Hi, this is James, the master trike technician at Laid Back Cycles. Today we are going to discuss the differences between a hub drive motor and a mid-drive motor.
So, first off, the hub drive motor is as the name implies. The motor is in the rear hub of the trike and this has its advantages. With the hub motor driving the rear wheel, it doesn’t put excessive wear and tear on top of the drive chain. The hub drive can also be turned on by use of a throttle. Primarily though, the hub drive is activated by the pedaling. It’s what we call speed and cadence sensor. When you pedal, the motor turns on and when you stop pedaling the motor turns itself off. So, it is never going to keep you going if you are not pedaling. These motors come in two powers, the 350 Watt and the 500 Watt. The 350 Watt is recommended for general riding in most areas. The 500 Watt is useful if you are in a lot of hills or if you are towing something. And there are different battery options. This particular battery is typically good for about 30 miles minimum. Some people have gotten up to some very high mileages like 60 or 70, but most people are getting around 40 and 50 miles. And the extended size battery will add about a 20% greater range.
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The mid-drive motor, like this Bosch on this Terratrike E.V.O., is kind of a misnomer in the trike world. It is called a mid-drive because in the world of bicycles it sits between the front and the rear wheel, there by calling it a mid-drive. But since trikes have the pedals up in the front it’s out in the front. I guess we could have called it a front drive motor.
The Bosch system is special, this one has a lot of electronics in it and it does a lot of thinking. So, the mid-drive motor operates with a combination of:
- How much pressure you put on the pedal, called the torque-based system.
- How fast the pedal goes, which is the cadence and speed sensor.
- And how fast the trike is going.
And from there it does calculations to determine how much power it should put into the system. The mid drive-motors on top of the trikes have the benefit of multiplying its power across a drive chain. The Bosch is special because it continually alters the power to make sure it doesn’t give too much power and stresses the drive chain out at any given time. This is the most natural feeling of all the motor systems.
So, which motor system is right for you? Well, for about 90% of people the mid-drive system is going to take care of you and because it is so natural feeling. If you have ever been on a regular unmotorized bike or trike and gone down a slight hill with the wind on your back, that’s what it feels like all the time. You know you are getting some exercise and our studies are showing that you only lose about 20% of the cardio. Current studies are showing that it follows a calorie burn and you are only losing 20% of the calorie burn on a motor vs a non-motorized trike. But because people spend more time on the motorized one, the net gains are huge.
The hub drive is recommended for those with any adaptive situation, or if you are the type of person who is now getting a little tired on some of the bigger rides. With the cadence speed sensor, it’s the pedaling motion that determines how the motor comes on. You don’t have to push as hard, especially for the end of the ride. Also, the throttle is there to get you out of trouble if for some reason you cannot ride at all. People get that all the time from cramps in the legs. And unfortunately, that is what happens as we all get older. Regardless of what you need, we have a motor system that will work for you!