Direct drive hub motor vs Geared hub motor

wings02

Active Member
I would like to get some forum members opinions comparing direct drive hub motors to geared hub motors. I know there are videos explaining the difference along with pros and cons, but I would like some guidance from everyday users. Also, any suggestions as to which brand bikes around 2k and under have direct drive hub motors. I know Rad power bikes use them in some of their models. I did see someone on a Rad bike in my neighborhood wiz by me in with what looked like a direct drive hub design. I plan on doing mostly flat road recreational riding. Nothing extreme. No transporting the bike with my car. Thank you for your input!
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Wish this was an easier call. Myself, I'm a big guy (6'2"/315) so factor that in to what I have to say. I've ridden bikes with 750, 1000, and 1500w direct drives quite a bit. I now ride a 1000+w geared rear hub that I love!

The downside to a gear drive is the fact they kind of poop out and start loosing efficiency at 20mph or so, where the direct drive is just hitting it's stride at 20 (this assuming the speed restrictions have been removed). This may be a factor if the primary purpose of the bike is commuting longer distances for instance. For stop and go city riding, and trail, the gear drive's peppy performance makes it pretty popular.

Riding these different drives has taught me that the gear drive offers much better acceleration from a stop (like crossing a rod for instance), and does much better in hills, even small ones. What surprised me was that if anything, the gear drive offers better mileage. The 1500w direct drive I had would travel an easy 25 miles. When that motor was replaced with a 1000+ watt gear drive (MAC 12t) with no other changes, and ridden in the same area, the bike now makes 35 miles easily. In my case, much peppier, and offering better mileage.

People that talk about noise, or extra maintenance with a gear drive are talking about gear drives with very high mileage. I'm thinking most riders will go years before anything like that is true. In any case, count me in with those that believe the increased performance available with the gear drive is well worth any downside. With about 700 miles on it now, my gear drive makes no more noise than the direct drives did. Just a hum.

As one that rarely rides over 15mph, THIS rider favors a gear driven hub over the direct drive any day. To be fair, if I had to ride the bike 10 miles across level terrain every day to get there, then another to get home, the direct drive might look like a better option. -Al
 
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Sierratim

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Nevada City, CA & Paradise Valley, AZ
I would like to get some forum members opinions comparing direct drive hub motors to geared hub motors. I know there are videos explaining the difference along with pros and cons, but I would like some guidance from everyday users. Also, any suggestions as to which brand bikes around 2k and under have direct drive hub motors. I know Rad power bikes use them in some of their models. I did see someone on a Rad bike in my neighborhood wiz by me in with what looked like a direct drive hub design. I plan on doing mostly flat road recreational riding. Nothing extreme. No transporting the bike with my car. Thank you for your input!
Out of necessity direct drive hubs have larger diameters than geared hubs. This generally makes them heavier. With Hall effect sensors they do have the advantage of no moving parts, other than axle bearings. When I built up our first ebike conversions this was a major draw for me as many of the then available geared hub motors had some kind of reliability issues. The direct drive hub motors performed as expected but the weight of the converted bikes was always a concern.

Today I would go with a geared motor as the reliability isssues seem to have been addressed.
 
D

Deleted member 4210

Guest
Out of necessity direct drive hubs have larger diameters than geared hubs. This generally makes them heavier. With Hall effect sensors they do have the advantage of no moving parts, other than axle bearings. When I built up our first ebike conversions this was a major draw for me as many of the then available geared hub motors had some kind of reliability issues. The direct drive hub motors performed as expected but the weight of the converted bikes was always a concern.

Today I would go with a geared motor as the reliability isssues seem to have been addressed.
Geared hub drives have near zero reliability issues. Have sold over 1000 ebikes with them, not one has failed. Even if one did, typically a 500 watt 48volt motor can be purchased, already spoken into a rim, for $250. Or if it's just the planetary gears,and you are ambitious, you can open it up, and replace those for less than $50.

Whatever motor you choose whether it's direct or hub, that is the last component to worry about. You'll be fine with either, but as Al says, direct drive is heavier, and just adds unnecessary weight. They are often used on cargo bikes. Not sure why rad uses them on any of theirs, other than they are fairly inexpensive.
 

wings02

Active Member
Wish this was an easier call. Myself, I'm a big guy (6'2"/315) so factor that in to what I have to say. I've ridden bikes with 750, 1000, and 1500w direct drives quite a bit. I now ride a 1000+w geared rear hub that I love!

The downside to a gear drive is the fact they kind of poop out and start loosing efficiency at 20mph or so, where the direct drive is just hitting it's stride at 20 (this assuming the speed restrictions have been removed). This may be a factor if the primary purpose of the bike is commuting longer distances for instance. For stop and go city riding, and trail, the gear drive's peppy performance makes it pretty popular.

Riding these different drives has taught me that the gear drive offers much better acceleration from a stop (like crossing a rod for instance), and does much better in hills, even small ones. What surprised me was that if anything, the gear drive offers better mileage. The 1500w direct drive I had would travel an easy 25 miles. When that motor was replaced with a 1000+ watt gear drive (MAC 12t) with no other changes, and ridden in the same area, the bike now makes 35 miles easily. In my case, much peppier, and offering better mileage.

People that talk about noise, or extra maintenance with a gear drive are talking about gear drives with very high mileage. I'm thinking most riders will go years before anything like that is true. In any case, count me in with those that believe the increased performance available with the gear drive is well worth any downside. With about 700 miles on it now, my gear drive makes no more noise than the direct drives did. Just a hum.

As one that rarely rides over 15mph, THIS rider favors a gear driven hub over the direct drive any day. To be fair, if I had to ride the bike 10 miles across level terrain every day to get there, then another to get home, the direct drive might look like a better option. -Al
Great insight and informative!
Thank you
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I've got about 4000 miles & 2 years on a $221 ebikeling geared hub motor. The cover comes unscrewed 2 to 3 times a year, even with blue loktite. I carry a phillips driver as a result. When it starts clicking, stop & tighten it up. One time I took the cover off and added some grease. Still sounds like an old trolley car starting out.
I had a 1000 W direct drive hub, this uses about 60% the watt hours over the same 30 miles & 77 hills. The DD motor drug like being in 2 higher sprockets than I really was unpowered. I ride unpowered a lot, the geared hub doesn't drag at all.
Disadvantage? the geared hubs won't cool, won't climb full power 20 minutes straight without burning up. There are grades like that in California, Oregon, Colorado. Not around here. Electric-bikes.com refused to sell me a Mac 12 geared hub because we have 15% grades in Indiana. Tried to force me to buy a $700 crystal DD motor. But he is in California, where purchasers go out the first weekend and try to ride from Newport Beach to Lake Arrowhead the first weekend out. Warrenty replacement time. Not a problem here, our hills are rollers. I use the momentum from one hill to speed up the next one. My unit's case is about 130 F when I get to my destination the uphill direction.
And it takes off like a rabbit when I cross 6 lane hwy 62 on the red light because the sensors won't change the light for 90 lb of metal in a bicycle.
 
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Timpo

Well-Known Member
I'm a big fan of geared hub drive motors, they feel a lot more zippy.

I've ridden BionX and Stromer gearless hub.. they were ok.
 

Kyle44

New Member
Region
Australia
Geared provide more torque which is handy in my experience if you ride on sand. Some direct drive have regen braking which I've been looking into.