Mid-drive vs. rear-hub motors for e-bikes

|Know-How

Find out how mid-drive motors and rear-hub motors differ, and which e-bike motor is best suited to your riding style. Learn more in the online magazine!

Mid-drive vs. rear-hub motor

Which e-bike motor should you get?

What’s the best e-bike motor for your needs? Is it the mid-drive or rear-hub motor – or maybe even a front-hub motor? In your search for the answer, you should ask yourself a few more questions, namely: Which e-bike do you want to ride, on which routes, and what are your personal preferences in terms of terrain? 

Simplon will take you on a quick journey into the world of e-bike motors. We’ll explain why the mid-drive motor is an allrounder, and why a rear-hub motor is not very suitable for e-mountain bikes.

The mid-drive motor: the most common type of e-bike motor

As its name suggests, a mid-drive motor is mounted close to the centre of the e-bike, and that’s already its first advantage over a rear-hub motor. The motor’s central position means it distributes the weight evenly between the front and rear wheel. Compared to a rear-hub motor, the handling and riding dynamics feel much more “natural” and balanced. During jumps and when riding over steps, for instance, nothing weighs down the rear wheel.

The motor sits at the crank behind the bottom bracket, which is why it’s often also called a bottom bracket motor. The mid-drive motor requires a special frame that accommodates the entire motor block. 
 

Advantages of a mid-drive motor 

  • Its positioning near the crank provides optimal weight distribution and a low centre of gravity, making the bike’s handling more agile.
  • The mid-drive motor reacts quickly to changing riding behaviour. The reason for this is the mid-drive motor’s sensor system, which is located right at the crank. If the rider pedals harder, the mid-drive motor responds immediately.
  • Flexible choice of gears: Both derailleur gears and hub gears are possible with a mid-drive motor.
  • The proximity of the motor and battery allows for short cabling. 

Conclusion: a motor for every terrain

The mid-drive motor is definitely the allrounder among e-bike motors. Its characteristics make it suitable for both e-mountain bikes and e-trekking bikes.

Simplon e-bikes with mid-drive motor

Most Simplon e-bikes and e-MTBs are equipped with mid-drive motors. The ones we use are Performance Line, Performance Line CX and Active Line Plus by Bosch. Thanks to powerful propulsion, high-end sensor technology and no annoying background noise, these motors are quite impressive and a great choice for most riders.

The rear-hub motor: for a sporty riding feel

The rear-hub motor sits on the rear wheel of the bike. That’s also where its forces act. The bike feels like it’s being pushed from behind, which gives it a sporty riding feel. The rear-hub motor uses derailleurs with three chainrings, which ensures a wide range of gear ratios. 

Advantages of a rear-hub motor

  • When cycling downhill and in its most efficient mode, the motor supplies power and can recuperate, i. e. recover energy to recharge the battery. 
  • In contrast to the mid-drive motor, the rear-hub motor takes stress off the chain and thus causes less wear. 
  • Rear-hub motors are usually very quiet.

The perfect drive for flat terrain

Rear-hub drives are mainly used on flat to undulating and slightly hilly terrain. That’s where the rear-hub motor unleashes its full potential and where it provides strong propulsion – enough to transport loads.

E-mountain bikes and rear-hub motors, on the other hand, are unlikely to become friends. Especially on long steep climbs, these motors overheat faster or don’t provide enough support. The heavy weight of the rear-hub motor also negatively affects the bike’s off-road performance.

Simplon bikes with rear-hub motors

Simplon’s Kagu Neodrives, Kiaro Pmax and Inissio Pmax are equipped with rear-hub motors. With the Neodrives system on the Kagu Neodrives and the powerful 621-Wh battery, even long tours become a piece of cake.

The Inissio Pmax is a motor-powered gravel bike whose drive assists the rider only when needed: The hub motor by Ebikemotion provides support at speeds of up to 25 km/h. 

By the way: When it comes to the battery, it's not only its position on the bike that matters. Find out how to look after your e-bike battery!
 

Choosing the right e-bike motor

Now you are probably wondering which motor is best for your needs. It all depends on your riding style. With a mid-drive motor, you can ride off-road and the riding experience comes closest to that of a bike without assistance. 

Do you use the bike mostly in urban areas or on flat stretches of road, and do you enjoy a sporty riding feel? Then a rear-hub motor might be the better choice for you. Another advantage is how quiet they are. 

Hub motors on the front wheel are rarely used nowadays. The additional weight in the front might create steering challenges, and the bike tends to feel more sluggish. Simplon only uses mid-drive and rear-hub motors on its e-bikes. 

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