There is a lot of contention regarding the best brands and models of motor to make the ultimate e-bike kit. In this article I’ll attempt to outline some details on a few of the main, quality motors commonly used in electric bike conversions. Below are all brushless hub motors which tend to be the easiest to install and require next to no maintenance.
Direct Drive v’s Geared Hub Motors
A quick look at the pros and cons of the two main types of hub motors.
Direct Drive Pros
- Simple, no moving parts
- Strong, they tend to last longer
- Should be no maintenance
- Can be used for regenerative braking
Direct Drive Cons
- Heavier (in some cases about one and a half times the weight)
- Give some resistance to rolling
Geared Hub Motor Pro’s
- More efficient
- freewheel with little resistance
Geared Hub Motors Cons
- Cogs can wear out and need replacing eventually
- Can’t be used for regenerative braking
- More complex, more to break
Direct Drive Hub Motors for E-Bikes
Direct drive hub motors have no gears inside and require little to no maintenance. They are generally very robust but are often a bit larger and heavier than the geared motors. Direct drive motors are a little less efficient than geared motors, as geared motors can run at an optimum motor speed at normal riding speeds.
Direct drive motors also have the advantage of being able to utilize regenerative braking, something that can help extend battery range in some situations but probably most useful when doing long descents as a way to slow you down and reduce wear on brakes. One draw back of the direct drive motors is that they give a small amount of resistance when riding with out using the motor, which if you are planing on peddling with no motor for large parts of your riding you may be better off using a geared motor.
Some Reputable Direct Drive Hub Motors include:
- Nine Continental (9c)
- Golden Motor
The Chrystalyte has been around for quite a while and must be one of the most solid and reliable hub motors to come out of China. It has been used in many of the high performance ebikes as well as being a common choice for DIY enthusiasts. They come with a few options, front or rear wheel motors, Motors wound for speed or torque and with or with out sensors built into the motor. The Chrystalyte can be over volted to create a high powered ebike or just ran on a 36 volt system.
Very heavy. A little drag when riding (probably like the difference between road tires and off road tires)
A very strong well built motor, Super reliable. This motor can be very fast when over volted and it can be set up with regenerative braking.
These guys have a great article on the Chrystalyte motors: http://www.electricbike.com/crystalyte-hub-motor/
Nine Continental (9c)
The current versions of the 9c and the Chrystalyte motors are almost identical as far as the windings and internal workings. The 9c is a little bit cheaper in price and in build quality. So if budget is no constraint and you are looking to get a solid precisely engineered motor the Chrystalyte is probably the better motor. The 9c has the advantage of being slightly lighter, cheaper to buy and some say it has less resistance when peddling with out the motor on. Apparently the 9c motors don’t always comply with international standards as far as shape and dimensions. So disc brakes can require shims to get them lining up with calipers.
Bionix Hub Motor
The bionix is a little different from the other motors in this collection as it has the controller built in to the motor, so it requires propriety equipment to run it. It is a slick looking system and used in many ebikes packages but it is expensive and if you want to upgrade or replace components you will need to buy the bionix parts.
If you want a system that all works together seamlessly and are willing to pay the money it can be a good option. If you are happy to tinker and shop around a little you can probably get much better value for money with different motors.
Magic Pie – Golden Motor
The Magic Pie is another gearless hub motor that can come with either the controller built into the motor or with out. Having the controller built into the motor makes them not so customisable but simplifies the installing and the wiring required for your ebike. The Magic Pie is another reasonable quality motor but I wouldn’t quite rate it as highly as some of the others in this category
Geared Hub Motors:
Geared hub motors have the advantage of being a smaller and lighter than the direct drive motors. They also free wheel when they are not driving so they offer next to no resistance, making them a good choice if you plan on riding it like a push bike.
As with all technology there are pro’s and con’s for everything, geared hub motors can’t be used for regenerative braking, the cogs eventually wear out and need replacing, especially if you are using them with higher voltage systems.
Some Reputable Geared hub Motors:
- Hill Topper
…. more coming