An electric bicycle has three integral parts that are incorporated seamlessly in its design – an electric motor, a battery and a controller. This electrical trio provides enough pedal assist to the rider in order to overcome challenges with ease and traverse long distances without much exhaustion. They supplement the riding effort rather than replacing it.
The electric motor is one of the most important features in an electric bicycle. There are two types of motors that are chiefly used – hub motors and mid-drive motors. The hub motors, as the name suggests are placed in the hub(centre) of the wheel. The front hub motor is placed in the front wheel, giving propulsion by spinning it, thereby creating a sensation of being pulled forward. The rear hub motor is placed on the rear wheel, providing propulsion by spinning the back wheel, creating a ‘push’ effect to the rider.
A mid drive motor is incorporated in the centre of the frame and transfer power to the rear wheel through the bicycle’s drive train.
Choosing the right motor, depends largely on your requirements. Both the types of motors come with advantages and disadvantages; hence it is good to understand their uses better before deciding the right one for you.
|They are integrated in the front or rear wheel||They are incorporated in the centre of the bicycle|
|They provide propulsion by spinning the wheel, creating a ‘push’ or ‘pull’ effect||They transfer the power to the rear wheel through the chain drive|
|Ideal for flat terrains or small hilly areas||Ideal for all kinds of terrains from flat areas to steep hills|
|The weight of a hub motor can have both positive and negative effect on the balance of the bicycle, depending on circumstances||With the mid-drive motors, the centre of gravity is maintained at the centre of the bicycle, hence they provide good load balancing and stability|
|They are cheaper than mid-drive motors||They are slightly on the expensive price range|
|Since they are not connected to the drive train, they cause less stress to the chain or gears||Since they are connected to the drive train, they cause wear and tear of the chain. However, with a good quality chain in place, this problem can be minimised.|
|Changing tyres can be more difficult with hub motors. But since they are an independent system, they are low maintenance compared to mid-drive motors||Changing tyres is less of a hassle with mid drive motors.|
|They are not very efficient for going uphill||They are great for efficiency in any terrain and inclination|
|They rely on cadence sensors for pedal assist and can only regulate the motor speed based on pedal speed||They allow the use of torque sensors that can engage the pedal assist based on the pressure applied on the pedals|
|Good for city commutes, leisure rides They are incorporated in the centre of the bicycle||Good for city commutes, leisure rides, off-roading, mountain biking|
Mid drive motors were designed to overcome the shortcomings of hub motors. Of course, both the motors have their pros and cons. Choosing the right type depends on the requirements of the rider. If you are looking for a simple, reliable electric bicycle, with low maintenance for everyday commute, hub motors might be a good choice.
If you’re looking for a more efficient, lighter, unobtrusive motor for daily commute, off-roading mountain biking or riding on difficult terrains, mid-drive motors are the best choice.
Whatever be your choice, electric bicycles are fun! Get out there and ride away!