Hub or mid drive?

Joined
Oct 19, 2012
Messages
1,173
Location
Wakefield, UK
Does anyone have any experience of both? Most reviews I can find comparing one to the other are from highly committed cycling enthusiasts with wardrobes full of lycra and as such they always favour the mid drive and scoff at the hub. I did find one comment from a chap who sells them for a living and he stated that hub motors almost never come back but mid drives are regularly back in his shop having new parts fitted, particularly nylon gears (why do they use them?) and one way clutches that release the motor when pedalling without assistance. There's also the extra drivetrain wear from the mid.

I have a hub motor and frankly it makes you lazy. It's too easy to twist the throttle rather than peddle and the assist is based on just rotating the pedals rather that matching any actual effort. I'm considering the Tongsheng mid drive as it's much cheaper than the Bafang and also has a torque sensor so as you add effort it does rather than the Bafang mechanism which adds effort if you merely cycle the pedals rather like my hub motor. I welcome any knowledge on mid drives or comparisons between them and hubs.
 

Twinkle

Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 14, 2013
Messages
3,623
Location
Peacehaven nr Brighton, Sussex ,UK
We have fitted several tongsheng tsdz2 units over the past year , mainly due to a change in life styles living in a rather hilly ( well welsh mountain area ) halfway up a mountain in South West Wales.

Currently we are running a pair of ICE Trikes down here with a throttle and a non throttled version . The advantage of the tongsheng units is the additional power due to the power being harnessed through the gears the disadvantage being a broken chain could become a walk home failure.

The throttle version is fitted to my much modified 20/20 rigid framed vortex . Running a 42 /36 dual chain wheel and a capreo 9 speed 9 -32t cassette on durano tyres .

Kens has a pedelec version fitted to his sprint rs20 running a 42 front to a 9-32 capreo rear cassette on big apple tyres .

Over the past year they provide a good assist both running 48v Li-on 12ah batteries and give a range of over 50 miles .

The q100 units and 36v Li-on batteries fitted to the 20/20 e trikes are adequate for normal use but the extra power via the gear train seem to increase the range as well as provide the additional power for the climbs.

We have fitted a couple for friends down here who are now benefitting from the power of E .

Problems might occur due to the mounting style of the unit .

Hope that helps

Regards Emma
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2011
Messages
349
Location
Vilvoorde / Flanders / Belgium
I'm using a Bafang middrive on my Azub Tricon/Alfine 11.
For the 2 months and 1500 km in use, very dependable. Range. If I'm very lazy 70 km. If I'm eager, probably 2 weeks.

The trick is to keep the gear low. Electric motors love high RPM.

And the nylon gear (single in the Bafang) is just there for noise reasons. (it's more expensive than a steel one)
 

Twinkle

Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 14, 2013
Messages
3,623
Location
Peacehaven nr Brighton, Sussex ,UK
We haven't had a problem so far , I get the units from woosh bikes in Essex .

As l said earlier only problem was getting a high enough top gear without exceeding their 44t big ting limit , hence the capreo cassette which allows a 9 t little cog .
Poor tongsheng has to work hard as there is a mountain climb or two on every journey.

Upside is the beautiful views.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2012
Messages
1,173
Location
Wakefield, UK
Thanks folks. Interesting about the noise. That's something that never occurred to me and will be more noticeable in an enclosed trike. My hub is just a slight hum and barely noticable. I suppose I could always fit a radio to drown it out.
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2013
Messages
1,895
Location
Washington state
I myself have both, a Golden motor hub drive on a Street fox. Adequet power but not for off road IMO.
My daily ride on a Street Fox has a Bafang mid drive that has an enormous amount of torque (I have the rear derailer stuck in low gear only). Trike has 375 miles on it but only rode on paved streets.
 
Joined
May 31, 2013
Messages
2,907
Location
South Benfleet, Essex, England, UK
I have experienced "captive hub motor" (used as a mid-drive) and pure mid-drive (Bafang).
Bafang was/is quieter in operation; Over-volting/watting the units is possible, and that is typically what wrecks them.
Having low gearing helps enormously. I have snapped a chain with a Bafang and poor gearing.
I agree e-assist + thumb-throttle (now not allowed) can make you lazy, which is why I have removed it from my current trike.
I need the exercise and the muscle conditioning. People in post-op recovery or in really hilly areas can really benefit from e-assist.
The best differentiator on Hub Vs. Mid-drive is regenerative braking because any battery replenishment on the move is always a good thing.
 
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
302
Location
Winnipeg, Manitoba
I have both systems. A fat bike with a Bafang BBSHD 1000 watt I use off road, especially in winter. My blue coro delta has the Bafang BBSO2 500 watt. An EVO 700c roadbike fitted out for my wife with a Tongsheng mid drive and my Aurora based delta with a Tongsheng as well. First as to issues, the fat bike had it,s first failure in approx 4 years. Not with the motor itself but the freehub broke down. I am aware that mid drives are harder on bicycle drivetrains and the fat bike gets used fairly gently, power levels are almost always kept at level 1 and when off road i bump it up to level 2 for the occasional hills. The BBSO2 in in the blue coro delta has been trouble free but it only gets used in cold or rainy weather so it has way less mileage on it. Now onto the 2 Tongsheng mid drives. The road bikes unit has very little use - my wife is unsure about cycling but I,ve been using the Aurora based delta all summer and so fat have about 1600 km,s on it. I have to say the more I use it the more I like it. The torque sensing feature is great, it is way more bicycle like then the Bafang units. I did order the bronze gear due to concerns about the blue nylon gear they come with but have not needed to install it as yet. IMHO if you don,t strain the Tongsheng by using the wrong gear ie by lugging it the nylon gear should last a very long time. In other words ride it just like you would any bike or trike and use the gears properly as conditions dictate. As for the Bafang in my fatbike, well I spent many years riding dirtbikes and regard the fattie as my dirtbike. It is able to offer some exercise by only using the lowest power level but it doesn,t really offer a bicycle feel.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2012
Messages
1,173
Location
Wakefield, UK
I don't see how a mid drive setup as the bafang can do regen braking. Stop pedaling and the chain stops too. No power transfer from the moving back wheel to the motor/generator.
That is a very astute point and I'm kicking myself for not seeing it until pointed out. It's now obvious that a hub motor can be driven by the road and put electricity back into the battery but a mid-drive can not.
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2011
Messages
349
Location
Vilvoorde / Flanders / Belgium
I have felt the lack of electric reverse a few times, and it's one of the reasons most HPV's with full cover still have "footholes" for Flintstones reverse.

One of the idea's i'm working around.
Add a "Solex style" drive with brake/reverse lever function to the back wheel.
But that will demand some fancy electronics to have a stable feed to the battery.
And ABS for safety, the back wheel seems to lock easely, a reason why most commercial recumb tadpoles just have that as an optional handbrake option.
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2013
Messages
1,895
Location
Washington state
regen braking is IMO a sales pitch. You will get very little "extra" power using regen braking.
I have some beach front property in the Mojave desert I will sell really cheap if you believe regen braking REALLY helps with battery life.
I use a Bafang mid drive in level 3 and my battery lasts way longer than when I was using level1'
This is on paved streets. I use my trike for exercise as I have two bad knees and the trike helps tremendously.
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2011
Messages
349
Location
Vilvoorde / Flanders / Belgium
Regen braking is very effective if there is enough mass (weight) to be braked. Our machines, mostley, are not that heavy, not even with big guys in the seat.

On range. My bafang is set at 25mph, and use it in lvl2 or 3, and use that to dictate my speed. I try to be faster than the assist. (about 13mph in lvl2 and 18mph in lvl3). Range, varies wildly. But at least 70km.
 

Twinkle

Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 14, 2013
Messages
3,623
Location
Peacehaven nr Brighton, Sussex ,UK
Plumped for the Tongsheng with torque sensor. No throttle and the more I put in the more it does.
Ken has one on his sprint 20 rs the throttle input is used as an over temperature sensor as they have no throttle you don't get kill brake switches supplied .
I have the throttled version and fitted 2 chainrings 42 /36 on my 20/20 vortex.
Running a 42/36 on 20" wheels would normally be under geared but we are using a capreo 9- 32 freewheel.

Regards Emma
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
808
Location
Axedale, Victoria, Australia
Website
axerail.coffeecup.com
The question is very much an individual one and there will be devotees for both.

Regen, as an aim, would be nice and many of us have mused over it. There are 3 opportunities for regen:

1. Braking - Only for short periods. Really, how much time would be spent actually braking? The longer you apply the brakes, the less regen you would get. Most would be at high speed and that wouldn't last too long. Simply put, braking reduces regen in operation.

2. Free-wheeling - The ability to provide regen will slow you down and it would be like having the brakes applied to a degree. Your free-wheeling distance would be far less than without regen.

3. Downhill - This one is a little different. It would be the same as freewheeling with the assistance of whatever the decline provided. Would the mass of a trike really provide anything worthwhile on the declines that you would encounter? The actual grade will modify the the amount of regen with the same slowing down due to the energy required. You would slow down quicker than without it.

They are my thoughts from a year or two back, ending in rejecting any more thoughts on it.

I played around with a car alternator years ago until I blew up the electronics that I was using to drive it. I wanted to see if it could be used as a 3-phase motor. I didn't get very far. I removed the diodes and was able to get it to run. I then thought that if it worked out, I could have left the diodes in circuit and switched them in and out by activating the switching with a brake control. This would change it from motor to alternator to recharge the batteries some unknown amount. It never progressed any further than that and I have never found out how efficient as a motor an alternator might be. All I know is that it would be heavy. Buying a Bafang mid-drive was much easier but it might have been an interesting project.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2012
Messages
1,173
Location
Wakefield, UK
Unless living in a mountainous area regen appears a non-starter. Even then it's far simpler just to use a bigger battery if needed.
 
Top