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Best e-bike motors: Everything you need to know

The e-bike motor is integral to the frame and cannot be easily swapped like other components, so here’s everything you need to know before you buy your next electric bike

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The best e-bike motors will balance the scales between power and weight, to offer maximum pedal assistance without weighing the bike down and holding it back. Of course, e-bike motors come as part of the bike itself and aren’t yet a component that you can swap out and upgrade, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into when choosing from the best electric bikes.

The e-bike has well and truly established itself as a valuable part of cycling’s future. Where once the market was dominated by electric bikes for commuting, it is now rich with the best electric road bikes and the best electric gravel bikes as well.For all the benefits of e-bikes, they can also create confusion and ownership anxiety, triggered by the steep technology curve powering these bikes along. As with all things electric, the logic is that a delayed purchase is best, allowing you to benefit from capturing the latest technology.

But if you have no idea where to even start, then we’re here to help dispel some of the confusion surrounding the best e-bike motors, and what they’re capable of.

Best e-bike motors for commuting

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The German company offers a thoroughly engineered rear hub motor, having acquired Spain’s Ebikemotion a few years ago. Available and refined since 2017, the latest upgrade of this rear hub motor launched in late 2020.

This new X35+ version of e-bike technology delivers 40Nm of torque output. How good is it? The strikingly designed new LeMond Prolog uses it. It also features on  D1
The X35+ features ANT+ integration and Bluetooth to connect to Mahle’s app. From here you can record trips, analyse a multitude of real-time data, view maintenance requirements, and make use of the antitheft protection.
A disadvantage is that instead of sophisticated cadence sensors, the Mahle system requires a torque conversion sensor between the rear hub’s rotational speed and cassette motion, to calculate and initiate assistance. It also adds mass to the rear of the bike, instead of the bottom bracket, which is perfectly balanced between the axles.

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Yamaha PW CE

Claimed to be the quietest motor on the market Weight: 2,900g | Watts: 250W | Torque: 50Nm VISIT SITE Incredibly quiet compared to the competition Compact sizeNot as powerful as other mid-drive motors

The Japanese motorcycle brand has been experimenting with bicycle pedal-assist systems since 1993. Yamaha markets a variety of e-bike motors for all applications, as part of its PW product line. The latest of those is the CE derivative, specifically engineered for commuter cycling.
With more riders commuting, the demand has grown for quieter mid-drive motors. Yamaha’s engineers applied themselves to improving some of the CE’s sound insulation features, lowering its acoustic signature.
The result is a compact mid-drive motor that delivers 50Nm of torque output, which is entirely adequate for any inner-city gradient you might have to ride up.
Yamaha also claims that its CE is the quietest running mid-drive motor it has ever produced, and that means you can use all the pedal-assistance power available, without ever feeling guilty about producing too much electromechanical noise.
In terms of ride feel, the PW CE delivers a natural-feeling ride. The motor also comes with Walk Assist, which is particularly useful if you need to walk the bike anywhere; it offers a small amount of assistance so it doesn’t feel like you’re pushing a tank. An additional feature is the Automatic Support Mode, designed to respond to changing conditions and automatically choosing the most appropriate mode for your ride.

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Fazua Evation

A lightweight low-power motor that’s ideal for fit riders Weight: 1,920g | Watts: 250W | Torque: 55Nm Incredibly lightweight No resistance when motor is not in use Doesn’t deliver a lot of power Another advanced German mid-drive motor company with a very unique approach. Fazua has been engineering mid-drive motors since 2013 and it understands the issues around frame integration.

The Evation drive system features a bottom-bracket-mounted gearbox, which benefits from data sensors on both sides. This allows for a very balanced delivery of power assistance and seamless disengagement when pedalling beyond the motor’s speed limit.

Motor and drive electronics are mounted in a single housing, with the battery. The big advantage of Evation’s system is that you can remove most of it, reducing weight and rendering your e-bike close to the configuration of a conventional bike.

Peak power is an average 55Nm, which isn’t a lot, but it is marketed at riders with adequate fitness who want to ride further, in less time, instead of those cyclists who require a lot of pedal-assistance all of the time.

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Specialized SL 1.1

A tiny motor to give your ride a little extra oomph Weight: 1,950g | Watts: 240W | Torque: 35Nm Extremely light Can last for five hours of riding Low power outputYou need to be fit already to use it Specialized has invested heavily in a vertical integration of its e-bike sourcing and supply chain. With a dedicated e-bike engineering resource in Switzerland, the strategy is clearly to control its own destiny and pace of development with e-bikes. With the SL 1.1 motor, Specialized has shown how light a high-performance road e-bike can be. The company’s Turbo Creo SL is powered by a 240w motor and targeted at those road riders who have the fitness, but not the flexibility of schedule for those five-hour training rides. Specialized’s idea with the smaller SL 1.1 motor is to allow riders to ride a great distance, with ample gradient, in much less time. If you need the mindfulness of a big ride, but find yourself constrained by social commitments, the SL 1.1 motor is a great enabler. Its 35Nm power output might not be enough for unfit riders who wish to power up the steepest road climbs and retain range, but for fit riders, it is ideal. The low motor mass also makes Specialized’s SL1.1. powered e-bikes feel a lot more like a traditional road bike to ride, with regards to handling agility.

Best motors for hauling heavy loads 

A powerful mid-drive motor designed to haul loads. The SHUANGYE  is one of the newer mid-drive motors and has some tidy upgrades.  

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