Electric Bikes explained
As the name suggests, a mid drive system sits in the middle of the bike where you’d usually find the bottom bracket area. The great thing about these motors is that they offer a low centre of gravity and will make the bike feel and handle like a conventional push bike.
The other good thing about mid-drive motors is that because they’re based around the cranks they can respond quickly and accurately to how you’re pedalling meaning the system will feel very sensitive to your input. The Shimano STEPS system, for example, uses a torque sensor in the drive unit to make sure that power is delivered when it matters most.
Mid-drive motors are also better on hills because they’re connected to the drivetrain of the bike rather than just a wheel, so can propel the bike with greater power.
Hub motors can be in either in the front or rear wheel, and drives that wheel rather than driving from the pedalling system like a mid-drive motor. Using a hub motor can also give the bike a sleek appearance, since there isn’t as much extra bulk in the frame and the motor in the hub isn’t always apparent on first glance.
The hub systems we use at Ridgeback use a rotational sensor in the bottom bracket which drives the rear wheel when it detects movement. That means power is delivered from the hub motor when the sensor detects you pushing the pedals.
For the most part, hub-based systems are cheaper than mid-drive so make E-Bikes accessible without having to spend a huge amount of money. Hub systems are also really useful on things like cargo bikes where a mid-drive system can be difficult to fit in with all the additional storage space, or folding bikes that need to leave the frame free to pivot.
As you’d expect from one of the largest and most respected names in the cycling industry, Shimano’s STEPS system is a market leader in E-Bike technology. The E5000 and E6100 systems used in our bikes have a range of up to 150km depending on drive mode used and the batteries have a charge time of between 4.5-7.5hrs depending on capacity.
STEPS offers three levels of assist – called Eco, Normal and High – and also offers a walk assist mode for when you’re pushing the bike. The system comes with its own handlebar-mounted display but can also connect to your smartphone to display that information on screen.
With both Mid-Drive and Hub-based systems, SportDrive offer the best of both worlds and we at Ridgeback have taken full advantage of those options in our range. SportDrive systems give a great balance of price and performance.
The M123 front hub-based system is on the Electron F.H.D and the M155 rear hub drive on the Arcus one, while the Arcus two sports a mid-drive MD250S with a 418Wh battery.
Coming from Denmark, Promovec makes the E-Bike systems that we use on two of our e-Cargo bikes. Those systems are hub-based and you can see them on the MK5 and Butcher models. Promovec have a huge focus on the reliability and stability of their system, making them perfect for moving the heavy loads associated with cargo bikes.
Promovec are also a company with a huge focus on environmentalism, making their own batteries from a ‘green’ facility in their native Denmark. Robotic welding and an extremely high level of quality control ensures that their batteries are the very highest standard. Those batteries have a 500-600wh capacity which provides a range of up to 150km per charge, and each charge takes 4-5 hours.
The system has five different levels of pedal assistance and also comes with the ‘walk assist’ mode, which minimally powers the bike while you’re pushing it to make it easier to move – extremely helpful for a fully laden cargo bike.