A must-have brand when it comes to talking about the electrically assisted bicycle, Bosch has been able to impose a unique model in the bicycle industry in recent months. If he gladly leaves the mechanical part to specialists in the sector, he intends to become hegemonic on everything concerning the electronics of the bicycle. This obviously concerns assistance, but not only. The Bosch Smart System is the perfect illustration of this strategy in which Bosch adds an additional layer every year to an overall system, which is supposed to be the heart and soul of the eBike. To understand how the Bosch ecosystem works, but also to get an idea of it, we decided to test it. Here is our verdict after 300 km of use.
Bosch Smart System: what is it?
When it comes to e-bikes, the name Bosch is often associated with the motor or the battery. However, since last year, the German props manufacturer has seen bigger and has decided to build a complete ecosystem. This bears the name of 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, an ABS and a burglar alarm. Of course, everything works thanks to a new application, Flow.
It should also be clarified 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 the Cargo Line as well as five battery models are compatible. Indeed, the PowerTube 500Wh and 625Wh 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 thoroughly. A precision nevertheless: since this summer, the Bosch Smart System also offers the possibility of associating an ABS system. This one is not yet available in stores, and it was quite logically absent from our frame.
Engine and Autonomy: Bosch remains the boss
On our test bike, we benefited from the most accomplished configuration of the system. That is to say the Bosch Performance Line Cx, Bosch’s most advanced motor, accompanied by the enormous 750 Wh battery integrated into the frame.
Paradoxically, it is not on these two components that the Smart System brings the most novelties. One of the reasons for this being that Bosch was already dominating the competition in both engine performance and range. However, the latest generation of the Performance Line Cx should not be forgotten. Indeed, Bosch has improved its motor on two essential points: noise and freewheel mode. The latter is not yet complete, a slight impression of engine braking still being perceptible, but this has almost disappeared. As for the operating noise, it is still noticeable, but less present than before. We had already seen the performance of the latest generation of the Performance Line Cx on a bike particularly suitable for exercise, the Mustache Trail. Also, if you want a complete overview of the performance of the engine and its assistance modes, we invite you to read our test of Mustache’s VTTAE.
It should also be noted that for its motors, Bosch most of the time provides the solution to bicycle manufacturers. Some adopt it as is, but others use their freedom to adjust some assistance modes according to their standards.
On the battery side as often, it’s all about use. With this new block of 750 Wh (the largest currently available on the market) Bosch promises a maximum of 175 km of autonomy. This value is understood in eco mode of course. For our part, after having covered more than 250 km with our Tesoro Neo X equipped with the PowerTube 750, we were particularly surprised to be able to reach 100 km of autonomy by remaining only 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 size of the cyclist, the type of route, the weather, the tire pressure but also the pedaling rate. Nevertheless, in our experience, the promise is kept.
Kiox 300: a display model
The Kiox 300 display is an essential component 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 take it in hand several times.
We also invite you to reread all the good things we think about it through the test of the Cannondale Topstone Neo or the Mustache Trail which were equipped with it. Compact, readable in all light conditions and above all removable, Bosch’s top-of-the-range display is still the benchmark in the sector.
LedRemote: it will quickly become essential
This was one of Bosch’s weak points so far, it has been largely corrected. The LedRemote is a minimalist control composed of two pairs of buttons and as many indicator lights. The buttons allow you to switch from one assistance mode to another and to navigate in the menus of the Kiox display or the Flow application. As for the indicator lights, they are especially useful when you decide to do without the display, since they respectively indicate the mode of assistance engaged and the remaining level of the battery.
If the interpretation of the battery gauge is obvious, you will have to get used to the brand’s color code to remember that purple indicates Sport mode, red Turbo mode and sky blue is associated with Tour mode .
The LedRemote is undoubtedly the most innocuous of the latest additions to the ecosystem… but also one of the most pleasant, in any case one of those that improve driving pleasure. On the one hand because it falls perfectly under the thumb and its use could not be more natural. Finally, because it no longer requires you to concentrate on the display when you want to change assistance mode and it even allows you to do without it completely!
Indeed, instead of the Kiox, its display, Bosch provides a smartphone holder that works with its “grip”. This is sold as an option, of course, but it opens up interesting perspectives and also allows you to have navigation whether via the Flow application or the traditional Google Maps, Plans or Waze.
As soon as the Kiox is put away in the closet, the LedRemote takes on gallons. Indeed the small trigger automatically becomes the main indicator of the level of assistance and remaining battery. And if the user opts for a smartphone display, it allows you to navigate through the menus of the Flow application and switch from one screen to another without touching the phone.
Bike Alarm: interesting but… paying
The Bosch ecosystem has been enjoying integrated protection since this summer. This is the “eBike alarm”, a feature that is supposed to improve the security of the bike and reduce the risk of it being stolen. How does Bosch do it? In a fairly classic way, by making it possible to locate the bike on the one hand and by triggering an audible and visual alert when the bike is handled by someone other than its owner. What if this ill-intentioned person still managed to steal it? In this case, Bosch plays directly on the capacities of the engine. Concretely, if the “eBike Alarm” is activated, the motor assistance is deactivated. The bike can still roll, but without the help of the motor. This choice raises questions. Admittedly, the safety measure is interesting, but wouldn’t the pure and simple blocking of the pedals have been more effective? Bosch opts for a measure that is certainly dissuasive, but which will not necessarily prevent the theft of the bike, it will just make it more painful.
This limit in protection is all the more regrettable as the functioning of the “eBike Alarm” is exemplary. Once the function is activated in the Flow app, simply turn off the motor for the protection to activate. In addition, the LedRemote indicates to the pilot via a light sequence that the bike is protected. There is therefore no additional action to launch the “eBike Alarm”. As for the shutdown of the system, it is done automatically when the owner with his smartphone approaches the bike.
Unfortunately, the lack of complete engine blocking is not the main flaw of Bosch’s security system. Indeed, while similar protections are included with the purchase of competing VAEs, the German props specialist makes this altogether classic function a paid service under subscription. Indeed, after a free trial period of 12 months, the eBike Alarm is billed at 3.99 euros per month or 39.99 euros per year.
Application: keep the Flow
The heart and soul of the Bosch Smart System is of course the app. At the launch of its ecosystem, the props maker even decided to do without its traditional application to bet everything on the new one, Flow. This is a model of clarity and efficiency. Rich in features, it allows both to interact with his bike but also to change his behavior. Indeed, it is possible, for example, to adjust the different levels of assistance as desired.
The application is also used to have an overview of the use made of the bike, whether with the history of the journeys or the mileage carried out on each assistance mode. Finally, in the event of a breakdown, it makes it possible to find a repairer nearby.
Useful and particularly well thought out (which is an exception in the small world of VAE applications) Flow also has exemplary ergonomics. In this area, Bosch has made great progress compared to eBike Connect, its previous smartphone companion, and this 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, its main competitor, Shimano, has nothing to be ashamed of with quality motors and batteries as well as real progress in terms of display lately. Nevertheless, even if it manages to keep pace in terms of innovations (ABS is the perfect example), the Japanese do not have a tool to make the link between these different components. Certainly, it is the essence and the strength of the Bosch Smart System which was built brick by brick and which could accommodate new functionalities in the coming years. As for what the ecosystem brings concretely in terms of driving, it is first of all the possibility of having an eye on all the parameters of your bike within the same application. It is also a source of continuous information on his practice of cycling and therefore, of ways to improve it. Already in a position of strength in the VAE industry, the Bosch Smart System allows the German to establish its hegemony in the long term.