Before purchasing an electric bike conversion kit you will need to decide on what you want it for. Consider the questions below to help you decide on the best kit for your needs.
- Do you want it to ride like a motor bike, as in you don’t have to pedel, just hold on and go fast?
- Do you want it to be light and just like having a professional athlete helping you pedel when going on bike rides, but easily be able to ride it without the motor going?
- Do you want to spend hours tinkering and customizing your electric bike kit or do you just want to plug it all together and ride?
- How much weight are you willing to add to your bike?
- How far are you hoping to ride each day?
- Are there lots of hills or is most of your riding fairly flat?
- How much money do you want to spend?
The main Types of Electric bike conversion kits
Front in Hub Motor
- easy to install
- will fit most bikes
- good balance putting some weight in the front
- Gives the all wheel drive effect (pedels to rear, motor to front)
Rear in Hub Motor
- A little more difficult to set up with gears etc.
- Better traction up hills
- Feels nicer having the power in the rear wheel
- Can start to add too much weight to the rear wheel
Geared Drive Direct to Rear Wheel
With this setup you bolt an electric motor to the bike frame (usually just above the back axle) and run a chain to your rear wheel
- Can be more efficient on power
- Often cheap
- They look a bit ugly and can be bulky
- They can be fiddly to set up often requiring some extra parts and ingenuity to get attached correctly
Geared Drive to pedal crank
With this setup an electric motor is bolted to the bike frame near the pedal cranks, and an additional cog is added to the pedal crank cluster, then a chain from the motor drives the cranks.
- Motor drives through the gears, giving you great hill climbing and speed on the flats.
- More efficient if you use the gears correctly
- More wear on chain and sprockets
- This requires some considerable engineering skills to set up
- Requires many parts.
Technology Available in Electric Bikes
eBike Regenerative Braking
It seems to be the buzz with consumers to get a bike with regenerative braking but the maths does not add up. The the extra energy gains in your battery are very small and the money would be far better off spent on other areas, better batteries, a more aerodynamic design, etc. So with current technology, costs and the laws of physics and chemistry it is not worth pursuing yet. read more at this website
Brake Cut out Switch for Electric Bike
This is a feature some bikes have, it can be important on high powered bikes because if there is an issue with the throttle sticking on, your brakes my not be able to stop you adequately so this switch shuts off power to the motor when you use the brakes. They add another thing to install so if you are using a lower powered electric bike I would say it is not worth installing one.
Pedal Assist Electric Bike
Pedal assist bikes have an electric motor that automatically starts as you start pedaling, making riding them simple. But the issue is you may not always want the motor to start and this will also more rapidly drain your battery. A neat idea but overall probably adds too much complexity for little gain.
Batteries for Electric Bikes
The battery market for electric bikes and many other gadgets is huge at the moment. With Hybrid cars, mobile phones, laptops and many otehr gadgets requiring batteries there is a lot of motivation for businesses to develop the next “best battery”. Currently the main battery options are:
Sealed Lead Acid – SLA
Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) Batteries are cheap to produce, most ebikes have used sealed lead acid batteries in recent years. They are virtually maintenance free but they are heavy and take some time to charge. As the newer technology gets cheaper it is likely they will become obsolete very soon.
Nickel Metal Hydride – NiMH
NiMH batteries are fast to charge plus they are lighter and less toxic than SLAs. They have a high energy density. But performance is reduced in cold weather and they need to be fully discharged at regular intervals to maximize battery life. So they do perform better that SLA batteries but are still not perfect.
Lithium batteries are light and maintenance free. They last a long time and can be quickly charged. The chemistry in them can be complex and some verieties can be fairly unstable so the need to have a battery management system built into them to ensure they aren’t over charged or discharged. There are many different varieties of Lithium Battery
Lithium Polymer Batteries – LiFePo4
The Lithium Polymer battery is probably one of the top styles of batteries for electric bikes at the moment. It is light, holds lots of power, and maintenance free. The better brands are claiming 2000 cycles without significant degrade in performance. It can also be drained completely or partly with out damaging it. Where as Lead Acid batteries will be degraded if they are run completely flat too often or NiMH will be degraded if they are not drained regularly. If you want excellent power to weight and no maintenance these are the batteries to choose.
Price is most often the deciding factor when choosing your batteries as they are often the most expensive part of an electric bike conversion. Lead acid batteries are the cheapest going up to Lithium Polymer batteries. Currently you will be looking at between $150 to $1000 for a battery.
Types of Motors For Electric Bikes
Brushed Motors have been around for a while, they are larger heavier and noisier than the brushless motors and they need occasional servicing. So it is likely they will be phased out. But they have been great performing motors and have excellent hill climbing ability and are renown for being very durable in demanding circumstances.
Brushless DC motors are generally smaller lighter and quieter than brushed motors, which generally make them the best choice for ebikes and are probably one of the most common seen in current electric bikes. There are currently newer versions of these motors, sensorless brushless motors and the permanant magnet brushless motors which are coming onto the market. These are still in their early stages of development but may prove to be the market leaders in the near future.
24 responses to “What Type of Electric Bike Conversion kit Should I get?”
I’m interested in a front wheel kit, I have a schwinn bike.. It’s in great shape… my concerns are …..
Number 1, I weigh 220
I’m more interested In range than speed….. But I’m still wanting A kit that if I need to just throttle on back home.
Good quality motor.
powered by the top of the line batteries .
Btw I will most like buy another battery for back up.
Most of the modern in hub motors will have enough power as long as you are willing to peddle a bit, there are power restrictions in most parts of the world so a lot of the standard kits are around 200W. As with most of the smaller electric motors it is important to help by peddling up hills to reduce the stress on both battery and motor. Crystalyte have a good reputation for building quality motors along with BionX. But if you are after a super easy kit to install and well built I think the Hill Topper is a great choice, it you are after great range it is worth spending the extra on the 20 or even 40 mile range lithium battery pack.
Hi, what’s a good kit for a burning man bike? Is the dust an issue? Ideally I’d like to be able to recharge off a solar panel, as well. Thanks! Your site is super helpful.
I have a 700c bike. I am interested in an electric bike conversion kit. Cost and ease of setup are my constraints.
Most kits should be installable on 700c wheels. If you are buying a kit with rim included make sure you specify the rim you are after. As far as ease of set up it is hard to go past the clean republics kits.
I would like to install a e-bike conv. front wheel kit for my new Jamis Boss Cruiser 7. I mainly ride in the city so I guess I’m more of an urban cruiser. My budget is $500 to $800. Your suggestions would be greatly apreciated!
There are a lot to choose from out there, the reason I promote the hill topper is that they seem well built, are reasonably cheap and easy to set up on nearly any bike.
Ebay have many kits available, a lot of them are cheap Chinese imports, I’m sure there are some reasonable quality ones amongst them but there are many very poorly built ebike conversion kits and it is hard to tell what is good and what is rubbish. BioniX also get good reviews, they are a premium kit with a price tag to match so if you are on a tight budget they might be out of the question.
I’d be more inclined to trust this article if you knew the difference between “break” and “brake”.
Especially for bicycles, the difference is a lot of pain…
Ha, thanks, I do have a tendency to overlook some of my grammatical errors. 🙂
My wife and I are retired and we travel thought the states and we do take bikes with us, so we ride in all terrains and we are in pretty good shape; but we do choose to peddle; The problem is at our age wait if we peddle to far, that has happen with my wife and it was my fault because she follows me; Took her a week to recover from that; Would like a setup to assist in getting back home in all different terrains.
I’m a Clydesdale–I weigh 230 pounds and I’m 6.4. I’ve converted my Mtn bike into a hybrid. I use it for creek trail biking and I want to use it as a commuter too. Depending on hills I can easily maintain 12-14 mph on it for miles on a road vs gravel trail. I’d like to boost it up to 18-20 mph when I’m commuting on a road with some modest hills. My round trip is 18 miles. I don’t want to be under powered and I want to max battery life when charging. I’m thinking I need a 300-350 watt motor given my size and a 30-40 mile range battery. What are your thoughts? I’m also thinking it needs to be a front wheel booster given my weight. What are your thoughts?
Good questions! Interesting site!
I’d like to set up a recumbent tricycle for ‘geared drive to pedal crank’ so I could use a lowish powered motor as an adjunct to pedalling. Would the weight increase mean that I’d be struggling to pedal without the motor? How do I go about finding a supplier for the necessary bits and pieces?
I am interested in getting conversion kit. I want a kit that will allow me to peddle normally and just switch eletric motor or battery on when going up hills. With a kit will I still have the gears that are on my bike now? Not all kits come with batteries? I don’t know where to start. Help!
Yes there are a lot of options and choices. The easiest to install and lightest kits are the geared hub motors with a lithium battery. A lot of kits come with batteries these days. I often promote the hilltopper http://www.electricbikeconversionkit.org/hill-topper-2 as it is reasonably priced, uses quality components and is easy to install. It seems like it would suit your needs. If you like to tinker and research there are a lot of options on ebay but it can be a lot of work to figure out what is a quality kit and what is rubbish.
Doing some shopping and i have run into a Electric Bike Kit 1000W – 48V 10Ah Lithium Ion front or rear hub kit by Dillenger. does any one have an opinion or testimony?
I have an eMotion Diamond electric assist that I like. My dealer recently closed up and I may be needing a battery replacement. The lithium polymer batteries sound great but I don’t know if they would work without modifying them. My existing battery is 36v/29ah. Can you advise?
I am looking at an electric bike conversion kit, a500watt/36volt kit. It comes fro, ebikekit.com They are, ELECTRIC CONVERSION TECHNOLOGIES. I was wondering are they a good company and their kits quality kits! They seem to have good reviews. I’m a senior on a fixed income and their kit is around $600.00. Should I buy from them or look for a cheaper kit? Thank you for your help/info., sincerely yours, Fletch in Jax., Fl.
Looking to put a electric kit on a trek mountain bike (antelope) i also have a custom wagon that connects to my seat I used it to load a cooler and fishing gear etc it may weigh up to 150 lbs what would be a good kit for me looking at a front weel kit I may travel up to around total two miles a trip looking for good power can you help me?
Really interesting to me and thanks for putting the PURPOSE at the very beginning.
I am thinking of converting and old really heavy Fuji Suncrest and a Bianci Peregrine, trying not to spend too much money.
One other comment: I work for a fire department, and we have had two fires started from charging lithium batteries. Please follow all safety warnings for this type of battery. You do NOT want a garage fire. One of them started within 15 minutes of plugging the batteries in.
I hope this helps readers avoid a fire:
Here are some tips for keeping safe with lithium type batteries:
– Don’t leave the battery in the charger once it is fully charged. The battery charger will flash on and off with a red indicator light every 20 seconds when the battery is fully charged. Overcharging the batteries will not increase the performance and could lead to damage.
– Never charge with an unspecified charger or specified charger that has been modified. This can cause breakdown of the battery or swelling and rupturing.
– Ensure the charger you are using is the correct voltage and amperage for the battery you are charging. Over charging with too much voltage can cause the battery to overheat and lead to a fire.
– Never attempt to charge a battery which has been physically damaged.
– Do not use a battery in an appliance or purpose for which it was not intended.
– Never disassemble a battery as the materials inside may be toxic and may damage skin and clothes.
– DO NOT place a battery in fire; this may cause the battery to rupture. The electrolyte is very flammable and if an ignition source exists, then fire and even an explosion could result.
– If the battery gets wet, discontinue using it and dispose of it properly. Wet lithium batteries can rupture and release poisonous and flammable gases.
These batteries CANNOT be handled and charged casually such as has been the practice for years with other types of batteries. The consequence of this practice can be very serious resulting in major property damage and/or personal harm.
Which do you consider the best the Hill Topper or the LEED electric bike kit?
Have a Giant Revive bike that I want to convert to front hub electric bike. Live in a very hilly area in Midwest….have been walking my bike up 75% of the steep hills. Power assist option would be great…with some pedaling expected. Would like to add trailer attachment so to do daily shopping if possible or take my dog on some rides with me. Weigh 250 and overweight senior. Expect to ride in town enjoying the landscape and city architecture…not racing….but being a defensive biker. Any tips on 20″ wheel hub electric options?
I have an EZ-1 Recumbent Tandem bike that I would like to convert into an e-bike. It has a 26″ rear tire and 20″ front tire, both with disc brakes. It weighs 60lbs. I will mostly use the motor only on steeper hills.What would be a good setup for my bike?