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  • Ryan Hersh

Start your engines: Hub Motors vs Mid-drive


One question that I get asked all the time is, "It seems that the industry is offering more mid-drive models nowadays, why is EDISON still rolling with the HUB motors?" There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both setups. Let's talk about the mid-drive 1st. The motor is positioned where the crank is, this allows you to make use of the mechanical advantage offered by your gears. This is great for 2 reasons: Torque, you could climb a mountain in 1st gear. Efficiency, additional gearing can help conserve range in certain environments. The final added benefit is the rear wheel can have a quick release. If you get a flat, it's easier to change on the fly. "Sounds great Ryan. I wan't a mid-drive now." Not so fast pal, let's talk about cons. Remember how I said that the motor is on the crank? Well now you got a motor plus whatever your legs are packing, putting GOBs of power into a drive-train that's not designed for it. There are no ebike specific derailleurs and freewheels out there - you'll be replacing drive-train components all the time, which is okay if your rich. Riding experience is different too. Yes you can climb a mountain in 1st gear, but your top speed in 1st gear is 6mph. You REALLY have to be cognizant of what gear your in - every time you stop, you have to downshift, oh wanna get up to speed? Click, click, click (hang on guys, I'll be there in a minute) click, you get the point. Also, you can't roll mid-drives backwards. Just a small gripe but it's worth mentioning. There's a lot of moving parts with a mid-drive, which to me says that there's more stuff to break. Which brings me to my last con, they are EXPENSIVE to buy and EXPENSIVE to fix!


"Ryan, I hate mid-drives, feed me your wisdom on HUBs". Thought you'd never ask. Hub motors are great because they do not require maintenance. They are waterproof, totally sealed from the scary world outside. AND because they are sealed, they are self-lubricating. In most cases, the motor will outlast the rest of the bike. They just work dude. Also, moving the motor to the rear isolates the motor from the rest of the drive-train. Your chain, derailleur, and freewheel will last much longer. The riding experience is more predictable and there is less of a learning curve to ride. If you don't wanna shift gears, be my guest and mash the throttle. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the cons. Hub motors have internal gears that can either accelerate well or have a high top speed. We worked very hard to choose a gear ratio that straddles both qualities and suites our urban (hilly) topography. Changing a flat is a little more cumbersome as a 19mm wrench is necessary.


"Ryan, how do I choose?". It REALLY comes down to what are you buying an e-bike for? If I were to go crush some single-track mountain bike trails, I'm gonna want to take advantage of the gears and go with a mid-drive. If I'm commuting or just darting around the city, give me a hub motor. They are affordable, less complex, and FAST.


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