Mid-Engine vs. Rear Engine eBikes- A Comparison

As people seek a comfortable way to navigate urban areas, electric bikes (eBikes) are gaining popularity. However, selecting the perfect eBike can be challenging, with numerous options available.

The type of motor is a crucial aspect to consider when purchasing an eBike, as there are primarily two types: mid-drive and rear-drive. Each motor type has its benefits and drawbacks, and it is essential to comprehend the difference before purchasing.


Mid-Engine vs. Rear-Engine: How the Location of the Motor Affects Performance

The location of the motor in an eBike can have a substantial impact on its behavior when comparing similarly sized motors. Mid-drive electric motors are located in the middle of the bike (as you might assume), attached to the crank between the pedals. Rear-drive motors are located in the rear wheel hub.

Mid-Drive Motors: How They Work

Mid-engines are located between the pedals, and they drive the crankset. This means that they are integrated into the bike’s drive-train and can take advantage of the bike’s gears. This can improve efficiency and range, especially when riding uphill. Mid-engines also tend to be more responsive than hub engines, and they can provide a more natural riding experience. However, they are also more expensive and require a specific frame design.

Here is how a mid-drive motor works:

  • The rider pedals the bike.
  • The mid-drive motor senses the rider’s pedaling and applies power to the crankset.
  • The power from the motor is transferred to the rear wheel through the bike’s gears.
  • The bike accelerates.

Rear-Drive Motors: How They Work

Hub engines are located in the wheel hub, either the front or rear wheel (more often at the rear wheel). They are typically more powerful than mid-engines, and they can provide a more direct and immediate power delivery. This makes them a good choice for riders who want to be able to accelerate quickly or climb hills easily. Hub engines are also relatively inexpensive and can be installed on any type of bicycle frame.

Here is how a rear-drive eBike motor works:

  • The rider pedals the bike.
  • The rear-drive motor senses the rider’s pedaling and applies power to the wheel.
  • The power from the motor is transferred to the wheel through the gears.
  • The wheel spins and propels the bike forward.

Which is Better for Climbing Hills?

This seemingly easy question doesn’t come with an easy answer. Why? Because of all the different factors involved, such as motor strength, gearing, rider weight, bike weight, those kinds of things.

A hub motor can be better at hill climbing than a mid-frame motor, but it is not the norm. Mid-frame motors are generally better at hill climbing than hub motors because they can take advantage of the bike’s gears.

However, a few factors can make a hub motor better at hill climbing than a mid-frame motor. If the hub motor is very powerful, it can overcome the limitations of the bike’s gears and still provide enough power to climb hills.

Though some perspectives need to be kept in play in this department... The average-sized motor placed in a standard mid-engine eBike is 250 watts. Suppose you compare that to some of Hovsco’s lowest-powered hub motors.

In that case, ours produces double the power at the hub at 500 watts, which demolishes the lighter-powered mid-drives when tackling hills and delivers the power exactly where you need it. Ultimately, whether a hub or mid-frame motor is better at hill climbing depends on the specific motors and bikes involved.

Mid-Engine vs. Rear-Engine: Which is Right for You?

Price, user-friendliness, and adaptability are three things you’d likely want to consider when weighing the differences between these two mounting styles. If you have the funds for a more expensive bike, have no intention of ever doing any work or maintenance (perhaps you have a trusted shop to refer to), and don’t intend to use it in a way that requires a heavier flow of power, then the mid-drive will work the best for you.  

But, if you’re a more hands-on type of person who would rather have a more accessible system to either maintain or work on, and you tend to like more powerful motors while also on a tighter budget, then the rear hub motors would be a great choice. Some would also argue that the hub motors would be a better choice for people who live in areas that get a lot of mud or snow, as the weight of the hub motor helps to dig in and add traction. But, in my opinion, that might be true if you’re an incredibly lightweight, but it likely makes little difference otherwise.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an eBike Drive-train

When selecting an eBike, it’s important to consider the motor’s wattage and torque. Wattage measures the motor’s power output, while torque measures its twisting force. The higher the wattage and torque, the more powerful the eBike will be. This is important for acceleration and hill climbing, as a more powerful motor will allow you to accelerate quickly and easily climb hills. Torque is also important for stability and handling, making the eBike more responsive and stable, especially at higher speeds or when carrying heavy loads.

When it comes to the performance of eBike motors, it’s important to note that a more powerful motor will always outperform a less powerful one, regardless of the terrain or riding circumstances. Whether tackling steep hills, traversing off-road terrain, or cruising around town, a higher-powered motor will provide a better riding experience overall. It’s worth noting that the placement of the motor on the bike doesn’t necessarily impact performance; rather, the technology behind the power-assist system is what matters most in terms of how natural the ride feels.

Here at Hovsco, we’ve taken great care to ensure that our eBikes provide the most seamless and natural riding experience possible. We use a combination of torque sensors and cadence sensors (depending on the specific model) to make the pedal assist transitions as smooth and effortless as possible. By focusing on this aspect of the technology, we’ve been able to create rear-hub eBikes that feel just as natural as mid-engine models. So, if you’re looking for an eBike that offers top-notch performance and a natural, intuitive ride, make sure to have a look at what we’ve got going on in our products section.

Hovsco Hub Motors

500W Upgraded Brushless Gear Hub Motor

We utilize the most advanced technology available, allowing for increased power and efficiency. The SUTTO motor, a subsidiary of Bafang, boasts a 500W geared hub and can produce a maximum torque of 65 Nm. This exceptional motor enables riders to climb hills more quickly, traverse any terrain easily, accelerate faster, and enjoy a more robust and comfortable ride.

750W Upgraded Brushless Gear Hub Motor

All the benefits of the 500W but with much more power! The SUTTO motor, a subsidiary brand of Bafang, boasts a 750W geared hub and can produce up to 85 Nm of torque.

There are Sever Things to Consider in an eBike

Aside from wattage and torque, other factors can affect the motor’s performance. The motor type, gearing, and battery are all essential considerations. Hub motors are more powerful but less efficient than mid-drive motors, which are more expensive. Gearing also affects an eBikes performance, with more gears allowing for more efficient riding at various speeds and terrains. Battery size and voltage also play a significant role, with larger batteries providing longer ranges and higher amperage, increasing the motor’s performance.

Ultimately, the motor’s performance depends on wattage, torque, motor type, gearing, and battery. To choose the best eBike for your needs and riding style, consider each factor. For instance, if you plan on doing a lot of hill climbing, opt for a motor with more torque, while flat terrain can do with less torque. Similarly, a hub motor may be more affordable than mid-drive motors if you’re on a tight budget. Heavier riders require more powerful motors, while rough terrain requires durable motors.

Considering these factors, you can choose the optimal eBike motor that caters to your riding requirements, offers top-notch performance, and is a smart investment based on your budget.


eBike motors are an important part of making electric bicycles versatile and fun. There are a variety of different motors available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The best motor for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

Hub motors are a compelling option for eBike enthusiasts seeking an efficient, cost-effective, and easy-to-install motor system. These motors offer several benefits over other types of motors, including their affordability, durability, and ability to distribute an even and natural riding experience. Some riders might prefer a hub motor system due to its ease of use and simplicity of design.

Despite their advantages, there are some potential drawbacks to hub motors. For instance, they may not offer the same level of efficiency as mid-drive motors, and they may not be able to take full advantage of the bike’s gears. However, for many riders, these downsides are outweighed by the benefits of using a hub motor system. Ultimately, the decision to use a hub motor should be based on the rider’s specific needs and preferences.


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