The more the popularity of Ebikes rises, the more the debate grows about hub motor vs mid-drive motors. Plus, the two main types of electric bike motors each have their own combination of benefits and drawbacks. Now, when it comes to choosing one, it’s you who should decide which advantages are helpful to you.
But for that, you’ll need a complete image and an in-depth understanding of what each one has to offer. This article presents all the information to differentiate between a hub motor and a mid-drive motor. And with the unfolding of each one’s features and benefits, we are sure you will figure out what you need.
So, before concluding which one you should get, let’s get into the what’s and whys first.
Mid Drive Motors – Perks and Drawbacks
In an electric bike with a mid-drive motor, you can see the motor is positioned near the center of the cycle, to be precise, between the bike’s cranks. The motor powers the crank, and the drivetrain transfers the torque to the wheel as you pedal.
It uses your bike’s existing gear and chain and multiplies the torque, providing a better range.
The motor also has a gear of its own, which synchronizes the motor speed to the rider’s rhythm.
So, that was about what a mid-drive motor is and how it functions. Now, let’s get to how this functionality benefits and troubles you.
First of all, mid-drive motors provide you with great efficiency. As it uses the bike’s existing gears, you have more control over your vehicle. Riding the bike is like any other bike – maintaining a certain gear while you want to achieve a desired speed on the plain road or moving to a lower gear when climbing uphill.
And you can change to a higher gear when you accelerate from a stop and want to ride faster. This advantage of the motor makes the bike easier to ride without much effort.
The next thing you will feel riding is that the bike is more stable. With the motor housed at the center, the center of mass and gravity lowers, providing much control and stability as you ride.
And the motor is very lightweight, which makes it easy to handle. You probably won’t feel you are riding an electric bike, except for the speed only.
The maintenance is also effortless, as it only needs removing two special bolts to take out the motor. So, any local bike shop is equipped to provide a full range of motor services.
Well, nothing is free of drawbacks, and neither is our efficient mid-drives. The thing that makes the motor dynamic, using the same drive chain by both pedals and motor, also becomes the bike’s biggest weakness.
Let us explain how. The motor produces far more power and torque than your pedaling, meaning the drive chain is under constant heavy stress. So, unless your chain is an improved one, there is no way it’s going to survive.
Also, the chain’s integrated use means that you can’t ride it once your chain is broken. Yes, that’s right, you have to push it back to a repair shop.
Another major drawback of the device is that you can never shift gear while pedaling; that is when the motor is in power. The drive chain is already under too much stress; a sudden upsurge will simply leave it in two pieces.
However, most modern electric bikes have an internal gear sensor to cut off the power while shifting. Nevertheless, most bikes lack the feature, which makes it a significant downside of the motor. So, you must remember to cut the throttle and then make a shift.
Hub Motors – Upside and Downsides
Hub motors are probably the most widely used motors on electric bikes. These are usually placed on the bike’s front or rear wheel with no connection to the chain and crank drive system.
Although rear-wheel hub motors are often seen, a motor on the front wheel is not rare either. The rear-wheel motor offers good traction with solid frame mounting, and the engine on the front wheel better balances the load.
The motor type’s greatest upside is that it leaves your chain and pedal drive system alone, meaning the motor and drive systems are independent. And as the device doesn’t use the chain, it faces very little or no stress while the motor is running.
So, if somehow your motor fails, which is also rare, you can pedal back home. Or conversely, if you encounter a chain break, you can ride on electric power.
Another notable advantage of the motor is that it requires the least maintenance. The device is contained within an enclosed system, meaning it has the minimum tendency to fail.
Now, there can be two types of hub motors; gearless and geared. While the gearless hub drives are directly connected with the wheel with no gear, geared ones have internal gears to adjust the motor’s RPM. And both the engines last long, especially the gearless ones, as having the least moving parts.
Last but not least of the hub drive’s upsides are that they come in a very affordable price range.
Yes, the hub motors have disadvantages as well. And the most crucial one is that you can’t shift the gears. That translates into much hardship while going uphill. The motor either pushes or pulls the wheels; depending on which wheel the hub is installed, it spins uniformly during climbing.
And with no additional torque from the motor, you put extra pressure on it while climbing, leading to overheating the device. This either causes a temporary shut-off of the power or, worst-case scenario, permanent damage to it.
Also, hubs are heavier. The weight feels significant when you pedal without the electric help. Now, a front-wheel hub might cause the bike to spin due to a considerable difference in weight between the two wheels. While rear-wheel hubs are considered safer, you can still feel the weirdness while riding.
And lastly, changing the tire is very complex in hub drives as you need to disconnect the motor or even remove it before the operation. This makes simple maintenance tasks on tires a complicated endeavor.
Hub Motor Vs. Mid Drive – The Endless Debate
Now comes the debate of hub motor vs. mid-drive. Mid drives give you greater flexibility in shifting the gears, and thus riding on mountainous roads is smoother and effortless with these bikes.
However, the extra stress on the drive train reduces the chain’s shelf life, and if you buy a bike with a drive belt, that is going to cost you more.
On the other hand, hub drives are more like motor-driven wheels with uniform spin, making it harder to go uphill with these bikes. Nevertheless, they offer you an excellent ride on plane roads and a lifetime of least maintenance assurance. They also come cheap.
And the mid-drives are generally costlier. Although the maintenance is easier in a mid-drive, it is more susceptible to failure with lots of moving and connecting parts.
While hub motors are unlikely to fail, and even if they do, you still have the option of pedaling back, you might have to give up your favorite tire. These motors narrow your choices for wheel parts, and you cannot but use the rims that come with the hub.
One feature with which mid drives trump over hub drives is that they are incredibly lightweight, making the bikes easier to handle and the ride a breeze.
So, Which One Should I Get?
Answering the question prompts further queries like where you live, how you prefer to ride, and how much time you want to spend on the bike and its upkeep.
Hub drives are among the earliest types of e-bikes, and they are still increasingly popular for their unique advantages. However, there are several issues with the motorbike type, which has been improvised in mid-drives. And in many aspects, they outperform the hub drives.
Hub motorbikes are inexpensive, almost rock-solid, and need minimal maintenance, making them a good choice for riders looking for a sturdy bike to commute on and off roads.
Conversely, if you prefer a lighter bike to commute through hilly roads, the mid-drives give you better gear usage. You are sure to enjoy every ride, whether riding on flat roads, commuting off routes, or climbing very stiff hills.
Nevertheless, we couldn’t help saying that if you have to traverse through steep hilly terrain a lot, mid-drives are the way to go. And in all other scenarios, which one will better suit you, depends solely on your preference. For wanting to have a bike for a lifetime of hassle-free use, hub motors will fit just right.
The controversy over hub motors vs mid-drive is indeed a never-ending one. However, we believe we offered a comprehensive description of the two most popular e-bike motor models to assist you in deciding which one you should choose.
Each one has its unique up and downsides; go through the overview and pick one that serves you the best.
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