Since you are reading this page, most likely you have been interested in e-bikes for at least a few weeks. Probably you already know a few things about them, and you’re beginning to have a good idea about why they are so popular. If you’re like me, part of your interest comes from thinking that you’re getting in on something relatively new. Not so!
Bikes assisted by electric power have been around for quite a long time. Actually, an electric bicycle patent was secured in the late 1800’s. It used a simple lever to control power to the motor, allowing biking without pedal power. This invention was very exciting and soon other inventors were imagining the possibilities. Believe it or not, in 1895 a rear-mounted hub motor was invented…not that different from what we see on today’s e-bikes.
The early e-bikes did not have a lot to offer compared to today’s models, but wow…they were e-bikes!
From those humble beginnings, the e-bike industry now offers a wide variety of modern high-powered and economical electrically powered bicycles. The motors that propel today’s e-bikes are truly a marvel of engineering ingenuity. E-bikes are definitely a serious financial investment worthy of careful budgeting. Nevertheless, it is rather amazing that an electric bike can be purchased at prices under $5000 complete with all the modern technology.
With all this carefully engineered power available, it is helpful to have a good idea of the differences in e-bike motor types. As you consider purchasing an e-bike, arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible is a very good idea. In general, the common names of e-bike motors are descriptive, and based on their mounting location. Here’s what you need to know about e-bike motors.
As you would guess, these motors are located near the middle of the frame. In fact, a mid-drive motor is located at the crank, between the pedals. This type of motor supplies power directly to the chain. Naturally, this means that a broken chain eliminates the transfer of power to the rear wheel.
Mid-drive motors are more expensive than hub motors, and the drive train is also more expensive. Because power is supplied directly to the chain, a stronger chain is required to avoid the aggravation of breaking the chain. These motors also require a dedicated frame designed with the needed support. Unlike hub motors, the mid-drive motors cannot be used to “convert” a conventional bicycle to an e-bike. Mid-drive motors are also more complex to install or replace, which adds to the expense.
The mid-drive motors generate more torque than any other type of e-bike motor, and because they are integral to the drive train, they are sometimes described as feeling “natural.” Their location in the drive train also requires far more shifting than other types of motors. Thus, learning to ride can be a bit more difficult.
Even if you are new to e-biking, with a hub motor you can be very quickly riding with confidence. For example, shifting is often unnecessary if your bike is powered by a hub motor, and you can even shift when the bike is stopped. But with a mid-drive motor, the bike must be moving before the rider can shift, and while riding it must be shifted frequently.
Geared Hub Motor
The geared hub motor (again, as you would guess) is located at the hub of the wheel. It can be at the front wheel, rear wheel, or both. The most common location is at the rear wheel. Riders who desire extra power and speed may choose to add a hub motor to the front wheel, and install an additional battery.
This type of motor is the most economical option, resulting in an e-bike that is much more affordable. In spite of the lower price point, the geared hub motor generates an exceptional amount of low-end torque. This is an important factor.
Torque is important because of its relationship to power. You can think of torque as the power available for turning the rear wheel on your e-bike. The torque can be provided by a motor or by the pedaling of a bike rider. The harder the rider pedals, the more torque is applied for turning the rear wheel. In the same manner, a well-designed hub motor makes more torque available for turning the rear wheel and propelling the e-bike forward.
To summarize, the higher low-end torque of a hub motor provides quicker takeoff, easier starts on an uphill incline, and greater ease of climbing hills.
Key points to remember…
- Mid-drive motors are more complex and more expensive.
- More maintenance is required for mid-drive motors.
- Proper shifting is vital on a mid-drive ebike.
- Hub motors have a simple, very reliable design.
- Hub motors are less expensive.
- Shifting is easy and even not required for hub drive ebikes.
Another type of motor is the direct-drive version, also usually located at the hub of the rear wheel. The direct-drive design transfers power directly to the wheel, unlike the geared hub motor. The geared hub motor, as the name implies, uses a series of gears to deliver the power.
The direct-drive motor has the fewest moving parts, and thus is normally a very long-lasting and reliable motor. It is also a very quiet motor. Unfortunately, it is not capable of offering the high torque rating that comes with the geared hub motor. This type of motor is best suited for long commutes over fairly flat terrain, mostly uninterrupted by hills.
A unique aspect of the direct-drive motor is the ability to add a regenerative charging feature. When coasting, this allows the motor to send power to the battery. However, most riders report that the degree of charging is not very significant.
The MAGiCYCLE Geared Hub Motor
The combination of great power delivery and high torque, plus economical pricing, has made the geared hub motor the preferred choice for MAGiCYCLE e-bikes. As is the case with all components on every MAGiCYCLE, this brand insists on providing a high-quality brand name motor.
The MAGiCYCLE company is now building e-bikes that include a newly-improved geared hub motor, along with a new long-range battery. That’s a very impressive combination giving MAGiCYCLE riders 96 NM of torque. That torque is truly amazing, about the same as the torque of an 800cc motorcycle. This means riders can look forward to faster starts in heavy traffic, improved hill-climbing capability, and a range of up to 70 miles. Of course, range varies with rider weight, terrain, wind speed, and the rider’s pedaling.
This new upgraded motor also offers extended motor life. The life-extending redesign includes exceptional resistance to heat, a real bonus for longevity. With 1100 watts of peak power, MAGiCYCLE is once again providing the best bang-for-the buck. No other brand in this price range can give you equivalent power and quality. It’s another reason to put MAGiCYCLE at the top of your shopping list!