Front, Rear or Mid Drive Motor E-bikes. Which One to Choose?

Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by Igor Karni

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The trend of e-bikes is increasing day by day, so are the design and feature variations of these bikes. There are three types of e-bikes available on the market based on the positioning of the motor.

Front, rear, or middle motor e-bikes. Which one to choose? Middle motor electric bicycles provide the most balanced and comfortable ride as the center of gravity is placed in the middle of the e-bike. Mid-motor e-bikes are usually more expensive than front or rear motor e-bikes as mid-motors require more design efforts.

Further below in this article, I will guide you in the selection of the right type of e-bike for you, based on comfort, speed, or trend – whatever is your preference. We will sift through specifications, the pros and cons of the front, rear, and middle motor so that you can make the right choice for your individual circumstances.

Features of front motor e-bikes

In the front motor e-bikes, the motor is placed in the middle of the front wheel. Installation of the wires and battery is relatively easier in the front motor e-bikes. Typically, in the front motor e-bike, the motor pulls the rider forward.

The main features and pros of front motor e-bikes are as follows:

  • Installation and configuration of front motor e-bikes are relatively more straightforward in comparison to rear-motor bikes. This is due to the fact that there is usually no gear system in the front-motor bikes.
  • Front hub motors help in distributing the total strain between the front wheel and rear wheel. The front wheel takes on the front weight, and human weight adjusts the rear part.
  • Further, the front motor system is isolated from the rest of the bike parts. This separate placement makes servicing of the bike easier without interfering with the motor.

Following are some of the limitations of front motor e-bikes:

  • One of the limitations of front-motor bikes is that they come with the lower end of motor capacities like 250 W or 350 W. It is because the front fork of the bike lacks structural platform in contrast to rear-hub motor e-bikes. Hence, your choice becomes limited in the selection of motor capacity.
  • Front motor e-bikes tend to have a traction problem at low speeds. This is due to the weight distribution in the front motor models.
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Read also: Can e-bikes help go up steep hills? And, How to switch electric assistance levels on an e-bike?

Features of rear motor e-bikes

In the case of the rear motor e-bikes, the drivetrain directly connects to the rear motor.  This makes a pushing sensation to the rider, which, in turn, makes the riding more responsive.

Rear motor e-bikes typically are more famous due to their design. Motors of rear motor e-bikes give them this special and unusual for bicycles look. This design is compatible with the highest capacity of motors available in the market. Hence, if you prefer power, rear motors are for you.

Let’s find out some of the advantages and disadvantages of rear motor e-bikes:

Advantages of rear motors for e-bikes

  • Many models of modern e-bikes use rear motor technology. Hence, those models are more popular. Most of those who have experienced normal bike will find more natural riding sensations in rear motor e-bikes.
  • Rear motor e-bikes also have the look of a standard bicycle without much strange design and built. This makes many riders prefer such models.
  • Rear motor e-bikes are generally more powerful than front motor e-bikes. Rear motor e-bikes are then more comfortable for people heavy in weight.

Disadvantages of rear motors for e-bikes

  • Bikes having heavy rear motors could be subject to “popping wheelies” risk at high speeds. This is not always fun and can be dangerous on certain occasions. For example, when you accelerate from a red light or climb a hill.
  • Rear-motor is not the right choice for people with more weight. There will be imbalance issue because of significant strain in the rear part of the bike.
  • Service or replacement of the motor is the most cumbersome in the rear motor system.
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Read also: How much does an e-bike weigh? And, What is e-bike range on a single charge?

Features of middle motor e-bikes

E-bikes with middle motors are also called hub-motor e-bikes. In these types of electric bikes, the motor is actually placed near the center of the bike. But the power of the motor rotates the rear wheel that controls the chain drive. Hub-motor technology is currently the most widely used among e-bike motors.

The main advantages of middle-motor e-bikes are as below:

  • The design of the middle motor makes sense as these motors more protected from the external environment. Due to this fact, there is the least wear and tear with the motor and life of the motor becomes extended.
  • The middle motor technology requires the least maintenance. This makes middle motor e-bikes the first choice of e-bike buyers.
  • Overall performance and torque of mid-motor e-bikes are usually better than that for the front or rear motor e-bikes. Mid-drive motors drive the crank rather than the wheel, which makes better use of the motor power.
  • Many of middle motor e-bikes like Evolo bicycles, for example, make it very easy to replace their motors. One only needs to take out two special bolts without disturbing other parts of the bike. Hence, service and maintenance become quite simple.
  • The placement of motor is near to the center of gravity and close to the ground, which makes the electric bike much more balanced, as compared to the front or rear motor e-bikes.
  • There is no or least loss of power because battery and motor are placed together. When the battery and the motor are placed apart, some loss of power will occur.

Now let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of middle motor e-bikes:

  • Mid-drive motors can be uncomfortable while climbing hills or cruising along the flats. They require shifting gears more carefully.
  • The life of the motor can be reduced due to the higher power systems. It can lead to the more frequent replacement of motor accessories than on other models.
  • Since the mid-motors are more complicated in design than front-motor and rear-motor systems, cost of mid-motor e-bike is usually higher than that for the other two options.
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Read also: How far can e-bikes go? What is e-bike range on a single charge? And, How fast are e-bikes?

Which e-bike motor system is best for me?

We have taken a look at the differences between all three motor systems for electric bikes. Let’s now discuss, which one is better for you.

The front motor drive e-bikes have the main center of gravity behind the front wheel, which may cause problems while climbing hills.

The rear motor drive has a better-positioned center of gravity. This means that the bike will less likely slip from excessive torque. But the additional weight on the rear wheel does take a toll on performance.

The mid-motor drive moves the sprocket instead of the whole wheel. It utilizes the whole range of gears, thus providing perfectly balanced weight distribution and excellent power efficiency.

An electric bike can be chosen according to cost. Cost ranges according to the brand, frame style, motor, battery, and whether it is used for performance or casual riding.  However, each bike is designed for different purposes. When it comes down to deciding the perfect e-bike to fit your lifestyle, there are a few things to consider.

Think about the activities you want to use your e-bike for, what kind of motor you want (hub or crank motor assist) each one has its pros and cons depending on how you want to use your bike, and finally how much you are willing to pay.

Read also: How to select the best e-bike for your needs? Making your educated e-bike selection choice – and also in this article. And, How much does a good e-bike cost? Comprehensive e-bike pricing guide (with 46 examples).

Closing comments

After an in-depth analysis of the features, specific advantages, and disadvantages of each type of bike it should be helpful for you to decide the right choice of the e-bike. Our finding concludes that mid-motor e-bikes should be the most comfortable type of e-bike for the majority of e-bike riders.

The mid-drive motor helps conquer long steep hills drive by keeping RPM in an efficient range. The bike feels most responsive and is great for both casual riding and off-road trips.

Bottom line is that the middle motor e-bike makes the rider feel like a super-powered human rather than feeling like a motor has assisted them. Additional considerations like cost, maintenance, ease of replacement of motor also support this choice.

Read also: Are electric bikes dangerous? What are e-bike risks? And, How safe are electric bikes?

Related questions

Which type of electric bike do I need? Well, there is no rule of thumb to decide the best option. Each of the three types has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice largely depends on what type of rider you are and what you would like to use your e-bike for.

Would you like to use it for daily commutes to work or college? Would you like to take it on long countryside trips on the weekends?

Which type of electric bike is the most efficient? We recommend mid-motor bikes based on their built and other advantages as compared to the front and rear motor e-bikes. Mid-motor bikes utilize a low center of gravity effect. Their weight is evenly distributed on the front and rear parts of the bike.

How powerful is an electric bike motor? The most popular motor capacities available in the e-bike segment are 250W, 350W, 500W, and 750 W. Riders are suggested to choose motor power according to the type of riding and location. For example, driving an e-bike in a hilly area would require more motor power.

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