This is a review of the outstanding Emotion BH Electric race bike, which is powered by a Panasonic mid-drive electric bike motor and a Panasonic battery. It’s a premium quality, very light electric bike, which rides like a regular bike – except much faster! As such, it is perfect for serious bike commuters. This review explains the benefits of a mid-drive (crank-drive) motor on an electric bike.
I have loved my BionX bikes for many years (see BionX kits reviewed here). But I am fickle when it comes to bikes, and I have to admit that I now love my Emotion (Easy Motion) BH Race Bike even more. This Panasonic electric bike enables me to look cool (or at least FEEL cool) and ride far and fast.
Some people recoil in horror at the idea of bikes with electric power assists. “That’s cheating!” they would say. Well, if that’s the case, then so is driving, or cycling (compared to walking, it’s so easy!), or having gears on your bike, or using reading glasses. Electric bikes just make cycling possible and attractive for a lot more people, and that’s a very good thing.
Deciding which electric bike is the best electric bike for YOU is difficult. I have written a book about how to choose the best electric bike for you. The book includes reviews of many of the best electric bikes on the market today. So if you’re thinking of buying an electric bike, think about FIRST buying my book, How to Buy the Best Electric Bike – available as a Kindle book, as a printed book, and also as a download from my website – read all about it here.
The BH Emotion is a Panasonic Electric Bike that looks like a handsome, sleek road bike. And it handles like a stiff, responsive road bike.
However, it does have a secret: a crank drive electric assist bike motor concealed under a chain guard, powered by a lightweight Panasonic battery on the seat tube.
The BH Emotion bike is powered by one of Panasonic’s legendary mid-drive bike motors.
Full technical specs are at the bottom of this page.
The Panasonic Electric Bike is a Pedelec, NOT a Motorbike
Just to get this out of the way first: this bike is for people who still want to get plenty of exercise. If you want something that will move without any effort, this bike is not for you. If you want to move fast and powerfully WITH effort, then this bike could work for you. The Emotion BH E9502 Race Bike does not have a throttle – it is a Pedelec, meaning that the power only kicks in when you pedal.
On this bike, the power kicks in IMMEDIATELY when you pedal.
Many bikes have a few seconds delay on the motor, for safety reasons, but that can make it really hard to pull off on an uphill. So I really prefer this option. The downside is you have to be careful how you rest your feet on the pedals when stopped – if you accidentally apply pressure, the bike can jerk forward.
About Panasonic Mid-Drive Bike Motors
The Panasonic bike motor was invented in the early 1990s, when Yamaha and Panasonic began building drive systems for pedal assist electric bicycles. The Panasonic bike motor has always been very reliable, but in the 25 years since it was invented, battery technology has improved in leaps and bounds. That means that bike riders now get to enjoy an incredibly powerful combo (what I like to call the Dynamic Duo) – the Panasonic bike motor and the Panasonic battery. That means we have more power and great range!
Above is the BH Emotion Neo, which combines power and range for riding mountain bikes on actual mountains! On this bike, the battery is on top of the down tube, while the motor is in the rear hub. Personally I prefer having the battery on the seat tube, just above the cranks, as with the Emotion Race Bike.
The Dynamic Duo is now offered on a whole range of excellent bikes, manufactured by great names such as Kalkhoff, Focus, Raleigh, KTM, Helkama, and BH Easy Motion (Emotion). The bike I have is from BH’s Emotion range. BH is a bike manufacturer in Spain that has been turning out bikes for more than a hundred years. BH Bikes are regularly seen on the podium at international bike races.
Electric Motor + Pedals + Gear System = Speed and Power on Your Panasonic Electric Bike
The key to the power and the grace of this Panasonic bike motor – the key thing that makes it an industry benchmark for performance and reliability – is the motor in the middle.
Because the motor and battery are in the middle, near the crank drive, the motor draws powerfully on the mechanical advantage of the bike gears. (Left is the same battery and motor set up on an Emotion mountain bike.) This means that a relatively small bike motor is amplified, delivering efficient power. Power that I can I feel every time I ride my Emotion BH Race Bike up a hill and pass guys who are 20 years younger than me. Essentially, having the gears integrated with the crank drive motor means that you can keep the engine it its high RPMs by downshifting. When you downshift on a regular bike you can end up with almost no power, but that is NOT the case here.
The BH – Panasonic Electric Bike – Combo: Great Bike Maker Partners up with Great Motor Maker
The BH Emotion E9502 Race bike comprises a 250 W Panasonic engine and battery, mounted on a specially crafted BH Bike. BH has been making bikes for over a hundred years in Spain, and the quality shows. BH Emotion is their electric assist line, which is the result of partnering with Panasonic and Samsung. Emotion also manufactures the award-winning line of Neo mountain bikes, as well as road bikes and cross (hybrid) bikes. They claim to have the lightest electric road bike in the world, in their all-carbon road bike.
My Panasonic Electric Bike, weighing in at a modest 37 pounds, is one of the world’s lightest electric bikes.
The BH Emotion E9502 Race Bike integrates a crank drive 250 W Panasonic Mid-Drive Bike Motor with 10-speed Shimano 105 gears. If you’ve ever ridden a bike with Shimano 105 gears, you will know that they are smooth and impressive.
The combination of the Panasonic Mid-Drive Bike Motor with Shimano 105 gears combines the best of all worlds, integrating the brilliance of a smooth geared system with the efficiency of an electric bike motor. The bike of course has a complete Shimano 105 set, so the brakes are also Shimano 105.
You control the motor via the console on the handle bars, which has an On button, a choice of 3 levels of power, and an indicator to tell you how much power is left in your battery.
Note that the number of gears is relatively low because the usual front cogs are replaced by the crank drive motor. So you don’t have 10 x 2 or 3 – you just have 10. However, 10 speeds are more than enough on an electric bike.
A great thing about having the motor in the crank drive and the battery on the seat tube is that the bike is very well balanced, handling exactly like a regular bike.
A nice feature of this Panasonic Electric Bike is that it is quite long. This means I never have to worry about boot-hitting-front-tire (even though I wear boots, not cycling shoes, when I ride). It also means there is plenty of space for your panniers, without ever having that disconcerting feeling when your heel hits a pannier.
The battery mount works with a key. You cannot take the battery off without turning the key. Once you turn the key, the battery slides off with the greatest of ease. Then you turn the key back to the mounting position and leave it that way. You take the battery and pop it neatly into the charger, which is a nice square unit that lies securely on the ground, plugged into a regular wall socket. A full charge takes about an hour. When you come back to the bike, the battery slides back in smoothly and easily with nice little click to tell you it is in place.
Then you get on the bike, press the On button, select from 3 levels of assistance, and off you go. You can also turn the assist on and off while you are moving, in case you want to increase your exercise. As soon as you start pedaling, the motor starts working.
This Panasonic Electric Bike is Perfect for Long Bike Commutes
The BH E9502 Race Bike is an aluminum road bike with carbon forks. It is ideal for long commutes, and for those who like to go fast on their commutes. It’s also ideal for cyclists like me who want to do long commutes without a car, but have limited time and less-than-perfect knees. Also, as it is so light, you can easily pedal it without assistance in the unlikely event you run out of battery charge.
On one occasion I ran out of battery charge (because I had forgotten to charge it). But I was zooming along so fast, that I did not actually notice until I came to an uphill! And even then, I was able to get up the hill without embarrassment. By contrast, on heavier electric bikes, when the power cuts out, it feels like someone slammed the brakes on.
The Panasonic Mid-Drive Bike Motor engine is close to noiseless, and utilizes a proportional torque sensor to add power equivalent to how hard you are pedaling.
No Speed Limit!
A nice thing about these bikes is that it is really easy to override the ridiculous 32-km per hour limit that is imposed on many electric bikes. It’s a very simple adjustment, which your dealer may be willing to make for you. This means that when you are zooming along at speed, you don’t suddenly have the power cut out as you hit 32 km per hour. (When they start to put 60 km per hour limits on car engines, I MAY be ready to accept speed limits on bike engines.)
Panasonic 36 V Li-ion Battery
I love the lightweight Panasonic battery, with its easy-carry handle, which makes it easy for me to carry it up to my office and recharge it as I work. However, you most likely won’t need to take it up to your office, as this setup has a range of at least 20 miles, even using the motor at full capacity (you can choose from an assistance level of 1, 2 or 3).
The battery has 3 lights on the console to tell you how much power remains, and then 5 lights on the battery itself, which gives you a more precise indication. You know that you have between 1 and 20% of power left when one light is on.
One downside is that an extra charger will cost you around $300, which compares unfavorably with a BionX charger at around $100. But I bought an extra charger to keep at the office, because my commute is long and has many hills.
BionX Batteries versus Panasonic Batteries
This battery initially lost some charge (maybe 10%) as they all do when new, but since then it has levelled out and just seems to go on FOREVER without changes. Overall, I think it is even better than the excellent BionX battery.
Looks and Performance of the Panasonic Electric Bike
This bike looks AWESOME! I often have guys on the street say to me: “What a beautiful bike!” I believe most of them don’t realize it is an electric bike. I also have little boys looking at my bike with mouths hanging open, just saying “Wow!”
Make no mistake; this Panasonic Electric Bike is a HANDSOME piece of machinery. I LOVE it.
This Panasonic Electric Bike wants to GO. It tries to pull off when you are stopped. Once you are going, you feel the smoothness of the integrated gears and silent motor start to take you away.
It is NOT one of those electric bikes where you twist the throttle and you go like a motorbike. Not at all. This is first, foremost and always a BICYCLE. You need to pedal, but once you are pedaling, your legs, the gears and the motor work together in perfect synchrony to move you, and move you FAST. But it is a 250 W bike motor, so you will still be getting a lot of exercise, especially on the uphills. And of course if you want more exercise, all you have to do is turn the electric assistance level down to 1 or 0.
In terms of performance, I usually ride in the fastest 5% of cyclist commuters on my Panasonic Electric Bike. There ARE a few guys who pass me – couriers and super lean athletes on great road bikes. I am OK with that. I just want to get home in an hour or less. On a regular bike, I usually just manage to keep up with the pack, because I have knee problems, and I am NOT super lean.
The other day I almost killed a guy – or I should rather say, he almost killed himself. He cut past me on a corner in that rude way that some (very rare) super fit cyclists do – just inches away from me, super fast and silent (not saying “On your left”), giving me a heck of a fright. Really rude. So I decided to just drop him on the next hill. Which I did, with a bit of effort and my Panasonic motor, leaving him in the dust. So he chased me down, and we got to a red light. I stopped, but this guy just zigzagged across four lanes of fast-moving traffic, scaring all the drivers and almost losing his life – just to prove he could drop me. Sad. Unfortunately, that kind of thing does happen occasionally when you ride a silent, high-performance electric bike. Usually, I let that kind of cyclist win, because I do NOT want to see them die.
I was not very impressed by the quality or the size of the tires that came stock with the bike (but then this is true of pretty much every bike I have ever bought). But the wheel could accommodate a sturdier tire, so I upgraded from the stock Rubena 700 x 25 Syrinx tires to a set of Schwalbe Ultra Marathon Tires with Smart Guard (ordered online from Amazon!), which so far have lasted well and not had a single flat riding on urban streets.
One advantage of upgrading to bigger tires is that it will take a bit of the shock out of the ride – especially combined with the carbon forks.
I also upgraded the fender set, which originally was one tiny little decorative thing on the back wheel. For commuting, one needs good fenders that wrap right around the top of BOTH tires. The stock fender was more decorative than functional.
Also, note that unlike some other electric bikes, this one does not have integrated lights, so you will have to buy a set of lights (see my Average Joe Guide to Bike Lights).
I found the stock seat just fine. AND it looks great.
Bottom line on the Panasonic Mid-Drive Bike Motor on the Emotion BH E9502 Race Bike
I HIGHLY recommend this Panasonic electric bike, as well as this Panasonic bike motor and battery combo on ANY decent bike.
Get this bike if you do LONG commutes and don’t want to spend three hours a day on a bike; or if your commute includes many long, grueling HILLS and you don’t want to blow out your knees. Also if you just want to look like a super athlete on a handsome bike.
This BH bike and Panasonic bike motor both get my Bike Gold Star!
If you’re thinking of buying an electric bike, think about FIRST buying my book, How to Buy the Best Electric Bike – available in Kindle, electronic and printed form, and also from my website – read all about it here.
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Technical Specs of the Emotion BH E9502 Race Bike
Manufacturer’s Claimed Features, plus my Comments
- Up to 62 miles of assisted cycling power per charge (yes, range is amazing)
- Smooth shifting Shimano 105 10 speed gear system (yes, awesome)
- Aluminum hydro-formed 28” Sport frameset
- Rubena 700 x 25 Syrinx tires (inferior tires for a bike this awesome – upgrade to something better before you even leave the shop)
- Removable battery pack with carrying handle (very handy and light)
- Perfect for racing or high performance sport riding (perfect for high performance sport riding, but you would obviously be disqualified if you tried to race with this kind of advantage!)
|Brakes||Shimano 105 V-Brakes|
|Handle Bar||FSA RD-300S|
|Stem||FSA Aluminum OS190|
|Cassette||Shimano 105 11-25, 10-Speed|
|Tires||Rubena 700 x 25 Syrinx|
|Seat Post||Aluminum 31.6 x 350|
|Sizes||50 (<170), 55 (>170)|
|Motor System||Brushless 250W IBS Panasonic|
|Motor Weight||7.9 lbs|
|Capacity||288 Wh (36V/8Ah)|
|Battery Weight||5.7 lbs (upgrade 8.1 lbs)|
|Fenders||Partial Rear Coverage|
|Upgrade||36V x 12Ah 432Wh – E9512|