Hub drive vs mid drive, is one better than the other?

When choosing an electric bike conversion kit, people often wonder whether they should choose a hub drive conversion kit or a mid drive conversion kit. The decision should be based on several factors, which is why we will outline the pros and cons of both types to help you make an informed decision.

When comparing aspects of products like top speed and longevity of the components, there is not a lot of difference between hub drives and mid drives. The top speed of similarly rated hub drive and mid drive motors is basically the same when comparing wattage. Additionally, in our experience, there isn’t a lot of difference between hub drives and mid drives when it comes to the longevity of components. Over the years we haven’t seen that one design degrades faster than the other. Generally speaking, reliability is very similar for both kinds of power trains.

In terms of balance and handling, the mid drive kit installs in the bottom bracket, which is closer to the rider. This limits the polar moment of inertia compared to a front or rear hub installation. In real world use however, it’s often very difficult to tell the difference. Placement of the battery is more crucial than the position of the motor on the bicycle to be converted.

A nice aspect of mid drive motors is the torque; Mid drive motors are connected to your existing gearing, making them capable of very high levels of torque. Mid drive torque performance excels on hills or with heavier loads. With mid drive kits, the pedal assist sensor (PAS) and controller are part of the motor unit, so they can look neater compared to a hub drive kit with a separate controller and PAS. Mid drives are however more expensive than hub drives, so they might not be for the budget-conscious customer. People generally find them more involved to install than hub drives, so if you’re not very comfortable working on a bike or with bicycle components, it might not be the best choice. Lastly, mid drive motors are more difficult to repair and work on, compared to a hub drive motor which is more easily accessible.

The great thing about hub drives is that they’re easier to install and they’re cheaper without compromising on quality, meaning you get more bang for your buck. Because the hub drive motors sit in the wheel, some people find that they affect the balance of the bike, but our newest geared hub drives are small, powerful, and light so they don’t have that much of an effect on the balance. Customers are also usually surprised to learn that the heaviest part of the motor actually doesn’t spin inside the motor wheel. The stator (which contains the motor windings) is stationary so does not contribute to any unwanted gyroscopic forces on the wheel. Our newest hub drive kits also have an integrated controller which is part of the battery cradle. This makes the setup neater and very streamlined. Looking at maintenance and repair, the hub drive motors are more straightforward to work on and the internal components are relatively easy to replace. We’ve seen hub motors with over 10,000km that have only needed a re-grease and they’re good for another 10,000km!

Hub drive motors can also be used for different kinds of setups, such as vehicles that aren’t traditional bicycles with chains. For instance, we have seen customers use our hub drive kits to help electrify wheelchairs, trolleys, and trailers. The final thing to keep in mind is that some bikes are better suited to a specific kit. For instance a bike with thru-axles would not be compatible with a hub drive kit, while the compatibility with mid drive kits depends on the bottom bracket dimensions. So when making your decision, consider your bike, your budget, and your requirements.