Electric bikes are one of the fastest-growing modes of transportation, and it's easy to see why. They help riders go faster, farther, and farther. Due to their popularity, riders can choose from a variety of styles, motors and price points according to their needs. Motor positioning and how it affects performance is one of the most discussed topics when shopping for an electric bike. It's important to understand the difference between the two main types of motor positioning: mid-drive vs. hub motors.
The mid drive motor gets its name from its location on the bike. Located in the middle of the bike frame, near the bottom bracket where the cranks are attached. The mechanics required to coordinate motor power with pedals and shifting are a bit more complicated than a hub system, and the correct gear is more important when riding an e-bike with a mid drive motor.
Depending on the programming, shifting may not feel as smooth as an e-bike with a hub motor. For example, if you are not pedaling with smooth, even pressure, you may experience a surge in power while riding.
Some people prefer mid drive motors, and in some cases, they definitely make sense. Avid mountain bikers prefer a mid drive motor for technical riding, as the center of gravity is in the lower middle of the bike, which is preferable on technical trails. The ability to better control the traction of the motor is also great for the varied terrain encountered when mountain biking, especially when climbing hills.
The hub motor is located on the rear (or sometimes the front) hub of the e-bike. It is completely sealed and self-contained and requires no additional maintenance. In-wheel motors deliver power seamlessly where and when it's needed, independent of your pedaling and shifting efforts. Overall, the hub motor ends up being smoother because you don't have to worry about shifting too much, or maintaining proper chain tension.
In general, in-wheel motors have proven to be more reliable and durable. Even if your hub motor fails, in most cases you can still get home on a normal bike. Conversely, a malfunctioning mid-motor drive system or bike drivetrain means you're stuck with a bike that probably won't move. Performance-wise, it doesn't matter for casual riders or city commuters, as the differences are relatively minor. After a month or so, whether you have a hub motor or a mid drive electric motor, you'll get used to it and ride without having to think about sensors and motors. We recommend that you take both types of motors out for a test drive to see which one you prefer.