Mid drives were taking the electric bike world by storm in 2013, and they were the break-out story this year at the two biggest international bike shows. The big global bicycle manufacturers have added dozens of mid-drive models to their line-up, and…this was only about a year after many of them had first started adding electric hub-motored E-bikes to their catalog.
This is the big one that you need to know about. Bosch is huge in Europe, and 2014 is the year that North American E-bikers can finally buy one. Used by Cannondale, Trek, and Haibike. Also contracted with a dozen other bicycle manufacturers that are only in in Europe. See some of the companies that have contracted with Bosch in our article here.
2. Daum / Kalkhoff
This drive is made by the German Daum company. The Kalkhoff Impulse is the most well-known model to use this, but it is also contracted by Hausmarken, Raleigh, and is also sold by Daum-bicycles themselves.
3. eProdigy / Bofeili
eProdigy actually has quite a few dealers in North America, and you can buy any one of five of their 450W E-bike models right now (see our story here). Bofeili has an almost identical drive unit, and they are sold in Europe.
These guys have been around for a while (see our story here). They have been promoting mid-drives for several years before Middies became a hot topic. Since mid drives really shine on steep hills, they tackled the Pikes Peak run in 2011 and 2012 for the advertising value. Several of Optibike’s 48V models were the first 2-wheelers to the top that were production E-bikes that are for sale to the public (only race trikes and a 111V private 2-wheeler beat them).
Their current drive is pictured on the left, and on the right is their new mid drive system for 2014, the SIMBB, which is capable of much more power. The SIMBB contains the battery pack inside the same aluminum BB housing as the motor.
5. Brose / Benchmark
Continental is a huge company that is very famous for tires, so it was a surprise for me to stumble across these recently. The motor is made by Brose and drive system by Benchmark. It is currently contracted to be used on several models from the A2B company. They have also been contracted with the German off-road Rotwild [Red Deer] brand, the Sport Technik Magma, and Cube Bicycles.
In the spring of 2014, Conti was so impressed by the Benchmark drive that had been designed for them, they bought the company!
6. R Martin / HiTek Bikes / Evelo / Aseako
I’m sure each one of these companies will be irritated at us lumping them together, but each sells several similar models that use a drive that appears to be identical. I am sure there is a factory near Shanghai, and a second factory near Shenzhen/Hong-Kong…and both of them are cranking these out by the thousands.
The Hanebrink story is very interesting. Clearly this is a purpose-built system that is made for extreme sand and snow operations (see our story here).
This famous electronics firm is no newbie to E-bikes, and they were early-adopters of mid-drives in order to get the best performance from Japans 250W power limit on E-bikes back in 1975. They can be found as an option on BH eMotion bikes (see our story on these here). They are available in Panasonic-Bikes, BH eMotion, and Spencer-Ivy.
9. MPF 5.0
One of the first E-bike companies to use the MPF-5.0 is 3rd Element. They stumbled badly when they originally contracted with Cleanmobile for their drive system (see our story on that here), but they are now back on their feet (see our story on the new 3rd element here). This drive is also used by LEAOS, Concept Cycle-Swiss ONEbike, e-LOM, Goccia-Benelli, the Visiobike prototype, Wilier Ambra, e-Xpress Price, Flitzbike Traveller, Concept Cycle eSwan. Thanks to cyclurba.fr forum member Gob33 for many of these links. Merci!
“MPF” means Matched Performance and Function.
10. Electragil Acron
This was another rare find (from Switzerland), and it might only be available to European customers right now. It is used by Gobax and the TDS Impulse (see our story on this here).
More mid drives?
This started out as another “top 10” story (they seem to be popular), but we keep getting sent links to add, so…here they are. Some are in production and some are not yet. Hard to get info on the drives listed below…
11. Conway E-rider
Read our article on this extreme off-road E-bike here. It uses a triple reduction from the motor to the BB-spindle to allow ultra-high RPMs from the motor, and that provides more power from a smaller motor.
12. Shimano STEPS
STEPS means: Shimano Total Electric Power System, and hopefully this system will be available for testing very soon.
There is not much information available right now for the TranzX system, but we will keep looking to find out whatever we can…so far it has been contracted as the mid drive for the Currie E3 Peak.
Yamaha has been into E-bikes since 1993, but they haven’t put much effort into exports outside of Japan, but they are a global company, and they definitely have deep pockets. So…we’re keeping our eyes open for whatever they develop. Their newest mid drive has been contracted so far to be used with Giant bicycles, and Giant is a very big player in the international bicycle market. Here is a history of Yamaha’s Ebike systems.
This mid drive is being marketed to bike manufacturers as an option that can be added to almost any frame (like the BBS02 kit from Bafang), but…they haven’t secured any contracts yet. Pic shown is from the 2012 Interbike with the drive mounted to an A2B bike.
This German company named it’s hidden mid-drive the “Cevedale“, after a popular mountain resort in Italy. It is located inside the downtube of their frames, and is very similar to the Vivax/Gruber-Assist kit. By using the downtube instead of the seat-tube, the motor can be bigger than the Vivax unit.
The Evation drive is from a German company that also hides their motor in the downtube. Click on this video link to see more detail.
This company is also from Germany (lots of innovation there!), and they have been making off-road bicycles for a while, and now they are developing their own mid drive. There is no word yet on whether this drive has a proprietary interface, or if it can be mounted to frames from other companies that were not necessarily designed for it.
19. Green Trans
This company is from Taiwan, and they also have an office in Germany for their European operations. They sell E-scooters, and have recently added a 250W rear hub bicycle to their line up. At the most recent Taipei bicycle show, they announced that they have developed a mid-drive, and the interesting news is that it will run on 48V, although the stock battery only has 8.5-Ah.
20. Protanium DIAVELO
This is a Dutch company that is making a road bike that combines a shaft-drive (no chain!) and a slender motor that is hidden inside the chain-stay of the frame.
21. Coax One, by Ressel Tech in Austria
This is new and there is not much information about it. The company released the information that it will be sold in power levels between 250W to 600W, and the factory spider will hold two chainrings. Thanks to electric bike forum member Fandez from www.cyclurba.fr for the link.
This is a new mid drive from the April 2014 bicycle show in Shanghai, China. Pic thanks to endless-sphere.com member d8veh.
This is also a new mid drive from the 2014 Shanghai show, Thanks again to ES member d8veh.
24. TDR Floxx
Thanks to cyclurba.fr forum member Gob33 for this link. The TDR electric bike company is from the Netherlands, and the motor is located in the downtube. Their frames use hydraulic disc brakes, and the gears are a NuVinci N360 IGH. The 250W motor uses 36V.
25. Nidel Copal
This new drive is from a Japanese company, and I’ve only been able to find a pic of the outside. It is likely a 250W unit, and it is being advertised as being used in a model of E-bike from Momentum Electric from the UK.
This company is a huge global corporation, and they are best known for their popular Galaxy line of smart phones. In the E-bike world, they are one of the top two manufacturers of safe high-current 18650 cells. I was excited to hear they decided to develop a quality mid-drive, because they will not risk damaging their hard-earned reputation by producing a low-quality design.
27. Polini, from Italy
Here’s our article on the new Polini drive, which should be available on some models in 2017. I suspect it is a collaboration between Polini and Yamaha, but I have no hard evidence…yet.
If you like the idea of a mid-drive, but you’d prefer to add a kit to a normal bicycle…check out our article on mid drive KITs here.
Written by Ron/Spinningmagnets, January 2014 (updated over time, as more drive units were produced)