There are so many different types of electric bike motors, but it is essential to get your motor choice correct. The motor has a significant effect on the riding dynamic of the bike. So, in this post, we are going to tell you all about the different electric motors electric bike manufacturers fit to their bikes. You will then know which motor is best for you.
Electric Motor Brands
There are a few electric motor brands that supply electric bike manufacturers. For example, you can buy an electric motor with an electric motor from Bafang, Bosch, Shimano, Panasonic or Yamaha. An electric bike motor isn’t just all about how much power it has. All of the motors from each manufacturer have their own characteristics.
Types Of Motor
There are three main types of electric bike motor, and which one you choose will depend on the type of riding you want to do.
As the name suggests, these motors are fitted to the wheel hub, either on the front or rear wheel. You will find hub-mounted motors mainly on hardtail electric mountain bikes and commuters. You won’t find many electric bikes with the motor mounted on the front wheel. These are usually aftermarket kits that convert a traditional bike into an electric bike.
The disadvantage of rear-hub-mounted motors is that the bike isn’t very well balanced. Also, they can upset the handling of a bike with rear suspension. This isn’t a problem for most people, but the uneven weight distribution can make riding tricky if you like to ride technical mountain bike trails.
However, bikes with hub-mounted motors are much cheaper, and they are virtually maintenance-free. Electric bikes with hub-mounted motors are ideally suited to light off-road trails and on the streets.
These systems use a cadence sensor, which monitors your pedalling and tells the motor when to engage. It also tells the motor how much power to call from the motor relative to your selected assistance level.
The motor gives you a set amount of power when you pedal slowly, but as you start to pedal faster, the motor’s power is reduced as you gain momentum.
Rear-hub mounted motors use this system to make the pressure you need to put into the pedals relatively light. If you have mobility issues or recovering from an injury, an electric bike with a cadence sensor will be more comfortable to ride.
Before the motor kicks in, you do have to pedal. Therefore, some cadence sensor electric bikes also have a throttle. Consequently, you can get moving on the throttle mode before pedalling to engage the motor.
Bolt-on motors are also used in conversion kits. These motors can be a little heavier than hub or mid-mounted motors. Also, you need to carry the battery in a backpack, which raises your centre of gravity.
Mid-mounted motors are smaller and more compact, which allows the frame designers to make the bike’s geometry closer to a regular mountain bike. The significant advantage of this is that you don’t need to adapt your riding style.
The motor is mounted between the cranks, so all the weight is low down, lowering the bike’s gravity centre. It also balances the bike forward and backwards well, making its handling predictable and more like a regular mountain bike.
Bikes with mid-mounted motors are great for people who ride technical terrain or live in hilly areas. The motor uses a torque sensor to determine how much assistance you require.
An electric bike with a torque sensor needs you to put effort into the pedals, so it can work out how much force you are applying.
The torque sensor tells the motor to increase its output relative to how much force you put into the pedals. When you push harder on the pedals, the motor gives you more power. The system gives you a more natural feeling. It is more like riding a regular bike, but with your pedalling efforts amplified. You can also feel the strain on the chain, as it is connected directly to the motor.
A system with a torque sensor engages more quickly than one with a cadence sensor. They make the system more efficient and can extend your bike’s range.
So, the type of motor you choose depends on what you want to use your electric bike for. But, once you have chosen, the motor itself should not be the sole deciding factor on which bike to buy.
You need to think about the bike’s geometry, sizing and additional features to ensure it is the best one for you. But, we will still focus on the motors so that you can get all the information.
Electric bike motors generally weigh 3.5kg; some are slightly heavier, while some are lighter. The motor’s weight isn’t as critical as its size and where it is mounted. This isn’t something you should worry about too much, and motor weight is going to drop considerably as the technology evolves.
Power And Torque
Torque figures range from about 75Nm to 90Nm. The amount of torque you get from a motor is important, as it makes a difference in how it delivers power. This boils down to how easy or hard it is to pedal your electric bike, which is affected by the level of assistance you select.
Generally, Eco mode will give you an extra 50% of assistance, and Turbo mode will give you about 300%. These figures will vary between brands and models, but the principle is roughly the same. However, it is up to you as the rider to decide how you use the motor’s power.
Your electric bike’s range is determined by more by the battery size, how you ride your bike and how hilly your journey is. But, a larger motor will use battery power more quickly.
For example, a 250W motor powered by a 500wh battery running at 100% for 2 hours will empty the battery.
Software & Firmware
During your electric bike ownership, you will receive many alerts to update the software on your bike. It is as simple as updating your mobile phone or downloading an app. But these updates are critical for keeping your electric bike performing well. The updates often enhance your bike in terms of range and performance too.
The software is accessed via your phone, and it gives you lots of information. It tells you when your motor needs servicing and information about the general health of your electric bike. Updating your software and firmware is a crucial part of electric bike maintenance.
Display And Controls
The display is the LCD mounted to your handlebars that gives you lots of information; it is your connection between you and the motor.
The design and level of information vary massively from brand to brand. Some manufacturers are pretty minimalist, while others make their LCD pretty fancy. Some LCDs have built-in controls, while other electric bikes have separate buttons to select the assistance level.
You can often use the LCD alongside your mobile phone app to unlock more features and functions.
Electric bikes will only assist you up to their limited top speed. Some electric bike systems will uncouple from the drivetrain at this top speed. Therefore, you can carry on pedalling as if it is a regular bike.
Other electric bikes will not go any faster no matter how hard you pedal. These bikes can still go faster, but you will be freewheeling down a hill and not pedalling.
Electric Motor Care And Maintenance
Electric bike motors are pretty bulletproof. There aren’t many moving parts to go wrong, and some are hermetically sealed from the elements.
However, electric motors don’t like getting wet. You can tell how waterproof they are by their IP rating. Lower IP ratings will indicate that you shouldn’t ride it in the rain, while higher IP ratings are much better at keeping water out. Electric bike motors are pretty waterproof, so you shouldn’t need to worry about it too much. However, don’t wade through a river and totally submerge your motor if you can help it.
But, when it comes to looking after your electric motor, you should keep it clean. Never use a pressure washer, as it will force water into the motor. Instead, use a bucket of water and a sponge or cloth. You can even use your bike pump to blow any water out of the system effectively.
Without going into the specifics of each brand, you now have a good overview of electric bike motors. The motor is just one part of an electric bike and not always the determining factor of which one you buy.
Look at the bike as a whole to see how you can live with it and how it will cope with the different environments you will ride in.
If you are looking for a new electric bike, check out our online store to see our excellent options.