Even though the pandemic has harmed much of the British economy, the cycling sector blossomed. Sales grew by 45% from the previous ten years, contributing £1billion to the industry. Part of this upturn in sales has been attributed to the purchase of e-bikes. According to The Bicycle Association, a released report predicts that this cycling boom will continue, and by 2023, the sale of e-bikes will have tripled.
Many factors have led to the increase in sales, including; closure of gyms, excellent weather, quieter roads and the motivation not to sit in front of the TV during the lockdown. Whilst sales increased, this raises the question ‘what bike to buy?’ Traditionally your choices were road, mountain, commuter and cycle-cross, to name a few. Now you can throw in e-bikes.
It may seem like a simple thing to do, choosing an e-bike. However, there are several factors to take into consideration when buying one. Here at Bikemarketing, we look at the differences between front and rear hub motor e-bikes.
Weight matters. Ideally, you want to spread the weight evenly throughout the bike, ensuring it’s better balanced and provides a nice, smooth ride. E-bikes generally have their batteries mounted in the middle or rear of the bike, so having a front hub motor spreads the weight forward, distributing the weight.
Rear hub motors, along with the battery, make the bike heavy, which if the motor has high torque or smaller wheels can cause “popping wheelies”. The first few times may be enjoyable, but this can become annoying and potentially dangerous if the bike flips over when you’re not expecting it.
The placement of the hub motor can affect traction. While moving the hub motor to the front wheel helps with weight distribution, it can affect the bike’s traction with the road due to less weight. Higher voltage and smaller wheels can cause the front wheel to spin.
All bicycles are at risk of flat tyres. However, front tyres are less prone to punctures simply because they tend to kick up any debris which moves to the back tyre and is more prone to punctures. With that in mind, rear hub motors are harder to install. Not only do you have the hub, but you also have a gear system to contend with; where the front hub, you just the swap tyre on the wheel. With the front hub motor isolated from the rest of the bike parts, servicing the bike is easier because it doesn’t interfere with the motor.
Front hub motors are less powerful than their rear hub motor counterparts; they typically come with motor capacities that range between 250w to 350w*, where rear hub motors can range up to 500w*. This reduced capacity is simply due to the structural platform of the front forks.
The power, like weight, can affect traction; less powerful e-bikes can often have less traction at low speeds due to weight distribution.
*Remembering that the UK limit is 250w, whether that is front, rear or mid-drive units.
Front or Rear Hub Motor?
So which e-bike should I choose? Well, the answer is simply what suits you best. Front motor e-bikes weight distribution is more even. They are easier to maintain, but because the main centre of gravity is positioned behind the front wheel, you may find problems such as climbing hills. The motors have less power, meaning lower overall speed. Rear motor drive e-bikes have a better-positioned centre of gravity for better traction, and there’s less chance of the wheel slipping on the road. They have more power over their front hub counterpart, which is fine; as said before, they can be prone to “popping wheelies”, risking the possibility of flipping. Rear hub motors also tend to be heavier, and the additional weight on the rear wheel can take a toll on performance over time.
When buying an e-bike, you should consider your budget and what you want to use your e-bike for. If it is just commuting about, what is your typical route? Is it hilly, flat or a bit of both? What sort of speeds do you want to achieve? What sort of frame do you want?
All these considerations will help you decide which e-bike is best for you.
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