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If you are shopping around for a new electric vehicle, you may be looking to compare a front-wheel electric bike vs a rear-wheel model. The best electric bikes, after all, are typically designed in one of these two ways. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between front-wheel bikes and rear-wheel bikes.
The main difference between front hub motors and rear hub motors is where they are placed on the electric bicycle. The placement of these motors leads to a whole host of related differences that touch on power, energy, weight, safety, and more. Of course, these differences may be subtle, unlike when you compare a moped vs an electric bike.
Here are some of the primary differences between the front hub and rear hub motors, typically derived from motor placement. They both can excel on roads and steep hills, though, as they each can feature a powerful motor depending on the make and model. But, you’ll find these options on the cheapest electric bike.
Ideally, you want an electric bike to have a balanced weight distribution throughout the frame. In most cases, the battery pack and related components are attached to the rear of the bike. This means that when it comes to weight distribution, a front hub motor is the better choice, as the motor up front, along with a battery pack on the rear, translates to equal weight distribution. A bike with equal weight distribution is also easier to carry when not in use, as portability is a concern for some consumers, particularly when comparing a folding bike vs an electric scooter. However, if you are sure you want a folding bike, be sure to check out these highly-rated folding electric bikes.
Rear wheel hub motors do offer more traditional aesthetics in line with a regular bicycle, as the electric motor is in the rear.
Due to the weight distribution issue, front hub motors are also slightly safer to operate than rear hub motors. Why is that? Well, if all of your weight is centralized on the rear of the bike frame, you could accidentally “pop a wheelie” during acceleration, which could lead to a dangerous accident. Additionally, if there is poor weight distribution, it can affect traction control and put extra stress on the frame. Or course, some riders may actually prefer the ease with which rear hub motors can head into a wheelie, especially if they are looking to perform tricks or stunts. Whether this is important to you will depend on your riding style. Regardless of the type of motor or where it’s installed, you should remember to always wear a helmet when operating your electric bike, even on your daily commute, as there could be road debris. If you don’t own one, we have a great guide on the best electric bike helmets. There are also electric mountain bikes that will have strong suspension forks for more safety while riding uneven terrain.
A rear motor has one primary advantage over a front motor. Some consumers want their e-bike to be aesthetically similar to a normal bike. A front hub motor makes for a distinct appearance, whereas a rear motor could be mistaken for a standard bike. This can also help deter thieves looking to snag electric bikes.
STAT: Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. (source)
Electric bicycle hub motors vs mid-drive motors: which should be on your next e-bike?
If you are doing a conversion, opt for a hub motor kit, as it will be easier to install on your conventional bike and cheaper. if you are purchasing a dedicated e-bike and not a conversion kit, you may want to opt for a hub option.
Why a front or rear hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor?
A mid-drive motor offers plenty of power and frees up the front and the rear for better suspension, brakes, and other goodies. This could lead to a decrease in flat tire repair, for instance. However, your average mid-drive motor is more expensive than a hub motor.
What are the different types of e-bike conversion kits?
When it comes to e-bike conversion kits, a mid-drive motor is rare indeed. Rear rack motors and front motors, however, are more common and cheaper while still offering plenty of motor power.