E-bike motors are often an overlooked component when consumers are searching for a new bike. Many believe it is sufficient if the bike has any motor at all, but the type and power of the motor can greatly determine your riding experience. Most e-bikes have either a geared hub motor or a mid-drive motor, and today we will discuss what makes the mid-drive motor so different from other eMTBs with hub-drive motors.
Not only are there specific ebike regulations for the size of motor you may have in the United States and in Europe, but the placement of the motor on the bike will also affect your riding experience. With our new premium models launched last year, we went above and beyond to ensure that the motor type and placement were consistent with what a rider would want from each bike. As we will see today, there is a lot to learn about mid-drive motors and the many benefits they offer.
We’ve covered the differences between geared hub motors and mid-drive motors before, but this article will put those differences into context by comparing two real-world examples, the Himiway Cobra and the Himiway Cobra Pro motors.
What is a Mid-Drive Motor?
As the name implies, mid-drive motors are placed directly underneath the rider in the middle of the bike between the crank arms and pedals. It may or may not be visible from simply looking at the assembled e-bike. When the throttle is pressed on these types of bikes, the mid-drive motor transfers power to the rear wheel via the chain and gears just like pedaling does and uses a multi-speed gear setting operation similar to traditional mountain bikes. This provides superior performance in almost every way. Mid-drive motors are suited to the amateur or professional e-biker that requires a top-tier riding experience across many demanding scenarios such as steep hills or challenging terrain. Our exceedingly satisfying Cobra Pro is equipped with a mid-drive motor for flawless execution.
What is a Hub-Drive Motor?
By contrast, hub drive motors are built directly into the hub of the wheel. Hub drive motors are usually placed in the rear wheel of electric bikes. You can recognize a hub-drive motor by the large, enclosed drum surrounding it in the center of the wheel. The hub drive motor exerts its force on the wheel itself and does not actually rotate the chain or the opposite wheel. If you were to lift a hub-drive motor e-bike off the ground and hit the throttle, only the wheel with the motor would spin. The design of the hub-drive motor does not rely on the bike being in any particular gear or pedal-assist setting – it will always operate with the same force when the throttle is used. Hub drive motors are most suited for new or casual e-bike riders that do not have too many difficult demands for their e-bike.
What are the Benefits of a Mid-Drive Motor?
Rear hub drive motors can feel as if the bike is being pushed from behind because, in reality, it is. This may cause some riders to feel a slight pull back when they accelerate quickly. By contrast, one of the mid-drive motor’s greatest benefits is its smooth and natural feel when accelerating. With the motor placed in the center of gravity of the bike and directly below the rider, the force of the motor is more balanced and provides a more luxurious feeling when accelerating.
Mid-drive motors are more efficient because the bike has the ability to match the force used with the force needed via the gear level chosen. It is not simply running on a “one-size-fits-all” configuration for all situations as a hub-drive motor does. Mid-drive motors typically have a higher top speed than a similarly equipped hub-drive motor bike.
Are There Drawbacks to the Mid-Drive Motor?
The main drawback to mid-drive motors is typically the cost. Due to their advanced engineering and more complicated manufacturing, mid-drive motors are more expensive than hub-drive motors. This may not be an issue for the experienced rider looking for the best electric bike on the market, but some riders prefer a more affordable option which is why we also offer the standard Cobra e-bike with a hub-drive motor.
Cobra vs. Cobra Pro
If price is your main concern, the Himiway Cobra offers a similar experience but without the mid-drive motor. A very respectable 750-watt geared hub motor is found on the Cobra and still provides an unmatched riding experience. Available in two colors, Forest Cobra camo and King Cobra black, the Cobra is sure to put a smile on your face when you hit the throttle and money back in your wallet from the cost savings.
Additional Features of the Himiway Cobra Pro
For those riders interested in the premier ebike experience, a mid-drive motor meshes perfectly with these additional high-quality components, and features found only on the Cobra Pro:
- Ten-speed gear shift system to take advantage of the mid-drive motor
- Advanced Lithium-ion battery tech to get you up and down the mountain, around the city, or through the sandy beach
- Four bar linkage suspension for comfort absorbing every dip and divot in the road
- 4.8-inch fat tires for maximum traction in all terrains
- Large, full-color LCD to easily see your battery capacity, pedal-assist level, speedometer, and more
For a more in-depth look at the Cobra Pro, check out our ultimate ebike specification guide here.
At the end of the day, both mid-drive and hub-drive motors have their rightful place in the pantheon of e-bikes available on the market. For those looking for the best weight distribution and standard front and back wheels, a mid-drive motor is perfect. Not only will it provide the best performance, but it will feel the most natural, too. For those riders looking for an affordable option strong enough to tackle common situations, the hub-drive motor will be the best match. Both motors are reliable options, provided you’re buying from a reputable ebike brand. It all depends on what your preferences and needs are when it comes to choosing the right motor for you.