E-bikes have gained immense popularity in recent years. More and more people are discovering the benefits of these environmentally friendly and efficient means of transportation. For those who want to convert their conventional bicycles into e-bikes, there are various retrofit motors available. Two of the most popular retrofit motors on the market are the Bafang BBSHD and the CYC Photon. In this article, we will compare the two motors in different categories and shed light on their advantages and disadvantages.
Design / Dimensions:
Here, the new CYC Photon motor clearly takes the lead. Its design is more modern and it is smaller than the Bafang BBSHD, resulting in greater ground clearance. The gear behind the chainring is also more compact in the Photon, allowing for the use of smaller chainrings with offset. Here are the dimensions of the CYC Photon and Bafang BBSHD motors.
Another significant difference between the two motors is their weight. The Bafang BBSHD weighs about 6 kg, while the CYC Photon is significantly lighter at just over 3 kg. Both weight measurements refer to the motor including the controller - without the chainring, cranks, etc. Thus, the difference is approximately 3 kg.
Both motors perform similarly in this category, producing around 60-65 dB of noise, which is considered very quiet.
Compatibility with Bottom Brackets
Both the BBSHD and the Photon motor are compatible with bicycle bottom brackets with widths ranging from 68 to 120 mm. For larger bottom bracket diameters, both motors have adapters available, such as Pressfit BB92.
The connectors of the two motors differ slightly. The Bafang controller offers additional connectors, such as a light connector and a shifter sensor connector, depending on the version. The Photon controller, on the other hand, comes with a battery connector, a cable harness connector and a speed sensor connector - same as BBSHD without extra connectors. The Photon motor benefits from the use of the XT90 plug, which is a better battery connector than the Anderson plug used with the Bafang motor.
Crank Offset / Q-Factor
The Q-Factor, which measures the distance between the crank arms, is a measure of the stance width, similar to the hip width when walking. This width varies between the motors: The Bafang ranges between 210 and 250 mm, while the Photon's Q-Factor is between 200 and 230 mm.
The Bafang BBSHD offers a wider range of chainring sizes from the factory (40, 42, 44, and 46 teeth) compared to the Photon (34, 38, 42, and 50 teeth). However, there are third-party chainrings available for the BBSHD, covering a range from 28 to 52 teeth. But the chainrings of CYC Photon come with a chainguard. The Photon motor is relatively new to the market and might support additional chainring sizes in the future. The manufacturer Lekkie already offers cranks for the Photon motor, and it won't be long before they produce various chainrings for this motor as well.
Both motors come with different display options. The BBSHD is provided standard with the DPC-18 display, while the CYC Photon is equipped with two display options: the small SW102 and the larger DS103. The Bafang motor benefits from its longer market presence, as there are a variety of third-party displays available. However, CYC covers the basic preferences with these two displays – a small and a larger one, depending on the user's preference.
Riding Modes, Profiles
An important aspect of choosing an e-bike motor is the riding modes or profiles. A riding mode or profile refers to a motor setting with all possible data - such as power, speed, motor behaviour, assistance level, etc. The CYC Photon offers two different riding modes: RACE and STREET. The Bafang BBSHD can only store one profile on the controller – unless an Eggrider display is used, which allows for two profiles. The Photon motor also has the advantage of a smartphone app for adjusting the desired parameters, while the Bafang motor settings can be adjusted either via laptop or through a third-party app.
36 - 52V
48 – 52V
Max. Torque at Crank
appr. 3 kg
appr. 6 kg
The technical data of the motors show different characteristics. The Bafang BBSHD motor has higher nominal power and torque, but it is also heavier. On the other hand, the advantages of the CYC Photon motor lie in its maximum power, compatibility with 36V batteries, 2 riding modes and - most importantly - the torque control. But what does this mean?
- Torque Control: In this mode, the motor provides assistance based on the pressure applied to the pedals – more pressure means more motor assistance. This is particularly useful when starting off on hills. Most e-bikes on the market use this type of control.
- Cadence Control: In this mode, the motor provides assistance based on the rotation of the cranks. Once the crank arms are in motion, the motor provides assistance at the power level chosen for that mode.
Compatibility between Bafang BBS Series and CYC Photon
There are some similarities and differences regarding the compatibility of the two motors. Both are compatible with 48V and 52V batteries, while 36V batteries can only be used with the Photon. Throttle and gearsensor are compatible with both systems, while chainrings, cable harness, speed sensor, cranks and displays are not interchangeable.
The choice between the Bafang BBSHD and the CYC Photon depends on the individual needs and requirements of the user. The Bafang BBSHD offers more power and higher torque.The Photon motor excels with its torque control, lower weight, modern design, two riding modes, and convenient smartphone app. Ultimately, personal preferences and the planned usage of the e-bike should influence the decision.
It is important to emphasize that both the Bafang BBSHD and the CYC Photon are high-quality e-bike motors. Especially the CYC Photon will significantly enhance the e-bike riding experience.