Electric Bike Motors

DIY Electric bicycles have become increasingly popular in recent years, allowing bikers to convert their regular bicycle into an electric bicycle. To convert your bike into an e-bike you need to select a motor and a battery. We have already written a complete guide on selecting a battery, but the real fun begins now, selecting a motor.

There are three main types of e-bike motors, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at front hub motors, rear hub motors, and mid-drive motors. We’ll help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you based on your use case, riding style, budget, etc. For a quick summary, scroll down to the direct comparison section below.

Front Hub Motors

  (Electric horse anyone?)

Front hub motors are motors that live in the hub of your front wheel. In most cases, the hub motor is already pre-built into a wheel which you would purchase as one piece. Front hub motors are popular for their simplicity and affordability. They’re relatively easy to install since they don’t interfere with the drive-train of your bike. This makes them a great choice for custom builds such as scooters, trikes, and four-wheelers. These motors are relatively well-priced (check price ranges below) and can provide a good amount of power depending on the specific motor you choose. For example, the front and rear Magic Pie 5 motors can put out significantly more than 1000W.

One of the main drawbacks of front hub motors is that they can make steering a bit more slow and difficult. The extra weight in the front of the bike can affect handling, especially at higher speeds or when going downhill. The front hub motor also doesn’t have great traction, so the wheel skids especially when trying to accelerate quickly. Front hub motors also tend to be less efficient than other types of motors, as they don’t take advantage of the bike’s gears.

Front hub motors are an excellent choice for entry-level e-bike conversions such as for older folks who need assistance when biking. It’s also great for people who aren’t very handy or don’t have much time to work on their e-bike.

Rear Hub Motors

Rear hub motors are similar to front hub motors, but they are mounted on the rear of the bike. This has a few advantages over front hub motors. Firstly, it provides better weight distribution, which can help with handling and stability at higher speeds. Secondly, the weight of the rear wheel improves the bike’s traction, making the ride feel quicker and more responsive. Another benefit of all direct-drive hub motors is that they have regenerative braking, more on that below.

One of the main downsides of rear hub motors is that they are more difficult to install and maintain since the motor is connected to the bike’s natural drive chain. Replacing a flat tire or repairing the wheel is much more cumbersome. Another disadvantage of the rear hub motor is that not all freewheels or cassettes will be compatible with the motor, limiting your choices.

Rear hub motors are the most common on e-bikes today because they offer a balance of power, ease of installation, cost, and overall performance. Commuters who are willing to install a rear hub motor on their bike will almost definitely appreciate the improvement over a front hub motor. Trail riders who can’t afford mid-drive motors would also have a great time with these motors.

Mid-Drive Motors

A mid-drive motor is a motor that is mounted to the bottom bracket of the bike. This allows the motor to take full advantage of the bike’s gears to optimize power output which can make it more efficient (thus having better range) than front and rear hub motors. Mid-drive motors are powerful and very responsive to rider input, making them a good choice for off-road riding. Another advantage is improved handling due to the weight of the motor being distributed low and near the center of the bike. Lastly, when the motor is turned off, a bike with a mid-drive motor feels the most like a normal bike since the motor doesn’t resist pedalling or add uneven weight.

One of the main drawbacks of mid-drive motors is that they tend to be more complex and difficult to install than hub motors. Additionally, they may require more maintenance over time since the motor puts quite a bit of strain on your bike’s chain and gears. For the same reason, mid-drive motors should only be used on high-end bikes with quality parts, otherwise, the stress might damage your bike. The most notable downside of these motors is the price tag (check below). Beyond that, a minor con for these motors is that they don’t have great ground clearance, making them susceptible to hitting rocks and logs.

Mid-drive motors are great for hardcore cyclists who want to go off-road or tackle tough trails and are willing to put in the time and money to install the motor. Mid-drive motors (like the Bafang BBSHD) usually offer newer and more customizable technology (controllers, displays, sensors, etc.) which is great for those who really want the best riding experience. These motors also have much higher power potentials than hub motors, for example, the CYC X1 Pro goes up to 5000W!

Direct Comparison

Please note, these ratings are our own and should only be used as a general guide. If you are viewing this table on a phone, hold your phone sideways to view it in landscape mode.

Categories Mid-Drive Front Hub Rear Hub




Installation and Maintenance

Regenerative No Direct Drive: Yes

Geared: No

Direct Drive: Yes

Geared: No


Cost (Motor only) $500 – $1200 $250 – $700 $250 – $700

Direct vs Geared Hub Motors

Hub motors come in two varieties, direct-drive and geared motors. In a direct-drive hub motor, the magnetic force between the rotor magnets and stator coils is directly used to rotate the wheel. The motor is built directly into the wheel and there are no gears inside the motor. In a geared hub motor, the motor is connected to a planetary gear system, which allows the wheel to rotate at a different speed than the motor. The planetary gears multiply the torque output of the motor, which makes them more efficient at low speeds or when climbing hills. Also, wheels with geared hub motors can spin without resistance, making it easier to pedal when your battery dies. Direct-drive motors, on the other hand, have higher top speeds and are more efficient at those high speeds. Direct-drive motors also have the advantage of regenerative braking capabilities. This means the motor can brake electronically which would decrease wear and tear on the bike’s brakes, and charge the battery while doing so.

If you are planning to use your e-bike for regular commuting, geared motors will provide better efficiency off the line and allow you to climb inclines easier. On the other hand, for those off-road e-bikers who want higher speeds and long-distance efficiency, direct-drive hub motors are the better choice.


To select the right motor for yourself, you need to determine what type of rider you are. Are you a casual rider? A commuter? How fast do you want to go? How much time and effort can you spend? What’s your budget? These are a few questions to think about that will help you decide. This article and this video will serve to guide you only once you know the type of rider you are. This decision may seem daunting, especially if you haven’t actually tried any e-bikes. The truth is, as long as you purchase a motor made by a reputable company with good reviews, you’ll have a blast riding it. And if you’re still confused by all the options on the market, feel free to reach out to our sales team.