Electric bikes (or E-bikes) are gaining a lot of popularity among commuters, sport riders and hobbyists. New electric motor technology and powerful rechargeable batteries have ushered in the era of high-performing battery-powered bicycles. Converting your own favorite make and model bike to an E-bike gives you the best of both worlds.
In this product review article we’ve narrowed the field to the 5 best electric bike conversion kits which have been available on the market long enough to gain a following, and to prove their quality, dependability and durability. In our buyer’s guide How To Choose The Best Electric Bike Conversion Kit.
What Is The Best Electric Bike Kit?
Quick Answer: The 5 Best E-Bike Conversion Kits
Best Electric Bike Conversion Kits
Best E-bike Conversion Kits Reviews
This is possibly the most popular mid-drive electric bike conversion kit. Granted, there is not a massive amount of choice on the market but the BBS02 offers huge amounts of power, making it suitable for road, trail, or even cargo bike use.
The motor mounts to any frame with a bottom bracket between 68-73mm wide. Fat bikes, which commonly have a 100mm bottom bracket cannot be converted with this kit. The output is 750W, which is huge and has a top speed of 20 mph. 9 levels of pedal assist and (twist activated) throttle only modes are available.
One of the best features of this conversion kit is the inclusion of a color LCD display with lots of options and information. You can view speed, an odometer, battery level, choose one of the pedal assist levels, and much more.
How much range you can get will depend on what kind of riding you will be doing. Obviously a fully laden cargo bike will not get as far as just you riding on flat roads. It is a very efficient kit, as long as you use it sensibly. This means choosing an appropriate gear for where you are riding.
Setting off using motor power while in a high gear will make the motor work hard, draining more power, and straining the chain and chainrings. There is no sensor in the motor to detect gear changes. This means there is no reduction in power when doing so, which can also lead to over-torquing and excessive wear.
While we are talking about gears, one thing to note is that this kit replaces your cranks, chain and chainrings. If you have multiple gears up front, these will be replaced by the single chainring included in the kit, meaning you will only have the gears on your cassette. With the pedal assist, this should never be a problem.
The kit includes everything you need to get started, with the big exception of a battery, which you will need to purchase separately. All other parts are included. Installation is relatively easy. You will need a crank puller and wrench to remove your existing cranks.
If you need any more convincing that this is a great e-bike conversion kit, it is often used on complete e-bikes. If these manufacturers trust it, then so can you.
The Bafang 8Fun BBS02 comes with a 1-year warranty.
If you want an easy to install electric bike motor that replaces a wheel on your existing bike, there is a Pinty model for you. Pinty produces both front and rear wheel motors. This model is for your front wheel and will replace any 26” wheel and fit into forks with an axle between 0.39” and 0.55”.
You get a powerful 48V 1000W motor inside the hub, and the 4 levels of power can be controlled with a thumb throttle. This is a lot of power. Thankfully, the hub is compatible with disc brake rotors, so you can install a powerful brake to help you slow down from the fast speeds that can be reached. Top speeds between 20-30 mph are normal. Maybe more if you are a light rider on a light bike.
This e-bike conversion kit is only suitable for use on the road. You would struggle to get enough traction with this much power going through the front wheel off-road.
Only the battery is missing from the kit and Pinty claim you will only need an hour to get it installed. Despite there being no battery, a battery bag is included, helping you to store the battery on the bike.
Another small but powerful electric bike conversion kit, The Aosom delivers 1000W of power to the 26” rear wheel. This much power is better to be run through your rear wheel to give you better traction. You can reach up to 28 mph with this kit.
You will need to purchase a battery separately and we would recommend that you mount it with the included battery bag on the frame rather than a rear rack to avoid accidental wheelies. This is especially a danger with such a powerful motor.
Power-cutting brake levers for mechanical brakes are included and the whole kit is easy to install, even if the instructions are not particularly clear. Previous knowledge of bicycle mechanics is a must.
Another option for your rear wheel. The 1000W motor in this rear hub is surprisingly quiet considering it has so much power. A thumb throttle controls whether pedal assist is on or off. There are no levels to choose from, which means you probably will not want to ride for long distances with this as your thumb will get soon get tired.
Three LED indicator lights on the controller show you how much battery life is remaining. This kit is suitable only for road use. Although the power matches what is needed for off-road use, the included tire and wheel are not suitable. If you want to convert the rear wheel of a cargo bike, then this kit is perfect.
Although a charger for a lead-acid battery is included, the kit does not come with a battery.
This mid-drive electric bicycle conversion kit has all the power you need and is lighter and simpler than the Banfang.
The 350W motor mounts to bottom brackets between 68mm and 73mm wide. Installation requires removing your existing cranks. Included in the kit are cranks and a chainring. Just like the Bafang, this kit will replace any gears and chainrings that you have at the front.
The controller displays speed, battery level, and the power mode you are in. A grip shift is used to switch between modes. There is no throttle, just pedal assist.
You can choose to limit the power, allowing a top speed of 15 mph, or leave it open, allowing you to reach up to 25 mph.
No battery is included.
How To Choose The Best Electric Bike Conversion Kit
Electric bicycles, or e-bikes are great. They have all the benefits of a standard bicycle but you can get around faster or further with less effort. An electric bicycle is more appealing to some people, especially commuters because they can arrive at their destination without getting sweaty.
If you want an electric bike, the easiest but most expensive option is to purchase a complete bike. A purpose built e-bike is designed around the motor and battery. The extra R&D, engineering, and marketing all push up the price.
Lots of money can be saved by converting your existing bicycle to an electric bicycle. If you want to go down this route, you can purchase all the individual components and assemble the whole thing yourself. You will need a battery, a controller, a motor with a throttle, and all the necessary wiring. On top of this, you will need the required technical know-how to set everything up safely. This is the cheapest way to convert but also the hardest.
There is one more option that saves lots of money and doesn’t require advanced electrical skills: an electric bike conversion kit.
An e-bike conversion kit comes with everything you need. All the hard electrical work is already done and you just need to fit the kit to your bike. This can be done by anyone with a few tools, a bit of time, and ideally some previous knowledge of bicycle mechanics.
The Different Types of Electric Bike Conversion Kits
This is the most commonly found conversion kit. Either the front or back wheel of the existing bike is replaced by a wheel containing a special hub and gearing. A battery may also be in the hub or mounted elsewhere. If the battery is mounted separately, a front wheel motor is good for road riding as the whole weight of the kit is distributed evenly across the bike. Otherwise, all the weight sits on the front wheel, making the steering heavy.
The strength of the fork also needs to be considered, as the torque from the motor can be high. As a general rule, you will need something stronger than a road bike to mount a front wheel motor to.
A rear wheel motor is better for off-road use due to the better traction. However, if you have a hub gear on your existing bike, you will have to replace this with a cassette and derailleur. Again, an external battery that can be mounted to the frame is optimum but not a must. Batteries that are integrated in the wheel or mount on a rear rack put all of the weight onto the rear wheel, which can cause unexpected wheelies if you suddenly apply too much power.
This design mimics how many complete e-bikes are built and is also a popular design. A battery and motor are mounted to the frame, with the motor often attached to the bottom bracket. Weight is kept low, which helps the ride feel but the motor can be prone to damage in the exposed position, especially when riding off-road.
With this kind of electric bike conversion kit, a motor and roller sits on the rear wheel, using friction to push the bike forward. This is a somewhat crude solution and is not particularly popular. Not only do you have the same weight distribution issues, but the system is not particularly efficient.
This is a sneaky but expensive solution for anyone who might want to hide the fact that they have an electric bike. A motor and battery fits inside the seat tube and drives the bottom bracket. Due to the cost involved, this kind of conversion kit is only worth it if you want such a secret e-bike.
E-Bike Power, Battery Capacity, E-Bike Range
On top of choosing what type of conversion kit you want, you also have to look at the technical details of what is on offer. There is always bunch of numbers and values indicating the power and performance of the kit.
Here is what they mean:
An electric bike motor is powered by a (usually lithium-ion) battery. The voltage of the motor needs to match the voltage of the motor. 24V, 36V, and 48V batteries are usually found in e-bike conversion kits.
This is the amount of energy that can be extracted from the battery, measured in amp hours (Ah) and also referred to as the capacity. A higher capacity means the battery can run for longer, meaning you can ride for longer (range). Between 8-20Ah is normal in conversion kits.
How much power and capacity you need depends on what you will use your e-bike for. If you will be commuting on flat roads, then a small battery and motor will do the job. For off-road use, you will want more power and a greater capacity.
Be sure to check your local laws regarding the legality of using an electric bicycle on the road. There may be speed or power restrictions in place.
A display showing you information like speed, battery level, power output etc is a must. You do not necessarily need it to show anything beyond battery level.
However, the more ambitious your ride plans are, the more information you will need displayed to ensure that you make it home before the battery dies.
Pedelec or Throttle
Check if you kit has pedal assist, or a throttle as well. If it has the latter, you can just press a button or twist the throttle to get power and not need to use your legs at all. If it just has pedal assist, the motor will only engage when you pedal.
Some kits included special brake levers that cut power when applied, so you cannot be accelerating and braking at the same time. These brake levers will only work with cable actuated brakes. If you have hydraulic disc brakes, there may be sensors available or even included to do the same job.
Thanks for reading The 5 Best Electric Bike Conversion Kits. We hope this article has helped you to discover the best kit for your specific E-Bike conversion needs and your preferences. You might also be interested in our related review article, The 5 Best Electric Folding Bikes.
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Enjoy your E-Bike conversion kit and always wear a bicycle helmet.