Bafang motors and their firmware (policy)

El Topo

Member
Jul 23, 2022
125
48
Germany, Bavaria
No matter if I look at a M510, a M600, or the mighty M620, I just can't see how I could justify spending thousands of Euros on a bike with a controller/software and software support like that.
For me the power of a motor is not really relevant. For me, every recent motor, be it Bosch, Shimano, Brose, Yamaha, IMO has enough power and torque. To me the Shimano EP8 is pretty much perfect, it is light weight, you can adjust (=tune down) the power with an phone app and I could live with the limitation of only 25km/h.

My impression is that every new firmware has its own issues, there is no trail/adaptive mode available, and reprogramming the motor is a lot of hassle. I don't own a windows computer anymore and wouldn't want to spend half a day setting up Wine or whatever I would need. Also, there seem to be different softwares, and you need a crack for the (dealer?) version, that offers more tuning parameters. I rode the Innotrace M620 (admittedly in a suboptimal environment) and it didn't feel very "traily", more cadence than torque driven. It also was way too powerful - which I know could be tamed down with another Windows program, where I am at the mercy of the vendor, because I need a customer specific log-in.

Is all this this a false assesment? I would be happy to be proven wrong...
Say what you want about the established brands (pricing, closed systems, etc.) but a Bosch/Shimano *just works*, and that is important to me on a bike.
Also, am I really the only one who doesn't want more power but more finesse with a DIY bike?

Don't get me wrong, I want an EMTB and would love to build my own, especially with the fact that no big company still offers an up to date E-fat bike, but I don't have enough money lying around, to build up a bike that I could maybe sell for half it had cost in parts, if I come to the conclusion the Bafang motor/controller just isn't for me.


PS: Before anyone asks, there is a fat bike with an EP8 I would love to be able to buy, but it costs 8-9000€ in a good configuration - and they don't sell a frame only.
 
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patdam

Well-known member
Jan 17, 2019
834
569
france
I'm fully satified with my M500 (moutain use +- 30 km +- 1500 D+), i use mostly level 1 to 3 on 5 and +- 70% consumtion. I have before an E8000 (canyon spectral), I will not return back, mostly for the throttle who i can use in walk mode and the pleasure of build "my" bike, the noise also is less on the M500. otherwise for the remainder for me it is +- egal. I have also one M600 (purchased for spare after M500 controler fail). More powerfull but i don't need it.



i have not tested the M510 (bike build in progress) for the moment, but it seem better folowing user return.
 

Neeko DeVinchi

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Dec 31, 2020
1,017
1,344
UK
The firmware issue regarding the new Bafang motors still remains under review by Bafang.

I agree that the M510 has been somewhat of a let down in some circumstances. But they are looking into resolving specific characteristic issues raised by users.

Personally, this is one of the many reasons why I prefer the UART protocol. With my years of experience with this protocol, I find it much easier to program and fine tune the bafang motors (the M620 being a good example).

Nevertheless, third party developers have contributed towards the development of many Bafang motors. And I suspect that they are already on the case 😉
 

El Topo

Member
Jul 23, 2022
125
48
Germany, Bavaria
Thank you for your replies. As mentioned, I would love to be convinced otherwise, but I don't read much that does - this was just posted in another thread:

Great news on the BESST Pro working on the M510. Will have another go on mine tomorrow, although last time I tried I couldn't make any changes to the speed / power %, only the wheel diameter and top speed.

I changed out my M600 to the M510 last week as was happy with the power and weight reduction, but really disappointed with the 'on-off' power delivery at low torque / cadence riding (which seems to be a common trait). I had firmware version 3.1 installed from new and then immediately changed it to the 3.2 version (with the usual faf of having to change the BESST version etc. to get it to upload) but got there in the end. The 'on-off' power trait improved slightly with firmware 3.2, but annoyingly is still there. Next step is to re-calibrate the motor but if that doesn't work then......?????

I did notice that on flat smooth surfaces (such as cycle paths or the road) the motor behaved just fine, its when the terrain got rough that the annoying power 'on-off' happens. Makes me think its something to do with the torque sensing; perhaps its a little 'sensitive'?
...
This whole post pretty much reads like a summary of many others I've read over the years - but come on, "rough terrain" is what is motor is supposed to be used with, isn't it?

I don't know, I never heard or experienced such things with current generation of motors from with the established brands, and I've worked in two larger bike shops (yes, I also know for example to not buy Brose or Fazua bikes if you don't your bike to be in the shop often).

This makes me sad, if Bafang hasn't got their act together after years, why would they do in the future?

Without the abilty to even testride such a bike, buying a frame, motor, battery and many other parts, that will be effectively unsellable, if I don't like the pedal assist, this all seems like huge gamble.

Nevertheless, third party developers have contributed towards the development of many Bafang motors. And I suspect that they are already on the case 😉
We're in a sad state of affairs if third parties need to fix the core function of the motor because the manufacturer doesn't want to, or simply can't.
 

bram.biesiekierski

Active member
Apr 18, 2022
424
258
Perth WA Australia
Thank you for your replies. As mentioned, I would love to be convinced otherwise, but I don't read much that does - this was just posted in another thread:

This whole post pretty much reads like a summary of many others I've read over the years - but come on, "rough terrain" is what is motor is supposed to be used with, isn't it?

I don't know, I never heard or experienced such things with current generation of motors from with the established brands, and I've worked in two larger bike shops (yes, I also know for example to not buy Brose or Fazua bikes if you don't your bike to be in the shop often).

This makes me sad, if Bafang hasn't got their act together after years, why would they do in the future?

Without the abilty to even testride such a bike, buying a frame, motor, battery and many other parts, that will be effectively unsellable, if I don't like the pedal assist, this all seems like huge gamble.

We're in a sad state of affairs if third parties need to fix the core function of the motor because the manufacturer doesn't want to, or simply can't.
Not really any different than with cars. (Or just about any consumer product really). You can buy a car off the show room floor, and just live with it.

But if you want to say increase the power, or tune the drivablility, tune shift points or make any other adjustments, change suspension, wheels brakes. Then you are going to be doing alot of DIY. Using 3rd party software hacks. Buying aftermarket components/ecus, spending time on dynos etc.
 

El Topo

Member
Jul 23, 2022
125
48
Germany, Bavaria
Well, I if I go by that analogy, my question is, can I tune a Bafang motor in a way that it behaves like a EP8 in trail mode (with lowered power than Shimano stock), or at least like a Bosch Gen4 in their EMTB mode? Meaning nonlinear, smooth modulation of power output when increasing torque input, or will it still behave mostly cadence input based?
Maybe Yamaha and some others are also in that league but I haven't ridden them, so I am using the EP8 as my go-to-example.

The EP8 rides great out of the box, but you can still fine tune it. To me nothing indicates that any Bafang motor rides great out of the box. Also, I don't want/need 5kW of motor power, I want robust and smooth pedal assist, likely less than a EU-legal motor nowadays can offer.


Let me stress again, I would love to build a DIY fatbike, that I can afford. I actually want you guys to convince me that Bafang is a viable option, but currently, based on my limited riding experience with the Innotrace (claimed to be better than a tuned M620), and what I am able to gather on the web, I am not convinced.
 
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Neeko DeVinchi

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Dec 31, 2020
1,017
1,344
UK
You have to understand @El Topo, the innotrace controller was originally designed to push more power through the M620 motor (basically catering to those who feel that 30amp/1500wh/160nm of torque is weak), without the risk of overheating the controller/motor in the process.

Its difficult to put into words or to visually show. The M620 'tuned', needs to be experienced.

However, referencing the motors ability to be tuned and cross-reference others who have riden my own E22, I have yet to have come across anyone who has said that my M620 performs 'out of character' within the applications derived by emtb applications.

In addition, the eggrider v2 display has provided more features which allows me to alter particular characteristics of the motor on the fly (or, to load different presets in accordance with the given mood or objective of the ride.

I still hold the M620 in high regard as it remains one of the longest standing and used ebike motors used even to this day. Which should say a lot if you think about it and compare this to other manufacturers.
20220730_191952.jpg

I dare say that the E22 could be the best emtb frame to use the M620.
 

El Topo

Member
Jul 23, 2022
125
48
Germany, Bavaria
Thank your for your message, @Neeko DeVinchi. I try to read all your posts (really appreciate your effort, BTW) regarding this and watched quite a few of your videos, but are there posts you can link me to where you lay out the process with the Eggrider 2 display from start to finish?
It seems you also have a lower power approach and you mentioned somewhere having tuned the M620 to "somewhat" street legal specs (as in, unlikely not getting in trouble with the law).
Could you summarise in a few short sentences the differences between tuning a M510 and a M620, and what software and hardware one would need for that? I think it was mentioned that the M510 has better (higher temporal resolution?) torque sensing?

I would love to test ride a downtuned M620, but I have no idea where I could do such a thing. :-/

I dare say that the E22 could be the best emtb frame to use the M620.
I am fairly certain of that, so far there were a lot of unimpressive frames. I still would love to just be able to get a M510 (if tunable to my liking...) in a E10 frame with the fat rear end. I am terribly sorry to bug you again about this, but have have there been any new developments regarding this? I am unsure if I should open a new thread for such a franken-frame, since I have no idea if it would work or not, so far it is just theroretical concept based on your and another user's posts.
 
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bram.biesiekierski

Active member
Apr 18, 2022
424
258
Perth WA Australia
As far as usability of the CAN m620. I have no problems with the standard "tune". It rides well, there is nothing I have found that I dislike with the peddle assist power delivery. It works well for a MTB. The 1 through 5 power levels go from quite sedate, right up to very aggressive.

It would be nice to be able to adjust settings, just to see how things can change more than anything. And if that was possible, one area I would definitely want to play with would definitely be the throttle characteristics. That would probably be my only gripe with the standard tune.

The motor itself is killer. Like literally, it kills drivetrains. I think its just too powerfull for a conventional bike drivetrain. Which means you kind of need to not use the motors full potential much. That's a bit frustrating. But that's a limitation with bike drivetrains, not the motor.

It also goes through the battery pretty fast, especially if you use the throttle. Although, given the output from the motor, I dont think its unreasonable. Its a pretty high power motor, if you use that power, then ofcoarse the battery will depleat fast.
 

El Topo

Member
Jul 23, 2022
125
48
Germany, Bavaria
I think the two of us have a very different view on what an ideal motor is. I wouldn't want a throttle, because IMO this is what a good torque sensor driven ramp-up of a motor's power is for. Call it a leg triggered throttle, where you have to put in some effort yourself.

I still hold the M620 in high regard as it remains one of the longest standing and used ebike motors used even to this day. Which should say a lot if you think about it and compare this to other manufacturers.
Someone else might conclude that they haven't updated that plattform in many years. Who knows how much smaller, lighter the hardware could be and how much they could have advanced the software with better sensors and faster processors.

Heck, I would wish for a EU-spec'ed motor with an integrated gearbox in that large housing.
 
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bram.biesiekierski

Active member
Apr 18, 2022
424
258
Perth WA Australia
I think the two of us have a very different view on what an ideal motor is. I am wouldn't want a throttle, because IMO this is what a good torque sensor driven ramp-up of a motor's power is for. Call it a leg triggered throttle, where you have to put in some effort yourself.

Someone else might conclude that they haven't updated that plattform in many years. Who knows how much smaller, lighter the hardware could be and how much they could have advanced the software with better sensors and faster processors.

Heck, I would wish for a EU-spec'ed motor with an integrated gearbox in that large housing.
100% agree about us having different ideas on motors. I'm a motor-head and to me the idea of someone wanting the most feeble and pathetic motor that actually abides by rules and laws, is totally bizarre. I specifically choose the Ultra because it is the opposite of that.

With the throttle, no one says you have to use it. You could just unplug it, and use the peddle assist funtion.

As for the ultra being an old model or what ever. Who cares. Mechanical/bearing/gearing technology hasn't changed much this millennium. No one seams to have any great trouble with the electrics in the ultra, apart from not being able to tune the newer CAN update. And I don't know that the "new" software is all that good. Look on this forum and people with the newer m510 are having all kinds of problems with the software performance, userbility and such. You don't really see those same complaints with people who ride the ultra.

And before you mention the weight. It's really no big deal. The difference between a 3kg motor and a 5kg motor is about the same difference with whether I've had a morning dump or not yet.
 
No matter if I look at a M510, a M600, or the mighty M620, I just can't see how I could justify spending thousands of Euros on a bike with a controller/software and software support like that.
For me the power of a motor is not really relevant. For me, every recent motor, be it Bosch, Shimano, Brose, Yamaha, IMO has enough power and torque. To me the Shimano EP8 is pretty much perfect, it is light weight, you can adjust (=tune down) the power with an phone app and I could live with the limitation of only 25km/h.

My impression is that every new firmware has its own issues, there is no trail/adaptive mode available, and reprogramming the motor is a lot of hassle. I don't own a windows computer anymore and wouldn't want to spend half a day setting up Wine or whatever I would need. Also, there seem to be different softwares, and you need a crack for the (dealer?) version, that offers more tuning parameters. I rode the Innotrace M620 (admittedly in a suboptimal environment) and it didn't feel very "traily", more cadence than torque driven. It also was way too powerful - which I know could be tamed down with another Windows program, where I am at the mercy of the vendor, because I need a customer specific log-in.

Is all this this a false assesment? I would be happy to be proven wrong...
Say what you want about the established brands (pricing, closed systems, etc.) but a Bosch/Shimano *just works*, and that is important to me on a bike.
Also, am I really the only one who doesn't want more power but more finesse with a DIY bike?

Don't get me wrong, I want an EMTB and would love to build my own, especially with the fact that no big company still offers an up to date E-fat bike, but I don't have enough money lying around, to build up a bike that I could maybe sell for half it had cost in parts, if I come to the conclusion the Bafang motor/controller just isn't for me.


PS: Before anyone asks, there is a fat bike with an EP8 I would love to be able to buy, but it costs 8-9000€ in a good configuration - and they don't sell a frame only.
First, sorry for a late reply. I wanted to chime in anyway, because responsive & proportional torque sensing was one of my main concerns in setting up our bike. (Jerky handling would not be well tolerated!)

The main issue many people seem to have with their m620 motors, is a total lack of torque sensor calibration, by default. (As in, 0.01 Kg of pedal force, gets detected as 12 Kg of pedal force, if the 'TqVoltate' setting is left at 0.)

Even with the torque sensor calibrated, I found the PAS level selection has far more effect than how hard I pedal.

One reason for this, is that like all other torque sensing ebikes I've found, the pedal torque sensor tops out at ~60 Kg. That's not much effort, for a rider my size.

The funny thing is, ebikes that seemed to have more proportional torque response, actually just had less response to give, so they seemed smoother, until I turned the m620's lower assist levels wayyyy down, & found that it can be just as proportional, & simply has much bigger portions to offer.

Adjusting the 'Delta Voltage' ranges (how the detected torque readings ramp), definitely helped, but I agree that going back & forth to a PC is a time consuming way of tuning an ebike. I would very much prefer to tune on the fly, using an Eggrider display module.

I devoted a LOT of time, to tweaking the m620's controller config, & there are still things I want to tweak again.

So, yeah: For anyone looking for out-of-the-box torque sensing, I couldn't recommend Bafang systems.

Now that it's adjusted though, it feels pretty gentle & proportional, on all the lower PAS settings (the higher PAS settings are only needed for extreme climbs, & on occasions where I have no choice but to merge with automotive traffic).

Shimano EP8 & Bosch Cargo, do not feel any more trailworthy than our m620; quite the opposite: In very low PAS levels, the m620 feels quite comparable, & at a moderate PAS level, it blows them away. (Then there's the high PAS levels, which no <1KW motor can touch... but as you observed, some riders will never need such power!)

I still plan to tweak it a bit more, but honestly the torque sensing is already responding as proportionally as any other system worth comparing. Mostly I'm still turning down the low-end response, bit by bit.

What I like most about our m620 powered ebike, is that it can glide up switchbacks, roots & rocksteps, with a 250 pound rider and 40 pounds of cargo, without feeling awkward nor even getting warm. All the other mid-drives I've tried were helpful in a tough climb, but the m620 lets us choose between 'helpful', 'take a break', & 'wheee!'
 

Jon A

Member
Apr 24, 2021
32
14
WA/MT, US
Also, am I really the only one who doesn't want more power but more finesse with a DIY bike?
No, not at all. I completely agree with your assessment. As of now, the one thing I know does work (as Ford Perfect described) is to get an M620 in UART protocol. The software is free, you don't need an expensive controller, password, account, BEST tool, etc. Just a $20 cable and a computer. Even if you don't want to learn all the nuances of programming, there are a lot of tunes out there publicly (including my own) you can simply try and see what you like.

To put a graphic to what you were describing above, here are two short test rides over the same ground attempting to pedal with the same effort. Not scientifically controlled, of course, but it should give you an idea.

With the factory torque sensor calibration:

Screenshot_20210801-185408.png


As you can see, the motor spends a great deal of time at its max power for that PAS setting. Almost like an on/off switch, almost like a cadence sensed bike. But with a little tuning, the power delivery can be more like this:

Screenshot_20210907-012837.png


In this one you can see the motor actually spends very little time at its max power for that PAS setting. It's constantly varying the amount of current sent to the motor according to pedal pressure. That, along with reducing the power of the lower PAS levels has a pretty dramatic effect "taming" the motor down.
 

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