German equipment manufacturer Mahle presented its new lightweight X20 electric motor for bicycles at the latest Eurobike fair. The complete system gains both in weight, but also in power and functionality. Something to make e-bikes more and more discreet. So much so that we will end up having difficulty differentiating with a “dry” bike. Cover this engine I can’t see…
Mahle or eBikeMotion? Both
Originally, Mahle GmbH was a classic automotive supplier; Understand why the Stuttgart company has been producing internal combustion engines since 1920. 160 production sites in 30 countries around the world. The group weighs 10.9 billion and employs around 72,000 people.
Like many players in this sector, they felt the wind turn towards alternative mobility to the private car. The company is now focused on electric motorization (cars, trucks). It was in October 2018 that it acquired the Spanish company eBikeMotion (Palencia), which specializes in motors for electric bicycles.
New Mahle X20 engine: lighter, more torque
For this new engine, Mahle won the Innovator Award during this Eurobike 2022 in the component category. According to the manufacturer: “The X20 marks the beginning of a new era, as we combine lightweight design, aesthetics and customization in an unprecedented powertrain solution.“The new system has really gone through a good slimming cure. The complete set of motor + battery + all other necessary elements weighs just 3.2 kilos, compared to 3.5 kilos of the previous X35 version. It’s also more powerful, with an advertised torque at 60 Newton meters (compared to 40 Nm for the X35).
Greater and better management of autonomy
Regarding autonomy, like all manufacturers, Mahle reveals numbers that seem difficult to achieve in real conditions. In ideal conditions (low assistance, no inclination, light driver and mild outside temperature), the X20 engine is advertised with a range of 100 km with a 250 Wh battery; and 140 km with the 350 Wh battery.
The battery is integrated into the downtube and can only be removed for maintenance (by a technician). Of course, this implies having access to an outlet in your bike room. But the advantage of a lightweight e-bike is that it can easily be taken up a flight of stairs (or placed in the elevator). Mahle offers the Range Extender as an option, which, as its name suggests, increases the range of the VAE, with an external battery in a box shape (180 Wh), with a gain of over 60 km. This additional battery can be recharged directly at home. And it will recharge the internal battery once placed in the frame.
Technically, this new Mahle X20 engine takes the technology and user experience a step further. First with the new order. Exit the old iWoc system. This new controller also has only one control button to modify the assistance level (still with the same color principle. But this time, it also displays the battery level, more accurately. The control can be installed on the top tube of the bicycle, or directly on the stem, as in the new Wilier Filante Hybrid (pictured above).
This one-button control can also be given a large screen, which provides access to more accurate data (time, assistance level, actual speed, average speed, battery percentage, etc.).
A bottom bracket with torque and power sensors
Another technical breakthrough: the Mahle X20 engine is coupled to a bottom bracket with torque and power sensors. These communicate with the motor, which will allow for a much more accurate reproduction of the electric assistance and will offer a more natural pedaling (no jerks). More refined management that will also allow you to optimize energy consumption and therefore increase battery life.
Another less visible but equally interesting progress: the motor shaft. The X35 model required the user to carry a BTR 18 key with them in case of a puncture in the rear wheel (to remove the wheel). This time, the Mahle X20 engine is compatible with classic thru-axles. Connection to the system is made simply through a plug that automatically engages when inserting the wheel. There is no need to manually reconnect the motor.
Finally, note that the freewheel body is also easier to replace on this new Mahle X20 engine. The CRL is detachable and the system will be compatible with Shimano/Sram, Sram XDR and Campagnolo bodies.
Lightweight e-bikes versus powerful e-bikes
We have already had the opportunity to ride e-bikes equipped with the Mahle eBikeMotion engine (model X35) several times, as in this Orbea GAIN or during our Roc Gravel with the Cannondale Topstone NEO SL. We can’t wait to try out a model powered by this new Mahle X20 engine.
We remain convinced that this type of system has a real future. Because many people need an electric-assist bicycle. We are not going to go back on all the interests of this technology for everyday travel – contrary to what some might think, we do not believe that we are “elitist” or even purists interested only in muscle cycling.
However, we are also convinced that, in a classic everyday use of the utility (commute to work, for example), not everyone needs an overloaded crank motor, or even a battery with a range of more than 150 km. A very light bike (electric or not) can be very pleasant to ride, to get from point A to point B.