Electric Bike Kit 2021 Guide for Beginners


Is an Electric Bike Kit Any Good to Transform my Conventional Bicycle?

An electric bike kit is the solution for those that don’t have much budget and also want to transform their current standard bike.

I know, there might be different reasons why to keep your bike, but the main question is, are e-bike conversion kits good?

You aren’t the first rider to ask this question. Most cyclists have doubts about these kits’ ability to convert a normal bike into a powered one.

I guess a valid point here is to give you more reasons to go for the change so, I recommend reading this article: 6 Reasons Why People Are Shifting to Electric Bikes for Commuting.

What you could get from them:

  • Daily commuters can count on them to help sweat less on their way to the office.
  • Sprinters can trust these kits’ ability to help them accelerate and reach top speed in less time.
  • Climbers, meanwhile, can use them to conquer hills without setting their lungs and legs muscles on fire.

Sold out on the idea of an electric bike conversion kit? There are many routes you could take to install it.

Read on to know about all these routes in detail.


What Are Electric Bike Conversion Kits?

Electric bike conversion kit is precisely what their name implies. They help their users change their traditional, pedal bikes to one with batteries.

Some electric bike kits offer the full package – a battery as well as a wheel that would have a motor embedded to replace your bike’s existing wheel.

Others, meanwhile, come with only a battery. You are then required to follow instructions to connect the battery with your bike’s existing wheel.

Honestly, this conversion kit could be very troublesome if you lack of experience and installation skills.

Most of them have several common components including a motor, a battery, LCD display, alongside other accessories.


Electric Bike Kit Options

Here are the four (4) main types of electric bike conversion kits:

 

Mid drive electric bike kits

As it name says, a mid drive electric bike conversion kit, require you to place the motor and the battery in the middle of the bike.

Benefits

Limitations

  • Are usually more expensive.
  • If DIY, then it may require some skills uninstall the old crank system and install the new one.
  • Requires to install a battery on the down tube.

 

For this, you’ll have to integrate the motor with cranks and a bottom bracket, which helps distribute the motor’s weight equally and gives you a balanced ride.

They have a direct connection with the crank drive, which, the moment you start pedaling, allows them to drive the crank arm.

This enables them to take full advantage of your bike’s gear range and makes them attractive among riders.

On the flip side, if you worry about the aesthetics, these kits won’t make your bike look too attractive.

These are some of the best mid drive e-bike conversion kits in 2021:

TongSheng 250W

TongSheng mid-drive ebike motor 250w power

✅ : the fact that is lighter than Bafang motors and the included rear lights to travel at night.

X: It does not include the battery so check the motor voltage and watts before buying one.

 

TongSheng 500W

TongSheng ebike mid drive motor 500w power

✅ : All elements are included (e.g, front, rear lights and battery) for an easy and smooth installation.

X: The battery could be no so easy to mount on the bike.

Bafang 250W and above

Bafang 250W motor power ebike convert kit

✅ : There are so many alternative to choose from so it is easy to find what you want.

X: it may not be suitable for mountain biking as the ground clearance is low.

 

Friction Drive Bike Kit

Friction drive electric bike kits offer the simplest solution to assist pedaling your e-bike.

It is a bit difficult to explain but it basically works by creating friction between an attached roller (powered by a motor) and your bike’s rear wheel.

Friction drive conversion kit for standard bikes
Image source: Rubbee

As soon as you engage the throttle, both these components start spinning to power up your bike.

These kits are super-cheap and are extremely easy to install.

All you have to do is to attach them beneath the bike’s saddle. Their simple working principle is the reason why these kits are compatible with a wide range of conventional bicycles.

Benefits

  • They are the cheapest in the market.
  • Easy to install in any conventional bike.
  • Depending on the kit, it is just a matter of installing the piece.
  • Not super heavy.
  • Maintenance is minimal.
Limitations

  • The contact patch could under perform in wet conditions.
  • There will be an additional wear of the rear tire.
  • There is a considerable delay of activation (~3 seconds) after pedaling.
  • It is ideal for road or city commuter bikes, no mountain biking.

 

Friction-drive bicycle kits are the least efficient compared to any other conversion ebike kit you might find on the market.

As an alternative, I know that the Alizeti 300c friction drive e-bike is one of the oldest ones in the market with good improvements.

All in all, if you lack of budget, don’t want to stress out with complicated ebike kits and want to preserve all your bike parts, then this is the alternative to look at.

Concealed Conversion Kits

One reason why some people decide against electric bikes is their motors. Or, more specifically, the ugly sight of the motor on the bike’s frame.

I think such stylish riders would go for an electric bike provided it can hide the fact that it is ‘electric’. Which is precisely what concealed conversion kits do.

These kits hide the battery and the motor inside the seat tube.

The motor drives the crankshaft via a battery (that comes in a bottle cage) and a bevel gear. This concealment of electric components saves them from elements like dirt and debris.

However, this disguise comes at a massive cost. Compared with other conversion kits, those that stay out of the view usually cost twice as much.

And they aren’t easy to install either. You’d have to pay a premium to a bike mechanic to have them up and running.

 

Electric Bike Wheel Kit

Electric bike wheel kits are possibly the most popular out of the four (4) alternatives.

Benefits

  • They can be used in all type of bikes.
  • All elements for the conversion are included.
  • Great to reach high speed and cruise along.
  • Can be fitted in the rear or front wheel.
Limitations

  • It requires to replace the rear or front wheel, so there will be a mismatch in appearance.
  • Poor torque and low performance on very steep hills.
  • If the motor fails, the whole wheel may be required to be replaced.

Also known as Swytch bike kits, they can fit almost any bike and can also convert a trike.

What makes them very popular is the versatility to accommodate any conventional bike.

This includes hybrid, road, folding and last but not least, MTB.

I have to say that they are very rare to power mountain bikes. The reason behind is that hub motors lack of torque, therefore not great for climbing on rough terrains.

 

Learn more about e-bike motors by reading this guide: Electric Motor Bike Guide: What to Know About It.

 

How do they work?

These kits combine a hub-mounted rotor with a replacement fork wheel and a removable power pack.

As mentioned before, you will have to replace the old wheel with the new setting.

On top of that, you will need to accommodate the battery on the rear rack or down-tube of the bike.

Lastly, don’t forget the pedal sensor also plays an important role. That takes into account the level of cadence before delivering a dynamic level of assistance.

 

Rear and front wheel electric bike kit

If you have a city commuter or folding eBike, you will have two (2) options to look for: rear and front wheel electric bike kits.

The rear hub option is the most common one among riders since:

  • it is closer to the rear rack where the battery is commonly placed and,
  • there are more products in the market to choose from.

The front alternative is not bad but there will be a few differences:

  • Less traction and torque. This will be noticeable when going uphill.
  • Most likely the battery will have to sit on the down-tube unless you have enough cable length to reach the rear end.
  • Last but not least, could affect the maneuverability of the bike since there is more weight at the front.

We know there are a few options to look at but we believe these two (2) are good:

BAFANG REAR KITRear e-bike conversion kit from Bafang

✅ : This kit contains all what is required for an easy installation, including two (2) battery options.

X: It may be not in line with some countries regulations about max power.

BAFANG FRONT KIT

Bafang e-bike conversion kit for front wheel

✅ : Similar to the above, it has all the elements, however, it also offers a 3rd battery alternative.

X: It could be a little pricey.

EBIKELING (FRONT AND REAR)

EBIKELING (FRONT AND REAR) conversion kit

✅ : What I like most of this brand is the numerous alternatives regarding a throttle usage.

X: Ironically, it does not include the battery.


Benefits of Electric Bike Conversion Kits

Here are the benefits you can get from powering up your traditional bike:

  • Cost less than E-bike

Most cheap e-bikes cost at least $600. The ones with all the bells-and-whistles, like the 2021 Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Electric Mountain Bike, might set you back $4000, though the average e-bike costs somewhere close to $1000.

Even the best electric bike conversion kits, on the contrary, won’t cost anywhere near that average price.

 

  • Are more discreet

People who know what electric bikes look like can identify one coming from a distance. That’s because the paraphernalia – motor, battery, wires, etc. – make them so obvious.

That isn’t the case with “most” e-bike conversion kits, especially the concealed ones. You can therefore go on the road without attracting any unwanted attention.

This is not the case for the Bafang mi-drive kits unfortunately.

 

  • Let you keep your beloved old bike

Are you lured by the idea of a powered bike but not willing to trade your beloved old bike?

Then an electric bike conversion kit offers you the perfect solution by letting you electrify your treasured possession.


How Much Do Electric Bike Conversion Kits Cost?

The cost of an e-bike conversion kit will depend on multiple factors including the type of kit you’re buying and where you’re buying it from.

For instance, front and rear wheel conversion kits cost less than their mid-drive counterparts, which in turn, are less expensive than concealed conversion kits.

Another factor that jacks up the cost is the length of your trips. Those models made for inter-city commuting cost less than others made for longer trips.

We suggest you keep all these factors in mind when deciding how much to pay for an e-bike conversion kit.


Buying an Electric Bike Conversion Kit?

When buying an electric bike conversion kit, you should know what to look for.

Here are the key features that separate the best electric bike kits from the riffraff:

 

The Motor

It’s the electric bike’s motor that supplies it with enough power to climb over hills, traverse through rough terrains and slalom through city traffic.

Check out how much power the motor can deliver (specially regarding the local law regulating their specifications) and at what wattage.

Aside from the above, determine what terrains you’ll be tackling. For hills, it is better a mid drive motor, whereas just cruising a rear or front hub would suffice.


RECOMMENDED EBIKE GUIDE TO READ: Electric Motor Bike.


 

The Battery

Three (3) factors related to the battery deserve your attention when shopping for an e-bike kit. They include:

  • the type of battery (Li-ion vs. Ni-cad).
  • the battery’s capacity and,
  • how long it can retain a charge.

The final factor will determine the battery’s range.

Important to note that the battery voltage should match the motor specifications.

 


WE RECOMMEND TO READ: eBike Batteries: The 2021 Beginner’s Guide.


 

Electric bike kit materials

Check out the conversion kit’s description. Pay close attention to the material of construction its components.

Try to get a model whose materials are double-walled and made of stainless steel or brass as they will last longer.

 

Warranty period

Almost all top-rated conversion kits provide a warranty on their components, especially the motor and the battery.

If you can afford to pay a little extra, prefer a kit that gives a lifetime warranty over one which includes a single-year warranty.


Best Electric Bike Conversion Kits

As you have possibly seen, there are so many kits available to choose from. What to buy? Hard call to be honest.

For now, these are some of the ones we believe are good quality and offer a reliable operation:

 

Bafang MM G510 1000W (48V – 52V) Mid-Drive Electric Bike Kit

Bafang MM G510 1000W (48V - 52V) Mid-Drive Electric Bike Kit

This mid drive Bafang electric bike kit offers many outstanding features.

Foremost among them is its high-wattage motor.

Without being too speedy, it provides just the right amount of speed and power to help you slalom through thick city traffic.

Also on offer are brake levers, waterproof cables, an LCD color display with Bluetooth, a chain wheel, lock nuts, cranks and more items.

The best thing about this conversion kit is that it won’t take much time or effort to install. Those of you with basic mechanical knowledge would be able to fit it without needing any external help.

Compared to other similar kits, this one has a motor chasis, which protects it from hard objects hitting the unit. This makes it ideal for mountain biking purposes.

 

JAXPETY 48V 1000W Hub Motor Kit – Throttle feature Front Hub

JAXPETY 48V 1000W Hub Motor Kit - Throttle feature Front Hub

What is there not to like about this e-bike conversion kit? It is equipped with stainless steel spokes and alloy rims that could withstand road abuse.

The rare-earth metal magnates built inside the motor allow the medium wattage motor to produce immense power.

Equally useful is the aluminum alloy controller that ensures current supply with medium resistance.

And the best thing about this conversion kit?

Its twist throttle lets you check the battery’s current level and cut-off the power to the wheels with a mere twist of your wrist.

 

AW 26″x1.75″ Rear Wheel 48V 1000W  – Rear Hub

AW 26"x1.75" Rear Wheel 48V 1000W  - Rear Hub

Failed to get impressed by the power ratings of the previous two E-bike conversion kits? Then you might praise what this powerhouse of a model has to offer.

Its brushless hub motor is capable of offering 1000wattage at 48V, enough to let you achieve a top speed of 31mph.

Then comes the dual-mode controller which lets you switch the kit’s working between Hall Effect – for most speed – and non-Hall Effect – for most range.

The controller is smart too. It will automatically switch to the eco mode if the battery is about to die.

 

EBIKELING 48V 1200W 700C Direct Drive for Fat Tire Models

EBIKELING 48V 1200W 700C Direct Drive for Fat Tire Models

Here’s one of those conversion kits that come with all the components required for installation.

Our favorite among them is the Pedal Assist Sensor. As it lets you ride anywhere for any length of time without worrying about throttle response.

It also gives you the option to upgrade to the LCD display. Doing so, it will offer you the chance to see the current speed, trip distance, remaining battery percentage and other useful indicators right next to your wrist.

The LCD display will also offer potential error codes for hassle-free troubleshooting.

Last but not least, this brand also offers alternatives for fat tires. This is a great alternative for those that live in snowy areas.

 

Voilamart 26″ Rear Wheel Electric Bicycle Kit

Voilamart 26" Rear Wheel Electric Bicycle Conversion Kit

The final item on our list is this premium kit from Voilamart.

It’s packed with a 48V 1000W brushless motor. One that is capable of helping your bike achieve a top speed of 24mph and is fully integrated with the highly-useful Pedal Assistance System (PAS).

The included LCD display shows pedal assistance settings and remaining battery level.

The brake levers help you cut off the power to the motor when something is amiss. Also on offer is a motor controller that lets you swap between the 1000W and 750W modes.


Electric Bike Kit Guide Wrap Up

Electric bikes have helped millions of people around the globe forget about the worry of being caught up in traffic jams.

What we love most about these kits is the fact that there is no need to expend thousands of dollars to buy a new brand ebike.

In fact, making you feel that your old school bike can be now powered? Wow, that is a great feeling.

All this comes to the point of selecting the right conversion kit so think about your needs.

All in all, despite of having so many alternatives in the market, we think that an electric bike kit is the answer you are looking for casual commuting and a bit of fun.