Organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs) are the building blocks of biosensors, neuromorphic devices, and complementary circuits. One rule in the materials design for OECTs is the inclusion of a hydrophilic component in the chemical structure to enable ion transport in the film. Here, it is shown that the ladder-type, side-chain free polymer poly(benzimidazobenzophenanthroline) (BBL) performs significantly better in OECTs than the donor–acceptor type copolymer bearing hydrophilic ethylene glycol side chains (P-90). A combination of electrochemical techniques reveals that BBL exhibits a more efficient ion-to-electron coupling and higher OECT mobility than P-90. In situ atomic force microscopy scans evidence that BBL, which swells negligibly in electrolytes, undergoes a drastic and permanent change in morphology upon electrochemical doping. In contrast, P-90 substantially swells when immersed in electrolytes and shows moderate morphology changes induced by dopant ions. Ex situ grazing incidence wide-angle X-ray scattering suggests that the particular packing of BBL crystallites is minimally affected after doping, in contrast to P-90. BBL's ability to show exceptional mixed transport is due to the crystallites’ connectivity, which resists water uptake. This side chain-free route for the design of mixed conductors could bring the n-type OECT performance closer to the bar set by their p-type counterparts.