Hub Motor Conversion; Front or Rear Wheel Drive?


When planning your electric bike build, one of the first questions you should ask yourself  before you pick your conversion frame is…do you want a front wheel drive or rear wheel drive?

In this article we will pick out the pros and cons of both.

If  you already own the frame you plan on converting, your task is much easier, you just need to determine if the bike (and your commute) would be better off with front wheel drive or rear wheel drive (or both?).

Picking a hub motor to install:

If you plan on installing a high power motor (over 500W) you are best going with a rear hub. Understand that a high power motor is heavy (up to 25lbs) so when deciding on whether front wheel or rear wheel drive, decide first where you would be most comfortable with all that weight, and how much power you want.

If you go with a geared hub motor (BMC, MAC, Cute, Bafang, etc) its possible to get a powerful motor in a much lighter and smaller package.

When you buy your hub motor or hub motor kit, be sure to specify if you want front or rear drive. Since the spacing is different between front and rear dropout you cannot use the same kit on the front or back. Most people opt to go with a rear hub motor when weighing benefits with rewards, but it all depends on personal preference, and what you want out of the bike.


Front Wheel Drive


All wheel Drive if you pedal! in snow, mud, and rain it can’t be beat.

Keep the rear pedal gears clean, and the same as if there was no motor.

Potential to use any shifting system on the rear including Internally Geared Hubs. IGH’s are sweet. Read our story about Rohloffs on E-bikes here.

Bike is more balanced if battery is in the popular and convenient rear rack.

Easiest E-conversion.

Harder to smoke motor because the front wheel slips during intense climbing.


Traction problems at low speeds especially off road

Traction problems when climbing off road at low speed

Potentially dangerous if not set up correctly because of front drop outs snapping

Cannot use ultra powerful motor.

Probably requires a torque arm (read story)

Looks clearly like a hub motor up front (not a stealthy as rear drive motor)

Front suspension is not recommended, especially at high power levels.

Can be tremendous safety issue if not hooked up correctly (front wheel locking up is bad)


Rear Wheel Drive


Overall quality of ride is better with a rear drive.

Beefy rear drop outs are harder to break than front forks. (safer!)

Better traction when climbing up hillls offroad.

Limited as to the rear cassettes you can use.

Motor is hidden by gear cassette and rear disc brake, looks cleaner and more stealthy

No issues when choosing suspension forks, front disc brakes, or upgrading to hydraulic.


Installation is more intense than front hub.

Rear hub motor can take up to 7 speed freewheel, so bikes with 8 and 9 speed systems will require either downgrade to 7 speeds, or a slight frame spreading to accommodate 8 or 9 speed freewheel.

Rear disc brake may not be an option, requires fussy fitting if its even possible.

IGH hub (ie Rohloff) is not possible. Read our article about Rohloff on ebike here.

Changing rear cassette is required.

Bike becomes back heavy and unbalanced, especially if battery is rear mounted.


Rear flat tire becomes a huge pain. Recommend upgrading tubes and tires.

All Wheel Electric Drive

For extremists, or for those who don’t like deciding between front and back…you can go with both a front and rear hub motor.  Now you have all the power and traction possible.  Lets weigh the pros and cons to such a set up starting with the cons:


Heavy…twice the added weight.

Cost…twice the added cost of an electric bike.

Maintenance…twice the chance something will break.

Complex…with two motors you will need two controllers and maybe two batteries.

Efficiency loss…one motor is more efficient than two motors.

Less steatlhy (twice the wires to hide)


All wheel drive!!

Awesome for traction when climbing or on soft surfaces such as snow or sand

Slightly higher top speed, and alot more torque

Cool as hell

Runs cooler for mega hill climbs

Reliability…less of a chance of the bike leaving you…always have a second motor.

Read our extensive write up on Torque arms here.

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


  1. beware–e 1500 china import not deliverable—-SCAM ALERT

    • removed the e-1500 because of slimy marketing practices on endless sphere and shady reputation as this poster is accusing.

  2. Are there hub motors to comvert a tadpole trike to fwd?

  3. how about make the front hub charge the battery that drives the rear hub

    • Sounds like you mean perpetual motion. The charge of the rear is not equivalent to the power it will take from the front. i.e less efficient.

  4. Would you have a LP 3650 pwer adapter for a front wheel motor. I had one installed on my recumbent several yeRS AGO the red and green light arent working nor does it seem to be charging?

  5. Haha i just lost my front ebike wheel, i was showing off and drifting, good i was not speeding only drifting high rpm but low speed.
    Must have better way to connect front wheel to bycikle front.

  6. I’ve got a montague paratrooper pro that i am gonna convert in to my daily commuter ebike.

    I’ve been spending the best part of the last 2 weeks reading up on the subject.

    For a guy like me who wants to be able to travel at 50-60 km/h and pedal along to get some good exercise on top of it a MAC 6T front hub seems to be the right solution since that would mean i can have a rohloff in the back and a schlumpf high speed drive in the crank.

    But i cant find the right front forks for this setup.
    Any sugestions?

  7. I have everything for my front wheel electric bike but the wheel cord/wire got tangled so I need just the motor of the wheel. Where can I buy either the wheel with motor in it or Just the motor with cord for 26 ” bike

    • I want to buy each piece individually and want to keep my spokes, tire and wheel, just replace the center bearing with an electric motor. So my question is the same as yours. Please let me know if you found anything. THANK YOU!

    • Ebay or amazon

  8. i am making a solar car with 48v solar panels 300watt, 4 12v battery in series, 48v 500watt hub motor weight of the car including driver is 250kg… is it possible to drive the car without any difficulty

    • Horrible Idea. 12v car batteries will explode if you discharge them unless they’re deep cycle. 250kg is a shit ton of weight and your acceleration will be horrible. Your car is a bad idea. you should do some research before you spend money!

      • but sir we are using 4 lead acid batteries which have deep cycle.
        and now we have reduced the weight to 200kg(with driver) and there will be 90kg(i.e included in 200 kg weight) on the shaft of hub motor which has a maximum limit of 120kg.
        is still there is a problem??
        so can u give some suggestions sir…

      • They won’t explode. They just go dead.

  9. Anyone aware of a dual BLDC motor controller for a 2×2 fatbike project? I.e. speed sync of 2 disimilar motors (light low power front, heavier higher power rear)?

  10. I have installed a motorcycle light and turn signals for my electra beachcruiser..can anyone help me with wht battery to use as its main power source for both lights,,I know i need a 12 volt..but theres so many batteries im having it dificult ,which one to choose i have a 14 mile commute at night..i know ill need a rechargeable one..but please lead me in right question is my bike is big but any suggestions as far as whats the best motor for me on a ride like this..I live on the east end of long island ..the ride home in the winter is kinda up hill..but the wind and snow during the winter its whats sucks..just want a motor that would make mine 45 min commute..maybe 20 minutes..i dont willing to put front and rear wheel motors.. ..just need a little direction..thank you everyone..Happy holidays!!!

    • You need a real motor cycle for such a reliable commute (think battery, wheel, or motor failure). For winter, I’d suggest an actual inexpensive small car to avoid the elements.

    • They make 4×6″ batteries that will work but you have to charge it every time you have the opportunity. If one spent work use two but make sure you toe them at 12v. Charge constantly talk to the guys at Battery Do it e then buy online.

  11. OK, my question is what about the 2000 watt motor controllers they sell on ebay? Can you use one motor controller to power two wheels? I already have a rear wheel kit and was thinking of investing in a front wheel kit and on of those 2000 watt motor controllers. Any experience with one of those motor controllers? I saw one that was suppose to be a dual drive motor controller. Is there any benefit to running two motor controllers?

    • I really think if you run same brand and everything same brand maybe but 2 motors and on regulator you would probably want to up your battery size. I think you would have to get a stronger regulator if you really want to run one and would have all the controlls which may not work. Biy one made for two wheel drive is your best bet.

  12. Please if someone could help, I’m facing a weird problem that is if I run the BLDC hub motor at low speed and hold it with my hand so that it can not move, the motor continuously applies torque on my hand but if I increase the torque or in other word do the same thing but at higher speed it goes in free run after a certain maximum torque. Please if someone could help its a bit urgent.

  13. Has anybody built a hub motor onto a regular road wheel (like perhaps old school strong mavic open 4cd rim) I would like to build an ebike out of a regular road racing frame, but the fat ebike rims available don’t fit into a regular road frame. I can rebuild a wheel, but just wondering if it wouldn’t be strong enough for the power and weight.

  14. What about a mid-drive and hub-motor combo? I can see a front hub / mid drive working, but would a rear hub with a mid drive destroy your chain?

  15. do you do custom wheel builds?

  16. What safe way too paddle e-bike for motor

  17. I have rear wheel drive and I love it, never drove a front wheel drive electric bike… hmmmm Mine is the lanke leisi c-750 plus with upgraded fork, fat tires # 4.0 folding full suspension frame, 1000 watt 48v removable battery… Got it from last year for $5,999 this year they are $2,999 wish I would have waited a year…

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