Intended to be a modern alternative to different transportation means, the e-bike must possess the capacity to do so. For many fans of the electric cycle, the 25km/h limit is insufficient in many cases: professional, sports or even leisure. Can the 25 km/h limit be exceeded and if so, how? I will try to answer these questions as clearly as possible, hoping that at the end of this article you will know everything there is to know about e-bike tuning.
What is derestricting (tuning) ?
Tuning an electric bicycle is removing the pedal assistance limit. This releases all the electrical power from its engine, so that the vehicle runs faster than before. A “normal” e-bike delivered in accordance with the current regulation, is equipped with a 250 watt motor and assists you up to 25 km/h. This limit is not due to the motor itself but to the manufacturer’s flange integrated in the motor.
Before unrolling the whole tutorial, know that there exists a website seller of tuning kits : Lilibike.com
Here is how tuning works in practice :
A sensor is placed on the frame symmetrically to a magnet placed on one of the spokes of the rear wheel. This device measures the frequency of the circulation of the magnet at the same level as the sensor and transmits it to the controller.
- The controller receives the data and compares it with the information natively stored in its system, namely the wheel circumference and the 25km/h limit. This way, he can know the speed engaged by the bike and automatically cuts the assistance when the 25km/h threshold is reached.
Derestricted (tuned) electric bikes and speed bikes: what does the regulation say ?
The legislation in Europe distinguishes 2 categories of e-bikes according to their initial maximum speed :
- Speed Bikes that have a maximum speed of 45km/h or more, and therefore normally do not require any tuning. These high-powered bicycles are legally assimilated to mopeds and can circulate on public roads. But they are entirely subject to the Highway Code, carrying all the conditions related to the use of this type of vehicle: helmet, license, registration, possession of a valid two-wheeler insurance…
- e-bikes up to 25 km/h that can be tuned are called “approved” and not considered mopeds (as in Canada, for example, the speed limit with assistance is 32 km/h). Since they must have a motor of 250W maximum, they are legally considered as classic bicycles without a motor. They can also circulate on public roads without conditions. But for this E-Bike class, any modification made (later) to the engine or the assistance system is illegal. This leads to the withdrawal of its approval and therefore to its banning from circulation. Once these bikes are tuned, they will only have access to a private or specifically dedicated area, such as a mountain bike course in a fenced area for example.
If you decide to tune your approved e-bike and drive in a public environment, you should expect sanctions if the authorities find out. Of course, it will be difficult for police officers to distinguish an approved e-bike from one that is not. That said, apart from speed cameras, the occurrence of an accident will highlight everything.
But why tune his electric bike ? The answers are simple: because from time to time you need to make a faster journey (to avoid arriving late for work or an appointment) because your route is full of slopes and you need more power, or simply for the pleasure of speeding on two wheels !
How does Tuning work ?
Tuning does not push a motor to its limits. Rather, it is the clamping that limits the engine’s “natural” capabilities. Basically, tuning is about adjusting the electric assist system so that the engine runs “normally”. For that, there are several processes :
- Tuning occurs by “deceiving” the electronic controller by providing it with distorted data. After the modification, the engine will deliver the power of assistance beyond 25 km/h. The controller will record a different speed level, a number that does not exceed the regulatory threshold. The displayed speed is no longer correct but is half the actual speed.
- The flange is completely removed. All indicators are reliable and real, the speed with assistance is limited only by the maximum power that the engine can deliver.
However, it should be noted that tuning can technically vary from one engine to another. The operation to be performed on one E-Bike may not work for another. It is therefore essential to find out about your engine to choose the right tuning technique. If you opt for a tuning kit, you will see that it was necessary to develop a kit for each model of engine. Some engines are more difficult, even impossible to tune, like most hub systems (Panasonic on rear hub, Neodrive Xion, Go Swiss Drive, etc). The systems that you can easily adapt are those with pedal motors. These include Bosch, Brose, Bafang, Yamaha motors, 36V Panasonic central motors, etc. Anyway, there are many alternatives on the market to unlock your bike, so almost all E-Bike models can be modified.
Tuning an E-Bike: how to proceed ?
Even if the methods you are going to discover are very simple and often accessible to the less gifted in electronics, tuning remains a delicate practice. By noting and practicing tuning techniques presented in this article, you do so at your own risk. You are solely responsible for any damage to your equipment or yourself.. You will have understood it, by giving only information, I discharge myself of any responsibility in relation to the personal use that you make of it. Before tuning your engine, note the risks to which you are exposed :
- Check that your bike can be tuned (derestricted).
- Note the benefits you lose from a legal point of view (bike path, helmet not required…)
- You lose the E-Bike status of your bike.
- Assimilated to mopeds you incur penalties in case of irregular conduct.
Tuning in handyman mode (without tuning kit)
(For the non-handymen, there are tuning kits on Lilibike.com)
If your electric bike allows it, it is a simple procedure that can be explained differently from one specialist to another. But everything turns on one major element: the speed sensor. This transmits the behavior of the bicycle (pedal, wheel) to the variator or controller, which dictates the necessary and maximum level of assistance that the motor must provide. So simply change the way this transmitter sends data to the controller. 2 methods are in the running :
Move sensor elements
Two elements make up this E-Bike specific measuring element: the sensor itself placed on one of the frame bases and a magnet placed on one of the spokes of the rear wheel. It is not only a question of counting the number of turns made by the magnet around the axis of the wheel. The calculation of the speed is mainly done by considering the circumference of the wheel, knowing that the larger the wheel, the faster the vehicle “advances”. By moving the device to another element than the wheel, you can have different numbers. In order for the controller to perceive a lower frequency of circulation of the magnet in front of the sensor, it is necessary to place these at another zone: for example in the environment of the pedals (the pedals turns slower than the wheel). As a result, the controller receives a reduced speed data compared to reality. Here are a few steps on how you will proceed:
- No need to disassemble wheels or electrical system
- Use an Allen key and/or Torx key, as well as tape or other holding material (such as a cable tie).
- Start by gently removing or moving the sensor and magnet.
- You can also simply remove the magnet and replace it with a very powerful neodymium magnet (available here : Amazon)
- Attach the magnet to a pedal bracket.
- Then move the sensor and turn it upside down to face the magnet… There you go! That’s pretty much it.
This YouTube video gives you an idea of what it looks like.
Give it a try to see if it works. If you do not get a result, correct the sensor location until you are satisfied. If this method does not convince you, there is another technique…
Disconnect the sensor wiring
Although this method may seem simple, it is rarely used by E-Bike users. Basically, it’s about keeping the speedometer at zero: total tuning! (I invite you to watch this YouTube video which seems to quickly demonstrate the technique). The main problem with this method is knowing which wire to disconnect. Especially if it is a process that is difficult to reverse. So until we can confirm its effectiveness, knowing that there is very little feedback on this last process, we advise you to opt for the first method which consists in moving the elements of the sensor.
Let’s add that these two manual methods will not work on every assistance (especially on Bosch controllers produced after 2011 that integrate an anti-tuning software), so we recommend the most conventional and reliable solution: the tuning kit.
The E-Bike tuning kit
Understanding the growing and obvious interest of cyclists of all horizons for the exceeding of 25kmh, a beautiful panel of manufacturers looked at it. No need for tricks that have to prove themselves, unblocking is easier and more professional. Mountain bikers and city riders can adopt, for an average of a hundred euros (the most expensive can cost 300 euros), an easier way to gain speed. The tuning kits are devices whose operation is based on the same principle as the handyman method: make the controller believe that the bike is riding below the maximum allowable speed of the e-bike. But with this practical and more elaborate solution, it is often easier to return to normal cycling behavior. There are many on the market. These kits are different from one designer to another and may only work on specific engines (Kalkhoff engines and some Bosch models for example are particularly demanding). Sometimes you have to look at your dashboard to choose the right kit. For Giant E-Bikes, the kit differs depending on whether you have a Ride or EVO control :
We will classify the tuning kits into 2 categories: those that require disassembly of the assistance system, and those that are easier to attach.
Kits without disassembly
In this category, there is therefore no need to remove the housing, the device is simply attached to it or directly to the bicycle sensor. One of the most popular equipment of this kind these days is the Badass Box kit. To install it, this video shows you how easy it is. For now, its main serious competitor remains AUlero FX, with roughly the same features, operation and installation style. Optimization is automatic and sometimes immediate. However, for some kits, tuning occurs after reaching a certain speed (often between 15 and 20 km/h). Once this speed is exceeded, your instrument panel will display half the actual engaged speed.
Kit for internal isntallation
In this category, some models are pioneers in this field, for example the SX2 from Maintronic. As we went along, there was a multitude of them, like the Bikespeed RS, BPX Key, the Speed Box for Yamaha, the ASA E-SPEED B25 dedicated to the Bosch Active engine, the JUM-Ped (better known in the United States) and many others to discover. In this case, they are modules that most insiders commonly call “dongle”, since they are connected to the controller so as to bypass the collection system. They have been specially designed for many electric bicycles that cannot be easily tuned. As for their configuration, the dongles consist of a microcontroller and up to 4 connection wires. The way they are installed differs from one model to another, but they all require removal of the crankcase that houses the assistance system. The device is introduced into the system. The advantage of these ready-to-use tuning kits is that they can be deactivated at any time without any dismantling work. For the most part, they include a shutdown system enabling the assistance system to return to normal operation. Some are equipped with switches, for example the device is activated or deactivated by pressing the lighting button on the keypad (thus being linked to the lighting function of the E-Bike).
My internal installation in pictures
I tuned my Giant Ride Control E-Bike and took some pictures to show you the main steps. The longest is to remove the screws to access the cables. The connection is then ultra-easy. I did it with a Speed Up kit. The technical characteristics of the kit are not optimal because the display is divided by 2 and the tuning is permanent. Let’s say it’s perfect for the tutorial, because the internal installations are all very strongly similar:
- Presentation of my engine
- Presentation of my dashboard
- Access to the internal part of the engine
- Inventory of screws I removed
- Presentation of the original cables housed in the fairing
- Connection of the kit between the motor and the controller
Here’s how it looks in pictures :
Is there such a thing as an E-Bike tuning app ?
This video has undoubtedly raised a number of questions. How is that possible? With 2 simple applications, to deregulate the information of its controller, and particularly physical data, to then tune the vehicle? The answer lies across the Atlantic, and the technology is indeed revolutionary. This is not quite the work of the application alone. It is the control of the action of a module with internal installation: the Blueped. This kit requires access to the engine (easy access in most cases) since it must be connected mainly with the speed sensor, controller and console. Once the kit is installed, you can download the dedicated application, available in the l’App Store but also from Google Play. Bluetooth pairing is required. Later, you will discover many synchronized parameters that you can modify at will, including the size of your wheels, etc.. Here is the PDF explanation. Note only that this module is officially compatible only with Yamaha systems.
Which tuning solution(s) to choose ?
The simplest tuning solution is undoubtedly the one which avoids the disassembling of the crankcase. These kits are compatible with many engine brands. The Badass Box, for example, is compatible with almost all the most popular brands of engines. Very simple to set up, they do not require any specific configuration. The other tuning kits are also very popular. Although it is necessary to access the engine by removing the protective cover, the installation takes only 5 minutes, I personally prefer this method. As far as efficiency and performance are concerned, the feedback is good. Here is a table showing some brands of tuning kits for electric bikes and their speed gain :
|Tuning kit||Motor compatibility||Max. speed|
|SpeedBox 1||Brose / Impulse / Shimano / Bafang||50 km/h|
|SpeedBox 2||Yamaha, Bosch Active Line / Yamaha PW-X / Yamaha Giant||50 km/h and more|
|Polini||Bosch Active Line, Performance et CX / Brose / Yamaha PW et PW-X / Yamaha Giant / Shimano / Panasonic||45 km/h|
|Badass Box||Bosch Classic Line, Performance et CX / Brose / Kalkhoff / Yamaha / Yamaha Giant / Shimano / Conti||45 km/h|
|ASA (Autotechnik)||Yamaha PW||55 km/h and more|
|JUM-Ped||BionX / Bosch||50 km/h|
|Speed Up Box||Bosch||40 km/h|
|Speed Up Ghost||Bosch||40 km/h|
|Sx2 Maintronic||Brose / Bosch / Panasonic / Impulse||50 km/h|
Other important optimizations for efficient tuning
An important point little discussed in the subjects which touch the derestriction of an e-bike, it is the possibility of an optimization of the mechanism in order to make derestriction reliable. Indeed, the consequences of a gain of power of the bicycle also differ on the level of the material. As much as battery wear, parts of the vehicle will also become more worn than ever. Here is a small list of modifications to make to avoid these inconveniences :
- Choose a large crankset (chainset):By tuning your e-bike, you will go faster and therefore your pedaling cadence will be higher. A crankset with a larger diameter (with more teeth) will therefore be more pleasant at high speed. It will also wear less quickly.
- Increase the size of the chain:Adaptation required following the modification of the chainring.
- Review the fork structure:One of the main problems that can be encountered following a derestriction is the premature wear of the fork. This part is, in fact, more stressed when the bicycle often rides at high speed.
- Adjust the tire pressure, by slightly increasing it.
What about engine (motor) power ?
Engine power remains unchanged. If you have a 250 watt engine (36 volts, 7 amperes), once tuned, your motor will always deliver the same power and torque, even above 25 km/h. It’s your battery that will be more affected.
Should the battery be changed ?
Indeed, it is another crucial element when it comes to tuning electric bikes. Enjoying pedaling assistance at high speeds requires just as much power, and therefore also more electrical energy. The autonomy of your initial battery will be reduced in the face of new engine demands. In short, by harnessing more of your engine’s power, you use more of the energy stored in your battery. The explanation with an encrypted example :
- Your motor: 250 Watts – 36 Volts – 7 Amperes
- Your battery: 36 Volts – 7 Amperes hour, or 250 Watts hour
This means that with your battery you can use your motor continuously for 1 hour. Compared to a flanged bike, you are not always assisted (no more than 25 km/h), so you can ride longer. This reminds us that your battery life always depends on how we use it. A good pedal stroke accompanied by a light engine assistance at 35 km/h will allow you to drive longer than in town at 15 km/h or you spend your time to make stopped starts, assisted to block.
The dangers and risks associated with derestricting (tuning)
A tuned bicycle is classified as a moped. It is thus necessary to respect the regulations which apply for these vehicles (helmet, insurance, bicycle license…). By driving in a private domain or in a well supervised sports environment, there will be no problem. For those who venture to ride in public places, the easiest way is to disable its system (on some bikes this is possible via a button on your dashboard). In this case you are again in the category of bicycles and you avoid a fine in case of control.
The technical modifications to be made on a tuned e-bike are quite numerous. By taking the necessary care, and driving carefully, you can enjoy its tuning with complete serenity. At high speed the risk of accidents increases.
Warranty (manufacturer or seller)
A tuned e-bike no longer carries a manufacturer’s warranty. How will the seller know? Tuned bicycles are becoming more and more common and retailers are able to detect the slightest trace of “tuning” on an electric two-wheeler, even if you have removed the tuning kit. The only manufacturer known for integrating native tuning functionality into its engine is EVO, with its 36 V and 48 V BH range. The manufacturer ensures that the action of his module does not affect his system, and that the warranty will always work if the owner does not use other kits.
Impact on insurance
Even if it is not mandatory, it is quite possible to insure your E-Bike given the cost it represents. In this case, avoid tuning it because the insurer will not compensate you in the event of an accident.
Do you derestrict your electric bike? You’ll certainly go faster, but don’t think you’re a super-zero! Drive carefully and equipped. Your safety and that of others are at stake.
In conclusion, I hope this article has been helpful. If you wish more information, do not hesitate to leave me a comment or contact me by email : firstname.lastname@example.org
This web page is the English version of the French web page coming from debrider-velo-electrique.com