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The Electric Bike Book

What To Look For In An Electric Bike: Motor Drive Technology

The search for alternative means of transportation has led to a surge in ebike popularity over the last 5 years or so. The electric bike boom is here and you’ve decided to gear up and climb aboard. If you are new to the technology, the search for the best electric bicycle for your needs can be daunting.

It can be difficult to choose between different brands and models in a bicycle market now crowded with ebikes. How do you know what to look for? In the first installment of Optibike’s blog series built around “The Electric Bike Book”, we introduced you to electric bikes and gave you some initial considerations focused on intended use. Once you’ve answered these questions, you need to become familiar with one of the biggest factors impacting intended use, the electric  bicycle motor. Technological advancements in motors determine where, how often and how long you can enjoy your riding experience.

There are two main types of electric bike propulsion systems, hub motors and mid-drives. e bikeHub motors are mounted on the hub of the rear or front wheel on ebikes, and account for about 90% of the electric bicycle motor sales. A battery supplies the motor with power driving the hub and propelling the wheel. They are a fixed gear system. They are the simplest, least expensive means of providing electric assist. They can be manufactured cheaply overseas, and easily  attached to bikes.

Mid-drives are the highest performing type of bicycle motor and are a more elegant solution, but with this comes increased cost. By utilizing the bike’s gears as gears for the motor, mid-drives are exponentially more efficient. The Motorized Bottom Bracket TM (MBB), developed and patented by Optibike, allows for the longest range and fastest electric bike on the market.  MBBs are placed where the bicycle cranks are located, and are compact. Battery powered by up to 1100 watts, they drive the front sprocket and go through the gears on the rear wheel. The result is a long-ranging, lighter and more powerful, efficient ride. The advantages of the MBB electric bicycle motor is explained further in this video presentation.

So the question becomes, is one type of bicycle motor system more preferable? They both have their pros and cons.

  • Hub motors are simpler and can be easily retrofitted onto an existing bike.

  • Hub motors do not involve gears on the bike, so efficiency drops when climbing hills.

  • The weight of the hub motor is in the rear wheel resulting in  diminished handling.

  • The MBB or mid-drive system is more natural bicycle hybrid system.

  • The rider and MBB utilizing all the gears – allowing for hill climbing and faster speeds.

  • MBBs are small and efficient, and do not adversly affect handling.

  • MBBs are held in the frame of an ebike resulting in better weight distribution and handling.

In our opinion, if you are truly looking for an alternative means of transportation with long range, high speed, and superior handling, an electric bike with a mid-drive system such as Optibike’s MBB is the right choice for you. Reap the benefits to health and fitness, the environment, recreation and your wallet by jumping on your new ebike today. Want to learn even more? Jim Turner, Founder and President at Optibike, has authored an informative and entertaining look at the rapidly expanding world of electric bicycles. Get your free copy of the eBook today.


Jim Turner is the Inventor and Founder of Optibike Electric Bikes