E-bike anti-lock braking systems (ABS) have grown in popularity in recent years, with more and more models equipped with them. E-bike motor manufacturer Bosch is one of only a few firms offering ABS, along with Blubrake, who have reportedly filed a claim to the Competition and Market Authority (AGCM) in their native Italy arguing that Robert Bosch GmbH has been abusing its dominant position in the market.
Blubrake is claiming that Bosch has hindered its ability to add its ABS to Bosch drive systems. In particular, the claim centres around a Y-cable, which Blubrake claims was originally designed to connect third-party components such as Blubrake’s ABS from 2024 onwards. They argue that Bosch replaced this with an HPP-port, which Bosch did not make available to Blubrake as well as refusing to share the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus communication between the systems.
For us non-engineers, Blubrake are essentially claiming that Bosch has made it impossible to connect their ABS system to Bosch powered e-bikes. If true, this means that Bosch could have been actively excluding one of their only competitors in the ABS e-bike market, thus impacting natural competition by ensuring it would be the main supplier of ABS on e-bikes.
Bike Europe, who reported the case opening, were told by Bosch eBike Systems: “One of our most important principles is to comply with the law. Bosch is cooperating with the authorities. Please understand that we cannot offer any further information on an ongoing legal procedure.”
Italian officials are said to have inspected foreign premises of Bosch and others with assistance from the German and Dutch Competition Authorities. Inspections were also undertaken in Italy, with help from the Special Antitrust Unit of the Italian Finance Police.
Compatibility issues had previously been raised between the two brands, again with the Y-cable the point of contention. Blubrake and a potential e-bike customer modified the Bosch Y-cable but kept it ‘technically identical’ so the Blubrake ABS could be fitted to a Bosch powered e-bike.
Despite positive electrical functioning test results, the question of warranty was raised by Bosch. From the AGCM documents, it would appear conversation between Blubrake and e-bike manufacturers took place, only for their discussions to stall when addressing potential warranty issues.
Blubrake launched a smaller, lighter version of its ABS in 2021 and has since also been providing Shimano with a system that is billed as being "powered by Blubrake". Shimano had previously created a patent for its own ABS.
The deadline for the investigation to close is December 31, 2024.