E-bike for commuting: Front hub motor or TSDZ2?


10 µW
Jan 27, 2019
Since I'm a new poster, some background is in order. Last August I bought a factory-made 250W/25kph hybrid e-bike with Shimano Steps E6000 drivetrain for a 40km roundtrip commute plus weekly sports sessions in neighboring cities. I did 900+ kilometers in the autumn before the frost kicked in, and loved it. I am not a cycling enthusiast, but for a number of reasons I'm looking to gradually (over 2 years or so) switch from car to e-biking throughout the year. I live by the sea in Finland, and the weather here is rather tricky for all electric appliances used outdoors; it is not uncommon to see 60+ degrees centigrade annual variation in temperature, the air is very moist in the autumns and (usually) the roads are covered with snow in the winter...

... which means that I would probably need two e-bikes: The one described above to be "winterized" with studded tires, plus a new one for commuting in the summer/dry conditions.

Now, I'm thinking about buying a cyclocross bike and putting an ebike kit on it. As the commute is relatively flat (max. elevation 20-30 m) paved road surface, in good condition, I expect to be able to maintain at least 35 km/h speed. The last 2 km is city center, so I would also need good maneuverability. This part is easy, though. I'll just ride the ebike I now have until the first autumn sales, and take it from there.

As for the motor, I believe I need at least 500W for the required speed. But I am at crossroads between a front hub motor and a Tongsheng tsdz2, and would appreciate any guidance. Although the consensus here seems to favor the hub motor technology (reliability being key for commuters), please consider this:

- Mid-drive motors generally seem to yield better-looking (stealthier) implementations: Less wiring over the frame, no need for a canvas pouch for a controller etc. The ebike I'm considering will not be street legal, so I'd prefer not to get extra attention.
- Mid-drive motors do not require an external controller mounted on the frame - Are there any hub kits with a hidden/stealthy controller?
- I like to pedal, and very much would prefer a torque sensing system similar to the one I have on the Shimano Steps. Tsdz2 seems to deliver.

The one problem I have is that there is no place I could test ride a front hub motor bike. All factory-made e-bikes over here are either rear hub or mid-drives (vast majority). Having never driven a front hub system, I have trouble speaking in its favor.

Thanks for your help!
Greetings from California Aero. I have 2 ebikes, a very illegal 3500W direct drive rear hub commuter (I live in a very rural area), and a 750W front hub utility trike I use at work. It sounds like a Tsdz2 installed discretely would be a very good fit for you exactly for the reasons you suggested. Make sure to post pics for us to enjoy.
Hyvää Piävää,

I use front hub motors for my drop bar/cross type bikes although they are more like 1000w systems using 52v batteries. I also use a TSDZ2 system on my MTB. For road use I prefer a front hub drive so that is what I would suggest based on my experience.


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The system I would recommend is this one from Grin Technologies:


It has the ability to be torque sensing via the bottom bracket.

They now make a controller that sits in the void at the base of a typical HL style battery mounting bracket so that would take care of your requirement for that to be hidden:


It appears to be out of stock at the moment but should be available for your time schedule if you decide to go this route.

Grin's price for an HL battery is pretty high however but they are easily sourced world wide for less other places online in the voltage/ah capacity of your choice and the base plate the baserunner fits is the same as long as it is the four prong version.

Oh, and that is all the Finnish I retained from my youth visiting an Aunt that immigrated here from Finland.
I can hardly imagine riding an ebike in icy and snowy conditions, but I would think any mechanical complications of the dive system in those conditions would be something to avoid.
Hub motors are like a car w/. a 2-speed transmission. They work fine if no super steep hills are encountered and a high top speed is not needed.
Powering thru the multi-gear drive system is for when the performance envelope needs to be expanded.
Hub motor all the way.
Thank you everyone for the warm welcome on the forum and good suggestions!

Yes, the winter conditions are tough on ebikes. On another forum a fellow countryman recently reported riding a Radrhino to work and back in -29C. So it's doable, but probably not very pleasant, and my commute would surely be long enough to affect the battery. But these are rather extreme conditions - usually it's -5C..0C in the winter - and this might not be the main issue (I'll come back to that in the next paragraph). In any case, I will definitely have to compromise on the top speed on snow/ice; the street legal 250W factory ebike I now have should well suffice, given that I'd mount studded tires. The torque sensing system should also provide maneuverability.

Motomech, I can see your point on emphasizing the simplicity of hub drives. But, like said before, the autumn/spring humidity will probably be the main issue. I will be driving the diy e-bike as long as the roads are not frozen. There are certain car models that reportedly work fine in the Southern European weather, but tend to display all kinds of bogus errors in the electric system when taken here. And, for ebikes, when you have plenty of external wiring across several components (hub drives), that might become a similar problem. I'm not implying the Tsdz2 (or any mid-drive) would be error free, but at least it would be in one enclosure, on which I could implement coating and a condense drain. As a plus, I would get the stealthy look.

Thanks for the tip on the baserunner, Bigwheel - exactly what I'm looking for. But even without all the bells and whistles, the motor system would cost almost double the Tsdz2 amount. But it's good to know that solutions like this exist!
Aero said:
The one problem I have is that there is no place I could test ride a front hub motor bike. All factory-made e-bikes over here are either rear hub or mid-drives (vast majority).

I don't see that very often here, either. I wonder if there might be a reason, why so few choose this appealingly simple configuration? I gather your existing bicycle will be the snow bicycle, and the new one will be ridden in better weather. If it were the other way around, I'd be concerned about loss of traction on the front wheel. It's much worse, than when the back wheel breaks loose, isn't it? And it seems to me that a motor in the front makes it much more likely to happen. I'm a great fan of the simple, robust direct drive hub motor - but on the rear wheel.
front hub can be very easy cost effective

many front hub commuters high mileage

mid drive great too

much more expense trouble

but as said wider operational envelope

dirt cheap front hub can make sense

especially something parked on street

torque steer is a thing but so is front braking during lean

milder power demands work best

someone wishing to try ebike commuting

rear hubs pop better wheelies

also suffer more spoke breakage