Why a front or rear hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor

Almost all adapted bicycles in the Van Raam range are available as e-bikes. This means that it is possible to cycle with pedal assistance. Van Raam gets a lot of questions as to why they use the motor they’re using at the moment. At the Van Raam bicycles, the motor of the pedal assistance is located in the front wheel, in the rear wheel or on the rear axle between the wheels. But why is this? And what is the advantage of a front hub motor, motor on the rear-axle and a rear hub motor vs mid-drive motor? Read all about it in this article.


The motor on an e-bike

Every e-bike, also known as an electric bicycle, has a motor that drives the pedal assistance. When the pedal assistance, and there with the motor, is switched on, you can easily cycle without having to deliver a lot of power yourself. Most e-bikes have a front hub motor, a rear hub motor or a mid-drive motor. E-bike front hub motor, rear hub motor vs mid-drive motor: what is the difference?

Why a front or rear hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor
The motor in the front wheel of the Easy Sport recumbent trike

Front hub motor

With an e-bike that has a front hub motor, the motor is attached to the front fork in the front wheel. Because the motor is at the front and the battery is at the rear side, the bike has a good weight balance. This makes the bike well balanced and easy to ride. As soon as you start cycling and the motor is on, the motor pulls the bike forward so you can get started cycling quickly.
 
The motor is quiet, and it is less heavy to continue cycling when the motor is switched off than with a mid-drive motor. Besides shifting gears while cycling, it is also possible to shift gears when the bike is standing still. However, it may be that some people feel the steering is relatively heavier than with a mid-drive motor.

The motor itself requires little maintenance because it is a ‘Direct Drive’ motor. This means that no gears are needed to drive the motor. If this would be the case, the gears wear out and need to be replaced from time to time.

Rear hub motor and motor in the rear-axle

The rear hub motor is, as the name indicates, in the rear wheel of the bike. The motor on the rear-axle is located between the rear wheels. These motors are quieter than a mid-drive motor and work as soon as you start cycling so you can get started easily. Because both types of motors are at the rear end of the bike, this side is a bit heavier compared to the front and gives the motor a lot of pushing power that helps you to move forward.

Why a front or rear hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor Van Raam

The motor in the rear wheel at the OPair wheelchair bike.

Why a front or rear hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor motor in rear axle

The motor on the rear-axle between the rear wheels at the Fun2Go duo bike.

Mid-drive motor

Many e-bikes have a mid-drive motor. This is because the motor works well with front forks with a lot of suspension. However, the Van Raam bicycles mainly use rigid front forks. On an e-bike with mid-drive motor, the motor it located at the bottom bracket in the middle of the bike. Because of this, the motor is not directly connected to the front wheel or rear wheel. Since there is a chain link between the motor and the rear wheel, there is some slack in the mechanism that has to be gone first. That is why you’ll notice the support a bit later. The bike often makes more noise than a front or rear hub motor. Because the motor provides a lot of force on the chain and on the gear hub, more maintenance is needed to keep the bike in good condition.
 
The mid-drive motor gets hot quickly, so it can provide support for less time when going uphill for example. This is one of the reasons why the Van Raam pedal support system has won the ExtraEnergy test. Read more about this later on in the article.

Advantages of the front hub motor and the rear hub motor

Do you want to know exactly what the differences are between the e-bike front hub motor, motor on the rear-axle and the e-bike rear hub motor vs mid-drive motor on an e-bike? Then take a look at the overview below. In one overview, this makes clear what the advantages are of the three types of motors Van Raam uses for its electric bikes are compared to the features of a mid-drive motor.

 
Front / rear hub motor,
motor on rear-axle
Mid-drive motor
Sound of the engine

Quiet

Noisy

Direct Drive

Yes, the motor works as soon as you start cycling

No

Push and pull power

A lot

A little

Maintenance

Low maintenance required

Relatively more maintenance required

Cycling backwards

Yes

No

Switching the gear at standstill

Yes, with front hub motor

No

Weight balance
 

Good weight balance with front hub motor

More weight at the back of the bike

The motor on Van Raam adapted bicycles

Van Raam uses motors in the front wheel, in the rear wheel or on the rear-axle between the rear wheels. The reason for this is that there are more advantages of a front hub motor, rear hub motor or motor on the rear-axle on an adapted bicycle than on a ‘regular’ e-bike. The position of the motor is dependent on the type of bike, the design, and whether the pedal support is standard or optional.
 
The motors have been specially developed by and for Van Raam for the pedal assistance on its adapted bicycles. This makes the motors used by Van Raam very suitable for the bicycles in the range. You can read more about the pedal assistance later in this article.
 
Van Raam uses three different types of motors:

  • The VR1F

  • The VR2F

  • The VR2R

The VR1F and the VR2F are located in the front wheel of the bike and the VR2R is located in the rear wheel of the bike. On the rear axle between the rear wheels, the VR2F is located. The VR2F and the VR2R are extra powerful motors that have been especially developed for hilly and mountainous areas or when the driver or co-driver is unable to (co-)cycle properly.
 
More information about the Van Raam motors and their specifications can be read on the page about the pedal support by clicking on the button below. Do you have a Van Raam bike with pedal assistance from before 2016? Then take a look at the article ‘Van Raam bikes with motors / pedal support before 2016’ for more specifications about Van Raam motors delivered until June 2016.
 

More about the motors
It depends on the type of Van Raam bike and the design of the bike whether it has a front hub motor, rear hub motor or motor on the rear axle.

Where can I find the motors on Van Raam bikes?

As indicated, the motor can be in the front wheel or rear wheel of your bike. This depends on the design of your Van Raam bike. See below where the pedal assistance motor is located on your Van Raam bike:

Front hub motor Easy Rider tricycle Van Raam
Rear hub motor OPair wheelchair bike Van Raam
Motor in rear axle Fun2Go duo bike Van Raam

The Van Raam pedal support

The Van Raam pedal assistance has been specially developed by Van Raam for adapted bicycles. It is possible to choose the pedal assistance on all the bicycles in the range, except for the Husky tricycle for children and the City walking aid.
 
The Silent System, distinguishes itself in its ability to cycle backwards, the almost silent motor, the starting aid and the three individual adjustable support modes. With the starting aid, the motor provides additional support so that you can easily cycle away without having to use a lot of power yourself. In the article ‘Riding backwards with pedal support on custom bike’ more is explained about the backward cycling function.

Cycling backwards
Why a front or rear hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor battery Van Raam

In addition to the motor, the electrical system also consists of a battery. Van Raam uses three types of Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries. There are the Cube, the Cube Heavy and the Slim batteries. The capacity of te battery differs per type. The Cube has 10,7 Ah, the Cube Heavy 24,8 Ah and the Slim battery 13,5 Ah. The type of battery depends on the design of the bike and where the bike is used. For a hilly/mountainous environment for example, the Heavy Cube battery often used for extra battery capacity. In the article ‘How many kilometers does a Van Raam E-Bike battery last?’ you can read more about the battery life.
 
Do you want more information about the pedal support, the functions, the battery or de motors? Visit the pedal support-page on our website by clicking on the button below.

Pedal support
Why a front or rear hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor e-bike app

The Van Raam E-Bike App

If you own a Van Raam E-Bike, you automatically have access to the free Van Raam E-Bike App. This app can be used as a bike computer while cycling and keeps track of data such as distance, battery capacity and speed. But you can also change bike settings. For example, you can use the app to change the three pedal assistance settings, so you always have the right level of support while cycling. It is also possible to send an SOS message with GPS location in case of problems. Read in the article ‘Connect your adapted bike to the Van Raam E-Bike App’ how to connect the bike to the app. More information about the E-Bike App can be found on our website.

Van Raam E-Bike App
Van Raam pedal assistance winner extraenergy test

Winner ExtraEnergy test

The unique pedal support system has already won several awards. In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and in 2018-2019, the Van Raam pedal assistance system emerged as the winner of the ExtraEnergy test. This test is conducted by the German company Extra Energy, which has been conducting independent tests on electric bicycles/e-bikes since 1992. The Silent System has won in 3 of the 13 categories, due to the powerful electrical support of the motor and the distance that can be cycled on one battery. Read more about this in the article ‘Van Raam’s pedal support winner ExtraEnergy test’.
 

ExtraEnergy test
Van Raam fietsfabriek aangepaste fietsen in Varsseveld

Innovation at Van Raam

Van Raam considers innovation to be very important and therefore an innovative company policy is applied. For example, the bicycles and motors are continuously improved and renewed. This also applies to the production process. Among other things, a 3D printer is used to print 3D parts, a 3D scanner is used to guarantee the quality and there is a modern warehouse system.
 
Read all about the innovation at Van Raam on the innovation page.

Innovation at Van Raam