Electric bikes are an increasingly popular option for commuters and cycling enthusiasts, but premade models can be expensive. If you’re looking for a less expensive way to enter the world of e-bikes, consider an electric bike conversion kit. But first, know their pros, cons and how to find the best one for your needs.
What is an electric bike kit?
An electric bike kit gives you the tools to convert a regular bicycle into an electric bicycle. Kits can range from a complete system of compatible parts to do-it-yourself kits that only include a few parts so you can fully customize your bike.
Why should I install an e-bike kit?
Buying a new e-bike can run anywhere from $400 to $2,000. A conversion kit is a less expensive option to keep your original bike but still leave everyone else in the dust.
And since an electric bike isn’t a motorcycle, you’ll still get exercise when you ride it. But you’ll exert less physical effort on your commute compared to a traditional bicycle, meaning you won’t show up to your destination as sweaty and uncomfortable.
5 types of electric bicycle conversion kits
Some kits feature a hub motor that powers either the front or back wheel, while others are mid-mounted kits attached to the bottom bracket. There are also e-bike kits concealed in the seat tube, but these are much more expensive and not as widely available.
There are several types of electric bike conversion kits, which come down to your personal preference.
- Mid-drive kit. This kit removes the bike’s bottom bracket to hook everything up and give your bike a lower center of gravity.
- Rear hub kit. The weight is in the back of your bike, making the front end lighter and easier to maneuver.
- Front hub kit. The weight is on the front of your bike, while stress is distributed evenly on both your front and rear wheels.
- Friction drive kit. This kit hooks a motorized rubber flywheel on top of your rear wheel.
- Concealed kit. One of the most lightweight kits where the motor is hidden in the seat tube.
What to look for when comparing electric bike kits
Consider the following factors when shopping around for an e-bike conversion kit:
- Type of kit. Decide what type of kit you want. For example, hub motors are cheaper and require minimal maintenance, while mid-drive kits are generally more expensive because the extra weight in the center of the bike makes it more stable with consistent torque performance. And you’ll want to verify that a battery is included.
- Your bike. The type of kit you choose will also depend on your bike and the style of riding you do. For example, some kits are not recommended for attachment to bikes with carbon-fiber frames or may be difficult to fit bikes with rear suspension.
- Installation process. Read the fine print to find out what you’ll need, including specialty tools, to install the kit to your bike. If you’re not particularly handy, the safest option is to have the retailer or a reputable bike shop attach it for you.
- Power. Check the number of watts the motor generates. Each state has laws about e-bikes, including speed limits and whether you’re considered a bicycle or motor vehicle. Before converting your bike, check your local e-bike regulations.
- Range. Consider how far you want to travel on one full battery charge. The longer the distance and the more powerful the motor, the larger the battery you’ll need.
- Price. Most e-bike conversion kits are priced from $200 to $1,000.
4 popular electric bike kits
Here are a few different electric bike conversion kits to consider:
Bafang BBS02B Mid-drive Kit
- Top speed: 30 mph
- Motor: 750W
- Battery: 48V
- Price: $679 plus $100 shipping
This lightweight mid-drive kit is easy to assemble and is suitable to fit a wide range of bikes. You also have the option to upgrade to its 52V battery, which gives you nearly 8% more range. The Bafang BBS02B falls right in the middle of the market, with a good balance of price and quality.
Ebikeling Direct Drive Front or Rear Conversion Kit
- Top speed: 30 mph
- Motor: 1200W
- Battery: 48V
- Price: $365
This front- or rear-hub motor comes equipped with aluminum double-walled rims and an LED display, with the option to upgrade to an LCD display. You can also choose between a thumb or twist throttle to suit your riding preferences. But you’ll need to purchase a battery separately. And while it’s not the quietest motor, it packs a lot of power.
Jaxpety Front Wheel E-Bike Conversion Kit
- Top speed: 23 mph
- Motor: 500W
- Battery: 36V recommended
- Price: $177
This Jaxpety conversion kit is a budget-friendly option that can reach 20 mph, which keeps your speed limit in check in all 50 states. But it’s not the most powerful option out there and doesn’t come with a battery.
AW Rear Wheel E-Bike Conversion Kit
- Top speed: 30 mph
- Motor: 1000W
- Battery: 48V recommended
- Price: $250
If you’re looking for a conversion kit for the rugged outdoors, the AW 1000W motor is relatively quiet and packs a punch. And the rear wheel motor offers good traction, which ideal for off-road use. Its Pedal Assistance System (PAS) helps you cover more ground faster and works well climbing hills.
Although this kit provides enough power, you’ll need to swap the tire and wheel for something better suited for all-terrain.
Pros and cons of electric bike kits
Here are the advantages and limitations of e-bike conversion kits.
- Cheaper than buying an electric bike
- You get to keep riding the bike you know and love
- Makes it easier to commute to work, cycle up big hills and generally stay active
- Not all kits work on all bikes
- Installation required, either by yourself or at a reputable bike shop
- If you’re willing to spend extra, buying a bike designed from the ground up as an e-bike may be a better choice
An e-bike conversion kit offers a cost-effective way to experience the world of electric bikes and boost your pedaling power. But there’s a lot to consider before buying an electric bike kit, including details about your existing bike and compatible options that fit your budget.
Frequently asked questions
Get more of your e-bike conversion kit questions — answered.
How fast can I ride my e-bike?
Assistance from the motor tapers off once you reach 20 mph. Past this point, your maximum speed is determined by pedal power.
Why should I consider an e-bike instead of an electric bike kit?
While e-bikes are more expensive than conversion kits, they’re purpose-built to run with a motor and battery. This means you can enjoy greater peace of mind that the frame and all components are suitable for e-bike use.
How do I know if an e-bike kit will fit on my bicycle?
Check the manufacturer’s specifications to find out what requirements your bike must meet to be suitable for a particular conversion kit. When in doubt, head to a store for advice tailored to your bike and your riding needs.
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