Mid-Drive vs. Hub Motor: Which is Right for You?

Mid-Drive vs. Hub Motor: Which is Right for You? - GOTRAX

The most important part of any electric bike is its motor: without such a critical component, an e-bike is really just a regular bike. But not all e-bike motors are created—or placed—quite the same. There are two main e-bike motor placements: a hub motor and a mid-drive motor. Each one has their pros and cons, so today, we’re looking at the biggest differences between both motor types to help you determine which is best for you. 

The Pros of a Mid-Drive Motor

A shot of a woman riding the GOTRAX MX1 Mid Drive Electric Bike with a rear rack and superior hill performance.

There are a number of things to love about a mid-drive e-bike, so let's take a look at just a few.

Balance

Motors are heavy components, so their placement has a noticeable impact on the balance and handling of the bike. Hub motors lie in the wheel of the bike, so they concentrate all of their weight on one end of your ride, which is usually the rear. Mid-drive motors, on the other hand, sit in the center of the bike near the pedals, so their weight is distributed more toward the lower middle area of the bike. This better resembles a more traditional bike, so rides on a mid-drive feel more smooth and natural. Hub motors are still perfectly capable of taking on all kinds of riding situations, but thanks to their superior balance, mid-drive motors offer improved handling on tougher rides.

Weight

Besides their affect on the distribution of the bike's weight, mid-drive and hub motors also tend to have different impacts on the total weight of the bike itself. Mid-drive motors are typically lighter than hub motors, which can make mid-drive e-bikes surprisingly light. Of course, the motor isn't the only component that impacts a bike's weight, so some mid-drive e-bikes, especially those meant for off-roading, can still be heavier than a lightweight e-bike with a hub motor. But if you're looking for a capable ride that's still relatively easy to haul around, you'll want to consider picking up a mid-drive.

Efficiency

Mid-drive and hub motors don’t supply power to the same place. Mid-drive motors channel their energy directly to the bike’s chain, just like pedaling would, while hub motors work on moving the bike’s wheel. This makes mid-drive motors far more efficient, giving them better performance, especially on hills. It also gives them a drastically increased range, letting them travel much farther than their counterparts with the same battery capacity. Our MX1, for example, has an 82 mile range, the longest of any of our e-bikes.

The Pros of a Hub Motor

A woman riding the GOTRAX Tundra fat tire electric bike with a 750 watt hub motor and a torque sensor.

Mid-drives are great for a number of riding situations, but there are still plenty of reasons why you would want to pick up a hub motor e-bike instead. 

Complexity

While mid-drive motors offer a number of advantages when it comes to performance, they’re also more difficult to repair. Mid-drive bikes have more moving parts, which will require more maintenance over time. Hub motors bikes, meanwhile, are fairly easy to repair and maintain, and will tend to require less maintenance overall.

Cost

There's one more key area where mid-drives differ from hub motors: the frame. Mid-drive motors often require specially-designed frames to accommodate them. Hub motors, meanwhile, are easier to make frames for, as their motors lie in the wheels, not the frame. Due to the challenges of both manufacturing and repairing mid-drive e-bikes, they tend to cost more than their rear-hub counterparts.

Which Should You Buy?

A shot of a woman standing with the GOTRAX MX1 Mid-Drive eBike with an 82 mile range and pneumatic tires.

Riders should really consider their biking needs when picking which motor type to look into. For riders making shorter trips on flatter ground or who need something simple and portable, a bulkier, higher-performing mid-drive e-bike may be far more than they need. For those seeking the ultimate e-biking experience through steep hills and all kinds of terrain, however, a mid-drive offers a number of advantages that make it worth the increase in price.

Whether you’re looking for a high-performing, long range ride or a more casual commuter e-bike, we have the micro-mobility vehicle for you. Be sure to check out our electric bike lineup to see what options we have for both mid-drive and hub motor e-bikes. No matter what or where you ride, just remember to stay safe, follow local rules and regulations, and always wear a helmet!

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