Electric Bikes Hub vs Crank Motor

Whats the difference between hub motors and crank motors on electric bikes?

Published: Friday 11 May 2018

Electric Bikes, Hub vs Crank Motor with E-Bikes Direct

E-bikes – Hub vs Crank Motors

One of the big questions you will have about buying an Electric Bike is what the difference is between hub motors and crank motors?

There is a major cost difference – you won’t find a crank motor e-bike for much less than £1,200 and you can get one with a hub motor for as little as £600. Given that there has to be a reason for the top end machines only using crank motors and not hub motors!

Let’s start by looking at the pros and cons of a hub motor electric bike, and then focus on the crank motor system.

Hub Motor

Many of the electric bikes we sell at E-Bikes Direct have hub motors. Unless you are a serious rider with plans to go further afield or on regular longer commutes you really don’t need a crank motor system.

Hub motors are the oldest type of e-bike motor. Given the maturity of the technology, Chinese e-bike manufacturers are able to make highly reliable and long-lasting e-bike motors in great volume and therefore sell them cheaply.

There are two types of hub motor – the front hub and the rear hub.

An e-bike with a front hub motor such as the Benelli Fold City will put some extra weight forward of the battery and seat, giving a better weight distribution over the machine. Should you get a puncture it is easier to repair than a rear hub system. There is however the small risk of wheel spin from a standing start – being in the right gear can sort that.

Rear hub motors are becoming the standard hub motor system – only a few pre-built electric bikes have front hub systems these days. With a rear hub motor system such as the Freego Regency and Greenedge CS2 the power goes where it would normally through the chain, unlike the front hub system. This makes for a very good riding experience. You can work through your gears as well as through the power assist modes using this system and you will hardly break a sweat even on the more difficult hills – you can put in as much or as little effort into climbing them as you like!

The biggest difficulty with rear hub e-bike systems is repairing a puncture – this requires a little bit more effort such as the unplugging of a wire, but not too much more than on a traditional bike.

Hub vs Crank

Crank motors are on our more expensive ranges of e-bikes.

Have a spare £12,000 to spend?! Have a look at the Haibike XDURO FullSeven Carbon electric mountain bike with its Bosch crank motor. Short of climbing Mount Everest, nothing will stand in your way as you blast along with perfect ease – whatever the terrain. Let’s be honest – you’re just as likely to buy a Ferrari as you are one of these! You can still buy a very good commuting electric bike such as one of the Raleigh Motus series electric bikes, that will be a significant step in cost beyond what people might spend on a standard pedal bike but will serve you well.

So, why crank motors? Crank motors put the power exactly where you would when you pedal. This gives a really natural riding experience. The weight distribution of the crank motor e-bike is the same as you would find on a traditional bike – almost dead centre of the machine. Crank motors are the best for hilly journeys too due to the torque sensor which gives feedback to the computer and then into the motor. With a couple of thumb clicks you tell the system how much effort it should put in and it will match your cycling effort. The more you put in the more you get out up to 15mph – after that legally mandated speed it will cut out and you’re on your own!

Overall?

We don’t sell as many of crank motor e-bikes as we do hub motor system electric bikes. Why? Price is the biggest issue, though serious cyclists who would spend a few quid on a bike anyway prefer the crank motor system. Hub systems tend to be for people who want to get a bit fitter, replace their cars for certain journeys, and may want that extra power that they might only get in their legs with a few years cycling.

The most expensive crank motor e-bikes are built for serious off road riders, perhaps the sort of person like your writer’s cousin’s ex-fiancée who decided to spend a large amount of the savings they had made for a deposit on their first home together on a mountain bike… For the sort who don’t lie in bed with their future wife thinking of mountain bikes, you can still afford a decent hub or crank motor system that will suit your needs!

Subscribe to our newsletter