Entry Level Hub-Drive Vs Mid-Drive E-Bikes | What’s the Difference?

Entry Level Hub-Drive Vs Mid-Drive E-Bikes | What’s the Difference?


– You’re about to buy your
first ever e-mountain bike, and why not, if you can take the sting out of climbs, and get
you to places like this. Just a little bit easier. – Entry level e-bikes:
hub-drive versus mid-drive. What exactly can you get for your money? (energetic music) – So here then, are three typical examples of entry level e-bikes. Starting off, with the
Cyclomatic, the supermarket bike, with rear hub drive,
about five hundred pounds. The slightly more expensive
Focus also has rear hub drive. Around about fifteen hundred. And then, the Haibike
with the mid drive motor, from fifteen hundred pounds onwards. So what is difference
then between the hub drive and a mid drive? Well, the hub drive is located easily in the front or rear of the bike, whereas the mid drive
is located centrally. Now there’s gonna be a
difference in weight distribution between the hub drives and the mid drives, and the mid drive has a more
centralized balance feel to it. So starting off then with a
supermarket style of bike, little bit like this one, quite likely it’s gonna be
heavier than all the other bikes, but at least it’s got a side stand on it. In terms of the motor, looking at a 250 watt
rear hub drive motor, with a battery which quite
likely will be external, and around about 250 watt hours. Componentry then, it’s
gonna be less expensive than on some of the other bikes. You’re looking at such things
as cable operated brakes, rather than hydraulic ones. There should be, at least, three levels of assist on the motor, and the fork- well it’ll quite likely
be more of a spring than anything very refined. The tires, quite likely
will be street style, and the wheels, probably 26 inch. The most important thing, if you’re buying a supermarket style bike, it’s quite likely only
gonna come in one size. – So this also is a rear
hub drive e-style bike. Slightly more refined than
the supermarket style bike. It’s got a 250 watt
motor in the rear wheel, combined with 250 watt hour battery, which could be internally mounted, or may be external. Let’s take a look at the details and the componenture of this bike then. You’ve got a slightly better switch unit, with different power modes available. You’ve got some decent hydraulic brakes, which are going to stop you a lot better than the cable activated system. Also, the wheels are
lot better for off-road. You’ve got knobbly tires,
and a stronger wheel, and topping it off, you’ve got a decent
quality suspension fork, which is actually gonna
take the sting out riding those big hits on the trails. Lastly, let’s take a look at the frames. It’s gonna be available in a lot of different sizes for different rider heights. Might also come in a few
different color options too. – And finally, an example
of a mid drive motor e-bike, which is going to give you a
more balanced ride dynamic, because of that centrally located motor. The componentry is going to be better than on the other bikes. Sizing: you going to
have a range of sizing for different rider height. Might well come in a range of colors, but critically, that battery
is going to be larger capacity. It’s 400 watt though, is in this, which is gonna improve
the range of your e-bike, and that motor, the performance, is going to be improved
when it comes to climbing, as we’ll find out later. So then essentially
then, what we have here, is a transition from an e-bike
up to an e-mountainbike. Now, the e-bike has
become incredibly popular in recent years. It’s made for commuting
and light off-road use, whereas the e-mountainbike
has better componentry, and can handle those off-road conditions. This then, could be the type of place where you do your first
ever e-mountainbike ride. We’re in the Forest of Dean. It’s gotta series of way-marked trails, from easy through to moderate, and onto slightly more difficult. Now, before we came here, we actually went to North Rose, to one of the UK’s oldest
trail centers, Coed-y-Brenin, to actually see what these
bikes are capable of. – Yeah, we kicked things
off with a fireroad challenge. (energetic music) – Join a smooth, fireroad climb- – No, no we’re not. We’re on a long, smooth,
fireroad climb, Chris. – Yeah, but this is the sort of thing that’d really grind you on
a standard mountainbike, but I’m simply breezing up here with minimum effort. – What mode you in? I’m in eco mode. – I’m in high power mode. – That’s the good thing about, you know, spending a little bit more money, is you’ve got four different modes on this bike, compared to two or three on that, right? – Yeah. – Can you stick your
bike into eco power mode? – I’ll try it, ooh. – So, there you can see, I’m now in eco, Chris is in eco, and this bike’s got a
little bit more power. – Wait for me. – However, let’s try the bikes
in high power mode, Chris. – Yeah. – I’m now in high power- – High power. – See, you can see that’s
where the mid drive comes into its own. (energetic music) – Wow, great days in North Wales. I think you’ve proved
that those type of trails, were good not just for a haibike, but also the supermarket bike as well. – Yeah, everything we did that day was totally within the limits of these bikes, for sure. – Until we got to the technical climb. – Yeah. (energetic music) – So behind us here is advanced
style, technical climb. Something you might not necessarily tackle on a standard mountainbike, but here on the e-bikes today, we’re going to tackle
them in the easiest gear, and the highest power mode. First up Steve, you ready? – Yeah, here we go! So I’m about to tackle a
climb, I’ve got the seat up. Obviously, it’s not just about the motor when you go to more advanced trails. It’s about the componentry
too, such as the tires, and there’s more a city
style tyre on this bike, so might not be as strong
as possibly the Focus, or the Haibike, but let’s give it a go. – Go on Steve. – Okay, you ready? – You got this. – Here we go. Oh wow. – Straight in, look up. – Oh wow. – Delivery. Smiling choice. – So good. – Look at this. Go on Steve, all the way. – Ah, I think that’s about it for the Cyclomatic. Chris, are you going
to get onto the Focus? – We’re in the highest
power mode, I think. Yeah, highest power mode. Easiest gear. Let’s give this a go. In the saddle Steve changed
technique first, I think. Wow, it’s quite smooth,
it’s quite powerful. – Should get out of the saddle a bit more. – Power delivery, bit of tyre choice. Not a lot of grip, Steve,
coming from these tires. – Now this is actually quite
a short section of trail, and technically if you are
out and about in the hills, you’d probably be doing
more extended versions of this trail. As you can see, I’ve actually
breezed up that section, and then it actually enables
you to go quite easily. I’ve barely taken- I’ve barely taken controls. – You’re amazing now! Breezed it. So Steve, that looks super
easy on the Haibike? For me, I think the pluses
and minuses for this bike was, I simply breezed up the track
when it was super smooth. Power delivery felt really good. As soon as you get,
probably bit more technical, I could feel the rear- you know, the rear wheel weight, that hub motor just like
pulling the bike back on the steps. – I think also, when once you started getting a
little bit steep bike, I could see you put in more effort– – Yeah. – Into it? – Definitely yeah. – And it was the same on the Cyclomatic. It’s okay up to a certain gradient, and then you get past that gradient, these motors really do start to struggle. – Yeah, definitely. – However, this is where the haibike with the mid drive motor, this is where mid drive
motor e-bikes are simply in a class of their own. And not only do they
make it to the oranges, they conquer the steeper climb, but also, they enable you
to sustain a longer climb on your e-bike, so yeah, I say, that was on high power mode on this bike, and I was actually able to sit down and get up that climb pretty easily. – Yeah, I noticed. To deliver the power I had to stand up, out the saddle, hence loosing
grip in the back tire. The tires, as well, being a bit skinnier, couldn’t provide the grip that the bigger tires could as well. (energetic music) – Terence, we never did any actual timed climbs on these bikes. Let’s get a stopwatch out. – Heads or tails? – Heads. – Heads it is. I wanna go first. See ya. – I don’t think it’s time that’s actually- you don’t see how far- I don’t think you can even get up these banks on these bikes, surely. – Okay, so first up, we’ve got the hub drived e-mountainbike. I’m in the easiest gear, I’m
in the maximum power mode. Count me in Chris. – Three, two, one, go! Whoa, a bit of a slow
start, a good line choice. Gotta make sure he’s got a load of grip on these kind of mountainbikey tires, but they’re pretty skinny. Pretty impressive for
all out of the saddle. – Your mouth still running Chris? Okay, up to post. Ah, so I can now sit down again. Stop! – 23 seconds, point five zero. So 23 and a half seconds. – Okay, so I’m now on the mid drive bike, with a Yamaha PW motor. Chris, after you. – Three, two, one. Look at that, just flying away up there. Actually boosting up this trail. So much difference in the hub drive bike. My God! Absolutely going to smash it. – Stop! – 16 point 82 seconds. So massively smashin it out of the park. So absolutely smashed it
then on the haibike. – Really? What was the time difference? – Oh my maths. You did 23 and a half
seconds on the hub drive. 16 point 8 seconds on the mid drive. – So, about six or seven seconds then. – Yeah. – But I think the main point of that is you can actually sustain longer climbs on the mid ride bike. You can sit down. I think as we saw on the second climb, the mid drive bike is far superior. – Even the grit looked different. You could actually see you
wooshed your way up there, rather than just working hard. – I tightened my grip. Not only do we do hill
climbs on these e-bikes. We also grid down as
well, and I’m finding that the cable operated brake- sorry guys, I’m little bit out
of breath after that climb, which proves that e-biking
is a physical activity- but, I think it’s time
to do a braking test, between cable operated and hydraulic. – You kidding me. What? Down this skiddish hill? – Yeah, after you Chris. – Well, see you in the van then. – After you. (upbeat music) – So Chris, the challenge
is you start from the post, and when you get to this stump here, you put all the anchors on, and you see how far it takes you to stop. – So we’re gonna start as best I can- – Yes, this side of London. – This side of London. (laughs) – This side of the carpark, yeah? – Right, of this I’ve got to see. – I can’t even walk up there. (laughs loudly) – Now this could actually
be the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. Chris on the cable operated bike, with road tires. Oh my God! – I’ve got four fingers on my brakes now applying the pressure, so
not one finger, four fingers. – Right, you ready? – [Steve] Yeah. – Let’s get this, shh- oh my God, these brakes. – [Steve] He’s not going to stop. (laughter) – Oh my God! (laughter) – [Steve] Chris, you shouldn’t really go skidding down trails. – I know, skidding on a trail is a bad. – That’s bad, bad, bad practice. – Right. There’s not a lot of grip
on these tires, Steve. I’m not really sure- without the skid to be fair. (laughter) – I reckon that took you
about 80 yards to stop. – And that was with like
four fingers on the brakes, pulling as hard as I could. Just the modulation is in there. As soon as you skid- – Modulation? – Yeah, there’s no modulation. – Yes, yeah, there is no modulation. Back up, get on the high bike. – This is the second brake test. It’s on the Focus, the
rear hub drive style bike. We’ve got 160 mil hydraulic
disk brakes on this- Shimano ones, so hopefully
stopping this is– should be a lot less. Also got a slightly more aggressive tire, so it just helps with
grips, and slowing down. Are you ready? Two fingers on the brakes. (brakes squeaking) (laughter) – [Steve] That’s ridiculous. – It’s massively different, isn’t it? It’s like a quarter of the time? – [Steve] So I guess it comes
down to confidence, right? – I think the grip on the tires
makes a big, big difference, especially in the mud, as well as I’ve got just
two fingers on these brakes, rather than the four
fingers tryina grip on that. I mean I got a lot more grip, because I’ve got more fingers on the bars. – So this blue trail is actually perfect for these entry-level bikes Chris? – Definitely. This is pretty smooth, but
remember how technical, and rough those trails
were in North Wales? – I did. So this is what happened
when things got technical. (rhythmical music) – That really was pretty rough, right? And probably not out of place on a World Cup circuit, but your supermarket style bike? – Um, pretty bad. I just about managed to stick my eyeballs back into my skull. Definitely bounced me around
hang of a lot going down there. – What’s the problem with
riding a supermarket style bike in a place like that? – First up, the brakes. You know the cable-activator,
there’s no power whatsoever on there, and you really lack, you know, knocks your confidence massively, ’cause you can’t slow down, especially when it gets tech and fast. – Tires as well, right? Tires are important when
you go mountainbiking. – Skinny little tires, 26 inches, as well, so they don’t roll over the big steps, just getting bounced around loads. The fork at the front is
purely a cosmetic thing. It literally bangs and clacks around. It doesn’t offer no suspension. – So that’s the difference when you go form a supermarket style bike
to a more expensive bike. You actually getting
cushioning on that fall. – Definitely, and I think
with the battery as well, it literally was bouncing around, and the carrier come
loose a couple of times, and the weight of that rear
hub motor drive, you know, bouncing around on these rock steps. It just isn’t a nice experience at all. – I think what brought it home to me is the fact that when you do buy your first e-mountainbike, it’s important to get
the right size for you, so you’re on a bike which is literally– a lot of those supermarket style bikes are only one size- – Yeah, got the wrong style. – Whereas the high bike I was riding actually comes in a range of sizes, which you can get for that style of bike. The mid drive motor, when
you’ve got a mid drive motor, there’s a more balanced ride to the bike, because it’s located centrally, and all those things you talk about, it’s worth spending that money. To go mountainbiking,
you need such things as: hydraulic brakes- – Brakes make a massive difference, yeah. – You need grippy aggressive tires, right, when you riding a mountainbike, when you go mountainbiking, and that’s the difference. I think supermarket style are good for fire roads and commuting, whereas when you go mountain biking, you gotta have the kit, right? – Definitely. – Tell you what, entry level or not, these bikes actually take the sting out of those quite boring firewood climbs. I reckon they can get you to places normal mountainbikes wouldn’t. – Yeah, I agree with that but remember that really technical trail, and carried a brand in
on the supermarket bike. That bike was definitely
way out of its depths here, but we’re just approaching
a blue graded trail, where these bikes are definitely
not feeling out of place. (rhythmic music) – How much battery you got left, Chris? – We’ve been in a high power mode, and I’ve only used two bars
of my ten bars of battery. – I guess that’s the great thing about having a mid drive bike, with a higher capacity battery. That’s 400 watt, that is. I mean I’ve got like two bars– I’ve probably got a couple of mile left, whereas you’ve got, what? Twenty mile left? – You’ve used half a battery already? – I know, it’s crazy right. Well, I hope that’s helped in guiding you through the often confusing world of e-mountainbikes, and
maybe encouraged you to take your first steps to
your first e-bike purchase. Chris, for me out on the trials, it was all about the mid drive. More ability in technical terrain. More range for the
bigger capacity battery. More balance because the
motor’s located centrally. – Yeah definitely. – And, yeah. – I think the supermarket bike was perfectly acceptable for me. I like the smooth stuff, the fire roads, sort of commuting-based stuff, and it was an absolute blast to ride, but I think once you actually
start mountainbiking, getting out in the woods and the mud and the rocks and things, it starts definitely
getting out of its depth. – Chris, I think what we’ve seen here is a transition from the supermarket bike, which is potentially a type
of, commuting type of bike, through to the mid drive, the high bike which we’re riding, which will actually probably open up so many opportunities for you to go riding in different places
you’ve never been before. – Yeah definitely. Yeah, I think you need to
go along to a demo day. That way you’re going to be able those different types of motors out, see what componentries suit you, you know, see what style
of bike even suits you. – Exacly, and if you want to actually see what these bikes can do, if you check out the video, which me and Chris did
on the rock down here, and then for further afield
adventures into the wild, which we did in Scotland. – Yeah, don’t forget to Skype to EMBN, by clicking the globe in
the middle of the screen. Give us a thumbs up if
you enjoyed today’s video. – Do let us know your comments
on entry level e-bikes. I’m sure that you’re
gonna have a load of them.