Electric bikes are all the rage nowadays, and regular manual bikes are slowly becoming out of fashion, leaving you tempted like most of us, to upgrade to one of these expensive e-bikes.
However, imagine if you could change your current bike into an electric one, allowing you to stay comfortable with your bike, save money and even choose where you want the motor to be. Well, you can!
E-bike conversion kits give us the option to convert our bikes into electric ones by adding simple electric components such as motor, battery and controller, this could be in the form of a concealed kit or wheel replacement kit.
So as we can understand more about these conversion kits, what types there are, the benefits of using them and how to install them, we have put together a short guide below that will make you a professional in converting e-bikes.
First off, before we can discuss how you can turn your regular bike into an electronic one, let's get the boring bits out the way first and see what these kits are along with how they work.
E-bike conversion kits come as a DIY package that contains all the bits and pieces you need to transform your bike into an electronic one, whether you are looking to do a rear wheel conversion or mid-drive conversion on your bike.
A typical electric bike conversion kit will come with -
Some kits may additionally include e-brakes or front and rear lights depending on the kit that you buy.
Any regular bike can be converted into an e-bike with the right kit, the only limitations that could come with your regular bike is if they have a thru-axel on the rear wheel, which might make fitting a hub motor difficult.
Some bikes frames may also struggle with the added weight of a conversion kit, so you should check that they are durable enough to support the electrical components before doing a conversion.
When choosing an e-bike conversion kit for your bike you will likely be faced with the decision of installing a direct drive motor or geared hub motor.
Direct drive motors tend to be more powerful, durable, faster and quieter, however do have a lot of weight and allow for more drag when riding the bike. They also limit the range from the battery on your bike due to there heavy power.
Geared hub motors on the other hand are lighter, smaller, and offer more range than direct-drive models, they tend to have a high torque rating too. The downfalls of these motor are that they aren't as durable, tend to be a little noisier and compromise on speed.
Once you have chosen which type of motor you want in your conversion kit you will also need to consider the battery you will need as this will determine the range that you can ride with your bike.
The higher the voltage on the e-bike battery you choose then the more powerful it is, the higher the amps hours then the further you can take your bike in between charges. Make sure the motor and battery power match otherwise a very high powered motor will drain the battery of your bike quickly.
Depending on the type of conversion you want for your bike, there are a few different options on the market to choose from, whether you have a folding bike you want to convert or you are looking for rear wheel conversion kit which is easy and quick to install,
We have listed the common conversion kits out below so as you can see which might be suitable for your bike.
A concealed conversion kit for your bike allows you to convert your bike into an electric one without it seeming so obvious, it does this by using a very small 200W motor and placing it under the bikes seat tube so as it is not visible.
This motor then drives the crankshaft from a bevel gear and the battery which is normally located in the bottle cage or within the seat of your bike.
These concealed kits do tend to be quite expensive and normally have a secret switch to activate the assistance which will be placed on the handlebars of your bike.
Front hub conversion kits are very common on the market as they are easy to install and are compatible with nearly any kind of regular bike, to install these kits you simply just remove the front wheel of your bike and replace it with the new electric one.
Next up, with have the other type of wheel replacement kit which is a rear hub conversion kit. These kits tend to come with a more powerful motor and have a more natural feel as they push you along rather than pull you along like a front hub motor kit.
These rear wheel kits are additionally very easy to install and don't let you slip around easily, they typically come with a 250-300 watt motor, have a range of 30-40 miles and max speeds of 15-20mph.
Friction drive conversion kits are one of the oldest models on the market and work by using a box-shaped device that is placed on top of the rear wheel of your bike. This device powers the bike by friction with the rubber flywheel which is driven via the motor to make it work.
Mid-drive conversion kits are very popular on commercial bikes and have the advantage of making the bike very stable as they are placed near the bottom bracket of the bike by the pedals.
We recommend installing these kits on your bike if you are looking to take your bike up lots of inclines or want more gear options.
Lastly, if you are looking to convert your folding bike into an electric one then you will need a specific folding e-bike conversion kit to do this.
These kits work by having a powered hub in the front wheel of the bike while the battery is placed in a small bag and mounted at the front.
If your looking into converting your bike to an electric one then the thought of just buying a whole new electric bike that is already assembled has probably crossed your mind, e-bike conversion kits are often much cheaper than whole new electric bikes but tend to have a shorter warranty and are not as aesthetically pleasing.
To help make up your mind about whether to convert your existing bike or buy a new e-bike, we have compared the two options down below with their pros and cons.
E-bike conversion kits pretty much allow you to create your electric bike, and as long as you are fairly knowledgable with tools, they aren't that hard to put together, as everything you need will be included with the kit.
They also let you use your bike, which is great because you don't have to get used to riding a new one, not to mention it saves you money too. You can also add additional components and upgrades in the future to your kit or even switch it over to a whole new bike.
The drawbacks of e-bike conversion kits have to be their lack of warranty which is limited on most parts unlike a whole new e-bike, they will also require time and patience to install. You will potentially need to upgrade your bikes existing tyres and brakes as well to match the kit and the overall look to your bike will be more DIY than polished in comparison to an e-bike out of the shop.
Buying a brand new e-bike may cost more but is more reliable as you know no matter what the bike will work and has a guaranteed warranty on it if any of the parts are faulty. These bikes are always road legal too and have a more polished and professional look to them.
Downfalls of a new turn-key e-bike have to be that you cannot upgrade or change the components on the bike, which limits how much you can customise them, changing parts on your electric bike could potentially void the warranty too.
A brand new e-bike is also much more expensive than a conversion kit and you don't get to use your bike!
Overall, whether you choose to buy a whole new e-bike or convert your existing one comes down to your budget, the condition of your existing bike and knowledge.
For example, if you have an existing bike that is expensive, in great condition and you want to be able to customise it in the future, there's no reason not to save money and go for an e-bike conversion kit.
However, if you have more money and want the reliability of knowing that your e-bike will work, it might be best to splash out on a turn-key model to save you time and effort.
After figuring out which type of conversion kit you will need for your bike, you might be wondering how to install the kit.
We have listed out a simple step by step guide below for installing your kit with your bike if its a wheel replacement model, however, you should always check with the manual of your kit for more in-depth and specific instructions.
How much does the average e-bike conversion kit cost?
This depends on the quality of your kit, the power of the motor and the battery it comes with, they can cost anything from £200-£1000.
Will any conversion kit work on my bike?
Most conversion kits are pretty compatible with any type of bike but you must ensure that your front forks fit the dropouts of your bike and your bikes have at least 135mm of space for rear dropouts.
You should additionally make sure your kit uses a universal torque arm.
What's the easiest type of e-bike conversion kit?
The easiest type of e-bike conversion kit has to be a front-wheel kit as this simply just involves removing the front wheel and replacing it which can be done by people who aren't DIY savvy.
To conclude our e-bike conversion guide, it is very possible to change your regular bike into an electric bike by using an e-bike conversion kit, just ensure you pick the right battery capacity, motor power/type and size then you will be on your way to changing your bike into an electric one.