Folding bike with mid-motor

beixo has electric folding bicycles with front-wheel motors. We often get asked why we don't carry a folding bike with a mid-motor. Of all the drive modes, the mid-motor is currently the most popular. But is this popularity justified or is everyone just talking after everyone else? 

There are three ways to power an electric folding bike. The folding bike with front-wheel motor, folding bike with mid-motor and the folding bike with rear-wheel motor. Each has its advantages and its disadvantages. We list these and immediately explain what beixo based its choice on.

Folding bike with mid-motor for Matthias Chapel, Kobern-Gondorf, Germany
Folding bike with mid-motor for Matthias Chapel, Kobern-Gondorf, Germany

Folding bike with mid-motor

So the most popular at the moment is the folding bike with mid-motor. This is easy to explain: drive at the bottom bracket feels most powerful. Wherever you pedal, the motor joins in and that combined power drives the rear wheel via gear and chain. The motor makes the pedals turn and thus assists the cyclist in pedalling. That combined force comes to the rear wheel, which is what you as a cyclist have been used to for years: just like normal pedalling without electric assistance. The weight of the motor is in the middle of the bike, making it more balanced. In addition, the motor is neatly hidden near the pedals. And the bike can have a closed chaincase and a hub gear is possible.

In those advantages lie immediate disadvantages. That combined power of the rider and the motor on the crankshaft is so great that you always have to be in the right gear to avoid any excessive wear cause. With a car, no one will take it into his head to drive off in his three. But most cyclists do not have the same discipline. On a folding bike with a mid-motor it is very important to ride in the right gear, to prevent the chain, sprockets and gears from wearing out very quickly.

A beixo E-slim, with Bafang mid-motor and propeller shaft
A beixo E-slim, with mid-motor and propeller shaft

For the beixo E-slim we use a Bafangmid-motor coupled to the cardan shaft. The absence of chain and gears makes this system virtually maintenance-free and very durable.

Switching

Many people find the discipline of shifting gears on time a hassle. They want the freedom of just cycling and don't want to spend all their time worrying about shifting gears. But especially with a bike with a smaller and/or folding frame, such as an electric folding bike, the forces on the back are enormous. This does not benefit the longevity of both parts and frame.

In addition, of the three, a folding bike with a mid-motor is by far the most expensive and a mid-motor makes more noise than its alternatives. The mid-motor contains a substantial number of gears that convert the high speed to a lower speed that better suits the cyclist's pedalling rhythm: they make that extra noise.

Folding bike with rear-wheel motor

With a motor in the rear wheel, the drive feels familiar. With non-electric bikes, you drive the rear wheel by pedalling and then when electric support is added, it feels natural. As if you are constantly getting a boost. With a rear motor, you can ride off in any gear, something we Dutch are really more used to. The disadvantage is that the bike adds the weight of the motor on the rear wheel. This makes it harder to lift in some cases.

An additional disadvantage is that with a rear-wheel motor, hub gearing is impossible and so is a closed chaincase. So a folding bike with a rear motor is fitted with a derailleur and the chances of coming into direct contact with a fat chain are higher. The fact that you are thus obliged to have a derailleur gear, on the other hand, has its advantages: a derailleur has a high range, is lighter than a hub gear and cycles very lightly even without assistance. However, on a folding bike the derailleur often hangs just above the ground due to the small wheel size. Dirt, sand and salt have free play.

Folding bike with front-wheel motor

beixo has a folding bike with front-wheel motor. This was chosen because of some clear advantages on the folding bike with mid-motor. To start with, for many people the most important argument: a front-wheel motor is cheaper. With a folding bike with mid-motor, the motor has to be hidden away in the middle of the bike. For that, a whole new frame design has to be made and a lot of things do sit together. If you put the motor in the front wheel, it gives a quieter look, which many people actually like better. Technically, the advantage of a front-wheel motor is that it requires less maintenance.

beixo low in the moessel.
A folding bike with front-wheel motor suffices perfectly in hilly terrain.

Furthermore, a folding bike with front-wheel motor can be equipped with a closed chaincase. For beixo, this is less important: our bikes are driven by drive shaft or belt. That's a guarantee anyway that you won't come into contact with grease. Another advantage over the folding bike with mid-motor is that the front-wheel motor can run freely: This means you can cycle very lightly even without assistance. The weight is also lower, which is an advantage for the superlight Crosstown Electra. You can ride off in any gear with the motor in the front wheel. This is considered the biggest advantage on a folding bike with a mid-motor. The front-wheel motor starts supporting immediately when you pedal. 

Most cars have front-wheel drive

So doesn't the folding bike with front-wheel motor have any drawbacks? Some people feel like the bike is being pulled. Panic out of fear of slipperiness, afraid that the front wheel will slip. This is mostly a relic from the early years of the electric bike. Back then, the control of the electronics was very basic: on or off, resulting in the corresponding launch.

In modern electric folding bikes with a front-wheel motor, such as the beixo electra the power build-up is much more gradual. The engine does not get all the power immediately, but this is built up. Just like in a car, the clutch is released gently. Anyway, the comparison with a car is a good one. Most cars sold these days have front-wheel drive. And that is not for nothing.

It is entirely personal: many people just love being pulled along and find it the ideal kind of support. And the fact that a motor in the front wheel results in heavier steering doesn't bother everyone either. In any case, every electric folding bike with front-wheel motor from beixo has powerful support and no wind or mountain will stop it. 

Drives like a 4×4

Especially on dirt roads, the front-wheel motor has a clear advantage. You can compare the front-wheel motor to a 4×4 driven car. After all, the bike has motor drive in the front wheel and behind the power you provide yourself via the pedals. This provides more grip in loose sand and on slopes.