Pinion MGU E1.12, Valeo Cyclee, and E2 Drives Owuru – Comparing three ebike motor/gearbox units

Ebike motor/gearbox items are on the rise. Not solely do they promise higher shifting efficiency, they’re additionally stated to be able to methods that derailleurs can’t match. We examined three motor/gearbox items from Pinion, Valeo, and E2 Drives, and in contrast them face to face. Are these the ebike motors of tomorrow?

Hats off! – A derailleur is an ingenious piece of expertise. For over a century, it has made it simpler for cyclists to beat steep mountain passes, attain loopy speeds on the descents, and pedal at a cushty and environment friendly cadence on long-distance hauls. Nonetheless, it’s removed from excellent.

The derailleur wasn’t initially conceived for use along with an ebike motor, however has merely been tailored. And after the profitable integration of ebike motors, combining the gears with the motor appeared to many ebike nerds like the subsequent logical step.

So, are motor/gearbox items the pure evolution of ebike motors? We examined three present ebikes powered by completely different motor/gearbox items to search out out in the event that they’re the long run. Because the identify suggests, the SIMPLON Kagu Pinion depends on the Pinion MGU E1.12 system, Ultima despatched us their Multipath Trekking Allroad ebike, powered by the Valeo Cyclee drive unit, and Decathlon resort to the E2 Drives Owuru motor/gearbox unit for the BTWIN LD 920E.

In the event you’re to search out out extra concerning the particular person ebikes themselves, click on on the hyperlinks for the respective in-depth critiques:

Why motor/gearbox items? – This is the reason!

Motor/gearbox items promise to supply many benefits, equivalent to being low-maintenance, sturdy, highly effective, and sensible. Faulty rear derailleurs and always having to lube the chain are a factor of the previous. As an alternative, you get to get pleasure from automated shifting and new anti-theft features. Built-in gearboxes are additionally stated to supply benefits by way of the bike’s dealing with as a result of they create a extra targeted centre of gravity across the bike’s backside bracket. However we’re getting forward of ourselves. To start with, what’s a motor/gearbox unit?

A motor/gearbox unit is a particular type of mid-mounted motor, bolted to the bike’s backside bracket. It differs from basic mid-mounted motors from the likes of Bosch and Shimano, in that it’s bought an built-in gearbox. So, all the things to do with the gears occurs contained in the motor housing. There’s now not any want for a cassette on the rear wheel with a derailleur hanging off the again finish, or for a geared hub. This could provide a handful of benefits.

As a result of the gearbox is mixed with the motor, built-in right into a single housing, it’s largely protected against the weather. There are fewer parts to wash or preserve after a muddy journey.

With the omission of the cassette, you’ve bought the opportunity of utilizing a belt as an alternative of a series. Belts are sometimes self-lubricating, so there’s no want so that you can apply lube. You possibly can merely clear the belt with a tender brush and water. Chain marks on our calf or trouser leg are a factor of the previous, too.

A belt drive is a lazy rider’s greatest good friend: it requires minimal upkeep, is straightforward to wash, and doesn’t should be lubed.

With a basic drivetrain, the entire shifting parts are uncovered to the weather, subjecting them to elevated put on and tear – particularly within the case of ebikes. This is the reason motor/gearbox items are thought of to be extra sturdy. Nonetheless, it all the time depends upon the person case and the parts. If an ebike model solely spec 3-speed derailleurs and thick motorbike chains, it will naturally obtain a better mileage than a fragile inner gearbox with 30 gears. Nonetheless, what you discover in the marketplace typically tends to be the alternative, i.e. wide-range cassettes paired with skinny chains and beefy gearboxes with belt drives.

The truth that you’ve bought fewer uncovered parts connected to closely harassed areas of the ebike additionally means that it is going to be much less inclined to defects. In the event you lay an ebike with a derailleur down carelessly, you threat bending or misaligning the derailleur. Within the worst case, it could possibly break off whenever you slam it right into a rock – mountain bikers can inform you all about it. For motor/gearbox items, a minimum of this hazard is eradicated, counting on a brief chain or belt tensioner at most.

Relying on the mannequin, a big 12-speed cassette can weigh half a kilo, whereas trendy geared hubs normally tip the scales at over 1 kg. Aggressive full-suspension ebike riders stand to profit probably the most from decreased weight on the rear finish. Each extra gram on the rear wheel will increase the unsprung and rotating mass. Much less rotating mass means the rear wheel can speed up and decelerate extra simply. Within the case of a full suspension bike, a discount in sprung mass ends in extra responsive suspension, higher able to absorbing bumps and sticking to the bottom.

For a sporty eMTB, a motor/gearbox unit can present a extra balanced centre of gravity, targeted across the backside bracket. The rear finish of the Pinion MGU E1.12 geared up BULLS VUCA EVO AM 2 is as mild as a feather, with the burden moved to the underside bracket.

With motor/gearbox items, the burden saved on the rear wheel goes the place it’s least annoying: the underside bracket, low and centred on the bike. In idea, this could end in an improved weight distribution. A extra targeted centre of gravity is conducive to agility, and a low centre of gravity will increase the bike’s composure.

As all the time, it depends upon every particular person case and on how effectively the respective bike manufacturers play to some great benefits of motor/gearbox items. Nonetheless, the motor/gearbox items we examined have one drawback by way of their weight: they’re all upwards of 4 kilograms. They actually don’t lend themselves to mild eMTBs.

Most of the advantages listed to date are simply bonuses. The largest benefit of motor/gearbox items is their shifting efficiency, and the brand new sensible features that built-in gearboxes provide. And it’s these that we need to take a look at intimately right here.

The favored all-rounder amongst motor/gearbox items – The Pinion MGU E1.12 on take a look at

Before everything, Pinion have made a reputation for themselves for his or her gearboxes on analogue bikes. Nonetheless, the German bike gearbox producers have a background within the automotive sector, and turned the ebike world the wrong way up in the summertime of 2023.

Pinion MGU E1.12 | Energy: 600 W/85 Nm | 400% assist | Gears: 12/600% gear vary | Weight: 4.1 kg

Pinion will not be the primary model to supply a motor/gearbox unit, however the Pinion MGU (Motor Gearbox Unit) made the most important waves, and was welcomed by ebike producers with open arms. Within the eSUV group take a look at carried out by our sister journal E-MOUNTAINBIKE, each third bike got here geared up with the Pinion MGU. It additionally featured on three bikes in our huge 2024 eMTB group take a look at.

The Pinion MGU is accessible in 4 variations, both with a 9- or 12-speed gearbox; for s-pedelecs restricted to 45 km/h, or for ebikes restricted to 25 km/h.

The 12-speed MGU weighs round 4.1 kg, making it the lightest motor/gearbox unit on take a look at. In comparison with typical full-power, mid-mounted motors, the MGU is simply barely bigger and subsequently comparatively simple to combine into present ebike platforms. This has actually been met with a optimistic response from many bike manufacturers, boosting the motor’s recognition.

With the 12-speed gearbox, the MGU E1.12 system has an unlimited gear vary of 600% (MGU E1.9 = 568%), which is considerably greater than the opposite two motor/gearbox items on take a look at, and greater than present 12-speed cassettes. In observe, which means that you’ll nearly by no means run out of gears with the Pinion MGU E1.12, offering a simple gear for even the steepest climbs, and a excessive gear quick sufficient for breakneck descents.

Though the Pinion MGU can’t (but) shift absolutely mechanically, it’s able to providing the correct quantity of assist and an appropriate gear for any climb, descent or payload due to its highly effective motor and 12-speed, 600% gear vary.

The Pinion MGU has a claimed nominal torque output of 85 Nm. Nonetheless, the desired torque output of motor/gearbox items ought to solely serve to higher classify them amongst typical mid-mounted motors with out gearboxes. As a result of the motor’s precise torque output depends upon the gear chosen. For instance, the Pinion MGU is claimed to churn out as a lot as 160 Nm within the best gears.

If you choose the best assist mode, FLY, the Pinion MGU feels very highly effective in all gears. In FLY mode, the motor presents a substantial 400% assist. However, it wasn’t probably the most highly effective motor on take a look at because it was outdone by the motor/gearbox unit from its French opponents, Valeo.

Allegedly, the Tesla Cybertruck can pull a Porsche 911 on a trailer down 1 / 4 mile stretch sooner than the Porsche would be capable of journey by itself. The Pinion motor doesn’t hold round both, although, admittedly, our workplace canine Henry is quicker on his personal.

In the event you evaluate the shifting features, the Pinion motor isn’t on par with the competitors. Like the opposite two fashions on take a look at, the unit is able to shifting with out having to pedal, whether or not you’re stationary or rolling. With the Begin.Choose operate activated, it could possibly mechanically choose a predefined beginning gear whenever you come to a cease at a visitors mild, too.

Nonetheless, Pinion are but to introduce absolutely automated shifting features to the MGU. For now, with the Pre.Choose operate, the Pinion MGU will mechanically choose the suitable gear for the present pace, however solely whenever you cease pedalling. Due to this fact, whenever you coast downhill, the Pinion MGU will shift as much as an applicable pedalling gear. Nonetheless, whenever you’re pedalling uphill and your pace decreases, the MGU doesn’t mechanically shift down. You’ll both should shift manually or cease pedalling. Nonetheless, the MGU shifts in a short time whenever you inform it to, even below full load, and virtually by no means miss-shifts, not like many badly adjusted derailleurs.

Moreover, the dearth of fully-automatic shifting is ready to alter in the summertime of 2024. Pinion have already introduced a free software program replace that may introduce this operate to all present MGU programs, even below full load.

The highly effective French possibility – Testing the Valeo Cyclee motor/gearbox unit

With over 100,000 workers, Valeo are a world-renowned powerhouse amongst automotive suppliers. Though the Valeo Cyclee motor/gearbox unit was launched to the general public again in December 2020, it’s nonetheless not on most ebikers’ radars. In response to Valeo, 25 bike manufacturers already depend on the Cyclee unit, however most of them are based mostly within the French automotive provider’s dwelling nation, which accounts for the dearth of worldwide presence. Nonetheless, Valeo’s system is greater than deserving of consideration as a result of it’s bought a number of technological highlights to supply the ebike phase.

Valeo Cyclee | Energy: 750 W/130 Nm | 800% assist | Gears: 7/450% gear vary | Weight: 4.9 kg

The Valeo Cyclee motor/gearbox unit includes a 7-speed automated gearbox developed in collaboration with French gearbox specialists Effigear. The 7 speeds provide a 450% gear vary. As such, the Valeo unit can’t match the big selection or wonderful gear steps of the 12-speed Pinion system, although shifting turns into a secondary matter aboard Cyclee powered bikes.

With a torque output of as much as 130 Nm and 800% assist, the highly effective motor can compensate for the considerably restricted gear vary, able to bringing riders as much as cruising pace from a useless cease within the blink of an eye fixed. Steep climbs aren’t any drawback for the Valeo Cylcee motor/gearbox unit both, and it shouldn’t be fazed by heavy hundreds. In actual fact, the Valeo Cyclee motor was designed with heavy responsibility cargo bikes in thoughts. To this finish, the Valeo system may even be geared up with a reverse gear, serving to you manoeuvre a closely loaded cargo bike in steep driveways and the like.

Simply cruising and speaking tech: The brand new motor/gearbox items allow you to deal with the highway and the dialog as an alternative of worrying about shifting gears.

One other standout characteristic unique to the Valeo Cyclee system is the flexibility to place it in impartial, which serves as a intelligent anti-theft operate. If you park the ebike and choose impartial, the Valeo Cyclee powered ebike gained’t budge regardless of how exhausting you pedal. You’ll first should enter a code through the distant and show to have interaction the motor. We couldn’t consider a greater method to exploit some great benefits of motor/gearbox items for theft safety.

Whereas using, the interior gearbox is absolutely automated. Within the adaptive assist mode, known as Predict, you may’t even manually override the automated gear choice through the distant. The shifting works effectively whether or not you’re stationary or rolling. And in contrast to the Pinion MGU, it additionally shifts mechanically below load, so when you’re pedalling. Nonetheless, on this case, the Valeo Cyclee can sometimes be notably lazy and gradual to alter gears.

You possibly can all the time shift later: The Valeo Cyclee unit not often makes use of its absolutely automated gearbox. As an alternative, it merely depends on brute energy to push you up the climbs.

As you choose up pace, the automated gearbox predictably shifts into a better gear and retains you pedalling at a cushty cadence. Shifting gears through distant in Turbo or Eco mode works completely. Nonetheless, whenever you hit a climb and decelerate, stomping on the pedals, the gearbox leaves you ready. Whether or not mechanically in Predict mode or manually by distant management, downshifts are delayed by a number of crank rotations if there’s an excessive amount of drive being utilized to the pedals. Though this prevents the cranks from disengaging and making you spin out, it additionally makes it tough to carry your tempo on the climbs.

At round 4.9 kg, the Valeo Cyclee is the heaviest motor/gearbox unit on take a look at. The housing is formed like a triangle, which requires extra space within the body and complicates issues with regards to integration. Hopefully, this gained’t put ebike producers off, and Valeo will discover extra companions for his or her powerhouse of a system. We’d be blissful to see the French motor/gearbox unit featured on much more ebikes sooner or later.

The Valeo show and distant look very dated. Nonetheless, they’ve bought just a few attention-grabbing capabilities up their sleeves.
In the event you put the gearbox into impartial earlier than switching off, you may solely re-engage the motor with a predefined code, providing a intelligent anti-theft characteristic.

The delicate Belgian amongst motor/gearbox items – The E2 Drives Owuru in evaluate

If Pinion are the capturing stars of the motor/gearbox scene and Valeo are the native French heroes, you may rightly name the E2 Drives Owuru system a distinct segment product, featured on only a single bike to date.

E2 Drives Owuru | Energy: 600 W/65 Nm | 375% assist | Gears: repeatedly variable/265% gear vary | Weight: 4.6 kg

In the event you take a look at it from a distinct perspective, the oldsters behind E2 Drives have achieved an absolute box-office hit with their Owuru unit. The idea will need to have impressed Decathlon sufficient to have them snatch up the small motor start-up, in order that E2 Drives are actually a subsidiary of the sports activities items giants. So, it’s hardly shocking that the revolutionary Owuru motor is at the moment unique to the Decathlon BTWIN LD 920E metropolis ebike.

The Decathlon BTWIN LD 920E depends on E2 Drives’ debut product: the revolutionary Owuru motor/gearbox unit with a repeatedly variable automated transmission.

Whereas the important thing specs of the Pinion MGU are focused on the lots, and the Valeo system is all about energy, the Owuru motor/gearbox unit has completely different strengths totally. It guarantees a very clean and relaxed using expertise, and it’s the one motor/gearbox unit on take a look at with a repeatedly variable automated transmission.

Technically, the Owuru motor achieves seamless shifting thanks to 2 electrical motors that converge through an inner planetary gear. In observe, this implies that you could set a desired goal pedalling cadence of 40 to 90 RPM earlier than you set off. When you’re going, you’ll now not have to consider shifting gears.

The motor all the time regulates the assist and gearing ratio as a way to pedal on the desired cadence. That is achieved totally with out interruption from gear shifts or energy fluctuations – like a variomatic transmission on a scooter.

In metropolis visitors, subsequently, not one of the different motor/gearbox programs on take a look at can sustain with the relaxed using expertise supplied by the E2 Drives Owuru. In the event you stomp on the pedals to tug away out of your competitors at a visitors mild, the unit easily shifts to a better gearing ratio and allows you to choose up pace with out having to spin the cranks like a maniac. As you slowly come to a halt in stop-and-go visitors, the system mechanically shifts down, so that you’re all the time in a pleasantly simple gearing ratio when pulling away.

Nonetheless, the intelligent automated transmission additionally has its disadvantages. In comparison with the opposite two motor/gearboxes, the Owuru isn’t fairly as highly effective and may’t compete with typical, full-power, mid-mounted motors.

E2 Drives specify a minimal torque output of 65 Nm, which is achievable in any gearing ratio, with a most of as much as 120 Nm in best situations. Though the Owuru’s 375% most assist appears like loads, it could possibly’t match the 400 and 800% of the Pinion and Valeo programs, and the interior gear vary of 265% is considerably narrower than the 600 and 450% supplied by Pinion and Valeo.

You possibly can nonetheless get round rapidly in flat cities, nonetheless. In case your commute contains steep hills, nevertheless, the motor will possible run out of steam. In the event you drop beneath a sure pace on a climb, the motor can’t preserve the predefined goal pedalling cadence, forcing you to face up from the saddle and put all of your weight on the pedals to succeed in the summit.

The Owuru reaches its limits on steep climbs. In comparison with the opposite two motor/gearbox items on take a look at, you’ll should exert your self much more to succeed in the summit.

One other shortcoming is the system vibration. The motor itself isn’t notably noisy. The Valeo Cyclee is considerably louder, and the sounds emitted by the Pinion MGU within the first 4 gears may get annoying. However with the Owuru, you may really feel the vibrations in your toes of the 2 motors pulling on the planetary gearbox.

Good vibrations: the fledgling Owuru motor stands out due to its nice using expertise. When pedalling, nevertheless, it sometimes gives an involuntary foot therapeutic massage attributable to slight vibrations coming by way of the pedals.

How effectively the Owuru system lends itself to integration is definitely a facet situation as a result of it’s unique to Decathlon for now. The motor/gearbox unit weighs 4.6 kg, so it’s not precisely light-weight. The motor housing is simply barely bulkier than a contemporary, compact, full-power, mid-mounted motor with out an inner gearbox. Integrating the system requires particular consideration to the chain line as a result of the motor depends on a small extra sprocket above the chainring to transmit a lot of its energy. Within the case of the BTWIN LD 920E metropolis ebike, Decathlon show that they’re able to top-notch motor integration, constructing a whole system across the Owuru drive unit. The motor/gearbox unit blends seamlessly into the body’s rounded silhouette, and a neatly built-in show within the stem gives you with knowledge from the motor.

The holy trinity of a motor, an built-in, infinitely variable automated gearbox, and a show within the stem ends in top-notch integration.
Twin energy: The Owuru system depends on two electrical motors, balancing the chainring and a second driving gear.

Are motor/gearbox items the way forward for ebike motors?

The now long-deceased Henri Desgrange, an necessary biking journalist of his time (and likewise the founding father of the Tour de France, by the way in which), allegedly stated: “…variable gears are just for the disabled and ladies.” In fact, greater than a century has handed since our colleague Henri is claimed to have made this daring assertion, which at this time everybody is aware of just isn’t true. However our pondering hasn’t advanced a lot since then: “Ebikes are just for previous folks, dropper posts solely add weight, and disc brakes are far too sophisticated and unreliable.” As an alternative of brazenly welcoming improvements with out prejudice, they’re sometimes met with numerous unfounded skepticism and resistance.

Motor/gearbox items could appear cumbersome, unrefined, and never match for high-performance bikes. We secretly relegate them to a distinct segment reserved for snug hybrids and low-maintenance trekking bikes. The motor market continues to be dominated by typical mid-mounted drive items and hub motors. Admittedly, motor/gearbox items have solely simply arrived on the comparatively younger ebike scene. Nonetheless, they’ve monumental potential. Ebike motors are inevitably intertwined with the drivetrain. Due to this fact, it is sensible to mix the 2 parts as intently as attainable. In the perfect case, doing so will flip two parts into only one: the motor/gearbox unit. Pinion, Valeo, and E2 Drives motor/gearbox items aren’t excellent, positive. But it surely’s been some time since we’ve been as impressed by an ebike motor as we had been by these three fashions. Motor/gearbox items actually have the potential to dominate the market.

Whereas there’s loads of room left for enchancment, Pinion, Valeo and E2 Drives make a powerful debut on the ebike motor market. They’ve cleared the way in which for motor/gearbox items to take the market by storm. Now, it’s as much as bike manufacturers to use their full potential, and that’s a distinct matter totally. Nonetheless, typical mid-mounted motors and derailleurs ought to put together for a attainable onslaught from motor/gearbox items as a result of they might take a giant minimize of their pie.

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Phrases: Rudolf Fischer Images: Jan Richter, Various

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