Mid-Drive eBikes vs. Hub-Drive eBikes: Comparative Advantages for Electric Bike Shoppers
There’s a lot of talk about eBikes these days, and one of the most common questions we hear is “What’s the difference between hub-drive bikes and those with mid-drives?” Which is better?
The short answer is that both designs have their advantages. The longer answer is below.
Basic Differences between Mid-Drive and Hub-Drive eBikes
Hub motors are typically placed on the rear wheel, although front hub versions are also sometimes used. Mid-drive motors are placed between the pedals.
Distance on a Charge: Advantage Mid-Drive eBikes
Generally, if a mid-drive bike and a hub-drive bike had the same sized battery, the mid-drive bike will get noticeably better range – or total miles per charge.
The reason is that the power from the mid-drive motor goes through the chain and then the rear sprockets, which can multiply the energy to travel farther per pedal stroke. In many cases, bike makers with hub-drives choose a larger (and a bit more expensive) battery to offer competitive range – but this also makes those bikes a bit heavier.
Wear on Chain / Sprockets: Advantage Hub-Drive eBikes
On a hub-drive, when the motor activates it drives the tire directly, thus not stressing the chain and sprockets any more than a conventional bike. So, the chain and sprockets last as long, or longer, than those on a conventional bike.
The mid-drive system runs all the power through the chain and sprockets and those components wear a little faster than on a conventional bike.
Weight Distribution & Handling: Advantage Mid-Drive eBikes
On a mid-drive, the extra weight of the motor is placed in the center of the bike, and fairly low. This improves the overall balance and handling of the bike. For highly technical riding, such as robust mountain biking, this is preferred.
That said, for many styles of biking, such as commuting or cruising, having the extra weight of the motor in the rear of the bike is not that noticeable when the weight of the rider is factored in.
Twist Throttle (or Full Electric): Advantage Hub-Drive eBikes (usually)
A throttle allows the rider to make the bike go without pedaling at times. This is useful to get the bike moving from a standstill, particularly headed up a hill. For some riders, with an injury and/or limited mobility, this can be vital. For others, it can simply make bicycling more enjoyable.
In general, it’s more common to see a throttle on bikes with hub-drives. While not universal, today it is less common to see a twist throttle on a mid-drive system – most are pedal-assist only.
Flat Repair & Other Maintenance: Advantage Mid-Drive eBikes
Fixing flats and most common maintenance tasks on a mid-drive bike are essentially the same as on a conventional bike. Whereas fixing a flat on the tire of a hub-drive bike (the tire on hub-drive wheel) takes extra time.
The reason is that the motor wiring will need to be disconnected, and perhaps some other adjustments made, when removing and reinstalling the wheel with the hub motor. It’s usually not a huge deal, but it may take an additional 5-15 minutes to fix that flat.’
Should I Buy a Mid-Drive or Hub-Drive Electric Bike?
In the end, the style of riding you enjoy may guide to one drive system over the other. We encourage you to come into our shop and test ride a variety of different models before deciding on either type. We’re always here to further assist and help you make the right choice!