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What are the features and characteristics that make for an excellent rear-drive motor electric bike?
To find the best rear-drive electric bike, it starts with a high-quality, properly sized motor. Most modern eBikes use brushless DC motors due to their lightweight, high efficiency, and high power density. Well-designed electronics are a close second; any powerful rear hub motor requires a good motor controller and well-integrated battery management in order to perform best.
Finally, to get the most out of your rear-drive eBike, whether you’re using geared hub motors or a direct-drive electric bike motor, it’s important that the battery capacity be ideally suited to the power and current requirements of the motor and the bike’s cruising RPM. Keep reading our rear-drive motor electric bike buying guide as well as the best electric bike buying guide to learn more.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: An intuitive step-through frame and rear rack will suit people going for shopping trips. With fully electric, pedal-assist, and fully manual modes, this bike offers flexible operation.
Equipped with a step-through frame, the Heybike Cityscape 26-Inch electric bike offers universal appeal to men, women, and people with health issues. It has a 36V 10 Ah battery that provides up to 40 miles of runtime on a single charge. This bicycle boasts a high-quality 350W rear-drive motor that lasts. This model reaches a top speed of about 19 mph, gliding through streets fast. However, this bike is not built for heavy riding.
An integrated Shimano 7-speed gear system supports customization, allowing users to take on hills and flat roads with ease. Equipped with effective disc brakes, this bike is very responsive. It has curved mustache-style handlebars that are ergonomic and maneuverable. We like that this model has a fully electric mode that allows users to cruise without expending energy on pedaling. This bike also has three different levels of pedal assist for users who would like to save battery power.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This bike has large all-terrain tires and front shock absorbers optimized for rough terrain. It has four different riding modes, including fully electric and fully manual pedaling modes.
Designed for off-road riding, the Ecotric 26-inch electric bike has a number of features suitable for riding on rough terrain. It runs on a strong 500W gear motor, scaling hills easily. This mountain bike has front shock absorbers that dampen impacts from bumps and rocks. It has a run time of 18.6 to 33.55 miles, making it a good choice for leisure and cross-country riders. However, the frame may be a bit tall for smaller individuals.
Featuring four working modes, this bike helps users balance battery power with manual pedaling. It has pedal assist, fully electric, and booster modes and features a 36V 12.5 Ah battery, which is removable for hassle-free replacement. A pedal mode comes in handy when the bike runs out of battery. This electric bike features a large tread that offers traction on wet and dry roads. A front fork suspension with cushy shock absorbers provides a smooth ride.
Award: BEST FOR TRAILS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Achieving speeds of up to 20 mph by the throttle and boasting a range of about 35 miles on the throttle, this bicycle will appeal to hardcore enthusiasts riders. It has large off-road tires, hydraulic disc brakes, and a hydraulic fork suspension.
The Velowave VWFMTB3BG 26-inch electric bike features ultra-wide mountain-style 26-inch tires with an aggressive tread, which are optimized for rough terrain. Powered by a 750W geared rear hub motor from Bafang, this bicycle makes easy work of inclines and provides blistering acceleration. A 48V 15 Ah battery with premium LG cells powers this bike for long distances, and the battery is integrated into the downtube for stability and aesthetics. However, this bicycle has expensive parts, so it’s costly to maintain.
This bicycle achieves a scintillating top speed of 28 mph by pedal and 20 mph by throttle. With a range of about 35 miles by throttle, this electric bike is suitable for leisure riding as well as commuting. It’s equipped with a multifunction LCD, enabling users to keep tabs on various parameters. This device has a hydraulic disk brake system that is effective in stopping the bicycle on steep slopes. A hydraulic fork suspension system provides a remarkably smooth ride.
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Award: BEST FOLDABLE BIKE
WHY WE LIKE IT: Featuring a folding frame and small tires, this electric bike offers universal unisex appeal and is also suitable for children. It boasts a visually pleasing frame with a hidden battery.
Featuring a refined design with an integrated battery, the Sailnovo Y1-14 14-inch electric bike has an aesthetically pleasing appearance that will stand out. It has a matte finish with red and black accents that lend sophistication to the bike. A 36V 10.4 Ah lithium-ion battery powers this bike, offering an excellent range of about 26 miles in electric mode and 45 miles with pedal assist. LED front and rear lights enhance visibility. However, this model is too small for very tall individuals.
This electric bike features three working models, allowing users to go fully electric, fully manual, or use pedal assist. It comes pre-assembled, so there’s no need for elaborate installation procedures. An LCD shows the battery and speed parameters. This model boasts foldable handlebars for convenient storage. It has a height-adjustable saddle that can be set to different heights in the 30.7” to 34.6” range. This bicycle runs on a 350W motor, providing adequate power for cruising.
Award: BEST FOR CITY RIDING
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model has front and rear shock absorbers, providing a cushy ride. It comes with large all-terrain tires that are effective both on and off the road.
This Vivi M026TGB 26-inch electric features an aluminum alloy frame that provides strength. The bike has an adjustable seat and handlebar, easily accommodating taller and smaller individuals. With a Removable battery, this bike allows hassle-free replacement. A 21-speed Shimano transmission system offers various control possibilities, allowing users to take on steep hills and flat grounds easily. This bike has a range of up to 25 miles in throttle mode. However, the flat handlebars on this model are not comfortable.
Running on a 350W brushless motor, this bicycle is durable, and it has mechanical front and rear disk brakes for fast and safe braking. The bicycle has a shock-absorbing front fork suspension and rear shock absorber, providing a smooth ride. With three working modes, this electric bike enables users to toggle between Ebike, pedal-assist, or normal bike modes. The batter takes about 4-6 hours to fully charge. This electric bike arrives 90% assembled for hassle-free installation.
Award: BEST CARGO BIKE
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a lightweight construction and a step-through frame, this unisex bicycle is the model of choice for children, women, and seniors. It comes with a front basket and rear rack for carrying cargo.
The Nakto 26”CAMEL 26-inch electric bike has a number of user-friendly features that support unisex deployment. It’s equipped with a 6-speed Shimano gear system, allowing users to excel on all sorts of terrain. With a lightweight aluminum step-through frame, this electric bicycle supports hassle-free mounting and unmounting. It has magnesium alloy double-wall rims for durability. The front and rear mechanical disc brakes on this model support simple maintenance. However, this model takes time to assemble.
Equipped with a 36V 10 Ah lithium-ion battery, this bike runs for 20-25 miles on a single charge. It has pure electric, power assist, and normal bicycle modes, enabling users to customize the ride to their needs and battery situation. The battery charges fully in 4 to 6 hours, allowing users to prepare for trips easily. This bicycle boasts wide 26-inch tires optimized for on-the-road riding. Front shock absorbers on this model provide a smooth ride on bumpy roads.
In a basic sense, rear-drive eBikes are electric bicycles in which the motor drives only the rear wheel. They can use geared hub motors, in which the motor and reduction gear are combined in a single unit within the rear wheel, or they can use a direct-drive motor housed in the wheel hub. Mid-drive eBikes, commonly referred to as mid-drives for short, are usually rear-wheel drive as well. The difference is that mid-drives house the motor assembly in the middle of the bicycle frame next to or in between the pedals. The mid-drive motor usually employs a bike’s gears and chain in order to send motor power to the wheel. This is especially helpful if you’re using electric bike trailers with your ebikes if they are optimized for heavier loads.
Compared to an eBike in general, a rear-drive eBike, in particular, uses an electric motor to drive the rear wheel. Some electric bikes use mid-drive motors and send power to both wheels, while some electric bicycles are front-wheel drive, placing their E-Bike motors in the front wheel hub or between the pedals.
When we think of rear-drive motor electric bicycles, we usually refer to electric bicycles that use a hub motor. These types of motors are often found on budget eBikes and electric bike conversion kits. There are two main types of hub motors to consider. A direct-drive hub motor lacks additional gearing, meaning it will spin at the same RPM as the wheel itself. This setup reduces complexity compared to a geared hub motor and, in general, costs less. Direct-drive motors can also provide regenerative braking, where the motor acts as a generator and helps recharge the battery when you slow down.
A geared hub motor, on the other hand, can use a smaller type of motor with less torque, letting it consume less electric power per mile. It can also freewheel, unlike a direct-drive hub motor. This feature lets you coast without pedaling, as on a traditional bicycle with gears. Some e-bike riders prefer to keep the appearance of a regular bike, and a very compact rear-drive hub motor with planetary gears can help with this.
For more great products like this, check out our lists on the leading throttle electric bikes, best batteries for electric bikes, mid-drive electric bikes, and hydraulic disc breaks for electric bikes.
The advantages of rear motors on an electric bike include better weight distribution and better traction, especially when starting off uphill or on slippery ground. The additional weight of the motor is placed near the rear wheel or directly beneath the rider, which helps make this type of bike more stable. The improved traction also allows you to fit a more powerful motor than would be used in a front-drive bike. Nearly all eBikes with more than 750 Watts of power use rear-wheel drive. This configuration also avoids the gyroscopic effect of powerful e-bike motors on the front wheel, which is somewhat like the “torque steer” in a front-wheel-drive car.
Some e-bikes use a mid-drive system that sends battery power to both wheels. This has some advantages, especially for off-road mountain bikes, but it adds cost and complexity compared to a simple rear hub motor. The extra weight of the chain or friction drive gear also makes these bikes heavier.
This can be somewhat confusing, as most mid-motor bikes actually drive the rear wheels. The difference between a rear-motor and a mid-motor e-Bike is that on a mid-motor e-Bike, the electric motor and gears sit in the middle of the frame near the pedal box. This layout is generally designed to allow the use of a standard bicycle gear set, letting the rider change gears just as on a conventional bicycle. Advantages of the mid-drive layout include generally better efficiency, and the ability to use a smaller motor and go further on a single charge. Mid-drive motors tend to be more expensive than mass-produced hub motors, however, so it’s not a great option for people looking for the cheapest eBikes.
A rear hub-drive eBike, by contrast, has the motor mounted within the hub of the rear wheel. Compared to a mid-drive bike, this setup is simpler and generally less expensive, and it also avoids putting extra stress on the chain and sprockets. Motor size tends to be larger, and for direct-drive hub motors, the motor tends to pull more current, running at higher amps in order to generate the low-end torque needed to provide assistance at very low motor speed.
Rear-drive electric bikes use an electric motor coupled with a rechargeable battery and electronic controls to power the rear wheel and help the eBike rider accelerate and maintain cruising speed. Compared to a non-electric bike, any eBike requires less muscle power and endurance to get around on.
Electric bikes with rear motors, or that use a mid-drive motor to spin the rear wheel, use electricity to assist the rider by powering the back wheel of the bicycle. They are usually classified according to whether they have gears or use a direct-drive hub motor. They may be grouped according to power level and top speed as well. In many places, eBikes with less than about 250 watts are not considered motor vehicles and are allowed to use the same paths as a traditional bike. More powerful eBikes or those that allow a top speed higher than 20 mph may be regulated differently. These more powerful electric bikes are sometimes known as class 3 eBikes. Electric bikes with more than 1000 Watts are typically classed with electric scooters as a type of motor vehicle.
Do you need a new electric bike? The availability of newer, far more efficient electric motors and e-bike battery packs makes it a great time to upgrade to a new eBike or build an electric bicycle using a DIY conversion kit. Compared to older eBikes, new models have improved battery life thanks to advances in lithium-ion cells and improved battery management electronics. Updated electronics and sensors mean smoother acceleration and a more natural feel when riding.
Motor efficiency is another area in which the latest electric bikes excel. Newer motor types, like the brushless DC permanent magnet motors found in most DIY conversion kits, can be over 90 percent efficient at turning electric power into motion.
The longevity of eBikes varies widely depending on the use case and the quality of the components. As with electric scooters, an e-bike can last anywhere from under a year to several years before needing any maintenance or replacement parts.
Hub motors have few moving parts and require virtually no maintenance. A bicycle’s chain, tires, and gears will usually wear out before the electric motor does. The most common problem areas on eBikes are the battery and battery management systems. Current lithium-ion battery packs are good for 500-2000 charge cycles, and their shelf-life is three to five years.
There are a number of key factors that go into making the best choice in an eBike or conversion kit. In order to make the best buying decision when it comes to an electric bicycle, look for a model that satisfies your main needs and uses a personal electric vehicle. If you enjoy pedaling most of the time, for example and are considering an eBike in order to boost your bicycling range when commuting, you might want a model with a smaller, lighter motor. If, on the other hand, you often ride on steep hills and want the option of throttle-controlled acceleration, you’ll need an eBike with a more powerful motor.
How much power do you need?
Motor size and output are some of the big decisions to make when deciding on an eBike. If you’re used to riding a regular bicycle and don’t mind doing most of the work, a smaller, geared motor will likely be a more efficient choice. If you’re looking to commute and live in a hilly area, or want to avoid muscular fatigue and exertion, look for a more powerful eBike motor.
What size battery is best for an electric bike?
Another factor to consider is battery pack size. The battery should be matched with the power level of the motor and the gearing of the bicycle. Direct-drive hub motors pull more current and thus may require a larger pack. Higher capacity batteries also give more range per charge and can support higher top speeds. The battery is also one of the heaviest parts of an eBike, so weight is a trade-off here.