Last year, the Brose team announced a new ecosystem of batteries and remotes for its motors. One of these, the Brose Drive S Mag is the motor inside the best E-Mountainbike 2020, the winner of our big group test. So what makes this motor unique?

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The housing of the Brose Drive S Mag is made of magnesium, allowing Brose to squeeze the unit’s weight down to 2.98 kg. Inside, a belt drive and two sprag clutches transmit the power of the motor. The clutches are completely silent, engaging quickly as well as providing resistance free pedalling when the motor isn’t assisting you. Producing 90 Nm torque, the Drive S Mag is only beaten by the beefier TQ motor. At peak output in Flex Power mode, it offers up to 410 % support, taking the fear out of steep climbs, but it does so with a vigorous hum.

Brose have always felt that, “The bike, not the motor is the star in the show.” That means bike manufacturers are able to use either Brose’s standard firmware, or tune the motor to their own requirements. The resulting diversity of the Drive S Mag, means it’s impossible to definitively describe its characteristics. For example, Specialized have put a lot of know-how and manpower into the development of the motor tune to create the most natural ride feel possible for the Levo and Kenevo without dosing down the power too heavily. In addition, Specialized have developed a complete ecosystem around the drive unit including an app, allowing the assistance modes to be customised and allowing you to activate the extra powerful Shuttle mode.

Our big group test revealed that all four bikes fitted with Brose motors had very different handling and characteristics on the trail. Depending on the specific motor tune and assistance mode, the support can range from unruly and hard to control to incredibly natural, progressive and intuitive.

A favourite for manufacturers
The Brose Drive S Mag might not be the smallest motor in our test, but thanks to two housings with different mounting points, frame designers have more flexibility when designing the frame.

Since last year, Brose have offered bike manufacturers a complete system consisting of a 630 Wh battery, display, various remotes, a speed sensor and of course the Drive S Mag motor itself. Apart from the now long in the tooth battery that is difficult to integrate due to its bulk, Brose’s selection of components makes various configurations possible. For the display and remote, the choice ranges from a minimalistic LED display to a large, centrally mounted option with an additional thumb-operated remote. Even the housing of the motor is available in two different mounts to offer bike manufacturers as much flexibility as possible for integrating it into their frames.

Not always the same
It’s not just the apps, but also the components used with the Drive S Mag that vary depending on the manufacturer. Specialized are the paragon which others should follow.
Safe and hidden
When there are few restrictions, it’s also possible to optimise the small details such as integrating speed sensors in the frame.

But Brose also allow custom and third party components to be used and these come fitted to numerous bikes. Again it’s Specialized that edge ahead in the level of customisation and integration that they achieve. The perfectly integrated TCU unit and the Mission Control app give customers access to individual motor and cockpit setups. ROTWILD have also integrated the Drive S Mag nicely into the frame of the R.X750 and paired it with a massive 750 Wh battery, offering a huge range. For displays that aren’t part of Brose’s standard lineup, most manufacturer’s turn to the compact Bloks 14d remote and display combination. This offers both great legibility and ergonomics, though the delicate surface is easily damaged in crashes. The Marquardt Just Drive 3 display is also used on several bikes. Similar to the Bosch Purion, it’s relatively clunky given the limited functionality that it offers.

Our conclusion

Brose isn’t always Brose. No other motor in our test offers manufacturers the same level of freedom as regards the motor tune, integration and app development as the Drive S Mag. As a result, the quality of the system is very dependent on how well the bike manufacturer has implemented it. The motor delivers a lot of power and grunt on all bikes. However, not all manufacturers have achieved the natural and intuitive feel the motor is capable of.

Tops

  • powerful with generous torque
  • lots of options for integration
  • no pedalling resistance

Flops

  • freedom to customise system doesn’t always make for best results
  • loud at full power
  • bulky standard battery

For more information head to brose-ebike.com

All motors in this comparison: Brose Drive S Mag | Bosch Performance Line CX | FAZUA Evation Firmware 2.0 | Yamaha PW-X2 | Shimano STEPS E8000 | TQ HPR 120S | Specialized SL 1.1


It's finally here: The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2020 is our third annual edition and ultimate test bible, with which we aim to help you choose the perfect eMTB. More than 250 pages of extensive buyers advice, tons of eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the 35 most exciting eMTBs and the 7 best motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!

Words: Felix Stix Photos: E-MOUNTAINBIKE-Team

About the author

Felix Stix

Felix is chief of testing and undoubtedly one of the best test riders in the world. With a degree in sports engineering, excellent mountain bike skills, his love of technology and as a certified bike guide, Felix has everything it takes to make comprehensive and fair assessments of bikes. His legendary group tests are internationally known and feared, though they tend to be a bit longer due to his love of detail and technical deep dives. Every year, he reviews around 100 bikes, specialising in the subject of tires, motors and suspension, before putting on his skis come winter! His know-how is incorporated into each of our reviews, ensuring the quality of our work stays high!