Electric Bike motors compared

In a busy marketplace with an array of brands offering electric bikes with a choice of motor, lets take a look at the major players, Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, Mahle Ebikemotion and Fazua and compare what they offer.

Some bike manufacturers mix and match motors from different brands across their range. Haibike is a good example. Their range is peppered with models featuring motors from Bosch and Yamaha. This is often the case depending on the demands of the bike and achieving a certain price point too.

Electric bike motor placement

Almost all electric bikes will feature a motor in one of three different positions.

Front-hub motors

Front-hub motors tend to be the preserve of electric bikes designed for commuting. such as electric folding bikes like Brompton’s. They are also common on cheaper, entry-level electric bikes too. They are quite often under powered and struggle on hilly terrain.

Many electric bike conversion kits (good, bad, legal & illegal) also use front-hub motors.

Brompton C Line Electric Folding Bike

Mid-mounted motors

Mid-mounted motors sit in the area where the bottom bracket is usually found. These motors are sometimes referred to as mid-drive motors too. Bosch, Yamaha, Fazua and Shimano are good examples of brands that supply this type of motor

Mid-mounted motors are found across all different types of electric bikes and often the most expensive. They work particularly well for electric bikes because their centre of gravity is central and low.

Rear-hub motors

Rear-hub motors are usually found on some of the best electric road and gravel bikes and low to mid-range eMTB and hybrids. Ebikemotion and Bafang are brands that feature this type of motor.

Rear-hub motors are quite well disguised, at first glance. It’s often hard to tell the bike they’re fitted to is electric.

Mahle Ebikemotion Rear Hub Motor

Electric Bike Battery placement

Batteries can be mounted in several locations on an Ebike. Externally, they may be mounted on the down tube, on the front or rear of the seat tube or sometimes they can be found mounted on a rear rack too. This is less common now though.

Internal batteries (in-frame) housed in the down tube that are either removable or fixed in place are probably the most common placement, particularly on mountain bikes and hybrids.

A removable battery has the advantage that you can remove it charge or transport it. On the other hand, a non-removable battery, often found on road and gravel Ebikes, may look neater and is better protected and less prone to theft.

Motor power and torque explained

Electric bike motor power output is measured in watts. UK Electric bike law states a motor’s continuous power output has to be limited to 250 watts and this is pretty much the same for all motors, from all brands in the UK on legal Ebikes. Evidently, being the same across the board, it’s not a useful number to compare.

A motor’s maximum torque is a more tangible performance figure. The peak torque a motor is able to deliver also varies more between motor systems. Denoted in Newton metres, or Nm, this measures how much turning force the motor gives out. Therefore, the higher the torque the better the motor will perform in situations where you would normally have to press hard on the pedals like steep hills and standing starts from junctions.

Riding offroad is harder than tarmac so you will find electric mountain and trekking bikes will come with a motor with a higher torque. It’s the same for electric cargo bikes too that need to move heavy weight. Electric gravel bikes, although designed for offroad, generally require less torque than eMTB’s because they roll better on narrower tyres and are much lighter machines too. A motor with less torque is often specified to provide a more natural ride.

Further Reading: Ebike Jargon Explained

Assistance levels and head units

Electric bike motor systems typically come with a separate controller so you can set the pedal assistance level you need. There are usually between three and five assistance levels available, offering an increasing amount of power from none at all to, sometimes, 300%+ the effort you are putting in yourself.

Obviously the less assistance you choose, the less power drained from your battery and the greater you’re assisted range will be. We recommend using your gears first and then upping the assistance as the gradient begins to bite and pedalling in the current mode feels more difficult.

The controller usually sits on the bike’s handlebar. A remote control maybe fitted separately but connected to the display although some controllers (eg Ebikemotion) are fitted into the bike’s top tube as a button. Some have a screen with lots of ride information on hand, sometimes including navigation, and others are simply a single button or simple LEDs to show battery and assistance levels.

Some manufacturers, eg Bosch can use your phone and an app as a head unit too. They may allow you to program bespoke settings such as the amount of assistance you get at each level, and some use your smartphone as the controller for the ebike. Many apps give you navigation, ride stats and other data too.

Bosch Ebike Head Unit

Bosch electric bike motors

Bosch has eight variants of its mid-drive motor unit to suit the bike type it is fitted to. Some have hub and derailleur gear variants. The hub gear variant tends to back the peak torque off a touch.

Most are limited to the UK legal 25kph. However, the Performance Line Speed motor is limited to 45kph for use in speed pedelec bikes.

Each motor offers four levels of assistance, with the maximum torque on offer ranging from 40Nm for the Active Line range up to 85Nm for the Performance Line CX. Motor weights are between 2.9kg and 3.2kg.

Bosch has packaged together its latest Performance Line CX motor, eBike Flow app, LED smart remote control, Kiox 300 head unit and batteries (with up to 725Wh capacity) into what it calls its Smart System. Consequently, this offers riders the greatest level of customisation possible.

Bosch’s PowerPack batteries are designed to be mounted on the bike’s frame tubes or in a rear rack. Bosch PowerTube batteries are housed inside the frame. On occasions. eg cargo bikes, there may be the option to add a second battery to boost range.

Bosch’s controller options are designed to be mounted either on the bike’s handlebars or, in the case of the System Controller, integrated into the top tube and include LED displays. Apps enable you to use your smartphone to control and monitor the motor.

You can find Bosch motors fitted to ebikes from Cube, Haibike and Raleigh.

ModelMotor weightPeak torque
Bosch Performance Line CX Race2.75kg85Nm
Bosch Performance Line CX2.9kg85Nm
Bosch Performance Line SX2.0kg55Nm
Bosch Performance Line Speed2.9kg85Nm
Bosch Performance Line3.2kg75Nm
Bosch Cargo Line2.9kg85Nm
Bosch Active Line Plus3.2kg50Nm
Bosch Active Line2.9kg40Nm
  • Battery capacity: 300-725Wh
  • Battery weight: 2.5-4.0kg

Shimano Steps electric bike motors

Shimano has targeted its Steps motor system at urban and eMTB riders, although it’s now expanding its support to e-road and e-gravel bikes too, offering integration with Shimano Di2 electronic groupset shifters.

There are five motors available. The eMTB E7000 and latest EP6 and EP8 models come with 60Nm or 85Nm torque and a large-capacity battery of up to 630Wh. This can be mounted either externally on the down tube or within the frame.

The EP8 equals the 85Nm torque output of Bosch’s Performance Line CX, while dropping the weight from the other MTB-orientated Steps motors. Interestingly, the Q-factor (distance between the pedals) is also narrower for better ergonomics and the range has also been upped by a claimed 20 per cent.

The EP6 motor provides the output of the EP8 in a more affordable package compromising on weight as it is slightly heavier. Both motors offer features such as automatic shifting when paired with an electronic groupset.

The EP8 Cargo, EP6 Cargo and E6100 Cargo offer higher torque output from lower speeds compared to their standard counterparts, to be able to cope with heavier weight that cargo bikes need to handle.

Finally, the older E5000 motor, with lower torque, is designed for use on city electric bikes.

ModelMotor weightPeak torque
Shimano Steps EP8 (EP801)2.7kg85Nm
Shimano Steps EP6 (EP600)3.0kg85Nm
Shimano Steps E70002.8kg60Nm
Shimano Steps E61002.8kg60Nm
Shimano Steps E50002.4kg40Nm
  • Battery capacity: 418-630Wh
  • Battery weight: 2.6-3kg
Shimano Steps EP8 Motor

Fazua electric bike motors

Fazua is relatively new to the ebike motor market and currently offers a range of three motors. Their low weight and small footprint make them an increasingly popular choice for electric road and gravel bikes. The Fazua system’s progressive assistance is often cited as feeling like a normal non-electric bike. They can also be found on some electric hybrids and mountain bikes.

The motor sits at the foot of the down tube, with the battery housed further up the tube above it. The motor supplies power via a Fazua -specific bottom bracket that provides two-sided torque and cadence measurement.

Bar-mounted and top-tube integrated controllers are available. There’s also a Boost button that lets the unit hit 450 watts while it’s held down. Fazua’s latest motor is the Ride 60. This offers 60Nm torque from a motor weighing under 2kg paired with a 432Wh battery weighing 2.3kg. Unlike the Fazua Evation and Ride 50 systems, the bottom bracket and motor unit are a single piece, so there is no option to remove it.

The Fazua Ride 50 has 58Nm torque and the motor weighs 1.8kg + a 252Wh battery weighing 1.4kg. Two versions, the Trail and Street, are offered which are tuned differently for the different needs in these two environments.

Finally, there’s the original Fazua Evation motor and battery with 55Nm torque and weighing 4.6kg for the motor, battery and drive pack

ModelMotor weightPeak powerTorqueBattery capacityBattery weight
Ride 602.0kg450 watts60Nm430Wh2.3kg
Ride 50 Trail/Street1.8kg (plus 1.2kg for the bottom bracket)350 watts58Nm252Wh1.4kg
Evation1.9kg (plus 1.3kg for the bottom bracket)450 watts55Nm252Wh1.4kg
  • Battery capacity: 252-430Wh
  • Battery weight: 1.4-2.3kg
Fazua Ride60 diagram

Yamaha electric bike motors

Yamaha offers five different motor systems, with Haibike being a major user. Torque output ranges from 50Nm to 85Nm.

Yamaha’s electric bike motors are paired with a range of batteries with between 400Wh and 600Wh capacity. There are three controller options with bar-mounted displays, two of which have a separate bar-mounted remote which are sited closer to the handlebar grips for ease of use when riding.

MotorMotor weightPeak powerTorque
Yamaha PW-X32.8kg250 watts85Nm
Yamaha PW-X2 453.1kg500 watts80Nm
Yamaha PWseries TE3.4kg250 watts60Nm
Yamaha PWseries CE3kg250 watts50Nm
PWseries S22.9kg250 watts75Nm
  • Battery capacity: 400-600Wh
  • Battery weight: 2.8-3.8kg
Yamaha PW-S2 Motor

Rear-hub motor systems

Positioning a motor in the rear hub works well on Ebikes. With much of the rider’s weight sitting over the rear wheel, there’s plenty of traction. The Q-factor of some mid-drive motors can be quite wide, so having the motor in the rear wheel will feel more natural and will obviously work with standard chainsets. The downside is the rear wheel is non-standard. Changing a tyre or tube or replacing a broken spoke can be quite a technical job to undertake.

Mahle Ebikemotion rear hub motors

The Ebikemotion system by Mahle is a rear-hub motor, powered by an in-frame battery located in the frame’s down tube.

Mahle has two rear-hub motor systems available – the original X35 and the newer, more compact X20. The original X35 motor has 40Nm torque output, while the new X20 upgrades that to 55Nm. Both systems have batteries of around 250Wh, but the X20 also has a 350Wh option.

The total system weight for the X20 is claimed to be 3.2kg. The X35 comes in at a claimed weight of 3.5kg. Their low weight sees them fitted to the lightest road and gravel Ebikes on the market. They can be found in bikes from Ribble, Colnago, Wilier, Lapierre and Orbea. Their small footprint makes them look not too dissimilar to a regular pedal-powered bike at first glance. There is also an option to add a bottle cage battery (range extender). Torque and battery sizes may seem small in comparison to mid-drive motors but the bikes are so light and ride so much faster there isn’t the need for more.

The Ebikemotion iWoc controller options include a low-profile button mounted on the top tube. This simply changes colour to denote the assistance and battery level. Additionally there are bar-mounted units available too. BLE and ANT+ connectivity comes as standard with an Ebikemotion app that enables you to tune the motor.

Motor weightPeak powerTorqueBattery capacityBattery weight
Mahle ebikemotion X201.4kg250W55Nm250Wh/350Wh1.8kg
Mahle ebikemotion X351.5kg250 watts40Nm250Wh2.0kg
  • Battery capacity: 250-350Wh
  • Battery weight: 1.8-2.0kg
Mahle Ebikemotion X20 rear hub motor
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