Electric bike motors & power, how much power do I need?
In this guide we look at the main types of motor available and help you choose the right power to meet your cycling needs.
The maximum power of the motor is indicated by the number of NM [Newton Meter] of torque available. It will ultimately determine available power when climbing and how fast the bike can accelerate.
Motor power is a great indicator of what will be possible in certain scenarios on your Ebike, it is vitally important in some cases as the wrong choice could leave you feeling underwhelmed or without motor assistance when you need it most.
There are two types of motor available, hub-drive and mid-drive. Hub-drive has the motor built into the centre of the front or rear wheel. It is at this time the most affordable system.
The mid-drive, sometimes referred to as crank-driven, is as its name suggests, situated between the crank arms of the bike that extend to your pedals.
The hub-drive motor registers when you have started pedalling, depending on the support setting you have chosen, often low, medium and high are available, the motor will deliver a set amount of torque alongside any you can offer through the pedals. It has an on/off feel and will take you to the maximum speed with very little input.
The mid-drive by comparison offers a more authentic riding experience. The motor applies torque directly to the crank arms assisting you in turning the pedals as opposed to trying to turn a wheel. Effectively, the mid-drive makes your legs feel superhuman.
Over 300% assistance is available on more powerful motors. Your pedal power input times 300% up to the maximum legal outputs.
Another major mid-drive advantage is the position of the motor, central and low, this aids handling and means that the rest of your bike, particularly the wheels, are more or less the same as a standard bike making punctures or wheel removal for travel or storage straightforward.
How much power will you need? Whilst the genre of bike you plan to buy may take care of some of this decision for you, there are several factors to consider especially where options are available such as in the hybrid category.
- How hilly is the area you will be using the bike? If you plan on tackling serious hills more power is usually necessary. If you do not have enough power available it can feel like the motor has stopped completely, not what you want on a steep hill.
- We would suggest at around 50-60NM of power if you are planning on riding hilly roads on a hybrid bike. Around 40NM is fine for undulating or town/city riding.
- How is your current health/fitness level? More power will help the bike accelerate faster, as an example, we have had some riders who have injuries that do not allow them to apply much initial pressure to the pedal, more power here can be absolutely necessary to not only maximize enjoyment but perform a vital safety role whilst riding.
A recent addition to E road, gravel and mountain bike ranges is the lighter weight but lower power output motor options, somewhere a little over a third or half the output of full torque motors but with significantly lighter motor and batteries.
The lower output motor is ideal for those who want something as close as possible to normal riding but with some assistance to take the edge off the effort, especially when climbing.
Company director Paul rides the road version of these lighter weight electric bikes. He likes the satisfaction of having worked hard to get up the climb, at 67 years young, still very much committed to the company and the hours that involves, the motor assistance is essential to make sure he gets to the peak in the saddle not walking with the bike.
Our Weston store manager Adam, 35, rides a mountain bike version of these lighter weight electric bikes. With two little ones at home, Adam’s riding time is restricted for now. The lighter weight of the bike means it feels just like he wants a mountain bike to feel but gives him the boost needed to escape on an evening or weekend and cheat the fitness level his lifestyle allows for the time being.