What is an E-bike Conversion Kit?

You do not need to buy a brand-new electric bike when you could use a quarter of that money to convert your existing bike. Whether you have a road bike, mountain bike or a hybrid, you could save money by converting your bike to an electric bike with an e-bike conversion kit.

motorized bicycle or electric bicycle

The technology of motorized bicycles keeps growing and improving rapidly.  An ultra-modern component of an e-bike will probably not be the same in years to come. Besides, e-bikes are subjected to “Moores law” just like PCs. If you had done your research on e-bikes a few years ago, it would be wise to be up to date with the latest findings. 

An electric bike conversion kit contains all the components you need -except perhaps the battery- to turn your ordinary pedal bicycle to a motorized bike. First, it is important to familiarize yourself with e-bike terminologies. Then you will not just be in a position to understand ads better but also understand manufacturer’s guide. 

Terminologies

  • Standard units of measurement for electricity (volts, amps, watts)- most bike motor kits companies use amps, volts, and watts to describe the size e.g. 36V 26A 936W
  • Amps measure the flow of the current. You should take note of your battery capacity measured in ampere-hour. This means that the current of an ampere flowing in one hour. The more the Ah the more the run time and the bigger the battery which will cost you more
  • Volts is the measure of electric potential. To have more volts, you will need to carry more batteries with you.
  • Watts is the measure of the energy capacity. The formula is;

                   watts = amperes x volts

  • Pedal-assist mode -also known as pedelec, only provides power when you are pedaling. You do not have to hold the throttle in a particular position.
  • Throttle mode- is similar to how a motorcycle operates. When held in position, the throttle mode gives power to propel your bicycle forward
  • Motor- is the component that does all the work in an e-bike by converting kinetic energy into electrical energy
  • Motor efficiency- most e-bike companies advertise motor efficient between 80 and 85%. It means the motor can convert 80-85% of the kinetic energy into motion
  • Chain drive-found in the pedal area, it directs power to the wheels through a chain.
  • Regenerative braking- is a mechanism that converts kinetic energy to electrical energy back into the batteries or by creating a braking action.

What is an e-bike system made of?

Dc Motor controller:  is basically the brain. It takes in the throttle mode and controls current going into the motor. The DC controller cuts off low voltage, shuts off high temperatures and controls the current. Some controllers shut the motor when brakes are applied. Recent motors functions with both sensor and sensor-less motors. 

  • Throttle

You will have two options: a thumb throttle and a swing throttle. You will get a better control with a swing throttle compared to a thumb throttle. 

  • Brakes

Several kits today accommodate both older center-pull brakes and the new disc brakes. Ensure your brakes fit your e-bike kit. Kits get shipped with brake levers that shuts power anytime the brakes are applied whether you want them to or not.

  • Wheel/rim

All e-bike kits have a hub motor fitted either on a front or rear rim except for the mid-drive motor. E-bike kits include rims with standard sizes of 18, 20,24, 26, and 28 cm.

Power management display (PMD) is the electronic dashboard for measurements such as voltage, watts temperatures, etc

  • Wire Harness

All kits come with a wire harness which consists of wire and plugs. Most companies will not provide you with instructions making installation a bit challenging. However, some kits come with a disconnect feature for the wiring that goes straight to the hub motor.

E-bike Conversion Kit Guide – Things You Need to Know

You need to know what your intended use will be before deciding on the conversion kit you need. Small geared hub motors will be adequate if you live in a fairly flat area. However, if you live in a relentless steep location, then a mid-drive would do. In the end, the decision you make will be based on your personal needs.

ebike direct drive motor

Direct Drive Motors

Hub motors are the easiest form of electric bike thrust. The outside of the hub has powerful magnets around it that is essential to the motor. The motor is fixed with the shaft so the body of the motor spins and not the shaft. The bigger the motor the more torque it produces at low speeds. Direct drive hub motors are relatively cheap and more reliable. If you are looking for a high-performance bike on a budget then this is the way to go. 

Geared Motors

A geared hub motor is more efficient compared to a direct hub motor. The motor’s planetary gear reduction system that connects stator and the motor case. The motor spins faster for every rotation of the case. There will be no peddling resistance if the motor is off or if it runs out of power. Geared hub motors require very minimal resistance. However, if you ride on the hills a lot, the nylon planetary gears may wear out. The good news is that they are easily replaceable and affordable.

e-bike conversion kit motor
e-bike conversion kit motor

Front hub motor (front wheel electric bike conversion kit)

A front wheel hub motor is far the easiest to install as the process is very straight forward. No need for swapping freewheels or gear cassettes.

Consider choosing a small geared hub for your front wheel electric conversion because they are light in weight and would produce a reasonable torque. Light direct-drive front-wheels are inefficient for front-wheel electric conversion because the motor can be too large to fit into bikes that have disc brakes. Besides, they are heavy.

Rear-wheel electronic bike conversion kit

This type of hub motor is preferred when adding an assist to a bicycle. To change the rear wheel, you will have to remove the gear cassette using a special tool. While the front wheel pulls you while you move, the rear wheel pushes you. Rear hub motors are best for rough roads. There is no problem with wheel spin since the weight of the rider is concentrated on the back wheel. The only disadvantage with this set up is that it is time-consuming to change the inner tube in case of a puncture.

electric bicycle, cheap ebike kit

Mid-drive motor

Mid-drive motors are much preferred with more expensive electric bikes. They produce more torque, hence more efficient compared to hub motors. During installation, the bottom of the bicycle needs to be removed. Therefore, it can be challenging for an inexperienced rider. Mid-drive kits are only compatible with a threaded bottom bracket of 68-73mm wide and 33.5mm in diameter. Your bike will have an expensive look when fitted correctly. The only downside is that there is an increased peddling resistance when the motor is switched off.

ebike mid drive motor
ebike mid drive motor

Should you buy mid-drive or a hub motor?

Taking into account all the descriptions above, it all boils down to your ride plans and your budget. In our experience hub motors are simple to deal with in the long run. Remember the direct drive hub and the mid-drive both produce peddling resistance with the motor off. Mid driver motors definitely outshine the rest when it comes to hill climbing. Mid-drive motors have a tidy and finished look compared to hub motor kits that have DIY look with lots of wiring hanging around.

Electric bike batteries; choosing the right type and how to get the most out of it 

Batteries are one of the most crucial units of an e-bike, without which, you are going nowhere. Battery technology is evolving rapidly so it is good to be informed about the best that are available in the market. 

Lithium-ion (Li-ion)

Approximately 90% of the market share is captured by these batteries, making them the default battery option. They last long and they generate more power for their weight compared to other batteries. They might be expensive but they have genius-inspired electronic features that make them one of the best in the market.

ebike_lithium_ion_battery

Lithium Cobalt (LCO)

This is a new kid in the block; a slight variation of Lithium-Ion. It offers high power in a lighter, compact package. It has a very high energy density. For instance, lithium cobalt batteries are used in Optibikes whose manufacturers claim is one of the best bikes with very high mileage.  

Lithium-ion Polymer (Li-pol)

This is also a new lithium battery. Interestingly, this polymer can be cast to take different shapes. Since they are not comprised of any liquids, they don’t require the protective cases used on other batteries. The liquid absence improves the stability and reduces the vulnerability to overcharging, abuse, or damage. They are ideal for high-volume and low-energy applications just like in electric bikes.

Lithium Manganese (LiMg204) 

They use the same battery technology as the Nissan Leaf Hybrid vehicle. There are claims that it surpasses its Lithium compound predecessors. For example, most Elite Electric Bikes use it and the manufactures are confident that it lasts longer and generates more power than other Lithium batteries

Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMh)

ebike_nimh_battery

They are not just more expensive than NiCd but also more efficient. They have a little improvement over their equivalents. They last longer and are easier to dispose of. Nonetheless, they are becoming quite rare as the market is being taken over by Li-ion batteries. 

Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) 

For the same weight, they have more capacity compared to their lead-acid peer. They also have a longer life span than lead-acid. 

Lead-acid (SLA)

Lead-acid batteries are cheap and easily recyclable. The downside is that they are very sensitive and don’t last long. They are not a good battery option for a commuter bike.

ebike battery

F.A.Q’s

  • What is the best electric bike conversion kit? Mid-drive is the most advanced and highest power/torque performing kit 
  • What is the fastest electric bike on the market? Thanks to its mid-drive motor, HPC Scout Pro has an insanely top speed compared to the rest of its competitors 
  • How do I decide between buying an e-bike or a conversion kit? A kit saves you a big budget while still letting you keep your original bike. 
  • Is converting a bike to an electric bike expensive? In the USA it would cost an average of $3000-$4000 to buy an e-bike. Some are as expensive as $18000. However, it would only cost around $1250 to convert a bike. Eventually, converting a bike is cheaper than buying an e-bike.

So what Is an eBike kit? – Conclusion

For a more professional e-bike with a refined factory touch, consider a mid-drive motor. You will need the right tools for installation, but with a little patience, the finished product will be well worth the time. For easy and reliable installation, you can go for the small geared hub motor conversion kits.

What is a motorized bicycle?

There is no one definition of what a motorized bicycle is, but after digging a bit deeper, you could sum it up by simply stating:

A standard bicycle + a bike motor kit = a motorized bicycle

motorized bicycle

Motorized bikes make pedaling a lot easier and faster. Imagine getting a much-needed boost when you’re cycling your next uphill battle.

A motorized bicycle is a standard bicycle with a motor attached to it to propel the bike when required. Bicycle motors can either be electric or gas-powered. And, the good news is you can assemble it yourself using a motor kit.

Let’s examine the key differences between electric and gas powered motorized bicycles and explore the various options available for each category in more detail.

Electric Bikes

Electric bicycles are beginning to grow in popularity – you can see this now more than ever with Uber Eats riders taking over the streets. With technology advancements making it easier to enjoy riding electric bikes.

electrc bicycle
Electric Bicycle

There are a couple of ways to acquire an electric bike. Firstly, you can take the easy way out and buy a factory produced one. However, you don’t need to buy an entirely new bike to get started. If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative, you can convert your standard bicycle by using an ebike conversion kit.

Generally speaking, all ebike conversion kits come with these parts: the motor, battery, control unit, and speed controller. However, it is a bit of a minefield out there, with an array of ebike conversion kits on the market. It is important to choose wisely to ensure you get the right product to match your bike hardware and riding needs.

At a high level, you can choose from three key options: a front-wheel kit, a rear-wheel kit, or a mid-drive kit. Essentially, the kit you select needs to be well considered, as it may restrict your riding experience in the future. For example, if you regularly ride off-road on hilly dirt tracks, you’ll need to install a mid-drive kit. Whereas, if you plan to ride on flat residential streets, a front-wheel kit may be a suitable option.

When it comes to cost, the initial financial outlay to purchase an ebike conversion kit can be expensive, but in the long-term it will pay off in the long term. Electric bicycles deliver a swag of immediate benefits, including being reliable, silent, cost-effective, and easy to store.

The laws surrounding electric bicycles vary significantly across the United States. For example, riders in some states require a license to operate their electronic bike because it is still classified as motorized. Whereas, in other states, electric bicycles are allowed on roads or bike paths as long as they do not exceed the speed limit of 20MPH. Before you commit to an electronic bike, make sure you find out more about the local laws

Gas Bikes

Gas powered bicycles tend to attract a niche group of people as opposed to electric bikes, which target the mainstream market.

Factory produced gas powered bicycles are available to purchase. Additionally, you can convert a standard bicycle across by investing in a motor kit. Be warned that converting a standard bike to gas is more challenging compared to electric bike alternatives.

As mentioned, there is a niche group of bike enthusiasts out there that prefer the gas powered bicycle option. To some, the gas bikes look better and sound cool. That said, gas bikes are notorious for being unreliable, and don’t be surprised when you find yourself regularly tuning and tweaking the motor to keep it running smoothly. If you’re into tinkering with the motor, this would be your dream, but if not, this may be your nightmare.  

From a legal standpoint, gas powered bicycles give you limited riding options, and information about their legality is scarce. Investigate local riding laws before committing to buying a gas bike.

The pros and cons of motorized bicycles

To summarize, there are pros and cons to owning a motorized bicycle. The pros include:

  • Big hills are no longer hurdles – zoom up hills in a heartbeat.
  • It’s great when you get tired and can kick in your motor to share some of the workload.
  • It’s cost-effective in comparison to other travel alternatives. Plus, there are no registration fees!
  • Electric bicycles are powered by electricity, making them fuel-efficient.
  • They are a great motivation to exercise.
  • Mobile and versatile – great for off-road and dirt track riding.
  • Above all else, they are FUN!

Like everything, there are the cons to owning a motorized bicycle, some of which include:

  • They cost a lot more to operate than regular bicycles.
  • The laws surrounding riding motorized bicycles are really unclear across states. Do your research before proceeding with an option.
  • They may require more maintenance and part replacements along the way.
  • Motorized bikes are considered heavier than standard bicycles.
  • Battery charge time may take some time, and if not prepared, you may be left stranded.

The verdict on motorized bicycles

There are many benefits to motorized bicycle travel after weighing up the pros and cons. And, when comparing the difference between electric versus gas motors, the recommendation is electric!

Before purchasing a factory assembled electric bike or ebike conversion kit, do your research on all local road laws. If you get the all-clear to proceed, start thinking about what you want to use your bike for in the future and select the appropriate ebike conversion kit that will meet your riding needs.

Motorized bicycles are a cost-effective way to test the waters to see if this mode of travel is something you want to invest more time and money into in the future.

Can I get fit on an Electric Bicycle?

electric-bikes-lady-riding

If you’re like me, an electric bicycle sounds fantastic, but aside from the enjoyment factor – i wanted to know – can I still get fit riding an electric bicycle?

The short answer is YES… an electric bicycle does still give you the opportunity to get and stay fit!

Now for the slightly longer answer on what I found out.

Electric bicycles keep your body moving

Anything that keeps you moving is better than no exercise at all! If you choose an e-bike that is pedal assisted, then you still need to pedal and raise your heart rate to ride around. With an electric bicycle people often find that they ride for longer than they would on a traditional bicycle as it’s just a little bit easier to get around and for the hard parts of the ride they can rely on the electric motor to take the edge of the ride and stop them getting so stressed and hot and sweaty.

As you get fitter you can also choose to pedal more. So the e-bike allows you to improve your fitness gradually and push yourself to exercise harder as you get fitter.

You can burn calories on an Electric Bicycle

Yes. Just like cycling burns calories, riding an e-bike burns calories too. True – there can be a variation in the number of calories burnt and it is more likely that you will burn more calories on a traditional bike than an e-bike.

Because they are fun – you exercise more!

electric-bike-pleasure-riding-man-beach

One of the comments that people have made to me is that they were surprised how much they enjoyed riding an e-bike. Having the motor just took the edge off some of the bigger hills and harder rides, so they found that they were keen to ride more than usual. It was also easier to get to a nice destination that was a bit further away than the distance that they would usually ride on a traditional bike.

Electric Bicycles provide low-impact joint exercise

For people who want to get fit but can’t participate in high-impact sports such as running, e-bikes are the perfect way to get fit. Cycling is low-impact on on your joints. And e-bikes are extra good in this regard as when the going gets touch the moor can kick in and provide some relief to stiff or previously injured body parts.

The verdict on e-bikes and fitness

All things considered, electric bicycles are a great tool to add to your fitness toolkit. They are fun and certainly can be a good way to keep fit while enjoying the ride and some good fresh air.