Choosing a new e-bike can be a daunting prospect, whether it’s your first one or you’re a seasoned veteran; there are just so many variables to consider!
One of those variables that’s of particular importance is, of course, the motor: the thing driving the whole unit.
And if you want to get some serious power out of your bike, be it for hauling cargo, traversing steep mountain paths, or accelerating quickly for a race, you’re going to want the right motor.
In this article we list the most powerful e-bike motors on the market and break down the specs for your convenience, so you can choose with confidence!
Important Information to Know
Before we dive right into the list, there are a few prefacing details you should be aware of.
Firstly, you may wonder why wattage isn’t always listed in an obvious manner when looking at different motor designs.
That’s because most countries, including the U.S., have laws prohibiting an e-bike motor from exceeding 250 watts of continuous power output.
For that reason, if the wattage of a motor is not explicitly stated, you can generally assume it to be a 250W motor; the exceptions will be noted when applicable.
In any case, maximum torque, measured approximately in newton meters (nm) is the more important figure when it comes to how much “power” a motor can provide.
Most e-bikes have multiple levels of assistance, with casual e-bikes topping out around 40nm of torque.
Since this is a list of the most powerful motors on the market, only motors exceeding 50nm are listed, with the top contenders reaching a maximum of 85nm.
Many countries’ laws (again, including the U.S.) also prohibit an e-bike from exceeding a top pedal-assist speed of 28mph (45 kph).
Because of this, the very fastest motors on the market tend to top out at 28mph, and even then, it’s only seen on class 3 e-bikes.
Some countries are more strict, such as the UK, EU, and Australia, all of which set the maximum at 25 kph (15.5 mph).
Now, with all that out of the way, let’s dive right into the list!
1. Bosch Performance Line
Bosh makes a variety of mid-drive electric bikes. They’re some of the best bikes on the market use.
In fact, they’re one of only two motor manufacturers good enough to be used by Gazelle Bikes, one of the best e-bike companies worldwide (in our opinion).
The Bosh Performance Line boasts an impressive 75nm of torque at its highest assistance setting and is an all-around solid and versatile choice.
That being said, the Performance Line isn’t the most powerful in Bosch’s lineup, so if you want to squeeze as much torque as possible out of your motor, there are better options.
However, what the Performance Line lacks in raw power, it makes up for in approachability and versatility.
In other words, this is an excellent entry-level choice for your first high-torque e-bike motor, but mountain-biking veterans may want to look elsewhere.
2. Bosch Cargo Line
The Cargo Line Bosch e-bike motor is, as the name suggests, optimized for hauling cargo.
It can reach an impressive maximum torque of 85nm, a distinction it shares with the next two Bosch motors on this list.
Unlike those next two, however, the Cargo Line motor isn’t going to give you top-of-the-line performance in hilly terrain, nor is it likely to reach top speed as quickly.
Granted, it will still do those things very well—85nm is a lot of power regardless of other details—but it really shines when it’s used for its namesake purpose.
Whether you’ve got a heavily laden bike bag, a cargo trailer, or a child trailer (the most precious cargo of all), the Cargo Line will carry the weight admirably and reliably.
3. Bosch Performance Line CX
The Performance’s older sibling, Bosch’s Performance Line CX is basically a more powerful version of the same thing.
These motors also top out at the very impressive figure of 85nm of torque, but unlike the Cargo or Speed lines, the Performance Line CX is optimized for general use.
Specifically, these motors are what you should look for if you want the best Bosch has to offer for tackling hilly terrain.
While it can still accelerate you pretty quickly, or handle cargo reasonably well, the Performance Line CX is best utilized as a serious mountain biking motor.
4. Bosch Performance Line Speed
As the name suggests, the Performance Line Speed motor is optimized for one thing: to go really fast, and to accelerate to top speed quickly.
Like the Cargo and Performance CX lines, the Speed motor can reach a peak of 85nm of torque.
This means that hilly terrain shouldn’t be too much of an issue, though this is more of a secondary concern with the Speed line.
All other Bosch motors on this list have a maximum speed of 15.5 mph (25 kph) to comply with UK, EU, and Australian law.
However, the Performance Line Speed is the exception to this rule, topping out at 28 mph (45 kph), the maximum under U.S. law.
In short, if you want your e-bike to go as fast as possible, the Bosch Performance Line Speed motor is one to look out for.
5. Shimano Steps E6100
Earlier, we mentioned that Bosch was one of only two motor manufacturers good enough to be used by Gazelle bikes.
Well, the other one of those two is the Shimano Steps motor system, a Japanese manufacturer renowned for quality and reliability.
Shimano originally targeted primarily urban commuters with its motor designs. However, it has since expanded its range to include high-torque motors for heavier use.
They offer five systems in total, but we’ll only be looking at four of them since only these four exceed 50nm of torque.
The E6100 boasts a respectable 60nm, nothing to write home about, but nothing to sneeze at either.
This particular motor is aimed at hybrid e-bikes that can do a little of everything.
As such, it shouldn’t be your top choice when looking for a bike that can haul serious cargo or tackle the steepest inclines, but it can do both of those things reasonably well.
6. Shimano Steps E7000
The Shimano Steps E7000 is intended to be a solid entry-level mountain e-bike.
Like the E6100, it tops out at 60nm of torque, but it’s better optimized to use that torque to climb steep hills.
In this manner, it’s comparable to the Bosch Performance Line; a great beginner’s mountain bike but not the most powerful on offer.
7. Shimano Steps EP6
With the EP6, we have reached the top two high-torque Shimano motors, the other one being the EP8, which we’ll cover next.
Out of the five motors offered by Shimano, these two are the most powerful, both of them matching the 85nm torque of Bosch’s best motors.
The EP6 specifically is marketed as a more affordable, but equally powerful, version of the EP8.
The main tradeoff here is weight; most Shimano motors are under 3kg, with the EP8 weighing in at 2.7kg, and the EP6 at exactly 3kg.
While a difference of 0.3kg may not seem like much, every little bit matters when you’re pushing your bike to the limits on challenging mountain trails.
That being said, you could do far worse than the EP6, and while it may be second best in Shimano’s lineup, it’s a very close second.
In short, if you want a powerful mountain e-bike system by Shimano but can’t afford the EP8, look no further than the EP6.
8. Shimano Steps EP8
Shimano’s top-of-the-line high-torque e-bike system is the EP8, which certainly performs.
It’s 0.2kg lighter than Bosch’s top motors (the Performance CX and Speed are both 2.9kg) but offers the same 85nm of torque that they do.
Every fraction of a kilogram you can shave off will potentially have an impact, however marginal, on your performance on the most challenging trails.
The difference won’t be noticeable to a novice, so look elsewhere for an entry point (like, say, the Shimano E7000 or Bosch Performance Line).
However, if you’re a grizzled mountain biking veteran who wants to squeeze as much performance as possible out of your motor, the Shimano EP8 is a fantastic choice.
9. Fazua Ride 50
Fazua is a German-based company that supplies some of the top-shelf e-bikes on the market with their systems.
A Fazua system is a battery and a motor in one package, mounted in the downtube with the motor at the bottom.
This has the unfortunate downside of making it harder to replace just the motor or the battery separately.
The Ride 50 reaches a maximum torque of 58nm, but as a 350W motor, it also has the distinction of being one of the few motors on this list to exceed 250 watts.
While that may sound impressive, for cargo and mountain bikes, torque is more important than wattage, so for these purposes, this system is solidly middle-tier.
Please also check out our article about why so few electric bikes are made in America.
10. Fazua Ride 60
Fazua’s Ride 60 is a more powerful version of the Ride 50.
The Ride 60 features 60nm of torque and an impressive 450 watts of power.
However, as we already said above, torque is the more important figure when it comes to delivering the power to pull heavy loads or climb steep hills.
Bottom line: Fazua makes fantastic systems for a variety of applications, but when it comes to cargo and mountain biking, they’re just okay.
11. Yamaha PW-X2 45
The Yamaha brand should be familiar to most people as a motorcycle brand, but did you know they also make e-bike motors?
Well, they do, and the Yamaha PW-X2 45 is a pretty good one at that.
Unlike other entries on this list, this motor actually translates that wattage into an impressive 80nm of torque.
Of course, the higher wattage also means it will drain the battery faster, so it’s best for short, intense trips.
12. Yamaha PW-X3
The Yamaha PW-X3 is Yamaha’s best motor for mountain biking.
Like most entries on this list, it only uses a 250W motor, but in terms of torque, it delivers the same 85nm figure that the best Bosch and Shimano systems share.
The lower wattage also means that it should be more efficient than the PW-X2 45 in terms of battery consumption while delivering 5 extra nm of torque.
13. Specialized Turbo 2.0/2.2
Specialized is an e-bike brand that also makes its own motors; you won’t find these anywhere else, as both the bikes and the motors are made by the same company and used only together.
They only have two motor systems; between them, the 2.0/2.2 is the more powerful, boasting 85nm of torque and an impressive 565W motor.
There’s not much else to say here.
Specialized makes great bikes, and this is their more powerful motor, so if you want a powerful Specialized bike, look for the Turbo 2.0/2.2 motor.