Rear hub drive mountain bike recomendations

Lar

Well-Known Member
Considering a full suspension mountain bike with as beefy of a rear hub motor I can find (recommendations). I know they're not climbers a mid drive but think I could gear it for my needs. Or is climbing just too hard on that (type) motor?
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Considering a full suspension mountain bike with as beefy of a rear hub motor I can find (recommendations).
I know they're not climbers a mid drive but think I could gear it for my needs. Or is climbing just too hard on that (type) motor?

Take a look at the EBR list of Best Full Suspension Electric Bikes of 2020... all of the recommended FS bikes have mid-drive motors. ;)
If you really want a rear hub-drive, there are a number of good hardtails available.... https://electricbikereview.com/best-hardtail-electric-mountain-bikes/

Here is our listing of the top five full suspension electric bikes of 2020. We’ve done the research to identify the best combinations of features and value on the market today. Beyond these recommendations, you can see all 307 of our detailed reviews of rull suspension ebikes listed here. Reviewing electric bikes is our specialty, and EBR has the most holistic and unbiased reviews in the industry. Since 2012, we’ve helped millions of people find the best ebike for their needs and budget. Let’s dig in!
Table of Contents:

Things to Consider:
  • Design Integration. Full suspension electric bikes need to be evaluated on the basis of the total design and integration of all the ebike’s systems, not just the inclusion of front and rear shocks. If the foundation isn’t right, you’ll just be wasting your money on additional weight. These versatile designs provide handling, climbing, and descending capabilities in addition to safety and comfort. Don’t let yourself get blinded by any one spec, these are integrated systems where all of the key components need to be balanced to work in harmony.
  • Frame Geometry and Weight. The Frame is the foundation of the system. Look for a fame style that suits your body and intended type of riding… test rides are especially important for suspension bikes. Check for fit and system interactions while riding it “your way”. Less weight makes the ebike more responsive and reduces the demands on motor and battery but comes at a hefty price premium. High quality suspension systems offer adjustability, air is the lightest and most tunable (compared to coil spring) but is a bit less reliable and consistent for heavy duty applications. This is why hard-core downhill rear suspension often uses a coil-over design.
  • Motor and Sensors. The motor is the heart of system, consider both power and torque. Torque is important because most high-end FS designs utilize mid-drive motors, which gain a mechanical advantage as the drivetrain switches gears… both you and the motor gain this advantage. Check to see what sensors are used to let you interact with the drive system. Cadence sensors are on/off, torque sensors require force to be applied, advanced sensors use both signals and also measure rear wheel speed to determine when to contribute. The fanciest sensors will make the ebike feel like and extension of your body’s movements. They won’t start and stop as abruptly… but they require more active pedaling. In our video reviews, we also test and show how well the motor and shifting perform under everyday conditions. These are the things that will make the bike a joy to ride vs. a machine to operate.
  • Battery. More power always sounds better, but on these ebikes the battery capacity should be carefully balanced with the needs of the motor and overall weight of the bike. Achieving balance is the key. As the saying goes… “Pick two: low price, low weight, or high performance”.
  • Components. The demands placed on full suspension electric bikes can be punishing. Investing more for higher quality components, especially the drive train and brakes, will result in fewer on-trail breakdowns and increased rider safety.
  • Intended Use. The default assumption is that a full suspension ebike will be used primarily for ascending and descending rugged off-road trails. However, just as many people who never venture off-road drive SUV’s. Some people prefer full suspension electric bikes simply because of the stability and comfort they offer. If you can afford the price, full suspension ebikes provide very stable all-around riding. And these days, many models electric models are designed for city use because ebikers tend to ride further and at higher average speeds. There are even full suspension road bikes now! This is appealing to those who ride regularly, for long distances, and have back problems or special needs. I personally only buy full suspension bicycles now, after years of hardtail riding. If your intended use is mostly on road or packed gravel and dirt, you can save money by de-emphasizing off-road features like dropper seat-posts, super wide gearing, and motor power. Instead, place more emphasis on frame geometry being upright, having fenders, rack options, and integrated lights.
 
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stanmiller

Active Member
The trail would be hard on a hub as well. Unlike mid-drives, which are under suspension, the hub would get the full beating of the path.
 
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rich c

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Depends on the trails and if you really use it like a mtb. A cadence sensor hub motor would be horrible on sharp switchbacks and rock climbing if you have to wait for the cadence sensor to kick in. A torque sensor mid drive is just like a traditional mtb with instant power. I've had my Haibike Full Seven stalled with the front tire on a rock and the rear tire on roots. Standing there balanced, I stomp on the pedal and it climbs up and over. The cadence sensor bikes I've ridden, need at least 180 degree rotation on the pedal before the power even starts. And then it ramps up in power. By that time I would be on my side on the rocks. I highly recommend finding some e Mtbs to ride before dropping that kind of cash on a hub motor.
 

Lar

Well-Known Member
Thanks...Only found one full suspension hub drive so was worth a try and I'm not having any luck talking myself into a hard tail so far.
 

Lar

Well-Known Member
Depends on the trails and if you really use it like a mtb. A cadence sensor hub motor would be horrible on sharp switchbacks and rock climbing if you have to wait for the cadence sensor to kick in. A torque sensor mid drive is just like a traditional mtb with instant power. I've had my Haibike Full Seven stalled with the front tire on a rock and the rear tire on roots. Standing there balanced, I stomp on the pedal and it climbs up and over. The cadence sensor bikes I've ridden, need at least 180 degree rotation on the pedal before the power even starts. And then it ramps up in power. By that time I would be on my side on the rocks. I highly recommend finding some e Mtbs to ride before dropping that kind of cash on a hub motor.
I kinda thought this might be the case in part what I was asking also. Good to know about the torque sensor's instant response.
 

AHicks

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Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Depends on the trails and if you really use it like a mtb. A cadence sensor hub motor would be horrible on sharp switchbacks and rock climbing if you have to wait for the cadence sensor to kick in. A torque sensor mid drive is just like a traditional mtb with instant power. I've had my Haibike Full Seven stalled with the front tire on a rock and the rear tire on roots. Standing there balanced, I stomp on the pedal and it climbs up and over. The cadence sensor bikes I've ridden, need at least 180 degree rotation on the pedal before the power even starts. And then it ramps up in power. By that time I would be on my side on the rocks. I highly recommend finding some e Mtbs to ride before dropping that kind of cash on a hub motor.
I do agree on the unsprung weight issue, when it comes to hard core riders anyway, but I couldn't disagree more regarding any "delay" waiting for the cadence sensor to turn the system on. Aftermarket controllers, like the popular KT based controller for instance, that Bolton sells inexpensively as a hop up kit for the RAD and Sonders bikes (and I would not be surprise if they became for the Juiced bikes soon) can be set to start as quickly as the WAY more expensive European mid drive systems. To the point you can get unexpected false starts (the reason some OEM cadence systems have that delay). The KT based systems have quite a few parameters that can be set to the owner's like/dislikes - the cadence sensor sensitivity being just one of them. European mid drives are NOT adjustable.

As far as a powerful hub drive, the MAC geared hub drives are conservatively rated at 1000+ watts, and are very well made. They enjoy what is likely the best reputation for big power AND reliability. Further, the GMAC hub drive has cutting edge regen braking braking available, that's able to lock the rear tire down into speed ranges making it effective driving it on multi use trails and in stop and go city traffic. So effective, they've made the available braking variable (to prevent lock up)! If you're thinking a bike that's going to spend some time in the hills (not mountains) that drive would likely be worth a little study (the GMAC).

Myself, if I weighed about half of what I do, and I were looking for a FS bike, I would go for the mid drive Bafang Ultra powered bike. Super adjustable (dozens of parameters for the control of EVERY controller function), and very reasonably priced. At my weight, it's strictly hard tails here.... My thoughts anyway, FWIW. -Al

P.S. Keep up with the questions. Clearly, they are getting better and better....
 
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Lar

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I do have a inexpensive fat tire no suspension ebike that said if it had more power, a full suspension and geared for the trails I typically ride I feel it would work very well based on what I've already experienced with the cadence sensor and throttle both work in ways that I like. I'm not necessarily wanting another fat tire bike at this time, though the bike I have with no suspension does benefit from the fat tires as a cushion to some degree.
 
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AHicks

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Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
2 thoughts-
With a donor bike that you like on hand, a conversion or "kit" bike might work out well for you. All sorts of great options that can make you as crazy as when picking out an over the counter bike. The GMAC would be a great option if thinking hub drive. They're about 1100 complete with the variable regen electronics. Or if thinking mid drive, the Bafang BBSHD drives are great, with all the power you would EVER need! The BBSHD is throttle and cadence based, with a fully programable controller. Add a good battery to either and you're set...

The other thing, the Bafang Ultra drives are torque and cadence based, and come standard with a throttle. Programming one of these to your tastes/riding style is just over the top as you can establish how the drive will prioritize cadence and torque inputs, and how aggressive you want throttle inputs. If you think you might enjoy setting something like that up (not everone will for sure), this is likely cutting edge right now.

Guys buying the Ultra's with FS seem to be pretty attracted to the Frey line of bikes, but there are quite a few others as well. The Frey bikes are generally sold with your choice of popular options (like wheel and tire sizes), but the big downside is they take MONTHS to arrive after ordering. -Al
 
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Lar

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Right in line with my thinking. Something like this in a rear hub appeals to me...


...but not a 26" bike. If I were to do a kit build (which by the way is the only currently available option) I would go the bbshd or bbs02b route but I don't want to convert my current mtb but it is an option and I could pick up something used to convert also. The ultra really is the best option for me I think, just have to be patient. One other option I am interested in comes with a bafang m600 motor but no throttle so I may go that route, it is due in several months. The good thing in the meantime I have my fat ebike to ride even though it's not right for a lot of what I ride (I can always hike it up some of the steeper stuff with walk assist) it give me time to research al this shhtuff.. = )
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I nearly bought an M2S, but went with Rize RX Pro - hard tail. Rize doesn't offer an FS.

The Linshui controller on the M2S hub drives (as well as many others) isn't very programmable, and I'm completely spoiled there. I would change that bike over to a KT controller as it was coming out of the box. Otherwise, it looks like it might be a pretty good choice.
 
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AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Good people there too. On top of their game!
 

TrevorB

Active Member
Hub drive is fine in hard tail but in FS the motor increases unsprung mass (google it) reducing performance of suspension. The other issue is power control, I find Bosch CX to much in Turbo mode on tight trails hate to think how cadence sensing hub drive would be like. My experiences on cheap hub drive bike weren't great almost crashed a couple time due to sudden surge in power. The other issue is quality of suspension, with FS its needs to be mid-high level components otherwise you are wasting your money. Entry level components don't give great ride and wont last.


 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I wasn't there, so hard to say, but generally when you talk "power surge" that's not about the motor, or mid vs. rear mount. That's way more likely about a crappy controller - or one that hasn't been set up properly. Nothing to do with motor location.

I do agree though, again, about the unspung weight factor. That said, I doubt seriously if the majority of mtn. bike riders would ever ride aggressively enough, or find themselves on challenging enough surfaces, where that unsprung weight might affect them. That's way more about aggressive riders and challenging conditions.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Hub drive is fine in hard tail but in FS the motor increases unsprung mass (google it) reducing performance of suspension. The other issue is power control, I find Bosch CX to much in Turbo mode on tight trails hate to think how cadence sensing hub drive would be like. My experiences on cheap hub drive bike weren't great almost crashed a couple time due to sudden surge in power. The other issue is quality of suspension, with FS its needs to be mid-high level components otherwise you are wasting your money. Entry level components don't give great ride and wont last.


Isn't that what EMTB mode is for?
 

kmccune

Active Member
Depends on the trails and if you really use it like a mtb. A cadence sensor hub motor would be horrible on sharp switchbacks and rock climbing if you have to wait for the cadence sensor to kick in. A torque sensor mid drive is just like a traditional mtb with instant power. I've had my Haibike Full Seven stalled with the front tire on a rock and the rear tire on roots. Standing there balanced, I stomp on the pedal and it climbs up and over. The cadence sensor bikes I've ridden, need at least 180 degree rotation on the pedal before the power even starts. And then it ramps up in power. By that time I would be on my side on the rocks. I highly recommend finding some e Mtbs to ride before dropping that kind of cash on a hub motor.
A throttle helps, especially if your motor has bit of low-end torque, than of course there is "walk assist" if going really gets rough( you push)
 

Sierratim

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Region
USA
City
Nevada City, CA & Paradise Valley, AZ
When considering a rear hub motor for a FS MTB, I'd suggsst you take a look at the Grin Tech article on Why Hub Motors. It starts with this discussion of mid-drive motors;

"There are a certain areas where bottom bracket middrive motors are hands down better suited than hub motors. Offroad mountain biking is one great example. The motor weight is low and on the unsprung frame so it has minimal effect on handling even in full suspension bikes. In these situations you are often going slowly uphill through trails with short steep sections and a small motor working through the drivechain in the granny gears of the bike can do this with excellent efficiency. Another example would be say fat bikes riding in sandy beaches or through fresh snow. These are areas where the bike is moving at lowish speeds through high resistance terrain, and the mid-motor in an easy gearing will do this with better efficiency than most hubs drives, while still performing just as well on the faster roads."

From my perspective these points all combine to make mid-drive FS MTBs predominant in the market.

As an aside, Grin Tech also manufacturers the GMAC hub motor referenced in other posts. I have purchased other hub motors from Grin that were excellent. I'm sure their GMAC motor is as well, esp for its intended uses - "heavy hauling and steep hills". One observation, the Grin Motor Simulator demonstrates that the GMAC motors produce peak power outputs well over the 1hp/746W definition of a bicycle here in the States. This limits ebikes over this output to private property or requires them them to be road licensed. Just sayin'.