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Electric bike enthusiasts shopping for the best front-drive electric motor bikes are usually people that rely on e-bikes to commute or are casual riders. Front-drive motors, also known as front hub motors, can offer better weight distribution throughout the bike frame. However, the only drawback is that this type of motor — while affordable — tends to offer less power and maneuverability than mid-drive and rear-drive motors.
Still, you’ll find that front-drive motors are a common option for people that want to convert a normal bike into an e-bike. So, if this sounds like you, you’ll want to find a solution that’s fairly easy to install. And, when coupled with the right battery, you can get extended ranges.
Keep reading our front-drive electric motor bike buying guide to learn more. But, if you’re just starting your search, check out our best electric bike buying guide.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Equipped with a powerful motor, this unit is suitable for large bikes. It features a pedal assistance system and comes with a twist throttle, brake levers, handlebars, and a digital display.
The Voilamart EBV-48V1000WFN 1000W electric bike conversion kit features a powerful 48V motor. Although capped to the default road legal speed of 28 mph, this motor can be set to provide even higher speeds, and it supports a maximum load of up to 440 lbs. This electric kit supports electronic braking, cutting off the power supply from the motor when brakes are engaged. This unit comes with a twist throttle, although it doesn’t include a battery or charger.
Recommended for 26-inch front tires, this kit is suitable for road and mountain bikes. It also comes with handlebars with a battery level display to help users keep tabs on the range. A pedal-assist crank sensor enables using this kit for pedal assist mode. This kit also includes a pair of brake levers and is compatible with 48V battery packs with nominal capacities starting from 11.6 Ah. Designed for front wheels, this kit is easy to install on the bike.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This unit has a powerful brushless gearless motor that’s easy to install. It comes with a number of accessories needed for installation, including brake levers, handle grips, a digital display, and a thumb throttle.
With a 750W 36V motor, the AW AW-EBE000019 electric bike conversion kit provides outstanding performance. This kit features high-quality aluminum construction, providing durability without significantly adding to the weight of the bike. The brushless motor is gearless, so it’s easy to install on front wheels, and it provides a top speed of 15.5 mph. This kit is recommended for 8.8 Ah battery packs, but the battery is not included, so it has to be procured separately.
Equipped with a thumb throttle, this kit supports intuitive riding, and indicator lights alert the rider about the battery status. It is designed for 20” x 1.75” to 2.1” tires and the gearless hub motor supports hassle-free installation on the front tire. An included electric controller simplifies installation on the bike, while the two included grips and brake pullers enable changing the acceleration and braking system on the bike.
Award: BEST CONTROLLER
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a very powerful 1kW core, this unit powers large bikes and is suitable for both on-the-road and off-road riding. It comes with a display, handle grips, throttle, and other accessories, offering hassle-free installation.
Precisely engineered to fit on various 26-inch bikes, the Jacoble 619-EBE009-48V1K-26F-L 1000W electric bike conversion kit provides the power needed for road and mountain biking. This kit comes with a handy LCD that showcases a number of parameters, including time, speed, mileage, and gears. It has a dual-mode controller, working in both Hall and non-Hall modes to optimize motor performance and durability. However, this model is not versatile, fitting on 26-inch tires only.
This 48V kit achieves up to 470 rpm, providing impressive power, and it’s recommended for 48V batteries with a capacity of 17 to 20 Ah with a range of up to 25 miles. The kit has a pedal assistance system (PAS) that drastically cuts the amount of effort the rider has to expend. An included carry bag enables storing the controller safely. This device also comes with handle grips and a twist throttle to complete installation on the bike.
Award: BEST RIDING MODES
WHY WE LIKE IT: An all-in-one unit with a motor, lithium-ion pack, headlight, digital screen, and thumb throttle. It supports both full e-bike and pedal assist modes, offering flexibility.
The Bafang 48V500W FHB-26in-C18-K4810 500W electric bike conversion kit was designed for 26” to 27.5” tires. It is easy to install, mounting seamlessly on the front wheel. Optimized for both fully electric and pedal assist modes, this kit is quite versatile. It’s compatible with a wide variety of bikes, including units for commuting, touring, and mountain riding. An included thumb throttle allows users to operate the bike without a hassle. However, the battery takes up to 7 hours to fully charge.
This kit is IP65-certified for great performance on wet and dusty roads. The motor is highly efficient, achieving a top speed of 470 RPM and providing speeds of up to 25 mph. This kit is designed to cut off power from the motor during braking, and it’s compatible with disc brakes (not included), allowing users to upgrade the braking system. Featuring a brake lever, LED light, and PAS, this kit comes ready for installation on the bike.
Award: BEST FOR PERFORMANCE BIKES
WHY WE LIKE IT: Boasting an incredible 1.5kW system, this kit powers bikes to speeds over 28 mph. It includes a display, brake levers, case, and PAS sensor and mounts easily on the bike.
Equipped with a 1500W motor, the Ricetoo 48-QMDFF-LCD3 electric bike conversion kit offers incredible power, making it a good choice for users with high-performance bicycles. This kit is designed for bikes with 20-inch tires, but there are variants for tires ranging in size from 24” to 27.5”. It uses a Kunteng control system with a Hall controller, gaining momentum quickly to support fast and smooth acceleration. However, this unit won’t fit bikes whose front fork opening is less than 100 mm.
An included LCD display helps riders keep track of the battery level, PAS value, error codes, distance, and speed. The brushless motor on this kit is gearless, simplifying installation on front tires, and it provides an impressive top speed of 28 mph. The kit is compatible with both V-type and disc brakes, offering flexibility. It includes brake levers and a thumb throttle for operating the bike. A PAS sensor allows using pedal assist, while an included bag protects the controller.
Award: BEST FOR GEARED BIKES
WHY WE LIKE IT: A geared motor on this unit is suitable for integrating with the bike’s system. The kit is available for a large selection of tire sizes, and it comes with an advanced digital screen and thumb throttle.
Riders with small bikes will be pleased with the Schuck FFZNGCFLCD5 500W electric bike conversion kit. This kit was designed to fit 16-inch tires, but Schuck offers other variants designed for front tire sizes ranging from 20” to 29”. Featuring aluminum alloy construction, this kit resists corrosion and rusting. A 48V 500W brushless gear motor provides the option to sync the motor with the bike’s gear system, although installing it in this way is complicated and may need an expert technician.
This motor is quite powerful, providing bike speeds of up to 20 mph. It installs on bikes with front fork openings of 100 mm, and it supports loads of up to 551 lbs. This unit has an LCD5 display that shows the battery status, speed, distance, PAS levels, and other parameters. It comes with a controller bag to protect the controller from the elements. This kit works with both disc and V brakes and boasts a thumb throttle for hassle-free acceleration.
A front-drive electric motorbike is an e-bike where the motor is attached to the front wheel. These types of motors are loosely known as hub motors. Along with being easier to install, they are ideal because they offer better weight distribution, and they’re known for being fairly low maintenance. Plus, you’ll have an easier time with maintenance for the hydraulic disc brakes on an electric bike.
Because they’re self-contained and are an independent drive system housed in a casing, they’re a great option for anyone who wants an e-bike motor that’s less likely to require frequent repairs. This is also why you’ll find them as the preferred option for many electric bike conversion kits.
Along with front-drive electric motors, there are two other types of e-bike motor configurations — mid-drive and rear-drive. Mid-drive motors are connected to the middle of an electric bike and rely on a bicycle’s chain drive to distribute power to the rear wheel. If you want to look at other kits with similar setups, then check out our Bafang BBSHD ebike conversion kit review.
As compared to hub motors, mid-drive motors are notable for better gear control but are usually more expensive. This makes these types of motors ideal for steep hills where riders need to easily shift between gears. That’s why mid-drive motors are ideal for the best all-terrain electric bikes.
In contrast, front-drive motors are best reserved for either casual riding or smoother terrain like city streets and maintained bike paths. And of the three options, front-drive motors tend to be less expensive, making them a more attainable solution for anyone looking to upcycle a traditional bike into an electric bicycle.
However, front-drive motors are also ideal for enhancing weight distribution on a bicycle. This is especially true for riders with a rear-mounted battery. Having the hub motor in the front creates a more balanced ride where the center of gravity is located in the center of the bike’s frame. And because of this, e-bikes with front-drive motors tend to experience fewer flats.
Whereas front-drive motors are best for smooth terrain, rear-drive motors provide enhanced traction, making them better for more challenging conditions. And many riders find that using a rear-drive motor creates a more natural experience where they’re propelled across distances rather than being pulled as experienced with front-drive motors.
As we mentioned, front-drive electric motors are a subcategory of hub motors. These motors are mounted into the center of a wheel — either the front or rear wheel — and enclosed in a casing that helps minimize the risk of damage from road debris. Typically, you’ll find two types of hub motors, geared and gearless.
Geared motors have planetary gears that reduce speeds created by a high RPM (revolutions per minute) motor. While maintenance may be lower for hub motors, geared motors do have a weakness, thanks to the gears. The gears may break a tooth, and eventually, the gear can get stripped.
In contrast, gearless motors don’t have any moving parts except for the bearings. An advantage of this type of motor is that you’re less likely to experience wear and tear, and you won’t have to worry about components rusting.
In general, hub motors have the advantage of not adding additional stress to your bike’s components. These motors don’t connect to the main pedal drive system. In many cases, critical parts like the bike chain can last longer when installed on a front-drive electric motorbike because the motor is doing the heavy lifting while the chain isn’t moving.
Electric bikes, in general, are a popular option within the larger personal mobility device category because they allow the rider to let the motor take over. But depending on your riding goals and style, you may find that front-drive motors offer some unique advantages and disadvantages.
Similar to cars, e-bike motors have a lifespan rated by the total miles you can expect to ride before you need to replace them. Regardless of what type of e-bike motor you have, you can expect to reach at least 10,000 miles before you might think about swapping it out for a new motor.
Depending on how frequently you ride, this mileage estimate can range from three to five years of use. And, of course, many people may get more than 10,000 miles out of their front-drive motors.
However, as with any other product, the total mileage achieved can vary and is also directly dependent upon how you treat your bike and its components. For example, failing to engage in routine maintenance, allowing your motor to get wet, or constantly leaving your bike in extreme temperatures can all shorten the motor’s lifespan.
Shopping for an e-bike is about more than simply focusing on the budget or the fastest electric bike. Your riding habits, terrain covered, and even DIY proficiency will all impact your final purchasing choice. Keep the following questions in mind as you shop for a bike.
Once upon a time, you could only buy e-bikes directly from the manufacturer. But these days, conversion kits allow you to upcycle non-electric bikes into an electric model. If you’re handy and willing to spend an hour or two on a DIY project, a conversion kit can save you money as they come with a hub drive motor and a battery pack.
And it can also cut down on clutter as your current bike won’t be lying around the garage. Conversely, if that sounds unappealing or you don’t have a bike to upgrade, opting for a pre-made e-bike might be a better option.
Battery location will directly dictate whether or not a front-drive motor is a good option for you. In particular, front-drive motors can help balance and distribute your e-bike’s weight — especially if the battery is located in the back.
There’s a lot to love about front-drive motors, but they’re not designed for more intense rides, and this means that serious inclines or rough off-road terrain aren’t compatible. Remember that front-drive motors only have one gear which makes incline riding more difficult. And they don’t offer as much traction, which is why they’re ideal for city riding on smooth pavement or well-maintained riding trails.
While it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider, your budget does matter. Thankfully, if you’re shopping on a smaller budget, you’ll find plenty of front-drive motor bikes.
There are seven main types of electric bikes: folding, commuting, racing, mountain, cruiser, fat tire, and comfort bikes. A fat tire or mountain bike is designed for rough terrain and inclines, which means you’re less likely to find a front-drive motor on them. Conversely, cruising and commuter bikes are ideal for front-drive motors because they’re not intended for inclines or off-road terrain.
This is a question that’s going to depend on your riding habits. If you’re someone who likes to travel long distances, you might be better served by a larger battery that can last longer between charges. While this will make the bike heavier, remember that you have a motor to help propel you. If the bike you want doesn’t come standard with an extended range battery, you can always purchase an aftermarket solution and make the switch.