What's the Scorecard on Mid-drive?

Did mid-drive end up being what the proponents said, 12 - 18 months ago (in the US)?

  • Yes. It's better engineering and is now clearly established

    Votes: 8 29.6%
  • It works, but it's not as essential as people suggested

    Votes: 9 33.3%
  • There was so much hype, it's hard to sort out

    Votes: 5 18.5%
  • Other systems work well enough and the complexity is a major downside

    Votes: 6 22.2%
  • It works but it's a high end toy

    Votes: 3 11.1%

  • Total voters
    27

George S.

Well-Known Member
Mid-drive has been around a while. It was supposed to be something that changed the ebike. The advantages are obvious, things like unsprung weight and efficiency. But the advantages have not proven to be large enough to push everyone to the mid-drive. Can you really say it 'won'? Can you say it has not met expectations. Was it was overdone?

If you want to make a basic bike, you probably go with a rear hub. I built a front hub (not much to it) and I like the front hub, but it will slide around if you give it too much throttle. Either way, a hub motor is something you see from China around $100 or so, more for better motors. With battery cell prices dropping, packs are getting pretty cheap. The packs offered as 'second' packs on CF campaigns have been very cheap. You should be able to build a bike way below what bikes cost in ebike retail shops, just looking at decent parts, a reasonable battery pack with good, name, cells. The value mid-drive, the BBS02, is hard to sort out. It hasn't really made an impact on retail bikes, which would be built by small shops or imported. There are high end hubs.

So it seems to end up being "If you are aiming upscale, you go MD, otherwise hub". People often don't shift hubs that much. That could be seen as an advantage. They are coupling mid-drive with auto shift, fancy internal hubs, and that is driving the price very high. Do most folks need that?
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Mid-drive has been around a while. It was supposed to be something that changed the ebike. The advantages are obvious, things like unsprung weight and efficiency. But the advantages have not proven to be large enough to push everyone to the mid-drive. Can you really say it 'won'? Can you say it has not met expectations. Was it was overdone?

If you want to make a basic bike, you probably go with a rear hub. I built a front hub (not much to it) and I like the front hub, but it will slide around if you give it too much throttle. Either way, a hub motor is something you see from China around $100 or so, more for better motors. With battery cell prices dropping, packs are getting pretty cheap. The packs offered as 'second' packs on CF campaigns have been very cheap. You should be able to build a bike way below what bikes cost in ebike retail shops, just looking at decent parts, a reasonable battery pack with good, name, cells. The value mid-drive, the BBS02, is hard to sort out. It hasn't really made an impact on retail bikes, which would be built by small shops or imported. There are high end hubs.

So it seems to end up being "If you are aiming upscale, you go MD, otherwise hub". People often don't shift hubs that much. That could be seen as an advantage. They are coupling mid-drive with auto shift, fancy internal hubs, and that is driving the price very high. Do most folks need that?

" hype"? "not essential"? " complexity"? "toy"?
;)
 
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Kaldeem

Active Member
@George S. Great questions! I test road a Bosch mid-drive and it wasn't what is consistently described in Court's reviews or other Mid-drive eBike(Bosch) reviews. Looking forward to some serious Q&A here.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
There's a lot of options available to ebike shoppers, the one that's elusive is the one I want right now (tomorrow?). I suppose a lot of us either feel that way or have felt that way. You can purchase an amazing fitness or mountain hybrid bicycle for $1500 that's lightweight with hydro brakes and quality components all around. The odd thing is when you add that Bosch/Yamaha/Shimano/Etc... it's somehow is worth 4 to 5 grand or more. I'm not getting past that at the moment and a few months ago I was sure I was headed for a high-end mid-drive. Now I'm not sure and that's because I know more and there are more offerings. In addition there are higher torque geared hubs that offer just as much power with a lot less complication. The search continues.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
I thought mid drive was the answer but now am back to a front motor like George S due to simplicity and cost effectiveness. I like the overall balance of weight distribution with a mid battery and cargo carrying on the rear. Going to get my motoBOB back in action also. All the power and cargo capacity I need only when I need it and no weight on the bike other than a throttle.
 

Kaldeem

Active Member
@stevenast Well the video's are always talking about responsiveness and leveraging the drive chain... meh I didn't feel the big difference in riding some rear hubs and then the mid drives.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
@stevenast Well the video's are always talking about responsiveness and leveraging the drive chain... meh I didn't feel the big difference in riding some rear hubs and then the mid drives.

Easy Motion has a pronounced lag. I felt it on several models. Bosch is instant in response. It's a little bit subjective as a rider, but you can objectively see, and hear it, in Court videos.
 

flymeaway

Well-Known Member
That could be seen as an advantage. They are coupling mid-drive with auto shift, fancy internal hubs, and that is driving the price very high. Do most folks need that?

Hi George,

After putting a lot of hard miles on the Mid-Drive BBS02 500W 36V, and riding the MAC 500W 36V rear hub (300+ miles) I'd say it's almost a coin toss for me. I like both setups. Since price is a serious factor, many would be better off with the hub. Bafang does a great job with wiring and connectors which makes a cleaner install, but the price is a negative.

Court J
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Hi George,

After putting a lot of hard miles on the Mid-Drive BBS02 500W 36V, and riding the MAC 500W 36V rear hub (300+ miles) I'd say it's almost a coin toss for me. I like both setups. Since price is a serious factor, many would be better off with the hub. Bafang does a great job with wiring and connectors which makes a cleaner install, but the price is a negative.

Court J

I think it's interesting that if you take a 'good' rear hub, it's maybe a much closer situation. My gripe with the high end mid-drives is that they need to leverage the gears, so they require a lot of shifts. If you shift a lot, especially going uphill, the shifts can be rough. So then they go to internal hubs or auto-shifts. I don't know how well any of these higher end MD's really shift in a standard set-up. I think there was some hype, at least about that.

If you really can get by with a hub that will climb (your) hills, I wonder about mid-drive for most people. To me they keep pushing people to build because the results are so solid. I have an X3 that is tough to pedal because the DD motor creates drag. The front hub Mac doesn't do that, so it's makes a very rideable bike. But no one is selling the build approach.

You get the PAS stuff from your CA, as I understand it. I wonder how your programming stacks up against the Stromer stuff? If I wanted to go down that ride, I would probably get a CA and just ask for some basic advice from you. :)

I'd rather go with a hub motor for the simplicity. Bafang is such a great price, relative to most integrated MD's, that it's almost in a category by itself. It works, but it definitely has had some quality and other issues.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Scorecard? Here it is:

Hub motors will always have their place in history. Salute them as they slowly fade away - even as hobbyists keep them alive for a while to come.

Mid-drive is the future. A few more years of cost reductions and improvements by companies like Yamaha, Shimano, and of course, Bosch, and mid-drive will continue to gain market share.

The reasons won't be found in this thread, but the superiority of mid-drive is easy to find by anyone who researches the subject.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Scorecard? Here it is:

Hub motors will always have their place in history. Salute them as they slowly fade away - even as hobbyists keep them alive for a while to come.

Mid-drive is the future. A few more years of cost reductions and improvements by companies like Yamaha, Shimano, and of course, Bosch, and mid-drive will continue to gain market share.

The reasons won't be found in this thread, but the superiority of mid-drive is easy to find by anyone who researches the subject.

Yeah, they're half-baked or poor value now and the best advice is to wait "a few more years."

There's no marketing in the hobby market. People build what works, mostly drawing on real life experiences of others.

I just think people could build a better bike than your Haibike for a lot less money. I actually think the Chinese, through Aliexpress, will follow the US hobby market, as will the CF campaigns, when they get a bit more sophisticated. Look at the Rad Rover. That's a hobby bike if ever there was one, and the low price is mind-boggling. No mid-drive, of course. He did a ton of research to find the best hub, match it with a solid high C rate battery.

When Karmic grabbed the BBS-02 (before they dropped it) they went with the Nuvinci, which people use to avoid shift issues. But it's heavy and expensive. Yeah, someday, the stuff will be cheap and you'll have a fancier bike. But people may still prefer simple.

Do you want people skilled in building bikes, who know the value of a dollar, or do you want people skilled in creating a marketing image? Right now, give me a premium hub, a solid battery, and I have a great bike if I started with a decent bike. End of story.
 
D

Deleted member 803

Guest
Scorecard? Here it is:

Hub motors will always have their place in history. Salute them as they slowly fade away - even as hobbyists keep them alive for a while to come.

Mid-drive is the future. A few more years of cost reductions and improvements by companies like Yamaha, Shimano, and of course, Bosch, and mid-drive will continue to gain market share.

The reasons won't be found in this thread, but the superiority of mid-drive is easy to find by anyone who researches the subject.
Too funny. A sample of 5 is no sample at all. And, of those 5 nobody voted for choice #1. There is simply no evidence to support your opinion.
 

Kaldeem

Active Member
I don't believe anyone here denies the "superiority" of the MID DRIVE!!!! lol, but rather the cost at its current state. So what's your premise again? ;P
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Do you want people skilled in building bikes, who know the value of a dollar, or do you want people skilled in creating a marketing image?

These two groups of bike makers to whom you refer, the "skilled builders" and the "marketers", who are they? Where does Bosch fit into that division? Yamaha? Shimano?

I don't believe anyone here denies the "superiority" of the MID DRIVE!!!!

Good to know!
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
Too funny. A sample of 5 is no sample at all. And, of those 5 nobody voted for choice #1. There is simply no evidence to support your opinion.

As you say, no sample at all. We are just talking for fun here, the marketplace will provide all the proof.

By the way, the "poll" offers four somewhat negative choices for mid drive. How could it be that no one who likes mid-drive has participated so far? ;)
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
As you say, no sample at all. We are just talking for fun here, the marketplace will provide all the proof.

By the way, the "poll" offers four somewhat negative choices for mid drive. How could it be that no one who likes mid-drive has participated so far? ;)

Because people who pay $4K+ for a bike, even here where they are generally more expensive, are few and far between.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
Scorecard? Here it is:

Hub motors will always have their place in history. Salute them as they slowly fade away - even as hobbyists keep them alive for a while to come.

Mid-drive is the future. A few more years of cost reductions and improvements by companies like Yamaha, Shimano, and of course, Bosch, and mid-drive will continue to gain market share.

The reasons won't be found in this thread, but the superiority of mid-drive is easy to find by anyone who researches the subject.

Let's re-think this for a moment, I found this article:

http://qz.com/137518/consumers-the-world-over-love-electric-bikes-so-why-do-us-lawmakers-hate-them/

So, about 18 months ago the Chinese market passed 200 million e-bikes sold.

According to Bafang's website they make about 1,000,000 motors annually, of which their mid-drives are only a subset:

(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

Here is another article:

http://www.insg.org/\docs\INSG_Insight_23_Global_Ebike_Market.pdf

The above article states that in 2012 European e-bike sales were approximately 850,000 - contrast that with the global sales figures for the year 2013, which was 40,000,000. Even if we give the entire European market a 50% increase in sales for 2013, that would be 1.2 million, accounting for only 3% of the global market. Of those, how many do you think are high end Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano mid-drive systems? I would guess 25% would be a generous number, or 300,000 units.

I guarantee you nobody is paying inflated prices in China (or other relatively low income regions) for high end integrated drive systems. Those that ride them may consider them the best available, but the other 98% will continue to look to the more reasonably priced options.

I also found this article interesting:

http://www.bike-eu.com/home/nieuws/2014/11/worlds-biggest-hub-motor-maker-starts-in-europe-1012411

It says that Bafang intends to sell their new Max drive on bikes priced sub-$2K Euros, which I'm guessing will be major competition for the current high end market.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
These two groups of bike makers to whom you refer, the "skilled builders" and the "marketers", who are they? Where does Bosch fit into that division? Yamaha? Shimano?



Good to know!

The hobbyists are not developing auto-shift or advanced electronics, afaik, so the cutting edge research is clearly being done by Bosch and Yamaha, etc. In that sense it is inevitable that the technology will move along. They are selling 'new' technology, and that is a marketing strategy.

But in some ways it is like the mega-pixel wars with cameras. They could create camera sensors with more and more photosites or pixels. The problem was, the complications made the high megapixel sensors questionable in terms of quality, mostly noise.

At various times, manufacturers went back to designs with fewer megapixels. And, over time, they used processing power to pull better quality out of high MP cameras.

The lesson for me is that it's fairly easy to sell a new technology, but it may not always be the best way to go, and the speed at which they proceed is critical. They pounded people with Megapixels, and many believed it was that simple, that more was better. We have been pounded with MD, and it is easy to argue it is better. It's also pretty easy to say it has not been as simple as it seemed, at first.

I like the idea of a simple ebike, because the idea simply works so well. Adding just a bit to @pxpaulx and his great post, the Chinese never really planned for ebikes. They just started to appear and the population loved them. It was sort of spontaneous, and these were very minimal $300 ebikes, just motors and lead acid batteries.

I don't want to go down the road of legislative 'favorites', of bikes that are locked up with proprietary batteries and closed systems you can't change. That's a bike I won't buy, basically. You get a whole package with Bosch, a whole agenda. A lot of that has to be a marketing strategy. That aside, their technology is fascinating.
 
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stevenast

Well-Known Member
Let's re-think this for a moment, I found this article:

http://qz.com/137518/consumers-the-world-over-love-electric-bikes-so-why-do-us-lawmakers-hate-them/

So, about 18 months ago the Chinese market passed 200 million e-bikes sold.

According to Bafang's website they make about 1,000,000 motors annually, of which their mid-drives are only a subset:

(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

Here is another article:

http://www.insg.org/\docs\INSG_Insight_23_Global_Ebike_Market.pdf

The above article states that in 2012 European e-bike sales were approximately 850,000 - contrast that with the global sales figures for the year 2013, which was 40,000,000. Even if we give the entire European market a 50% increase in sales for 2013, that would be 1.2 million, accounting for only 3% of the global market. Of those, how many do you think are high end Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano mid-drive systems? I would guess 25% would be a generous number, or 300,000 units.

I guarantee you nobody is paying inflated prices in China (or other relatively low income regions) for high end integrated drive systems. Those that ride them may consider them the best available, but the other 98% will continue to look to the more reasonably priced options.

I also found this article interesting:

http://www.bike-eu.com/home/nieuws/2014/11/worlds-biggest-hub-motor-maker-starts-in-europe-1012411

It says that Bafang intends to sell their new Max drive on bikes priced sub-$2K Euros, which I'm guessing will be major competition for the current high end market.

You make excellent points. After posting I started thinking about the Chinese market. There obviously will be a long-lasting market for cheap hub-drives in that country.

I should have addressed my comments to the United States / European markets, where mid-drive will continue to increase in market share due to its technical superiority and also because mid-drive gives a more bicycle-like ride (and service).
 
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