Electric Bicycles are becoming increasingly popular forms of two-wheeled electric transportation for both commuting and pleasure riding. The two most common electric motor styles used in today’s electric bicycles are hub motors and mid-drive motors. Which one is best for your needs? Read on to learn more and find out!
Electric bicycle Hub motors, which place the electric motor in the center of a bicycle wheel, are certainly the most common form of electric bicycle motors.
Electric Bicycle Hub Motor Advantages
Hub motors is require little or no maintenance. They are an entirely independent drive system that retain all of their components inside the motor casing, leaving nothing for you to mess with or maintain.
That enclosed system also means there is a lot less to fail. There are two types of hub motors: geared hub motors which have internal planetary gears to reduce the speed of a higher RPM motor, and gearless hub motors, which have no gearing and directly connect the lower RPM motor stator’s axle to the bike. Geared hub motors usually have just one point of weakness: the gears. Over time, a tooth can break off and the reinforced nylon gears will eventually strip.
Gearless hub motors, on the other hand, have zero moving parts aside from their bearings, so there is basically nothing to wear out. As long as they don’t rust out or wear down their bearings, they can pretty much last forever.
Electric bicycle hub motors also help reduce other bike maintenance tasks compared to mid-drive motors. Since they don’t connect to the main pedal drive system, hub motors don’t add any extra stress to your chain or shifters, and don’t cause any of those parts to wear out more quickly. If anything, your chain will probably last longer than a non-electric bike because the hub motor will be doing more work, allowing your chain to often sit idle.
As an independent drive system, hub motors also add redundancy. Since the hub motor and the pedal drive system are completely independent, you can lose one and still get home on the other. Chain breaks while you’re hitting it hard on a trail? Toss the chain in your bag and ride home on just electric power. Hub motor somehow fails? Pedal back. Either way, you’ve got a backup. This can be huge if you’re far from home, especially for older riders or those who use e-biking as a form of rehabilitation.
The weight of a hub motor can both positively and negatively affect the balance of a bike, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, it can be nice to have the weight of a motor farther forward or backward in one of the wheels. This is especially true of e-bikes with rear mounted batteries. In such cases, a front hub motor can redistribute the weight so the center of gravity is still in the center of the bike.
Lastly, hub motors are much cheaper than mid-drives. Hub motor bikes are mass-produced by the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions depending on the factory. The same designs have been in constant use for over a decade in some cases. This means that the prices are astoundingly cheap.