Low-maintenance power bikes

Best-of: Urban e-bikes with powerful mid-motor, hub gears and belt drive

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Looking for an e-bike with as much power as possible, there is hardly any way around a model with a mid-mounted motor. This type of motor is still considered the benchmark for high performance, especially when it comes to the torque of the drive. What’s more, compared to motors in the rear wheel, this makes it possible to use a low-maintenance hub gear with a belt drive without any problems.

Such hub gears offer fewer gears respectively bandwidth (the difference between the highest and lowest gear) than derailleur gears, but especially in combination with an e-drive this is usually quite sufficient for rides not only in the city and on weekend tours. In addition, Enviolo hub gears are increasingly being used, which do not have fixed gear steps at all. Instead, the gear ratio is adjusted continuously — in some cases even automatically and electronically controlled, which means you can talk about a real automatic transmission! Capabilities that no derailleur can compete with. And when it comes to maintenance, derailleur gears can’t keep up either: thanks to the encapsulated housing, the hub gears are well protected from external weather influences and are thus largely maintenance-free.

These characteristics also apply to the third member of the group, the belt drive: Compared to classic bicycle chains, it does not need to be greased and oiled, so it gets less dirty and does not leave greasy traces on the trouser leg. By the way, the “de facto standard” is installed on all the bikes listed here, the Carbon Drive from Gates.

So it’s a win-win-win situation? Not quite, because e-bikes with a mid-motor often have a few disadvantages: Compared to e-bikes with compact hub motors, mid-motor models are usually heavier, the drives are louder, and the bikes look less elegant. However, you can’ t generalize this, because technical progress is also changing the cards here: for instance, the first bikes with the new Fazua Ride 60 drive system already indicate that lighter and slimmer bikes can also be combined with a powerful mid-motor in the future!

The following is a subjective overview of particularly interesting bikes for 2022 that combine the following features: powerful mid-motor, hub gears and toothed belt — and oh yes, a good design as well, of course 😉

Veloretti Electric (EUR 2,499)

With the Electric models Ace (diamond frame) and Ivy (comfort frame trapezoidal shape) Veloretti offers two attractive e-bikes at quite a reasonable price — especially since their equipment is very extensive: The motor comes from Bafang and offers a torque of 65 Nm, the battery is removable and has a capacity of 510 Wh. A continuously variable transmission from Enviolo is installed here as the gearshift, which is also equipped with the Automatiq function and thus adjusts the transmission ratio completely automatically. Ivy and Ace are available in only one frame size and in three colors each. At 27 kg, the bikes are unfortunately very heavy. Click here for more information about the Veloretti Electric Bikes.

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP AL City One (EUR 3,200)

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP AL City One

Thanks to the non-integrated battery and the Shimano STEPS 6100 motor, the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP AL City One is a lightweight among the bikes listed here at 20.9 kg. Nevertheless, the battery with 504 Wh offers a high capacity and Shimano’s Nexus hub gears with 5 gears are used. The bike is only available with a diamond frame and in beige, but in three sizes. Here is more information about the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP bikes.

Canyon Precede:ON 7 (starting at EUR 3,499)

The new Precede bikes with aluminum frames are Canyon’s entry into the urban bike segment. In addition to 5 and 6 models with derailleur gears, the Precede:ON 7 is also available with Enviolo’s continuously variable transmission, which is operated manually via a rotary grip on the handlebars. The motor comes from Bosch’s Performance Line (65 Nm), the battery offers a capacity of 500 Wh (small frame size) or 625 Wh (large frame size, then 200 euros more expensive!). In addition to the regular model, the Precede:ON 7 is also available as an ST (“Step Through” comfort frame). The weight is just under 25 kg, both models are available in two colors and up to four frame sizes. Here you can find more information about the Canyon Precede:ON AL bikes.

HNF Nicolai SD3 Urban (EUR 3,995)

Bosch Performance Line motor (65 Nm), 500 Wh battery and the manually operated, continuously variable transmission from Enviolo: these are the ingredients of the SD3 Urban from HNF Nicolai, which is equipped with a suspension fork. The bike is only available with a diamond frame – but this is still available in two frame sizes and two colors. The weight is 25.8 kg.

Specialized Vado IGH (starting at EUR 4,100)

With its Turbo Vado 3.0 IGH, Specialized offers a bike with a 50Nm-strong Specialized 2.0E motor from Brose, the capacity of the battery is 530 Wh. Enviolo’s continuously variable transmission sits in the rear wheel, the adjustment of the gear ratio is done manually on the handlebars. Who wants more, reaches for the Vado 5.0 IGH for 6,300 euros with the Specialized 2.2 motor: this offers a huge torque of 90Nm, the battery is hardly inferior to the capacity of 710 Wh. The continuously variable automatic transmission from Enviolo Automatiq is then installed here. Both models come with suspension fork and are available in two frame shapes (diamond and trapezoid), each in four sizes and three colors, the weight is over 25kg. Click here for more info on the Specialized Vado bikes.

Diamant Opal Esprit+ (EUR 4,369)

The Opal Esprit+ from Diamant rolls along with a somewhat curved frame, but the drivetrain is well known: Bosch’s Performance Line CX motor, 625 Wh battery, Enviolo’s continuously variable transmission with manual operation and the belt drive. The frame is available in the two shown shapes, each in brown metallic and in three sizes. The weight of the Opal Esprit+ is 26.2 kg.

Kalkhoff Image 5.B (starting at EUR 4,499)

With the Image 5.B series, Kalkhoff offers several models that meet our criteria. The Image 5.B Excite+ is equipped with the continuously variable Eviolo shifting, which is operated manually and the Performance Line CX motor from Bosch. The Image 5.B Advance+, on the other hand, uses Bosch’s regular Performance Line motor, then in conjunction with Shimano’s 5-speed Nexus shifting. The battery offers 625 Wh capacity in both models, the weight of both bikes is a hefty 29 kg and 28.5 kg respectively. In addition to the diamond frame, there is also a step through comfort frame, each in four sizes and two colors.

Schindelhauer Heinrich and Hannah (starting at EUR 4,995)

The typical Schindelhauer look: Heinrich and Hannah shine with many chrome parts, the difference between the two models lies in the frame shape — so Heinrich is the diamond frame model, Hannah comes with a comfort frame in trapezoid shape. Technically, both bikes are identical: the motor is from Bosch’s Active Line Plus series with 50 Nm, the battery has 500 Wh capacity. The Shimano Alfine hub gear offers 8 gears. Optionally, both bikes are also available with the continuously variable automatic transmission Enviolo Automatiq, then for 5,199 euros and with less chrome. Heinrich is available in one color and two sizes each, Hannah in up to two colors and two sizes. The weight of both bikes is 23.7 kg (Alfine) and 24.7 kg (Enviolo). Here you can find more info about the Schindelhauer bikes.

Riese & Müller Roadster Vario (EUR 4,999)

With its Roadster, Riese & Müller offers an individually configurable urban bike, including this variant with Bosch’s Performance Line CX motor (85 Nm), 625 Wh battery and the continuously variable Enviolo transmission with manual control. In addition to the Roadster with diamond frame (two colors, three sizes), there is the Roadster Mixte with comfort frame (two colors, two sizes), both with suspension fork in each case — the weight is 24.5 and 24.3 kg respectively. Click here for more information about the Riese & Müller Roadster bikes.

Canyon Precede:ON 9 (EUR 4,999)

Futuristic design and a maximum level of integration defines the Precede:ON 9 from Canyon with a carbon frame. The drive system comes from Bosch’s Performance Line CX series with a powerful 85 Nm, combined with a 500 Wh battery. Here, too, the continuously variable transmission comes from Enviolo in the Automatiq variant. In addition to the regular model, the Precede:ON 9 is also available as an ST (“Step Through” comfort frame) with a low step-in. The weight is a good 22 kg, both models are available in two colors and up to four frame sizes. Here is more information about the Canyon Precede:ON CF bikes, we have also already tested the bike here.

Riese & Müller UBN Silent (EUR 5,199)

Brand new and with 21 kg one of the lightest bikes on this list: The UBN series from Riese & Müller is equipped with the new Fazua Ride 60 drive system, which includes a motor with 60 Nm of torque and a battery with 430 Wh capacity. The Alfine hub gears here have 8 speeds and come from Shimano. The difference between UBN Five and UBN Seven can be found in the shape of their frame: Five is the model with diamond frame, Seven the one with comfort frame in a trapezoidal shape. Both are available in three sizes and two different colors. Click here for more info on the Riese & Müller UBN bikes.

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