With the 2023 Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition model, Bosch present a new, limited-edition motor featuring a new support mode and around 150 g less weight. Read on to find out what’s changed on the CX Race, what the new motor is capable of, and whether it really is only for racers.
eMTB racing has been around for a long time, but its popularity has never gone through the roof, remaining in the shadows of the major analogue mountain bike events. Nevertheless, due to the harsh racing conditions, it presents an excellent environment to test the durability, performance, and handling of an eMTB and its components, and to refine it with the help of feedback from the athletes. Whether it’s the eMTB XC World Cup or the E-Enduro World Series, Bosch’s motors are always amongst the lead pack. By cooperating closely with their athletes, Bosch have developed the Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor, which is designed to meet the demands of racing situations. We met with former Enduro World Series champion and Bosch athlete Jérôme Clementz in the Dolomites to put the new motor through its paces.
The 2023 Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor in detail – It’s not the hard- but the software that matters
You may be surprised to find out that the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor is almost identical to the current Bosch Performance Line CX Smart System model. The Bosch team were able to optimise the weight of some internal components, which they claim allowed them to save around 150 g, bringing the new motor to a total weight of 2.75 kg. To tell them apart, they’ve made the housing grey and adorned the new motor with the Bosch Performance Line CX Race badge. This definitely makes it stand out, but we would have liked a more premium look for such an exclusive product. It doesn’t have to be Ferrari red or gold, but the dull grey tone didn’t exactly knock us off our feet.
The key specs remain largely unchanged: the CX Race has the same torque output of 85 Nm and the same maximum power. However, the software has been updated. This also includes the new “Race” support mode, which will be exclusive to the Race motors. The bike manufacturers can use the new mode instead of Turbo mode, or they can add it above Turbo mode (or in any place and order that they want). In Race mode, the maximum pedal assistance jumps from 340 to 400%. The power development has also been adapted on the software side, so that the new Bosch motor can unleash its full power significantly quicker. The motor also keeps assisting slightly longer after you stop pedalling in Race mode, which Bosch have dubbed Extended-Boost. If you switch down from Race to another mode, you won’t notice any of the innovations of the CX Race model, and it will behave like the current Bosch motor.
The integration into the Bosch motor ecosystem remains unaffected. The Race Limited Edition is compatible with the same displays, remotes and batteries from the Smart System range as the Performance Line CX. This also includes the new Mini Remote, System Controller and the smaller but somewhat lighter 625 Wh battery, which makes sense on a lightweight race bike. It could technically be combined with the Bosch eBike ABS system, too. The Race mode can also be customised like any other support mode in the eBike Flow app.
Availability of the 2023 Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor
The question that many readers will be asking is: can’t I just have the same software installed on my current Bosch equipped ebike? Unfortunately, that won’t be possible. As the name suggests, there’s only a limited number of Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motors available to manufacturers, giving it a certain level of exclusivity. Bosch are targeting the new motor at a specific use case. This is to ensure that the motor will only feature on high-end, race-optimised eMTBs, which usually represent the flagship models in the respective brands’ portfolios. As such, most Bosch equipped eMTBs will continue to rely on the “standard” Performance Line CX motor for the time being. However, interested buyers with enough cash in the bank won’t have to wait too long. Bosch have already started delivering the first motors, and now it’s up to the bike brands to release their first race eMTBs. We should see the first models hit shop floors this year. The new SCOTT Patron ST eRIDE 900 Tuned, which we introduced on our website this summer, already features the new Bosch motor. Unfortunately, we had to wait until now to let the cat out of the bag ;).
More power = more problems? Does the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor lead to increased wear and tear?
Riding an eMTB places huge demands on the individual components. You’ll usually cover longer distances aboard an eMTB than an analogue bike, ebikes are heavier, and the motor exerts greater forces on the drivetrain. While this applies to every eMTB, it does so even more to Bosch bikes with the Race motor. Service your bike regularly and make sure that components like the drivetrain are set up perfectly and always in good condition. The new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited motor doesn’t deliver any more power than the previous model, but it unleashes it sooner, more instantaneously and for longer. Due to the longer delay in the motor’s cut-out, the chain will remain under tension for a fraction of a second longer, so you must be more careful when shifting gears with the new Bosch motor. Shifting too early can mean significantly more stress for the chain, cassette, and derailleur. In this case, it might make sense to rely on a particularly robust drivetrain like the Shimano Linkglide system.
First ride review of the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor
First of all, as with any other eMTB review, you can’t consider the motor in isolation from the eMTB. Any motor is only as good as the eMTB it’s in and so there are bikes that match the character of the new CX Race motor better than others. We tested the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor on a Cannondale Habit Neo. The Habit Neo is a nicely balanced trail bike, both up- and downhill. It’s not the embodiment of a race eMTB, but it functions well as a test platform due to its balanced and intuitive handling, allowing it to fade into the background and letting the new motor speak for itself. We also had a second Habit Neo without the new Bosch motor for reference.
If you switch to Race mode on your Bosch ebike, you’ll be spoiled with plenty of assistance on level terrain and the climbs. If you push down lightly on the pedals, the 400% assistance ensures fast acceleration. However, the very direct thrust creates an unnatural ride feel and the cut-out at the 25 km/h limit feels a lot more abrupt. As such, Race mode – like Turbo mode – is unlikely to appeal to touring riders. To be fair, however, that’s not what it’s made for.
Instead of ambling through the countryside on gravel roads, the powerful CX Race is made for steep climbs as you find the shortest route to the summit. On long, steep ascents, Race mode ensures that the motor doesn’t get bogged down if your pedalling cadence is too low, so you’ll be less likely to come to a halt. If you must stop mid-climb to regain your balance, getting going again is a lot easier because the motor responds with a lot of support even if you only apply light pressure to the pedals. However, you’ll have to make sure your weight is placed correctly on the bike and that it has climbing-friendly geometry. Due to the more aggressive power output, our Cannondale Habit Neo tended to wheelie and lose traction even earlier than in Turbo mode. To counteract this, we had to shift our weight even further forward. Climbing-oriented eMTBs with the kind of geometry where this is less of an issue could benefit greatly from the new, punchy Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor, making them even more formidable climbers. That said, there’s only so much the laws of physics allow. On loose ground, the rear wheel can spin out quite easily. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to switch down to the dynamic eMTB mode, in which case the motor responds much more sensitively.
The new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor can also play to its strengths when climbing over rough and technically demanding terrain – provided you have the skills to take advantage of the added boost. The direct and powerful response, and the extended assistance once you stop pedalling make you go looking for rock ledges and rooty climbs to tackle. Once you’ve spotted your line, often all it takes is one to two pedal strokes, giving the eMTB enough momentum to overcome most obstacles. Bosch’s Extended Boost keeps assisting longer after you stop pedalling, thereby helping the rear wheel get over the last few centimetres of the obstacle while allowing you to keep the cranks horizontal. This makes sections where you have to time your pedalling to avoid snagging the cranks a whole lot easier. In some situations, all you need to do is ratchet the pedal slightly to get the rear wheel to do half a rotation. If you’ve got one technical crux following another, the motor’s direct response helps to compensate for your own cadence and power fluctuations, thus providing the rider with a constant minimum amount of thrust. You can use this to manoeuvre the bike over and between obstacles and realign it, even if you’re not pedalling very consistently yourself. At the same time, the Bosch motor helps you save your own energy, to sit up for a few moments and relax briefly on the pedals. In this way, climbs that you would usually have to tackle in small steps can be conquered in one go.
The new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor on the descents
It’s only on certain sections of a descent that you can harness the strengths of Race mode. On fast flow trails and demanding high-speed sections, it is usually your skills and not the motor that limit your speed. That said, racers can still squeeze out a little more speed on the trail with the Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor. If you have to brake hard into a tight corner, you can get back up to speed quicker. Trail acrobats who prefer style over speed can use the motor to pop a wheelie as they exit a berm. When riding downhill in Race mode, however, it’s even more important to pay attention to the position of your cranks and keep your fingers on the brakes. If you pedal unintentionally, the Bosch motor will still provide power, which can make you overshoot a corner. In that case, you’ll have to grab the rear brake just as fast as the motor kicks in to avoid getting thrown off course.
Our conclusion on the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor
The current Bosch Performance Line CX motor is one of the best on the market – the new CX Race Limited Edition makes it even better for experienced riders! When your riding ability, bike tuning and the new motor align, the CX Race helps compensate for power and cadence fluctuations on technical climbs and thus opens up new line choices. In that case, the new Bosch Performance Line CX Race Limited Edition motor is a real joy, and it’s not just for racers. That said, the same applies here as to all motors: it’s only as good as the eMTB it’s in!
For more info visit bosch-ebike.com
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Words: Rudolf Fischer Photos: Peter Walker