HomeReviews & TechCommutingBosch Performance Line - There are No More Hills

Bosch Performance Line – There are No More Hills

The hill has a twenty percent grade. I can climb it with difficulty on my regular road bike and not at all on my fixie. I rode up the hill on a bike that weighed more than both of those bikes put together. I did it at double digit speeds, seated, wearing jeans, without breaking a sweat, and I wasn’t even on the biggest sprocket. Was it training? No. Was it drugs? No. Was it the Bosch Performance Line motor? Maybe. OK, yes it was. I was turning the pedals, but it was the motor doing the heavy lifting, and it was wonderful.

The last time I rode a bike with a Bosch motor was the Gepida Alboin 1000 and it saw me waxing lyrical about the benefits of the mid-drive motor configuration on e-Bikes. In that review I rode with a Bosch Active Line motor delivering 250W of power (because that’s all you’re allowed in Australia) and 48 Nm of torque. For this review I rode with the bigger brother of that model, the Performance Line, which delivers the same 250W of power (curse you, regulations), but at up to 60 Nm of torque. That 25% increase makes a huge difference.

I’m confining this review to the Bosch motor itself, but that motor doesn’t work in isolation – it needs a bike to work with. The bike in this instance was a Riese and Muller Charger Mixte. I’m separating the reviews because (a) there are lots of bike models and brands that use the Bosch Performance Line motor and so it deserves its own review, and (b) the Riese and Muller Charger Mixte is a seriously sexy bike and also deserves its own review.

I won’t start this review with the technical details for the motor because you can find all of the information online. I’ll rather start by telling you about my kids. The biggest reason I chose to review this motor on a mixte was so my kids and wife could ride the bike as well. I didn’t manage to get my wife on it, but I did get my eldest two daughters riding the streets. Both of them have track racing experience and both of them, independently, said that riding with the Bosch motor was “like getting a push start”, referring to the handicap wheel races they’d competed in which begin with the rider being pushed for a few steps worth of initial acceleration. Of course, with the Bosch motor, rather than just an initial push it’s like having someone running beside you and pushing you, as long as you’re turning the pedals and travelling at less than 27 km/h.

That, in a nutshell, is the biggest and best reason for riding with the Bosch motor, regardless of what bike you buy it mounted on. It means teenage girls can keep up with their dad on the road, it means that non-cycling wives can ride with husbands (once they get over 30+ years of reluctance to ride), and it means that sons can probably ride with recently retired fathers with dodgy knees (stop being a wuss, Dad). Having a motor isn’t cheating, it’s an equaliser.

I suppose I should dedicate some of this review to talking about the details of the Bosch system, because a system is what it is. Bosch supply the motor, head unit, battery, connectors, and sensors – the bike manufacturers do the rest. Comparing the Performance Line system on the Riese and Muller to the Active Line on the Gepida is…well, there’s no obvious visual difference. “Huh”, I thought, “that’s rather disappointing”. I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe racing stripes or something, but the systems looked pretty much the same. Same head unit, same battery, same sort of motor.

bosch performance line

Bosch ebike battery

Bosch Controller

This is, of course, a good thing, once you get past the “new and improved” brainwashed consumer mindset. I could buy a Gepida Alboin with an Active Line or a Performance Line motor unit, or even a Performance CX (which has 75Nm of torque!). They all mount the same, so all bike manufacturers have to do is make a bike with the right mounting point and the customer can customise (which is one of the big selling points of the Riese and Muller line of bikes, which will be covered in that review).

The 400Wh battery I played with could be swapped out for a spare 300Wh battery or the longer lasting 500Wh battery – they’re the same form factor (which will probably continue into the future as batteries get better). The standard head unit can be replaced with another standard head unit, or with a more advanced head unit – they’re the same form factor.

Bosch ebike charge

Of course, there are differences in the models, but Bosch seem to be focussed on making sure your investment in their system pays you back in long use and reliability. They also seem focussed on making sensible improvements that aren’t just there for show – being able to run your lights off of the bike battery is one sensible improvement (it was always on the books, but needed changes in German law to make it happen), as is being able to charge your phone or Garmin or other device via a USB connection in the head unit. Your e-bike battery is now the centre of a your whole system.

supernova e3 ebike

On the practical side of things, if you’re going to be investing in a bike with this motor then you want to make sure that you won’t be left with a pile of scrap and wires before too long. Bosch have been making motors for well over a hundred years and have a solid reputation for reliability and innovation. I think the innovation aspect is evident in their whole e-bike system, but reliability is another matter.

The Bosch dealer and service centre I visited, Eurocycles, is obliged to have at least a three month supply of spare parts available at all times (they’ve got closer to a year’s worth on hand). Not that they seem to be using many of them since the Bosch motors appear to be extremely reliable from the reports I’ve read. There are thousands of these systems running everyday all over Europe and Eurocycles are selling fleets of e-bikes to resorts and tourist destinations, such as Bruny Island where these motors have seen seven day a week use for over a year without issue. A fleet of Gepida Asgards with Performance CX motors are on their way to Cape Tribulation for an eco-tourism operation to commence in the spring.

bosch wet controller

As promised, I didn’t go into a lot of technical or usage details in the review because, as noted, there isn’t much difference operation-wise between the Active Line and the Performance line motors, so head to the Gepida review and see what I wrote there. The torque difference between the two motors means you can go up hills faster, or with less effort from the rider, or up steeper hills. You can do all of this wearing regular street clothes and you won’t break a sweat. Actually, I recommend you take a jumper with you if it’s even a little cold because you won’t be increasing your body heat much. For the 20% hill I mentioned in the introduction, I wasn’t in the biggest rear sprocket and I wasn’t even on the highest motor power setting. Getting 13 km/h without hassle up that hill was a huge surprise for me.

Sometimes I think we’re living in a provincial backwater here in Australia, a third world country when it comes to e-bikes. In European countries between 20% and 50% of all new bike sales are e-bike sales. E-bikes are enabling technologies; they won’t replace cars but they can replace car trips, and the Bosch motors are the most efficient and reliable systems I’ve seen. Add more bike to your life by checking out e-bikes powered by the Bosch Active Line and Performance Line motors.

reise muller ebike

The Performance Line powered e-bike I rode for this review was supplied by Eurocycles and you will find the tech details about the motor at Bosch eBike Systems.

David Halfpenny
David Halfpenny
rides whenever and wherever he can; in good weather and bad, in sickness and in health...and mostly off the back of the peloton.
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