The 8 Best Electric Bike Conversion Kits
This wiki has been updated 9 times since it was first published in December of 2018. There are plenty of reasons to start cycling to work or school, but just as many excuses for not doing it: the commute is too far, you haven't got the time, and you don't want to show up to the office or class all sweaty. One of these electric conversion kits will allow you to transform your bike, so you can speedily pedal past traffic, then coast the last few miles on full power to cool down. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best electric bike conversion kit on Amazon.
January 07, 2019:
There are legal complications to converting your bike, and they need to be understood before choosing a kit. In order to be sold as an E-bike, the motor has to have a limiting switch that keeps it under 750 watts and about 20 miles per hour. However, the battery you choose will also affect speed, and this doesn't mean you can't turn off the limiting switch. In some places, it'll be fine, but in other areas, you'll technically be riding a motorcycle if you go beyond the limit, so you'll need a license and everything else necessary for a motorbike. Make sure you consult your local laws so you understand whether you need to limit your speed.
Why Go Electric?
All things considered, the electric bike makes for a more ecological choice, especially if the alternative is a gas-powered vehicle.
If you’re in the midst of researching an electric bike, you might still not be sold on the use of a conversion kit, or whether you should bother going electric at all. The argument against electric is largely one of environmentalism, that a bicycle is a near-perfect green machine, relying solely on the power of the rider to propel it from point A to point B. Introduce a rechargeable battery to the mix, and you end up burning an unnecessary amount of coal to charge it up any time you want to go anywhere.
But imagine the countless individuals who live close enough to their place of work to reasonably take an electric bike there, but far enough (or in so hot a climate) that the trip on a normal bicycle would either be too taxing or make the rider too sweaty to responsibly perform the duties of their job. I mean, if you went in to get a loan from a banker whose shirt was drenched in perspiration, you’d probably assume the place was being robbed.
But with a simple upgrade to a normal bicycle, all of these individuals could get to work without breaking a sweat, costing the environment a paltry amount of coal-fired emissions compared to all that time spent idling a car’s engines in rush hour traffic. All things considered, the electric bike makes for a more ecological choice, especially if the alternative is a gas-powered vehicle.
Now, that doesn’t totally acknowledge the superiority of a conversion kit over an electric bicycle, but it turns out the benefits are pretty clear. If you already have a bike, then getting a conversion kit will simply take what you’ve got and improve it, marginally increasing its weight and giving you the ability to go farther than you ever could under your own power. A dedicated electric bike, by contrast, would cause you to find more storage space for both it and your traditional bike, not to mention the fact that an electric bike will almost always cost you more money than a simple conversion kit.
It’s not all honey and roses, however. You will have to do some serious wiring and other installation work to get your conversion kit integrated into your current bike, and you’ll likely find that it’s not as smooth of a ride after the power drains out of it than it was before the conversion. That’s mainly due to the increased weight, but many conversions and dedicated electric bikes have a greater natural resistance in their drive chain, which serves you well when it’s fully charged, but that can become a burden after the batteries die. Still, if it means being able to commute to work in the open air without having to suffer through another public radio pledge drive, it’s worth its weight in gold.
What To Look For In An Electric Bike Conversion Kit
Choosing the right conversion kit for your bike is going to have a lot to do with your most common intended routes. Since many consumers are interested in using a converted bike to get to work, let’s use that as an example and address the variables you’ll want to balance to make the smartest possible choice.
And if your battery is almost dead on arrival, you’re going to want to make sure it can fully recharge by the time you’re heading home for the day.
The most important aspects of any electric bike are its speed, acceleration, battery power, and charge time. Often, the faster a bike performs, the less battery life it can offer. And battery life is directly proportional to distance here, so if your battery can’t last the length of time it takes to ride to work, it’s nearly worthless. Charge time comes into play once you actually get to work. If your arrival sees your bike with less than half of its energy remaining, you know you’re going to have to recharge at the office. And if your battery is almost dead on arrival, you’re going to want to make sure it can fully recharge by the time you’re heading home for the day. Otherwise, you might end up stranded after dark.
Ideally, you want a bike that can go as fast as possible (within reason regarding your fun and safety). But acceleration can be even more important if you know you're going to be riding amidst heavy traffic. The best between speed and all these other variables would be a bike that can get you to work and back on a single charge when riding comfortably at a speed that’s just below the bike’s top speed. That way, if you get into a jam with another car and the only way out of it is to accelerate, you’ll still have a few MPH left to get you to safety.
Safety Above All Else
With increased speed comes increased risk of injury, making an electric bike an even more dangerous vehicle than a normal bicycle, and meaning that you’re going to need to take every precaution you would on a normal bike and then some.
Next, if you’re going to be riding to and from work, then there’s a decent amount of the year you’ll spend riding in the dark.
For starters, and this is a no-brainer (unless you want to end up a no-brainer), you’re going to need a helmet. Fortunately for the egoists out there, these now come in styles that won’t make you look like a ten-year-old without any friends, so you have no excuse not to get a good one.
Next, if you’re going to be riding to and from work, then there’s a decent amount of the year you’ll spend riding in the dark. To maximize your visibility, invest in things like head and tail lights, and consider a reflective jacket. Even a motorcycle jacket would be a smart choice here, as many contain attractive accents that just happen to be retroreflective, so you can look cool and be seen from a great distance. They also offer additional padding for vulnerable areas.
Finally, consider keeping a patch kit handy. Sharing a roadway with cars can introduce your tires to a lot of debris, especially in the wintertime. The last thing you want when the temperature is dropping is to get stranded with a flat. A simple patch kit with a spare inner tube and some sealant should be enough to get you home so you can more properly replace the damaged components.
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