What’s the Deal with E-Bike Conversion Kits?

21
Dec
2011

Since 2010 there has been a surge in the Electric Bicycle market, but what’s the deal with these things anyway?  Instead of posting about the whole E-Bike market, we’re focusing on the conversion kits which allow you to turn a regular bike into a hybrid electric bicycle.

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking….why would you want to do this, or maybe you’re saying that an E-Bike is not really a bicycle.  I hear what you’re saying and would love to find out your thoughts on all of this, so have a look through our comments on E-Bike conversion kits and then let your replies fly.

Xtracycle with conversion kit

We, of course, love to see people out there cycling and encourage non-riders to join us in our passion for the bike.  E-Bike conversion kits just might be the kick that some people need to start using their bike for more riding, commuting, touring, and moving into the car-free lifestyle. I think there are a lot of people out there who aren’t confident enough or feel strong enough to use their bicycle for more of these activities, but having the back up assistance of the electric conversion kit has nudged a lot of riders to start doing it.  If a conversion kit can do this for a person, then we’re all for it.  Here are just a few quotes from people who have started to ride due to adding an e-bike conversion kit:

“I find it amazing that, as a woman beyond college age, I can easily keep up commuting daily, likely year-round the 15 miles to my job. Commuting is now simply a lot of fun.”

“My bike is handling the 15 miles one way commute home from work like a snap. Because I am climbing from 0 elevation to about 600 ft most of my ride home is uphill. The battery pack makes it the whole way!”

“I have ridden over 400 miles and would recommend it to anyone who wants the power of an electric, and the flexibility of a fine standard bike.”

“The first time I tried out an electric bicycle I was thrilled. With osteoarthritis, I have been unable to use a bicycle much. Now I have found a way to bike again without injury.”

Mountain Bike with e-bike conversion kit

An e-kit enables riders to get up that nasty hill that lies between them and a bicycle commute to work. It may also be that extra support when out pulling the kids or a cargo trailer behind.  Whatever the reason, I feel that these electric bike kits are doing a great job at introducing more people to the ways of the bike.  Ideally, these people are using human power for the most part, but taking in the advantages of the e-power when absolutely necessary.

What does it take to install one of these kits on your bike? Here’s a video showing part of the process, but from what I’ve been told it is not overly difficult and can be done at home by most people.  For more on videos and information on the installation process head over to this e-bike install page.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on electric bike conversions and if you’d recommend it to a friend who could benefit from having one.  Let’s hear it.

 

Enjoy Your Ride
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20 Responses to “ What’s the Deal with E-Bike Conversion Kits? ”

  1. Chuck on March 14, 2012 at 5:23 am

    I have been working with ebike kits for several years, ever since cobbling together my first home made ebike which I built on a tandem frame and replaced the rear seat with a snowboard and custom racks to carry up to 8 bags of groceries.  It was a fantastic first effort but was heavier than some cars I think.  That first bike was built with parts that I begged for, borrowed but never stole.  I think I invested about $400 total.  It was throttle operation only and I rigged it up so that I could lock the throttle on full power and then pedal furiously to wherever my destination was.  I had a few close calls with that setup so I went back to the drawing board.  Several iterations later I ended up with a much more expensive, but much more competent system by BionX on my Surly LHT.  Fantastic setup except for  top speed issue.  The BionX is easy to install and offers a decent proportional assist mode which is really the right way to do it in my opinion.  Throttles are fun but it’s not a bike if you are throttling along the road – its a moped.  Eventually I found my way to higher tech mid-drive systems.  I tried the Cyclone (cheap Chinese cr@p), the EcoSpeed (too expensive and too noisy), and the Stoke Monkey (way too dangerous) . At the moment, I’m riding a high performance rocket ship built around the Panasonic mid-drive system that I lifted out of a wrecked Kalkhoff.  It’s not exactly a kit bike because you can’t buy the kit – you need to find a complete bike to lift it out of.  But, I have to say it is the best of the best.  Quiet, smooth, powerful (at only 300W), fast and efficient.  I say, anything that keeps people out of cars is a good thing.  We should be encouraging ebikes – it is an enabling technology.

  2. BeholdersEye on December 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I think, get your kit on…I like biking but there is a limit how far I’ll go everyday on a bike, an electric bike will get me on one allot more and further, all the better then using a freakn car.

  3. Dell Wilson on December 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I could see recommending this to someone with physical disabilities. But for anyone healthy, I would recommend an unassisted bike for the health benefits. As long as I’m healthy, I don’t think I will ever consider an eBike.

  4. Tim Starry on December 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    why not just buy a segway?

    • Anonymous on December 22, 2011 at 11:00 am

      A segway wouldn’t give one an opportunity to pedal at all….just stand and go.  I think most people see the point of an e-bike to assist them, not do all the work for them.  Hopefully it’s not just used to sit on, but to help people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to cycle (either for physical, health or distance reasons).   
      I know everyone has a different opinion, and we don’t all have to agree, but I see an e-bike as a useful tool for people who otherwise might not be out there on their bike (and like I said before, hopefully they’re doing as much of the work as possible).  I just don’t see any benefits to a segway at all.

  5. Joel Ike Phillips on December 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I like it as a tool to overcome physical handicaps that may prevent the enjoyments of cycling.  I dislike it as an aid for when you just don’t feel like doing the work.

    Great article, as usual…..

  6. Anonymous on December 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I actually love the idea of an e-bike….especially if it encourages people, who would not normally be biking, to get out there biking.  

    I get intimidated when thinking of biking the big hills in Austin (between my asthma, and not having the built up physical strength), but love being out on a bike.  An e-bike would encourage me to get out there and attempt it.  I would definitely use my own power as much as possible.  
    Anyway, obviously I love the idea of an e-bike conversion….we need more people attempting to bike, and less cars on the road! 

  7. Victor Jimenez on December 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I use to think that electric bikes were a joke. But after riding one and talking with friends that ride I get it.
    I am actually going to build a super ebike family truck for around town. With an ebike I can ride across town at 25mph pick up my son and ride home. A quick trip. If I do this on a regular bike its going to take just too much time and I am more likely to drive the car than take the bike.  There is also a population of people that would never commute. An ebike might help get those people out of the car and on the bike

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on December 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      Great answer, Victor.  You seem to have the same thoughts on e-bikes as I do….thanks for giving us your perspective.  I’ve never used one, but I know my Wife would get out there more if part of her commute was assisted.

  8. Bikeboy999 on December 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    My friend built up a recumbent trike for his wife to use a few years back. She has a back problem that prevents her from pedaling. She wanted to get out and he loves to ride. I think this coming summer season she will pass fifteen thousand km. And every so often he sees her attempting to pedal w/o e assist she would not be riding. All the work was done by ridemore.ca, who chose name of store which repairs, installs and sells eat assist mainly so that folk will ride more. By the way, escooters have been banned on mups in Ottawa.

  9. Marty on December 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Great idea for those that need it. If this gets cars of the road, awesome! I may need it to keep up w/Darryl next time he takes me riding those Austin hills! ;D

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on December 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

      Hahahaha, nice one Marty.  I enjoy riding with you no matter what kind of bike you’re on or how fast you’re going.

  10. Darryl is Loving the Bike on December 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for your comments so far….this topic going to make for an interesting discussion and I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say.

  11. Bravo Tango on December 21, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Ebikes are great and I would def recommend them to anyone looking to swap some of their gas sucking car miles for a pedal assisted ride. Ebikes are a blast to ride and to build. There are definitely trade offs between buying a kit to put on your bike and buying a complete ebike.

    Installing your own kit on a bike is a learning experience and you need to keep that in mind if you decide to do one yourself. Some of the advantages of installing your own kit are being able to choose the type bike you want, developing an understanding of how the system works, and being able to choose components (controller type, battery type, size of hubs). You will need to have some mechanical and electrical ability and patience to do the installation. 

    When buying pre built ebikes you need to be concerned with the bicycle itself especially on the lower $$$ ebikes. They tend to sacrifice bike quality to get a cheap unit price. So you end up with a good electric hub on a crappy bike. Find somewhere local to you that sells ebikes and start exploring there even if you end up purchasing online. Keep in mind that you are not going to find a GOOD new ebike for less than $1000.

  12. Kodiak1968 on December 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Any time you can get someone on a bike, any bike, thats great. If you scoff at these your a dumbass. Way to many cars on the road

  13. Juliestarling on December 21, 2011 at 8:10 am

    When we were looking into this for me two years ago, we found that the cost of buying a conversion kit and having it installed was very close to the price of  buying a built-up electric bike.  Now that more companies are offering electric bikes at $1000, conversion may cost more.  However, if you can do the conversion yourself, you would save the hundreds of dollars they wanted to charge me to do that.   The advantages of a pre-built electric bike though are that you can choose your style of battery, computer, and whether you want a throttle or not (learned about that last one after the fact).

    People who feel these things are cheating just don’t understand what it is like to have health problems or be very out-of-shape or surrounded by massive hills ( all 3 for me when I bought one), so that riding a normal bike it more than few miles is daunting.  Electric bikes are also great for carrying a big load.  My electric bike got me in shape and improved my asthma enough over the course of a year so that I can now ride a regular bike 30+ miles in this very hilly Maryland area.  I still use it for grocery runs.

  14. Aaronthestrong on December 21, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Cool article! I totally see the benefit of doing this for a commuter…but something about it just feels like cheating to me :)

  15. Tim Starry on December 21, 2011 at 5:25 am

    I think I just threw up a little

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