Hub-drive vs Mid-drive
Understanding the Difference in Motors
Type of motor may be a point of difference when you are shopping for an electric bike. It’s a question we get from time to time: What’s the difference between a hub-drive and mid-drive?
Companies that only sell mid-drive bikes want you to believe that they’re always the best option. “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Pedego offers both options and we believe, for most riders, the differences are not as significant as they’re ‘cranked’ up to be! Our philosophy is that the best electric bike is the one that’s the most fun, for you personally, to ride – regardless of the motor. Go for some test rides and see what you think!
But so that you have the info, here is a side-by-side comparison.
- Located at the rear of the bike (most often)
- Power the wheel axle directly – the motor speed is related to the rotation of the wheel
- Most hub motors have a cadence sensor to activate the drive which means the computer senses you are pedaling and smoothly turns on the motor at the level of power you select
- Simple and easy to use – seamlessly delivers power independently of shifter and pedaling so you can worry less about which gear you are in and more about riding
- Option of power on demand with a twist-and-go throttle
- Less maintenance because does put load on the drivetrain – simple and proven technology
- Most electric bikes in Canada are 500-Watt hub motors with higher power than a typical mid-drive
- More affordable
- Slightly heavier
- Most Pedego bikes feature hub-drive motors
- Hub-drives are inefficient at lower bike speeds (less than about 8kph) as the wheel speed slows down. Note this for technical mountain biking up a hill, for example.
- Located in middle of bike attached to the pedal cranks – integrated into the frame
- Powers the bike through the drivetrain – motor turns cranks and chainring to give power (pedal assist) – the speed of the motor is related to the pedal rotation, not the speed of the bike
- Power on demand throttles are not an option
- Activated by a torque sensor – how much power (and efficiency) you get depends how fast you are pedalling and how hard you are pushing on the pedals.
- It’s important to be in the correct gear when riding a mid-drive so you have to change gears more often
- Depending on programming, the shifting and ride may not feel as smooth – reminiscent of driving a car with a standard transmission
- Require more maintenance because mid-drive motors put a higher strain on chain, ring, derailleur, and cassette
- Popular in Europe where they are limited to 250 W and throttles are illegal
- Mid-drives are generally slower up hills, especially around town
- Required for technical mountain bikers as they need high efficiency/power at low bike speeds, and they can adjust the power with leg pressure (torque sensor).
- Good for “crawling” up a hill on a cargo bike with a big load at slow speed – pedals still rotating fast to keep motor efficient
- Motor weight is slightly lower for slightly better balance on technical bikes
- More expensive
- Slightly lighter
For most people, the quality of the ebike and how it fits you as a unique rider, are more important than whether your motor is hub- or mid-drive. When it makes a difference in performance is when you are at either end of the riding spectrum – a highly technical rider (who wants to control cadence with gear selection) or one who is quite inexperienced (who doesn’t want to be concerned with riding in correct gear). For most people, the quality of the ebike and how it fits you as a unique rider, are more important than whether your motor is hub- or mid-drive. When it makes a difference in performance is when you are at either end of the riding spectrum – a highly technical rider (who wants to control power with gears and the pedals) or one who is quite inexperienced (who doesn’t want to be concerned with riding in correct gear).
pedego hub-drive: Avenue
The new Pedego Avenue offers a sleek design and compact battery with a rear 500W hub-drive motor.
pedego mid-drive: Elevate V2
Pedego released its V2 of our full-suspension mountain bike in featuring a geared mid-drive motor, traditional for this style of riding.