Compare Hub vs Mid-Drive Motors for Electric Bikes
E-bikes are a great way to get around and can provide a fun and efficient way to explore your surroundings, but with so many different models and options available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
And, one of the most important decisions to make when choosing an electric bike is the type of motor the bike uses. This is because your riding quality, price, and performance of the bike greatly depend on the motor.
In that case, with two main types of electric bike motors which are hub motor and mid-drive motor, how do you choose?
To help you have a better understanding of both the motor powered bike, we’ll explore the differences between hub motors and mid-drive motors along with their pros and cons, so that you can make an informed decision when choosing the motor for your next electric bike.
What Is A Hub Motor Electric Bike?
Electric hub bike motors are usually integrated into the front or rear wheels. Simply put, it is an electric motor that is built into the hub of the wheel.
The hub motor is powered by a battery that is located on the frame of the bike. This type of e-bike is designed so that the motor provides power directly to the wheel, propelling the bike forward. Another thing is not affected by gear changes.
These types of motors are easier to install, and it is also more affordable than mid-drive motors.
Generally, there are two types of hub motors, for example, geared and gearless hub motors. They are popular for their simplicity and ease of use, as the motor is hidden from view and does not interfere with the look or feel of the bike.
Advantages of Electric Bicycle Hub Motor
- The biggest advantage of a hub motor electric bike is its easy installation and maintenance.
- The hub motor is usually much lighter than a mid-drive motor, which makes it easier to maneuver and transport.
- Due to its enclosed nature, this system has much less potential to fail.
- Avoid over-stressing your chain or shifters and causing parts to wear out faster.
- Quiet operation.
- Good for casual riding.
- Can be used with any type of bike frame.
- More affordable than mid-drive motors.
Disadvantages of Electric Bicycle Hub Motor
- Heavier than mid-drives
- Lack of torque for climbing hills
- Reduced efficiency in high gear
- Limited options for customization
- Lower performance compared to mid-drive motors
- Tire changing is more difficult with hub motors
What Is A Mid Drive Ebike?
A mid-drive electric bike is a bike that uses a mid-drive motor in its drivetrain. It is located in the middle of the bike between the pedals, and it is powered by a battery that is also located in the middle of the bike.
The mid-drive motor is connected to the crank, which allows it to use the bike’s gears to provide more power and torque which results in providing more control and efficiency. This motor is usually known as being more powerful and efficient than a hub motor, and it is also more responsive.
Additionally, mid-drive motors are popular for their improved performance, especially when climbing hills and negotiating rough terrain.
Rather than powering the wheel directly like hub motors, mid-drive motors provide power to the bike through its drivetrain. The motor attaches to the cranks and chainring, and its power is then transmitted to the rear wheel via the chain.
Advantages of Electric Bicycle Mid-Motor
- Better ridge quality and more range.
- Offers 10 to 15 miles more range than the hub motor model.
- Improved torque for climbing hills.
- Better control and stability on rough terrain.
- Increased efficiency in high gear.
- More customizable with different components.
- Smaller and lighter than a hub motor of similar power.
- Freedom to use any wheels, tires, and cassettes that you wish.
Disadvantages of Electric Bicycle Mid-Motor
- More complicated installation and maintenance.
- Can output 250-750 W of power continuously.
- More expensive than hub motors.
- Heavier motor weight.
- Limited options for frame compatibility.
- More noise during operation.
What Is The Difference Between A Mid Drive And Hub Motor Ebike?
When it comes down to buying an electric bike, apart from the motor, there are some other common things to consider, such as range, riding quality, reliability, safety, etc.
So, here we will discuss how the differences between these two hubs and mid-motors affect other factors of an electric bike.
Mid-drive motors tend to have a longer range compared to hub motors because they use the bike’s gears to transfer power, resulting in more efficient use of energy. The mid-drive motors can also make better use of the energy generated by regenerative braking, which helps to extend the range of the e-bike.
Hub motors, on the other hand, can have a shorter range because the motor is located in the wheel, which can cause a loss of energy through friction.
Where from a mid-drive ebike you may get over 40 – 45 miles of range, a hub drive motor only offers 25 – 30 miles of range. This means a mid-drive motor is more efficient than a hub motor and can provide a longer range.
Of course, you can get an increased range with a hub drive e-bike also by installing a large capacity battery. For example, the Himiway cruiser ebike that comes with a geared hub motor with a 48V 17.5Ah battery. And, despite being a hub-drive e-bike, it is known as the long range electric fat tire bike that offers a 35 – 60 miles range per charge.
To ensure optimal handling of an e-bike, the weight should be balanced between the front and rear axles.
In that case, with a mid-drive e-bike, the motor and battery are situated in the center of the frame, so the additional weight is spread evenly between the front and rear of the bike.
Additionally, a mid-drive motor is connected to the crank, which allows it to use the bike’s gears to provide more power and torque. This results in improved handling and stability, making the bike easier to control.
Hub motors, on the other hand, tend to have a heavier weight distribution and the motor’s weight shifts the bike’s center of gravity either forward or backward, which can negatively impact handling, especially when riding on rough terrain.
This means, in terms of handling, mid-drive e-bikes are better than hub-drive e-bikes.
A mid-drive motor is more responsive than a hub motor, so it can provide a smoother ride.
Mid-drive motors tend to offer a smoother ride because they use the bike’s gears to transfer power. This allows for a more gradual distribution of power, resulting in a smoother ride.
Conversely, hub motors will give you a feel like you are being pushed because the motor provides direct power to the wheel, which can result in a jarring and rougher ride experience.
The biggest advantage of a mid-drive ebike over a hub-drive e-bike is that mid-drive motors make better use of the bike’s gears, which helps to increase efficiency and improve performance.
Being able to change the gears, you can keep the electric bike’s motor running at its optimal RPM. This results in using less electricity, improving your range, and producing more power and torque while riding.
But, in the case of hub motors, it can’t utilize the bike’s gears as the motors of hub-driven e-bikes operate independently from the drivetrain. This means hub motors may run outside their optimal RPM, the motor will run slow while climbing hills, burn more energy, can’t supply power as much, and ultimately can limit performance.
So, in terms of gears, a mid-drive motor is connected to the crank, so it can use the bike’s gears to provide more power and torque.
If you are a cyclist, you must know that the lighter your electric bike the faster it will be. Not only this but a lighter e-bike is much more efficient and easier to maneuver also.
So, when it comes to motor size and weight, hub-drive motors tend to be larger and heavier than mid-motors, which can impact the weight and balance of the bike.
On the other side, mid motors are typically smaller and lighter and are really easy to carry and ride.
Mid-drive motors offer improved performance when climbing hills, due to their increased torque and the ability to make better use of the bike’s gears.
With a mid-drive e-bike when encountering a steep hill, you can shift down to reduce the gear ratio. This takes less force to spin the cranks.
Additionally, with a lower gear, the motor won’t have to work as hard, while still keeping a high RPM. This is beneficial as electric motors usually perform best when running at high RPMs.
In contrast, hub motors tend to struggle when climbing hills, as they have lower torque and lack gear options.
This means, a mid-drive motor is more powerful than a hub motor, so it can provide more power when climbing hills.
Hub-drive motors can be more reliable and safer compared to mid motors because they tend to last longer than mid-drive motors. In fact, as it doesn’t have any gear inside, there is no fear of wear out or break.
Another benefit of a hub motor is that it will give you redundancy as the motor works independently from the drive system. This means if your bike’s chain breaks, you can still ride the bike by pedaling.
Mid motors, on the other hand, have more complex electronics and gear reduction and do not offer redundancy which can increase the risk of failure, malfunction, and reliability.
So, it’s evident that a hub-drive motor is more reliable and safer than a mid-motor.
Hub-drive motors can make better use of the energy generated by regenerative braking, which helps to extend the range of the e-bike. Mid motors, on the other hand, do not make use of regenerative braking since the motor does not rotate while the rider is not pedaling, thus resulting in a shorter range for the e-bike.
In short, a hub-drive motor can provide regenerative braking, which allows the battery to be recharged while braking.
Mid-drive motors are known for their better performance on challenging terrains, like steep hills and rough trails. This is because the motor is located close to the bike’s center of gravity which results in improved weight distribution and enhanced capability to navigate difficult terrain.
Mid-drive motors are also known for providing better torque, power through the drivetrain, acceleration, reaching a higher top speed, and climbing better making them a better option for more demanding riders.
On the other hand, hub motor e bikes can be less stable on rough terrain because the motor is located in the wheel, which can affect the bike’s balance.
All in all a mid-drive motor is more powerful and efficient than a hub motor, so it can provide better performance.
The way that an electric bike is powered can impact throttle control. Hub motor ebikes typically use a throttle to control the amount of power the motor provides, while mid-drive motors use the pedal assisted bike motor, which provides power when the rider pedals the bike.
Some riders prefer the throttle control offered by hub motor ebikes because it is more intuitive, while others prefer the natural feel of pedal assist provided by mid-drive motors.
Repairs And Maintenance Cost
Mid-drive motors are usually more expensive to repair and maintain compared to hub motors because they are more complex, put more wear and tear on the drivetrain components, and have more moving parts. Besides, a mid-drive motor can be more complicated to install than a hub motor.
Hub motors, on the other hand, are simpler and easier to maintain, which can result in lower repair and maintenance costs. In fact, electric bikes with hub motors tend to be more reliable and durable than mid-motors, leading to a longer lifespan than mid-drive e-bikes.
Due to their simpler design and lower manufacturing costs, hub motor electric bikes are much more affordable than mid-drive e-bikes.
So, if you are on a tight budget, then the hub motor wins the race. You can save $600 to $1000 by choosing a hub-drive electric bike instead of a mid-drive.
In conclusion, the choice between a hub motor and a mid-drive motor for an electric bike will depend on individual needs and preferences for example the range you need, the type of terrain you will ride, your budget, etc.
Hub motor e-bikes offer a simpler, more affordable option for riders who prioritize ease of use, while mid-drive motors offer a more advanced, customizable option for riders who prioritize performance and control.
If you prioritize ease of use, affordability, and stability, a hub motor e-bike may be the way to go. But if you’re looking for a more advanced, customizable, and high-performance option, a mid-drive motor e-bike is worth considering.
No matter which type of motor you choose, with the right electric bike, you’ll be able to enjoy a new level of freedom, efficiency, and convenience on your next ride.