BMW’s 2019 Ebikes Are Sleeker And More Advanced

Revised pedelecs bring admirable specs—but will we see them here?

BMW pedal electric bicycles.
From fixie to electric, the new generation of bikes from BMW shares a design language but all are built for different purposes. Each one slaps the distinctive BMW roundel onto the front frame.Courtesy BMW

Although we might think of BMW primarily as a premium automotive and motorcycle brand, the Germans haven't been averse to putting their engineering chops to use in the human-powered two-wheel realm either. The latest release on that front comes in the form of its newest electric bikes that stealthily tuck the motor inside the frame to maintain a clean and elegant silhouette while also offering on-demand pedal assist at the touch of a button.

Okay, so the BMW Lifestyle division actually has a pretty robust BMW Bikes Collection (BMW has been building bikes for decades), but let’s face it, the Germans don’t really market them over here, even though by most accounts their products are better than average. BMW’s latest electric two-wheelers were announced by the Germans several weeks ago, and of most interest to us was the newest version of the BMW Active Hybrid eBike.

BMW’s Active Hybrid eBike on white background.
The latest version of BMW’s Active Hybrid eBike brings a bigger 600 WH battery and a mid-drive motor.Courtesy BMW

BMW’s produced some version of the Active Hybrid eBike for a couple of years now (BMW eBikes have actually existed since 2013) and, as expected, the newest one also gets the latest electric motor and battery tech, in this case a Brose Drive S Alu motor and a sizable 600 WH lithium-ion battery. BMW jumped from Bosch to Brose motors on its eBikes last year, primarily to better implement strict design ideas for battery and motor integration (though you can still find some Bosch-powered models). The motor and battery are fully integrated into the hydroformed aluminum frame for a super-stealthy look.

Brose Drive S Alu motor on white background.
The Brose Drive S Alu motor gets the nod here for its smaller form factor and lighter weight. All Brose motors have an internal belt drive.Courtesy BMW

The advanced mid-drive Brose electric motor outputs 250 watts and 66 pound-feet of torque, which is a pretty good chunk of push that you can switch on to supplement your pedal power, yielding a range of around 100 kilometers (62 miles), which is, again, not too shabby for a commuter. The rider can choose from four levels of pedal assistance on the bar-mounted display, from Eco (+50 percent) to Turbo (+275 percent) which will get you up to a maximum of 25 kmh (16 mph). That doesn’t sound like speed demon territory, but add your own pedal pushing and it’s probably a good deal more. Plus, the battery is also removable and the micro USB socket and Bluetooth function allow riders to hook their smartphone up to the bike. Front and rear LED lights are also included.

BMW Hybrid pedal electric bicycle handlebars.
Riders can choose from four modes for pedal assist, up to a whopping 275 percent. Brose has recently developed a complete eBike system which includes motors, a new battery, and new display; we wonder if the whole line is used on this BMW model.Courtesy BMW

Otherwise spec info from the press release is pretty slim, but if this Hybrid is anything like previous models, they will be reliably midrange and appropriate for the price, considering it’s a 250-watt Brose mid-drive motor with a generous 600 WH battery. Think a minimally adjustable fork (previously a Suntour NCX), midrange Shimano gears (previously a 10-gear DeoreXT) and hydraulic disc brakes plus comfy rubber like the 28-inch Continental Contact cruiser tires shown, and you get the picture. We’re also guessing this model will bring back the first-ever saddle tailored specifically to the requirements of eBikers. The innovative “eZone” is fine-tuned to the particular characteristics of eBikes and their riders, accounting for things like stronger acceleration and more weight.

BMW Urban Active electric bicycle on white background.
The more spartan and road-ready Urban Active goes with a slimmer profile and tires for less rolling resistance, and (we’re guessing here) a smaller and lighter battery.Courtesy BMW

Meanwhile the BMW Urban Active Bike opts for a more minimal profile that’s better equipped for daily commuting, bringing a slender more manageable frame design, no suspension, and a barely visible integrated battery. From its bare-bones looks, the battery might even be smaller on this model, and no word either on the motor spec for this bike.

As impressed as we are with BMW’s new eBikes, we’re not sure they’ll be available in the States; the press release tells us they’re shipping to selected BMW dealers, or can be purchased online from BMW’s website. We haven’t seen them on the US BMW shopping site as yet, but fingers crossed. The Active Hybrid retails for 3,500 euro, so figure in the ballpark of $4,000 in the States, with the Urban Hybrid going for 2,500 euro (around $3,000).

BMW Urban Active electric bicycle handlebards on white background.
The Urban Active bike’s display looks to be far simpler than the Active Hybrid’s version. The handlebar has less adjustability as well.Courtesy BMW