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Electric Bikes are equipped with two types of motor, a mid-drive motor or a hub motor. The name of each motor comes from where it is located on the bike. A Mid-Drive motor is positioned in the middle of the bike's frame, near the bottom bracket. A hub motor, as the name suggests is positioned in the middle of the rear wheel (the hub) - some manufacturers and older e-bikes do use front hubs, but these are becoming increasingly uncommon. Let’s now delve a little deeper and take a look at each type of motor individually.
About Mid-Drive Motors
As previously mentioned, the mid-drive motor is mounted in the middle of the e-bike, and that is advantageous because the central position distributes the weight evenly between the front and rear wheel. This allows for a much more “natural” and balanced feel, offering the feeling of riding a ‘traditional’ bike.
A mid-drive motor works harmoniously with the bike’s gears, which make it more efficient, meaning a longer range per charge. A mid-drive motor also reacts quickly to different riding styles, this is due to the motor’s sensor system which is located at the crank, so when the rider pedals harder the mid-drive motor responds instantaneously.
The mid-drive motor is certainly the more popular motor amongst the electric mountain bike crowd, this is mainly due to the fact that it handles varied terrain much better and gives more traction - a very important factor to consider when mountain biking, particularly when climbing.
About Hub-Drive Motors
Usually located on the rear or front wheel, the hub-drive motor is also activated by pedalling, however in some countries where it is legal, it can also be powered by the use of a throttle. Much like the mid-drive motors, the hub-drive uses a torque sensor which senses when and how hard you are pedalling, and ensures the correct rate of power is supplied to the motor. A hub-drive motor is also considered as ‘maintenance free’ and causes less chain wear.
A front wheel hub motor, which is quite common on smaller, older folding e-bikes offer a less natural riding experience as the power is all on the front wheel and the feeling of being pulled along can feel unnatural. Due to the powered front wheel, steering can also feel like a bit of a challenge, and the ride a little more sluggish.
Much more common is the rear wheel hub motor. Sitting on the rear wheel the e-bike feels as though it is being pushed from behind which gives you more of a sporty riding feel. A rear hub motor can be used with derailleurs and chainrings, so the use of gears would also be possible giving even further performance and bike model options.
Which is best for you: a hub-drive or a mid-drive?
Electric Bikes equipped with mid drive motors are usually considered the premium choice, however rear hub drive motors also have their advantages. Both motors are equally good in their own right, the question really falls on you and how you intend to use your e-bike?
We would say that the Mid-Drive motors have characteristics which make them more suitable to use with electric mountain bikes, electric trekking and electric cross type bikes.
E-Bikes with mid-drive motors stocked at Ride LEV are mostly installed with Bosch Performance Line CX, Bosch Active Line Plus or Bosch Cargo Line motors.
Hub motors are perfect for flat and slightly hilly terrain. Ideal for commuter and urban city bikes, the durable maintenance free hub motor is reliable and efficient. There is a lot less to go wrong on a hub motor as it is one independent contained unit, however you are limited to cassettes with no more than 7-speeds due to the space the hub motor takes on the rear wheel.
The choice is yours! Both motors have their advantages, it’s just a case of how you’re going to use your bike. Try them out for yourself and see which ones suit you most.
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