Brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes – make the right choice

Brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes - make the right choice

In the debate of the brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes, in this article, we dive into the specifics to help you make an informed decision when buying your next e-bike.

E-bikes have come to change the way we move around. They have become a more sustainable and convenient mode of transport as compared to the traditional bicycle.

Whether you are commuting to work, running errands, working out, or just having a leisurely ride, the e-bike has you covered.

E-bikes come in different sizes and types. There are different elements of an e-bike that determine its performance, but at the heart of its performance is the motor.

When it comes to powering your e-bike, the motor does all the heavy lifting.

Choosing the right motor for your e-bike is crucial because it significantly affects the e-bike’s efficiency, maintenance cost, and its overall lifespan.

When it comes to e-bikes motors, there are two main types: brushed motors and brushless motors.

Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, which you should pay close attention to.

First, let’s unravel what these motors are!

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    What are brushless and brushed motors?

    An e-bike’s motor is to provide electric assistance when you are pedaling. There are two main types of motors:

    • Brushed motors

    These motors are called brushed because they use brushes to facilitate the flow of electric current between the moving parts and the stationary parts.

    When the motor is switched on, the coil and the commutator (a mechanical rotary switch) rotate while the permanent magnets and brushes stay put.

    The direction of current on the coil changes based on the commutator and the brushes.

    And because of the constant movement of parts, there is a lot of friction which generates heat in the process.

    The heat causes the brushes to wear and tear over time and they will need to be replaced.

    What are brushless and brushed motors

    • Brushless motors

    This is a modern motor without any physical contact between moving parts.

    The brushless motor has a stator (stationary) and a rotor. Inside the stator are coils of wire which generate a magnetic field when electricity flows through them.

    This motor also has an electronic controller which uses sensors to trace the position of the rotor and determine when to switch the direction of the current in the stator coils.

    In the debate of the brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes, let’s now compare the two motors to see the pros and the cons of each. You can also check the differences between hub drive vs mid-drive motor.

    A comparison between brushless vs brushed motors

    In the debate of the brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes, the three main fields to compare the efficiency and power of these two motors are:

    • Durability

    The brushed motors have brushes which are in constant contact with the rotating commutator.

    This happens with a lot of friction which leads to wear and tear. This means the brushes have to be replaced regularly.

    For the brushless motors, there’s no physical contact between moving parts.

    This means there is no wear and tear from friction and hence more durable when compared to its brushed counterpart.

    • Speed

    Due to the friction and wear caused by the brushes, brushed motors have a limited speed range.

    This means a reduced overall efficiency (80%) for the brushed motor.

    The brushless motor on the other hand allows for a higher maximum speed since the electronic sensors can adjust the power supply depending on the task at hand. You can check the torque vs cadence sensor on e-bike for your reference.

    The fact that they can handle different speeds means they are more efficient (90%).

    A comparison between brushless vs brushed motors

    • Cost

    As expected, the brushed motors are relatively cheap since they have a simpler design and require a less complex controller.

    However, the brushless motor has sophisticated controllers and sensors. This translates to a higher initial cost, but due to the less maintenance needs, it turns out to be more cost-effective.

    Let’s wrap up this comparison with a tabular comparison of brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes:

    Brushless motor Brushed motor
    More efficient They have straightforward designs
    They are more durable Cheaper to buy and install
    They are capable of higher maximum speeds Doesn’t need complex elements
    Smart control of speed using electronic sensors Its brushes are replaceable
    Due to no wear and tear, they are low maintenance and have reduced long-term costs Brushes wear out over time and need replacement; Requires regular maintenance to replace worn-out brushes
    They are more expensive due to its complex elements The friction created by the brushes means energy is lost and heat is generated
    They are complex to install due to the sophisticated parts Due to friction and wear and tear, the speed range is limited

    Brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes: how to choose?

    Based on the brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes comparison, it is clear that a brushless motor outsmarts the brushed motor on almost all fields, specifically on performance and efficiency.

    So, if you’re looking for a recommendation, I’d lean towards brushless motors, especially for long-term use.

    These motors are built to last, with no brushes that wear out, meaning you’ll spend less time and money on maintenance.

    They’re also more energy-efficient, so if you’re using an e-bike for commuting or longer rides, you’ll get more mileage out of a single charge.

    In terms of speed and performance, brushless motors have the edge. They’re capable of higher speeds and the built-in electronic sensors can adjust the power based on what you’re doing.

    Whether you’re cruising on flat terrain or tackling a steep hill, a brushless motor can adapt to provide the best performance.

    Brushless vs brushed how to choose

    Now, it’s true that brushless motors are generally more expensive upfront. But you should consider this an investment.

    The lower maintenance costs and longer lifespan mean that over time, you’re likely to save money. How to do the daily maintenance of e-bike?

    Plus, the improved efficiency and performance can make your e-bike experience significantly better.

    On the flip side, if you’re on a tight budget and you’re okay with a bit of regular upkeep, a brushed motor isn’t a bad choice.

    They’re less expensive and simpler to install. However, for a blend of durability, efficiency, and high performance, brushless is the way to go.

    What to consider when buying brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes?

    1. Know your needs: Understanding your specific requirements, like how often you’ll use the e-bike and for what purpose, can guide you in choosing between a brushed and brushless motor.
    2. Total cost of ownership: Don’t just consider the initial price tag. Factor in long-term costs like maintenance and potential replacements, especially if you plan to use the e-bike frequently.
    3. Future-proofing: Technology is always advancing. And you’d want to keep up with the pace by buying a brushless motor just in case there are more upgrades or improvements in the future, your e-bike will be more compatible.

    What to consider when buying either brushed or brushless motor

    FAQs about brushless vs brushed motors for e-bikes

    They differ on functionality. The brushed motors use brushes, made of graphite, to facilitate the flow of electric current. These brushes wear out over time and need replacement. On the other hand, brushless motors use a permanent magnet and electronic sensors for operation. They don't have any brushes, so there's less wear and tear.

    Yes, brushless motors are generally more durable. They have fewer points of contact between sensitive components, which means less wear and tear. Brushed motors have brushes that are in constant contact with other components, leading to quicker degradation and the need for regular maintenance.

    Brushless motors allow for higher maximum speeds. They are also more energy-efficient, which translates to better battery life, especially important for e-bikes.

    Brushless motors are more expensive due to the complex electronics involved. However, the initial higher cost can be offset by lower maintenance costs and longer lifespan. Brushed motors are generally cheaper but may incur more maintenance costs over time.

    E-bike conversion kits are a cost-effective way to transform a regular bike into an e-bike. The conversion kit has an electric motor, a rotary switch, motor controllers, and a lithium battery pack.

    Yes, that is legal as long as the e-bike motor does not exceed the legally allowed speed range.

    You'll need a bike to install the kit on and a variety of tools. If you are not a DIY person, have a professional direct you on all you will need.

    Hi, I'm an experienced writer about mechanic and an expert on bike and e-bike tech who appreciates practical, beautifully-engineered things. And of course, I love cycling.
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    SAMEBIKE electric bike blog, where you will find all articles about cycling tips, as well as some reviews and newsletters about e-bikes.



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