5 Best Electric Bikes - June 2017 - BestReviews

Best Electric Bicycle Review

Electric Bicycles / June 27, 2016

GenZe Sport electric bike motorIn general a front hub motor pulls you and it creates an all wheel drive e-bike.

Pros

  • It creates an all wheel drive bike because the motor drives the front wheel and you can power the rear wheel with your pedal power. This can be advantageous for riding in snow or in sand. Some fat e-bikes are coming with front hub motors to create this all wheel drive system.
  • Any type of bike drivetrain (gears) can be used: traditional gears with cogs, chain and derailleurs or internal geared hubs (IGH) with a chain or belt drive.
  • Front hub motor systems are easy to install or remove from the bike because there are no gear systems to deal with (chain, derailleur, etc.) when compared to a rear hub motor. This is handy for fixing a flat tire or adding/removing electric assist from a conventional bike.
  • Front hub motors can provide for a more balanced bike weight distribution if the battery is mounted in the middle or back part of the bike. This helps when lifting the bike onto a car rack or carrying the bike up stairs.

IZIP Compact front hub motorCons

  • Some riders do not like the feeling of being “pulled” by the motor.
  • Since there is much less weight over the front wheel there is a tendency for the wheel to spin when accelerating on roads that have a layer of loose material (dirt, sand, snow, etc.) or when climbing a steep hill. This is more noticeable on the powerful and torquey front hub motors. I have found that after some time spent riding a front hub motor, you get used to this characteristic and adjust the assist and/or place more weight over the front wheel to work with these conditions.
  • The front hub motors generally are focused on the lower power range (250 watts to 350 watts). There are higher powered front hub motors but they are not as common because the front fork of the bike does not provide as much of structural platform when compared the frame of the bike (rear hub motors).
  • Front hub motors generally need a sturdy fork, especially for the higher powered motors. This is very important if you are installing a front hub motor kit on a conventional bike. Check with the kit company for their recommendations on what is required for the front fork. If you are buying a complete e-bike with a front hub motor, then the company selling the complete e-bike has most likely done their homework and supplied an adequate front fork to handle the motor’s power.
  • They have a tendency to “bog down” on long steep climbs.Faraday_HubDetail_BRG See mid drive motors for climbing long and steep hills.
  • The higher torque hub motors (generally the more powerful) need larger spokes and sturdy rims.

Rear Hub Motors

In general rear hub motors push you and they offer a wide range of power level options.

  • Most people are familiar with the rear wheel driving the bike forward because that is the way 99.99% of bikes are built.
  • There is significantly less tendency for the rear wheel to spin on loose road conditions because the majority of the riders weight is over the rear wheel.
  • There is a wide range of power options (250 watts to 750 watts and beyond) because the bike’s frame provides a good structural platform to handle high torque from the motor.
  • Some direct drive rear hub motors provide regenerative braking.

Cons

  • Rear hub motors are a little more cumbersome to install or remove because the gears (chain, derailleur, etc.) need to be worked around.
  • They have a tendency to “bog down” on long steep climbs. See mid drive motors for climbing long and steep hills.
  • Bikes that have a rear hub motor with a rear rack battery are back heavy and that can affect the handling of the bike. Some riders may not notice this if they are riding in a more cautious manner vs. a performance riding style. Back heavy e-bikes can be hard to handle while lifting onto a car rack or carrying the bike up stairs. Removing the battery can help with this.

flykly smart wheel on bikeAll-In-One Wheel Motors

These systems come in either the front or rear wheel configuration and in general the pros and cons (see above) for each configuration apply. Here are some pros and cons for the all-in-one systems.

  • In general they are touted as being easy to install or remove because it involves the replacement of either the front or rear wheel along with installation of a few other components.
  • They keep the looks of the bike pretty clean. Some people may not recognize that it is an electric bike.
  • Some of these systems have smartphone integration that provide a wide array of features: adjusting the settings, tracking rides, locking the wheel, etc.
  • Repairing and/or replacing components of the system may be more difficult when compared to traditional electric bike kits. The wheel may need to be sent back to the company for service.
  • Some all-in-one systems have just one size of battery pack. Some traditional electric bike kits have the option to increase the battery size for more range.
  • Housing the battery so close to the motor can expose the battery to excess heat that can affect its range and lifespan. Some all-in-one systems may have a design that minimizes this issue but that will need to be evaluated on a system by system basis.

Mid Drive Motors

In general a mid drive motor powers through the drivetrain (transmission) of the bike which enables the motor to help with long & steep climbs and power up to high speeds on flat roads.

Source: electricbikereport.com