At this point Hub Motor kits are cheap and abundant and therefore common. Hub powered bikes make excellent commuters. However hub motor can really fall short when traversing difficult off road terrain or carrying heavy loads up a hill on a cargo bike. Mid drive kits are the holy grail of electric bike kits. They appeal to the gear head in us all because most of them run through the gear system of the bike, and have gear reduction systems to gear down the high rpm a small electric motor inevitably runs at.
Here are 10 commercially available kits that you can buy today and transform your regular bicycle into a mid drive electric bike. Be warned that none of these kits are as easy to install as a hub motor drive would be, and are considerably more expensive than hub motor kits. We list these kits 1-10 according to how available and accessible they are (and then how cool they are). The lower on the list the harder it is going to be for you to find one and get it operational.
1. Ego Kit (read our story here)
For $3000 you can convert your existing high-end full suspension mountain bike to an electric mountain lift with backpack battery.
2. Gng Electric Chinese Mid Drive System (read our review)
In August of 2012 Gng offered a new 450 watt kit similar (but lower quality) to the $3000 Ego kit for an amazing $400 shipped from China. You can see the kit here on the gng site. This kit is showing a lot of promise. This price is comparably priced to many hub motor kits and looks like it is an excellent platform for hot rodding. We have one of these kits on order and will be posting a review with our findings shortly, but GNG is showing a lot of promise to finally bring affordable ebike kits to the public at an affordable price.
Also Hats off to Gng for actually making a video effectively illustrating the benefits of a mid-drive system…. climbing stairs is nearly an impossible feat for a hub motor bike:
For more videos illustrating the advantages of mid drives, check out our story on mid drive performance videos.
3. Gruber Assist (read our story here)
One of the most creative drive solutions ever…the gruber assist hides away in the seat tube…impossible to visually identify a GA as an Ebike.
4. Cyclone Drive
Although this looks like a simple drive set up the Cyclone Drive is actually a motor attached to a planetary gear box, providing 10:1 reduction, attached to a double freewheel. If you buy one of these kits I strongly suggest you spend the extra money and buy the biggest motor (650W-1200W) with the external controller. Even at lower power levels this high powered motor will be more reliable than its smaller counterparts. Read this entire ES forum thread before buying…great buyers guide to the Cyclone.
5. Eco Speed
At $4000 for the kit (with battery) this isn’t cheap, but a decent solution.
Built specifically for the Yuba Mundo Cargo bike, this is a really sweet system which gives you a simple to install mid-drive solution which allows free wheeling. This is how the M-drive comes, ready to bolt into your Yuba Mundo Cargo bike:
7. Rocha Mountain Drive System
An electric bike converted with one of these systems was one of the3 types of bikes to make it up to the top of the Pikes Peak Race. It uses an Astro 3205 motor. Read our article here for more information on the astro. This is an easily bolted on bottom bracket system which is among the easiest installs on this list. Ron Rocha sales them for $1500 which includes Astro Flight motor, Neu panetary gear reduction box, and castle controller. All of these components are top notch and the reason for the high retail price. This system can be bought from Run About Cycles.
8. Stoke monkey
The Stokemonkey is a simple solution for adding a mid-drive to a cargo bike. They are known for being effective but have no free wheeling capacity so when the motor is going you are always peddling with it.
9. Matt Schumaker Reduction systems
Matt is known for taking powerful Astro Flight motors (read our story here), and converting them to electric bike use. His own trike goes 50 mph and is on our list of 10 fastest electric bikes. It was a Matt drive system bolted to a FFR trike that crushed the electric bike race up Pikes Peak in 2012 (read enthralling story here). The downside to the Matt drive is Matt in order to simplify installs, has opted for a system that does not run through the peddle gears of the bike. Running through the peddle gears is what make mid drives so sweet.
10. E-pinion 1.8 (read our story here)
The 750 watt Epinion gives you enough power to climb any hill any mountain biker could peddle up.
Mid Drive Kits Built For OEMs
The following drives are only available to manufactures who want to produce an electric bike with a mid -drive. This is too bad because these are some of the cleanest mid drive systems available. To accommodate these mid drives the frame needs to be built custom around them. The resulting E-bike is inevitably fairly expensive, but also highly refined. These kits all involve motorizing the bottom bracket, a very clean solution. These kits are not made in China, and make very good pieces of E-bike Porn. (see our article on ebike porn here)
Clean Mobile Drive
Used on glorious bikes like the Audi Electric Bike, the KTM Egnition, and the Blacktrail Bt-01 the Clean Mobile system is a gear reduction built into the bottom bracket. OEM’s have their choices of motors they can use, ranging from 250 watt Europe legal models, all the way up to the 5000 watt Plettenbergh Predator which is used in one of the configurations of the Black Trail. This is one slick piece of engineering. To see one taken apart and exposed read our article about the Blacktrail Exposed.
A 250-350 watt system that has proven to be a reliable and durable system. Check out our review of a great example of a 350 watt Panasonic system on the Focus Jarifa.
This is only a 250 watt system, but a very rugged mountain blimber. Bosch teamed up with Cannondale and released among other bikes the Cannondale E-Series (see our story here)