Are Mid Drives Good On Mostly Flat Ground?

TomAllyn

New Member
As I mentioned in my other thread I drove to a Auburn CA. and rode a couple bikes with mid-drive motors. Auburn is in the mountains and I live in Sacramento, with 99% flat land. I really enjoyed the mid-drives up there. Then I read an article that indicated that one of the cons of mid-drives is they best for climbing hills and not great for flat land. I also remembered that in some reviews Court seemed to indicate that they are hard on derailleurs and cause rough shifting and result in more repair and replacement.

Since I live in Sacramento, CA and 99% of my riding involve little if any inclines should I stick to ebikes that are hub driven. I'm getting very close to making my purchase and I just don't want to buy an ebike that is going to cause drive train issues.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Many of the comments probably come from Bafang kit owners with 500-1000 watt motors. Manufacturers bikes usualky are rated around 350 watts, and are better as far as driveline alignment. A common complaint with Bafangs are chain offset issues, and they get worse with higher power. In addition, some Bafang users shift under power, which leads to gear crashing. The latest Bafang designs now have shift sensors to prevent that. Do commercial mid drives already gave shift sensors?

I get gear crashing on all our family bikes if I shift under power, which include a Bafang mid drive, two hub motors and a very nice regular bike. I just don't do that. I don''t power shift my 6-speed car either. You just gotta be nice to your equipment.

The benefits of a mid drive include (a) ability to fix flat tires easy (b) easy to remove both wheels for transport and (c) better efficiency. In the case of the Bosh and yamaha motors, I think they look sharp too, One tradeoff may be faster wear on chain and sprockets, if ridden hard and fast. In preparation, I bought a new chain and free wheel because I expected to need them, but it seems I won't. Both parts and the two required tools under $50. I consider that inexpensive.

I feel my mid drive is the best engineered kit that I have, but there's nothing wrong with my bargain basement hub motor either. Buy whatever rides the best and fits your wallet.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hi @TomAllyn, I think @harryS has offered some great advice here. Mid-drive motor systems are well balanced and efficient but they do put more strain on your chain and drivetrain... there's no way around that. If you shift carefully or spend the money to get a Bosch, Brose, Impulse, TranzX, Yamaha or other high quality system then it should be fine. It may produce more noise than a gearless direct drive hub that you might get from BionX, GoSwiss Drive or TDCM but I wouldn't shy away from them... Note that many mid-drive motors (outside of the BBS02 Bafang / 8Fun setup) don't offer throttle mode so that's another consideration. Many of the fancier systems originate in Europe where throttles aren't allowed. Hope this helps, which bike specifically have you been considering? Did you already pull the trigger? Here's a guide on mid-drive motors I created a while back, Brose has become a favorite for me given how quiet it is but I still favor Bosch https://electricbikereview.com/guides/ebike-mid-drive-motor-comparison/
 

TomAllyn

New Member
HarryS and Court thank you for the replies I appreciate it very much. I'm actually very seriously looking into a mid drive DIY build now.
 

flymeaway

Well-Known Member
I'm actually very seriously looking into a mid drive DIY build now.

If you are looking for a great DIY mid-drive the BBS02 750W is a good place to start. To eliminate all of the drive train wear issues you can use an IGH instead of the rear cassette and derailleur set-up. I was changing chains every 1K miles and cassettes around 2K miles. I have two BBS02 750W DIY's, one with a Luna 52V battery and one with a 48V, I also have a 36V 500W BBS02. I decided to convert the 750W bikes to Rohloff Speedhubs and the 36V to Nuvinci N360. All I can say is if you plan on doing a lot of riding like 5K miles plus a year the IGH is something to consider. I use the Connex 7R8 chain on all the bikes and expect to get at least a years worth of riding on each bike before I have to replace the chain. To date I have had trouble free riding on all the bikes. But note, when you put an IGH on an electric bike you void the warranty. I haven't put a Shimano Alfine IGH on an ebike (yet) so I can't comment on that hub, but there are a few members that have and I believe they have had very good results.

Good luck with your choices, if you do a DIY let us know how it goes.

Court J.
 

flymeaway

Well-Known Member
I read a review that these getting destroyed by a BBS02

Like all things mechanical I think the N360 will work very well if you use common sense. I have only ridden the 36V/500W N360 bike a total of 60 miles with the N360 installed so I can't provide you with a long history, but I can tell you that the hub works as advertised, it's smooth and flawless. I do try to prevent placing heavy loads on it, like trying to climb hills with the hub set for flat or slight inclines. I try to keep my pedal cadence up to prevent excessive load. I really like the infinite setting capability and so far give it high marks. How well it takes abuse ??????? only time will tell. For bullet proof reliability the Rohloff is a better choice albeit the expensive choice.

Karl Gesslien is beating up an N380. He emailed me an update to the original article (linked below) and said the hub is still functioning and leaking a bit. He's over driving it to the extreme!

https://electricbike-blog.com/2016/...bbs02-weve-got-the-biggest-balls-of-them-all/

Court J.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
I don't think using mid-drives on the flat is a problem. It's the other way around. If you have serious hills, a hub drive will strain because it can't be geared to keep it turning fast enough to be efficient.

You buy a hub drive because it is easy to set up. The motor turns and if you want to pedal, you pedal. The two drive systems are mostly separate. There's no complexity. People say they are not as efficient, but it's not proven anywhere with any precision. I have a 20 pound Magic Pie and it is very efficient and it will climb most hills efficiently. But that's a heavy motor. The Mac is a nice geared motor, does most of what a Magic Pie does, but the gears make a little noise and will, in maybe 5,000 miles, wear down, along with the clutch. I run with Magic Pie at half the rated power, with a slow throttle ramp. Since the MP has no moving parts, it might last forever. I can ride my hubs with one gear, the gear I need to cruise at speed. I can throttle from a stop and pedal up hills with enough power. So you don't shift much with hubs, compared with mid-drives.

My gripe with the BBS drives is that they are fairly pricey. Bafang has no real competition for DIY. Beyond that, people end up putting fairly expensive chain rings on the drives, gear sensors, more expensive chains, and then rear hubs (IGH).

So, what's the deal with the BBS-02. Karl says there is a new and very different version, but no one is saying what they are selling and no one is saying if there is any difference in max power or whatever. There are clearly some different parts between the new and old. It is too bad in the sense that it was the safe way to go in terms of parts and You Tube videos to learn how to do stuff with the drive. It seems like a tired line of drives, anyway. Almost everything in DIY is static. I really like my hub motors but they aren't developing PAS systems and better ways to configure the motors and controllers. Golden Motors has a bluetooth accessory that works very well, but it is buggy and they never got the iOS version done, after a year. If the market wants sophisticated PAS systems and torque sensor tech, the DIY market is not doing it.
 

TomAllyn

New Member
If you are looking for a great DIY mid-drive the BBS02 750W is a good place to start. To eliminate all of the drive train wear issues you can use an IGH instead of the rear cassette and derailleur set-up. I was changing chains every 1K miles and cassettes around 2K miles. I have two BBS02 750W DIY's, one with a Luna 52V battery and one with a 48V, I also have a 36V 500W BBS02. I decided to convert the 750W bikes to Rohloff Speedhubs and the 36V to Nuvinci N360. All I can say is if you plan on doing a lot of riding like 5K miles plus a year the IGH is something to consider. I use the Connex 7R8 chain on all the bikes and expect to get at least a years worth of riding on each bike before I have to replace the chain. To date I have had trouble free riding on all the bikes. But note, when you put an IGH on an electric bike you void the warranty. I haven't put a Shimano Alfine IGH on an ebike (yet) so I can't comment on that hub, but there are a few members that have and I believe they have had very good results.

Good luck with your choices, if you do a DIY let us know how it goes.

This is exactly what I've been looking and Nuvinci N360 I just wish the Nuvinci Harmony was available for DIY!

Court J.


I don't think using mid-drives on the flat is a problem. It's the other way around. If you have serious hills, a hub drive will strain because it can't be geared to keep it turning fast enough to be efficient.

You buy a hub drive because it is easy to set up. The motor turns and if you want to pedal, you pedal. The two drive systems are mostly separate. There's no complexity. People say they are not as efficient, but it's not proven anywhere with any precision. I have a 20 pound Magic Pie and it is very efficient and it will climb most hills efficiently. But that's a heavy motor. The Mac is a nice geared motor, does most of what a Magic Pie does, but the gears make a little noise and will, in maybe 5,000 miles, wear down, along with the clutch. I run with Magic Pie at half the rated power, with a slow throttle ramp. Since the MP has no moving parts, it might last forever. I can ride my hubs with one gear, the gear I need to cruise at speed. I can throttle from a stop and pedal up hills with enough power. So you don't shift much with hubs, compared with mid-drives.

My gripe with the BBS drives is that they are fairly pricey. Bafang has no real competition for DIY. Beyond that, people end up putting fairly expensive chain rings on the drives, gear sensors, more expensive chains, and then rear hubs (IGH).

So, what's the deal with the BBS-02. Karl says there is a new and very different version, but no one is saying what they are selling and no one is saying if there is any difference in max power or whatever. There are clearly some different parts between the new and old. It is too bad in the sense that it was the safe way to go in terms of parts and You Tube videos to learn how to do stuff with the drive. It seems like a tired line of drives, anyway. Almost everything in DIY is static. I really like my hub motors but they aren't developing PAS systems and better ways to configure the motors and controllers. Golden Motors has a bluetooth accessory that works very well, but it is buggy and they never got the iOS version done, after a year. If the market wants sophisticated PAS systems and torque sensor tech, the DIY market is not doing it.

George S The main reason I've been looking at mid drives is all the weight. As I've mentioned elsewhere I have to get the bike up a flight of stairs. I've also also checked out the MAC after reading your review of it here. It sounds promising to me. I've not looked into the Magic Pie. One more reason I've been looking at mid drives is I would really like to use an IGH - I know how to tune derailer's, but IMO its a PITA.

One more thing is I'm trying to decide what kind of frame I want to build on. I know I want to stay away from thin road bike tires (700c is that right?). I'd like a road bike width wheel, and need something with a fairly upright position. I like "City Bike" and "Comfort Bike" geometry best.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
@TomAllyn

Weight is very annoying on ebikes. There are(Link Removed - No Longer Exists) that will save 5 pounds. You can generally remove the battery. Hybrids are often 700c but wider, like 700 x 40 versus 700x23 for a race type bike. Look at Bikes Direct, the various styles, and note the tire widths. You have like Cafe bikes and then cruisers. A hybrid with a bar that goes all the way to 90 degrees on each side is generally the most upright. If they come with flat straight across bars you can just replace the bar.

If you want a deal on an upright bike with a mid-drive, I noticed this.
 
@TomAllyn

Weight is very annoying on ebikes. There are(Link Removed - No Longer Exists) that will save 5 pounds. You can generally remove the battery. Hybrids are often 700c but wider, like 700 x 40 versus 700x23 for a race type bike. Look at Bikes Direct, the various styles, and note the tire widths. You have like Cafe bikes and then cruisers. A hybrid with a bar that goes all the way to 90 degrees on each side is generally the most upright. If they come with flat straight across bars you can just replace the bar.

If you want a deal on an upright bike with a mid-drive, I noticed this.

I run 700x45c on my non ebike hybrid. Schwabe Marathon plus 700x45c are ebike certified, just make sure you you measure to be sure the frame can support the wider tires. I would also make sure the bike has disc brakes, as v-brakes may also limit the size of tires.

If I wasn't 230lbs I would consider a mid drive on my GT Transeo. Its an excellent hybrid for a decent price. I would stay away from converting a hybrid unless you weigh <=200lbs IMO. The 700c 32h wheels are just not built for that much weight.

Another option for DIY is a 29r mountain bike, and just change out the tires. A 29r is the same as 700c, but stronger wheels. It will provide a nice upright position and most likely come with hydraulic disc brakes. Just a thought to consider!
 

TomAllyn

New Member
@TomAllyn

Weight is very annoying on ebikes. There are(Link Removed - No Longer Exists) that will save 5 pounds. You can generally remove the battery. Hybrids are often 700c but wider, like 700 x 40 versus 700x23 for a race type bike. Look at Bikes Direct, the various styles, and note the tire widths. You have like Cafe bikes and then cruisers. A hybrid with a bar that goes all the way to 90 degrees on each side is generally the most upright. If they come with flat straight across bars you can just replace the bar.

If you want a deal on an upright bike with a mid-drive, I noticed this.

I road a ebike that I think had something like 700x40.

I run 700x45c on my non ebike hybrid. Schwabe Marathon plus 700x45c are ebike certified, just make sure you you measure to be sure the frame can support the wider tires. I would also make sure the bike has disc brakes, as v-brakes may also limit the size of tires.

If I wasn't 230lbs I would consider a mid drive on my GT Transeo. Its an excellent hybrid for a decent price. I would stay away from converting a hybrid unless you weigh <=200lbs IMO. The 700c 32h wheels are just not built for that much weight.

Another option for DIY is a 29r mountain bike, and just change out the tires. A 29r is the same as 700c, but stronger wheels. It will provide a nice upright position and most likely come with hydraulic disc brakes. Just a thought to consider!

I weight 244 lbs. so I do need a strong rim, I'm losing weight right now by walking about 25 miles a week. I hope to replace the walking with commuting to work by ebike 11 miles each way. I test road a iZip E3 Dash with a 350watt mid drive in an area that is nothing but steep hills worse than San Francisco and it had no trouble with my fat arse.LOL I really like the idea of a 29er I wondered whether I could get one and put an adjustable stem.
 
ad a iZip E3 Dash with a 350watt mid drive in an area that is nothing but steep hills worse than San Francisco and it had no trouble with my fat arse.LOL I really like the idea of a 29er I wondered whether I could get one and put an adjustable stem.

You can always buy a new stem, they are only like $20 for an adjustable one.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
Tom, while Mid drives 'seem' like an "upgrade" over a hub motor, they really are not if you aren't climbing hills. As noted, they are great for climbing. Utilizing the gears makes them much better climbers.
But on flat land there are simply no advantages to them whatsoever and compared to most hub motors they are very slow in comparison. Both my hub motor setups are much easier to shift and much faster to speed, no thought needed. The Haibike crunches noticeably more, and it's one of the smoothest of the hub setups with shift cutout!
Hub motors also surprisingly use the smallest motor of all types, less copper and iron, a planetary gearset to reduce the speed down to where we need it. Take the gears away and they are the weakest motors used on bikes.
If as I do and you do, you live where it's flat, - no reason to go through sprockets and chains and clunky shifting.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
I'm coming to this thread late since I just joined up but it really caught my attention. It addressed some of my biggest newbie questions. But perhaps one more with respect to the mid drive strain on chains and derailleurs: I'm considering the Kalkhoff Integrale S11 mainly because of the Gates Carbon Belt. Would you all have any opinions on how that might hold up over time with its mid drive motor? Is it perhaps just too new to really assess the wisdom of pairing a belt drive bike with a mid drive motor? Thanks if anyone has knowledge or opinion on this.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
I'm coming to this thread late since I just joined up but it really caught my attention. It addressed some of my biggest newbie questions. But perhaps one more with respect to the mid drive strain on chains and derailleurs: I'm considering the Kalkhoff Integrale S11 mainly because of the Gates Carbon Belt. Would you all have any opinions on how that might hold up over time with its mid drive motor? Is it perhaps just too new to really assess the wisdom of pairing a belt drive bike with a mid drive motor? Thanks if anyone has knowledge or opinion on this.

Little E motor isn't going to faze a Gates belt. Likely last forever.
That is one bad*ss bike IMO. :)
 

E-Wheels

Well-Known Member
I'm coming to this thread late since I just joined up but it really caught my attention. It addressed some of my biggest newbie questions. But perhaps one more with respect to the mid drive strain on chains and derailleurs: I'm considering the Kalkhoff Integrale S11 mainly because of the Gates Carbon Belt. Would you all have any opinions on how that might hold up over time with its mid drive motor? Is it perhaps just too new to really assess the wisdom of pairing a belt drive bike with a mid drive motor? Thanks if anyone has knowledge or opinion on this.
Gates carbon belts have been and are still used to drive petrol powered motor cycles and drive the super chargers on top fuel drag racing cars so reliability and performance will not be a problem. Have a read here (Link Removed - No Longer Exists)