E-Bikes 101 (#1): Hub Motors vs. Mid-Drive Motors

Welcome to E-Bikes 101: Electric Bike School!  This series of articles are intended for people new to the e-bike, who want to learn more about one of the best alternative vehicles to get around!

This first entry will cover the two different kinds of electric motors on the e-bike - hub motors, and mid-drive motors.

HUB MOTORS

The Biktrix Kutty - a prime rear-hub motor e-bike.

Hub motors are among the most common on the market for their lightweight design, their inexpensiveness to manufacture, and their simplicity.  You can expect to see these kinds of motors on the front or back wheels of e-bikes that fold at the frame, to provide easier transportability and storability.  However, having motors located in the wheels changes the feel of your ride, significantly.

The more common hub motors are back wheel hub motors. This alters the ride of your bicycle to feel as if you were propelled forward, pushed by a world-class athlete. 

There are also front wheel hub motors, that make the ride feel as if you were pulled forward.

The Biktrix Kutty, folded for easy storage.

MID-DRIVE MOTORS

Biktrix Stunner

The Biktrix Stunner, a mid-drive commuter e-bike.

Mid-drive motors are less common, but are widely superior in terms of performance, maintenance, and handling.  

A mid-drive motor is usually located on the drive-train of the bike, promoting a more natural ride and a sense of balance, improving HANDLING.  Since the weight of the motor is in the center of the bike, at a lower center of gravity, there are fewer handling problems as the bike does not suffer from a heavier back or front end.

POWER is altered as the motor controlling the drive-train means powering the bike crank, instead of powering a wheel. You get more torque, and more power output when you factor in an e-bike’s gears. The mid-drive motor can alter it’s power output based on the switching of gears by applying a proper amount of pedal assist power for hilly, snowy, bumpy, or windy conditions. 

And finally, MAINTENANCE becomes easier on an e-bike with a mid-drive motor, than one with a hub motor.  A mid-drive motor usually sits on the frame and is held in place with some screws, so not only is it easy to access, but easy to remove and do maintenance.  A hub motor, on the other hand, is found in or on the wheel, which makes the electrical systems, and the motor itself, tougher to access.  This may prove to be a nuisance when performing simple maintenance tasks, as they become more complicated.  

(As an example, the electrical system wiring is in the way if you wish to replace a flat tire on the motor wheel, and it must be dealt with accordingly).

So, wait.  If mid-drive motors are so good, then why isn’t every e-bike company converting all their models to mid-drive motors over hub motors?  Because each motor, like each kind of bicycle, electric or not, has its own purpose.  If you are looking for a bicycle that provides a good city commute, a hub motor on a more affordable electric bicycle can get you where you need to go with the same kind of reliability a mid-drive motor can offer.  A decent amount of hub motor bicycles can fold for carry in the back of a vehicle for bike rides, or store easily in cramped quarters or neatly in your home, while still offering power against the wind. The hub motor will always be the king of the low-mid range of price affordability in the industry, due to its simplicity.

But if you want an e-bike that can do it all, including mid-high end handling, power, and maintainability, that belongs to the mid-drive motor.

MOTOR POWER

A quick rundown regarding hub and mid-drive motor power.   The power output from any motor determines how powerful your e-bike is.  It is important to know the wattage of your motor, as each motor serves a different purpose. 

250W - These are pretty small motors, but they are suitable for people under 200 lbs who are just looking to ride in flat terrain, with not many hills or obstacles in their way.

350W - Slightly more power for the rider over 200 lbs, and can take moderately steep hills without difficulty.

500W - A very powerful motor capable of encouraging little to no pedaling. It can be used on light frame bikes to help people through very uneven, hilly, tough outdoor conditions.

750W - This is the top end.  This encourages no pedaling. It is meant to handle almost everything in terms of terrain.

Choosing the right motor power tends to revolve around the weight of the rider, the weight of how loaded you want your bike to be, and the amount of torque fitting to YOUR current lifestyle or living situation. 

This concludes the first module of E-Bikes 101: Electric Bike School!  Our second module will focus on the main power source that powers the motor - the batteries of the e-bike.

If you have any additional questions, please email us at ride@biktrix.com or comment below. We love hearing from you.

Class dismissed!

Check out our hub-motored and mid-motored electric bikes HERE.

 

About Robert Bryn Mann:

Robert Bryn Mann is a Customer Content Specialist at Biktrix. A professional writer, he is happy to be working with a company that shares his passion for greener transportation options. When he is not working with Biktrix, he is writing stand-up material and scripts for film and TV.


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