mid drive motors or hub motors

What sort of motor do you want for your electric bicycle: mid-drive or hub?  Choosing the right setup can make a big difference when it comes to affordability, ease of use, riding comfort and power.


While there are several differences between select electric bike motors, there are some things  are going to be constant. Motor power is measured in watts. The more wattage, the more power, making it easier to climb hills and shoot along trails. Most bike brands will usually offer motors in the 200 to 600 watt range, with low end models occasionally offering even less power, and very high performance bicycles occasionally offering more.

High wattage bikes will of course tend to eat up your battery life, so those sort of bikes are usually accompanied by a larger battery, offering you more capacity for longer bike riding. The truth is, you’ll likely get these different wattage options no matter which type of ebike motor you choose. And so that real motor question is, do you want a “hub” motor or a “mid-drive” motor?


The classic e-bicycle setup has a rear hub motor.  As such, they are tried and true, making them the most affordable option, as well as the one that most bike shops will be familiar with, should a traditional bike salesperson be advising you.

As it is attached to the back wheel, the rider will feel the sensation of being “pushed,” as the motor propels the bicycle by turning the rear tire.

A newer variant on the hub motor is the front hub setup. This essentially swaps out your lead wheel, which is not hooked into your gearing and drivetrain, with a self contained motor and battery system. Because this setup is so self contained, it has led to some new developments in recent years, such as electric “smart wheels” that let you convert a pre-existing bicycle into an electric one.

Not only does this let you be green by using an existing bicycle, it also saves you some green, as these conversion kits offer good value for the amount of power they’re delivering.


If hub motors are the economical option, think of mid-drive motors as the “upgraded” option. You’ll be paying a bit moreextra, but you’ll be getting a lot more for your money. Instead of being “pushed” or “pulled,” the motor is in the middle of the bicycle, giving you a neutral ride with a lower center of gravity. This gives more stable handling, which most riders prefer.

Additionally, the mid-drive takes better advantage of your bike’s components, as the motor drives the crank, as opposed to the wheel itself. This lets the motor use any of your bike’s gears, offering the rider more torque and increased performance.

While not every brand’s offerings with be equal, top manufacturers’ mid-drive motors should also offer easy maintenance and repairs. Simply slip out a bolt or two and you, or almost any bike shop, can perform troubleshooting/repairs. A rear wheel hub, on the other hand, can complicate even simple tasks like changing a flat.


Different motors will be good for different riders. A front wheel conversion kit is good for those that already have a great bike frame that they’d like to enhance to an electric one, while keeping the convenience of being able to swap and repair tyres easily. Plus, you get an “all wheel drive” setup, where the motor pulls from the front wheel, while your legs power the back.

Got a tight budget? Then rear wheel hubs are perfect for you, as you’ll have a broad selection of entry level ebikes to choose from. There are of course, some trade offs: trickier riding down hills and on curves and more cumbersome setup for repairs.

Those looking for the smoothest and strongest ride should choose a mid-drive bicycle, as they not only give you a more balanced center of gravity, but they work with your bike’s gearing system for best performance. While they may be a bit more expensive, the cost differential has really dropped as leading manufacturers have dramatically lowered their prices.