Types of Electric Bikes/Motors
There are two types of electric bikes on the market today: bikes with electric hub motors and bikes with crank assisted motors. Electric hub motors consist of a motor within a bicycle wheel that is controlled by either a thumb activated throttle or a twist throttle (like a moped). This style of motor is laced into a wheel where the bicycle wheel’s hub would be- hence the name “hub” motor. Installation of a hub motor is a breeze, as you only slip the wheel into the frame like any other wheel. After wiring the wheel and throttle to the battery, all you need to do is hit the throttle and you’re off!
Crank assisted electric motors (also known as a pedal-assisted motor) offer power only when needed. These are typically found on complete bikes, and usually do not come in kits. Crank assisted electric motor kits available are few and far between, as installation can be more than the average person can handle. These electric bikes use a highly intelligent minicomputer to monitor the rate at which a rider is pedaling. It then assists pedaling when the rider drops below that rate in order to keep a consistent rhythm and speed. This style of electric motor is great for riders that are looking to cycle without assistance, as this motor will assist you rather than taking over the entire ride.
Hub motors are perfect for those looking to ride their bike for miles without the worry of being unable to ride back. These can be considered a type of all-or-nothing motor, where the motor can do all of the work, assist a little, or offer no assistance at all. Crank assisted motors will help only when needed, so if you become tired the engine will kick in a little to alleviate some of the strain needed to keep the speed you’re used to.
Front or Rear
When considering electric bikes with hub motors the placement of the wheel is important. Electric hub motors are laced into either a front or a rear wheel, so it is important for your safety and your bike to know which style is best for you. Front wheel motors offer better weight distribution because the rider and battery sit right over the rear wheel. Front motors offer an “all wheel drive” feel to them at low speeds (around 500w motors and below), and are simple to install. However, front wheels can slip if turned too quickly at high speeds (750w or higher), which can cause serious harm to the rider. Front wheel motors are great for riders who need assistance at low speeds and like a lot of control during those rides.
Rear wheel motors offer great torque which is ideal for hilly areas or areas with steep inclines. These electric bike motors also alleviate any pressure on the front fork, as front wheel motors may be too heavy for old or inferior forks. They offer a classic motor bike feel to them because they pull on the rear wheel. Keep in mind that hub motors are heavy, and as rear wheels will need to support the bike, the rider, and the battery, heavy duty tires and tubes are needed for rear hub electric motors. However, if the wheel is being maxed out on power by pulling objects that are too heavy, you have a chance of overheating the motor. Also, multispeed bikes require adjustment and possible modification will be needed to fit with derailleurs. Front wheel motors are great for riders looking for a lot of assistance and speed who have some previous motor bike experience.
Wattage and Voltage
Most electric motor retailers will offer you voltage and wattage as the determining factors of a motor and nothing could be truer. But bigger isn’t always better, and higher counts may not necessarily mean more efficient, so a good understanding of what each means will allow you to make a well-informed decision on your next build.
Voltage can be considered as the strength of an electric motor, and the wattage has to do with the overall power of the motor. Voltage lets you know how hard the motor will run, and the wattage lets you know how fast it’s going to go. For example, if you have two motors that are 1000w’s they will both get up to about 25 mph. However, if one is a 36v and the other is a 48v electric bike, the 36v will take a little longer to get up to 25 mph than the 48v.
Choosing the right type of electric bike motor relies on what you’re looking to get out of your rides. If you’re an avid rider who only needs help on those extra long rides, a crank assisted bike or a hub motor and pedelic will best suit your needs. If you’re looking for a new mode of transportation or pedaling might not be a viable option, a hub motor will be perfect for you. No matter how you ride, knowing the correct style of bike is important for figuring out what’s best for your safety and enjoyment- pick the best bike for you and you’ll be enjoying your new e-bike for years to come!