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

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
From his post I can not see any branding or link to a technical sheet that's why I said it looks like a budget one. If there is a detailed spec sheet I will be happy if you can give me a link.

500w is a good power output and should be enough that motor. However max current definition, at least in the States, is quite different. It does not mean that the appliance will operate at those levels the same way it operates at its rated current. It means that it will never pull more than that many amps under any circumstance which protects any other circuitry that is connected to it.
KT controllers (and a few others) have the important data right on the identifying tag. Have another look at the top picture of the controller. The KT in the model number identifies it as a KT controller.

I still don't have any clue regarding what motor is in this kit. "48V 500W Rear Rotate Motor Wheel" tells you nothing....
 

HCooke

New Member
Region
USA
I am very happy with my Pedego Platimun Interceptor. Has rear hub motor and excellent torque sensing. Over 1400 mile in one year and no issues.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
I am very happy with my Pedego Platimun Interceptor.
Has rear hub motor and excellent torque sensing. Over 1400 mile in one year and no issues.
Pedego has also introduced a new line of mid-drives... both EMTB and belt drive.
There seems to be hope for some of the more mature independents going forward. ;)

Pedego Conveyor - Belt Drive Electric Bike | Pedego Electric Bikes

Pedego Elevate - Full Suspension eMTB | Pedego Electric Bikes

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FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
In
There's more to the bike market than people spending $3k+ on eMTBs and spending $1k on crummy hub motor ebikes.
Bike brands could do something interesting in the $1.5-3k range but don't.
Their is some good news on the horizon forecast for 2021... ;)

E-bike predictions for 2021: What to expect in the electric bicycle industry this year (electrek.co)

Wave of affordable mid-drive e-bikes

Mid-drive e-bikes, which have a centrally-mounted motor that powers the e-bike through its bicycle gears, have long been dominated by industry heavyweights like Bosch.
Popular mid-drive e-bikes have offered high-quality drivetrains and mid to top-shelf components to match. But that has traditionally kept the prices high, often in the $4,000+ range.
However, 2021 is likely to see a new wave of affordably priced mid-drive electric bikes. There are plenty of Asian mid-drive suppliers that are growing their market share and helping drive down prices.

We’re actually already starting to see this trend play out with new entries from companies like Ride1Up, who just unveiled the Ride1Up Prodigy electric bike.
It is likely the most affordable Brose-powered mid-drive e-bike on the market at just $2,195.


(And for the record, I made this prediction weeks ago before the bike was unveiled). I expect to see more e-bikes like this unveiled in 2021, and the inclusion of non-EU motors will only intensify this trend. There are already a few interesting low-cost mid-drive e-bikes on the market now, but I expect 2021 to see a new wave.

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Oski1997

Active Member
Region
USA
City
San Diego
Given that hub drives have some benefits over mid drives, you'd expect them to be fairly common among big bike brands offerings (Cannondale, Canyon, Trek, Specialized, Giant, etc). Not as a complete substitute, but as a common alternative to mid-drive motors. But it seems like there are almost none to be found, even among low end offerings.

You could blame the suppliers, but even Bosch and Yamaha already make hub motors for mopeds, so that just shifts the same question. The hub motor tech is simpler. It's not like EU customers are too good for hub motors, given how arguably the premier ebike brand, Stromer, uses them.

Do low legal power limits (250 w in EU) favor mid-drives? I can't think of any compelling reasons for why the legacy brands + suppliers have refused (geared) hub motors.

I tried to find relevant threads and only found this:

I think the reason why is because their motor/battery manufacturers (Bosch, Yamaha, Brose and Shimano) don’t make hub drive motors for ebikes. So big bike brands can’t sell hub motored bicycles. I guess if the big brands decided to not use B, Y, B, S, then they could. But these brands are the best selling ebike motor/battery manufacturers in the world. So not sure that will happen. I might be wrong. Have you found out if these big 4 manufacturers of motors and batteries make hub motors for ebikes?

Also remember that if a 2-wheeled vehicle goes faster than 30 miles per hour, it’s considered a moped. I‘ve read that in Europe moped drivers have to register it, have a specific license to drive mopeds, and have to have moped insurance. This might be a contributing factor as to why Bosch and Yamaha don’t use their moped R&D in bicycles??? Also remember that the “moped” department is a different branch of the Bosh/Yamaha companies. They have their own R&D teams. Would this mean inter-departmental collaboration??? I’m sure the answer lies in revenue. They probably know which markets have the most potential and want to focus on growing those markets. But, I don’t work for motor/battery manufacturing companies so I’m just throwing out ideas from the top of my head..... lol.
 
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BigNerd

Well-Known Member
So is Cannondale the only "big bike brand" using a hub motor? I think Orbea also does... but they are not "big". Pinarello also uses a rear hub (aMahle I think).
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Also remember that if a 2-wheeled vehicle goes faster than 30 miles per hour, it’s considered a moped. I‘ve read that in Europe moped drivers have to register it, have a specific license to drive mopeds, and have to have moped insurance. This might be a contributing factor as to why Bosch and Yamaha don’t use their moped R&D in bicycles??? Also remember that the “moped” department is a different branch of the Bosh/Yamaha companies. They have their own R&D teams. Would this mean inter-departmental collaboration??? I’m sure the answer lies in revenue. They probably know which markets have the most potential and want to focus on growing those markets. But, I don’t work for motor/battery manufacturing companies so I’m just throwing out ideas from the top of my head..... lol.
This is not exactly how you think Oski. European "moped" class is:
  • Either 50 cc ICE or up to 4 kW electric motor
  • The speed limited to 45 km/h (28 mph)
  • No word on pedals or throttle (moped may have no pedals and may have a throttle)
  • Safety equipment, type-approval, registration, insurance, driving license (in some cases), helmet
  • Bike infrastructure such as bike paths or lanes cannot be used by a moped.
Anything above that is a motorcycle.

Of the Big Five motor brands:
  • Bosch, Brose, and Yamaha make 250 W (nominal) "speed" mid-drive motors
  • Mahle makes both mid-drive and road bicycle hub-drive motors, capable of "moped" speed. (Mahle cannot be ignored with their Specialized 1.1 SL mid-drive and ebikemotion x35 hub motors).
  • Shimano only makes low-speed mid-drive motors.
One of participants of this thread said true words that the biggest bicycle brands want to sell to cyclists, and their aim is to make e-bikes that feel like traditional bicycles, so they mostly choose mid-drive motors from trustworthy big motor makers. (Shimano doesn't even think of making high-speed motors).

The big factor here is the huge European market where you typically expect e-bike to enjoy the very same status and rights as the traditional bike (and the 25 km/h assistance limit is required). S-Pedelecs, or pedal-assisted Euro "mopeds" have no throttle, are limited to 250 W (nominal -- but the peak power is far greater), are rare and expensive. Technically speaking, to make a U.S. Class 3 e-bike from any Euro e-bike (except of Shimano), it is enough to set the speed limit to 28 mph. For Canada, it is enough to set the speed limit to 32 km/h. So simple.
So is Cannondale the only "big bike brand" using a hub motor? I think Orbea also does... but they are not "big". Pinarello also uses a rear hub (aMahle I think).

Cannondale, Orbea etc. use mid-drive motors for many of their e-bikes. Use of Fazua or Mahle ebikemotion x35 hub-drive motors in road e-bikes has historical grounds. It is because Fazua and X35 are lightweight systems. To which Specialized has found an alternative (not so long time ago) by approaching Mahle for the lightweight 1.1 SL mid-drive motor. Cannondale use Bosch mid-drive motor in their Synapse Neo, Trek do the same, Giant went with Yamaha (we are talking road e-bikes here) . Pinarello, Colnago, Bianchi seem to be a little bit behind. However, I hear that Bianchi have recently announced their mid-drive motor e-bike.
 
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Oski1997

Active Member
Region
USA
City
San Diego
So is Cannondale the only "big bike brand" using a hub motor? I think Orbea also does... but they are not "big". Pinarello also uses a rear hub (aMahle I think).
I believe this hub motor “ebike motion” made by MAHLE (from Germany) provides the motors to niche brands like Orbea, Pinarello, Bianchi, Colnago and Ribble. These brands are from Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. Maybe these EU bike brands want to support a EU motor company??? Mahle’s motor/battery system also only includes a 250w battery. An extender can be purchased (adding another 250w). I think the MAHLE system is meant to be used by bicycle brands that want to focus on light weight ebikes for riders that only want a small % assistance to get the added value of a lighter bicycle.
 
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Oski1997

Active Member
Region
USA
City
San Diego
This is not exactly how you think Oski. European "moped" class is:
  • Either 50 cc ICE or up to 4 kW electric motor
  • The speed limited to 45 km/h (28 mph)
  • No word on pedals or throttle (moped may have no pedals and may have a throttle)
  • Safety equipment, type-approval, registration, insurance, driving license (in some cases), helmet
  • Bike infrastructure such as bike paths or lanes cannot be used by a moped.
Anything above that is a motorcycle.

Of the Big Five motor brands:
  • Bosch, Brose, and Yamaha make 250 W (nominal) "speed" mid-drive motors
  • Mahle makes both mid-drive and road bicycle hub-drive motors, capable of "moped" speed. (Mahle cannot be ignored with their Specialized 1.1 SL mid-drive and ebikemotion x35 hub motors).
  • Shimano only makes low-speed mid-drive motors.
One of participants of this thread said true words that the biggest bicycle brands want to sell to cyclists, and their aim is to make e-bikes that feel like traditional bicycles, so they mostly choose mid-drive motors from trustworthy big motor makers. (Shimano doesn't even think of making high-speed motors).

The big factor here is the huge European market where you typically expect e-bike to enjoy the very same status and rights as the traditional bike (and the 25 km/h assistance limit is required). S-Pedelecs, or pedal-assisted Euro "mopeds" have no throttle, are limited to 250 W (nominal -- but the peak power is far greater), are rare and expensive. Technically speaking, to make a U.S. Class 3 e-bike from any Euro e-bike (except of Shimano), it is enough to set the speed limit to 28 mph. For Canada, it is enough to set the speed limit to 32 km/h. So simple.


Cannondale, Orbea etc. use mid-drive motors for many of their e-bikes. Use of Fazua or Mahle ebikemotion x35 hub-drive motors in road e-bikes has historical grounds. It is because Fazua and X35 are lightweight systems. To which Specialized has found an alternative (not so long time ago) by approaching Mahle for the lightweight 1.1 SL mid-drive motor. Cannondale use Bosch mid-drive motor in their Synapse Neo, Trek do the same, Giant went with Yamaha (we are talking road e-bikes here) . Pinarello, Colnago, Bianchi seem to be a little bit behind. However, I hear that Bianchi have recently announced their mid-drive motor e-bike.
Wow, Nice information Stefan!!!!
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
That's an interesting case. Orbea understands the best e-MTB should use a mid-drive motor. They have recently made a sensation, announcing their Orbea Rise with the latest Shimano EP8 motor. Which made many e-MTBers salivate ;) Because the Rise combines light weight with a powerful motor.
 

Kaiede

Member
The big factor here is the huge European market where you typically expect e-bike to enjoy the very same status and rights as the traditional bike (and the 25 km/h assistance limit is required). S-Pedelecs, or pedal-assisted Euro "mopeds" have no throttle, are limited to 250 W (nominal -- but the peak power is far greater), are rare and expensive. Technically speaking, to make a U.S. Class 3 e-bike from any Euro e-bike (except of Shimano), it is enough to set the speed limit to 28 mph. For Canada, it is enough to set the speed limit to 32 km/h. So simple.

This seems like a good chunk of it. While the US is a hodge-podge of rules right now, it is skewing towards a variation of the Euro model. Class 1/2 getting access to traditional bike infrastructure (although eMTB is a mess in my area), while Class 3 are more like unlicensed mopeds. So where I’m at, where we have a number of “rails to trails” projects, paved bike paths, and improved trails, there’s some incentive for having something other than a Class 3.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
This seems like a good chunk of it. While the US is a hodge-podge of rules right now, it is skewing towards a variation of the Euro model. Class 1/2 getting access to traditional bike infrastructure (although eMTB is a mess in my area), while Class 3 are more like unlicensed mopeds. So where I’m at, where we have a number of “rails to trails” projects, paved bike paths, and improved trails, there’s some incentive for having something other than a Class 3.
But no one's enforcing that, so the incentive is mostly imaginary.
I think the reason why is because their motor/battery manufacturers (Bosch, Yamaha, Brose and Shimano) don’t make hub drive motors for ebikes. So big bike brands can’t sell hub motored bicycles. I guess if the big brands decided to not use B, Y, B, S, then they could. But these brands are the best selling ebike motor/battery manufacturers in the world. So not sure that will happen. I might be wrong. Have you found out if these big 4 manufacturers of motors and batteries make hub motors for ebikes?

Also remember that if a 2-wheeled vehicle goes faster than 30 miles per hour, it’s considered a moped. I‘ve read that in Europe moped drivers have to register it, have a specific license to drive mopeds, and have to have moped insurance. This might be a contributing factor as to why Bosch and Yamaha don’t use their moped R&D in bicycles??? Also remember that the “moped” department is a different branch of the Bosh/Yamaha companies. They have their own R&D teams. Would this mean inter-departmental collaboration??? I’m sure the answer lies in revenue. They probably know which markets have the most potential and want to focus on growing those markets. But, I don’t work for motor/battery manufacturing companies so I’m just throwing out ideas from the top of my head..... lol.
Yeah I wrote before, it's not really about the brands but those component suppliers, because brands don't make components. What you wrote isn't an explanation of what happened, but a description of what is. It would have been a lot easier to simply adapt hub motors from their existing moped products than to design a whole new motor type, and hub motors were a more mature and simple technology 10-20 years ago.

"We only sell mid drives because they're the most bike like", on the scale of an entire industry, is just self absorbed twaddle. If millions of people will pay for a less bike like bike, then the industry will provide it.

The most simple explanation is the power and speed limits. If you can only go 16 mph, the main point of the motor is an assist on hills where mid drives ostensibly shine, and also offer more effective power with a lower nominal wattage rating. After all, many people like ebikes not so much for going faster, but for going the speed they already go, but up hills, with cargo, with less effort etc.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
I didn't know Asher I couldn't ride at 45 km/h on my EU Vado 5.0 moped 😔 Thank you for making me aware of that 🤣
 

kmccune

Active Member
Though I commonly advocate for hub bikes, they would be GEAR DRIVEN hub bikes, and they'll have the same heating issues a mid drive will when forced to go fast for an extended period.

The DIRECT DRIVE hubs can go faster longer, because unlike the gear driven hubs and mid drives, they are MUCH more efficient at getting rid of internal heat build up.
They pretty much have heirloom quality too.
 

Kaiede

Member
But no one's enforcing that, so the incentive is mostly imaginary.

Big companies building bikes that are meant to wind up on these multi-purpose paths and trails are not going to flout the regulations. These older brands especially are the ones that have built up the internal bureaucracy to track and adhere to regulations in the markets that they operate. So some of the incentive is on the part of manufacturers.

But in terms of Class 1 vs 3, I had the option of either CX or Speed motors on the bike I liked, with the Speed motor increasing the price. However artificial the price difference is, or even if it’s small (less than 10% here), it does affect buying decisions. Trek’s Allant+ 7 vs 7S adds some cost for example. It’s up to the buyer to decide if that cost is worth it if the rider is spending the vast majority of their time on bike paths, MUPs and residential streets. The 300$ US difference in Trek pricing is enough to cover the costs of new locks/etc. The bike paths and MUPs in my area have posted speed limits of 15mph, mostly because it really is difficult/unsafe to go much faster than that in the first place. To me, it makes about as much sense buying a class 3 for MUP/trail use as buying an MTB for urban commuting. You can do it, sure, but it doesn’t mean urban bikes (or class 1) aren’t a useful category.

If you can only go 16 mph, the main point of the motor is an assist on hills where mid drives ostensibly shine, and also offer more effective power with a lower nominal wattage rating. After all, many people like ebikes not so much for going faster, but for going the speed they already go, but up hills, with cargo, with less effort etc.

And you kinda hit one nail on the head here I think. This, combined with the fact that established companies are going to be focusing on trying to not piss off the regulators means you are going to get “boring” things out of these players in the market. There’s little reason for a larger, established company to give regulators ammo to kill a new market it can use to grow sales. Last thing I’d want as Trek is to put an eMTB out there that gets cited as a reason to block access to natural trails, effectively killing the eMTB market in that jurisdiction. Instead, you’ll get designs that do what you say here as a way to demonstrate that the new market is much like the old one and give the manufacturers ammo that the e-bike market should continue be regulated more like the traditional bike market, rather than like mopeds.
 
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Sierratim

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Nevada City, CA & Paradise Valley, AZ

Asher

Well-Known Member
Big companies building bikes that are meant to wind up on these multi-purpose paths and trails are not going to flout the regulations. These older brands especially are the ones that have built up the internal bureaucracy to track and adhere to regulations in the markets that they operate. So some of the incentive is on the part of manufacturers.

But in terms of Class 1 vs 3, I had the option of either CX or Speed motors on the bike I liked, with the Speed motor increasing the price. However artificial the price difference is, or even if it’s small (less than 10% here), it does affect buying decisions. Trek’s Allant+ 7 vs 7S adds some cost for example. It’s up to the buyer to decide if that cost is worth it if the rider is spending the vast majority of their time on bike paths, MUPs and residential streets. The 300$ US difference in Trek pricing is enough to cover the costs of new locks/etc. The bike paths and MUPs in my area have posted speed limits of 15mph, mostly because it really is difficult/unsafe to go much faster than that in the first place. To me, it makes about as much sense buying a class 3 for MUP/trail use as buying an MTB for urban commuting. You can do it, sure, but it doesn’t mean urban bikes (or class 1) aren’t a useful category.
That's a good point for MTBs, which appear as Class 3s here in the US too. For road going bikes, class 3s carry less risk of manufacturers ruining a good thing.

I wonder if the Class 3 MTB thing is partly for people who like the idea of trail riding but actually do most of their riding on the road. That, and with a regular geared hub motor, it's just a matter of not limiting the firmware to let the bike go faster, the motor already has the requisite power built in.

Just one exmple, but even in our small town over-powered ebikes have been pulled over;

Haha I used to live there. I would hope these people use an ebike for more than just cruising on the strand, but that's an area where people have more money and pride than sense, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's all they did with their ebikes. Cruising on an ebike beachside there sucks just for that reason, it's too dangerous to go fast.
 

Kaiede

Member
That's a good point for MTBs, which appear as Class 3s here in the US too. For road going bikes, class 3s carry less risk of manufacturers ruining a good thing.

I wonder if the Class 3 MTB thing is partly for people who like the idea of trail riding but actually do most of their riding on the road. That, and with a regular geared hub motor, it's just a matter of not limiting the firmware to let the bike go faster, the motor already has the requisite power built in.

Which Class 3 eMTBs are you referring to? I admit I haven’t looked at the breadth of the market, so I’m genuinely curious. Speaking of the bigger players though: for Trek at least, I see some class 3 Hybrids, but the CX is the motor used on the eMTBs. Specialized’s website isn’t terribly great for skimming for high speed bikes, neither is Giant’s (lack of metadata for filtering). I’m probably just missing it if these brands are offering Class 3 eMTBs?

But getting back to the original question you posed, thinking on it further, I also wonder if we might be splitting hairs a bit here. The thing is, I’ve never really felt “hey, I really wish this bike came with a hub motor” when talking about my CX-equipped bike. It seems like there’s a lot of overlap between what sort of real world desires/wants both systems enable, to the point that both are adequate for the “mass market”. Where there isn’t overlap seems like it can get lost in the other differences people are thinking of when buying an e-bike. So, I’m wondering if folks outside the bubble of forums like these honestly care more about the price, suspension, traction/stability, total range, repair support and the experience while in the saddle than if there’s more efficiency in one part of their ride versus another. We might be trying to understand a difference that doesn’t have as much of an impact on customer buying habits.

Using Trek again (mostly familiarity to be honest), they pretty much just stick to Bosch except on their absolute cheapest bikes which do use a hub drive and may even be outsourced and rebranded bikes. Being known for their service network, it makes sense to focus on a single supplier and keep the techs trained on that supplier. And Bosch seems more interested in kicking Garmin/Wahoo out of the cockpit, and making their existing drives more budget friendly, which makes a lot of sense from my perspective if the goal is to maintain a dominant market position.