Mid-Drive vs Hub Motor: Everything You Need to Know

Mid-Drive vs Hub Motor: Everything You Need to Know

E-bikes won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but they certainly aren’t an everyday purchase. You’re going to have this machine for a long, long time. 

An e-bike is an investment. If you’re planning on using it as a mode of transportation, your e-bike will practically pay for itself. If you’re using it strictly for exercise or leisure, you’re going to want to get plenty out of it. 

That said, you’re going to want to do your due diligence before you buy. You should know your e-bike inside and out, from all of the little intricacies to the biggest parts, like the motor. 

Today, we’re going to look at two commonly used motors in modern e-bikes so you can decide which one is better for you. 

Why Is Picking the Right Motor Important? 

It’s a common belief that you can simply walk into a store, find an e-bike that looks cool, give it a test ride, and you’re out the door. While you can do this, we recommend doing your research instead.

Picking the right motor is a vastly underrated aspect of buying an electric bike. It’s essential to think about how you’re going to use your e-bike, how often you’re going to ride it, where you’re going, and so much more. 

For example, if you’re planning on using your e-bike for commuting to and from work, you’re going to want a more powerful and lighter motor. This way, you can get to your destination as quickly as possible, as you’ll likely be covering long distances. 

If you’re commuting, you’ll find this type of motor — AKA a hub motor — on many commuter e-bikes. They’re built to get you to and from where you’re going efficiently. 

There are negative aspects to think about as well. If you live in an area with lots of trails and forests, hub motors typically don’t hold up well on certain terrains such as ones found in nature. If this is the case, you’re going to want a fat tire e-bike with a different motor or a hub motor with a high wattage. 

What Are My E-Bike Motor Options? 

When your e-bike powers on and you begin pedaling, the motor is activated. The function of the motor is to power the pedal assist system (PAS) which is what makes an electric bike electric. 

Some e-bikes, like the ones at Velotric, offer an additional feature: throttle assist. The throttle is located on your handlebars and is also powered by the motor. 

Universally, this is what e-bike motors are built to do. However, different motors complete this function in a variety of ways. 

With all this motor talk, you’d think there were a million different motors you could pick from. 

In reality, there’s really only a handful that you would realistically be buying. If you’re shopping with Velotric, you’re basically only picking between two: mid-drive and hub motors.

That certainly narrows down your choices, huh? While there are really only two you’re picking from, it’s still essential to know what you’re picking, mainly because e-bike motors can be surprisingly different from each other. 

As with the case of mid-drive and hub, they are vastly different. 

Mid-Drive 

Finally, we’ve arrived at the breakdown of our first motor. 

You’ll find a mid-drive motor on a lot of commuter and fat tire e-bikes. They’re built for smooth rides and handling and an increased range. 

Mid-drive motors create torque (a twisting force that generates rotation) by a shaft placed inside the motor body. This shaft is connected to chains that connect to the crank arms, which finally end at the pedals below your feet. 

This is how the mid-drive motor functions in order to assist you during your ride. 

This is an efficient motor that allows for a longer and smoother ride. 

Hub Motor

If simplicity is the name of the game, we might’ve found you your next e-bike motor. 

Hub motors are gearless wonders built to give you a simple and efficient motor so that you can focus on your e-bike and the open road rather than maintenance. 

Hub motors are found in the back of the e-bike and also double as the e-bike's rear axle. The biggest difference between the hub and mid-drive motor is that the shaft of the hub motor doesn’t move — it’s fixed in place. 

This means the actual motor moves and rotates around the shaft. This is what creates the torque that helps power your pedals. 

Cross-Comparison: Mid-Drive vs Hub Motor

Mid-drive and hub motors are great options, but one will probably be much more suited to your needs than the other. Let’s explore what makes each motor so effective — and what features will help you find your perfect match. 

Handling 

While hub motors are located in the back of the e-bike, mid-drive motors are placed in the centermost point of the e-bike, creating a low center of gravity that helps balance you and the e-bike. 

Handling is important for keeping control of your e-bike. Handling becomes especially important during exercise rides and rides on certain rough terrains. 

The improved handling will make your rides a lot smoother and more enjoyable. While hub motors aren’t terrible handlers per se, we’re going to say the mid-drive motor reigns supreme in this aspect. 

Maintenance 

Once you have your e-bike, you’d probably expect to be able to use it without issue for at least the first few months of riding.

In reality, that depends on how often you’re riding and where you’re going. However, the odds are you’ll find yourself having more maintenance problems with a mid-drive motor. 

This is primarily due to the fact that mid-drive motors have more parts, and they all act differently compared to a hub motor. There are a few specific parts in mid-drive motors that break down a lot faster due to the different motions and movements this motor goes through. 

On the other hand, hub motors are the kings of simplicity. They are not difficult to maintain whatsoever, and there’s a good chance you’ll be waiting a long time to fix any motor issues if you have a hub motor. 

Ride Quality 

Neither motor will present you with a poor-quality ride. They are both terrific options and have their own positives and negatives, but the overall ride will always be a quality one. 

That being said, you’ll probably have a much smoother and more relaxing ride with a mid-drive motor. The acceleration is smoother and doesn’t rock you back and forth, the wheels turn quicker, and the ride will generally be easy and smooth. 

Again, this isn’t to say hub motors don’t offer all of that. Mid-drive simply excels in it, which is why they’re getting the nod for this section. 

Range 

Because of the central position of mid-drive motors, they create a low center of gravity which means it has better handling and smoother rides. That also means that this motor is hyper-efficient, and you’ll get plenty out of each and every ride. 

This is especially true for longer journeys, as you’ll truly begin to feel the true effects of just how efficient this motor can be.

While hub motors don’t have a drastically shorter range than mid-drive ones, the central positioning really gives mid-drive motors a leg up in this competition. 

Shorter rides will be almost identical in terms of range, but there will absolutely be times when you can notice a difference. 

Durability 

Durability also directly correlates to maintenance and simplicity. Mid-drive motors will more than likely offer you a “better” ride, but you might end up paying the price for the trade-off. 

Hub motors will undoubtedly be a little bumpier and jerkier, but they are extremely easy to maintain — plus, they’re durable, too

If you’re looking to protect your e-bike investment and aren’t particularly interested in spending some extra coin on repairs, it’s time to start seriously considering hub motors. 

Price 

If you haven’t already figured it out from the other pros and cons of these motors, hub drive motors take the crown when it comes to cost. 

Because they use fewer parts and are a lot simpler, they also cost a lot less to build, which in turn drives the price down of the e-bike. Now, the difference isn’t absolutely massive, but it’s certainly noticeable, and your bank account will probably notice too. 

Ride With Velotric 

We hope you feel as if you have enough information to make an educated decision regarding which motor you’ll need for your e-bike. 

Feel free to always refer back to this page before and after you make your choice, and we hope your choice involves making Velotric a part of your biking experience. 

We can’t wait to see how happy you are with your new e-bike, and we’ll see you out there! 

Sources: 

E-Bike Motor Drive: A Review of Configurations and Capabilities | MDPI

Improving the Autonomy of a Mid-Drive Motor Electric Bicycle Based on System Efficiency Maps and Its Performance | MDPI

What is Torque? | Khan Academy


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