What better place to learn about Bosch eBikes than the birthplace of Seattle on Alki Beach? Seattle is a booming tech town and Bosch an engineering powerhouse. What Bosch staffers told me, as we rode around Alki was…
Bosch, the German engineering and technology powerhouse, that transformed the auto industry is now focusing on another transportation device: bicycles. Back in the late 1800s, Bosch was churning out automotive innovations, well before Henry Ford had launched the model T. In 1902 the company debuted the invention of the spark plug – an automotive part that is still vital to cars being manufactured today._
Bosch eBikes are battery operated pedal-assist system that, when mounted on a bicycle, can boost a cyclist’s power with electric power at speeds up to 20 mph. More than just a battery, the system is activated through pedaling and controlled through a handlebar unit that allows you to increase and decrease the level of power assist through four different levels._
At Bike Hugger, eBikes aren’t necessarily our thing, but if they were, mid mounts (at the bottom bracket) are what we’d want, and recommend. That’s because they assist a cyclist instead of pushing or pulling from a rear or front hub. The drivetrain isn’t passive, the harder you pedal the more it assists, and you’ll figure this out on the first climb. The added weight of an motor and battery means an eBike isn’t a climber, until you shift up, start spinning, push the + button on the controller until turbo (the fourth mode) kicks in, and up the hill you go. Stop pedaling and it stops.
For urban commuting and errand running, Bosch brought an XTracycle to our meeting and it reminded me of the stoked Bettie (Surly Big Dummy with Stokemonkey) from years ago. That bike operated on the same principal of pedal assist and was used as car replacement. In hilly Seattle and when loaded, power assist was the only way to get around.
Bosch is on a new charm offensive in the States, meeting editors and publishers like me curbside for a ride. It was fun meeting them, and their tech is solid. While I prefer a less technological approach to biking and their role as fitness equipment, I understand why Bosch eBikes sell so well in Europe, and appreciate the enthusiasm of the Bosch staffers.
As congestion increases in cities, the bike will become a more viable alternative. With pedal assist commuters can get over those hills dressed for work, arriving without breaking a sweat, just like Europeans do, and maybe those new Seattlelites working downtown at Amazon. They came here seeking fortune, just like the Denny party did when they landed at Alki.