Why buy a hub drive motor?

For eBikes worldwide, the hub drive motor was integral to the initial introduction of Electric Bikes, this dates back to the tail end of the 1800s! Rad Power has done a pretty extensive article on the history of eBikes. If you want to check that out I’ll list it at the bottom of the blog! Of course since these times we have seen a huge improvement on how these work and operate, main features such as size of the motor, the power they can hold and of course lithium-ion technology lending extra torque to these motors.

As we offer only purely hub driven eBikes, we often get asked why that is, and whether a mid drive (also known as a crank drive) is worth spending the extra on? In this blog we will be looking into the benefits of a hub drive and why they suit so many riders – and why it might save you some money! We’ll also explore the advantages of mid drives and the type of rider they could suit.

I want to start this off by saying while we do have a hub-drive only range, we also see huge benefits to the mid-drive for those they suit, and I (Kris) also own a mid-drive bike alongside my personal Oxygen S-Cross MTB MKII that I use for different purposes in which I will get into.

Oxygen S-Cross CB MKII Rear Hub Motor

How hub-drive motors work

For those who aren’t quite sure what a hub-drive really is, I’ll briefly describe what they are and how they work. Hub-drive motors are either located in center of the front or rear wheel (more common in the rear wheel and that is where all of our models have theirs), and they come in two types, Geared and Gearless, Geared have planetary gears inside of the motor to reduce the speed of a higher RPM motor while Gearless have no gearing and directly connect the lower RPM motor stator’s axle to the bike. Hub-drive systems often work until a “Pedal Assist Sensor” which engages the motor upon turning the crank (pedals).

 Key advantages to hub drive motors

This is the most important part to consider when looking at eBikes from our standpoint, do the hub-drive motors tick all your boxes and will you realistically need to spend more for a mid-drive system or not. I’m going to run through a few good indicators on hub-drives, coming from the wealth of knowledge we at Oxygen have gained over the past 10 years. 

  1. Cost

This is probably one of the biggest benefits of getting the hub-drive eBikes, the price anywhere from £800+ up to around the £2000 mark, anything more than that usually enters the mid-drive territory. Not only is the cost of a brand new bike reduced, but the price of a hub-drive motor is also a lot cheaper, which is something to consider for those who plan to use their bikes for commuting or for commercial use as replacement hub motors are quite a bit cheaper than the mid-drives. I will note that you will find on a lot of the £2000-3000 priced eBikes with the mid-drive will carry the same components as the £1400+ hub-drive bikes anyway which is something to keep in mind whilst looking around for an eBike.

  1. Maintenance

As the hub drive is a fully enclosed system it needs little maintenance and will generally provide years of trouble free use. Hub drives that use internal planetary gears (the smaller, lighter models that we see and use at Oxygen) may need these internals replacing every few years with heavy use, but this is often fairly straightforward for your local bike shop to do – and certainly much easier and cheaper than a mid drive replacement! In addition, as the electrical power to the wheel is independent of your chainrings, chain and cassette, these components will last MUCH longer than on a mid drive system.

We always advise to keep on top of all your maintenance and to thoroughly read your manual. Your local bike shop is invaluable, use them or lose them!

  1. Performance and suitability

Now this one isn’t talked about as prominently as it should be out there when researching ebikes, but a lot of bike shops, including many of our customers, always ask the question, what do you need out of your eBike? For example, are you out in the mountains? How many miles are you planning on riding? We often see that people will buy a bike based on either popularity or what they have seen, but we encourage those to look at what they need from a bike? This ties into why hub motors are practical. The big difference between the mid-drive and hub-drive motors is how they engage but also how much torque they give (this is very relevant when it comes to inclines). Hub-drive motors will cover the majority of the leisure rider or commuter’s needs with torques being up to 45NM. 

Potential pit falls

While I have outlined some of the key pros of the hub-drive motors, it is important that I lay out some of the common downsides or notable cons for them.

  1. Power & Torque

As we have outlined above, the mid drive can feel like it has more punch, especially in lower gears – the drivetrain gears work to amplify torque at the rear wheel. Great for those tricky climbs where you are judging traction and control. They can also be more efficient which extends the range of the battery.

  1. Removing Wheel/Tyres

With the rear or front huHub drive wheels can be a little more tricky to remove. Rather than using quick release mechanisms, they have to use a much stouter bolts and keyed safety washers. The power cable also needs to be disconnected. This can make a puncture repair a little more involved whilst out riding, therefore we recommend puncture prevention systems such as Slime or foam inserts.

  1. Weight Distribution

If you have either front or rear it can be sometimes quite awkward to carry due to Hub drives naturally displace the centre of gravity of the bike to the front or rear. Couple this with battery placement – a rear rack for example – then lifting the bike can be more problematic. Mid drives naturally have a centred weight distribution, and with their downtube batteries, the overall balance can mimic a non ebike and this can be advantageous in techinical off road situations. Oxygen S-Cross models are all down tube battery mounted and this helps to minimise weight imbalance.

Summary from Oxygen

Oxygen S-Cross ST MKII Red

In the end your decision on what type of motor to buy is purely personal preference. But there is no doubt that your style of riding and choice of terrain should play a huge part in that process. Our team here at Oxygen ride and enjoy both types of design and, if you are into serious mountain biking where the power delivery and balance is of more benefit then sure, we’d say go mid drive! But if more a leisure rider that enjoys tow paths and gentle trails, the road and commuting, and just need that extra boost, then a hub drive will easily meet your demands – and save you money! They offer perfect price to performance for so many people.

We are actively developing mid drive models to complement our hub drives and will be something that we will offer in the future.

As always we are always happy to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to get in touch, and also if you’re in the market please have a look at our models we have in our range.

Rad Power Article: https://www.radpowerbikes.com/blogs/the-scenic-route/the-history-of-ebikes

Why buy a hub drive motor?

4 thoughts on “Why buy a hub drive motor?

  • 8th June 2023 at 8:48 pm

    Perfect information about hubs to me knowing the benefits of the difference between them makes it alot more understandable when looking at how you want to ride along with type of rides. Now me I am a rear hub fella but do like midrive on the flats .

  • 8th June 2023 at 9:40 pm

    Cool information, but why should i buy an Oxygen motor over any other generic chinese hub drive?

    • 24th July 2023 at 4:38 pm


      Please note that this article isn’t to persuade you to get an Oxygen Motor, it is to show the benefits and drawbacks of the rear-hub motor when being compared to the crank-driven motor.

  • 7th July 2023 at 2:10 pm

    Wish I had read this before purchase and it would have saved me a bit grief. I purchased 2 x e-bikes, one with a HUB drive (OXYGEN S-CROSS ST MKII) for my son and another well known manfacturer’s bike (MID DRIVE) for myself – the latter being the personal recommendation from the dealer. When we took delivery, the difference between the 2 was remarkable. I just couldn’t keep up with my son’s 24 gear OXYGEN as whilst I had the more powerful MID DRIVE, I only had 8 gears and found I had to pedal like a lunatic to get the power out of it – it was far more exhausting than I had envisaged (and horrible for my bad knee!). I tired my son’s OXYGEN and it was a million times easier to use without breaking a sweat and giving my knee a break! I’m really fortunate, and grateful, that the dealer was willing to let me exchange the bike (I’d only had it a few days) and today I had my OXGEN S-CROSS CB MKII delivered and I love it!


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