In this electric bike conversion kit guide, we will delve into the advantages and disadvantages and give you tips for buying an electric bike conversion kit.
What Is An Electric Bike Conversion Kit?
An electric bike conversion kit consists of a battery, motor, controller, and everything you need to make your bike ride under electric power.
Depending on which one you get, the motor is usually placed on a wheel or on the bottom bracket. You will need to mount the kit’s battery either on a cargo rack or to the bike’s frame.
The kit will also include an LCD, which gives you vital information, such as battery power, speed, assistance level, etc.
Electric bike conversion kits assist your pedalling, which means you can ride longer before feeling tired. They are also great for arriving at your destination looking fresh, as you don’t have to work as hard on the pedals.
You will find many electric bike conversion kits in the market that have pretty advanced features like GPS. There are electric bike conversion kits with varying power outputs. You can buy 250w kits and more powerful ones up to and exceeding 1500W.
With all this in mind, you need to consider precisely what you need before buying.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Electric Bike Conversion Kits
People who convert their old bikes to electric bikes enjoy some benefits. One of those benefits is keeping your old faithful bike that you’ve grown attached to and continue to use it. This is also better for the environment, as your old bike isn’t sent to a landfill.
Converting an old bike to electric is much cheaper than buying a new electric bike, making e-mobility accessible to more people. They are pretty easy to install and come with clear instructions, so you don’t need a specialist to fit one for you.
After you’ve fitted your conversion kit, you can remove it and fit it to a new bike. This means you can upgrade pretty much any bike you have. You can even swap the battery and motor for more powerful versions instead of buying a whole kit when you want more speed.
However, bikes with electric conversion kits are not as good as genuine electric bikes. It will never feel or perform as well as a factory-built electric bike.
You need to be aware that electric bike conversion kits add weight to your bike. This doesn’t make too much difference when you’re riding, but it does make the bike harder to carry upstairs or load onto a bike rack.
The extra weight will require you to pump the tires up more regularly. It will affect your stopping distances; therefore, you need to adapt your riding accordingly.
Different Types Of Electric bike Conversion Kits
Front Hub Conversion Kits
Front hub-mounted conversion kits are the most common and affordable. People are also drawn to these kits by their simple installation, as you rarely need any special tools. But if you do, the tools will be included in the kit.
To mount this type of kit, all you need to do is replace your bike’s front wheel with the one that comes with the kit and run the cable from the hub to the controller.
Rear Hub Conversion Kits
These kits see the motor mounted in the back wheel. They work in a similar way to front-mounted ones, but they are better as the extra weight doesn’t affect your bike’s handling as much.
Mid-Drive Conversion Kit
Mid-mounted motors see the motor situated between the pedals. The motors are smaller and lighter while giving you more torque and efficiency.
The other advantage of mid-mounted motors is that the bike’s weight distribution is centered. In addition to this, it lowers your bike’s center of gravity; therefore, your bike will handle better than if it had a wheel-mounted conversion kit.
Mid-mounted kits also mean that you don’t have to do anything special to fix a puncture or replace a tire. So they are best for off-road riding and mountain biking.
The downside of mid-drive conversion kits is that they are more expensive than the other types.
Friction Drive Conversion Kits
Friction drive conversion kits easily mount to the wheel. They work using a roller that attaches to the motor that rotates the rear wheel using friction.
These are noisy, and the effectiveness of the wheel and roller is dramatically affected by wet weather. The water reduces friction, making it inefficient or useless. But they are a cheap solution for riding in dry conditions.
Things To Consider Before Buying an Electric Bike Conversion Kit
What Type Of Motor Does The Kit Have?
There are two types of motor available with these kits, brushed and brushless.
Brushless is the best type, as they are quiet, more powerful, and have less wear and tear. However, they are more expensive than brushed motors. But they are still the best choice if your budget can stretch to it.
You’ll also notice direct-drive or geared hub motors. Direct drive motors are more powerful, giving you a higher top speed, but they are heavier. Geared motors are lighter and produce more torque. You need to weigh up what is more important to you.
How Much Power?
To see how much power an electric motor has, look at its power rating, measured in Watts. For instance, a 1500W motor is more powerful than a 250W motor.
However, this figure stated by the manufacturer may not be the power that the motor runs at all the time. That 1500W rating may only be achievable for a short period.
You may try to work out the motor’s power using the battery voltage and the motor’s current rating.
i.e., Electric Power (W) = Voltage (V) × Current (Amp.)
But this doesn’t take motors electrical efficiency into account, which is 75%. So if you had a 750W motor, you would only really be getting 720W from it.
Another figure you need to look at is the motor’s Watt-Hour rating (Wh). This will tell you how much power your battery can deliver in an hour. Alternatively, you can pay close attention to the motor’s torque rating. The higher the torque figure, the easier your bike will climb hills, accelerate and carry weight.
What Sensors Does It Use?
Electric bike kits either use a cadence or a torque sensor. The cadence sensor measures how fast you pedal, while torque sensors measure how hard you pedal.
You will find that most hub-mounted kits use cadence sensors. The faster you pedal, the more power you get from the motor. Mid-drive kits usually have torque sensors that monitor how hard you pedal. So you get more power from the motor the harder you push the pedals. Torque sensors give you a more natural feel on the pedals, making them better for mountain biking.
Does Your Electric Bike Conversion Kit Come with A Throttle?
Some electric bike conversion kits have a throttle, so you can ride without pedaling at all. This turns your bike into an electric moped.
These kits give you many advantages, but you need to make sure they are legal where you ride.
Make Sure You’re Legal
It’s not just the throttle that can leave you on the wrong side of the law. So you need to check out your local ebike laws before you fit your electric bike conversion kit.
In the USA, most states have a limited top speed of 20mph, but you need to be aware of the electric bike classes.
- Class 1:Electric bikes with only pedal assist and max speed of 20mph.
- Class 2:Electric bikes with pedal and throttle assist and max speed of 20mph.
- Class 3:Electric bikes with pedal assist (with or without throttle assist) and a max speed of 28mph.
Does The Kit Come WIth A Battery?
Some electric bike conversion kits don’t come with a battery. This makes the kit seem cheaper, but you still have to buy a battery separately.
If you buy a kit with a battery, you will save yourself the hassle of finding the right one, as it will already be paired. It will also mean you’re not disappointed when your kit arrives and you cannot ride.
Final Thoughts On Electric Bike Conversion Kits
Electric bike conversion kits are a great way to upgrade your current bike. Still, you need to be realistic about your expectations and what you want to do with yours.
It is also worth doing some homework about the different types of kits available, so you can get one that suits your needs.