For model year 2021, Yamaha and Mahle have both introduced new e-bike drives. Both companies are following the trend towards smaller and lighter drives that are easier to integrate into the frame.
First of all, to Yamaha’s new electric bike drive: The Japanese company is launching two new products for e-bikes: the 2.9 kg lightweight PWseries CE drive unit and the External Crossover 500 battery with a capacity of 500 Wh. Yamaha has bought the low weight with a lower power output: 250 watts and 50 Newton meters of torque are manageable for current electric bike drives – but this is a segment that Yamaha has not yet served. Weight plays a particularly important role for electric city bikes, which have to be agile and may also be carried in or out of the bicycle cellar or apartment on a regular basis.
The PWseries CE has not only been made to be particularly light but also very quiet. For the motor Yamaha’s uses familiar software that automatically adapts electric support to the respective power input in the Automatic Support Mode. This also includes a Walk Assist, which drives the bike when pushing in such a way that the rider should hardly have to use any force.
Yamaha’s External Crossover 500 is an external battery as the name suggests. In terms of energy storage, the trend recently went more in the direction of integrated batteries, which are optically less noticeable. The EC500, like the new drive unit, is said to stand out due to its lower weight of 2.9 kilograms. According to Yamaha, the charging time, presumably at a domestic socket, is around four hours.
Mahle is also releasing the next generation of its drive system for e-bikes but with different technology than Yamaha. While the Japanese company relies on a mid-mounted motor with coaster brake, the German company’s X35+ system consists of a wheel hub motor, battery and control unit. According to Mahle, the system can be integrated into a classic bicycle frame. Including the battery, the total weight is only 3.5 kilograms.
The motor also produces 250 watts and is located in the rear wheel hub. The 245-Wh Intube battery is invisibly integrated into the down tube. A second Range Extender Battery with 208 watt-hours is optionally available, which is then mounted in a kind of bottle cage on the seat tube. The control unit is very compact and has no display – Mahle wants to use the rider’s smartphone for this purpose, which displays the data in real-time via app.
“With our drive system, we’re giving the bicycle back its identity,” says Jochen Sommer, head of the e-bike division at Mahle. “With the battery integrated into the frame, and the wheel hub motor, there are hardly any visible signs of electrification. E-bikes can now look sporty, slim, and elegant again.”
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