Electric Bike Motors – Hub Motor or Mid Drive

There are 2 types of motors for an electric bike I want to talk about. There are others such as the friction motor. But these 2 types are the most common.

One is the Hub motor that is typically in the rear tire. Many of the hub motors in the front tire are installed with an electric conversion kit. An advantage to a hub motor is that if your drive train breaks you can still ride home using the hub motor because the wheel is driven directly.

Hub motors are very reliable and mostly maintenance free. This type of motor normally tops out at 20 mph. Doesn’t sound like much, but it feels fast when you’re on the bike! Hub motored bikes feel like they have more zip. And are great because the motor does much of the work for you.

The other electric bike motor is the mid drive motor. This one is located in the center of the frame. Unlike the hub motor, you have to pedal harder to go faster.

The location of the motor determines the capability of the bike and how it operates.

Rear Hub Motor Electric Bike
Rear Hub Motor Electric Bike

Hub Motors – Rear

Rear hub motors are fairly unnoticeable since it looks like large bike hub. This is the more common of the hub motors. They can accommodate both pedal assist and a throttle. Many bikes offer both.

A rear hub motor feels more like a typical motorbike. This is because you’re being pushed rather than pulled. But at travel speed, it’s barely noticeable.

Front Hub Motor Electric Bike
Front Hub Motor Electric Bike

Hub Motors – Front

The front hub motor is the simplest in design. They are typically only used with a throttle because they not part of the drive train. There are some bikes that use a front hub motor and pedal assist but it’s not typical. The front hub motor is mostly used in a conversion kit application.

Mid Drive Motors

Mid-drive motors are also called crank drive motors.  This is because they directly power the crank drive. A mid drive motor is mounted between your pedals. Right in the middle of the bike. One advantage to this is you’ll keep your center of gravity. One disadvantage? If you break your chain, you won’t be riding home – you’ll be pushing that bad boy home.

I’ve found some other disadvantages that sway me from a mid-drive motor.

  • They are sealed. If anything fails you’d have to replace the whole thing.
  • The most important drawback – they are limited by the strength of the chain and the sprocket. Sprockets and bike chains weren’t designed for motorized use. Because of this, the power has to be kept low.
  • Count on a mid-drive motor to lead to increased maintenance on the drive chain. This includes all cogs and sprockets.


So there are some of the points to help understand the difference between the types of electric bike motors. No matter which type of motor you choose – you’ll find an ebike is a blast to ride. And like it happens – you’ll be crazy about ebikes!


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