When you start looking for an e-bike, there are some questions we often get asked: what is the difference between a mid-drive motor and a hub motor? And which one is best for me? Understanding how they help you go further, faster and easier is one thing, but knowing which one might be right for you is another. Here we give you the essential information you need to make an informed decision.
What is a mid-drive motor
Mid-drive motors are also called crank-drive motors because the motor is positioned right in the middle of the e-bike. It sits inside the cranks (the arms you attach to the pedals), and it applies force directly to the mechanical drive train - the traditional collection of parts that move a bike forward. Mid-drive motor adds to the pedaling force you put into the pedals. The motor reads this data and responds by offering extra power and applying it directly to the chain or belt which has the effect of pushing you harder.
Mid-drive Motor Pros
Mid-drive motors provide a more natural feeling
When you are riding an e-bike with mid-drive motor, it’s more like pedaling a regular bike. Mid-drive motors are more subtle in how they increase speed. This makes it less jerky. You'll also notice more power output and more drivetrain assist. That’s why e-bikes with mid-drive motors are ideal for enthusiasts who want very responsive pedal assist.
Mid-drive motors are easier to handle
The mid-drive motor is located in the middle, which lowers the rider's center of gravity and allows for better handling. Mid-drive motors tend to be lighter than hub drives. Both the engine and the battery are likely to be lighter. You will feel it easier to lift the bike than with hub-drive motors.
Mid-drive motors can climb steeper hills
Mid-drive motors drive the crank instead of the wheels, so they take advantage of the existing gears of the bicycle. This means with the same power and torque, an e-bike with a mid-drive motor will have a better performance when climbing a steep hill. More than that, mid-drive motors can climb steep hills for a longer time because mid-drive motors have better heat dissipation.
Mid-drive Motor Cons
Mid-drive motors are more expensive
Mid-drive motors require a specially designed frame to contain the motor, that’s why you can find mid-drive motors in more advanced models. More than that, mid-drive motors have more moving parts, so it requires a more complex process to manufacture. Compare to hub motors, mid-drive motors are harder on the chains and will wear them out faster. So mid-drive motors need higher-end chains or belts. All these facts increase the cost of mid-drive motors.
Mid-drive motors are difficult to repair, replace and retrofit
Mid-drive motors have more components and are sealed in specially-made frames. Installing a mid-drive motor or repairing it requires relatively high technology, you need to seek help from professionals. Sometimes you need to send the e-bike back to the manufacturer to repair the mid-drive motor.
What is a hub motor
A hub is a central component that helps the operation of the wheel. It is connected to the rim by spokes and rotates when the mounted chain pulls. You pedal a bicycle to spin the hub, which causes it to spin. However, a hub-drive motor uses electricity to spin the wheel even faster. There are two kinds of hub motors, front hub motor and rear hub motor. Since the front hub motors lack traction on dirt roads, sometimes the wheels spin on start-up. The rear hub motors are more widely used.
Hub Motor Pros
Hub motors are less expensive
Hub drive motors tend to be less expensive than mid drive motors because they are made with fewer parts and can be used interchangeably. And you will find it easier to maintain and repair.
Hub motors are easier to repair or maintain
Hub motors are relatively simply-designed and they are widely used. This means you can use one off the shelf on almost any bike, and move it from bike to bike if you upgrade your bike. More than that, hub motors are completely sealed, so they are impervious to wind, rain, snow, and sleet, requiring less maintenance.
Hub Motor Cons
Hub motors are less smooth when changing gears
The overall performance of a hub-drive motor and a mid-drive motor is the same on smooth, flat, city roads. There is a major difference when going uphill, especially when you need to change gears. If your ebike is equipped with a hub motor, switching gears may cause sudden jerks or bursts of loss of speed and disrupt your pedaling rhythm when going uphills.
Hub motors act more like “pushing” or “pulling” than “assisting”
Let’s take the rear hub as an example since it’s more widely used. Because the power comes from the rear wheels, you will feel that someone is pushing when you ride. This is certainly not as natural as the mid-drive motor whose power comes from the crank, along with your leg.
E-bikes with Crank Drive Motor
Magmove 700C has two models of bikes, both are equipped with a Bafang mid-drive motor. The motor has bigger traction compared to hub motors, and continues to output a large torque of 65Nm, generating strong kinetic energy. The only difference between them is the frame. The step-cross and step-through frames are designed for different genders, heights and needs, providing comfortable riding experiences for all people.
Bezior XF800 is a multi-purpose electric bike and the only Bezior e-bike equipped with a mid-drive motor. Compared to other Bezior e-bikes, which come with rear hub motors, Bezior XF800 has better front-rear balance and heat dissipation. With 26” fat tires and a 500W mid-drive motor, Bezior XF800 is a powerful e-bike when going uphill or riding on slippery loose terrains. The dual hydraulic braking and 250W motor make it ideal for off-road riding and city commuting.
Both Yadea YT300 and Yadea YS500 are equipped with 250W Okawa mid-drive motors. Yadea YT300 is a 20” 7-speed city e-bike, perfect for city cruising, commuting, short trip, shopping, and daily use. Yedea YS500 is a more advanced model, it has 27.5” wheels, lockable front fork hydraulic suspension, 13Ah battery and Shimano 9 gears. Although Yadea YT300’s battery is only 7.8Ah, it is a better choice for female riders because of the step-through frame and lighter weight. So which to buy is completely up to you.