The BBSHD is the Best: Power Capacity
5 min read | September 3 2023
Aside from being more cost-effective, there’s the plain truth that almost nothing else on the market comes close to the overall power capacity of the BBSHD. E.g. we get a lot more watts-per-dollar, but we get a lot more watts in general too. There’s really nothing else out there that’s pushing out 1500-1600 peak watts or 160Nm of torque. OEM e-bikes tend to adhere to Class 1-2-3 policies, meaning that their output will be limited to either 250 watts or 750 watts. That’s just an entirely different league than the BBSHD.
Now, there’s a fair argument to be heard here that you shouldn’t need that much power on an e-bike. And, ignoring the folks that essentially treat their e-bikes like mopeds and have pedals just for show, I understand that claim. As a person that pedals with the motor, once I’m at my happy spinning cadence the motor is generally outputting less than 200 watts to keep me there. Any lower-power motor would happily keep me there too. But the higher power capacity comes in for a few key situations: hills, moments of needing road speed, and shifting. Additionally, a higher power capacity can mean a longer motor lifetime.
When it comes to hills, the simple truth is that a higher power capacity means you can climb a hill faster and with less system stress. A lower-capacity motor will have to downshift to a lower gear to gain enough torque advantage to actually do the climbing, but as such will do so at a lower speed. A higher-capacity motor can keep the chain spinning faster while adding more and more torque / watts as the hill incline ramps up. This isn’t about zooming up a hill, either. This is often the difference between keeping your 15mph pace and cruising up a hill like it doesn’t exist vs. down-shifting and getting up the hill at 7mph. It may not seem like much on paper, but one of the great joys of e-biking is that hills no longer exist. If you still have to think about them, your motor isn’t providing enough power!
Another time motor power capacity can play a big role is when you have to ride on the road. If you’ve been riding bikes in public for a while you’ll know that there simply comes times where your only choice is to ride on a busy car-filled road (often without a berm). It’s exactly at these moments where having a lot of motor power available can be a big help — it gets you closer to car speeds. Not that everyone should (it takes practice to get comfortable), but being able to get your bike going 35mph on a 45-50mph road is much safer than a bike going 15-20mph. The goal is to minimize the speed difference between a bike and a car traveling along the road so that the amount of time the car can visually see the bike and make adjustments to safely pass around the bike is as long as possible. A car going 45-50mph is going to first see, then pass, a bike going 15-20mph in a couple of seconds. That time is likely doubled for a bike going 35mph. It gives the driver far more time to make (hopefully safe-) assessments about the bike. Plus, rolling at the rate of traffic flow with the cars is a really fun experience. With a high-capacity motor you no longer feel like you’re holding up cars behind you.
On the “shifting” front, having a high-capacity motor means that you can quickly recover your spinning speed after up-shifting. A high-capacity motor can immediately add a ton of wattage once you up-shift and bring you back up to your spinning cadence (now with much more road speed). A lower power motor simply can’t do this — it would take much longer to recover from the bog-down of a gear upshift. This may not seem like a very important piece of the puzzle, but minimizing the amount of time your motor is really pushing is a good thing. It allows you to re-focus on the road and the riding and it allows your motor to stop producing a lot of excess heat and burning battery juice!
Finally, a higher motor capacity can mean a longer motor lifetime. Because you likely don’t need all of its capacity. For instance, I keep my BBSHD limited to 75% of current output all the time. Even with that software-limit, it still peaks around 1000 watts, but it’s never hitting the 1500-2000 watt peaks it’s capable of. Ultimately that means the internals will have few / none of the high-stress events that those 1500-2000 watt peak moments create. It will generate less heat, it won’t draw as much current from the battery, and it’ll keep the motor core healthy for longer. The motor is built to hold up under high capacity levels but by restricting the capacity in software, those heavy-duty components instead contribute to a super long motor lifetime. At the same time, the hammer is there if you ever need it!