Do you envy your neighbor's new shiny bike? It isn't a regular bike either. It goes fast instantly, even without your neighbor stepping on the pedal. "What sorcery is this," you probably asked yourself. What you didn't see was the electric motor attached to its drivetrain. You then stared longingly at your neighbor's bike as he rode towards the setting sun.
As you stepped into your garage, you wondered if you could turn your old reliable bike into an electric one. The only significant difference between a regular bike and an electric one is the motor built into the latter. So what if you can attach one to your old ride? Here comes the good news: Electric bike kits can make your electric dreams within reach!
If you are curious how electric bike conversion kits can turn your old and boring bicycle into an electric one, read on and find out!
Is Buying Electric Kits for Bikes Worth It?
Buying a bike conversion kit and installing it on your old bike can be exciting for some people, especially DIY enthusiasts. Some people get thrilled by the idea of driving to the bike store and spending the weekend working on an ebike conversion project.
On the other side of the fence, other people see DIY ebike conversion as an inconvenience. Why bother spending money and wasting time doing it yourself if you can buy a brand new electric bike? The most compelling reason to DIY your electric bike upgrade is the price. Even the most expensive and premium-quality bike conversion kits come close to the cost of mid-range electric bikes.
If you already have a decent bicycle, you can add more value through ebike conversion.
What Are the Different Kinds of Bike Conversion Kits?
Unbeknownst to many, bike conversion kits come in different forms. You can choose among the various ways how the electric motor transfers mechanical power to the drivetrain or, in one specific kind of conversion kit, to the bike wheel itself. Each type of bike conversion can be more suited to a particular type of bicycle than others. Knowing each type will help you choose the best conversion kit to buy and install on your bike.
Powered Wheel Electric Bike Conversion Kit
If you are unsure which type of bike conversion kit to get, you won't go wrong with a powered wheel conversion kit. Manufacturers often have them in different variants to accommodate the most common wheel size. These come with a front-wheel replacement, a hub motor installed on the front wheel, a battery pack, and a controller to monitor and regulate the speed.
- Widely available on online marketplaces like Amazon
- Compatible with most types of bikes and wheel sizes
- Relatively easy to install compared to other electric bike conversion kits
- Hub motor adds weight to the front-mounted powered wheel
- Some kits include a twist-and-go throttle that can have legal implications
Friction Drive Electric Bike Conversion Kit
While they are less common than powered wheel kits, friction drive conversion kits exhibit a tried-and-tested design. The electric motor drives a flywheel that comes into direct contact with the bike tire. The friction between the flywheel and the tire propels the latter forward. One manufacturer introduced a friction drive kit that you can instantly bolt on and detach from the bike without using any tools.
- Can be instantly bolted on and removed from any bike with a compatible wheel
- Time-tested design that originated in the early 1980s
- Less bulky and space-consuming compared to other electric bike conversion kits
- Limited to a few manufacturers, restricting your options and driving up the price
- Performance can vary depending on the friction between the flywheel and the rear tire
Mid Drive Electric Bike Conversion Kit
Some electric bikes, usually the more expensive and high-end ones, have a mid drive motor rather than a hub motor. These motors have more substantial torque since they only have to power the chains on the drivetrain rather than a big wheel at the front of the bike. However, you have to check whether the mid drive conversion kit can fit your old regular bike.
- Lends your bike more stability because of where you have to install it
- Lets you keep your front and rear wheels without any modifications
- Usually outputs stronger torque compared to powered hub motors
- Compatibility depends on the type of bike, the bike frame, and specific design
- If the chain breaks during a ride, repairing it can be time-consuming
What Else Should You Keep in Mind When Turning Bikes to Electric Bicycles Using Kits?
Turning your regular pedal-powered bikes seems appealing and exciting. However, you have to make a mental note of the risks involved in such an endeavor. For instance, your bike will become heavier due to the weight of the motor and battery pack. In turn, this will change how your bike feels and moves.
Another thing to think about is that electric bike conversion kits don’t come with cheap price tags only. For instance, high-end conversion kits with costly price tags can compete with the costs of some electric bikes. In this situation, the dilemma between buying an electric bicycle conversion kit and purchasing an electric bike becomes more difficult to settle.
Ebike conversion can be genuinely worthwhile. If you can find a conversion kit that is light on the budget and fits your old bike, you can join the electric bike bandwagon and reap the benefits (like the pedal-assist feature) that come with it. So please don't throw your old ride away; instead, breathe new life into it with a conversion kit!
Are you the kind of person who likes to get your hands dirty? Do bike maintenance yourself and head to our Repair section for helpful bike maintenance guides and product reviews. Check our websites for more information.