If you've spent any time researching ebike motor specs and reviews, then you've probably encountered a number of facts and opinions about the different types of e-bike motors, propulsion methods, sensors, and more. Feeling overwhelmed? Stumped? You're not alone.
Your ebike's motor is the most important part. Because, after all, you buy the ebike for the "e", and this "e" comes in many forms and has to suit your specific needs. What is the best type of e-bike motor for you out of all the options out there?
Here's our simple guide on types of motors for e-bikes, explained in simple language to help you choose the right model.
WHAT DO EBIKE MOTORS DO?
An electric bike motor provides pedal assistance to the rider. Basically, they reduce the amount of pedal power needed to propel the bicycle. You can climb hills more easily and reach higher speeds with less effort. When you reach a certain speed, an ebike motor also helps you to maintain it. In addition, many ebikes now have throttles that allow you to skip the pedaling entirely by engaging the throttle.
EBIKE MOTOR TYPES - THE BASICS
A motor can be mounted in the front, middle or rear of an ebike, and each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
Middle mounted motors are called mid-drive motors because they are mounted where your pedals meet, in the middle of the ebike, and they are connected directly to the cranks, or pedals, and supply power directly to the drivetrain, or chain.
The front and rear mounted motors are called hub motors because they are mounted in the hub of the wheel (the hub is the center part of a bike wheel that surrounds the shaft, which secures the wheel to the frame. It is where your spokes connect to, with the other ends attached to the wheel rim). Motors like these supply power directly to the wheel they're mounted on; either the front or rear.
We'll discuss how they work, their pros and cons, and the differences between the three types of e-bike motors.
FRONT HUB MOTORS
Hub motors are mounted in the hub of the front wheel. Motors pull you along and effectively create an all-wheel drive system for your ebike because the front tire is driven by the motor and the back tire is driven by your pedals.
Pros of Front Hub Motors
- The extra traction provided by the dual-wheel drive like system created by being able to power both wheels independently makes front hub motors great for snow and sand. It takes a bit of time to learn how to control this properly.
- Since the motor is not part of the drivetrain or the rear wheel, it can be used with a normal rear wheel gear setup.
- Because there is no gear system sharing space, it's easier to replace a flat or to add or remove the ebike component of the bike.
- When the battery is mounted in the middle or back of the bike, the weight distribution can be well balanced.
Cons of Front Hub Motors
There can be the feeling that you’re getting pulled along and some people don’t like this.
There is less weight over the front wheel meaning that there is a higher tendency for it to “spin” i.e. spin loosely without gripping. This can happen on loose or steep terrain and is more noticeable on front hub motors with more power. Riders of front hub motor bikes naturally adjust their riding style over time to compensate for this.
They are only really available in lower power options because there is far less structural support for large amounts of power around the front fork of an ebike.
Can be poor when climbing long, steep hills.
The sensors that control the pedal assist level are more of a set level style rather than the intuitive, reactive sensors that are used with other ebike motors.