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Hub-Drive vs. Mid-Drive eBikes

Hub-Drive vs.

The fast-growing industry of electric bikes offers cyclists a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the eBike that suits one’s riding style. A big advantage of electric bikes, and the reason why they are so popular is their versatility. EBikes ability to assist the rider when it is needed is by far their main strength.

The most searched terms on the internet are no longer phrases like “should I buy an eBike?” The most searched phrases are surrounding what type of eBike one should buy. The question of whether to buy a hub-drive or a mid-drive eBike is an important one.

In this article, we’ll have a detailed look into the differences between two big eBike categories: hub-drive and mid-drive motors. Since the entire bike is often built specifically for the type of motor, we will also refer to them as hub-drive vs mid-drive eBikes.

What is a hub-drive eBike?

Hub-drive eBikes are exactly what they sound like, the motor is in the center of the wheel hub and drives the wheel itself. Force is generated inside the hub-motor which then turns the wheel propelling the eBike forward. The hub is attached to a chain or belt by the gears and connected to the sprocket and pedals. Upon turning the pedals sensors calculate how much force is needed to match the pressure being applied to assist the rider. The more pedal assistance requested the more the motor will work to help. The motor can be in the front or rear wheel of the eBike, though the more common practice is in the rear.

Riding a hub-drive electric bike can feel quite different than a traditional bicycle. While many of the most powerful motors are hub-drive, they can take some getting used to. A front-hub motor will have the feeling that you are being pulled forward by the force of the motor. Most front-hub eBikes don’t have very powerful motors in them because a lot of bikes aren’t designed to handle torque in the front wheel. A rear-hub motor will have the feeling of being pushed forward. These motors tend to be some of the most powerful in the industry and are highly sought after by some consumers. 

The hyper-intelligent Delfast Top 3.0i with rear-hub motor has been given the title of fastest eBike of 2022 by Forbes at 50 MPH and has the longest range in class at a whopping 232 miles. Offroad mountain bikers and trail riders have flocked to it because of its power, durability, intelligence, and range. Commuters love it because of its ability to travel so far between charges. 

The sensitivity of the motor to your pedaling depends on the eBike model, the sensors installed, or the algorithm in use. Some eBikes measure the power multiple times per pedal movement to precisely adjust the force to be applied. The Top 3.0i has sensors to measure your pedal power and instantly adjust for a smooth and continuous feel.

Front-hub eBikes tend to operate on a simpler level. They calculate the force given by the rear wheel and adjust the power to the front wheel to pull the bike forward. The best front-hub motors give just enough power to balance out the rider’s effort. It’s important to note that most front-hub eBikes are not as powerful as their rear-hub cousins. Most bikes frames and forks are not specifically designed to be pulled by the front hub, so the structural integrity can be compromised. 

There are not many front-hub eBikes being manufactured at a large scale. Many front-hub eBikes on the road are traditional bikes that have been modified by their owners to accept a front-hub motor. It takes quite a bit of practice to get used to the feeling of a front-hub motor. Since the weight of a rider is centered over the middle/rear of the bike a front-hub motor can feel squirrely on uphill rides or when starting from a complete stop. As with mid-drive eBikes, some front-hub eBikes use sensors to calculate the force needed while others use an algorithm to relate the amount of force needed.

What is a mid-drive eBike?

Mid-drive electric bikes have their motor installed in the middle of the bike, at the lowest part of the frame and between the pedals. Force is generated inside the hub and transfers power through the chain or belt to the back wheel. Since the motor resides in the center of the bike most people report a smoother pedal feel like that of a traditional bicycle. 

Known for their versatility and ease of use, mid-drive eBikes are becoming more popular as the cost of production continues to go down. Mid-drive motors can save more energy as they quickly adapt to your pedaling using accurate pressure and motion sensors. This is also what help to create the smooth pedal feel.

Most new eBike models being released are mid-drive motor eBikes. The popularity has surged in those everyday riders who want a smooth commute to work, but also with specialty bikes for specific sports. The balance that can be achieved means a well-round eBike that feels comfortable in control.

Delfast just debuted its mid-drive eBike, the Delfast California. It has a 750W mid-drive motor, with a peak of 1000W, and a commuter range of 100 miles on a single charge. Check out the indiegogo page as well to sign up for the latest news, be among the first to order, and receive substantial discounts. The true California commuter is turning heads with its stylish first-in-the-industry U-frame, street stunner tri-spoke wheels, and hyper-intelligent onboard computer.

The difference in use

The main differences to consider when looking at hub-drive vs mid-drive eBikes are their performance vs pedal feel. Which one you gravitate towards, and ultimately decide to purchase will depend on what aspects of each are most important to you. Let’s look at our two popular models of eBike: one a hub-drive motor and the other a mid-drive motor.

The Delfast Top 3.0i rear hub-drive eBike has a very distinct feel when off on the trail, like that of a motorcycle. Offroad enthusiasts and those commuters with a taste for adventure are drawn to it. The rear-hub motor means a quick transfer of power that instills confidence that you will instantly get the power and torque you need when you want it. The unlimited mode gives the full power of the motor to you and the throttle in the peak 5000W that reaches speeds of 50 MPH. 

The Delfast California has power that feels graceful and balanced. The 750W mid-drive motor is fast off the line but has a smooth pedal feel that feels constantly under your control. The motor and battery are optimally positioned in the center of the bike at the base of the U-frame to create a perfectly balanced ride. It has perfectly balanced style to match your own and 100 miles of range.

We wish you all the luck in choosing that perfect eBike for you. See you on the road.

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