Hub Motor vs Mid-Drive: Which Electric Bike Motor is Best for Me?

Have you noticed how you search for a new phone having every possible detail taken into consideration based on what specs you want it to have?
It is just the same in deciding whether you want to grab a hub drive e-bike or a mid-drive type of e-bike and it is indeed true that even though the choices are only down to two, differences in its pros and cons will give us a kilometer of list to enumerate.

There have been long debates on which is better between a hub and mid drive motor e-bike when it comes to ride quality, speed and range, risks, convenience, cost effectiveness, performance, handling ability and many more. 

In this article, we are going to walk you through your decision making process in choosing between these two motor type e-bikes. 


First thing first, what is the difference between these two?

  • A Hub Drive is an electric bike motor that is right in the middle of the hub, or in the middle of the wheel, usually in the back wheel. That motor gets a little bit of juice from the controller and then the motor starts to turn and then to throw the spokes onto the tire, and the entire bike gets moving. That is a Hub Drive!
  • A Mid Drive on the other hand is an electric bike motor that instead of the front or the back wheel, it’s located just right in the middle. Usually this means that it is between the pedals.  


Above anything else, describing the performance of both hub drive and mid drive motor comes first. This is one of the biggest differences between the two – hub motors cannot keep up with the mid drive.

Hub motors at 750w are usually rated at 80 Nm of torque whereas a mid drive is rated at 120 to 160 Nm of torque. That is just almost twice as many!
If you have driven a car at 150 Nm of torque and the other one has 300 Nm of torque, the difference is just as crazy. It will give a different performance. 

When it comes down to how that power is applied, mid drive comes from the crank and it uses your gears in the back like a transmission.
We’ll use this car analogy as much as we can here.
It uses the gears in the back so essentially if you have an eight-speed transmission from the back whereas with a hub motor you only have one speed transmission, so it is like being stuck in the third gear in your car.

However, this does not give us the conclusion that a hub drive motor will not suit you. If you live in flatlands like Florida, torque performance of hub drive won't be an issue.

Therefore, choosing which has better performance comes down to the type of road you are going to use your E-bike. 


From a manufacturing standpoint, hub drive motors can be attached to a variety of different frames with just a few minor tweaks.
So the designer has a lot of room to work with the rest of the bike.
Hub drives have been manufactured from a large scale for long years.

There will be a lot of options to choose from if you want to modify your hub drive. 

Another thing about hub drives is that they are actually quite peppy. Usually a hub drive bike has a throttle that expressly engages the motor without pedaling and then off it goes.
Like a rear wheel drive car, a hub drive in the back of the bike has the pushing effect. It is a lot of fun, let me tell you.
If you ride on really long stretches of road where the top speed and the pep is very much appreciated.

One more thing, a hub drive doesn't need a chain to operate. If the chain breaks or more likely if the rider is tired, then you can engage the throttle and the motor without having to use the pedal at all.
This is the main reason why we recommend the hub drive for folks using an electric bike for serious rehabilitation. 

A disadvantage to take note with hub drive is that the weight on the back wheel.
Those wheels can be difficult to remove form the bicycle. It is not super complicated though, usually just washers and a plug but it can be very overwhelming and if it's not there rightly, it will feel really weird.
If you opt to switch tires very often then a hub drive is not what you are looking for. Things can also get tricky for a mid drive.

If a hub motor fails, then you can still use a pedal, however this is not possible for mid drives.

Since mid-drive motors work interdependently with the gears and crankshaft, it could vastly restrict your ability to pedal out of the woods and leave you stuck with a dead eBike.

However, mid-drive motors offer some perks in terms of maintenance. For example, if you pop a flat, you don’t have to deal with working around that big engine in the wheel hub. 


With a lot of electric bikes manufacturing brands coming in the market, the competition often starts in price.

Purchasing mid drives for around $2000 especially from a well known manufacturer is a common thing, however if your issue is the price, a hub drive is probably waiting for you. Hub drive is relevantly cheaper, not because it is low quality, but they are less complex to modify and cheaper to make. 

If we talk about durability, hub motors are just as strong as mid drive. 

While the average mid-drive bike has many advantages over the average hub-drive, the average mid-drive is also more expensive.

There are some fantastic hub-drive bikes out there too, so you should always consider how the whole package comes together before making a purchase.


Are you almost done in making your decision on whether you want to purchase a hub drive or a mid drive? If not yet, these are some key differences that may help you come up with a conclusion;

  • Motor speed and range of these two can be distinguished with its efficiency. Mid drive motors work with your gears, it is generally more efficient than hub motors. When you shift to a lower gear, the motor’s power doesn’t have to provide as much because natural pedaling cadence becomes easier. At the same time, when you change to a higher gear, the motor has to do more work but the change is less noticeable. Therefore, you’ll get more range out of a mid-drive electric bike motor when in a higher gear because its workload is not constant.
  • Handling the hub motor will be quite uncomfortable as the weight of the motor can either lie in the front or the back wheel while the mid drive has it just right in the middle where balance can take place. 
  • Appeal is one of my preferences in choosing anything I buy. Having a mid drive can be less appealing than the hub drive. Imagine that oddly looking shape of the motor in the middle of your bike? It will probably not ooze with appeal. While a hub drive motor can probably be unnoticeable to novice bikers as it goes along with the wheels really perfectly. 
  • Where do you want to go is the question. If you are an off road rider then mid drive will be best for you while a hub drive is much better in long stretches of roads. 

A lot of information about hub drive and mid drive have been set on your plate. Now, it is your turn to choose. Although, both have its pros and cons, both are better in one way or another depending on your needs. 

If you are looking for a cost effective electric bike motor, purchase that hub motor right away and start your journey to the road! However, if you want to see the city from a little different perspective, like on the top of a hill, then a mid drive motor is perfect for you. 

I hope this article indeed helps in your decision making process. Just choose what is right and suitable for you and you will be content with your decision! 


Please let us know if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can help you with by contacting us!

Happy riding!
Urban E-Bikes Team

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