As a must-have brand when it comes to electrically assisted bicycles, Bosch has been able to establish a unique model in the bicycle industry in recent months. He likes to leave the mechanics to the specialists in the industry, he wants to take over the hegemony of everything to do with the electronics of the bicycle. This obviously applies to assistance, but not only. The Bosch Smart System is the perfect example of this strategy, with each year Bosch adding another layer to an overall system that aims to be the heart and soul of the eBike. In order to understand how the Bosch ecosystem works, but also to get an idea of it, we decided to test it. Here is our conclusion after 300 km of use.
Bosch Smart System: What is it?
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – Our test bike, the Cannondale Tesoro Neo X
When it comes to e-bikes, the name Bosch is often associated with the motor or the battery. Since last year, however, the German prop maker has been looking bigger and has decided to build a complete ecosystem. This bears the name Bosch Smart System and consists of the traditional motor/battery duo, but also the latest version of the Kiox display, the LedRemote trigger and, since this summer, also an ABS and an intruder alarm system. Of course, everything works thanks to a new application, Flow.
It should also be made clear that the Bosch Smart System is not available on all e-bikes with a Bosch motor. Only the latest versions of the Performance Line and Cargo Line and five battery models are compatible. In fact, the PowerTube 500 Wh and 625 Wh and the PowerPack 545 Wh and 725 Wh complete the PowerTube 750 Wh battery inaugurated at the launch of the Smart System.
Our test model, the Cannondale Tesoro Neo X, was of course equipped with all these features, which allowed us to test them extensively. However, one clarification: since this summer, the Bosch Smart System has also offered the option of assigning an ABS system. This is not yet commercially available and was logically missing from our framework.
Motor and autonomy: Bosch remains boss
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The Performance Line Cx engine
With our test bike, we benefited from the most successful configuration of the system. Namely the Bosch Performance Line Cx, the most advanced motor from Bosch, accompanied by the massive 750 Wh battery integrated into the frame.
Paradoxically, it is not in these two components that the Smart System brings the most innovations. One of the reasons for this was that Bosch already dominated the competition in terms of both motor power and range. Not to be forgotten, however, is the latest generation of the Performance Line Cx. In fact, Bosch has improved its motor on two key points: noise and freewheel mode. The latter is not yet complete, a slight impression of engine braking is still perceptible, but has almost disappeared. The operating noise is still perceptible, but less present than before. We had already seen the performance of the latest generation of the Performance Line Cx on a bike that is particularly suitable for movement, the Mustache Trail. Also, if you want a complete review of the engine’s performance and its support modes, we invite you to read our Mustaches VTTAE review.
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The driving position.
It should also be noted that for its motors, Bosch mostly provides the solution for bike manufacturers. Some adopt it as-is, others take their liberty to adapt some assist modes to their standards.
On the battery side, as so often, it’s all about usage. With this new block of 750 Wh (the largest currently available on the market), Bosch promises a maximum of 175 km of autonomy. Of course, this value is in Eco mode. For our part, having traveled more than 250 km with our Tesoro Neo X equipped with PowerTube 750, we were particularly surprised that we were able to reach 100 km of autonomy just by staying in sport mode. It therefore seems possible to us to exceed 150 km of autonomy by oscillating between Eco mode and Tour mode, as long as the conditions are suitable. The rest depends on the cyclist’s height, the type of route, the weather, the tire pressure but also the pedaling frequency. Nevertheless, in our experience, the promise is kept.
Kiox 300: a display model
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The Kiox 300 display.
The Kiox 300 display is an essential part of the Bosch Smart System. If it has recently evolved to refine its screen, it is not entirely new and we have also had the opportunity to pick it up on several occasions.
We also invite you to revisit all the good things we think about it by testing the Cannondale Topstone Neo or the Mustache Trail that came equipped with it. Compact, readable in all lighting conditions and above all removable, the top display from Bosch is still the benchmark in the industry.
LedRemote: quickly becoming indispensable
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The LED Remote, a very successful accessory.
This used to be one of Bosch’s weak points, and it has largely been remedied. The LedRemote is a minimalist control consisting of two pairs of buttons and just as many indicator lights. With the buttons you can switch from one support mode to the other and navigate in the menus of the Kiox display or the Flow application. The indicator lights are particularly useful if you want to do without the display, as they each show the activated assistance mode and the remaining battery level.
If the interpretation of the battery gauge is obvious, you’ll have to get used to the brand’s color code to remember that purple indicates sport mode, red turbo mode and sky blue tour mode.
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The LedRemote shows the support level.
The LedRemote is undoubtedly the most benign of the latest additions to the ecosystem… but also one of the most enjoyable, definitely one of those that enhance driving pleasure. On the one hand because it falls perfectly under the thumb and its application could not be more natural. Finally, because you no longer have to focus on the display when you want to change the assistance mode, and you can even do without it altogether!
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – Smartphone support.
In fact, instead of Kiox, its display, Bosch supplies a smartphone holder that works with its “grip”. Of course, this is sold as an option, but it opens up interesting perspectives and also allows navigation, whether through the Flow application or the traditional Google Maps, Plans or Waze.
Once the Kiox is tucked away in the closet, the LedRemote picks up gallons. In fact, the small trigger automatically becomes the main indicator of the assist level and battery remaining. And if the user chooses a smartphone display, you can use it to navigate the Flow application menus and switch from one screen to another without touching the phone.
Bike alert: interesting but… paying
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The activation of the alarm part.
Since this summer, the Bosch ecosystem has enjoyed integrated protection. This is the “eBike Alarm”, a feature designed to improve bike security and reduce the risk of theft. How does Bosch do it? Quite classic in that on the one hand it allows the bike to be located and in that it sets off an audible and visual alarm when the bike is being handled by someone other than its owner. What if that malicious person still managed to steal it? Bosch alludes directly to the capacity of the engine. Specifically, when the “eBike Alarm” is activated, the motor support is deactivated. The bike can still roll, but without the help of the motor. This choice raises questions. Admittedly, the security measure is interesting, but wouldn’t simply locking the pedals have been more effective? Bosch decides on a measure that will certainly act as a deterrent, but which does not necessarily prevent bicycle theft, but only makes it more painful.
This limitation of protection is all the more regrettable given that the functionality of the “eBike Alarm” is exemplary. Once the feature is activated in the Flow app, simply switch off the engine for the protection to activate. In addition, the LedRemote shows the pilot via a light sequence that the bike is protected. No additional action is therefore required to start the “eBike Alarm”. The system shuts down automatically when the owner approaches the bike with their smartphone.
Unfortunately, the lack of full engine blockage is not the main flaw of Bosch’s security system. While similar protections are included with the purchase of competing VAEs, the German props specialist is making this overall classic feature a paid-for subscription service. Because after a free trial period of 12 months, the eBike Alarm costs EUR 3.99 per month or EUR 39.99 per year.
Application: keep the flow
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The main interface of the Flow application.
The heart of the Bosch Smart System is of course the app. When launching its ecosystem, the prop maker even decided to forego its traditional application in order to bet everything on the new Flow. This is a model of clarity and efficiency. Rich in features, it allows you to both interact with your bike and change its behavior. For example, it is possible to set the different support levels as you wish.
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The activity and map part of the application.
The application is also used to get an overview of the use of the bike, be it with the history of rides or the kilometers covered in each support mode. Finally, in the event of a breakdown, it allows to find a garage nearby.
Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The autonomy part of the application.
Useful and particularly well thought out (which is exceptional in the small world of VAE applications), Flow also has exemplary ergonomics. In this area, Bosch has made great strides over eBike Connect, its previous smartphone companion, which is beneficial as the application occupies a central place in the use of the smart system.
With its connected ecosystem, Bosch has a unique solution on the market. Admittedly, the main competitor Shimano has nothing to be ashamed of lately with high-quality motors and batteries and real progress in terms of displays. Yet even if it can keep up in terms of innovation (ABS is the perfect example), the Japanese don’t have the tools to make the connection between these different components. Certainly it is the essence and the strength of the Bosch Smart System, which was built brick by brick and could incorporate new functionalities in the years to come. What the ecosystem brings in terms of riding is above all the possibility of having an overview of all the parameters of your bike within the same application. It is also a source of ongoing information about his cycling practice and therefore of ways to improve it. Already strong in the UAE industry, the Bosch Smart System will enable the German to consolidate its supremacy over the long term.