Bosch wants to power e-bikes that rival the smarts of a car

The company says it is laying the groundwork for future e-bikes that will offer smart digital features like remote locking and route suggestions.

Bosch has unveiled new e-bike technologies that will make bicycles smarter with features like automa...
Bosch eBike Systems

Bosch has announced a series of new products that it says will lay the groundwork for future e-bikes that pack the same intelligent technologies as the latest electric cars, or the smartphone in your pocket.

As electric bikes become more commonplace and cities encourage their adoption over environmental concerns, innovation in the space is advancing more rapidly. Electric bicycle maker VanMoof, for instance, sells a premium electric bike with built-in anti-theft tracking, meant to deter the all-to-common act of thieves clipping locks and selling bikes on Craigslist.

Welcome updates — Now Bosch eBike Systems, which creates key hardware components for e-bikes, has introduced a new battery and LCD display which will boost operating range on a charge and give riders easy access to pertinent information about their bike.

The new PowerTube 750Wh battery is a step up from Bosch’s previous 625Wh packs, and should provide plenty of power for short-distance travel around town. Alongside that, Bosch introduced its Kiox 300 display, which shows information like battery charge; an associated remote near the rider’s thumb lets them quickly adjust the level of power assisting them as they pedal. Electric bikes typically use a motor to provide a boost of power to cyclists as they pedal.

Futuristic concepts — These aren’t revolutionary upgrades in and of themselves, but Bosch says they lay the groundwork for more advanced features that could make e-bikes more like Teslas. For instance, through Bosch’s Flow mobile app, riders can now receive over-the-air updates for their bikes, allowing riders to continually take advantage of new features. The app also automatically records rides, and integrates with fitness apps.

CEO Claus Fleischer says all of this is a precursor for smart tools like automatic adaptation to a rider’s needs, and smart routing from point A to B. Bosch could also add its own anti-theft tracking. Another potential feature is communication with nearby cars, alerting them so they don’t hit a cyclist.

For now, a lot of these ideas are just that. But the market for e-bikes is expected to hit $68 billion by 2026, which goes a way to explaining why investment is increasing so rapidly. Shared services like Lime and Bird have proven that, at least within cities, lightweight electric vehicles are a viable alternative to cars. They’re not just better for the environment and city life, they’re also fun to ride. Maybe someday we’ll see middle-aged dudes filling their garages with cool e-bikes, rather than sports cars.