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Electric Bike Motors: Mid-Drive vs Hub Motor vs Geared Motor

Electric Bike Motors: Mid-Drive vs Hub Motor vs Geared Motor

July 3, 2019

Ebikes are becoming more popular day by day. There are a variety of brands building different types of ebikes at different price points. One of the things to take into consideration before making your first purchase on an ebike is the motor that propels the bike to run as fast as it does.

Similar to a car, an ebike motor can be mounted at the front, middle, or rear of the bike. It is always good to know what kind of motor you are getting on your ebike in order to see what type of motor you feel suits you best.

The most common motors on ebikes are geared hub, direct drive motor and mid-drive motors. We've put together this helpful ebike motor guide to demonstrate the difference between models in order to make your ebike purchasing experience more fun.

In order to understand the motor of these ebikes we need to start with the history of ebike motors and all the functionalities of the motor.

History of Ebike Motors

With the era we live in, technology has taken up our entire lives. It was only a matter of time until humans made an electric motor for bicycles considering bicycles have been around forever. The first known bicycle to propel forward without the use of pedaling is known for its hand-lever cycling system which then inspired the idea of inventing the first ebike.

The very first ebike is said to have been with a rear mounted hub motor, in 1895. From that first ebike came the idea of having a mid-drive motor. With this design, the motor battery was placed in the middle of the bicycle where it would be powered by the mid-mounted motor.

Ebike Motors Explained: How The Motor Works

An electric bike motor works by turning electrical energy from batteries into mechanical energy. Modern ebikes use brushless motors. What this means is that the motor does not require brushes to make the motor flow.

The way the motor does this is by using magnets and electromagnets that turn electrical energy into mechanical energy. If you were to open a motor you would see what looks like a bunch of wires and magnets.

Types of Ebike Motors

The reason we created this ebike motor guide is because, there is more than one type of ebike motor. We have the mid-drive motor, direct-drive hub motors, and rear-geared hub motors.

Mid-Drive Motor

The mid-drive motor is located by the ebike's crank.

  • Pros to having a mid drive motor: Low end torque, Highest peak performance, Gear ratio, Makes it easier to climb hills for longer, Smaller than a hub motor, the bike works around the rider, best weight distribution.
  • Cons to having a mid drive motor: Usually requires more expensive maintenance and it puts a lot of stress on the chain.

Direct Drive Hub Motors

Pros to having a direct drive motor: Few components making it very durable, more efficient in longer trips,

  • Cons to having a direct drive motor: Not much low-end torque, removing the rear wheel can be difficult, and heavier, and pedaling becomes less efficient.
  • Rear Geared Hub Motors

Rear-geared hub motors are usually more popular in ebikes due to how durable ebikes are with rear-hub motors. With a hub motor you will be able to take on more bumpy trails as well as inclines. Ebikes with geared hub motors are more affordable and fast with great performance!

  • Pros to having a rear hub motor:
  • Usually more durable, low torque, usually more affordable, very little maintenance, lighter and smaller for faster riding speed.
  • Cons to having a rear hub motor
  • Because the cable from the hub motor must be attached to the rest of the ebike system, the motor cable must be unplugged to remove the rear wheel, and parts plugged back in afterwards.

Which Motor Is Better?

It is not a matter of which motor is better, but which motor suits you best. All of them are different and unique in their own way. For example, if you're going to be using the ebike to commute to work and on pavement you would consider purchasing an ebike with a direct drive motor.

However, if you want to use your ebike to power through rugged terrain while mountain biking, it is likely you wouldn't want a direct drive motor.

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