Last Updated on July 25, 2022
I’m a huge advocate for biking as a form of commuting to work and running errands. After all, I sold my car and bought a bike after my move to Maine!
Biking is great exercise and a way to lower your carbon footprint. However, it’s not always the most accessible option – and that needs to change if we want to create more walkable, less car-reliant cities.
Functional and accessible bike lanes need to become the norm in many cities for this to happen. For example, in NYC BIPOC neighborhoods tend to have the most lack of cycling infrastructure, community engagement around streets, NYPD involvement in bike safety, and access to bike shops and services.
With that said, if you do have access to safe biking lanes, or don’t own a car like me, it may be worth looking into e-bike conversion kits. E-bikes are bicycles equipped with an electric motor to assist you when you’re pedaling. This really comes in handy when you’re carrying a heavy load up a steep hill!
The motor is powered from a rechargeable battery mounted on the bike. How much power your motor delivers will depend on how hard you’re pedaling and the type of e-bike you’ve acquired.
Interested but don’t know where to start? Here are the best e-bike conversion kits available on the market!
what is the best type of ebike conversion kit?
The best type of e-bike conversion kit will depend on your specific needs and wants. That being said, there are three types of e-bike conversion kits available you should know about.
The best electric bike conversion kit is typically a mid-drive conversion kit because it has the most power and is typically the highest quality.
E-bike conversion kit types:
- Mid-Drive Conversion Kit: These kits comes with a motor that sits between the pedals in the middle of your bike. Mid-drives tend to be smaller and lightweight, yet offer greater torque. The weight balance is optimum. Best for off-roading or use as a mountain bike. They tend to be expensive.
- Hub-Drive or Wheel Conversion Kit: Electric motor is typically connected to the front of rear wheel. Weight is slightly off balance due to bulkier motors. Affordable and versatile. Perfect for daily commutes. Cheaper and easier to install.
- Friction Drive Conversion Kit: Kit comes with a roller attached to the motor. When the motor is activated, it powers the roller that moves the rear wheel using friction. Noisy and not always the most balanced. Tends to be the cheapest option and easiest to install.
It’s also worth noting e-bikes can range in power from 250 watts to over 750 watts. Typically, they add between 12 to 25 pounds to the total weight of your bike.
Personally, I recommend finding e-bike conversion kits with battery, as this will save you time and money. Otherwise, you’d have to purchase the battery separately and this can get rather costly.
To electrify your bike, altogether you need a battery, sensors, controls, and a motorized wheel or a drive unit. The best e-bike conversion kit will have all these features.
are ebike conversion kits worth it?
E bike conversion kits are worth the money if you plan to make use of them frequently. If you use it in place of a car, it will eventually pay for itself (think of all the gas you’d save). Kits are also generally cheaper than buying a whole new e-bike.
Conversion kits are generally easy to install if you have the right tools. Even new e-bikes often require some assembly.
Conversion kits are also better for the environment than buying a whole new e-bike because you get to use the bicycle you already have.
Also, e-bikes will make going up hills and running errands so much easier due to the additional assistance they offer. An electric bike will usually have between three and five levels of assistance. You can select this via its controller. These can give you anything from a gentle push to lots of power.
Some may even have a ‘boost’ button, which you can use to increase the power output for short bursts of additional power.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking for more power from your e-bike kit, look for the wattage rating. Comparatively, a 750W motor will pack more of a punch than a 400W motor.
Also, be aware that the time duration your e-bike can sustain the rated power output may only be for a brief time. Don’t expect full power the whole trip!
Please be advised there are three classes of e-bikes, and they come with specific speed limits in the US:
- Class-I: E-bikes with only pedal assist and max speed of 20mph.
- Class-II: E-bikes with pedal and throttle assist and max speed of 20mph.
- Class-III: E-bikes with pedal assist (with or without throttle assist) and max speed of 28mph.
can you turn any bike into an ebike?
Yes, you can turn any regular bike into an e-bike. However, you will need to consider whether the bike can handle a motor, especially if you want a powerful one. You’ll also want to double check the kit is compatible with your bike’s size.
Most e-bike conversion kits involve replacing the wheels. Here are the basic steps to know:
- Remove the existing wheel and replace it with a motorized wheel (assuming your conversion kit comes with one). You’ll have to loosen the rear brake and wheel quick release level using a bike tool kit.
- Attach the tire, tube and freewheel to new wheel. Your bike tool kit should contain some tire levers you can use to do this. Some e-bike kits come with a new freewheel, and if that’s the case, use the new one.
- Mount the motorized wheel to the bike by securely tightening the nuts and installing the torque-arm set. Follow manual instructions.
- Run the motor cable to the battery to the handlebars and secure them with zip-ties.
- Install the display and controls, but first remove any existing grips, gear shifters and breaks from the handlebars. Then mount the throttle, brakes and brake wires, speed shifter, cruise control and pedal-assist sensor any place you prefer. Based on your e-bike conversion kit, the types of control units will vary.
- Install the battery – if it comes with one. If not, make sure the battery you get matches the motor specifications.
how much does an ebike kit cost?
An e-bike kit can cost between $300 to $700, depending on the type you get. Mid-Drive conversion kits tend to be the most expensive and can even go beyond $700 in some instances. Friction Drive conversion kits tend to be cheaper, but their performance isn’t always as efficient.
how long do ebike batteries last?
E-bike batteries can last between 3 to 5 years if it’s well maintained. Just be aware if it’s a lithium battery, it will slowly lose its capacity over time, even when not in use.
Here are some tips to keep battery life optimal for as long as possible:
- Keep the battery cool
- Store a battery partially charged, but not too low
- If storing the battery for a long period, ensure it has a charge between 80% and 40% of a full charge
- Don’t frequently discharge your battery
- For winter, make sure battery is above freezing before charging
how do I choose an ebike conversion kit?
You can choose an e-bike conversion kit based on your personal preferences, budget, and needs. The e-bike conversion kits I’ve listed in this article are some of the best on the market.
If you live in the US, make sure to double check if e-bikes are legal in your state, and the laws regarding them, before purchasing a conversion kit. For example, class 3 e-bikes are allowed only in NYC, not the rest of New York.
I’ve gone ahead and highlighted some key features of each brand, but it isn’t an exhaustive list. Be sure to check out their websites for more information.
So, which is your favorite e-bike conversion kit? Which are you most excited to try? Let me know in the comments below!