Mass produced Hub motors out of China have made a huge impact on the electric bike market. There are a large number of E-bikes available on the market today because of the invention of the electric hub motor. Because of hub motors, E-bike manufacturers are able to use just about any bicycle frame to turn it into an electric bike. For better or worse, almost any company can choose to be an e-bike manufacturer thanks to the simplicity of hub motors.
You will find hub motor bikes of all shapes and sizes…cargo E-bikes, sand E-bikes, 3-wheeled E-bikes, pedicab E-bikes, folding E-bikes etc. Because hub motors were made in mass quantities, they are also very affordable and reliable. A hub powered bike may be the best solution for a commuter E-bike. Whether you’re building or buying an E-bike, “to hub, or not to hub” should be the question.
Although hub motored bikes are convenient and readily available, the most exciting electric bikes on the planet are not hub motor bikes. Look at the 10 most expensive e-bike list for some very good examples of mid-drive bikes…with a few overly priced hub bikes thrown in. Because of their simplicity, it’s just plain wrong when manufacturers charge big bucks for hub motor bikes. Remember, anyone can build a hub motor bike…even you in your very own garage.
Check out our story on mid drives because there is another option.
10 advantages of hub motors
- Hub motors are produced in massive numbers in China, making them affordable.
- Hub motors are simple to install yourself.
- With a hub motor, you can easily convert almost any bike to an electric bike.
- Hub motors are easy to swap out if blown or worn out.
- Hub motors are easy to upgrade, and re-sell the old one.
- Hub motors are readily available.
- Hub motors have few moving parts.
- Hub motors are fairly reliable.
- Ride with a hub motor, and you’ll fit in perfectly with 90% of your E-bike friends
- Hub motors are fairly stealthy in their appearance and near-silent operation.
10 disadvantages of hub motors
- Hub motors are unsprung weight in the wheel.
- Hub motors can snap dropouts.
- Direct-Drive hub motors have drag when unpowered, making the bike feel sluggish to pedal.
- Hub motors are not as efficient as a non-hub.
- Hub motors are not great mountain climbers.
- Hub motors are not good trail blazers.
- Hub motors can be heavy.
- Hub motors make it much harder to change a flat tire.
- Hub motors disrupt the balance of a bike towards the front or back.
- Hub motors are easy and common.
To develop a new hub motor would cost over $500,000 in tooling costs for a factory in China. Thats why even though there are many hub motors around for E-bikes, most are the same types or clones of existing types. Here is a list of known acceptable qualty hub motors available as of March 2012.
10 name brand hub motors
Here we list the most reputable and most solid hub motors available on the market as of March 2012.
- BMC V2, V3, V4 – High end geared hub motors. 600w overvolting capacity to 2500 watts. The BMC is a larger (8lb) geared hub motor, designed to be more efficient and have a better power-to-weight ratio than a gearless (direct-drive) motor. (Read our review here)
- MAC Motor (BMC clone) Very similar to the BMC but not as high quality, so cannot withstand high power and have the same reliability as the BMC.
- Dapu Hub Motor: a new hub motor used on production bikes such as the Neo Jumper and City Commuter. It is small, wide, and puts out a maximum of 750 watts.
- Crystalyte ( HS35 / HT35)- A recently released direct drive motor weighing in at 16 pounds (Read our review here)
- Cute Motor- a small planetary geared motor. 5 lbs, and capable of running 800 watts. Figure around 20mph top speed on a cute powered E-bike. Very small nice looking motors, can barely tell bike has a motor.
- Bafang – A small planetary geared motor very similiar in size and performance to the Cute motor.
- 9-Continents (9C) – A gearless brushless motor weighing in around 15 pounds and capable of putting out serious power when over volted. A reliable and solid motor. (read our review here)
- BionX – A sleek system, but expensive and made from all proprietary components, making it hard to upgrade controller or battery. Comes in 250, 350, and 500 watt configurations.
- BPM hub motor- a larger geared hub motor (about same size as bmc or mac) that puts out a maximum of 500 watts.
- Golden Motor (magic pie) – A heavy DD motor capable of putting out good power when over volted.
10 Examples of Commercially Available Hub Powered Bikes
Pedego Interceptor (read review)
Smart Electric Bike Bionx (read story)
Specialized Turbo (read story)
Currie Izip BPM
Stromer St1 Direct drive hub
Neo Jumper– (Dapu Geared)
Pedego City Commuter (Dapu geared)
Check out the variety of bikes hubs can be converted into