Bosch have been a big player in the e-bike market for a long time, and their Active Line motor is probably the go-to unit for any manufacturer looking to build a good quality, reasonably affordable city e-bike. So when they announce a new version, it’s time to sit up and take notice. And they’ve announced not one new version, but two! And along with that a new internal battery and… an anti-lock braking system. So many new things. We’ll cover the motors and the batteries first, and report on the ABS system in a bit.
Let’s deal with the motors first. Active Line has split into two, Active Line and Active Line Plus. “Both these drive systems contain a number of new technical developments and thanks to their smaller size they can be elegantly integrated into modern pedelec frames”, says Bosch. The new Active Line will have particular appeal for inner-city users and occasional eBikers, while the versatile Active Line Plus will attract convenience-conscious riders who also use their bikes for countryside. With these two product lines the eBiker benefits not only from a natural riding experience but also from the fact that the motor is both light and quiet.”
So, the new Active Line motor is basically a direct replacement for the old one, with the Plus version sitting between it and the more powerful Performance Line motor. In terms of torque, the Active Line puts out 40Nm and the Active Line Plus 50Nm, then above that the Perfromance Line gives you 63Nm and the CX version 75Nm. You can see a nice progression there.
The Active Line motor has been quite heavily redesigned. It’s lighter, and Bosch say it’s a lot quieter too. “The gear concept has been completely reworked, thus producing an even smoother and therefore more pleasant riding experience”, says Bosch, and although the press release doesn’t really go into detail about what that means the early pics from the launch (we couldn’t make it over to Germany this time, sadly) the early pics we’ve seen show that the motors use a standard sized chainring rather than the small drive ring we’re used to seeing on Bosch motors. So it looks like they’ve switched to a direct drive chainring, where the drive ring is fixed to the cranks and the axle is driven, rather than using gearing between the cranks and the drive ring. That’s quite a big change, and it pulls the motor into line with the other big players, Shimano, Brose and Yamaha. Whether it’s a step-change that will be continued into the high performance motor remains to be seen.
Bosch claim a weight of 2.9kg for the new Active Line motor. That’s a lot lighter than the previous version, and with Bosch also introducing a new internal battery that weighs 2.8kg (more on that below) it means that a sub-6kg weight for the full system is a possibility, a saving of about 1kg over the current gear. The Active Line Plus motor weighs in at 3.2kg, which is still lighter than the previous Active Line, and the same as Shimano’s STEPS city motor with comparable torque.
New PowerTube 500Wh battery
Bosch have introduced a new battery, the PowerTube, which is designed to be mounted internally. Until now Bosch haven’t offered an internal battery; the official line was that the PowerPack batteries needed airflow to stop them overheating, which led to some sucking of teeth when Moustache unveiled their latest e-MTBs last year with a cover over the battery. To the best of our knowledge there haven’t been any issues, though.
Anyway, with all the other major systems offering internal batteries it was only a matter of time. "The eBike has established itself as a means of transport with a high degree of public acceptance. Integrated design, in particular, is becoming increasingly important. With the PowerTube we are setting new standards for pedelec users.” So says Claus Fleischer, CEO of Bosch eBike Systems.
Anyway, the new battery can be run as a fully internal unit, or recessed into a down tube. In the former configuration there’s a two-stage removal process for inserting and removing the battery so you don’t drop it on your foot; in the latter there’s a recess along the top of the battery that can be used to add trim to match the frame, or to fit bottle bosses for a bottle cage.
The PowerTube is compatible with all current Bosch systems, which means you can piggyback another battery (frame mounted or rack mounted) for up to 1,000Wh of juice.