the user can enter all the details about themselves, their e-bike and their commute. The calculator will then provide an accurate projection of what sort of range can be expected from a single charge, regardless of a rider’s unique specifications. 

When e-bikes first launched they seemed to be marketed at older riders, but this has changed over time – what’s different about the bikes and their systems now?

When our systems were first introduced to the market in 2010, the majority of bicycle brands placed them in bikes that were designed for gentler riding and were targeted at older people. Normally, trends tend to prevail from young to old – take the smartphone, for example. The eBike is the only product I know of where this development has been the other way around.

At the same time, the eBike system portfolio – as well as the eBike model portfolio – has expanded. Almost all types of bicycles are now also available electrified with specific drive systems for dedicated needs, from step-through bikes to mountain bikes.

We have actively shaped this development in collaboration with our partners. In doing so, we always have the needs of our customers in mind and are constantly developing new drive systems for a wide range of applications.

Besides the specific areas of applications, for eBikers, the topic of design integration has been relevant from the very start so that an eBike looks and feels as much like a “standard” bicycle as possible.

In the past few years, connectivity and safety features have also become more relevant. Customers want their eBike to be a part of their digital life so they can use the eBike as a fitness facility that can also offer navigation and a whole host of other functions. They often want features that make riding even safer – solutions that we also provide.

What questions should customers ask in their local bike shop in order to find their perfect commuter bike?

It should really be the bike shop asking the questions to pair the customer with their perfect commuter bike. The standard questions such as “What sort of riding will you be doing?” and “Where and how often will you be riding?” are absolutely vital – and these don’t differ whether it’s a conventional bike or an eBike.

Once they understand that information, as well as considering the physical factors of the customer such as height and leg length, the eBike dealer will be able to suggest some models to test ride.

Bosch eBike Systems has always placed a strong emphasis on our dealer network. Only when a dealership has participated in Bosch training can they say that they are a certified Bosch dealer. You can find an overview of all Bosch eBike Systems dealers here

Is it true that you must spend a lot to get a quality electric bike nowadays?

It’s important to gain the advice from a reputable eBike dealer on what sort of money you should expect to spend on an eBike. For example, if you’re going to be commuting long distances and across technical terrain it may be advisable to spend more money on an eBike that has a bigger battery capacity, or even DualBattery, and suspension.

If you’ll be commuting short distances in an urban area, these features may not be necessary and the bike may be significantly lower in price.

The key thing is to purchase an eBike with a reliable system, and premium bike brands offer premium and reliable quality. Other components aside from the eBike system, such as the brakes and drivetrain, must also be of appropriate quality because the eBike can be harder on them. We recommend in any case not to cut corners and save money in the wrong places.

Aside from Bosch’s systems, what ingredients make the ideal commuter bike for an all-weather, luggage-carrying commute?

It really depends on the requirements of the rider. Again, the eBike dealer will play a key role in helping you select a suitable model. For an all-weather commuting bike, mudguards are a useful addition. With regards to luggage, it really depends on how much luggage you’ll need to transport.

For a typical office worker, standard panniers should be sufficient – or perhaps you would rather carry a backpack so you wouldn’t need panniers at all. But if you carry more in the way of luggage, you may wish to consider a utility eBike.

Many brands now offer these, and there are now lots of tradespeople who use an eCargo bike to zip around towns and cities rather than sitting in traffic in their vans.