Do e-bikes have special bike chains? If your e-bike needs a new chain, what kind of chain should you get? Would a regular bike chain work?
E-bikes with mid-drive motors need special, strong chains. This is because the motor puts extra stress on the chain, which would cause a regular chain to wear out and snap quickly. KMC has a great e-bike chain. On the other hand, bikes with hub motors can usually use any chain.
In this article, we will go over the different types of e-bike chains and their uses. Continue reading to learn more about it.
Mid-Drive E-Bike Chains
Mid-drive e-bikes exert more strain on their chains. This is because the motor is positioned in the middle of the bike’s frame, directly between the pedals, and provides power directly to the chain to propel the bike. The benefits of having a mid-drive motor are that the bike will be more evenly balanced. As such, you won’t feel the motor’s weight as much as you ride.
In fact, you will probably not notice any difference compared to a regular bike. Mid-drive motors are also generally smaller and lighter than regular hub motors, which is another reason why you won’t feel the weight from one.
A mid-drive e-bike is more efficient. It will allow you to ride longer rides on a single charge. In addition, when you’re riding uphill, you can use lower gears than you would be able to if you would have a hub motor. A mid-drive motor can be a lot more powerful than the regular hub motor. In fact, a lot of mid-drive motors can have a power output of 250-750 watts. This is a lot more power than what a human puts out.
As such, the mid-drive motors puts a lot more strain on the chain of your bike. If you are using a regular bike chain with a mid-drive motor, it will likely get worn out pretty quickly. Consider this: On a regular bike, the chain only has to deal with the power output you put out. A standard human usually has a power output of 100 watts on a bike for a continuous length of time. With shorter, power sprints, a human can reach 250 watts of power output through heavy pedaling.
Standard bike chains are designed for human power output, not mid-drive motor power outputs. The torque from a mid-drive motor goes directly to the chain. Human power output combined with a mid-drive motor power output can put a lot of stress on the chain. They can snap when used on an electric bike that has a mid-drive motor and that’s something you don’t want to happen on your ride. It puts the motor and human power out of commission.
So, do electric bicycles with mid-drive motors require a special chain? Yes. It’s not that the chain needs to operate differently; it is just that the chain needs to be a lot stronger and durable. E-bikes with mid-drive motors usually have stronger, premium chains, which can add the to cost of an ebike.
Why Don’t Hub Motors Strain the Chain?
Hub motors are located on the front or back wheel. As such, the weight of the bike is less evenly balanced. In addition, hub motors are generally larger and somewhat less efficient and powerful than mid-drive motors. Nevertheless, most e-bikes use hub motors for the simple reason that they are much cheaper and easier to produce. They have been used for years, and they are mass-produced at low costs.
Unlike mid-drive motors, which are connected to the same gears and drive chain as the pedals (remember, they are situated in between the pedals), hub motors are entirely separate from the drive chain connected to the pedals.
In other words, while a mid-drive motor works TOGETHER with the pedals to power your bike, a hub motor works entirely independently. So, if your hub motor fails or the battery runs out of power, you can use your pedals to continue pedaling the bike. If you are tired, you can power your bike from the power of your motor alone.
Therefore, you don’t need such a strong chain if you have an electric bike with a hub motor.
Another advantage of having a hub motor, in addition to the lower cost and less stress on the chain, is that unlike with mid-drive motors, you aren’t limited to making gear shifts only while the bike is moving.
Is a Mid-Drive Motor Better Than a Hub Motor?
Although mid-drive motors are generally more expensive, that does not necessarily mean that they will be better for you. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to both kinds of motors.
A mid-drive motor is not only more expensive but also requires more maintenance. Also, you will have to learn not to shift gears when you are not in motion.
Hub motors have been around for such a long time because they work. Not only are they cheaper, but they are easier to maintain. They do have some disadvantages. For example, they are heavier, and you may feel slightly off-balance due to the motor’s weight on the front or back. However, if you don’t want to worry about the kind of chain you are using on your e-bike, a hub motor is a better choice.
If you are using your bike for an everyday commute, you might want a mid-drive motor, as it is quieter and lighter.
Do Hub Motors Require a Special Chain?
It’s not required. Since a hub motor’s drive system is independent of that of the pedals, you don’t really need any kind of special chain. However, you must ensure that the chain you are getting is suited for the number of gears your bike has.
What Kind of Chain Is Best for Your E-Bike?
If your e-bike uses a hub motor, you can get either a regular chain or an e-bike chain. An e-bike chain will be stronger and will last longer, but it is not strictly required for hub motor e-bikes. On the other hand, if your e-bike has a mid-drive motor, there is no other way around it: You must get a chain specifically designed for e-bikes. Otherwise, you will find yourself going through your chains rather quickly and may even have your chain snap on you while on a ride.
Some good chains that are great for e-bikes include Shimano chains and KMC chains. KMC even has a stronger e-bike chain that is perfect for all kinds of e-bikes. Consider getting one of those chains if you are looking to replace the chain on your e-bike. It will last you a long time, and you won’t have to replace it as often. Otherwise, you can try to find a heavy-duty chain that is thicker than a standard bike chain and will last longer.
Take Care of Your E-Bike Chain
Whether you have an e-bike specific chain or not, make sure you maintain your chain properly. You should clean your chain often – this won’t take long, as all you need is a simple cloth and degreaser spray. This is best done every day. You should also lube your chain every day.
Every few months, do a thorough clean to make sure you get all the dirt and grime out of your chain.
As for lubing your chain, this will depend on the weather. In cold and/or rainy weather, it is best to use a thicker lube. On the other hand, if it is hot and dry, you can use a dry lube (which will dry after application).
Curious about how long other parts of an ebike might last? Check out this post for info on brakes to batteries!