The Bafang M620 drive system reigned supreme across the Spanish Tabernas Desert!

Team Bafang & Ibexion speed to victory...

Riders felt the heat in this year’s E-Bike Desert Challenge, but Bafang kept its cool. To achieve victory there were many technical and physical hurdles to be overcome, not to mention blood, sweat, and tears!

Within the first competitive segment, the two Bafang riders, Jörg Weißleder and David Stute, laid a solid foundation, building up a comfortable time cushion. They proceeded to be the first to cross the finish line in the open class on their e-MTBs, powered by the Bafang M620 mid-motor. For the first time in the event’s history, Bafang occupied the top two places on the podium.

Since 2018 Bafang has played a role in helping to develop the Desert E-Bike Challenge, recognizing the potential of organizer Rainer Authenriet’s concept. While Bafang’s own riders were able to record good results in the first two years, they have steadily developed more powerful engine and frame concepts. The forced break in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic was used sensibly by Bafang and Ibexion alongside the participating riders Jörg Weißleder (owner of Ibexion GmbH) and David Stute. They continued to fine-tune the overall concept of their competition bikes, especially regarding the drivetrain, which demanded enormous attention in combination with the specially developed Ibexion batteries.

Clearly, these efforts paid off at the recently concluded edition of the Desert E-Bike Challenge!

What is the E-Bike Desert Challenge?

The race is an endurance challenge spread over 7 consecutive days, with extreme environmental pressure pushing riders and their e-bikes to the limits. This year’s race explored the only mainland European desert, the Spanish Tabernas Desert.

An experienced international starting field assembled to tackle this goliath, including participants from Russia, Poland, Germany, and France. The total race distance is upwards of 320km, divided into 7 demanding stages with a cumulative 8,000 hm (height meters).

While previous races took place in Morocco, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the 2022 challenge relocated to Spain. However, this switch of destination did not diminish the demands on both riders and machines in the least, as the desert landscape revealed its most extreme side! Competitors and their e-bikes had to show what they were capable of under continuous stress.

This is just one of the reasons participation in the Desert E-Bike Challenge is so important for Jörg Weißleder (winner of the 2022 event) and his team-mate David Stute; Jörg stated, "The event offers an ideal playground to test the designed material, the interaction of the components, and their functionality under extreme conditions (heat, dust, salt, rocks). Thus it’s ideal for the research and development team of Bafang and Ibexion to determine new insights and data about the M620 under real conditions. Then, all of a sudden, theoretical concepts like overheating or continuous load in various riding modes become very real and one can gain holistic experience. An outdoor laboratory test de luxe!“

How the team did it…

Both Bafang and Ibexion are of course extremely proud that the M620 motor helped clinch victory with its usual reliable and solid performance, despite the intense conditions.

Jörg and David’s team added features such as a controller with protection against overheating, which was enormously helpful; on just the first race day some of the other competitors' engines "smoked" on the track. The possibility of overheating was a constant headache for many riders, but to the delight of Jörg and David was not an issue for their specially designed rides, and the stable appearance and robustness of the gearbox quickly caught the attention of other participants. David particularly emphasized: “The engine is simply fun! It may not be the lightest drive, but it has a strong casing, is enormously resilient, requires very little maintenance, and is extremely powerful!  All factors that are decisive for victory or defeat under these conditions.” The team was glad to hear comments made by other riders at the closing ceremony that they would review the drive systems they had used up to now and consider a motor from Bafang; excellent performance attracts attention!

Of course, once one race ends another approaches, and so Jörg and David already have a new project in mind: a fresh e-MTB concept is being developed with the M600! They want to develop a lighter (targeted weight saving of up to 3 kg), more beautifully shaped bike. It should correspond to a higher continuous power (up to 1KW) at 150Nm, so that one can race at the next E-Bike Desert Challenge, in the 25 km+ - class for chipped bikes. An exciting project! The team aims to expand its roster to fill these new saddles, allowing David and Jörg to compete once again in the open class and defend their podium places! According to organiser Rainer Authenriet, the event itself is to be increased in terms of the number of participants, as he will be a co-driver in the Tuareg Rally immediately after the race to Tunisia. This means that next year up to 40 participants will put themselves through the extreme demands of desert-like landscapes in Spain or Tunisia.

For Bafang also, the next race is already in focus; it is precisely such results and experiences in challenging riding conditions that provide important information and allow Bafang engines to continue proving how strong and effective they are. In addition to these extra sandy events, Bafang is a proud sponsor of the CST POSTNL Bafang MTB Racing Team and collects insights with the help of MTB icon Bart Brentjens.  Every race season he provides technical insights into how engines perform under heavy load, sudden power calls, and continuous loads. Product research can’t get more authentic than that!

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