Bafang Hub Motor Review – Better than the BBS02?

The Bafang hub motor conversion kits are less known than the popular mid-drive motors (BBS02 and BBSHD) from Bafang. I think the Bafang hub motor kit is one of the most underrated conversion kits in the DIY ebike community. For most builders, this conversion kit will be a lot more suitable than the mid-drive motor kits from Bafang. In this extensive review, you will find out why this is the case.

What’s included in the kit?

Bafang hub motor kit P850C

A Bafang hub motor kit always includes the following components:

  • The Hub motor itself (spoked in a rim)
  • A controller (48V, 22A, sinewave or blockwave)
  • A display (P850C Or KT-displays)
  • Wiring harness
  • PAS sensor
  • Throttle
  • Brake lever switches
  • Mounting hardware

There are just a couple of components that you will have to buy separately in order to convert a complete bike. These are the following components:

Power/size options

The Bafang hub motor comes in two main power options. A 500-watt version and a 750-watt version. The 750-watt version is however only available for fat-bikes. So we will mainly look at the 500-watt version. You might think that the 500-watt version will draw only 500 watts of power. This, however, isn’t the case. The power that the motor will draw depends on the controller that goes with it. Most of the kits include a 48V, 22A controller, this will result in a peak power rating of almost a 1000 watt. With a beefer controller, it can even handle 1500 watts, but this isn’t recommended though. So don’t be fooled by the “500-watt” label, since it will just be an 800-1000 watt motor in practice. Which is more than plenty for most riders.

Wheel sizes

The Bafang hub motor can be bought in almost all common wheel sizes, ranging from 26 to 29 inches. As said before, the 750-watt version is always spoked in a wide rim for fat bikes. The 500-watt version is spoked in a normal width rim so that it can fit most bike tires. The Bafang hub motor also comes in a front-wheel version. I however do not really recommend that version, since you will then have a lot of power in a relatively weak front fork. So if you have the option, go for the rear-wheel version. It will ride nicer and definitely will be safer.

Mount options
Cassette or Freewheel?

If you go for the rear wheel version, you will have the option for a cassette mount or a freewheel mount. You will have to choose the same mount that your “old” rear bike wheel used. This way you can change the cassette or freewheel over to the hub motor. Be aware that the maximum size cassette you can fit is a 10-speed. This will just barely fit and mounting it will be difficult. So I recommend an 8 or 9-speed cassette max.

Rim or disc brakes?

You will also have to make the right rim choice depending on which type of brake you will run. If you have rim brakes on your bike, you will need to buy a version that has a brake strip on the rim. Most sellers sell rims that have such a brake rim as standard. If they don’t, you can always ask if they can deliver a rim with that brake strip as well. If you are running disc brakes (highly recommended) you do not need that brake strip. You could ask sellers if they also sell blank rims in your desired color. A lot of sellers offer this and it will make your bike look much nicer. All the different Bafang hub motor versions have disc brake mounting points as standard. So you don’t have to worry about this.

Which controller and display to choose?

The Bafang hub motor often comes in two different kit types. One with a sinewave controller and P850C display or one with a blockwave controller and a KT-display. Which option is most suited for you depends on your preference. A sinewave controller is always better than a blockwave controller because the motor runs quieter and smoother with a sinewave controller. The sinewave controller however always comes with a P850C display. It’s a really nice display, but it lacks in the number of settings you can change. Your bike will be less configurable than with a KT-style controller/display. The problem is that the KT-displays always come with a blockwave controller. So this isn’t ideal either.

Best option

In my opinion, the best combination would be a sinewave controller with a KT-display. There are however no sellers that currently sell this combination. Because of that, I would still go for the P850C display in combination with the sinewave controller. It will give less flexibility but the display does look nicer and the sinewave controller will make your bike drive more pleasantly.

Installation and compatibility

The Bafang hub motor will fit almost all bikes that have a frame with a dropout. Most bikes have such a generic dropout, with the exception of expensive “trough axle” type mountain bikes. If you go for the rear wheel version, the dropout width will depend on the number of gears you will run.

Single-speed120 mm
6 speed130 mm
7 speed138 mm
8 speed140 mm
9 speed142 mm
Dropout width chart

Most bikes will meet this specification. If you don’t have quite enough space, you will be able to torque the frame a bit outward. This won’t cause any problems as long as you don’t torque it too much.

If you want the most sturdy PAS sensor option, you will also need a removable bottom bracket. This way you can mount a sensor between the bottom bracket and the frame. If you don’t have a removable bottom bracket or don’t want to remove it, you can also buy external PAS sensors.

Required tools

Installing the hub motor is pretty straightforward. With the help of good install videos, everyone should be able to do it. You will only need a few special bike tools, like:

All the tools are fairly inexpensive and are just nice to have in general. If you don’t want to buy the special tools, you can also ask the local bike shop if they can help you out with their tools. They can swap a cassette/freewheel for you really easily. They can also help you remove the bottom bracket. So if you don’t feel like doing it yourself, your local bike shop can probably fix it for you in a matter of minutes.

Buy the Bafang hub motor kit @Aliexpress – Global shipping:

Performance

The performance of the Bafang hub motor is just great. With almost 1000 watts of peak power, you can concur any hill and go really fast. The Bafang hub motor is a geared hub motor type. This means that there are gears inside that alter the ratio between the motor and the wheel. The geared system also includes a freehub system. This means that it can roll freely without extra motor resistance.

Geared hub motor system
Geared hub motor

This geared hub motor system has two major advantages over the non-geared hub motors. The first advantage is its weight. The motor is just a lot smaller and lighter than its non-geared counterpart. This will make your bike feel more natural and nimble. You will also not have the problem of spokes getting loose due to the big weight as much. Non-geared hub motors do cope with this issue a lot. Another advantage is its superior torque. You will have more torque than a non-geared counterpart. This will make it more suitable for climbing hills and your acceleration will be better as well.

Top speed

The Bafang hub motor will easily bring you up to speeds of around 45 km/h (28mph). This is plenty fast enough for most riders. Cycling uphill will also feel like riding on a flat road due to its massive power. It might not have just as much power as its Bafang BBS02/BBSHD mid-drive brothers, but it surely doesn’t disappoint.

Ride experience

I think this ebike conversion kit rides great, it has a lot of power, great acceleration and a nice pedal assist. If you need a lot of power, this kit definitely delivers. The main advantage over a mid-drive system is its worry-free riding property. With a hub motor system, you don’t have to worry about snapping your chain, wearing out your cassette, skipping teeth, etc. Because of the high power that mid-drive motors can output as well, all these problems can occur if you really want to use a lot of power.

Hub motor advantages
Bafang hub motor conversion

With a hub motor system, you don’t have to worry about this because your drivetrain is independent of the motor. All the power will be exerted on the frame instead of on your drivetrain. This way you can use as much power as you want without worrying about something breaking. This makes it just that much more effortlessly to ride.

The throttle also allows you to ride the bike without pedaling at all. You can reach speeds up to 40 km/h (25 mph) without doing anything at all. This can be really fun from time to time. You ofcourse can also pedal along comfortably. If you set the pedal assist in a high setting, it will feel like you have superhuman legs, which is really fun.

Build quality

The build quality is just amazing as can be expected from Bafang. The motor is enclosed in a sturdy and nicely painted black metal enclosure. It feels like a quality component that won’t easily break. The motor is also IP65 rated which makes it suitable for driving in the rain as long as you make sure to protect your controllers and connectors as well. Some kits come with waterproof controllers and connectors (all options listed below), others don’t. If you don’t have the waterproof connectors you can just place them in a waterproof bike bag (listed above), this will completely waterproof your bike.

All in all the motor is built like a tank and looks nice as well. It’s nice and small and discrete. With the cassette/freewheel and disc brake installed, you don’t even notice it that much.

Reliability and problems

The reliability is where the Bafang hub motor sets itself apart from other popular options like the Bafang mid-drive motors (BBS02/BBSHD). Firstly, you won’t have the drivetrain-related issues that you can experience with mid-drive motors. Because of the nature of hub motors, they don’t put power onto your drivetrain. This way your drivetrain is independent of the power of the motor. Therefore you don’t cause accelerated wear on your chain and gears. This, in turn, causes your maintenance to be very little.

Controller reliability

The controllers that come with the motor are also really reliable, unlike the Bafang mid-drive motors. The Bafang mid-drive controllers are known to be rather unreliable. Replacing such a controller is hard as well. The different controllers that come with the Bafang hub motors are all just really reliable. Breaking such a controller is a really rare occurrence, but if they do, they can be replaced really easily due to their external nature.

So all in all this conversion kit is just about as reliable and maintenance-free as it gets. If reliability and low maintenance are really important for you; definitely go for this motor.

Because of its excellent reliability, there really aren’t any mature problems with it. The only thing you might have to do every once in a while is tightening the spokes. But because the motor is really lightweight for its power, you won’t have to do this quite as often. Apart from this, the motor is basically problem-free.

Buy this Bafang hub motor conversion kit @Aliexpress – Global shipping:

Conclusion

The Bafang hub motor is my personal go-to ebike conversion kit and therefore is on the number 1 spot of the best ebike conversion kit in the 2021 post. It’s a hassle-free, great quality, low maintenance, powerful and nice riding ebike conversion kit. It just ticks all the boxes. Because of its superior reliability to the Bafang mid-drives, this kit will be the best option for most DIY ebike builders. Especially for the less experienced builders. It just is an amazing piece of kit and I can recommend it to anyone. You really can’t go wrong with it!

Power:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Torque:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Pedal assist:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Build quality:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Low maintenance:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)
Reliability:5 out of 5 stars (5.0 / 5)

If you have any questions, want to start a discussion, or need some support, please use the comment section below. I will respond to you within 24 hours.

31 Comments

  1. Hello
    Hope all is well… I just purchased and installed a Bafang 1000w rear 20inch fat tire hub motor kit… I can only get 22, 23mph out of it… Any reason why it’s 7 mph slower than my old 750w motor?
    I was led to believe it would be 4 or 5 mph faster than the 750w…
    Thanx

    • Hi David,

      They were both hub motors? It could that the top speed rating simply is lower, because of the way the motor is winded internally. But I am not aware of the top speed differennce. Don’t you have any speed limit enabled? And did both motors use the same wheel size?

  2. Hi, im about to purchase the befang hub drive kit that you recomended, will it fit on my tanderm bike, will i need cable extension. also how do i know if have the fit for freewheel or fit for cassette on my bike, and also is this kit noisy, ie how quiet is it, thanks Nick, appreciate your feedback.

    • Hi Nick,

      I can’t tell if you will need an extension, since I don’t know the exact dimensions of your bike. But for a tandem bike, it likely is necessary. So to be sure, I should just buy one. They aren’t that expensive, so it isn’t a disaster if you happen to not need it.

      You can tell if you have a cassette or freewheel by removing it. If it looks like this: https://images.app.goo.gl/qVPGAX7LZA2ci5qq8 you have a cassette. With a cassette the rotating mechanism is on the wheel, with a freewheel this mechanism is build into the gears. You can often also tell by justing looking at the removal bolt pattern. If you don’t want to remove it yet, just ask a local bike shop, they can easily tell you.

      The kit is audible, but not incredibly load. Especially when the wheel is behind you, you won’t notice it a lot while riding. It does make more noise than a Bafang mid-drive would, that would be the quietest option.

      Good luck with your build!

  3. Hi Giel,
    I really like your review and it’s the most informative one I have come across. But, just to be sure and for my own peace of mind I own a Carrera Hellcat which 18″ in frame size and wheels which are 29″, here is the link to the bike I own:
    https://www.halfords.com/bikes/mountain-bikes/carrera-hellcat-mens-mountain-bike-2020—-black—s-m-l-xl-frames-346662.html
    I would like to buy the 48v 500w Bafang rear hub kit with the P850C display and the sinewave controller, but I don’t know whether my bike is a cassette or freewheel and I am also a bit tight in the budget.
    So, which kit and battery would you suggest buying?
    Thank You very much

    • Hi Imon,

      The bike you send me has a cassette, so you should go for the cassette version.

      According to your preference and budget I can recommend these two products:

      Motor kit: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dZejLQy

      Battery: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_AAHfE5

      The prices for the motor kits are about the same for different sellers. So it doesn’t matter all that much for which seller you go. You can save some money on the battery by going for a smaller capacity one or going for generic non-brandname cells. Good luck with your build!

  4. Good article. I laced a 750-watt motor into a fat tire rim but I don’t know whether it will accept a freewheel or a cassette. I have asked the seller three different times about which one it will accept and they keep repeating that I will need a freewheel cassette. Can these motors accept either one? It doesn’t seem like that is the case, especially when in your article you mention you have to specify which one you want when ordering. Is there a way for me to be able to know what it accepts by just looking at it? I hope you can help me with this information because the seller keeps answering as if a freewheel and a cassette are the same thing. Thank you for any information you can provide.

  5. I’m trying to figure out which wheel size to order for a rear hub motor on my mountain bike. My wheel size is 650B x 28/38C. My tire size is a 27.5 x 2.35. I need a wheel that is strong enough for trail use. Which wheel should I order.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Larry,

      I am guessing that your question is what width wheel you need right? You of course need to order the wheel with the 27.5 inch diameter, to match it with your bike. Usually the rim only comes in one width, that fits many sizes of tire. This is the case because a lot of sellers don’t want to sell 5 different wheel widths, they just sell one.

      Because your tire has a width of 2.35 inch, you can fit wheels that have an inside rim width between 19 and 50 mm, I looked this up for you. You can see that there is quite a big range, that will fit your tire. So most of the sellers will sell a wheel that will fit your tire.

      If the inside rim width is not mentioned by the seller, you can simply ask them. Then you can check if it’s inbetween 19-50mm for it to fit your tire. If you want the strongest wheel, grab the wheel with the biggest inside rim width that still fits. But generally, they will all be strong enough since they all use reinforced ebike rims.

      This seller for example sells a wheel that has the correct wheel size for you (19mm inner rim width, so exactly at the minimum requirement):

      https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dZthVLQ

      These two sellers don’t list their inner rim width, but I believe they will be 19 or 20mm as well. If you want to be sure, just send them a message via Aliexpress. It is easy to do and they will always respond quickly to you:

      https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dYHAYDI
      https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dZejLQy

  6. I have a question regarding the torque arms. You wrote “Necessary because of the high power”: while I can see the necessity for the front wheel kit or really powerful motors say 1500w, what is the purpose of installing the torque arms on the rear motor kit that has 500w motor?

    • Hi Ruslan,

      In actuality, the motor can output almost a 1000 watts with a lot of the controllers that it comes with. So even though it is stated to be 500 watt, the actual power is closer to a 1000 watt.

      With this amount of power, it is wisely to also mount a torque arm on the rear drop out. Generally it is a lot stronger than the front drop out, but a 1000 watt is still a lot for a rear drop out.

      Especially on aluminium frames, it really is necessary. With a steel frame, it wouldn’t be as much as a problem. Installing an universal torque arm is really simple though, and will ensure that the frame can handle it.

      So from a safety aspect, it is a really wise thing to do. Not all rear drop out, will handle a 1000 watts. So just mount it to be extra sure.

  7. Great review am convinced but is my concerned,
    I have a KHS Tandem that was modified with an 11 step rear cassette, it works great. I read where you mentioned not go over 9 step, what should I do? Should I opt for the front wheel hub instead?
    Thanks,
    Efrain

    • Hi Efrain,

      The rear cassette mount indeed will probably not be able to fit a 11 speed casette. I wouldn’t go with the front wheel motor, since it gives a totally different feel. It also can be hard to reinforce the front drop out, for it to handle the power. Since it is a powerful motor after all.

      Instead I would fit a 9 or 10 gear cassette, you can still use the existing derailleur setup, but it would have to be adjusted for it, in order to work probably. If you are lucky, you might be able to fit an 11 speed cassette, but if it doesn’t work, a smaller cassette is the best option in my opinion.

      • Oh well, thank you but I found your site one day too late as I had just ordered a kit from BafangUSADirect and the order was already on its way also they mentioned that they do not offer any rear hub kits. Since I only intend to use it with the PAS hopefully my fork should resist, also my front fork is pretty beefy.

        I’ll be ordering a pair of torque mounts and converting my front brakes to disc and hope for the best.
        Will keep you posted.

        Thanks,
        Efrain

        • Hi Efrain,

          You will be fine! With a beefy front fork and a pair of torque arms it will be no problem at all. As long as you do this, it is 100% safe to do.

          A front hub motor will just give a different feel than a rear hub motor (like the difference between a front and rear wheel driven car). But it will still be a nice ride nonetheless!

          Good luck with your build and have fun riding it!

  8. Hi. I would love to use the Bafang hub motor for converting my bike instead of the Bafang bbs02because of its claimed reliability issues, but I really want to have the possibility to make it legal (250 Watt, 25 kmh) , while still being able to have more power if I ever want to. I know that you can often change the speed limit directly from the display, but is there also a way to restrict the power to 250 Watt?
    Kind regards

    • Hi Tom,

      With the standard bafang hub motor kits, you can’t restrict power. This in my opinion isn’t really necessary if you do set the speed limit. When you will be riding at 25 km/h, there will be no cop that is going to stop you. If you want the ability to increase power if you want, you will always need a higher powered (wattage) motor. So this wattage will always be displayed on the motor itself. You can always try to hide this wattage figure or use fake wattage stickers. But in general I wouldn’t worry about the legality of your e-bike if you limit the speed to 25kmh. No cop will stop you in that case, and they certainly won’t check your motor wattage. But to answer your question: you won’t be able to restrict power using the controller. Even if you do, there still will be written 500 watt on the motor in case of the Bafang hub motor. So legal wise, this will be pointless as well. The best thing to do is to restrict speed and optionally try to hide the wattage writing/use fake wattage stickers.

  9. I would like to convert my fat bike with 4 inch tires. Which conversion kit would would I buy needing that size rim Thank you

    • Hi Jean,

      The 4-inch tires should fit all the rims of the Bafang hub motor 750W fat bike versions. You should also look at your wheel diameter and the dropout width. Your wheel diameter should be known (20 inches or 26 inches). You can easily measure the dropout width yourself. Just measure the width between the frame where the rear wheel drops in. You should buy the version with this right dropout width specification. Sometimes sellers offer different dropout widths, if not, there will be a specification in which your dropout width should be. There are often pictures in the description explaining this as well. Most of the time those kits will fit your bike perfectly (standard sizes). You should also buy either the cassette or freewheel version, depending on what your current bike uses.

      Possibly suitable kits (check specifications discussed above for compatibility with your bike):

      kit 1: https://bit.ly/2RukKRI
      kit 2: https://bit.ly/3mm851j
      Kit 3: https://bit.ly/2ZG2VDC

  10. I followed your other article and bought a programming cable, only to find out it does not work on my front hub motor.

    The main thing I want to adjust is to have PAS stop quickly once I stop pedaling. With the stock setting, it keeps going for a second or so. This is frankly dangerous. Do you know of any way I can change this? Would a different display help? (I have C961)

    • Hi Wai,

      Unfortunately the Bafang programming cable is only compatible with Bafang mid-drive systems (BBSxx series). So it will not work with your Bafang (front) hub motor.

      Unfortunately, there is no way you can change the behaviour your ebike. Your ebike hub motor is controlled by an external controller. Since this controller is not programmable, you cannot change those parameters. Some KT-style controllers can change some settings, but you don’t have such a controller. (I know this because of your display type)

      Sometimes you can access some advanced settings on your display. But this will also not allow you to change the behaviour you want.

      Buying another display will also have no affect.

      Unfortunately there just isn’t any way to change the behaviour of standard hub motor controllers that aren’t KT-style. You are stuck with the factory firmware in that case.

      I understand the unwanted PAS behaviour you are experiencing. This lag is present on a lot of e-bikes, this is just the nature of a lot of cadence type pedal assist ebikes.

      The best way to counter this behaviour is to slightly press the brake levers to engage the motor cut-off. This way the PAS will stop immediately, without actually braking. If you use your ebike a lot, you will get used to it.

      • Thank you so much for your detailed information. Sigh, I guess I would have to learn to stop the motor by pressing the brake.

  11. I’m considering using the 500 watt Bafang hub motor on my Terra Trike Traveler recumbent trike. Is there a version of this motor kit that is made for recumbent trikes or if not what issues will I have as I make this conversion such as wiring length, mounting controls, etc. Thanks!

    • Hi Jim,

      This Bafang hub motor kit can also be used perfectly on a trike. There are indeed some things that you should take into account when mounting it on a trike specifically. I don’t expect any issues with mounting the controller. The best thing is to buy a controller enclosure, surely you will be able to mount this enclosure somewhere on the frame. The other extra thing you will probably need is a motor wire extension cable. This way you can mount the controller more in the front of the bike, in order to reach the motor in the back wheel, an extension cable probably will be necessary.

      Controller enclosure: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dXTyHmQ
      Extension cable: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dVN8QGW

      Good luck with your conversion!

  12. Is this controller not programmable like the BBS mid-drive??
    Do you know of any programable controllers for hub drives?

    • The controller that comes with a Bafang hub motor indeed is not programmable. It however isn’t really necessary. I would recommend to get a KT series controller. These controllers have excellent stock firmware and a lot parameters can be changed using the display. So this will give you some kind of adjustability. There do exist programmable controllers, they are however not made to work plug and play with the Bafang hub motor. You will need to have advanced knowledge to get this working, so I would not advise this. It would also be quite expensive.

      • I’m all for hard work! I would be happy with something Arduino compatible. It does look like the KT display have the features I need which keeps things super simple.
        Thanks!

  13. You mention good reliability but some problems with the controllers on the mid drive motors and kits to buy. But I saw nothing about warranties (90 day -1 year -2 year) and how the warranties are carried out. I see that Bafang Direct gives only a 90 day warranty while others give a 1 year which is basically a phone number to call. Also, what is the usual warranty on the battery and I read that there was a problem shipping them. Who usually pays for shipping for a failed part or battery. I know different sellers have different terms but what is reasonable to expect and who has the best warranty and service in your experience? Thanks, Tim

    • Hi Tim,

      Warranty is a bit of a difficult thing with AliExpress, ebay, Amazon, etc. All sellers offer different warranty periods. A common warranty period for such products (battery/motor) is one year. In addition to the warranty period if sellers, AliExpress for example also offers customer protection.

      In my experience though, I have never had any issue with sellers on AliExpress and warranty. My experience with sellers is actually really positive. You can always contact them using the chat function, most of the time they respond to any issues within 24 hours.

      I have converted many bikes and therefore have bought a lot of conversion kits. If I had some part that failed, I have always gotten free replacements. They then paid for both shipping and the replacement product.

      Especially with the Bafang hub motor kit, I shouldn’t be to worried about warranty. It’s very likely that the kit will not face any issues in the warranty period (2+ years). It just is an really reliable system. A lot more reliable than the mid-drive systems.

      I can really recommend PowerSurround-2 store. I have bought most of my bafang hub motor kits from them. As for batteries, there are multiple great sellers. E-bike battery store is one of them.

      Hub motor kit 1 (blockwave, not waterproof connectors): https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dUQFmxR
      Hub motor kit 2 (sinewave, waterproof connectors):
      https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_d7n15Zr
      Suitable battery: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_dWg1Hw1

  14. If you have any questions, please leave them in this comment section. I will try to answer them within 24 hours.

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