Strictly speaking, the new 2022 Bosch motor isn’t exactly new. However, everything around it is. Confused? In a nutshell, the new Smart System is based on Bosch’s current Performance Line CX motor and features a massive 750 Wh PowerTube battery, new display and remotes as well as a new speed sensor. Compared to its predecessor, the latest generation of Bosch’s motor offers more and better connectivity features and anti-theft protection. We’ve already tested the new Bosch Smart System for you.
The motor hardware of the new Bosch system remains (mostly) unchanged
Needless to say, the motor of an eMTB is a lot more than just an electrical machine that converts electricity into kinetic energy. While it’s true that without a motor you’d be fighting your way up the mountain solely with the power of your legs, there are several other components that have a great impact on the overall performance of an eMTB motor system: the battery, display, remote, wiring harness, countless sensors and, last but not least, the motor software. With the new Smart System implemented in the 2022 Bosch Performance Line CX, Bosch have carried over some of the core hardware components of the previous model, like the electric motor and internal gearbox that are enclosed inside the magnesium housing. All other parts, such as remotes, displays, the cable harness and its connectors, have been redesigned from the ground up – and the software has undergone major changes too. But is the new system compatible with its predecessor? Sadly, no. Bosch have fundamentally revised the system, heralding a new and smart era in the history of their Performance Line CX motor. That’s why we call it the “new” Performance Line CX Smart System even though it’s based on the same motor.
The new 750 Wh Bosch PowerTube 750 battery
With a capacity of 750 Wh, the new PowerTube 750 is currently the biggest energy storage unit in Bosch’s portfolio, except for the Dual Battery system, which has been around for some time and combines two PowerTube 625 batteries for a total of 1250 Wh. However, the heavy Dual Battery system isn’t a sensible option for sporty eMTBs, which makes the new PowerTube 750 battery a welcome addition to Bosch’s portfolio. While a 20% capacity increase over the PowerTube 625 model is great news, the extra Watts don’t come for free, both in terms of money and weight. Here’s why: the PowerTube 750 employs the same cells as the 625 version, only more of them. As a result, the larger battery is approximately 7 cm longer and almost 20% heavier, weighing in at exactly 4.38 kg. For bike designers, however, this also entails a whole new set of challenges with respect to handling, stiffness and down tube construction. On the other hand, Bosch also redesigned and moved the connector and at the same time revised the wiring harness. This allows bike manufacturers to integrate the new battery deeper into the frame and closer to the motor while ensuring a lower center of gravity.
With the new connector also comes a new charger that according to Bosch charges the PowerTube 750 up to 50% in around 2 hours and 100% in about 6 hours using 4 A charging current. The PowerTube batteries and the system are neither forward nor backward compatible, making the PowerTube 750 the only battery compatible with the Smart System – at least for now. As a result, bikes like the Lapierre Overvolt GLP2 and Rotwild R.X375, which were deliberately equipped with a smaller battery, won’t be available with the new Bosch system any time soon.
For now, the new PoweTube 750 is the only battery compatible with the Smart System. As a result, bikes with the smaller battery will be missing out on the new Bosch system, at least for now
New displays and remotes for the Bosch Performance Line CX
With the release of the Nyon navigation display at the end of 2020, Bosch have proved that they really know a thing or two about connectivity and displays. In our navigation system group test the Nyon secured Best in Test as the ideal companion for tour and trekking riders. The small Kiox display, on the other hand, offers poor readability and sits right on top of the handlebars, where it’s exposed to impacts. As a result, it’s suitable for trail riding, but only to a certain extent. Here, the robust (and bulky) Purion display would be a more sensible option, but unfortunately has just as many connectivity features as a church clock: none! Luckily, the new Smart System puts an end to this! The new system is modular and allows for different display/remote configurations and to connect them to external third-party devices – awesome! As for now, the Kiox 300 display and LED Remote function as the control unit of all eMTBs with the Bosch Smart System, but we’re sure that more options will be available in the future: what would be the point of introducing a new modular system otherwise?
The new Bosch LED Remote
The Bosch LED Remote is the control unit of the new Smart System. The compact remote ensures good ergonomics and lets you operate the entire system intuitively with your left thumb. Both the position and haptic feedback of the remote make it easy to switch between support modes on the trail without having to take your hands off the handlebars. Unlike the Purion display, the LED Remote made it easy to adapt the ergonomics of the cockpit of our Centurion test bike with Shimano XT brakes and matching dropper remote to the needs and preferences of our test riders: finally! The remote shows the battery charge status via LEDs in (relatively) fine-graded 10% increments, while a colour-coded circle around the Bosch logo tells you which support level you’re using – more than enough for purists! If you want more riding data, you can use either the Kiox display or the free eBike Flow app, which pairs with the remote via Bluetooth and connects your eMTB to the Internet.
The new Bosch Kiox 300 display
Fancy counting pixels? Not really? If the stem-mounted Nyon navigation system is too much for you, the Kiox 300 high-quality display is a great alternative. Unlike its predecessor, the new Kiox 300 has no buttons at all, but then the new LED Remote has you covered with all the basic controls. With the latest Kiox generation, Bosch rely on a robust and adjustable display holder that allows you to change the position of the display on the handlebar. With the old Kiox mount, the display was exposed to impacts and could easily get damaged in a crash. This should be a problem of the past with the latest Kiox 300 because the display is tucked away between the handlebar and stem. Furthermore, Bosch improved display readability and menu navigation. One of the most practical features is the range indicator, which gives you an estimate of the remaining range in all support modes.
Modular, individual and with improved wiring
While the modular system gives riders the freedom to use their eMTB with or without a Kiox 300 display, smaller modular connectors make it easier for bike manufacturers to integrate the Smart System into their bikes, ensuring easier cable routing and a cleaner overall look. With the old Kiox display, the chunky data cable that connects the remote with the display winds around the handlebar like a wild vine. On our test bike, the data cable is routed through the handlebars – neat! Despite the additional headlight, the cockpit of our Centurion test bike looks extremely tidy. Not as tidy is the black plastic cover that conceals a slot in the top tube of our test bike. On the other hand, this suggests that Bosch have even more exciting features in the pipeline. Coincidentally, that’s exactly where the MasterMind display is integrated on many Specialized eMTBs. Could the German tech giant be working on a similar system?
The eBike Flow app – Customizable support levels and improved connectivity
We’ve had the exclusive opportunity to test the beta version of the new eBike Flow app even before its official release. Both pairing and re-establishing the connection between the smartphone and the eMTB is super fast and intuitive. Particularly exciting is how the speed sensor interacts with the GPS data of the smartphone, allowing the eBike Flow app to detect whether you’re riding your bike or covering a section of your route by car or train and then resume (or pause) tracking accordingly.
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to test the most exciting feature yet, which allows you to adjust the support levels of the new Smart System motor individually. In a nutshell, the feature lets you adapt the modulation, maximum torque, support level and speed of the modes with a fixed support factor, like Eco and Turbo – of course within the framework of the legal regulations. The dynamic progressive eMTB and Tour + modes can’t be customized.
Alongside countless route-stats, the eBike Flow app provides all the crucial information about service intervals and software updates, which can be uploaded from your smartphone directly to the Bosch motor system over-the-air. The eBike Flow app will be available for iOS and Android from autumn 2021 and is only compatible with the latest Smart System. When paired with the optional ConnectModule, which can be retrofitted to many eMTBs with the Smart System, the eBike Flow app also offers anti-theft protection and a bike-tracking feature, which are made possible by a chip integrated deep inside the motor system.
New Bosch Performance Line CX Smart System – Our first ride review
We’ve had the exclusive opportunity to test the new Bosch Performance Line CX Smart System over several weeks before its official launch. First things first: the riding behavior and riding dynamics of the “new” Bosch motor haven’t changed at all. The overall riding experience and usability, on the other hand, have changed significantly – and definitely for the better!
Using the factory settings and without customising the support levels from the eBike Flow app, the new Smart System offers pretty much the same characteristics and almost identical ride feeling as the previous Performance CX motor, which provides 340% assistance – and delivered an impressive performance in our motor group test, especially when negotiating technical climbs in the progressive eMTB mode. Unfortunately, the latest Smart System doesn’t allow this mode to be customized. Bosch throw in one more dynamic progressive mode, which is called Tour+ and adapts its support between Eco and Turbo depending on the riding situation. The support is significantly weaker and less abrupt than in the eMTB mode, allowing light riders to negotiate technical climbs without the rear wheel spinning out of control and everyone else to save battery on long rides. The Tour+ mode has already been available as a software update from July 2021 for the previous Performance Line CX motor.
Unfortunately, the new Smart System motor has inherited the distinctive clunking noise from its predecessor, proudly announcing its presence every time the chain exerts force on the chainring, for example when the suspension compresses on rough descents with roots carpets and brake bumps. What a pity! On the other hand, the new Bosch LED Remote and Kiox 300 display make it extremely easy to operate the new motor. In terms of legibility, ergonomics, ease of use, logic and menu navigation, Bosch literally knocked it out of the park with the new Smart System and also managed to integrate the new eBike Flow app seamlessly into the motor system. Finally, the Bosch team caught up with some of their fiercest competitors and are able to offer a well-thought-out modular system that lets you choose to configure your cockpit with or without a display – very cool! At least that’s the case with future bike models because the displays and remotes of the Smart System as well as all its exciting software features, like the adjustable support levels, aren’t compatible with the current Bosch system. This is due to the new system architecture, which relies on smaller modular connectors to hook up the motor to the battery, display and remote. On the other hand, the new standard enables a whole new range of exciting features. In our opinion, however, it would make a lot more sense if the current (and excellent!) Nyon navigation display were compatible with the new Smart System, especially for touring and trekking bikes. Sporty riders who attach great importance to nimble handling will miss the lighter 625 Wh battery. That being said, we’re sure that Bosch are planning to release more exciting components and software updates in the near future.
The new PowerTube 750 could put an end to the “range anxiety” which seems to be spreading amongst eMTBers. Although a 20% increase in battery capacity doesn’t necessarily bump up the range by 20%, the new 750 Wh battery should allow for longer rides than its smaller 625 Wh counterpart. Whether and to what extent the weight and size of the battery affect the handling of the latest eMTBs with the new Smart System depends on how bike manufacturers integrate the battery into their bikes. We’re excited to see what solutions bike brands will come up with in the future.
Bikes with the new Bosch Performance CX motor
While the riding performance of the Bosch Performance Line CX Smart System motor hasn’t changed, the whole new ecosystem around it has taken usability and ergonomics to a whole new level! With the modular system built around the remote, display and app, Bosch knocked it out of the park by managing to ensure intuitive operation while allowing end-users to customise the support levels of the motor to suit their needs and preferences. Regrettably, the annoying clunking noise is still clearly audible while the owners of ebikes with the current Bosch motor won’t be able to benefit from any of the exciting new features. Nevertheless, we’re curious to see how bike manufacturers will integrate the big battery into their frame designs and what updates and innovations Bosch have in the works.
More information at: bosch-ebike.com
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Words: Photos: Robin Schmitt, Jonas Müssig