Electric Bike Motors Guide
There are quite a few different types of electric bike motors available. You need to choose an electric bike with a motor that is suitable for your needs. So in this electric bike motors guide, we will give you all the information about electric bike motors you need.
Electric Motor Manufacturers
When you look at the components of an electric bike, you will notice that the motors are made by different brands. You may also see that the motors are made by well-known brands such as Bafang, Bosch, Shimano, Panasonic, or Yamaha. Each of these brands manufactures electric bike motors with different characteristics. For example, they all deliver their power differently, and some are more efficient than others. Therefore, when you buy a particular electric bike, it is a good idea to research its motor characteristics.
Electric Bike Motor Types
There are two main types of motor manufacturers fit onto their electric bikes. Which type of motor they use will depend on the rider they target that bike at and their budget
Electric bike manufacturers will often place the motor into the bike's rear wheel hub. These bikes are usually hardtail mountain bikes or used for commuting. If you see an electric motor mounted in the bike's front wheel, this is likely an aftermarket DIY conversion.
Electric bikes with hub-mounted motors are less expensive than ones with mid-mounted motors. However, these bikes are not balanced very well, as there is lots of weight at the bike's rear. The extra weight can also affect the bike's rear suspension if it has any.
But, this imbalance may not affect you. If you ride on paved roads or on tame off-road terrain, you won't really have a problem with a hub-mounted motor.
The uneven weight can make riding technical terrain challenging, though. So, if you like to ride rough mountain bike trails, an electric bike with a hub-mounted motor may not be the best choice.
The other disadvantage of hub-mounted motors is that they are not very efficient when riding uphill. So, if you ride in hilly areas, you will notice that your battery will deplete quickly.
A hub-mounted motor uses a cadence sensor to monitor how fast you pedal. The sensor sends a signal to the motor to switch it on and tell it how much assistance to provide.
As you slowly pedal, the motor gives you a set amount of assistance. But the assistance is reduced as you pedal faster and gather momentum. The reason for this is that you don't need to put in much effort to get your bike moving. This makes these bikes great if you are not very fit, have mobility issues, or are recovering from an injury.
Some electric bikes that use cadence sensors are often class 2 bikes. These have an additional throttle that allows you to ride without pedaling. This means you can use the throttle to set off before starting to pedal, making it even easier.
Mid-mounted motors are much smaller than hub-mounted motors and are situated between the bike's cranks. This low-down position in the center of the bike lowers its center of gravity and balances it well. The result is predictable handling, making mid-mounted motors the best choice for proper mountain bikes.
The nature of a mid-mounted motor connects it directly to the bike's drivetrain. This makes the bike more efficient and better for climbing hills.
Mid-mounted motors don't use cadence sensors; instead, they use torque sensors. A torque sensor measures how hard you pedal and works out how much force you are putting in. It then tells the motor how much to amplify your efforts. So, the harder you pedal, the more power the motor gives you.
Electric bikes that use torque sensors have a more natural feeling when you pedal. You can feel the tension on the chain through the pedals, and it feels like riding a regular bike but with extra power.
The other advantage of this system is that the motor kicks in more quickly than one with a cadence sensor. This makes mid-mounted motors more efficient, extending your range.
An electric bike's motor isn't the only consideration when buying one, but where it is mounted should not be ignored. You need to think about what you want to use your electric bike for and look at the pros and cons of its motor.
How Heavy Is An Electric Bike's Motor?
Electric bike motors are becoming lighter as their technology evolves. However, you can expect an electric motor to weigh around 3.5kg, but you can expect heavier ones too.
How heavy a motor is, isn't that important. It would be better for you to focus on its size and where it is mounted.
You only need to think about weight when carrying your electric bike upstairs or to lift it onto a rack. But, this is down to the whole weight of the bike, not just its motor.
Power And Torque Explained
Electric bike motors tend to have torque figures between 75Nm to 90Nm. These figures are worth looking at, as they indicate how the motor delivers power to the rear wheel. Higher torque motors make pedaling easy and benefit you when riding up steep hills. However, this is affected by which level of assistance you choose.
When you ride your electric bike in its lowest assistance level (usually labeled as Eco), you get about 50% extra assistance from the motor. If you choose the highest level (usually called turbo or boost), you get about 300% of additional assistance.
The level of assistance will vary between bike brands and models, but they use the same principle. It is all down to you to decide how to use the power from your electric motor, which will also affect your electric bike's range.
If you use high assistance levels, your motor will need to use more power from your battery. Your weight, how you ride, and how hilly your journey is will also affect your range.
Your electric bike's range is also determined by the capacity of its battery. But, a larger motor will use battery power more quickly.
To illustrate how long a battery will last with a specific motor power, consider a 250W motor powered by a 500wh battery. If you run it at 100%, the battery will be completely flat in 2 hours.
What Is Software & Firmware?
When you buy an electric bike, you will need to download an app to your phone. The app regularly will alert you to update software and firmware. Updating these is essential to keep your electric bike performing as it should do. Updates to the software and firmware controlling your bike's motor can improve your electric bike in several ways. For example, an update may improve its acceleration and range.
Your electric bike app will also give you additional information about your bike. It will inform you of things like service intervals or battery health, so it is essential to keep it updated.
Electric Bike Display And Controls Explained
Electric bikes have an LCD clamped to their handlebars. This display relays lots of information to you while you ride. It is also what connects you to the bike's electric motor.
You will notice that different motor and battery manufacturers use various designs and interfaces with their LCDs. Some brands like to keep it simple, while others go to town on what their LCDs do and tell you. Some electric bikes are controlled via their LCD, while others have separate buttons to choose how much assistance you want.
What Happens When You Reach The Assisted Top Speed?
When you pedal an electric bike, it will only assist you to a specified top speed. One of two things can happen when you reach this maximum speed, depending on your electric bike.
Some electric bikes will uncouple the motor from the drivetrain when it reaches the top speed. This will allow you to continue to pedal like a regular bike, as fast as you want.
However, other electric bikes won't let you go past the limited top speed while you pedal. You will feel a resistance holding you back, no matter how hard you try, But you can freewheel down a hill without the bike restricting you.
Looking After Your Electric Bike Motor
Electric bike motors are very robust, as they are mostly sealed from the outside world. However, you need to pay attention to the motor's IP rating. This is a figure that indicates how waterproof your bike's motor is. If your motor has a low IP rating, you should not ride in wet weather. But, motors with higher IP ratings are more resistant to water ingress.
High-quality motors will be well protected from the elements, so you shouldn't worry too much about them. But it would be inadvisable to ride through deep water, submerging your motor.
Electric bike motors are expensive, so you need to look after them. Keep it clean, but never use a pressure washer, as water will get into the motor's workings. Instead, keep your motor clean with a wet sponge or cloth.
You now have a good indication of what to consider when looking at what motor an electric bike has. But, you should remember that it isn't the only thing you need to look at. You need to look at the electric bike as a package to see if it suits your needs and where you will ride it.