E-Bikes

Types of Electric Bike Conversion Kits

Learn The Differences And The Pros & Cons Of Each Type Of E-Bike Conversion Kit

Biking is not only a timeless recreational pastime, but the main method of transportation for countless people around the globe. It’s cost-efficient, environmentally-friendly, provides exercise, and you don’t even have to pay for parking!

However, if you’re ready to take things a step further, then we suggest looking into electric bike conversion kits. These kits are installed on your bike, allowing you to perform at an even higher level. Electric bikes are rising continuously in popularity, and it’s no wonder why. If you’re ready to take on the enjoyment of converting your favorite bike into a modern, e-bike, then keep on reading.

Why Use an Electric Bike Converter?

If you’ve never used an electric bike converter before, you’re in for a world of new experiences! However, they’re not for everyone. We’ll take a moment to cover the reasons why you may consider adding one on to your bike.

More Power

While e-bikes are popular, they’re usually listed at a pretty high price. In addition, you may already be in love with the bike you have. If that’s the case and you just want to boost its power, then a converter may be right for you. They provide a boost of power, and you don’t have to spend the money that you would on an entirely new bike.

This is also true if you happen to have a unique bike that may not be available in electric versions, such as folding and recumbent bikes.E-bike mountain trail

Versatility

Did you know that you can actually swap electric bike converters between different bikes? That gives you the chance to try them out on various machines. Some are incredibly easy to taken on-and-off, too. For example, a product with an easy-to-remove front hub wheel kit makes it so you can simply change back to your original and leave the battery at home. If you’d like to electrify your bike again, simply swap the front hub back, utilize the battery, and you’re all set.

Eco-Friendly

Sure, no matter if you purchase an entire new e-bike or opt for a kit, it’s still going to be quite “green”. However, the fact that you won’t be purchasing a whole new bike to be manufactured and replace the one you already have is quite eco-friendly in itself.

e-bike conversion kit featured image

Saves Money

If you want more bang for your buck, don’t miss out on an electric bike converter. They can actually be a great value for the money – especially if you got your bike for a good deal or have one laying around you never really use. You can convert them for relatively little money, and will have a whole new experience.

Fiddling Around

Do you enjoy tinkering around with bikes? Perhaps you’ll find messing around with how you can improve the performance of your bicycle interesting. In fact, many take them on as a sort of hobby, modifying their bikes with the latest and greatest converter kits.

Keep in mind that some are easier to fit than others, but most require at least basic knowledge of how bikes work. However, for some, this may be too complicated or frustrating.

Also see: How To Choose The Best Electric Bike Battery.

Types of Electric Bike Conversion Kits

There are quite a bit of ways to electrify your bike and start leaving everyone else in the dust! However, the type you choose is up to your and your personal preferences. Whether you ride a mountain bike, road bike, tourer, or hybrid, you can get it done and start zooming around in no time. Let’s talk about each type of kit, and the pros and cons of each.

Mid-Drive Kits

We have to say that some of the most refined electric bikes out there today are mid-drives. However, if you want to buy one, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny. If you aren’t looking to break the bank but still want a powerful bike, then there are several kits out there that let you build one that can actually be even more potent than the factory mid-drives. In Europe, you’ll see them everywhere from brands like Bosch, Yamaha, and many more.

electric bike mid drive kit 2

Pros

These kits place weight closer to the ground, giving it a lower center of gravity which actually makes the bike more stable. We’ll be honest and let you know that the change in the center of gravity isn’t that noticeable, as it’s only going to be an extra 2-3kg added on. However, you will experience good torque, no matter what speed you’re traveling at. This is because the mid-drive kits take advantage of your bike’s rear gears. Essentially, this signifies that it doesn’t have to spin as quickly, giving consistent torque as you speed up.

If you live in, say, Seattle or San Francisco then you know that it’s very much a bike culture despite the insane hills the cities are full of. While gliding downhill may be fun and efficient, the climbing part can be exhausting, especially if you’re commuting to work with your laptop and other equipment. Don’t lose hope, though. The mid-drive kits climb steep hills incredibly well. In fact, some people can even climb stairs with them hooked up. Normally, that would be a practically impossible feat, but with these you’ll be blowing up hills and perhaps arrive to work in a dry shirt!

Cons

We’re not here to blindly offer you products and tell you everything is fine and dandy. It’s pretty hard to make a perfect product that pleases everyone. So, let’s speak a bit about the cons here.

First off, you’ll find that to install the kit, you’re going to need specialist tools. The reason why, is that you’re going to have to get rid of the existing bottom bracket to hook everything up. Purchasing these tools just for a possible one-time-use may not be worth it for many, so you’ll probably end up taking it to a shop that can do the conversion for you.

The gears at the front crankset are taken off. However, all you really need is to ride on the largest gear considering you’ll have a form of electric assistance to help you power through. There are some mid-drives out there that are a bit noisy, and shifting can be a bit more complex than other kit types. Finally, as they have more moving parts, they’re inherently not as reliable as some which don’t have as many.

Rear Hub Kits

Rear hub kits are fun, yet efficient in moving your bike along without a drive chain needed. Once you get to a certain power level, the rear hub kits are quite often the simplest way to provide a ton of power at an acceptably safe level without risk of damaging the frame or having your bicycle skid or slip around sharp turns, no matter the surface or weather conditions.

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Pros

As the weight is in the back, it actually provides you with a much more stable ride, and there’s much better grip on any kind of surface you’re riding on. Not only that, but it makes the front end very light and easy to maneuver. Thanks to the design, you can also use a bike with any type of front fork. Another benefit is that as it’s close to the rear rack/down tube, there aren’t as many wires involved, meaning less complications to worry about.

From an aesthetic standpoint, there is good and not-so-good. We’ll cover the not-so-good in just a moment. The upside, is that you’re able to easily hide the motor amongst the gears, panniers bags, and so on. It’s also great on noise, due to the increase of weight on the wheel which works to lower the amount of vibration through the rest of the bike.

Cons

We covered the pros, and there were quite a bit. However, there were a few things that we needed to mention that are important to consider when making your selection. Keep in mind you’ll be a bit limited when it comes to pedaling gears. In fact, derailleur gears are going to really be the only ones you can go with, as opposed to internal hub gears. The back wheel and spokes are also placed under great amounts of stress once you add everything altogether.

All-in-all, if you’re someone who likes off-roading often or commute through the city and want added stability, then these are great options. If you have a very high-quality bike with tougher spokes, that goes double for you!

Front Hub

Front hub conversion kits are by far the most common type of electric bike conversion kits on the market today. Why?

Probably because they’re the least expensive to make, or perhaps because they’re much easier to install than any other type. They’re compatible with most bikes, too, so you don’t have to worry about that.

 

front wheel e-bike kit

Pros

First off, many people like simple. If you like a challenge, or want to experiment with what you can fully do with a bike, then you may want to opt for another type. However, simple means low maintenance which means it’s easy to have and to use. A huge reason for this, is because the stress is placed evenly on the front and rear axles/wheels. You won’t have to replace axles as often, for this reason.

Not only that, but it separates the motor from the other bike parts, which make it easier to complete maintenance on your bike. You can use any type of gearing in the rear wheel with this type, making it available to many more consumers. Finally, no matter where you place the battery, you’ll have a very stable experience.

Cons

The front end will be slightly heavier, which lowers the amount of front forks you can use, and makes it a bit more difficult to get up onto a curb. If you’re on a very steep incline with a more loose terrain, you may lose some traction. Quick-release front wheels are not compatible here. Once you get to a certain level of power, the motor won’t work for many reasons. If you’re a mountain biker, just say “no” to this one due to the constantly loose surfaces you’ll be riding over and the heaviness of the front end that could really hurt your ability to jump.

Ultimately, if you’re just looking for easy kit that doesn’t require you to always be checking up on it, this is the one for you. It provides good balance, comfort, and reliability at a low price.

 

Friction Drive

This is definitely the oldest style of the bunch, arriving onto the scene somewhere in the 80’s. The style is quite basic, yet functional. Essentially, you have a box-shaped device which sits on top of the rear wheel, boosting the power by means of a rubber flywheel driven by a motor. There are plenty of pros, and a few cons to take a look at first.

electric bike friction wheel drive kit

Pros

You don’t have to worry about your bike not being compatible with this kit, as they work with a huge range of conventional bikes. The systems are very simple, which means installation is simple, and so is diagnosing an issue. Some kits just hook on up near your saddle, and you’re all set for the road. Sometimes, installation can take literally a few minutes. If you’re not very savvy in this sort of thing, that’s definitely a bonus. In addition, you’ll find that it’s less stress as there are less things that could go haywire because of the basic design.

Cons

The biggest downside to this style, is the fact that it works very poorly in wet weather. As wet rubber is naturally slippery, it is a bit difficult to use friction to power the wheels. If you slow down your speed it may be okay, but still. The other big downside is the aesthetic factor. They’re not very good at hiding themselves. In fact, they stand out quite a bit just being an addition to the rear tire.

Concealed

Some people love flaunting their conversion kits, while others want it to remain a bit of a secret. If you want to handle yours in a low-key way, then it’s possible, but it’ll cost you some extra bucks. Sure, there are professionals who may use these the wrong way, but plenty just don’t like having it on display. It could be that they don’t want it getting stolen.

Simply fit the motor in the seat tube so the bike looks as the manufacturer intended it to, and no one knows you’re blowing them out of the water because of your electric helper. The battery may hand under the seat in a saddlebag, or even in a holder that looks like a regular water bottle on the frame. You’ll usually have a wireless button hidden away in the handlebars to turn it on or off.

These are typically the most lightweight of all types, making it so the bike feels essentially the same as it did before the addition of the conversion kit, providing a very authentic feel.

Cons

It’s pretty expensive.

Summary

No matter which electric bike converter kit you select, just make sure it suits your needs. They all work, but they’re not going to work the same for every rider nor every bike. If you live in wet weather, then pay special attention to which ones will improve your experience, and which should not be used. We hope that you’ve found the best electric bike converter kit for you, and we’ll see you again shortly!

MORE E-BIKE ARTICLES:  E-BIKE CONVERSION KITS | FOLDING ELECTRIC BIKES | E-BIKE BATTERIES

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Richard Moore

Richard is an avid adventure traveler with extensive trekking experience. In 1998 he weathered category 5 Hurricane Mitch on the northern coast of Honduras. He has mountain-biked, hiked and 4x4 toured extensively in the U.S.A. , Mexico and Central America. He is a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys road touring, dual-sport and motocross riding. Richard lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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