The two most common types of hub motors used in electric bicycles are brushed and brushless. Many configurations are available, varying in cost and complexity; direct-drive and geared motor units are both used. An electric power-assist system may be added to almost any pedal cycle using chain drive, belt drive, hub motors or friction drive. BLDC hub motors are a common modern design. The motor is built into the wheel hub itself, and the stator fixed solidly to the axle, and the magnets attached to and rotating with the wheel. The bicycle wheel hub is the motor. The power levels of motors used are influenced by available legal categories and are often, but not always limited to under 750 watts.
At the top end, the 20mph speed limit isn't an absolute, like the speed of light. It's just the most you'll get from the motor. I was able to get it up to 28mph on a flat road (there are no other roads where I live) in Turbo mode and 8th gear, but it took hard work to get there and maintain the speed. The easiest comparison is my mountain bike, where I've hit 23mph on that same stretch of road—and that took a heck of a lot of effort. Exactly how much effort does it take to ride? I have a 15-mile route that I ride on both my mountain bike and cyclecross bike. According to my Apple Watch, I generally burn around 1,400 or so calories on a brisk ride. I'll probably average around 13mph or so on my Marlin and between 16 and 17.5mph on my XO2. I averaged 14.9mph and burned a hair over 1,000 calories with the Bulls Cross E8.
Some e-bikes operate in pedal-assist only, others have a throttle, and some have both. Generally, pedal-assist only bikes will provide multiple power settings to choose from to help customize your ride, while bikes with both throttle and pedal-assist will have limited pedal-assist options. With these bikes, the throttle provides full control (when needed) while pedal assist is just a secondary option, great on straightaways or open road.
Electric mountain bikes have garnered a lot of attention for their ability to help riders go higher, further, and faster on the trail. As a result, there have been some impressive new eMTB models to hit the market in recent years, making it easier than ever to head off-road. Our favorite is the Haibike SDURO HardNine, which comes equipped with a 350-watt Bosch Performance CX drive and a 500 watt-hour battery. This gives it a range of up to 70 miles, along with a top speed of 20 mph, which is plenty fast on singletrack.
X-Treme is a very well-known distributor of electric scooters and electric bikes with really great customer service. They offer a number of great budget electric bikes, and one of them is Catalina Beach Cruiser. Powered by 500W rear hub motor, this e-bike can conquer almost any terrain. The frame of this bike is 100% hand-welded aluminum, with a step-though design. The top speed on this bike is about 20 mph, with the range of up to 60 miles on pedal-assist mode. The battery pack is 48V LiPo4. This e-bike is an absolute joy to ride. Even more now, with an all new zero resistance rear hub motor with an automatic clutch. This makes riding without power a breeze and you will feel no resistance from the motor. Seat is large and very comfortable, with dual springs for smooth ride. It also comes with a basket, which is a must have if you plan on going for groceries or running errands on this bike.
A lot has happened since we founded the very first eMTB specific magazine in 2013. In the beginning, manufacturers simply mounted electric motors on regular mountain bikes, more or more often than not, rather less successfully. Last year a lot of brands focused on the topic of battery integration. There are some exciting new trends and developments headed our way next season, which we take a closer look at below.
On the other hand, the battery doesn’t lock into the bike, which means you can’t just leave it on your bike when you park at the bike rack. Anyone could walk by and simply remove your battery. That seems like an oversight to me, though perhaps the designers assumed that such a small battery would just be easy to take with you. And it is. My wife could probably lose this battery in her purse.