The BBSHD is the Best: Value per Dollar

Sort of an easy comparison category to start with here, but let’s go beyond simple cost. How much value do you get per dollar with the BBSHD? And let’s break down ‘value’ in a few ways. Let’s also assume that a brand new BBSHD (motor only) is around $680 from most retailers as of September 2023.

First, let’s consider value to be dollars-per-watt the motor is capable of outputting. The BBSHD is often marketed as 1000 watts nominal and 1500-1600 watts peak. Given those values, that means we’re paying 68 cents-per-watt of nominal power and about 43 cents-per-watt of peak power. Hold that thought.

Second, let’s consider value to be dollars-per-newton-meter (torque). The BBSHD can crank… and this is quantified as a reported maximum torque value of 160 Nm. That means we’re paying $4.25 per newton-meter of torque ability.

But of course, these numbers mean nothing in isolation. What’s the value of other motor systems? How does the BBSHD compare to these? It’s a tricky question since Bosch and Shimano primarily sell to bike manufacturers and make OEM-oriented motors (which require special frames to mate to) — neither releases pricing information to consumers! We have no idea how much of a retail e-bike’s cost is born by the electric components. But we can get clever with bike makers that make electric and acoustic versions of the same bike.

For instance, Yuba makes the Mundo long-tail cargo bike as both electric with a Shimano EP8 250-watt motor that peaks at 85 newton-meters of torque and a 36V 14Ah battery for $4,800 and acoustic for $2,500. It’s a fair assessment then, that the EP8 motor and battery cost $2,300. And if we subtract out the market cost for a 36V 14Ah battery, which I’ll estimate at a generous $300, that means the motor system itself is $2,000. Two thousand dollars. Ouch. Doing the same math here, we’d be paying 8 dollars per watt and 235 dollars per newton-meter of torque ability! That’s a rate over ten times higher than the BBSHD’s and that comes in far shorter in delivery.

Jumping to another side of the market, Trek’s Domane series has been a staple in road touring / endurance bikes for years. The Domane SLR 7 (acoustic) is $8,000. The Domane+ SLR 7 (electric) is $10,000. And for that $2,000 difference you get a 300-watt motor that peaks at 50 newton-meters of torque and a 36V 10Ah battery. Subtracting $250 for market value of a 36V 10Ah battery, that gives us a motor system cost of $1750. Again, doing the math here, that gives us a dollars-per-watt of 5.8 and a dollars-per-newton-meter of 35. Both still over ten times higher than the BBSHD’s and overall far less capable.

Even down-market, Trek’s FX-2, an entry level contender in their city/urban-focused FX lineup faces similar costs. The acoustic version for $700, the electric for $2,500. That $1,800 grants you a 250-watt hub motor with 40Nm peak torque and a 36 volt 7 Ah battery 😮‍💨. Subtract $200 for battery value (generously) and that’s $1,600 of electric motor — 6.4 dollars per watt, 40 dollars per newton-meter. This is terrible, value-wise.

Yuba also has a down-market option, the Kombi (acoustic, electric) but out the door, its numbers are similarly poor: 7.4 dollars per watt, 46 dollars per newton-meter.

Any difference in the mountain bike world? Looking at Trek’s Fuel EX 5, it’s not looking so good. The acoustic sells for $2,700. The electric is $5,500. That’s a $2,800 difference! You can buy two of the acoustic version for less than the price of the electric! And what do we get for that massive up-charge? The same exact motor system that’s in the Domane+ SLR 7 we noted above… just at an even higher up-charge for reasons unknown. This now makes the values: 8.5 dollars per watt, 51 dollars per newton-meter.

I need not continue. OEM e-bike values are really bad compared to the BBSHD. The BBSHD simply gives us a way better unit price on the value it delivers. Its dollars-per-watt and dollars-per-newton-meter costs are unmatched and so affordable it’s hard to believe.


Side-note: these bike manufacturers must be making a killing on electric bike profit margins though. Two to three thousand dollar up-charges for motor systems that shouldn’t cost more than a couple hundred dollars. It really is the Wild West of e-bike times.

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