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Bafang Hub Motor Review

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Introduction

In this review of the Bafang Hub motor , I will be looking at the 36v 250w that can be legally used in the UK, EU and Australia and also the 48v 500w version  – I have also compiled a product table of all variants of the Bafang hub motor from 36v 250w to 48v 750w available from Aliexpress and various Amazon locales.

These electric bike conversion kits are available from various suppliers on different websites. The one thing in common is they all use the proven Bafang geared hub motor. This compact electric motor uses planetary gears, which allow the motor to spin at high speeds, making it a lot more efficient than a larger direct drive motor.

250w 36v bafang rear hub motor fitted to a recumbent trike

Are small geared hub motors any good?

Small geared hub motors produce more torque than direct-drive motors, making them excellent for climbing hills. They are also easy to pedal with the power switched off, making them much more suitable for someone who only needs the power on hills.

A couple of negative factors with these motors, is that they produce a little more noise than direct-drive hubs, and the nylon planetary gears can wear over time (especially if you regularly climb very steep hills or carry cargo). The good news is that replacement parts are cheap, easy to source and straightforward to replace.

The LCD display usually provided with these kits can vary, but they are usually clear and easy to use and offer 5 levels of pedal assist with ‘0’ being no assist to ‘5’ being full power.

KTLCD1 display sold with bafang hub motor kits

These kits are usually sold laced into a front or rear wheel available in the most popular sizes of 20″, 26″,  27.5″,  28″ or 26″ Fat bike compatible wheel. There is also the option to buy the motor only, so you can have it laced into a wheel of your choice.

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Rear cassette or Freewheel?

Thankfully the Bafang hub motor is available in both formats. The CST version will have a standard freehub fitted so you can fit an 8, 9 or 10 speed rear cassette (or possibly 11-speed, but I have yet to fit one).  The other version takes the standard threaded Shimano or Sunrace freewheel.

bafang 48v 750w hub motor kit for fat bike

Compatibility

You will first need to check the wheel size of your bike. If you do not know the size, it can be found on the tyre for example:  26″ / 599 (ISO) 27.5 / 584 (ISO) 28″ / 622 (ISO) – PLEASE NOTE: If you are installing this kit on a 29er mountain bike, then you will require the 28″ (622) wheel size. For more information on tyre and wheel sizes check out this post by the great Sheldon Brown.

These motor kits are only compatible with standard rear drop-outs (135mm wide). They will not fit bikes with thru-axles. Nearly all cheaper bikes have standard quick-release dropouts. But if you are thinking of installing this kit on a higher end mountain bike or road bike, you will need to double check. The fat bike version of these kits will be compatible with the wider dropouts of those bikes.

photo of standard rear bicycle frame drop outs

You will also need to check the kind of bottom bracket your bike has fitted. If it is a standard square-tapered BB, there should not be a problem. If, however you have an Octalink / ISIS or Hollowtech ll type BB then you will need to purchase a separate pedal assist sensor.

Installation (a rough guide)

Hub motors, are, in my opinion the easiest solution for a fairly quick and easy electric bike conversion. It usually takes 2-3 hours to do the job properly (including tidying up the cables).

It should be noted that you will require a basic bicycle maintenance tool kit to do the job properly. Things like a crank puller are essential to remove the right side pedal crank to fit the pedal assist sensor.

The installation process involves removing your existing wheel and swapping over your rim tape, inner tube, tyre and any other components like disc brake rotor and gear cassette / freewheel. You install the motorised wheel and fit the other ancillary components like the pedal assist sensor (and magnetic sensor disc), display and battery. Plug everything in and away you go!

There are several key components in this electric bike conversion kit:

    • The wheel with the hub motor
    • LCD Display
    • Motor controller
    • Wiring loom
    • Throttle (optional to fit)
    • Pedal assist sensor with magnetic disc

bafang hub motor kit ancillary components

Fitting these kits, really couldn’t be easier. The only other essential item you will need to purchase is 36v or 48v battery.

Bafang hub motor specification – 250w 36v


bafang 250w hub motor specification

48v 500w Bafang hub motor

The 48v version of this motor is another beast altogether! The motor is physically larger and can handle considerably more voltage and current than its smaller sibling. I have run one of these motors using a 48v 30A controller, giving peak power output of over 1500w. But I wouldn’t recommend this, as the nylon planetary gears will have a substantially shortened lifespan.


If it’s power you are after the 48v 500w Bafang hub motor provides more than enough for even the steepest of hill climbs. It can’t quite match the BBS02 mid-drive, but for a hub motor it’s pretty good!

bafang 48v 500w front or rear hub motor electric bike kit

Motor specification – 500w 48v

Bafang 48v 500w hub motor specification

 

Conclusion

I decided to review the Bafang hub motor, as I have installed dozens of these kits in the past and they have proven time and time again to be the most reliable. As much as I like mid-drive motors, the simplicity and comparatively easy installation of hub motors wins the day for me. I have had customers use these motors on daily commutes for two years without any reported issues. Even if they go wrong (which they rarely do) repair is usually straightforward, and parts supply is plentiful.

With a 36v14.5ah battery fitted to the 36v 250w variant, you can expect an assisted range of between 25-40 miles, and considerably more if you are frugal with the pedal assist.

Should you fit Throttle?

This is a matter of personal choice. It is legal to fit a throttle to a used bike in the UK and the EU – as long as the bike complies with the 250w / 15.5mph (25km/h) law. If you are using the 48v 500w version the throttle will effortlessly propel you along on the flat without the need for pedalling

If you have dodgy knees, then the throttle can be an invaluable asset in helping you to get moving. But over use or over reliance on the throttle can result in premature wear of the planetary gears and may cause the controller to overheat (especially when climbing a hill).

Below is a selection of Bafang hub motor kits currently available from suppliers on Aliexpress and various Amazon locales in Europe, USA and Canada

Buy the Bafang 500w hub motor kit

bafang 48v 500w front or rear hub motor electric bike kit
Buy on eBay
Buy on Amazon

Buy Bafang hub motor kits 36v 250w - 48v 750w

Bafang 250w front or rear hub motor electric bike kit bafang 250w front rear hub motor electric bike kit
Bafang 48v 500w front or rear wheel hub motor kitbafang 48v 500w front or rear hub motor electric bike kit
Bafang 48v 500w CST rear hub motor kit with 850c or 500c color displaybafang 48v 500w cst rear hub motor kit with color display
Bafang 48v 750w rear hub motor kit for fat bikebafang 48v 750w hub motor kit for fat bike
36v 20ah or 15ah hard case triangle battery36v 20ah or 15ah hard case triangle battery
48v / 52v 20ah Hard case triangle battery52v 20ah hard case triangle battery
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Bafang Hub Motor Review

8.7

Value for Money

9.0/10

Ease of Installation

9.0/10

Efficiency

8.0/10

Pros

  • Punchy motor
  • Long-term reliability
  • Virtually maintenance free

Cons

  • Nylon gears can wear over time
  • A little noisier than direct drive hubs

20 thoughts on “Bafang Hub Motor Review

  • September 12, 2019 at 11:36 am
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    Hi Tony,

    Do you use a torque arm with the 48V 500 watt hub motor on let’s a Rockrider 520? Do you never use torque arms below 500W? Or only in aluminium frames? Or do you use them? And do you use 2 or just 1?

    Reply
    • September 12, 2019 at 1:22 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Giel,

      I recommended using torque arms, just to be on the safe side. I usually only use one torque arm. I think its wise to fit them on all hub motor conversions. In the early days I didn’t always fit them, and I never had any issues. But nowadays I always fit them.

      Reply
  • September 16, 2019 at 4:58 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Tony

    Is it possible to fit a colour display such as the 850c or DPC 18 to a hub motor (and controller) or are these displays purely for a mid drive unit?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • September 16, 2019 at 5:37 pm
      Permalink

      Hi John,

      It is possible, there are some sellers on Aliexpress that sell Bafang hub motors with the 850c display. I think for this to work you need to purchase the controller with display. Here is a link to one of the suppliers I use. If you browse their store, i’m fairly sure they do the 850c display / controller combo.

      If you need any more advice, let me know.

      Cheers,
      Tony

      Reply
  • September 20, 2019 at 2:37 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Tony.
    I have a 250w hubmotor 36 V and I need more power do you think that I could change it to a 500w and it would increase torque?
    Thanks for your answer

    Reply
    • September 20, 2019 at 3:48 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Filip,

      In theory, you could just change the motor controller to one that can handle a higher current – e.g 36v 20A. The 36v 250w Bafang hub motor should be able to comfortably run at 500w all day, without compromising reliability. You would need a controller with compatible connectors. Most Bafang hub motors use circular ‘Higo’ type connectors.

      You should see a marginal increase in torque, by either doing the above, or fitting a completely new 500w motor kit.

      Regards,
      Tony

      Reply
  • September 21, 2019 at 8:02 pm
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    Hi Tony,

    I want to use a bike frame bag to house the controller, do you have some recommandations on small bags for the controller? And do you have some aliexpress links, so I can order them, thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • September 22, 2019 at 8:07 am
      Permalink

      Hi Giel,

      There are a few different options available you can use a standard frame bag like this one or you can use one specifically made for ebike controllers. The RockBros one is well-made, but you will need to make a slit in the underside of the bag in order to thread the leads through.

      Both bags are big enough to house a 36v22A controller. If you need a larger bag suitable for a 48v-60v controller – This one would be more suitable.

      I hope this helps.

      All the best,
      Tony

      Reply
  • October 16, 2019 at 7:10 pm
    Permalink

    Hello Tony,
    Thanx for your nice post.
    In the specifications of the bafang hub 250w, what means the different values of rpm ?
    Best regards,
    Remy

    Reply
    • October 17, 2019 at 12:36 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Remy

      As I understand it, the different RPM Values may refer to the windings in the motor. I believe the Bafang CST hub motor is available with 3 winding configurations. Voltage would also effect motor RPM.

      All the best,
      Tony

      Reply
  • November 13, 2019 at 4:50 pm
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    Tony – thanks for your excellent website. After much study I thought I had reached a decision – a Bafang 250w rear hub but am having trouble finding a full kit to fit my old hybrid bike. My particular specs are – 26 inch, 130mm between dropouts, cassette and centre pull rim brakes. The brakes were a problem for one ebay supplier – greenergia – who seemed to otherwise offer a wide choice of options – ‘discs only except for the 20 inch wheel’ was his response.

    I am not keen on lacing my old rim to a new hub as I haven’t got the kit needed. Is there some reason why the Bafangs only go with disc brakes or could you point me towards someone who can do a kit to fit my needs?

    Many thanks
    Colin

    Reply
    • November 13, 2019 at 5:51 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Colin,
      Thanks for your feedback, glad you like my website.

      In answer to your question, it sounds as though your bike has cantilever brakes fitted. I have checked the listing on eBay and it looks like they only offer the kit in a disc specific rim (as in the rim doesn’t have a braking surface for rim brakes).

      Bafang motors will fit disc or non-disc bikes. There is a kit available on eBay from a seller I have used many times before. It is a 26″ rear wheel Bafang 250w kit, with the correct rim. The only issue is you will need a 7 or 8 speed freewheel, as it is not cassette compatible. Here is the link for that kit.

      Personally, I would stick with the freewheel variant, as I have had a couple of freehubs prematurely fail in the past, and replacing them on one of these motors is a right pain!

      If you need any more advice, let me know.

      Regards,
      Tony

      Reply
      • November 13, 2019 at 6:04 pm
        Permalink

        Many thanks for the instant reply Tony. I’ll go for that one – I’ll give up on the cassette as you suggest.

        There seemed to be so many choices on offer I felt as though my options had to be out there somewhere…but could not find the needle in that, very big haystack. It was driving me nuts.

        All the best

        Colin

        Reply
  • January 9, 2020 at 8:19 am
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    Hi Tony

    I am from New Zealand and this is my first letter to your very good website.

    In September 2019 I bought a purpose built fold up bike that came with a 48v 500w Bafang. The bike has 20inch wheels with large 20 x 4.0 tyres. To-date I have done just on 900km.

    The bike has 5 power bands and 7 gears on the chain.

    I have 2 questions, which I would be grateful if you can answer.

    1. If I am in the 3rd power band and 7th gear I need to peddle nearly as fast as I can to keep up with the motor. In other words it needs a higher gear or 2 so that if I want to (on the flat) I can use the 4th & 5th power bands. I have thought about fitting a smaller sprocket at the pedals, which would raise all 7 gears. (I have never had to use 1st & 2nd gears even though I live up a steep hill so that wouldn’t be a problem) Also, as it is 85% of my riding is in either 6th or 7th gear, which is going to wear the 2 smallest sprockets very quickly.

    Question 1: Would fitting a smaller sprocket at the pedals upset the relationship with the controller? or is there a better way of achieving higher gearing?

    2. When on the flat in the 3rd power band & 7th gear the motor makes this loud wha wha wha noise. It sounds a bit like a worn differential in a car. It makes the same noise in 4th & 5th power band but faster. The noise is such that people turn around to see what sort of alien machine is coming up behind them. I guess it saves me ringing the bell! It is much quieter & doesn’t seem to make this noise in 1st & 2nd. As my bike has a 12 month warranty I took it back to the supplier who simply said it was fine but it doesn’t sound fine to me. May-be I should invest in some ear muffs!

    Question 2: Is this noise normal for these motors?

    Many thanks
    Gary

    Reply
    • January 9, 2020 at 9:48 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Gary,

      Regarding gearing, you would need a larger chainring on the front to raise the gearing, something like a 48T or 50T sprocket. If your bike has a standard Shimano 7-speed rear gear freewheel the gear ratios are probably 14-28t, ideally you would need an 11-28t freewheel for higher gearing. A 50t front ring combined with an 11t rear would equate to 32mph at a pedalling cadence of 90rpm. A local bike shop should be able to supply and install the necessary parts for you. Changing the gearing won’t effect the electric assist or controller in any way.

      Regarding the motor noise. The Bafang hub motor has internal planetary gears, so it is noisier than a direct drive hub motor. Having said that, I’ve installed a lot of these motors and the noise shouldn’t be much more than an audible whine. If there is some play in the bearings in the planetary gear system, this may be causing the extra noise. It may also be simply a case of the gears needing a bit more grease – the motors are quite straightforward to work on, so maybe you should see if the supplier is willing to have a look at it.

      If you have any more questions, please let me know.

      Cheers,
      Tony

      Reply
    • February 18, 2020 at 11:26 am
      Permalink

      Hi Gary,

      I just got a foldable ebike with the 36V 250W Bafang and I have the same “loud wha wha wha noise”. For me it’s 5th power band 7th gear and starts when the bike is a 27km/h speed (motor runs until 30km/h).
      Did you find out where this came from by any chance?
      Definitely doesn’t sound fine to me either…
      Thanks!
      Bob

      Reply
  • February 13, 2020 at 11:45 am
    Permalink

    Hi Tony

    Excellent website, possibly the most comprehensive and informative I’ve come across! Well done 🙂 I have a question that you may be able to answer from your wide experience of different systems.

    I have quite a number of home-made recumbents, two MTBs and a cargo bike, and for some time I’ve been thinking of adding some electric assist for the steep hills where I live. I’d be looking primarily for torque rather than speed, so I’m hesitating between a 500Wish mid-drive or a heftier 750+W geared rear hub motor. Since I have so many bikes – but not a corresponding amount of spare cash – I would really like to be able to swap the electric assist across them. I seem to spend half my life swapping wheels, bottom brackets, chainsets etc etc between my bikes, so the prospect of regularly swapping out a mid-drive or a rear wheel plus all the controller bits isn’t a problem for me. The mid-drives might be the better overall choice, especially for the weight distribution on my mountain bikes on very rough trails. But realistically would a mid-drive like the TSDZ2 or BBS02 stand up to repeated removal and refitting?

    Any comments appreciated. Thanks. Nick

    Reply
    • February 13, 2020 at 9:02 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Nick,

      Thank you for your comments, very much appreciated!

      In answer to your question, mid-drive vs hub motor would really depend on the configuration of your recumbents. The good thing about mid-drive motors like the Tongsheng and Bafang is the controller and pedal sensor is integrated into the motor unit. The only other things you would need to move is the speed sensor,wheel magnet and display / keypad. If you had your battery inside a pannier bag, then that would be easy enough to move from bike to bike.

      The Tongsheng is easier to mount on a regular recumbent as you can use a steel collar to secure the motor on the boom, whereas the Bafang can have a tendency to move in the BB shell, regardless of how much you tighten the lock-ring.

      A hub motor would probably be easier. You could buy several pedal sensors and have them in situ (on each bike), and then have the controller in a box or bag, then it would just be a case of swapping the wheel and display over.

      I don’t see any problem with repeatedly swapping over the mid-drive units, but I would say the Bafang is probably the more robust of the two units particularly if you are riding off-road a lot. You may need to purchase some spare lock-rings for the Bafang as they do tend to deteriorate a little when removed regularly.

      If you need any more advice, please let me know.

      All the best,
      Tony

      Reply
  • March 16, 2020 at 12:43 pm
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    Tony~
    I’m wanting a “cool looking” daily rider that has a rack in the back to haul stuff. I want to spend under $2,000. I almost bought the Super73 oddly enough at Costco, but when I clicked the button, I learned they were out of stock. So I started researching again. I’ve learned almost everybody sources their bikes from China. So I began digging into Alibaba. I found one that looked like the Super73 and asked the sales person to give me the biggest/best motor, battery, controller, etc. Am I being a stupid American getting a 1000 watt rear hub bafang 48v motor, 48V 17.5Ah sumsung / LG Li-ion battery, BAFANG Color LCD48V and BAFANG 48v 25A controller? Or is that a sweet bike for under $2k?
    Thank you in advance!
    ~Jim

    Reply
    • March 17, 2020 at 12:39 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Jim,
      That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. A 48v Bafang hub motor with that controller and battery should be peaking at over 1300 watts (on a freshly charged battery. Should be a fun ride, and good for 30mph.

      If you go ahead and buy one, let me know how it goes.

      Cheers,
      Tony

      Reply

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