Fancy taking an electric-propelled ride? Shops offer an infinite number of bikes, though there are some alternatives to buying a new one. Many bikes lie idle, forgotten in cellars, attics and garages, and you can revive them by transforming them into e-bikes using a conversion kit. Looking into history, we can see that the original e-bikes were regular old bikes fitted with a motor, which is exactly what we’re going to do now.
DIY fans might find their own solutions, but the market is overflowing with many e-bike conversion kits that are both affordable and easy to mount. You only need to pick the right bike to upgrade and decide the amount of money you wish to invest. A common conversion kit usually contains an electric motor, a throttle, motor cut-off levers, a display and wiring looms.
Apart from the price limit, you may well make a decision based on the design of the drive system. The variety of solutions is plentiful, so it is up to you to decide which one fits your bike best. An average conversion can be completed on a similar budget as buying a cheap e-bike. At the same time, you’ll get an e-bike providing you with the same level of comfort as your good old conventional bike ever did. So what’s on the shelves? Let’s go through some of the conversion kits you can get your hands on.
The most common way to give your bike some extra e-power is to replace its front wheel with a powered one carrying a motor in the hub. The high-torque brushless motor and lithium-ion power pack by Swytch is the world’s smallest conversion kit. It’s easy to install on most bicycles, including trikes and folding bikes, no matter the wheel size. While the pedal sensor measures the cadence of your pedalling, the power pack counts the exact power needed in the front wheel’s motor. The moment you stop pedalling, the system cuts off the power. The motor, rated 40Nm, can assist you well enough to enable you to climb a 30% incline with light pedalling. Compatible with both disc and rim brakes, the system ensures a range of up to 50 km. Even though the original system is currently out of stock, you can find used kits starting at 650 euros.
Conv-E Conversion Kit by Powabyke
For as much as 870 euros you can get the Conv-E Conversion Kit, which promises to transform any standard bicycle to electric within an hour. The product comes with a 10Amp battery and controller pack, a powerful 250W brushless motor, a charger and mounting brackets. It takes five hours for the battery to fully charge, giving you a range of up to 65 km, depending on the rider’s weight, effort and terrain profile.
The Rubbee features a completely different design. The system is easy to mount on the seat post from where it pushes on the rear wheel. Installation takes seconds, with no tools needed. The system guarantees a drive without energy loss due to active suppression and electronic anti-slip control. The regenerative braking recharges the battery while descending or braking. The rear light makes you visible on the road. The system itself costs 529 euros. Each extra battery is 99 euros. The modular system accommodates one, two or three batteries. Depending on the number of batteries in the cartridge, you can reach speeds from 25 to 32 km/h with a total range of up to 48 km.
Based on a similar principle, yet packed in a smaller and more subtle body, the go-e ONwheel is currently running a campaign on Kickstarter. The inconspicuous drive is intended to be installed within four minutes. While the battery pack comes on the top frame tube, the drive system is clicked under the bottom bracket. After the sensors detect pedalling, the motor engages and assists you with up to 800 W of extra power on your rear wheel.
Suzhou, a company based near Shanghai, offers a variety of drivetrain systems for different types of bikes. You can choose from the front- or rear-drive-train solutions, capable of a wide range of performances. The motor can be hidden in either the front or the rear hub, or in a box designed to be fitted beneath the bottom bracket.
What can you expect from your bike after it passes through the e-bike conversion kit enhancement process? It gains extra power, enabling you to ride almost effortlessly, as you would on any e-bike. On the other hand, the overall weight will increase and the weight balance will be altered from moderately to significantly, depending on the drive train. In contrast to complete e-bikes, you cannot take a test ride before you buy, which is the greatest downside of the conversions. Moreover, some of them require mechanical skills to carry out the conversion. For many riders, however, the kits offer an interesting way to refine their current bikes.