Electric Bike Hub Motor Problems and Solutions by Expert in 2022

A mechanical engineer became an active blogger, and it’s James Miller. Well, the journey of his blogging started more than a decade ago. As a...Read more

Are you having issues with your electric bike motor? Most electric bike hub motor problems require urgent repair to prevent further damage. Some issues only demand a quick DIY fix or regular maintenance while others need more attention.

Knowing the possible problems with an e-bike hub motor will help you keep the motor running longer than usual.

The majority of the electric bike hub motor problems are: locked-up wheels, hub motor suddenly stopping, and involuntary wheels spinning & hub motor noise.

In this post, we have discussed these problems with the feasible solutions to each. Let’s get to it then!

Key Facts:

  • A hub motor is one of the two different electric bike motors. And as the name implies, the hub motor is the e-bike motor variant that connects to the wheel hub.
  • The major electric bike hub problems you may face are hub motor suddenly stopping, partially locked-up wheels, and noisy hub motor & wheels not spinning.
  • The two fundamental electrical means of testing a hub motor are the motor winding test and the hub motor’s hall sensor test. For high voltage, the ideal hub test is the motor winding. Conversely, the hub motor’s hall sensor test procedure is for low voltage.
  • In most cases, a typical hub motor’s lifespan ranges from 10,000 to 15,000 miles with proper care and maintenance. This translates to a period of anywhere between 3 and 5 years.

What is a Hub Motor?

A hub motor is one of the two different types of electric bike motors. And as the name implies, the hub motor is the e-bike motor variant that connects to the wheel hub. Here is some information on the hub motor you should be aware of.

What is a Hub Motor

Compared to the other motor variant, known as the Mid-drive motor, the hub motor is somewhat cheaper and easy to replace. However, it doesn’t offer complete balance upon a ride due to its placement on the electric bike.

Unlike the Mid-drive motor that is connected to the pedals of the e-bike, the hub motor, for some electric bikes, is connected to the front wheel. For other e-bikes, the hub motor is found in the rear wheel.

As such, replacing the tires of hub motor electric bikes can be quite a challenge. However, maintaining and repairing the hub motor is pretty simple than doing the same for the Mid-drive motor.

Pros and Cons of a Hub Motor

There are the bright side and downsides to hub motors. Although most people prefer the mid-drive motor e-bikes to those of the hub motor, some vital features of the hub motors are quite beneficial. Here are the pros and cons of the hub motor variant.

Pros of Hub Motors

  • Light Weight: One of the benefits of using front hub motors is the lightweight advantage. These motors are pretty light in weight and quite easy to fit into existing electric bikes. Moreover, having a lightweight e-bike offers stress-free operations.
  • Easy Ride: A hub motor e-bike allows you to ride at ease compared to a mid-drive motor. This is because hub motors are swift to spin, which will require you to have more control over your gears. As a result, hub motor e-bike riders do not have to apply much pressure to push their electric bikes forward.
  • Cost Benefits: Undoubtedly one of the very vital advantages of the hub motor is the low cost. Compared to the mid-drive motors, the hub motors are relatively cheap, allowing most riders to purchase them easily. You can find hub motors even in $300 ebikes, and more to this is the benefit is, the hub motors are easier to work with.

Cons of Hub Motors

  • Lack of Traction: Hub motors placed on front wheels usually struggle in terms of their traction. This is evident when taking a ride on a dirt road. As a result, riders might face some difficulties trying to start up on such roads or get uphill.
  • Low Torque Strength: The aspect of low torque strength is particular to lighter patterned hub motors. Most of these types of hub motors are torque deficient at low speed. They’re not ideal for uphill & dirt road rides or even towing purposes.
  • Demands More Battery Power: Unlike the mid-drive motors that are pretty efficient for riding purposes, the hub motors, on the other hand, lack enough efficiency. And as a result, they require more battery power to operate.
  • Difficulty in Replacing Tires: Due to the placements of the hub motors on electric bikes, it gets pretty difficult to replace the bike’s tires. On certain occasions, you may require the assistance of a specialist to perform such a task.

Electric Bike Hub Motor Problems and Solutions

In your experience as an electric bike owner, there are certain issues your e-bike will develop. So, it’s crucial to know electric bike hub motor problems and how to handle the situation.

Electric Bike Hub Motor Problems and Solutions

1. Partially Locked-up Wheels

Problem

You probably woke one morning only to find out that the wheels of your e-bike are partially locked. You tried to spin them, but it feels a bit tight, and when they spin, they stop almost immediately.

This could be a result of a damaged controller. The ticking sound you hear indicates the passing of each magnet. Possibly, a magnet has been detached, and as such, each time you pull out the stator, it always returns into its space.

Solution

To manage this issue, place a flat metal bar, using it against the magnets. This will help you to know if any one of them is lifted. Also, unplug the controller and perform some tests. You may require the help of a professional if the problem persists.

2. Hub Motor Suddenly stops Working

Problem

Maybe you’re just on your way back from work, and you suddenly began to hear a disturbing noise from your e-bike. You tried checking the wiring and throttle, but they all look good, but somehow the electric bike keeps stopping each time you start it.

If everything looks good outside, you’re most likely dealing with a hall sensor problem.

Solution

You’ll need to perform a hall sensor test to solve this issue. To run this test, turn the bike backward. This is to allow the clutch of the bike to prevent the wheels from spinning while performing the test. Once that is done, connect the wires of the hub motor and start it up. Observe whether or not the e-bike motor is freely spinning. Unplug the wires and check the motor still spins. Another thing you can do is to use a multimeter to check the winding short. Also, check the wires to know if there is a disconnection or shorting.

3. Noisy Hub Motor and Wheels not spinning

Problem

You just noticed that the wheels of your e-bike do not rotate while the motor is running. However, when you’re not on the seat, they do, but there is a disturbing noise from the motor. This problem is most likely resulting from several wires pinched at a place. It’s a common problem for most e-bike riders.

The issue could also be caused by melted shorts or wires that create some form of resistance on the wheels in an attempt to go backward.

Solution

This is quite similar to the first case of partially locked-up wheels. The solution would be to place a flat metal bar against the magnets and observe if any of them will come off from its slot.

How Do You Test a Hub Motor?

The two fundamental electrical means of testing a hub motor are the motor winding test and the hub motor’s hall sensor test. For high voltage, the ideal hub test is the motor winding. Conversely, the hub motor’s hall sensor test procedure is for low voltage.

The aspect of testing a hub motor is something you should be conversant with as an e-bike rider. While doing that, the vital thing you should look out for is the wiring of the electric bike. You may find some cuts, missing insulations, or scrapes.

There are two major electrical procedures you can employ to test the hub motor of an electric bike. They include the hub motor winding and the hub motor’s hall sensor. Let’s take an in-depth look at these two systems.

Hub Motor Winding Test (High Voltage)

  • To begin this process, make sure to disconnect everything from the phase wire leads and check for existing resistance occurring between these phases at the same time.
  • During the process of testing, perform a comparison between the resistances of the phases. This is to make sure that the three results correspond.

The accuracy of the test may be questionable if the reading of the resistance is low. However, in this case, what matters more is the comparison possibility of the phases, not necessarily the readings. Most times, the readings may display results less than 1OHM.

  • The following step is to observe and note the readings from each phase wire and the metal part of the hub motor. At this point, you should have an open circuit or infinity.
  • The next thing you want to do is combine the two-phase wire. Now, tie them in the different grouping at a time for 3 different tests. This should result in equal magnetic resistance when you turn the wheel. Also, there should not be any resistance when you detach the wires.
  • To engage the motor on a geared hub motor, you will need to turn the wheel in a reverse direction.

Hub Motor’s Hall Sensor Test (Low Voltage)

To determine the rotor’s position in a BLDC motor, there is a need for hall sensors. This is to ensure the proper functionality of the controller that works with the sensors. Every sensor present in the BLDC has up to 3 different wires embedded in them, and each of these wires requires about 5vdc or 0vdc of voltage. Usually, the last wire comes as the system’s output, which is the same for every circuit present.

This mechanism is responsible for harnessing the wires, bringing them to 5, BLACK=0vdc, RED=5vdc+. There is always a change in the output voltage when the magnet present in the gauss motor affects the sensor. This voltage usually moves from 5vdc to 0vdc. This is the system the controller uses, as the voltage changes at accurate times and in the right direction.

How long do E-Bike Hub Motors Last?

In most cases, a typical hub motor’s lifespan ranges from 10,000 to 15,000 miles with proper care and maintenance. This rating is approximately between 3 and 5 years. This is not the same as the mid-drive motors, as those can last for about 5 to 7 years, which is between 15 000 to 20 000 miles with the right maintenance and care.

Furthermore, certain factors play a vital role in the longevity of a hub motor. These factors comprise the design and the power & performance of the hub motor.

Design of the Hub Motor

One of the vital factors that contribute to the longevity of a hub motor is the design of the motor. It is appropriate to say this, given that the spokes of the electric bike are instruments employed to install the hub motor in the bike. Although these spokes are usually made from aluminum material, it doesn’t guarantee their complete durability. And as such, riding such e-bikes on unpaved roads or steep hills regularly could cause them to break over time.

Basically, the design of these hub motor electric bikes is what’s responsible for the typical longevity of the bikes.

Power & Performance of the Hub Motor

When you compare the power and performance of the two motor variants, the hub motor will not stand a chance in any way. Moreover, considering the watts readings of the hub motor, it is pretty less than those of the mid-drive motor. For instance, a typical hub motor possesses about 750 Watts, and its rating is around 80 Newton. This is quite different from the mid-drive motor.

That said, power can determine performance, and that also applies to the hub motors. Attempting to accelerate or use a hub motor electric bike up-hills requires steady pressure on the motor. As a result, the lifespan of the motor is affected.

How Do You Care for An Electric Bike Hub Motor?

Caring for an electric bike hub motor involves keeping a clean motor, using lubricants on the cassette, chain, and spokes, checking the tires’ air pressure, etc.

How Do You Care for An Electric Bike Hub Motor_

Caring for a hub motor doesn’t differ so much from the mid-drive motor. However, there are some extra steps you will need to take added to the regular cleaning of the motor and keeping it from water.

Here are the guidelines to care for and maintain your e-bike hub motor:

Keep The Hub Motor Clean

The motors of electric bikes are properly sealed. But this does not completely protect them from dust and other forms of impurity that could affect them. As such, it is vital always keep the hub motor clean.

Lubricate the Chain, Cassette, and Spokes

Usually, lubricating the chains, cassette, and spokes of an electric bike promote the performance of the bike. But for hub motor, this does even more. Failure to use lubricants on these areas of the bike may result in loose chains, which can cause damage to the motor.

Observe the Tire Air Pressure

Due to the motor presence in the e-bike’s wheels, the chances are that the weight of the hub motor can raise the air pressure of the tires. To avoid this from occurring, always observe and ensure the air pressure of the e-bike’s tires is sufficient enough to contain the weight pressure of the motor.

Keep the Hub Motor away from water

Certain parts of an e-bike are waterproof, which include the area the motor is placed. But this does not mean it is safe to ride in the water. Also, the possibility of water penetrating through to the motor is more likely when you ride in the water. What’s more, it’s advisable to use air pressure to clean the bike in place of water.

Conclusion

The major electric bike hub problems you encounter include the hub motor suddenly stopping working, locked-up wheels, and involuntary wheels spinning & hub motor noise. To prevent such problems from occurring, it’s important to carry out the necessary maintenance procedures.

Moreover, this can help to improve the longevity of your e-bike motor. If you want to run the bike for years and want it to be in good shape down the line, keep the tension on the spokes even, lubricate the chain and cassette often, and never forget to show the bike to a professional once in a while.

A mechanical engineer became an active blogger, and it’s James Miller. Well, the journey of his blogging started more than a decade ago. As a mechanical engineer, he started his professional career as a technical assistant in a renowned automotive industry and later joined an e-bike manufacturing company as a quality in charge. James created this site “Bikerreview” to share his decade of experience with e-bikes. He wants to help the people who are newly looking for an e-bike and doesn’t have any prior knowledge about that.

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