Electric Bike Conversion Kits: Front vs Rear Hub Motors

With the increasing number of electric bicycles and electric trikes on the market, it's no surprise that there has been an increase in electric bike conversion kits too.

If you have ever considered an e-bike, then you are certainly not alone. Around the world, they have certainly gained popularity and there seems to be no sign of this abating anytime soon. One of the biggest issues for some people when it comes to e-bikes, is the price tag. Purchasing an e-bike can certainly be expensive and this presents a barrier for those looking to take advantage of all that e-bikes have to offer. That is where eBike conversion kits come in. 

With these conversion kits, you can take your traditional bike or trike and transform it into an e-bike with ease, and at a fraction of the cost. E-BikeKit conveniently offers Bicycle Kits and a Tricycle Kit The biggest choice you'll have to make is deciding whether you want a front or rear hub motor. 

To be honest, there is no single "absolute ideal" location for a motor, and this blog doesn't contain one answer. There are many factors to consider but we hope the below info starts you off on the right foot: 

If you’re wondering which of these is the best option for you, read on...

Hub motors—weight matters:

Ideally, you want your electric bike's weight to be distributed as evenly as possible from front to rear. You don't want to put all of your weight on one spot.

Most battery packs are positioned in the center or back of the electric bicycle, which implies that the front hub motor aids in weight distribution forward and can enhance the electric bicycle's weight distribution. It has been discovered that front-wheel drive has the weight distributed more evenly. With a rear-mounted battery, placing the engine on the front wheel makes the bike seem more stable. Not only when riding but also when walking. The rear wheel and spokes are put under a lot of strain - your weight, pedaling force, motor power, motor weight, and even the size of the motor make for a more challenging wheel to manufacture than a traditional bicycle hub. Electric bicycles with rear hub motors are notorious for breaking spokes on a regular basis. In this term, compared to the rear-wheel drive, the front-drive has a better weight distribution.

The impact on traction:

Another factor to consider is traction. While moving, the front-wheel-drive fixes the weight distribution issue; it also introduces a new one: traction control. Because the front wheel of an electric bicycle is already light, the front hub motor's traction is less than that of the rear wheel.

The higher the voltage and the smaller the wheels, the more probable the front hub motor may "peel" during acceleration. 36V in-wheel motors on 26-inch in-wheel motors normally maintain adequate traction, while 20-inch front in-wheel motors and 48V in-wheel motors on any wheel size will most likely experience front tire spin. The back wheels of your bicycle carry the majority of your weight, which is why rear hub motors have higher traction than front hub motors. Almost all motors run on 48V or higher voltage.

The traction is a lot better with rear-wheel-drive bicycles than a front-wheel drive. This is particularly important for those who use an electric mountain bike as they are more likely to be going off-road when the ground is less firm and therefore requires a better grip.

How hub motor placement affects tires:

Something else to consider when choosing between a front and rear hub motor is the impact of flat tires. When it comes to fixing a flat tire, this is more difficult with a hub motor when compared to a standard wheel.

The last thing that anyone wants is a flat tire, but worse than that is a flat where you have your motor. The probability is that your rear tire is more likely to be flat.

You will find when riding, that your front tire will kick up debris on the road. This sees nails being lifted up or glass being repositioned, etc.

While this causes little damage to the front tire, the rear tire then goes over the debris in its new position, ultimately leading to a flat. If you have a rear hub motor, you are then facing the difficulty of repairing/replacing the tire.

Usage:

A front-wheel-drive is suitable for 'Everyday riders' who ride to travel around the city with the odd rail trail and merely want a comfortable, safe, and dependable e-bike. They benefit from a low-maintenance, uncomplicated e-bike with decent balance and internal hub gears. Because they mostly ride on paved roads, these cyclists don't suffer as much from the drawbacks. Some of the downsides are positives for these cyclers; for example, the lack of a fast-release front wheel reduces the possibility of theft. And, on a bike with an 'upright' seating position, a heavy front wheel isn't a hindrance when riding and really adds to stability. 

A rear-wheel-drive is suitable for riders who frequently travel off-road on steep/slippery terrain. Also, city riders prefer the feel of the ride and are willing to pay for greater rear-wheel maintenance. It works best on high-end e-bikes with rear wheels made with high-quality components and high manufacturing standards. If you're on a tight budget, a front hub motor is a way to go.

Design:

Some riders want their electric bicycle to look like a regular bicycle. A front hub motor stands out on a commuter bike (for example); however, a rear motor may be mistaken for a regular bike. The rear motor is not that noticeable, as the brake disc plate could cover it. This may also dissuade burglars interested in stealing electric bikes. This is a benefit of a rear motor over a front motor.

In summary:

  • Front hub motors can assist in balancing the weight better because greater weight is usually concentrated on the back wheel.
  • Front wheels also get fewer flats than rear wheels because they kick up road debris and prepare it for the rear wheels. The back wheel is unaffected by a front hub motor, allowing for simpler tube and tire changes.
  • However, because a bicycle's front wheel has less weight, it has less traction, and higher powerful front hub motors can produce burnouts when pegged on the throttle.
  • Because front forks aren't as strong as rear dropouts, a powerful front hub motor can harm the fork over time; however, this can be alleviated by using a torque arm. Strong hub motors with a power output of 750 W or more are best housed in the back of a bike.
  • Better traction and frame installation are two advantages of rear hub motors.
  • Rear hub motors offer you a more motorcycle-like pushing sensation rather than the pulling sensation of front motors.

The differences between a front and rear hub motor are practically undetectable after establishing a constant pace and driving in a straight path. However, if the tips above can help make the better choice, that would be ideal.

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