Electric Bike Motor Hubs: Gear”less” is not more

inside a geared hub bike motor

According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of bicycle commuters has grown 60 percent over the past 10 years. This was stated in a report from 2014 that used the latest data gathered from the agency’s surveys. In 2000, there were about 488,000 people who reported commuting to work by bike. That number rose to 786,000 in 2012. The U.S. Census Bureau said that this was the largest increase percentage for any form of commuting.

The rates of bike commuters and leisure bicyclists both continue to rise as more Americans look for ways to save money and help the environment. You can also see evidence of this in the growing number of “sharrows” painted on right-side traffic lanes in larger cities across the United States. “Sharrow” is a term that combines “share” and “arrow,” and the painted arrow markers indicate that motorists must share the lane with bicyclists. As more people realize the many benefits of bike transportation, expect to see more bicyclists on the road.

Commuting Solution: Motorized Bicycles

biker sharrow painted on the street

Bikes are efficient and affordable as regular transportation. If you prefer not to pedal or arrive at your destination tired and sweaty, there is a simple solution. Bicycles can easily be motorized with affordable conversion kits. These kits have been exploding in popularity over the past several years, but it’s important to find the right kit for you. There are two main motor choices when it comes to motorizing a bicycle: geared electric bike hub motors and gearless motors.

Geared Hub vs Direct Drive Bike Motors

From boneless chicken to paperless billing, adding “less” to the end of a word these days usually implies that it is convenient or simplified. However, this is not always the case with gearless bicycle motors. To better understand each option, it is important to know how each one works and its individual benefits to you.

Gearless Electric Bike Hub Motors

gearless bike hub motor

These electric bike parts are also commonly called “direct drive” or “brushless” motors. With this type of device, the motor’s axle is the same axle that goes across the center of the motor. There are copper windings attached to the axle. If you combine all of these components, they are collectively called a “stator.” Magnets are placed on the outer portion of the motor, and these create a magnetic field when electricity is introduced into the stator. The ensuing movement of the magnets is what causes the motor to move the bike.

Direct Drive Bike Motor Pros

  • Fast
  • Quiet
  • Durable

Direct Drive Bike Motor Cons

  • Drags when pedaled
  • Larger
  • Less range
  • Heavier

Geared Hub Motors

front 8FUN geared hub motor for 250 watt e-bikes

You may also hear this type of electric bike hub motor called a “planetary” motor. This is because it uses a planetary gear reduction system, which attaches the stator to the case. When the case rotates each time, the motor inside turns much faster. For you as the consumer, this means a more efficient process for reaching a higher speed. However, the wheel can still turn at slower speeds while driving. These motors are often known as the “most torquey” because of the size of the motor inside. These motors employ a small gear that drives additional gears with cogs.

Geared Hub Motor Pros

  • More torque
  • Little drag
  • Smaller
  • Lighter
  • Durable

Geared Bike Motor Cons

  • Lower top speed
  • Quiet hum

Which E-Bike Motor Hub Is Right For Me?

As you’re trying to decide between geared hub vs direct drive motors, there are plenty of sites out there telling you what to buy, and many suggest very specific gearless products simply because “gearless” sounds dazzling. Plus, gearless motors are cheaper to manufacture. However, the optimal option is also the most practical. If you are like most bike commuters, you are smart, practical, and know how to set your priorities.

E-Bike Motor High Priorities

You should consider the high priorities as needs and the low priorities as wants. When you buy a car, you pay more attention to the quality of its internal components and construction instead of its paint color and stereo system. Choosing a bike motor must be treated with the same degree of care. These should be your top priorities.

1. Torque
This is what gets you going. When you are stopped on a hill, you need good torque to move forward without stressing the motor. A geared hub motor is the optimal choice for this purpose.

2. Pedaling
If you are like most bike owners, you want to protect the integrity of your bike and keep it as a bike that you can pedal for exercise or use for a leisurely ride on the weekends. Gearless motors cause significant drag when pedaling and basically convert your bike to a moped. However, you can enjoy the best of both worlds and pedal easier with a geared electric bike hub motor.

3. Efficiency
Weight affects efficiency, and torque plays a role as well. Efficiency is important for maintaining speed and saving power. The geared motor is more efficient than its gearless counterpart and has a longer travel range on a full charge.

4. Durability
Since you want your investment to last, a durable product is a must. Gearless motors are known for lasting a long time. However, they have several cons. Geared hub motors can last as long as many gearless motors if you care for them properly and do not run them too hard. Additionally, geared motors with steel gears and cogs are well-known for outlasting the test of time.

5. Weight
The weight of your bike is important if you have to take it up an elevator to your apartment or possibly attach it to a bus bike rack. With a gearless motor, your bike will be heavier. Geared electric bike hub motors only add about seven pounds to the bicycle, compared to gearless motors that can add as many as 25 pounds.

E-Bike Motor Low Priorities

While gearless motors are often touted as being good choices for producing less noise, this should not be a top priority. There are other ways to reduce noise, and a geared motor’s hum is so quiet it is rarely heard or noticed by commuters after they reach a speed of around 15 MPH. A higher top speed is also a benefit of a gearless motor. However, it is not related to efficiency, durability, or reliability. If you consider the pros and cons with practicality in mind, you will inevitably choose a geared motor.

Where to Buy Geared Hub Motors

When you decide to buy a geared electric bike hub motors to convert your bicycle, the next step is deciding on a power option. For optimal results, the main choices are 250W and 500W. The 250W motor is appropriate for the average ride, and 500W is better for a more demanding load or ride. If you are converting your bicycle to go green, commute faster, or enjoy a ride without pedaling hard, be sure to choose the right motor power for your individual needs.



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