Running into limitations with my e-bike, what direction would you go with a custom build?


New member
Local time
4:01 PM
Oct 25, 2022
Long story short I've got a ride1up limited that I've had for 6 months and put over 1500 miles on, and it is great as a commuter bike and for smooth easy trails, but I want something more suitable for actual mountain biking trails to have ready for next spring. I have burned out a couple controllers and motor cables on the limited because the wiring and controller are very undersized for what the motor can do in my opinion and has basically zero ventilation being inside the frame. I can't resist going up steep trails and this bike isn't meant for it, I could get a different higher-powered controller and mount it in my rack bag and probably solve the overheating problem but I do want to go full suspension, hence my seeking advice here.

I am leaning towards converting a circa 2010 Giant anthem full suspension 26-in bike to a rear hub motor with much more power than my current bike. Having only used one mid drive bike before but having a lot of experience with a rear hub, here's my dilemma that you guys can answer. I like to cruise with throttle only from a stop to full speed very often, am I correct that with the mid drive I would have to rev up through all of my gears to get to my top speed like on a motorcycle? Since I will want to use this bike for commuting as well as mountain biking trails, I don't want to have to be shifting gears that much when cruising around and not needing maximum torque for steep uphill sections. Let me know if I'm way off base here? I'm at the point where I haven't invested anything so I'm open to ideas.

For those that have done rear hub high powered full suspension mountain bike builds, do you recommend a lower wattage geared hub motor in the 1500 watt range, or one of the 2000w or 3000w larger direct drive hub motors? I understand the torque will be way lower on the direct drive but not sure if the higher wattage bursts overcome that, versus having all that weight compared to a smaller motor. Basically I'm wondering where the sweet spot is so the bike doesn't weigh too much and other considerations.

Right now my flat ground speeds max out at 31 or 32, and I can get up the trails I want for about a couple miles before things overheat too much to start doing damage. I want to improve on this plus have full suspension, and be overpowered to the point where I can run things at lower settings and not worry about burning out and still have more in the tank to crank it up if I just want to have some fun. The limited is so fun but I guess I'm hooked at this point and want more!

With your experience and trial and error building which direction would you go? Let me know what other details would help.
If you have not yet purchased the hub motor, and want a EMTB full suspension bike for trails/Enduro, then you should consider the MId drives available. The BBSHD is just one of many mid-drives out there that perform well. They are easily adaptable to most existing frames, the only issue is to decide on the mounting location and size of the battery you intend to install on your frame. Mid drives give you the additional power range from the gear ratios of your chain ring and cassette, where as hub drives are fixed and your pedal input is ALL you
I will echo what @Capt Kirk said. Its all right on the money. There is a reason why all quality, commercially-manufactured emtbs are mid drives. Re-stating what he said just a little: A hub motor is single-speed as it powers the bike from the hub, and ignores the gears and in fact the entire drivetrain. A mid on the other hand uses gears and gear shifting, like you do. A hub motor can live in hills, but its life sucks, just like yours would if you had to pedal up hills in a fixed gear.

If you want a good emtb that is a hub motor, you will have to overcome this inherent weakness in the nature of hub motors. You do that by using a gigantic one. Along the lines of 3 kw and more. The Stealth Bomber is such a bike, as are its clones. The trouble is power levels like that make the pedals vestigial... its a light motorcycle. Also a motor that big is REALLY heavy, as is the gigantic battery you will need to power it. So, we come back to why singletrack bikes are mid drives.

I would recommend the BBSHD due to its strong aftermarket support and record of reliability. If you want to go crazy on power and you have maker skills, a Lightning Rods Big Block is an option. So is a Cyclone. If you're more of a plug/play guy, a Cyc X1 Stealth has more power than a BBSHD but its much louder and more fiddly to plug in. the Cyc Photon is too new to say anything about. Give it a year and I bet it (and its on-the-way more powerful big brother) will likely be strong contenders. But not today.

Reading your post, you already have some idea of all of this based on your questions. So you have to ask yourself if you want an ebike or a light motorcycle that is never intended to be pedaled, because thats what you have to do to even get in the game here with a singletrack-friendly hub motor bike.

Here's a complete blueprint to exactly the kind of bike you'd build. Full suspension singletrack-oriented. I started out with a donor frame purchased on Ebay that was of extremely high quality but very inexpensive. I took my time and waited for the right one to show up.

And also relevant:

Truly, riding a mid as a commuter is no big deal and not in any way burdensome.
Thank you guys for your replies and input. You have convinced me and I understand and agree with all of my corrected misconceptions at the beginning of this thread. A friend of mine put a bbs2 on his full suspension Cannondale Lefty and I see now after using it that you do not need to cycle through the gears continuously. Starting in the lowest gear that doesn't cause a wheelie, it was giving great take off torque and speed, and in the same gear it would top out at 25mph which is great and very usable as you all know. So only one gear change was needed at that point to get to the top speed on straightaways. So now I'm looking for a donor full suspension bike and will check with you guys when I narrow it down to see if there are any issues with mounting a bbshd on that particular frame.