Mahle SmartBike Systems just introduced the new X30 ebike hub motor, which relies on the same software and ecosystem as the X20 flagship model, and packs them into a robust, versatile design that makes it suitable for a wide range of applications, from gravel and road to urban riding and children’s bikes. To achieve this, the German manufacturer reduced the torque of the motor and minimised the system’s complexity, while at the same time maintaining the same level of connectivity. Here’s everything you have to know about the new X30 ebike hub motor.

MAHLE X30 | 45 Nm of torque | 250 W peak power| 1.9 kg | 121 mm Ø

Mahle SmartBike Systems is an innovative company that specialises in the development and testing of advanced ebike drive systems. They’re a subsidiary of Mahle, one of the most important players in the automotive industry, which in 2018 absorbed ebikemotion – including all their employees and extensive knowledge – and renamed it SmartBike Systems. The headquarters are still in the charming town of Palencia, northern Spain. Here, Mahle rely on modern technologies and an expert engineering team to develop ebike drives, drawing crucial information from a large data pool.

Ebike development in exile – What Mahle’s up to in Palencia, Spain

In Palencia, Mahle have a team of around 50 specialists who work in research, development and testing. A key part of testing new ebike motors are the test benches, which were developed in-house by Mahle and enable them to recreate both realistic and extreme conditions. The comprehensive test benches in Palencia include simulations of a wide range of scenarios.

Using special chambers that simulate extreme weather conditions, Mahle expose their motors to both hot and cold temperatures, as well as moisture to test their reliability and performance in all imaginable scenarios. The tests are carried out very meticulously and are meant to push the materials to the limits, and thus to ensure that the ebike drives are robust and durable. However, the new drive systems aren’t just tested in a lab, but also in real life situations in the surroundings of Palencia – the ideal testing ground!

The new Mahle X30 in detail

With the new X30, Mahle are simply introducing new hardware that’s embedded in the ecosystem and the periphery of the familiar Mahle X20 motor and is compatible with all of its parts. The X30 replaces its predecessors, the X35 and X35+, which were used primarily for slim city e-bikes and discreet e-gravel machines. However, the X35 platform was not yet compatible with Mahle’s latest software, sensor and UI periphery. This means that the app, display, handlebar remotes, e-shifter and, above all, the torque sensor in the bottom bracket of the sophisticated X20 are now finally compatible with the new X30 motor. The sensor in particular should ensure a natural riding experience and motor response behaviour, which was one of the main weaknesses of the previous model. Apart from compatibility, the X30 doesn’t sound especially revolutionary, especially compared to the Mahle X20 launched back in 2022.

MAHLE X20 MAHLE X30
Peak power 250 W 250 W
Torque 55 Nm 45 Nm
Motor weight 1.4 kg 1.9 kg
System weight around3 kg around 3,5 kg
Diameter 112 mm 121 mm
Integrated Battery 236 or 350 Wh 236 or 350 Wh
Range extender 171 Wh 171 Wh
Motor connection Integrated into the rear hub External via cable
Compatibility X20 components X20 components
Sensors PAS, Torque & Cadence PAS, Torque & Cadence

The motor is bigger, heavier and weaker, but there’s a reason for that:

Mahle have significantly reduced the complexity of the motor’s internals, which is meant to increase durability and ease of maintenance. At the same time, the X30 motor is meant to run more quietly, while production costs certainly played a role too. The housing is only around 1 cm bigger, but makes it easier to integrate the motor into the rear wheel – though the cable connector isn’t quite as clean a solution as the AMC (Automatic Motor Connection) connector integrated into the dropout of X20-equipped bikes.

Although the motor’s cable connector makes it easier for manufacturers to integrate the motor into the bike, the X20’s Quick Connect axle is a much tidier and more discreet solution.

Sensors, support modes and app functions

PAS & torque sensor – two options with the Mahle X30 motor

Modern e-bike motors usually rely on a pedal assist sensor (PAS) and torque sensor. The PAS sensor only detects whether the cranks are turning, while the torque sensor also measures how hard you’re pedalling. Using both sensors enables a very natural-feeling assistance, because the software knows exactly whether you’re pedalling normally or sprinting. On the other hand, if the motor only relies on a PAS sensor, it can cause the bike to respond abruptly to the slightest input, leading to a very jerky, on-off feel to the assistance, particularly in the stronger support modes. With the Mahle X30 motor, bike manufacturers can decide for themselves whether to employ both sensors or just the PAS. It’s also possible for manufacturers to adapt and optimise the “motor mapping”, i.e. the characteristic map for response behaviour, in cooperation with Mahle to suit their bike and area of application.

The torque sensor is tucked away in the bottom bracket. As a result, the hub motor knows how hard you’re pedalling and can adjust the assistance accordingly.

The different support modes of the new Mahle X30 motor

Since the new Mahle X30 is embedded in the X20 ecosystem, it will also share the same support modes: green, orange and purple, which deliver 25, 50 and up to 200% assistance. There’s also the ominous blue mode called Smart Assist, which dynamically adapts the support level to the riding situation by calculating an optimum support intensity using different sensors and parameters. To work out the optimum support, the system takes into account amongst other things the current speed, speed changes, the rider’s power output, the rider’s weight, pedalling cadence and the gradient using an inclination sensor. However, this mode isn’t an option if the manufacturer decides to forgo a torque sensor. Smart Assist mode also requires an active connection to your smartphone via the Mahle SmartBike app, as this does all the calculations to determine the appropriate assistance level.

No phone, no ride! The Smart Assistance mode requires an active smartphone connection.

The functions of Mahle’s SmartBike App

Not only does Mahle’s SmartBike app allow you to track your rides and upload them directly to Strava, but also lets you fine-tune the individual support modes. The three setting parameters are:

  • Peak Power: maximum power of the support mode
  • Reactivity: the speed at which the support kicks in and the way in which it does
  • Acceleration: how progressively the maximum power increases

The system can even be paired with a heart rate sensor to regulate motor assistance depending on your heart rate. To do this, you either enter an upper limit value for your heart rate, or a range within which you want your heart rate to stay. If your heart rate gets closer to the upper limit value, motor support increases in order to reduce the effort, and with it your heart rate.

Mahles launch partners for the new X30 hub motor

Mahle landed three strong partners for the launch of the X30: Husqvarna in the kids’ bike segment, Stevens for urban bikes and Bianchi for electric road bikes.

With Husqvarna’s kids bike, even young riders are limited to the 25 standard km/h threshold of ebikes. The compact system is hardly visible, even on the small children’s bike.
Stevens provide the platform for the X30 on urban bikes. The Mahle system also fits inconspicuously in the slim alloy frame.
The battery of the Mahle X30 is integrated discreetly into the aero down tube of the Bianchi e-Oltre carbon racer, while the motor is tucked away behind the cassette.

Our first impressions of the versatile Mahle X30 rear hub motor

We had the opportunity to test the new Mahle X30 motor in Spain on a Bianchi e-road bike, an unbranded gravel bike and a Stevens city ebike.

The versatile Mahle X30 motor system is integrated seamlessly into all three bikes, without interrupting the frame silhouette, which is often the case with mid-drive motors. The X30 is also discrete in terms of background noise: even on slow climbs, where ambient noises are louder than the airflow, the electric motor in the rear wheel is barely noticeable. According to Mahle, the bigger housing and simplified design allowed them to minimise the amount of noise produced by the motor. And that’s really noticeable: the X30 is significantly quieter than the more powerful X20 drive.

The X30 also delivers more subtle support when riding uphill than the more powerful X20 drive. The lower 45 Nm of torque is particularly noticeable below 12 km/h, a speed that plays a particularly important role when climbing, especially on unpaved surfaces. If you ride mainly on tarmac – as tends to be the case with road and urban bikes – the support is still perfectly acceptable and pleasant. In contrast, when riding a gravel bike on a rough fire road, the lack of power is more noticeable and requires you to work harder on steep ramps, in the highest support mode.

Uphill and downhill: on steep climbs, the Mahle X30 requires more physical effort to develop its power, especially on gravel paths.

When riding on level ground, the X30 works effortlessly and, depending on the terrain, develops its power very naturally – though it’s not as “punchy” as the more powerful X20. We were particularly impressed by the riding experience in Smart Assist mode. However, this requires you to pair the bike with your smartphone first to set the desired intensity. Then you’re ready to go: with an intensity of 40%, the motor of the Bianchi felt the most natural, and once you try Smart Mode, you won’t be looking back. The “set and forget” approach also works well for chilled urban cruising, making Smart Mode the perfect choice in the city. If you exceed the 25 km/h threshold, the motor is barely noticeable and decelerates smoothly, except when you’re in the most powerful mode. In support mode 3, you’ll notice clearly when the hub motor doesn’t support you anymore. That said, riding without assistance beyond the 25 km/h threshold feels almost like riding an analogue bike – that feeling of resistance you get with some mid-drive motors doesn’t exist.

Going downhill, the Mahle X30 ensures outstanding weight distribution. With the Bianchi, riding downhill feels extremely natural, without the rear wheel understeering or pulling you to the outside of corners. On gravel, the higher rotating mass is noticeable, especially on bumpy descents, resulting in a slight lack of traction. Due to the higher inertia, the rear tire no longer sticks to the ground as eagerly when things get rough, bumpy and fast.

Although we were unable to test the kids’ bike in any detail for anatomical reasons, it’s reasonable to assume that the lower torque is perfectly fine for smaller, lighter riders. The same applies to the battery efficiency, which means that the smaller 236 Wh battery should be more than sufficient. This also benefits the bike’s system weight and, above all, integration into smaller frames.

Who is the new Mahle X30 motor suitable for?

The Mahle X30 is a jack-of-all-trades. Whether it’s a kids bike, gravel rig, road or urban bike, it cuts a fine figure and allows for a very slim, discreet frame silhouette. In direct comparison with the X20, the reduced torque isn’t noticeable in most situations, and only heavy riders might long for a little more oomph on steep climbs. The low noise level and Smart Assist mode do the new X30 ebike hub motor a world of good. The latter in particular ensures a very natural, intuitive riding behaviour, which is mainly due to the torque sensor. If you like a particularly natural ride feel, you’ll rarely miss motor power with the Mahle drive. Gravel riders will have to accept some slight compromises in riding behaviour.

Our conclusions about the new Mahle X30 rear-hub motor

The new Mahle X30 is weaker but bigger than its X20 counterpart. However, it can be integrated seamlessly into any bike, and it’s meant to be less complex, which is probably good for durability. Moreover, it comes with smart networking features and fits straight into the existing ecosystem of X20 accessories and software. Particularly impressive is the Smart Assist mode, but remember, this is only available on bikes with a torque sensor.

Tops

  • Very quiet
  • Extensive software and app ecosystem
  • Enables seamless integration

Flops

  • Heavier than the X20
  • Low torque at slow speeds
  • Plug connector on the rear wheel not as easy as the AMC solution on the X20

For more info, visit mahle-smartbike.com


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Words: Julian Schwede Photos: Jan Richter, Mahle