Which Is the Best: Hub or Mid Drive E-bikes?

 

Which Is the Best: Hub or Mid Drive E-bikes?
Novice electric bike riders get confused about hub vs mid drive motor configurations. Each has advantages and disadvantages - what you select will determine your ride quality. This post will discuss each motor to help you make a worthwhile investment.

Difference between a mid-drive and hub motor ebike

Mid-motor ebike

As the name suggests, the motor sits in the middle of the frame (close to the cranks). Essentially, it applies force to the drivetrain.

Hub-motor ebike

The hub motor sits inside the front of the rear wheel. And because it's completely sealed, no additional maintenance is needed. You don't have to worry about shifting or maintaining the perfect chain tension. 

Hub vs Mid drive electric bike: Ride quality

Since the mid-drive motor is at the center, the bike feels balanced and easier to maneuver. The hub drive, on the other hand, will carry more weight distributed at the rear. Some folks say the ride doesn't feel natural.
 

Gears

For the mid-drive ebike, the motor powers the bike through the drivetrain. Once you shift to a lower gear, the cranks require more force to turn. However, the ideal gear ratio depends on the road conditions and the incline. When you change the gear, the bike runs efficiently at high RPMs.
 

Hub vs Mid Drive e-bike: Which one is better?

Performance-wise, mid-drive motors excel in many areas. They are known to have a higher torque. In turn, it multiplies the power, so the bike can take advantage of the existing gears. As you approach a hill climb, you can change the gears and maintain the same cadence.
 
In terms of reliability, the hub motor is better. Since there are no mechanical parts engaged in the transmission, the internal parts are disengaged by the clutch. If there's some defect, the motor acts as a set of ball bearings.
 
If you want convenience, you should look for mid-drive models. To start with, having a mid-drive throttle will make up for the lost torque sensor. Secondly, mid-drives are easier to repair and maintain.
 
Looking at the range, a mid-drive motor operates at more efficient RPMs. And it gives a better range than the hub drives. The difference can be apparent for a heavy rider. For example, a 500Wh battery can be efficient for 50 miles on a mid-drive. The same battery can be good for the hub drive for about 25-30 miles. However, things can get tricky here - the torque sensor on the hub drive can help close the gap.
 
Since the gears for the mid-drive keeps the motor moving, the e-bike can operate at maximum efficiency. Of course, it uses less power.
 
For handling, the mid-drive hub is the best. It's positioned closer to the center of gravity to improve overall bike handling. Again, this configuration offers better weight distribution.
 
Maintenance-wise, the hub motor gets a plus. In contrast, the mid-drive transmission needs frequent replacement and adjustment of parts.
 

Final thoughts

The best configuration for you boils down to what you need. Since each has its pros and cons, you should evaluate how the whole package comes together. More specifically, you should pay attention to the type of terrain, range, and budget. For the urban rider, a hub motor is the best. If you have to deal with steep climbs, you should lean towards a mid-drive motor electric bike.

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