Riding a bike is a great experience, especially when going fast downhill; but most likely you found yourself struggling to go up a steep road or trail, and wished you could have an extra push.
Luckily these days we have a range of solutions, in the form of electric bike conversion kits, these are meant to transform your normal push bike in a complete e-bike, capable of climbing hills with ease and bringing you to your destination without breaking a sweat; in this article we’ll discover the different ways to fit one on your bike and the products that stand out more in each category. Let’s start with understanding the key features of electric bike conversion kits.
What to look for when buying an Electric Bike Conversion Kit
Anything that you mount on your bike should be well thought; first of all you have to consider that any of this conversion kits will add a significant amount of weight to the bike depending on how big the drive unit and the battery are; so it’s important to choose a product that meets your needs. Furthermore, a good product has to fit well with the other components and be securely attached, in order to avoid rattling, which often brings faster deterioration.
Other things to be taken into consideration are that the bike will be surely easier to ride uphills thanks to the electric power, but at the same time will change how the bike feels, especially on jumps and fast turns; and that if you run out of battery you’ll find yourself with a very heavy bike to pedal.
Types of kits
- All in one
Electric bike wheels gained a lot of popularity for their simple installation method, with this type of conversion kit all you need to do is swap one of your wheels, usually the front one, and a small control unit on the handlebars; the motor and battery are all stored on the wheel. Most of these wheels generate 250-350 Watts allowing you to reach speeds between 30-40 km/h and commonly sized between 20-28 inches in diameter.
- Mid-drive kits
This type of kit sits next to your bottom bracket, offering the most powerful option. Compared to the other types, mid-drive kits have more traction, because the motor runs the chain directly;also better handling, due to the low center of gravity. Moreover, it is securely mounted to the bike supported well by the frame
Keep in mind that these kits don’t fit every bike the motor running the chain constantly will wear faster those components, but even though it’s the most expensive type, it’s also the best at it.
- Front wheel kits
The most common conversion kit type is popular due to its simple installation, which requires to swap the front wheel, mount the battery and install controls on the handlebars; this kit fits most of the bikes, with easy to organize short wiring.
The motors that come with these kits are usually 250 W, meaning it will help climb hills, but won’t make your bike super fast.
A major concern is the added weight in the front, reducing rear traction in slippery conditions and possibly causing some damage to the front fork.
With all this in mind, consider that these are usually the cheapest between the different options, so if you’re looking for an entry level conversion kit this type will satisfy you.
- Rear wheel kits
As for front wheel kits, also the rear wheel kits are quite easy to install, as well requiring a wheel to be swapped and to mount battery and controls; however they’re usually more powerful, offering quite extreme setups reaching 1000-1500 W, giving your bike a huge boost.
The motor in the rear wheel is supported securely by the frame, giving the bike better rear traction and good handling.
Bear in mind that it will have longer wiring and it will take some time to fit the gears.
Nevertheless, rear wheel conversion kits are relatively cheap and offer the most bang for your buck.
Representing the all in one kits is the Modwheel, compatible with all 26″ wheels bikes, claiming just 2 minutes of installation time, as a matter of fact the process is very short, you just need to replace the front wheel, where the motor and battery are stored, mount the thumb throttle that slides on the handlebars and connect the to the throttle.
- Top Speed: 15mph (25kmh)
- Motor Power: 250W
- Battery: Lithium-Ion Battery – 36V, 3500mAH, 126WH
- Charge Time: ~1.5Hrs
- Battery Life: 1000 Charges
- Range: Up to 30 miles (50 km)
- Brake Compatibility: Caliper/V-Brakes and Disc Brakes
- Rim Size: 26″
- Dropout Size: 100mm
- Max Load: 300 lbs. (135kg)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth Low Energy (4.0)
- App OS: iOS/Android
If you’re looking for the easiest way to transform your bike in an “e-bike”, the Modwheel is surely the way to get there. It’s made of good components, including Kenda tires and a nice phone holder, since you’ll be connected to the motor via Bluetooth with a smartphone. The drawback of having everything in the front wheel, is the unbalanced weight distribution and thus affecting the handling; but these issues are relatively small considering that this kit is meant for the city and the average cyclist will enjoy more the extra power rather then the handling capabilities.
This mid drive conversion kit is one of the most popular, and comes in various battery and motor options:
-500w 36v(42.2v x 25A)1055w
-500w 48v (54.4v x 18A)864w
-500w 52v (58.8v x 18A)1058w
-750w 48v(54.4v x 25A)1200w
-750w 52v (58.8v x 25A)1470w
It might be tempting to get the most powerful version, but it was reported that the controller struggles to handle that amount of power; the 750w 48v version is probably the best, given that it’s still powerful but not enough to cause trouble.
The kit includes:
-The motor unit with integrated controller
-Inner and outer lock-nuts
-Brake levers with cut-off sensors (only compatible with cable brakes)
-Speed sensor and wheel magnet
-A bag of various Allen bolts and screws
As for other mid drive kits, it’s not an easy installation; if you don’t have experience with the bottom bracket component, it might be better to ask for help of a professional.
range- 30-40 km
maximum speed- 32 km/h
(for the 750w 48v version)
If you’re looking for a Conversion Kit and you’re willing to work seriously on the installation and to spend the money for a good product, the BAFANG it’s one a good choice; but as for all mid drive kits, wear on the chain and gears is an issue to be considered. Nevertheless, the improvement that it brings is surely worth the effort.
This small company wants to bring electric cycling to the masses, with a product that promises an easy to install and to use kit. There is a front wheel housing the motor, and a battery pack that sits on your handlebars with an LCD screen that displays information about speed and power. All you need to do to install it is swap your wheel, mount the battery pack and you’re ready to ride.
These are the specifications:
• 36V 250W motor
•40/80 km of range depending on the effort you put in
•speeds up to 32 km/h
This product is surely well-designed, with the easily removable battery pack, and the solid construction of the hub motor.
It’s heavier then advertised and not cheap as well, but the quality of the components, especially the battery cells, make this kit worth the money for those seeking a truly polished product.
Rear wheel kits have many advantages, the most important is the improved traction. The Voilamarmart stands out between these kits for its power, giving your bike a huge boost. The installation of this kit requires more time and attention due to the longer wiring and fitting the gears. The only thing that is not included in the kit is the battery and it’s charger.
These are the specifications
-Motor: Brushless gearless
-Rim: Alloy double wall
-Spokes: Steel, 12G x 2.6mm
-Wheel Size: 26 inch
-Wheel Axle: Length 210mm x Dia 10mm
-Max load capacity: 551 lb / 250kg
-Net weight: 22lb / 10kg
-Power Cord Length: 138cm
-Mode 1 Power: 750W / 48V; Torque: 45 N.M; Max speed: 24mph / 38 km/h
-Mode 2 Power: 1500W / 48V; Torque: 48 N.M; Max speed: 34mph / 55 km/h
1x Brushless Gearless Motor Rear Wheel
1x Intelligent Motor Controller
1x Cable Ties & Plastic Coil
1x Wire Hub
1x Pair of Handle Bars (included Twist Throttle)
1x Pair of Brake Handles
1x yellow junction box
Battery requirements: CE, EN15194 approved; 48 Volt electrokinetic cell battery with a nominal capacity not less then 14.5Ah.
Verdict: Once you try such a powerful addition to your bike, it will be hard to go back to normal pedaling; this kit is clearly nit the easiest to set up and some people won’t be happy to buy a battery separately, but in some way it gives the user more freedom in choosing the level of the components, just consider the extra money in addition to what the kit costs. So all things considered this product is fit for those who are ready to work a bit and want a higher level of control on the components, but definitely a great conversion kit.
Hopefully at this point you have a clear picture of what kind of products are available on the market, and what would suit your necessities. Keep in mind that the best electric bikes are those built as such, for the simple reason that they are designed to deal with the power and the stresses an e-bike is exposed to. Nonetheless, converting your existing bike will be way cheaper and still give you the option to go back. So if you’re willing to sacrifice the aesthetics and some functionality for the ability to climb hills without effort, then pick the conversion kit that fits your bike and start flying up those hills.
Have a great ride,