E-bike Motors: Comparing Mid-drive, Hub-drive and Ultra-drive

One of the most instrumental choices you’ll make when selecting an e-bike is opting for either a mid-drive or hub motor design. This guide expounds upon the key contrasts between the two types of e-bike motors. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of the pros and cons of hub-drive motors, mid-drive motors, and ultra-drive motors in areas such as value, handling, performance, range, and ride quality.

Mid-Drive Motors vs. Hub-Drive Motors: Pros and Cons

Understanding Mid Drive Motors

The mid-drive motor is strategically placed in the center of the e-bike, sitting inside the cranks and applying force directly to the drive train. This added force from the motor amplifies the pedaling power you provide, making it easier to ride the bike more efficiently. Plus, the mid-drive motor is able to read data and adapt accordingly, applying extra power to the belt, thus making it easier to pedal.

Pros
  • More range: Mid-drive e-bikes provide an uplifting 10-15 miles more range than hub motor models.
  • Improved handling: The strategic motor placement provides a more composed riding experience.
  • Improved Ride Quality: E-bikes with a mid-drive system employ torque sensors to provide a steady power supply. 
  • Better Climbing Proficiency: You can simply use the shifter's lower position for easier climbing.
  • Enhanced Performance: E-bikes with mid-drive motors are more efficient at accelerating and climbing, and have a greater top speed. 
  • Greater Efficiency: The gears keep the motor running at its maximum RPM.
  • Safer- The likelihood of a frame breaking is much lower.
  • Lighter: Mid-drive motors are 2 to 10 pounds lighter than hub motors.
Cons
  • Frequent Maintenance: Mid-drive motors put a strain on the drivetrain parts
  • More Expensive: E-bikes with a mid-drive start at about $2,000. Additionally, maintenance costs are higher.
  • No throttle Control: Most mid-drive e-bikes need pedaling.

Understanding Hub-Drive Motors

A hub is a key element that aids in the movement of the wheel. It spins when the mounted chain pulls and is attached to the rim via spokes. A hub-drive motor accelerates the wheel's rotation using electricity. Hub-drive motors come in two varieties: front hub motors and rear hub motors. The wheels often spin while starting up on sandy roads because the front hub motors have poor grip. More people utilize rear hub motors than front ones.

Pros
  • Less Expensive: E-bikes with hub drive motors typically cost between $600 and $1,200 less than those with mid-drive. It's also less expensive to maintain.
  • Lower maintenance: A hub drive motor spares the bike's drivetrain from damage.
  • Reliable: Hub-drive motors contain fewer moving components than other types of motors. They are also redundant.
  • Regenerative braking: Some hub motors can charge the battery by converting movement into power.
  • Many e-bike options: It's much easier to find a hub-motor e-bike model.
  • Throttle control: You can ride a hub-drive motor e-bike without pedaling.
Cons
  • Less range: Typically, hub-drive motor ebikes have a range of between 25 and 30 miles.
  • Poor Handling: The positioning of the motor on a hub motor e-bike can make it feel either front- or rear-heavy.
  • Noticeable Lag in Power Delivery: Typically, cadence sensors are used with hub-drive motors. These might be sluggish.
  • Have no gears: Hub-drive motors are unable to utilize the bike's gears.
  • Heavier- Hub-drive motors are between 10 and 20 pounds in weight.
  • Less climbing proficiency: Gearing down is not possible when climbing. Hub motors might overheat and feel weak on steep slopes or hills.
  • Less safe: hub-drive motors can cause dropout or fork failure.
  • Inferior performance: Hub-drive motor e-bikes cannot accelerate as quickly, climb as effectively, or achieve as high a maximum speed.
  • Less efficient: There is only one speed on the motor. You are unable to change your gear.

Discover Ultra Drive Motors

In the world of mid-drive motors, the Ultra motor is often regarded as the "diesel engine." No plastic here, just metal. The Ultra motor is the world's most competent, long-lasting, and energy-efficient motor thanks to its heavy-duty gearing and integrated torque sensor.

Your speed, cadence, shift, brake, and torque sensors continuously send feedback to the motor. This ensures that the motor is capable of delivering exactly what you want. You get a ride that seems extremely natural, even if it has a lot of torque and power.

Visit Lets-E-Bike to learn more about the different types of drive motors and find your best fit.