My E-bike needs tuning, how do I do this?

Created by Ralf Jodl at 12:03 on March 25, 2020

What types of E-Bikes are available?

Nowadays, when E-Bikes are mentioned, a so-called Pedelec 25 is usually the subject. In other words a bicycle fitted with an electric motor that assists pedalling up to a speed of 25kph. These are by far the most widespread and popular type of E-bike that currently exists. Helmets, vehicle testing and an insurance policy are not necessary for their legal use although a helmet and insurance are highly recommendable! Additionally there are also S-Pedelecs available, which are also known as the Pedelec 45. These more powerful types are seen by the authorities as similar to a moped, meaning a moped driving licence, helmet and insurance are legal requirements for road use. When tuning of E-bikes is mentioned it usually refers to the derestriction of the Pedelec 25 types. This involves removing the 25kph limiter of the motor assisting the riders pedaling. Media sources assume that over a third of these Pedelec 25 bikes are tuned, although this makes them illegal for road-use, while the possibility also exists of invalidating the vehicles road-worthiness and safety guarantee!   

Biker on Hill
A decent amount of pedal assistance enables more rapid travel downhill, but also up hill.

What does the E-Bike tuning involve?

Once a restricted Pedelec reaches the legally stipulated speed limit of 25 kph, the motors assistance of the pedaling is cut-off. Further acceleration with the riders muscles is possible, although not only the increased weight of the E-bike must be overcome, but also the resistance of the deactivated electric motor. This is noticeably more difficult than with a normal bicycle. To ensure motor assistance beyond to 25kph it must be suggested to the system that the road speed is much slower than it actually is. This is where the tuning modules play their part in the process. A small electronic device is included on to the E-bikes wiring loom, between the magnetic speed sensor on the wheel and the motors controller module. This transmits a signal to the controller suggesting a fictional slower speed and the pedal assistance continues. This makes speeds of up to 50 Kph possible with a Pedelec.

Differences between tuning modules

There are two methods of being able to affect the motors pedaling assistance, that function in different ways. The first variety involves so-called tuning dongles. This method halves the speed sensor signal from 20 Kph; and supports the riders efforts up to 50 Kph. As a result the speed displayed in the speedometer is half that of the actual tuned road speed. Apart from this an additional dongle is very obvious and the de-restriction can only be reversed by its removal. As many E-bike tuners use their vehicles illegally on the open roads with the constant irritation of having to convert the displayed speed mathematically, many tuning fans now take the option of chip tuning, with for example the Speedbox. Due to the fact that these modules can be installed out of sight beneath the motor cover between the wheel sensor and controller, they are very unobtrusive. The module can be controlled using the cockpit display unit and turned on and off with a certain combination of buttons being pressed. This quickly returns the bicycle to its road-legal restricted mode. The latest modules produced such as Speedbox B-Tuning also include control of with an app using Bluetooth technologies. This enables control and motor data analysis using a smartphone.

Tuning Modul
Small box with a large effect. The cable connections are color-coordinated facilitating the plug and play installation.

Which tuning module is compatible with my E-Bike?

The fundamental question facing all tuners is, which module is suitable for my E-bike? In their overall development, centrally located pedal crank axle motors have established themselves, largely replacing front or rear wheel axle hub-mounted types. This also means that the most tuning modules are produced for this type of motor. Alongside the market leaders BOSCH, the motors produced by Giant, Yamaha, Brose and Bafang also play a role. Every E-bike owner should be aware of their make of motor, seeing as its almost always displayed on its motor casings. In order to determine the exact module necessary for each motor type, the year of production and also type of display unit included on the E-bike are required. This info can usually be found in the documentation of the bike. At our Webshop site we have all E-bikes listed and categorised. If you use this enter manufacturer and or type of motor at the top of the page, the compatible modules are then displayed, exactly suitable to your motor.

The engine
The centrally mounted motor has established itself an ideal solution.

The features

There are usually several types of tuning module available for every commonly available motor version. Now you must determine which functions are relevant for your E-bike tuning project. As a guide, another feature of our website allows further refinement of the tuning module selection by entering your requirements on the left of the page. Additional product info can then be found in the products description text.

Here a few examples:

  • Genuine values: The modules allow the display of the genuine road speed and no halved values.
  • Controlling: Indicates the method of module control, for example with the cockpit display or manually with a magnet. The ultimate in convenience is represented by additional control using a smartphone application.
  • Display: Indicates which types of display unit are suitable for each model.
  • App Control: Shows whether the module can be controlled using a smartphone and Bluetooth technology. Another example is the Speedbox B. tuning unit. There are also additional features included such as 
  • tuning parameter control
  • storage and display of riding data
  • Unobtrusive module placement
  • motor locking
  • motor diagnosis
Everything in view
Everything in view
Concealable tuning module and motor lock
Concealable tuning module and motor lock
Speed recording
Speed recording

Can I install it myself?

The majority of these modules, however sophisticated, are mounted in matter of minutes by even the most inexperienced of tuners. A case in point is represented by the installation of a Speedbox module onto an E-bike equipped with a BOSCH motor: 

  • Remove the pedal crank, remember to use a crank remover tool!
  • Remove motor cover.
  • Pull the connection plugs
  • install the module between the connections.
  • Close the casing and mount the pedal crank, finished!

We have linked installation videos to the product information pages, this simplifies the installation even further.

Here an example with the Speedbox 3.0:

 

Are all motors restricted

The introduction of the fourth generation motors from BOSCH in 2020 caused a shock for tuners as it was supposed to be impossible to tune! For the record: A race was underway between the motor manufacturers and aftermarket tuning module producers to retain the upper hand. Up till now the tuners have remained victorious and this was also the case with the Gen 4 motors from BOSCH. On the heels of its launch the first compatible tuning modules became available, capable of successful communication with the new motors control module! According to the choice of chip and motor, there are still a few critical points worth considering. Speedbox, for example, recommend to always run the automatic system check before deactivation of the motor once their module is fitted. This means it is highly recommendable to always read the manufacturers instructions before use!

Ralf Jodl
Ralf Jodl

Ralf is managing director and co-founder of SIP Scootershop. He has been riding Vespa since 1990 and even today the working day starts best for him when he rides to the SIP headquarters in Landsberg on his Rally 200. Otherwise he owns a 180 SS, a 160 GS and a VM2 fenderlight Vespa.