Hub Drive versus Mid Drive Motors on Electric Bikes

As you start shopping around on the hunt for your first electric bike one thing you may notice is that some bikes tout a hub drive motor while others utilize a mid drive motor. In this blog we will go over the differences between these two systems and why you may want one over the other. 

At a glance it is pretty easy to see where each type of motor gets its name. The hub drive is located in the hub of a wheel, usually the back but sometimes the front and sometimes in both the front and rear hub! On the other hand a mid drive motor is located in the middle of the electric bike where the pedals come out. 

Other than the location of the bike there are some key differences that you will want to take into account when deciding which kind of motor is right for you. So let’s get into some specific pro’s and con’s of both types of motors.

  • Hub drive motors tend to be cheaper than comparable mid drive motors.
  • If you are trying to retro fit a bike, this will be much easier with a hub drive.
  • Many people feel that a hub drive looks more subtle and thus the bike looks better. Of course this is somewhat a matter of opinion. 
  • A hub drive bike will still work without a chain as long as the bike has a throttle. This means that if your chain snaps you won’t be stranded.
  • Can be harder to remove that wheel in the case of a flat. There may also be wires that will need to be disconnected.
  • Will be balanced differently because the weight is far to the back or front depending on which hub has the motor.

Mid Drive Motor Electric Bike

  • Mid drive motors will typically output far more torque compared to hub drives with the same power output
  • Typically handle better with the weight of the motor centered on the bike. This is especially important when going off roads.
  • Since the mid drive motor is driving the front chain ring you are able to utilize your rear gears more effectively.
  • A bike frame typically has to be designed around a mid drive motor. It is often quite difficult to retrofit a bike with a mid drive motor. 
  • Mid drive motors tend to be more expensive than comparable hub drive motors.
  • Mid drive motors can put more stress on the chain. This is especially true if the rider is incorrectly utilizing the gears or is climbing a steep hill.

As with many types of competing technologies, there isn’t a one size fits all, cut and dry answer to the mid drive vs hub drive debate. It depends on what you value in a motor and how much money you have to spend on an eBike. 

With that said, I personally tend to favor mid drive motors. I like the fact that you can get more torque. I also appreciate that you are still able to utilize your rear gears in conjunction with the power of the motor. Finally, I like the way that they feel and I have yet to snap a chain while using a mid drive. However on the off chance I do, I always carry an extra chain or quick links. 

Do you prefer one type of motor over the other? Let us know why in the comments. If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to us, we are always happy to talk bikes!