If you like the idea of an electronic bike but aren’t sure if you want to shell out the cash to purchase one, you might want to consider converting your regular bicycle instead. You’ll have quite a few different options for e-bike conversion kits, but while this process has its advantages, it can also be somewhat challenging. Here’s what you need to know to determine whether an e-bike conversion is the right choice for you.
The different electronic bike conversion kits
According to BikeRadar, one of the most practical options for converting your regular bicycle into an electronic bike is adding an electric wheel. If you’d like, you can do this manually by installing a hub motor. However, this can be a complicated and drawn-out process — you may prefer to opt for an all-in-one electric wheel, which is available from many manufacturers.
Another option is a rear-mounted friction drive. This kit sits at your rear wheel, generating power from friction as you ride. Or, if you’d like something a little more subtle, consider looking into a concealed kit. These are less visibly obvious, as the motor is hidden within the seat tube.
Finally, a mid-drive kit consists of a motor that you mount near the pedals. This option is beneficial because it centers the extra weight a little lower, making it easier to ride. However, the low placement of the motor also makes it more prone to damage from debris.
Downsides to consider
While electronic bike conversion kits do offer a lot of benefits, it’s important to understand the challenges they pose. First and foremost, they can be difficult and time-consuming to install. EVELO notes that even the addition of a hub motor to the wheel — which is ostensibly the simplest conversion option — is still fairly complicated, requiring a certain level of comfort disassembling and reassembling a wheel.
You may find it easier to complete an e-bike conversion if you already have some familiarity with electronic components, but this is not knowledge that everyone has. Of course, there is always the option of having a professional install your conversion kit. However, if you choose to go this route, it’ll be more expensive.
Additionally, while you may save money purchasing a conversion kit and installing it yourself, you likely won’t be able to replicate the ride experience offered by a professionally designed electronic bike. Motor hubs can be heavy and bulky, potentially slowing you down and throwing off your balance.
The advantages of e-bike conversions
Related: Are Electric Bikes Dangerous?
Electronic bike conversion kits can be challenging and time-consuming to install — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth looking into. These kits have their own unique advantages, and for the mechanically savvy cyclist, they can be well worth the time.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of e-bike conversion kits is the price. A good e-bike (or, let’s face it, even an average e-bike) can cost you thousands of dollars, which is a financial investment that not everyone is willing or able to make. According to Cycling Weekly, however, most conversion kits will only put you out a few hundred bucks, making them a much more accessible option.
Another major advantage offered by electronic bike conversion kits is the fact that they allow you to stick with a bike you’re familiar with and have already invested in. Odds are that you’ve been riding your current bike for a while, and it may be appealing to give it an upgrade without making a major switch to a different machine.
Overall, whether you choose to convert your current bike or purchase a new electronic bike depends on your budget, time, and DIY comfort. If you do choose to convert your bike, you can rest easy knowing you have plenty of great conversion kit options.