Why do the big bike brands (almost) never use hub motors?

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
Here is a cross-post from another thread with the video from an experienced bike builder and mechanic.

Everyone should watch this video if they really want to know the pros and cons of mid-drive vs. hub-drive.

Here's a Juiced CrossCurrent. It came with a hub drive, but then converted to mid drive.

See the difference.

mid drive vs hub drive

 
Last edited:

StevenC56

Member
Region
USA
I've seen these videos. So, this guy doesn't like hub drives. To each his own, but there's a place for both. He is quite biased. I guess we're not even talking about pedal assist, because all his before and after footage is throttle only and he's riding like a fool with no helmet. Just my opinion.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
If somebody knows how to make and post a video there, they MUST know what they're talking about, right?
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
The author is an experienced bike mechanic and eBike builder and he knows what he's talking about.

Did you watch the video? 😉
As much as I could stand....
Makes little difference here if he knows what he's talking about or not. Somebody that's going to promote an opinion regarding which drive type is better is going to be WRONG much of the time. It's that simple. Nothing going on here but another "fan boy" promoting one side of the picture.

I have both types, enjoy riding both types, and I promote both types. Which one works "best" will depend on many conditions and priorities. Without considering a person's priorities or the conditions they plan on using the bike under most often, NEITHER is "best". They're nothing more than 2 available choices.....

Last, if somebody is riding a high powered (750w+) mid drive, they had better know something about maintaining it, and how to ride it properly. Put differently, if you have a guest stop by for a nice afternoon ride, given the ability to put them on a high powered hub drive, or a high powered mid drive, which one would YOU put them on?

I can think of a hundred different scenarios where one drive will make WAY more sense than the other. That's my point. There is no clear cut winner when looking at the big picture, and nothing an "experienced" bike tech has to say is going to change that..... -Al
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
It's also odd - if mid drives were nearly uniformly better for nearly the same price, why would Bafang go to the effort of making both? In general, technologies that are uniformly inferior don't last very long on the market (unless consumers are locked in, which isn't the case here with new buyers), so it stands to reason they have different strengths.

I also wonder if people like him doing conversions favor the mid drives because they're easier to install. Controller embedded, no lacing up wheels, minimal wiring because all the electric bits are around the bottom bracket, etc. Notice how he just left the hub motor in that Juiced lol... $100 to reduce 8+ lbs on a bike (plus less wear and tear), that's nothing.
 

Scarlet/Fire

Active Member
Region
USA
As AHicks alluded, low legal power limits (250w) do favor mid-drives, where you can convert that power to torque better by using your cogs. Note also that it's a power consumption limit, not a power output limit, which would be a Newton-meter limit. I will bet that a number of these european 250w mid-drives are consuming 250w at a nominal test level, and behaving like a volkswagen diesel emissions control unit at other usage levels. Regardless, if I lived in a 250w limit country I would seek out a mid-drive. But I don't live in one of those countries. The US permits 750w motors.

So let me relate an anecdote from around when I bought my first ebike. I have a buddy whose self-built (from donor bike) was stolen. He wanted to replace it with something that could do marin county technical singletrack, so went with a mid-drive bulls at about 53 lb. Got a steal on an essentially new, remaindered 2 year old model for $1450. Yeah, 36V battery, but it rides well. Two catches on that bike that he told me: First, if the motor gives up the ghost he's looking at a minimum of $1000 to replace it, and that is with the same model motor. Second, he had to buy a yamaha charger in the aftermarket, which was $250.

Now, compare that with a geared hub drive bike. If the motor kicks it, you don't replace it with the manufacturer's stock motor, you replace it with a better one, for only $200 to $250. You can replace that motor four times for the price of one mid-drive motor replacement. (I have 4000 miles on the bike, no replacement needed so far.) If you break your chain (a significant concern with a mid drive, less so with a hub), you throttle your way home.

I think this "geared hubs can't climb hills" is nonsense, some kind of defensive reaction from folks trying to justify their sunk costs in a rather non-trivial price point difference. I'm not knocking mid-drives, I think they do ride a bit more naturally and I wouldn't mind having one (with chain breaker in seat bag), but not at 3 times the price, and I'm getting a little tired of the retconning of, whatever question is asked, the answer is, you should get a mid-drive.
Agree! I’m sure mid drives are excellent,but when it starts making strange grinding noises there is literally nobody to fix it! Watch I’ll bet the lower end mid drives will start showing up on craigslist with notes like” it’s a great bike that could beat a cheap hub motor up hills” - all it needs is a repair that may cost as much as a new bike-
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
After spending about a month hunting for the perfect bike that was under 50 pounds, had great acceleration on the flats, range over 40 miles, throttle capability, outstanding torque on hills, that could have a natural bicycle feel but also be more like a moped in some situations and the ability to have assist up to over 25 MPH that I could disable for mixed use paths and to be compliant with the law and not piss off acoustic riders, park rangers, and LEOs... and cost under 2.5K...

I narrowed it down to my two top choices, one was a hub and the other a mid-drive... and I could go no further, couldn't decide, neither bike could do it all.

I realized it was a fool's errand. I finally bought a mid-drive bike that I will probably ride three times a week (it should arrive today!) but I'm going to keep, and maintain, my hub-drive conversion, because I don't expect my new bike to do everything my old bike does, or vice versa.

This is why I have two bikes, right? Duh! I feel like I just realized something I probably knew already.

And BTW, my hub drive actually just started making... a very subtle... very soft... grinding noise after about 8 miles of riding up and down steep canyon roads. So I'm not sure about the reliability of hub drives, but I plan on keeping and maintaining mine, because I just love winding through curves going on mild upgrades at 26 MPH. Will still get a lot of use out of it, I'm sure I'll ride the hub drive once or twice a week, and my wife and friends can use it to get used to e-biking, same as I did.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
After spending about a month hunting for the perfect bike that was under 50 pounds, had great acceleration on the flats, range over 40 miles, throttle capability, outstanding torque on hills, that could have a natural bicycle feel but also be more like a moped in some situations and the ability to have assist up to over 25 MPH that I could disable for mixed use paths and to be compliant with the law and not piss off acoustic riders, park rangers, and LEOs... and cost under 2.5K...

I narrowed it down to my two top choices, one was a hub and the other a mid-drive... and I could go no further, couldn't decide, neither bike could do it all.

I realized it was a fool's errand. I finally bought a mid-drive bike that I will probably ride three times a week (it should arrive today!) but I'm going to keep, and maintain, my hub-drive conversion, because I don't expect my new bike to do everything my old bike does, or vice versa.

This is why I have two bikes, right? Duh! I feel like I just realized something I probably knew already.

And BTW, my hub drive actually just started making... a very subtle... very soft... grinding noise after about 8 miles of riding up and down steep canyon roads. So I'm not sure about the reliability of hub drives, but I plan on keeping and maintaining mine, because I just love winding through curves going on mild upgrades at 26 MPH. Will still get a lot of use out of it, I'm sure I'll ride the hub drive once or twice a week, and my wife and friends can use it to get used to e-biking, same as I did.
"Everyone should watch this video if they really want to know the pros and cons of mid-drive vs. hub-drive."

1) A built wheel with a hub-drive motor is easy for a novice to install to convert without special bike mechanic tools.
2) A mid-drive puts the weight at the low center of the bike for balanced handling.
He mentioned spokes but did not mention pinch flats on hub motors. One guy wanted to go tubeless on the hub-drive wheel because of all the pinch flats. What a mess that would be.
A $10,000 Riese and Muller Superdelite weighs a ton and is a hub-drive. A friend of a friend has one and thinks it is a Rolls Royce. Should I let him kill his twin batteries and burn his motor on a long hilly group ride? Or let him use a light mid-drive for the day?
 

McCorby

Well-Known Member
A $10,000 Riese and Muller Superdelite weighs a ton and is a hub-drive. A friend of a friend has one and thinks it is a Rolls Royce. Should I let him kill his twin batteries and burn his motor on a long hilly group ride? Or let him use a light mid-drive for the day?
A Superdelite has a hub drive? That’s news to me!
 

kmccune

Active Member
Regarding hub motors and electronics, if you are interested in quality and innovation, if you haven't already, check out Grin, with their GMAC motors based on the MAC motors....

And don't make the mistake of selling the hub drives short when it comes to efficiency..... There's a LOT to that, including what controller has been paired with the hub motor.
Sorry I just found this thread( am on the way to I PAD), cost, cost and cost! Bafang does reasonably well at the price point. Justin does very well on innovation, He lacks economies of scale and I imagine He battles fairly high taxes( do not get me wrong I love Canada)
 

kmccune

Active Member
I've really enjoyed reading all of the comments and examples here. Ebike performance can be very subjective due to rider weight, terrain, weather, tire pressure... so one person's struggle might have been solved or less relevant to another. Please keep in mind that I'm a 135lb (61kg) 5'9" (175cm) athletic build. I've definitely experienced slowdown and struggle on steep hills with low and medium powered hub motors (I try to show this in many reviews), but in practice, I just shift to a lower gear or don't stop half way up the hill, so it has never seemed like a critical issue. I don't own a cargo bike, rarely carry heavy loads on racks or even backpacks. I used to commute to work in Austin, TX by regular bicycle, but I switched to an ebike due to knee sensitivity on hills. I could make it up, and enjoyed the heart pumping! but my knee would hurt.

My experience on a regular bike was massive slowdown at hills and some pain, but I never had to stop... I'd just switch gears. My experience with an ebike was limited or no slowdown at hills and no knee pain and faster more satisfying starts from stop signs :D this is the case for me with even a 250 watt hub motor... so the 500 and 700 variants are fantastic, and then the bike weight begins to become a relevant factor because they can weigh almost 50% of me. These are all of the reasons that my current favorite ebikes are any of the Specialized SL models wit the super-light drive systems, limited capacity batteries, and bike-like frames. They solve my knee pain but give me the feeling of control and agility over the bicycle that I enjoyed from regular bikes. I'm sharing this because my Dad (who weighs more than me) chose a RadRover for himself... He likes the stability and comfort of fat tires, he isn't as worried at railroad tracks, and the power and throttle option are great for him... but he's doing neighborhood and light gravel cross country vs. steeper climbs.
Not the fastest learner am I. I just figured out who you are.
 

kmccune

Active Member
As much as I could stand....
Makes little difference here if he knows what he's talking about or not. Somebody that's going to promote an opinion regarding which drive type is better is going to be WRONG much of the time. It's that simple. Nothing going on here but another "fan boy" promoting one side of the picture.

I have both types, enjoy riding both types, and I promote both types. Which one works "best" will depend on many conditions and priorities. Without considering a person's priorities or the conditions they plan on using the bike under most often, NEITHER is "best". They're nothing more than 2 available choices.....

Last, if somebody is riding a high powered (750w+) mid drive, they had better know something about maintaining it, and how to ride it properly. Put differently, if you have a guest stop by for a nice afternoon ride, given the ability to put them on a high powered hub drive, or a high powered mid drive, which one would YOU put them on?

I can think of a hundred different scenarios where one drive will make WAY more sense than the other. That's my point. There is no clear cut winner when looking at the big picture, and nothing an "experienced" bike tech has to say is going to change that..... -Al
Could we say"If I agreed with Him, we would both be wrong?" Any rates "takes the medicine you have a taste for" you will probably not skip a dose.
 

PensFan

New Member
Region
USA
After spending about a month hunting for the perfect bike that was under 50 pounds, had great acceleration on the flats, range over 40 miles, throttle capability, outstanding torque on hills, that could have a natural bicycle feel but also be more like a moped in some situations and the ability to have assist up to over 25 MPH that I could disable for mixed use paths and to be compliant with the law and not piss off acoustic riders, park rangers, and LEOs... and cost under 2.5K...

I narrowed it down to my two top choices, one was a hub and the other a mid-drive... and I could go no further, couldn't decide, neither bike could do it all.

I realized it was a fool's errand. I finally bought a mid-drive bike that I will probably ride three times a week (it should arrive today!) but I'm going to keep, and maintain, my hub-drive conversion, because I don't expect my new bike to do everything my old bike does, or vice versa.

This is why I have two bikes, right? Duh! I feel like I just realized something I probably knew already.

And BTW, my hub drive actually just started making... a very subtle... very soft... grinding noise after about 8 miles of riding up and down steep canyon roads. So I'm not sure about the reliability of hub drives, but I plan on keeping and maintaining mine, because I just love winding through curves going on mild upgrades at 26 MPH. Will still get a lot of use out of it, I'm sure I'll ride the hub drive once or twice a week, and my wife and friends can use it to get used to e-biking, same as I did.
Just curious...what were your two top choices??? I am still shoping for my first e-bikes for my wife and myself.....Thanks!!
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
A $10,000 Riese and Muller Superdelite weighs a ton and is a hub-drive. A friend of a friend has one and thinks it is a Rolls Royce. Should I let him kill his twin batteries and burn his motor on a long hilly group ride? Or let him use a light mid-drive for the day?
Not sure where you got this bad information. All Riese & Muller bikes incorporate only Bosch mid drive motors with torque, speed and cadence sensors, and to my knowledge always have.
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Just curious...what were your two top choices??? I am still shoping for my first e-bikes for my wife and myself.....Thanks!!
The were the Nireeka Homie and the Motobecane ULTRA eAdventure. Neither one of these bikes would be a good fit for you and your wife, and both are only available online-- however, I'm going to post a full review of the Motobecane, which is what I bought. I am very happy with it now, though 120 miles ago, I was not so sure! Both of them have full suspension, relatively lightweight, and are underpowered, which is probably not helpful! I am just over six feet tall, weigh just under 150 pounds, I need a good workout, and ride on very bad pavement as well as dirt roads and the occasional single track.

I will let you know when my review of the Moto is done, (later this week, I hope) because if you WERE open to buying online, I am really liking this brand for build quality, and I do like the Shimano mid-drive, and there are other Motobecanes that might be more appealing to you guys.

I will also tell you that my other bike-- a hub drive-- DIED last Thursday when my buddy was riding it-- though I don't yet know what the problem was. I suspect it was a battery failure, but if it was the hub motor that failed, I think that's interesting, because it's a hub motor with a very good reputation. I did not abuse it at all, but I did ride it up very steep hills in very low gears. So I'm starting the whole warranty process, we'll see what happens.

Off the top of my head, I'm thinking maybe a mid drive might be better for you guys, and to reconsider the throttle issue, because throttles often decrease range significantly, but I'm still really new to this, only been at it five or six months. The other folks on this forum have a lot more experience and can inform you about a broader range of options.

Also, where is NEOH? Is that Northeast Ohio?