Mid drives vs Hub drives ???

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Just throwing this out there to see what people think who have owned both a mid drive and a hub drive ebike.

Thus far, after selling ebikes for 3 years, and following, researching, testing, riding them since the late 90's, I'm having a hard time identifying why someone would want to pay typically $1000 to $3000 more for mid drives, versus a comparably equipped (i.e. same quality/level of brakes, derailleurs, rims, tires other bike components) hub drive ebike.

In 3 years, I haven't had anyone who owned hub drives, come back and tell me they have had issues with chain failures, derailleur failures, or even motor issues. Whereas, I have had multiple people come in, who bought their mid drives elsewhere, needing to have many of these things replaced or repaired. Also a small handful of complete failures on various brands of mid-drives.

Yet there are so many more models of mid-drives these days, than hub drives being advertised (not sure if more mid drives are actually being sold here in the US than hub drives) by the various OEM's.

The other thing I'm seeing is a lot of mid drives that are 'on sale', with original prices around $3500 to $5000, now priced at half or even less. Lots of Haibikes like that, Bulls, and other European brands. How can dealers afford to carry that inventory and price them so low ? With the traditional margins in the industry, half price would put them well below dealer cost. Very perplexing. How do they stay in business that way ?

Also, many of the mid-drives are rated at 250 watts, or maybe 350 watts, yet with hub drives you can easily get 750 watts, or even 1000 watts being offered (despite 1000 being over the Federal 'legal' standard of 750 watt). Sure you can use gearing with mid drives to achieve higher than normal torque levels (i.e. 90 NM instead of maybe 40 to 60 NM), but low wattage and high torque means a significant trade off in terms of internal gearing wear and tear, and a lot of extra circuitry and software algo's to keep things in check. High torque can be achieved with hub drives the same way - appropriate gearing ratios. Some mid drives do feel a little smoother than some hub drives, but once you are riding regularly, the difference doesn't seem noticeable enough to affect the overall daily ride. The assist and the power seem more important to me, and the mid drives seem to overall top out much faster (unless you get a more expensive Class 3 designed mid drive). Torque sensing vs cadence sensing can be done in both hub drives and mid drives, so it really comes down to personal preference/budget on sensing for the motor assist.

I'm just curious in hearing some honest feedback, and whether it was more a budget issue that people chose a hub drive instead of a mid drive, or whether it was some really important attribute that people who bought mid-drives were willing to shell out so much more money ? Maybe I'm missing something ? Maybe there are people who just like to spend a lot of money on an ebike because of their perceptions that come from how these ebikes are being marketed by industry ? I don't know. Maybe the early adopters of ebikes feel spending more money translates to better quality somehow and they have deeper pockets by being higher income buyers than mainstream population ? Again, not professing to know, just posing some people suppositions.

P.S. Not trying to start a mud slinging thread here either. More interested in the thought process in how people got themselves into one type of drive vs the other. I may sound biased, but I really would like to understand what it is that makes people willing to spend so much more money for a mid drive than they have to for a hub drive.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
I own both. A geared hub drive and Bosch Performance line. No comparison, I much prefer the Haibike/Bosch. 1,600 miles on the geared hub, 1,800 on the one Bosch, 1,700 on a second Haibike. I'm not about max anything on a bicycle. You mention wattage ratings available, but you can get hub drive motors up to 10,000 watts can't you? Same goes for max torque. A lot of my preference for the Haibike with Bosch is that it feels like a totally engineered package. The motor matches the high end components, and makes for such a wonderful riding experience. Under power, it's such a smooth acceleration with quick clicks to shift smoothly up to a higher gear. Feels like what a Formula 1 car must feel like! The geared hub motor Sondors is more like a Jeep. Cheap components, and crude power. I paid $500 for the Sondors, $2,800 for one Haibike and $2,600 for the second one. The Haibikes should feel better at the price difference, and they do. I had to send the hub motor in for repair recently, I haven't put it back together yet. You say you are having trouble identifying why someone would pay more for the mid drive. I ride for pleasure, and I think I have it in spades with the Haibike/Bosch bike. I still smile every time I ride them! By the way Mike, are you having a spring open house? I live in Peoria and would like to come visit. I'd like to give that Ruff bike a spin.
 

slomoshun

Active Member
Your posting reads like an attempt to self justify a business model that isn't working well. Follow the demand curve or fail. You might be seeing more repair work for mids because more are being sold than hubs? Possibly, mid-drives are popular because they are way better climbers, and can do it with much smaller motors and less draw on the battery. Theoretically, that means a mid can be a lighter weight power system creating a more nimble handling ebike. The mids are currently going through their evolution infancy, so expect continued refinement which will further hinder hub sales.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
There are a couple of things going on here and I think it is easier to split them out.

Probably the biggest advantage to a mid-drive over a hub drive is that you will have superior hill-climbing ability. A smaller but still noticeable advantage for many riders is that you can get slightly more range, sometimes dramatically so if the route you are riding is at all hilly.

Mid-drive bikes have been under furious evolution the last several years. Upgraded component sets (which can better handle the higher torque from a motor) and frame designs specific to mid-drives have greatly improved the durability and reliability of mid-drives. So one reason there are lots of discounted mid-drive e-bikes is because they are like last year's iPhone.

Finally, as I've said multiple times, motor wattage figures are Not To Be Trusted. The manufacturers are all lying, and they are lying for different reasons and in different directions so it is impossible to make meaningful comparisons based only on wattage.

Both hub-drive and mid-drive bikes are useful. If I lived in Florida or Nebraska it would be a no-brainer to ride a hub drive. But I live in the mountains so I want a mid-drive.
 

Chris Hammond

Well-Known Member
I own both. A geared hub drive and Bosch Performance line. No comparison, I much prefer the Haibike/Bosch. 1,600 miles on the geared hub, 1,800 on the one Bosch, 1,700 on a second Haibike. I'm not about max anything on a bicycle. You mention wattage ratings available, but you can get hub drive motors up to 10,000 watts can't you? Same goes for max torque. A lot of my preference for the Haibike with Bosch is that it feels like a totally engineered package. The motor matches the high end components, and makes for such a wonderful riding experience. Under power, it's such a smooth acceleration with quick clicks to shift smoothly up to a higher gear. Feels like what a Formula 1 car must feel like! The geared hub motor Sondors is more like a Jeep. Cheap components, and crude power. I paid $500 for the Sondors, $2,800 for one Haibike and $2,600 for the second one. The Haibikes should feel better at the price difference, and they do. I had to send the hub motor in for repair recently, I haven't put it back together yet. You say you are having trouble identifying why someone would pay more for the mid drive. I ride for pleasure, and I think I have it in spades with the Haibike/Bosch bike. I still smile every time I ride them! By the way Mike, are you having a spring open house? I live in Peoria and would like to come visit. I'd like to give that Ruff bike a spin.
Rich, c'mon man be fair. Comparing a Sondors to a Haibike is a bit like comparing a Yugo to a Toyota. :D.
Back to the OP ? There really is room for both in the market.
I think what he is asking is, why would "average Joe/Jane" rider that uses an ebike for "riding around town" want a mid-drive?
That is actually a reasonable question. The increased wear and tear on the drivetrain that mid-drives cause, is an unnecessary sacrifice that those type of riders don't really need.
A well built geared hub motor bike with torque sensing, is probably the most reasonable setup for those riders.

People on this site tend to be more ebike enthusiasts. Thus we have more dedicated needs from our ebikes. If you are a regular long distance commuter, a direct drive hub really makes the most sense, or at least a geared hub. If you choose a mid-drive for this purpose, you need to expect regular maintenance/ replacement cost due to drivetrain wear.

Now if you are climbing a lot, especially if its mtb singletrack, then your hub motor can't even get the job done without overheating. Thus mid-drive is your ONLY option.

This doesn't even get into the discussion of weight distribution, handling, overall weight, etc.
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Thanks. I agree there's room for both. By the way, what was the watt rating and voltage on the motor, and was it a steep hill (i.e incline more than 15 degrees? )

I could see that happening with a rider weighing more than 180 lbs, a steeper hill, and the motor only rated for 250 watts, 36 volts, and torque rating of only 30 nm.

A 350 or 500 watt motor with torque rating of 50 nm should have no issues on any hill with a 200 lb rider.

500 watts, 48 volt, and torque rating of 60
I own both. A geared hub drive and Bosch Performance line. No comparison, I much prefer the Haibike/Bosch. 1,600 miles on the geared hub, 1,800 on the one Bosch, 1,700 on a second Haibike. I'm not about max anything on a bicycle. You mention wattage ratings available, but you can get hub drive motors up to 10,000 watts can't you? Same goes for max torque. A lot of my preference for the Haibike with Bosch is that it feels like a totally engineered package. The motor matches the high end components, and makes for such a wonderful riding experience. Under power, it's such a smooth acceleration with quick clicks to shift smoothly up to a higher gear. Feels like what a Formula 1 car must feel like! The geared hub motor Sondors is more like a Jeep. Cheap components, and crude power. I paid $500 for the Sondors, $2,800 for one Haibike and $2,600 for the second one. The Haibikes should feel better at the price difference, and they do. I had to send the hub motor in for repair recently, I haven't put it back together yet. You say you are having trouble identifying why someone would pay more for the mid drive. I ride for pleasure, and I think I have it in spades with the Haibike/Bosch bike. I still smile every time I ride them! By the way Mike, are you having a spring open house? I live in Peoria and would like to come visit. I'd like to give that Ruff bike a spin.
Yeah, I could certainly understand how a $500 ebike would not compare at all. I would not expect it too. It's really tough to get any decent quality ebike for anything less than $1200, unless maybe if it's a small folder. Batteries that are quality cost $400 min., and motors and kits that are decent are usually $1000.

When I think of hub drives,generally it's models that are priced at least $1500 when not on sale.

Most haibikes start around $3500, except for the frequent dumping that's happened where dealers are selling them for as low as $999. Sounds like you got a very nice price on your haibike.
 

bob armani

Well-Known Member
Just throwing this out there to see what people think who have owned both a mid drive and a hub drive ebike.

Thus far, after selling ebikes for 3 years, and following, researching, testing, riding them since the late 90's, I'm having a hard time identifying why someone would want to pay typically $1000 to $3000 more for mid drives, versus a comparably equipped (i.e. same quality/level of brakes, derailleurs, rims, tires other bike components) hub drive ebike.

In 3 years, I haven't had anyone who owned hub drives, come back and tell me they have had issues with chain failures, derailleur failures, or even motor issues. Whereas, I have had multiple people come in, who bought their mid drives elsewhere, needing to have many of these things replaced or repaired. Also a small handful of complete failures on various brands of mid-drives.

Yet there are so many more models of mid-drives these days, than hub drives being advertised (not sure if more mid drives are actually being sold here in the US than hub drives) by the various OEM's.

The other thing I'm seeing is a lot of mid drives that are 'on sale', with original prices around $3500 to $5000, now priced at half or even less. Lots of Haibikes like that, Bulls, and other European brands. How can dealers afford to carry that inventory and price them so low ? With the traditional margins in the industry, half price would put them well below dealer cost. Very perplexing. How do they stay in business that way ?

Also, many of the mid-drives are rated at 250 watts, or maybe 350 watts, yet with hub drives you can easily get 750 watts, or even 1000 watts being offered (despite 1000 being over the Federal 'legal' standard of 750 watt). Sure you can use gearing with mid drives to achieve higher than normal torque levels (i.e. 90 NM instead of maybe 40 to 60 NM), but low wattage and high torque means a significant trade off in terms of internal gearing wear and tear, and a lot of extra circuitry and software algo's to keep things in check. High torque can be achieved with hub drives the same way - appropriate gearing ratios. Some mid drives do feel a little smoother than some hub drives, but once you are riding regularly, the difference doesn't seem noticeable enough to affect the overall daily ride. The assist and the power seem more important to me, and the mid drives seem to overall top out much faster (unless you get a more expensive Class 3 designed mid drive). Torque sensing vs cadence sensing can be done in both hub drives and mid drives, so it really comes down to personal preference/budget on sensing for the motor assist.

I'm just curious in hearing some honest feedback, and whether it was more a budget issue that people chose a hub drive instead of a mid drive, or whether it was some really important attribute that people who bought mid-drives were willing to shell out so much more money ? Maybe I'm missing something ? Maybe there are people who just like to spend a lot of money on an ebike because of their perceptions that come from how these ebikes are being marketed by industry ? I don't know. Maybe the early adopters of ebikes feel spending more money translates to better quality somehow and they have deeper pockets by being higher income buyers than mainstream population ? Again, not professing to know, just posing some people suppositions.

P.S. Not trying to start a mud slinging thread here either. More interested in the thought process in how people got themselves into one type of drive vs the other. I may sound biased, but I really would like to understand what it is that makes people willing to spend so much more money for a mid drive than they have to for a hub drive.
Good points here Mike. I ask myself the same questions. Example: Why do consumers shop at Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Neimen Marcus, Macy's, etc, when they can get similar products at half the cost at other brick and mortar stores or online. Do they think b/c it costs more that it is better quality. Not sure. I personally have priced compared and I do not see that much of a difference in value/quality.

Like others have indicated:

I personally like to have a hub motor for flat terrain, long commutes with a high speed motor. I want to own a mid-driven motor ebike for hilly and rough terrain with large knobby tires for rock gardens etc, b/c I think the mid-drive will simply perform better and give me a better riding experience. It was not a budget issue for me, just focusing on the best bike that will fulfill my needs. When I test rode many different bikes, I could clearly see from the get go, that each bike was designed for a specific need/purpose and that was how I could decide which one to buy. I do have to admit that sometimes my interest is sparked by simply the color, design, and good looks of a specific ebike instead of focusing on my personal needs for that specific bike. Probably would put that one under lights in my living room as a show piece. LOL!
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Thanks. Great perspective. Makes a lot of sense. On the looks side of things, I'm often surprised how many look pretty much the same, particularly with men's, so it's refreshing to see new colors or improved styling.

A lot of buyers interested in ebikes don't seem to be avid cyclists, but folks who have had regular bikes, mostly unused, and the ebike gets them back thinking they could ride again, and do so much more regularly. Avid cyclists appear to be much more into specs and performance, and maybe more comfort so they can ride with some of their peers longer, without aches and pains or worrying about endurance at higher AVG speed.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Great thread, I had this question myself. I kept hearing that mid drives were better, but not why. I can't help thinking the mainstream high end offerings are overpriced, and are trying to tell customers what to want - like a Bosch battery that's half the size and double the cost per watt hour of what makers like Juiced and Biktrix offer. Trek and Stromer are similar. Sure, they have finesse, but it's not worth paying double for, for most people. I like seeing makers offer something that has mass appeal, and that means offering good value.

Also, I tried the Copenhagen wheel (hub) and a Gazelle (Bosch I think) very briefly, and the Copenhagen wheel felt more fun, and I'm used to a road bike. I'm just one guy, but I'm unconvinced that mid drives are uniformly superior in feel, even for people used to nice non-electric bikes.

As for dealers losing money on discounted bikes - I'm not an ebike seller, but I imagine the manufacturers cut them wholesale discounts on unsold merchandise. Say, dealer promises to pay $2,000 wholesale and sells at $3,000, the bike doesn't sell so the manufacturer reduces the wholesale price to $1,500 and the dealer sells the bike for $2,000.

Chris Hammond, can you post a link explaining why mid drives wear out the drivetrain more? I was not aware of that.
 

Blueflash

New Member
I think people that are comparing $1000-$2000 hub drives to $4000 and up mid-drive mountain bikes aren't looking at the whole package. Most of these mid-drive brands also have much higher end components on them. Things like mid to high end Rockshox or Fox forks and rear air shocks. Just the forks can go for $700 and up. The brakes are also higher end Shimano, SRAM, and Maguras. The derailleurs, wheels, hubs, cassettes, etc., are also generally much better components. I've looked at regular non ebike mountain bikes, with these same components, and they are rarely under $3000.
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
="Asher, post: 138353, member: 17559"]Great thread, I had this question myself. I kept hearing that mid drives were better, but not why. I can't help thinking the mainstream high end offerings are overpriced, and are trying to tell customers what to want - like a Bosch battery that's half the size and double the cost per watt hour of what makers like Juiced and Biktrix offer. Trek and Stromer are similar. Sure, they have finesse, but it's not worth paying double for, for most people. I like seeing makers offer something that has mass appeal, and that means offering good value.

Also, I tried the Copenhagen wheel (hub) and a Gazelle (Bosch I think) very briefly, and the Copenhagen wheel felt more fun, and I'm used to a road bike. I'm just one guy, but I'm unconvinced that mid drives are uniformly superior in feel, even for people used to nice non-electric bikes.

As for dealers losing money on discounted bikes - I'm not an ebike seller, but I imagine the manufacturers cut them wholesale discounts on unsold merchandise. Say, dealer promises to pay $2,000 wholesale and sells at $3,000, the bike doesn't sell so the manufacturer reduces the wholesale price to $1,500 and the dealer sells the bike for $2,000.

Chris Hammond, can you post a link explaining why mid drives wear out the drivetrain more? I was not aware of that.[/QUOTE]

On mid drives both human force (torque) and the motor torque are being transferred via the sprocket and chain to the rear cassette, and also affecting the dferailleur. An average rider generates about 250 watts of power , but only about 20 to 30 nm of torque. Professional cyclists can generate peak torque instantaneously of up to 112, but they don't average that at all over a ride.

The mid drives can put out 60nm to 80 nm, on regular basis and peak levels can be 5 times the average human on an instantaneous level. So the simple answer is with a mid drive all that force creates a lot more stress through the chain and gears where as a hub drive is transmitting power directly through spokes to the wheel / rim, so the wear and tear on the chain and gears is only what the human will generate just like on a regular bike.

Most people arent aware of this and are like you, probably don't notice it until after they've had the middrive awhile. Being a mechanical engineer, the math makes it pretty obvious, that the middrive combined with a human pedaling can be up to 5 times the force of the average rider. I'm not suggesting to avoid a mid drive bc of that, but mtc will be higher at least on those components. The odd thing is the mid drive bikes often use the same derailleurs and chains as every other bike.
 
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bob armani

Well-Known Member
I think people that are comparing $1000-$2000 hub drives to $4000 and up mid-drive mountain bikes aren't looking at the whole package. Most of these mid-drive brands also have much higher end components on them. Things like mid to high end Rockshox or Fox forks and rear air shocks. Just the forks can go for $700 and up. The brakes are also higher end Shimano, SRAM, and Maguras. The derailleurs, wheels, hubs, cassettes, etc., are also generally much better components. I've looked at regular non ebike mountain bikes, with these same components, and they are rarely under $3000.
Yeah, I also started looking into higher end non-electric MTBs. ie: Santa Cruz, Yeti, Canyon, Evil, Pivot, Ibis, Jeffsy, to name a few. The components are really top notch along with the pricing on these bikes ($3000 plus), however, it looks like you get what you pay for. By the time you are done with a wicked downhill ride across rock and root gardens, the bike's performance is really impressive and still in tact. If you take a sub par bike with really cheap components, after one ride that bike is going to be toast and torn to shreds. Not sure if these high end MTBs are a bit overpriced, but if you are willing to purchase at those prices, at least you know you will make it down the slope with minimal equipment failures. I personally like Canyon bikes (design and styling along with very cool marketing)!
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I also started looking into higher end non-electric MTBs. ie: Santa Cruz, Yeti, Canyon, Evil, Pivot, Ibis, Jeffsy, to name a few. The components are really top notch along with the pricing on these bikes ($3000 plus), however, it looks like you get what you pay for. By the time you are done with a wicked downhill ride across rock and root gardens, the bike's performance is really impressive and still in tact. If you take a sub par bike with really cheap components, after one ride that bike is going to be toast and torn to shreds. Not sure if these high end MTBs are a bit overpriced, but if you are willing to purchase at those prices, at least you know you will make it down the slope with minimal equipment failures. I personally like Canyon bikes (design and styling along with very cool marketing)!
Yeah the regular non motorized higher end mtbs can easily start at $3000 and reach $7000 on literally hundreds of models out there. For people who are into that, money is no object, and they often have more than one of them. But man, when the average buyer comes checking out ebikes for the first time, they are wincing when they see prices above $1500. If they live in warmer climes where the use can be year round, or live in super hilly areas or using them for commuting then $3000 and up price points aren't as much of an issue. You sometimes get what you pay for with ebikes.
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
We sell both. A couple of comments. We sell rear hubs probably 10-2 over mid-drives. Most of our clientele want road bikes as they are up in age and do no mountain biking. Rear hubs are bullet proof and have significant torque off the line to get customers up to speed. Most of our customers are not lifelong cyclists and our research shows that they have not been in a bike shop in decades. When we get a lifelong cyclist who is either transitioning to an eBike due to injury or is a mountain biker, they almost always want a mid-drive as the mid-drive feels more like a standard bicycle and they provide higher torque values during slow arduous climbs and do not have a tendency to overheat.

If any of you have ridden a Stromer ST2 or a SmartMotion Pacer you'd probably have a tough time calling their approach to cycling outdated or old-fashioned. They are superb performers on the road. With that said the new Bafang 1000W mid-drive is superb as is the new Shimano e8000.

We do not believe one is better or more forward leaning than the other. Both types of motors serve particular purposes well.

We'll stay neutral.......
 

Chris Hammond

Well-Known Member
Asher,
Here's a few for reference. http://www.ebikes.ca/learn/why-hub-motors-are-awesome.html See item #2
http://electricbikeblog.com/hub-motor-or-crank-drive-motor/ See the end of the article.

Also you can read plenty of forum posts about broken chains, cassettes, etc. Especially on built bikes where owners are using higher power motors. I was initially planning on a BBSHD mid-drive build for my commuter. Glad I researched before I jumped in.
Luna cycles for example offers the BBSHD motor kit with a "Ludacris Mode" of up to 2500W. The drivetrain components were never designed to withstand those kind of forces.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Rear hubs are bullet proof
Not my experience. I own 5 eBikes, 3 geared rear hub, 2 Bosch mid drive. The only failure I've had was a geared rear hub. A Hall sensor failed in the Bafang at 1,682 miles. The other 2 rear hub bikes have less than 100 miles each. One is new the other was when one of the adult kids come home for a ride. That hasn't been too often. The 2 Bosch mid drives have 1,800 and 1,700 miles. No issues with either.
 

Motodaddy

Member
People keep talking about how much maintenance mid drives have on broken chains and sprockets etc. Actually the reason why I purchased a mid drive over the hub drive is that the rear wheel is the same as a non-motorized bike and can be easily removed and worked on either at home, at a local bike shop or on the side of the road if necessary. Chains and cassettes can be purchased anywhere and are relatively inexpensive and easy to clean and change. I was also able to purchase a second wheelset for winter riding off Kijiji for next nothing which would be next to impossible on a hub drive. I also did not like the idea of an exposed wire on the way to the rear hub being snagged and then game over. On my mid drive the battery, controller and motor are all in the same general area, sealed and protected with no chance for snagging. Most of the mid drive motors have all the wires internally routed. So on the maintenance side I personally think a mid drive has the hub drive beat as long as the core motor/battery/controller package does not fail. I have the Bosch CX drive, so far it hasn't disappointed and as far as I can tell from the info available the reliability is very good and so is the warranty. It is extremely popular and ubiquitous, spare components are sold everywhere and easy to get a hold of and I don't expect Bosch to go tits up anytime soon. I am an engineer by trade in manufacturing and we use Bosch servos everywhere, and they are very reliable.

As far as pure speed is concerned the Bosch bike is plenty fast and gets me up to the legal e-bike limit of 32km/hr in a matter of meters (if I want to go faster I can ride a 100 Hp motorbike which is fun too). The efficiency is fantastic but more important to me here is the riding experience and natural feel of how the power is applied. It feels like riding a standard bike except with olympic size legs and you really don't even notice the fact that the power is on unless you decide to turn it off (exception being turbo mode at a standstill with very low gearing which does feel a little "unnatural" and excessive in application). In this I think the high end mid drives are pretty great. These companies have put loads of research into perfecting this years and it will continue to improve and as it does firmware updates will be available for these bikes (for example eMTB mode on Bosch bikes which is an absolutely awesome upgrade in terms of riding experience).

So there is my counter points and the basis for my final decision to buy a Bosch mid drive.
 
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Bicyclista

Active Member
Adding mass anywhere on a wheel is a bad idea because it adversely affects handling and acceleration. A hub motor adds many pounds of mass to a wheel, and it has a negative effect on ride quality.

You can test this out for yourself. Take a regular, non-electric bike, and add mass to one of its hubs. Ankle weights come to mind. Ride it around a bit. Feel how it handles, how it turns, how it accelerates. Now switch the ankle weights to the downtube or the seattube, close to the bottom bracket. Ride it again. I'd be surprised if you don't find that when the mass is on the frame the bike feels more agile.

The adverse effect is even more pronounced if the wheel is suspended, such as with front fork suspension (with hub motor on the front wheel) or with full suspension. Does anyone even make bikes with a hub motor on a suspended wheel?

I owned a Magnum Ui5 with a rear hub motor and I sold it within six months because I did not like its ride quality. It just did not feel agile. I have been riding a full-suspension Haibike with mid-drive motor for nearly two years, and it feels very agile and stable. I haven't had any issues with the motor, the battery, the electronics, or the drivetrain. I did replace the chain after 2,000 miles, which I consider normal maintenance.

That said, I think there should be room in the market for both kinds of motors. They each have their advantages and disadvantages. The key is to choose knowing full well what the tradeoffs are. There may be very good reasons why a hub motor may be a better choice for a given application, such as price or power. But don't ignore the negative effects of adding mass to a wheel, something that is almost never discussed.
 
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Alex M

Active Member
Rear hubs are bullet proof
By all accounts, this is true for DD hubs - as long as you keep it dry. Geared hubs - not so much.
But then, 1.5-2K miles is not unheard of, even for a geared hub. Depends on how and where you ride, too.

Bafang hub costs from $200 online and is not terribly difficult to swap with exactly same motor that has just died. Bafang mid-drive costs roughly 2 times more. Bosch... let's not go there :) ...

After 2K miles the cost of battery replacement will dwarf the "hub worries", if battery will even last that long.