Chapter 6: Different Types of Electrical Bike Motors and Battery

The fundamental premise of an electric bicycle is that it is a hybrid bike that combines pedal power with motor-assisted power. But many who are new to electric bikes wonder how they work.

There are three main components that make an electric bicycle electric: Electric motors, electric batteries, and a display. The battery powers the motor, and the display is where you control how much power you want. It is good to know the main types of motor systems in order to know what works best for you. It’s also a good idea to know the main things to think about when comparing battery options and battery range. Below is a short summary of the most common motor and battery systems you will see when researching for your new electric bike:

Electric Bike Motor

There are two types of motors for electric bikes: Hub motors located on the wheel and replacing the regular hub, and mid-drive motors that are located on the frame. None of these types of motors are superior over the other, but they do have different benefit depending on what you need.


Hub Motors

You probably want an ebike with a hub motor system if:

You want the option to sometimes ride very conveniently with very little pedaling power, and you love the idea of having throttle when needed. You also don’t mind bringing the cost down a bit for your new electric bike.  


Advantages:

  • A hub motor gives you more flexibility in choosing the amount of pedal power you want to put in, because it drives the wheel and not the crank (where your pedals connect to) which makes it possible for the wheels to spin fast even though the pedals do not.
  • Because it drives the wheel itself and not the crank, it allows for a throttle where you can chose to not move the pedals and still have the wheel spinning from the motor!
  • Hub motors have been around for a long time and are in general very affordable compared to mid-drive motors.
  • Widely available in the after-market, giving you extra piece of mind down the road if you need to do any repairs or replacements.

Disadvantages:

  • Because the hub motor is sealed in the hub, it can be overheated if the controller fails to manage the power supplied. However, any quality ebike with sufficient quality controls should not have any problem with overheating. For example, all Blix bikes have been tested for many years to make sure that overheating is never at risk.
  • The hub motor is, in general, a little bit heavier than a mid-drive motor, even though it’s usually only 2-3 pounds difference.

You probably want an ebike with a mid-drive motor system if:

You want to always pedal harder in order to ride faster, similar to how it works on a non-electric bike. You mostly ride in very steep hills and frequently shift your gears to handle the climb easier.


Mid- drive Motors

Advantages:

  • Mid-drives generally perform better in very steep hills. The reason is that a mid-drive motor drives the crank instead of the wheel, which allow the rider to take full advantage of the gears in the rear wheel in addition to the motor power.
  • The centralized placement of the motor in the crank gives a better weight distribution on the bike as a whole.

Disadvantage:

  • Mid drive motors are in general closed systems, which means that you often need to replace the whole motor if there is something that needs to be repaired.
  • Mid-drive motors are mostly proprietary systems, meaning that spare parts have less availability and is restricted to the specific brand.
  • Mid drive motors puts a lot of wear and tear on the drive train, including cogs, sprockets and the chain.

To dig deeper into the details of different types of hub motors and mid-drive motor, see chapter 8!


Batteries

Relatively new developments in electric battery technology has had a direct impact on the evolution of electric bikes. When lithium batteries began being mass produced for computer products, their price fell, making an affordable electric bike possible. But portable lithium batteries also are advantageous for electric bikes because they are highly efficient, lightweight, and rechargeable.


Battery Range

When buying an electric bike today, the primary factor you should consider when it comes to the battery is the range of the battery. This is often described as how many miles you can ride on a single charge. The range of a battery certainly depends on how much it is used while riding - the more charge you use, the less range you have. Electric bike batteries should typically provide between 20 and 60 miles per charge. They should also fit into the design of the bike for proper weight distribution, the last place you want the battery placed is on the rear carrier where there’s no low center of gravity and where you typically load other things.


All Blix bikes have the battery placed vertically below the seat or low on the frame, keeping the center of gravity low for a stable riding experience. You can also choose between two different battery capacities: 11ah that takes you up to 40 miles per charge, or 17,5ah that takes you up to 60 miles per charge.