Electric motors: choosing the right assistance for your needs

The question of motor choice essentially depends on the electric-assist experience you want. To answer this question, you need to determine :

1. The motor position that suits you: it can be located either in the crankset or in one of the wheels.

2. The engine torque you need: this will depend on the gradient of your journeys and the loads you're carrying.

Motor position

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Kalkhoff Berleen 5G

Bafang motor rear wheel

Motor in rear wheel

The rear-wheel motor, located in the center of the wheel, is generally found on bikes for smaller budgets. The motor is less expensive, more discreet, lighter (which is handy if you need to lift it frequently) and suitable for flat roads or those with little gradient. 

On the other hand, assistance is often described as less natural, and wear and tear on the cassette, chain and derailleur can be faster.

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Lapierre Overvolt HT 5.10 #1 overall

Bosch Performance Line crankset motor

Motor in crankset

The crankset motor equips about 90% of the bikes sold on the Upway. 

This is a more sophisticated motor that provides assistance proportional to the power of your pedaling. It is often heavier, but its central position improves the bike's balance and stability.

To find out more, read our full article on the different positions of electric bike motors.

Motor torque

Torque describes the propulsive force of a motor: the higher the torque, the more it will help you accelerate uphill. If your journeys involve uneven terrain, or if you regularly carry heavy loads (child seat, trailer...), you'll need to choose an electric bike with sufficient motor torque.

Torque is expressed in newton meters (Nm) and is indicated on each bike's product sheet. As a guide, we recommend the following minimum torque for the average user, depending on the type of gradient:

Two important exceptions:

1. If you regularly carry a heavy load (children, trailer, etc.), we advise you to select the higher category. For example, select a bike with at least 50 Nm if your route is flat, and 70 Nm if your route is hilly.
2. Conversely, for lightweight bikes (under 20 kg), a lower torque may be just what you need.

Engine make

Other considerations may come into play in your choice: for example, you may prefer a motor from a well-known, reliable brand (such as Bosch, Bafang, Shimano, Giant or Yamaha). This will facilitate access to spare parts.

To find out more about the range of Bosch and Yamaha engines, read our full article dedicated to these motors.

Last update: September 3, 2023