maxon motors make their way from Mars to e-bikes w/ ‘Invisible’ Bikedrive Air e-bike Motor

There’s no doubt that e-bikes are gaining popularity worldwide. With that increase, we’re seeing more companies jumping into the ring for e-bike propulsion as well as the bicycles themselves. Now, with a lengthy history of powering the Mars Exploration Program and shortly after their motors flew the first Martian helicopter, maxon is launching a new motor – for e-bikes. With its new Bikedrive Air, maxon seeks to streamline some clunky aspects of the e-bike user experience. 

maxon leverages 60 years of electric motor design for the 7.7-pound system. It fits “invisibly” inside a wide array of frame designs — racing, gravel, urban, and kids’ frames are all in play. The mid-mounted motor gives riders a natural riding feel by balancing weight. According to maxon, the rider experience is “like riding with a tailwind.” 

Stats are middle-of-the-road, but the rider experience promises to be unique. Here’s our first look at the maxon Bikedrive Air. 

Invisibility Streamlines Aesthetics and Feel

bikedrive air system inside frame

The Bikedrive Air’s calling card is its “invisibility.” It’s not only an aesthetic touch but an engineering advantage.

Integrating the motor out of sight and out of mind eliminates the clunky appearance of many e-bike motors, leaving the bike with a streamlined look. The only thing that suggests the motor inside is a control element on the top tube.

The motor should also make riders feel more balanced on the bike. Unlike some e-bike motors, which place more weight on one side of the frame or the other, the integrated mounting puts all the weight near the bike’s centerline. The innovation allows maxon to promise agile handling, which adds to the bike’s natural feel.

maxon Bikedrive Air Performance and Rider Experience

cyclist riding with maxon bikedrive air

For the Bikedrive Air, maxon focuses on rider experience rather than quantitative performance. Weight, wattage, and range are all relatively average in the category (see specs below). Then again, it’s not necessarily fair to categorize the Bikedrive Air with exterior-mounted motors. 

That’s because the motor is designed to augment the natural cycling experience rather than alter it. In addition to optimized balance, the invisible construction delivers a Q factor of just 152-160 mm. Compare that to the typical e-bike Q factor of around 175 mm — a narrower stance will definitely help maxon-equipped machines to ride more like bicycles. maxon also adds freewheel capability to deliver a “seamless” transition between powered and non-powered riding. 

Finally, users can add the optional Range Extender to double the bike’s 250 Wh range. The motor uses the maxon Connect app to enable adaptable support levels, and lets users view critical data. 

The upshot: Final Thoughts on the maxon Bikedrive Air

bikedrive air visible control element

Maxon’s Bikedrive Air won’t knock your socks off in terms of performance, but it should be hard to beat in terms of natural riding feel, appealing to the rapidly growing e-bike market. Invisible mounting gives it a pronounced edge in profile and balance. And for extra oomph, you can always add the Range Extender. 

For more details, go here. If you gotta have it, either dial up customer service in Switzerland or tap the “contact us” button at the bottom of the page. 


System Weight: 7.7 pounds

Torque: 30 Nm

Power: 220W

Energy: 250 Wh (+250 Wh with Range Extender equipped)

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1 year ago

Still has that unmistakable e-bike bottom bracket bulge. I feel like companies should focus less on trying to hide their motors and batteries and more on simple efficiency and reliability.

1 year ago

I don’t care that my S-Works Creo is obviously an e-bike. It rides so naturally that for more than half my rides I never even turn the power on. It’s just there when I need it, or if I want to go out for a longer ride in less time and still get a great workout on a bike that feels totally natural. Coming from my S-Works Tarmac, It was a fabulous transition as I’m getting older.

I rather have Specialized (and other manufacturers) work on more gearing and component options. I had to swap out my chainring and cassette to get gearing that was more efficient when not using the motor. Otherwise, no complaints.