E-bike motors explained: front vs mid vs rear-hub motors

E-bike motors explained: front vs mid vs rear-hub motors

An e-bike is made up of three basic components: an electric motor, a battery, and a display. The motor is powered by the battery, and the display allows you to control how much power you desire. It's crucial to understand the many sorts of drive systems in order to determine which one is ideal for you.

Front motors, mid motors, and rear-hub motors are the three types of motors available for e-bikes. You should be aware that neither type of motor is superior to the other, but that they each offer distinct benefits based on your requirements.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll break down what each of these motors are and their unique pros and cons. We’ll also help you decide which motor is right for you.

Front e-Bike Motors

The motor is located in the center of the front wheel on front motor e-bikes. In front motor e-bikes, wiring and battery installation are relatively simple. The motor on a front motor e-bike usually propels the rider forward. In comparison to rear-motor e-bikes, the installation and configuration of front-motor e-bikes are quite simple. This is owing to the fact that most front-wheel motorcycles do not have a gear system. Front hub motors aid in the distribution of total load between the front and back wheels. The front wheel bears the front weight, while the back half is adjusted by human weight. The front motor system is also separated from the rest of the bike's components. This distinct location allows for easy servicing without interfering with the motor.

Pros of Front e-Bike Motors

  • Most old bikes may be retrofitted with new front hub motors, which are very light and straightforward to install.
  • Hub motors love to spin, so they're perfect for combining with gears. When using a hub motor, you don't have to push if you don't want to, hence these motors tend to provide more assistance than mid drive motors.
  • Hub motors are less expensive than mid-drive motors since they can be mounted on a standard bicycle frame.
  • Depending on the model and vendor, front hub motors are simple to replace or repair.
  • Front hub motors work well with hub gears, derailleurs, and belt-driven motorcycles.
  • Adult tricycles can readily accommodate front hub motors.
  • The drive chain on front hub motors does not require as much maintenance as it does on rear hub motors.
  • Because you don't have to change the gears when retrofitting with a front hub, and it's a relatively simple conversion, the cost of installation is usually lower. It's also simple to reverse the conversion if you want to switch bikes.

Cons of Front e-Bike Motors

  • One of the disadvantages of front-motor bikes is that they have lower-capacity motors, such as 250 W or 350 W. It's because, unlike rear-hub motor e-bikes, the bike's front fork lacks a structural base. As a result, your options for motor capacity become limited.
  • At low speeds, front motor e-bikes have a traction problem. This is related to the front motor versions' weight distribution.
  • Some vintage front motors are heavy, affecting the bike's weighting.
  • On dirt roads, front hubs lack grip, causing the wheel to spin upon start-up, especially when traveling uphill.
  • Because certain lighter hub motors offer less torque at low speeds, they should not be utilized for hauling, riding on mud, or doing a lot of uphill riding.
  • Changing a tire isn't as simple. It will require the use of a spanner.
  • Front brake pads are showing a little more wear.
  • Because they are not as efficient as mid-drive motorcycles, they require more battery power.

Mid e-Bike Motors

A mid-drive motor is situated close to the center of the e-bike, as the name implies, and this is its initial advantage over a rear-hub motor. Because of the motor's center location, the weight is evenly distributed between the front and back wheels. The handling and riding characteristics feel much more "natural" and balanced than with a rear-hub motor. Nothing, for example, drags down the rear wheel during jumps or when going over steps. Because the motor is located underneath the bottom bracket, it is also known as a bottom bracket motor. A specific frame is required for the mid-drive motor, which accommodates the complete motor block.

Pros of Mid e-Bike Motors

  • Its placement near the crank ensures proper weight distribution and a low center of gravity, which improves the bike's handling.
  • The mid-drive motor adjusts to changing riding conditions fast. The sensor system on the mid-drive motor, which is placed exactly at the crank, is the cause for this. The mid-drive motor responds quickly if the rider pushes harder on the pedals.
  • A mid-drive motor offers a wide range of gear options, including derailleur and hub gears, or internally geared hub and a belt.

Cons of Mid e-Bike Motors

  • Because the power is distributed by the drivetrain, there are more moving parts.
  • If your chain or belt fails, the bike loses motor assistance.
  • They’re more expensive.

Rear-Hub e-Bike Motors

The rear-hub motor is mounted on the bike's rear wheel. Its forces are also active there. The bike has a dynamic riding feel to it, as if it's being pushed from behind. Derailleurs with three chainrings are used on the rear-hub motor, allowing for a wide range of gear ratios. Rear-hub drives are most commonly employed in flat to mildly undulating and hilly terrain. That's when the rear-hub motor reaches its full capability and produces powerful thrust — enough to move heavy weights. On the other hand, e-mountain bikes and rear-hub motors are unlikely to become buddies. These motors overheat or don't provide enough support, especially on long steep climbs. The bike's off-road ability is also hampered by the rear-hub motor's hefty weight.

Pros of Rear-Hub e-Bike Motors

  • When climbing hills or traveling on the flats, mid-drive motors can be inconvenient. They necessitate more careful gear shifting.
  • Because of the greater power systems, the motor's life may be shortened. It may necessitate more frequent motor accessory replacements than on comparable models.
  • The cost of a mid-motor e-bike is usually more than the cost of the other two options since mid-motors are more complicated to construct than front-motor and rear-motor systems.
  • The motor supplies power and can recoup, i.e. collect energy to recharge the battery, when cycling downhill in its most efficient mode.
  • The rear-hub motor, in contrast to the mid-drive motor, relieves stress on the chain, resulting in reduced wear.
  • The majority of rear-hub motors are extremely quiet.

Cons of Rear-Hub e-Bike Motors

  • At high speeds, bikes with large rear motors may be prone to "popping wheelies." This isn't always enjoyable, and it can be harmful at times. When you accelerate from a red light or climb a slope, for example.
  • For persons who are heavier, a rear-motor is not the best option because of the weight on the rear wheel. This can cause premature rear wheel failure.
  • The motor is the most difficult part of the rear motor system to service or replace.
  • The option of rear disk brakes will be unavailable on rear motor e-bikes.
  • The rear wheels have a heavier load.
  • They can produce more noise when riding.
  • When compared to the mid-motor, they are less mechanically efficient.

Which Motor Type is Right for Me?

Despite their many advantages, e-bikes can also cause confusion and ownership anxiety due to the high technology curve that propels these bikes forward. As with all things electric, the logic is that delaying your purchase will allow you to take advantage of the most recent technology.

In actuality, each motor type, whether front or rear hub, or mid-drive, has benefits and drawbacks. It all depends on how you want to utilize your bike, the type of bike you have, and your riding style. Most e-bikers have seen folks riding about on entirely inappropriate and extremely costly e-mountain bikes because that's what they've been told is best to buy, even if they're only riding a few miles to work each day. People commute small distances on bikes that cost $6,500 when a perfectly suitable bike may be had for less than half that price. The correct engine for your e-bike depends on your budget, level of comfort, and intended use.

The greatest e-bike motors will strike a balance between power and weight in order to provide optimum pedal assistance without weighting down and slowing down the bike. Of course, e-bike motors are built into the bike and aren't currently a component that can be swapped out or upgraded, so knowing what you're getting into when shopping for the best electric bikes is essential. Hopefully, this tutorial will serve as a useful resource!

E-bike motors explained: front vs mid vs rear-hub motors