The first time you ride an e-bike we can guarantee that your first hill climb will leave you grinning from ear to ear. That's because you're getting help from an electric drive system.
There are two types of drive system: hub-drive and mid-drive ebikes, and we often get asked which one is best.
While every pedal assist ebike operates in a similar way - turn it on, select power level, start pedalling - they aren't the same.
There are some big differences in how the motors and overall drive systems work between type (and even brand) and, therefore, in how they deliver power.
What is a 'Hub-Drive' and 'Mid-Drive'?
A 'Mid Drive' system is where the motor is in the middle of the ebike and integrated with the cranks. Like the Bosch one pictured below.
A 'Hub Drive' system is where the motor is in wheel, replacing the hub. See the pic of the Dyson ebike further below.
Which One is Best?
Rather than which one is ‘best’ the better question is which e-bike drive system is best suited to your needs?
As a general rule Mid Drive motors (or Crank drive motors as they are sometimes referred to) are more efficient than their hub drive counterparts. Therefore you tend to get a much bigger range from your battery.
Mid-drive motors also generate more torque. This is what helps hill climbing. When combined with the gearing on your bike, it means they are generally able to climb steeper hills.
When Bosch first released their CX motor in 2019 with 75Nm German-brand Haibike demonstrated how well it climbs in their promo video featuring a rider riding up an Olympic Ski Jump!
Bosch is currently considered the number 1 supplier of mid-drive systems for electric bikes. Bosch now offers five different drive systems, each with different levels of torque.
This way they can support the various e-bike categories ranging from relaxed city cruisers to high performance electric mountain bikes.
Shimano also feature in a number of brands eg. in Focus mountain bikes and other global drive systems such as Yamaha and Bafang are now widely available in Australia too.
The mid-drive motor systems are designed to make the power assistance feel very natural. This comes about through the inclusion of a torque sensor and some sophisticated surrounding tech.
Recommended read: The Tech That Makes EBikes Tick?
It is an intuitive and smooth power delivery that feels like you are a super strong rider rather than the strong push or pull that the hub motors deliver. If you are a keen cyclist already chances are you will prefer the feel of a mid-drive system…. Not always though!
The downside of mid drive bikes over hub drive motors is that they usually cost more to buy due to the extra technology in the motors and displays.
Should You Buy a Hub-Drive Electric Bike?
We still sell just as many hub drive e-bikes as mid-drives and brands such as Orbea, for example, have recently released very sophisticated lightweight hub drive ebikes which are proving to be extremely popular.
One big advantage of the hub-drives is their strong power delivery, regardless of the effort you are putting in.
This makes them very popular for those looking for the 'no-sweat' commute as the way the power is delivered means you can get away with doing very little work if you want. Great if you are riding in to work in your work clothes and don't want to get hot and sweaty.
There can be some extra maintenance with hub-drives over the long term, those with the bigger motors, however these drive systems have been around for decades.
If you look after it and get it serviced regularly you should have an ebike that will last just as long as a mid-drive ebike.
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