5 Best DIY Electric Bike Kits of 2019
Electric bikes are excellent pieces of engineering. Whoever thought that adding a small motor that helps you pedal with less effort and give you a boost must be genius. Having one, especially if you love riding your bike, is extremely helpful. It can help you with your commute since you’re not going to be as tired when you reach your destination. No matter what you ride, there is an electric bike equivalent that will significantly improve your overall riding experience.
The question now is, apart from your current bike, do you need to buy a brand-new electric version? High-quality ones can sometimes cost an arm and a leg, and owning two bikes might be a little tricky to maintain. The great news is that you absolutely don’t have to.
Electric Bike Conversion Kits
You can convert your existing bike to an electric version using a conversion kit. This is really helpful when you have invested a considerable amount on your ride. Whether it’s a mountain bike, road, bike, or even a hybrid one, you can absolutely electrify them at a fraction of the cost of getting a brand-new e-bike.
Converting your existing ride is pretty easy, all you need to do is to replace one wheel either the front or back with a powered one. Another way to do this is to attach a drive unit that boosts your power output as you pedal so you can start climbing those hills with ease.
It’s that simple, and it’s great to know that there are conversion kits that can help you with all of this. As long as you’re pretty handy in using tools and know your way around your bike, you can install any of these kits with no trouble at all.
The Best Ones You Can Buy
Retail Price: $154
The Murtisol electric bike conversion kit is a wheel hub motor that you can install on either the front or the rear wheels. Inside is a 500W motor that produces a decent amount of power efficiently. When you couple it with pedal power, your electric bike can go really fast, making it perfect for long rides.
As with most hub wheel motor kits, it’s pretty intuitive to put together, all you need to do is replace your existing wheel with the Murtisol, and that’s it. Since this is a kit, it just does not include the motor but an entire array of components that you need to make your conversion a success.
The entire set includes a controller, hand brakes, thumb throttle, handle grips, harness, and a user manual. The wires that are linked to the controller are marked so you can easily attach them to the correct component, so they function correctly.
The dual power, both the motor and your own pedal power, is capable of pushing you to speeds of up to 27 miles per hour. You can cruise at a much lower rate to extend your battery life for better range. The great thing with this setup is that you don’t need to rely on the throttle since the motors will assist every time you pedal. However, should you choose to rest, there is a thumb throttle that you push so you can avoid uncomfortable wrist positions.
Since this is a hub motor embedded in the wheels, you will need it to be sturdy and reliable, so you can be comfortable replacing what you currently have on your bike. The Murtisol is made with aluminum, so it’s both. It also offsets some of the added weight brought upon by the motors. It will feel a bit heavy, but not too much that it would be noticeable.
The component that this conversion kit does not have though is a battery so you will still need to get one. It also does include an LCD screen to show you valuable statistics about your ride with the most important one, your battery status. It is recommended that you also get one, so you know how much your motor is consuming at any given time.
The Murtisol electric bike conversion kit is definitely one of your basic It only comes with the most vital parts you need to adapt your current bike. The great thing about this is that you can configure your own and customize your build.
Retail Price: $169
Another hub wheel motor conversion kit is the GoPlus. It’s a 48V, 1000W high-powered unit which is capable of pushing your bike to speeds of up to 17 to 21 miles per hour on full electric. Similar to other hub motors, you can use this motor in three ways.
The first one is, of course, full electric where you use it as a small motorcycle. You simply rotate the handgrip throttles to move forward. The next one is full manual, where you ride this like a traditional ride and is excellent for exercising. The final way to ride your converted bike is with hybrid assist mode, which allows you to go even faster with less effort.
No kit is complete without a controller, and the Goplus comes with an aluminum alloy one that protects all the critical electronics from the elements. This ensures that it works steadily and reliably so you can ride with peace of mind.
An exciting addition to this kit is its LCD display. Most sets, especially the more affordable ones, don’t usually include this but Goplus decided to put it in so that you can keep track of your speed, mileage, and battery levels at all times. The display also shows you what modes you’re using so you can easily switch around depending on how you want to ride your bike.
An essential feature of any conversion kit is its ease of use. The Goplus is definitely an easy one to install as it comes with all the necessary components. The only thing that you’ll need to grab to complete your conversion is the batteries. This kit also has parts that you need if you’re feeling extra crafty and modifying your bike even more like the rear wheel attachments, sensors, and grip throttles.
The Goplus is a complete kit equipped with a powerful motor that gives you more speed and freedom whenever you ride. It’s a more complete package as it comes with some bells and whistles that you won’t find on other kits.
Retail Price: $245
The AW electric bike conversion kit is another one that uses a hub motor. However, the difference is that this is dedicated to replacing your rear wheels. It’s a more specialized unit so it comes with attached gear sprockets and you don’t have to look for one.
The motor is a beast rated at 1000W and is able to help you accelerate up to at least 27 miles per hour. As with other hub units, you can use it in three ways. The star of the show is its efficient pedal assist system that allows you to cycle with the help of the motors to get you to even faster speeds. This feature gives you a ton of flexibility since you can commute to work without even pedaling and tackle steep inclines with a little help from you.
Even with the kit installed, the soul of your machine being a bicycle is not lost since you can still go on full manual power and use it for some much-needed exercise. This is also helpful if you’re going somewhere that’s outside the range of your batteries, and you can adjust between manual and assist so you can ride more comfortably.
This kit also comes with an LCD display that shows you essential riding stats like battery levels, speed, mileage, and gear choice. This enables you to ride smart since you know what you and your machine are doing at that time. You can decide when to conserve battery power or when to push it so you can ride your bike on your terms.
As with other conversion sets, this does not include batteries. However, AW recommends using lithium-ion or lead-acid cells that are rated at 48V and with a capacity of over 17Ah. Any battery with these specifications is compatible with the motor.
The AW electric bike conversion kit is definitely a powerful one. Equipped with the right batteries, this can go up to 35 to 40 miles per hour. Using the pedal assist can immensely help you climb steep hills effortlessly that will usually tire you out. The rear wheel setup also ensures that the added weight stabilizes your ride every time.
Retail Price: $359
The electric bicycle conversion kit from EBikeling is leaning towards the top end of the spectrum. Its main component is a powerful 1500W hub wheel motor that’s designed to replace your current rear one. This allows you to adapt your traditional bike to an electric version quickly. It’s simple to install since the motor is already attached to the wheel.
Since this is a kit, it comes with everything you need to make the entire conversion process quick and effortless. The essential components that are included are the controller, LED display, brake levers, pedal assist sensor, torque arm, front and rear lights, and cable ties. As with most kits, batteries and tires are not included so you will need to source them from a third-party.
An essential component that’s not included on all conversion kits is the display. This set comes with its own so you can see your remaining battery power, speed, mileage, light switch, and even the pedal assist levels. The information you receive can help you become a smarter rider so you can adjust your style to fit your needs. For example, you can choose to conserve batteries since you’re anticipating a hard climb ahead so you can rely on the pedal assist later on.
As with most electric bikes, you can use the EBikeling in several ways. Most importantly is the pedal assist feature where the kit has included a dedicated sensor, so the motors kick in even without you twisting on the throttle. This minimizes uncomfortable wrist positions, especially on longer rides. In addition to that feature, you can also ride it fully electric or manual.
The EBikeling conversion kit is a powerful one, able to reach speeds of up to 40 to 45 miles per hour. Depending on your battery, you can expect about 30 to 40 minutes of full-electric ride time. Using the pedal assist will allow you to extend the range at a decent cruising speed at a fraction of the effort.
Retail Price: $535
So far, we’ve reviewed a few kits that use hub motors. This is great, however, the performance ceiling for those power units is a bit low. To be able to squeeze more function, you will need to change the type of motor entirely. This is where the Bafang BBS02B enters the conversation.
Since this is vastly different from hub motors where you simply replace a wheel, this takes a bit more time. However, this is a type that’s universally compatible with different types of bikes. You can install this on commuter bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, and others as long as you can attach this to the bottom bracket.
The parts may look daunting, but mid drives such as this Bafang specifically are easy to install. You’ll only need a few tools, and you can get this attached and linked to your bike in no time. If you’re familiar with your bike and how to tinker with it, this is a piece of cake.
The motor component of this Bafang has a rated power of 750W. It is powerful and is able to push you along at higher speeds compared to hub motors of the same output since they are more efficient. The power units are relatively quiet as well so it won’t bother you when you’re riding your e-bike on longer rides.
This kit comes with everything you possibly need to be able to adapt your current bike to an electric machine. The only thing that’s missing is the batteries. They give you the freedom to choose your own. The important thing is that you use one that’s rated 48V since that’s what the motors are capable of handling. Just make sure not to use one that’s over 48V.
The Bafang mid-drive electric bike motor conversion kit is a high-quality product that allows you to adapt your bike to one that’s more environment-friendly. The remarkable thing about converting your bike using this kit is you still get the best of both worlds. You can use it as your usual electric vehicle and not even pedal it once. However, the health benefits of biking will not be lost as you can quickly shift to manual mode and pedal every step of the way.
Things to Consider in Choosing an Electric Bike Kit
The latest technologies in electric motors and drivetrains have made it possible for efficient and affordable conversion kits. You can now quickly adapt your standard bicycle to an electric version making it possible for you to enjoy the best of both worlds.
A great thing with a converted bike is that you still get all the benefits of a traditional one but with a flick of a switch you can also get around faster and farther at a fraction of the effort. Some people will prefer e-bikes because you can commute to work or school without getting all sweaty along the way.
One thing is for sure when you embark on a conversion project, you’re definitely going to save a lot of money compared to when you buy a brand new one. You also retain the advantages of both, while completely eliminating the disadvantages of a traditional bike.
In choosing the electric bicycle kit to get, you want to take into account how handy you are with tools. If you own a bike, it is likely that you’re quite skilled in using them so you will be able to do the conversion by yourself. The great thing with getting a kit is that it comes with everything you need. The major parts like the motors are assembled, and all you really need is to fit them on your bike and screw them in place.
Types of Electric Bike Conversion Kit
There are a few ways to convert your existing bike into an electric riding machine. Different types of motor and drivetrain combinations can produce amazing results. This is a great thing about e-bikes since there is a set out there that’s perfect for what you currently have.
Electric Bicycle Wheels
This is probably the most common conversion kit in the market. It is also one of the easiest to install as it mainly involves merely swapping out the wheels. Of course, you’ll need to connect it to other minor components like batteries, if required, but it’s still very straightforward to slap it on to your bike.
The way it works is that the wheel comes with a particular hub and gear that gives you a boost as you pedal. Batteries can be installed within the wheel itself or mounted somewhere nearby.
There are two different types of electric bike wheels, the front, and rear. The front wheel motor is excellent for road riding since the weight is distributed evenly throughout the bike. If you’re using a front-powered wheel, the batteries are installed on the frame just so your steering does not get too heavy. A rear wheel motor, on the other hand, is suited for off-road use as it provides added traction due to the added weight.
Front and rear hub motors are generally more affordable options since there are fewer moving parts and interactions with the traditional components of a bike. If you’re looking for an affordable conversion kit, then hub wheel units are the way to go.
Mid Drive Motors
Central and mid-drive motors are what complete e-bikes usually come with. It’s a popular design since the entire installation is mounted to the frame of your bike. This low placement has its advantages as it lowers the center of weight, making your ride more stable and smoother. Having this configuration installed will make you feel that you’re just riding a regular bike, and that’s a good thing.
The way this type of motor works is a bit more complicated since it takes your motion through the pedals and substantially boosts it. Then it directs the total power into the drive system, so you travel faster and farther with less effort.
Important Components You Will Need
Apart from the motors, there are some crucial components that you need to complete your setup. Just the power units alone won’t completely convert your bike to a full electric device. Here are some additional parts that you need so your bike knows when to activate the motors and where to draw power from.
One vital part that you need on an electric bicycle is the sensor. Without this, your motors won’t know when to kick in. Remember that e-bikes are designed differently compared to hoverboards and skateboards as they use motors that basically are just on and off. Activate the motors, and you’ll move. Electric bikes, on the other hand, need to know when they can turn the motors on since they’re more for assisting rather than your primary power source.
There are two types of sensors, namely speed and torque. The speed sensor looks at your pace, so that means as soon as you start pedaling, it activates the motor to begin assisting you. As soon as it detects motion, it kicks in and turns on your motors, and you’ll be able to feel it.
The other sensor is the torque sensor, and let’s say it’s a lot smarter than the previous one. It detects your pedal movements, and it matches your speed. This comes in handy if you’re slowly moving to weave through traffic. Now, when you hit the open road and start to increase your pedal power, it senses that, and it will tell the motor to crank it up. This type of motor provides better cornering performance.
Batteries are another critical component that you need for your electric bicycles. They provide power to your motors so that they can push you forward. On average, a good battery can give you about 40 miles of range with pedal assist, or just 20 if you rely on them a lot. Older electric bike models use lead-acid types, basically a smaller car battery. However, the latest models now use lithium-ion cells since they’re significantly lighter and more efficient.
Getting the Kit For Your Bicycle
It all boils down to the type of conversion kit you choose. Most of these can be installed on your bike without any problem, so whether you want a hub wheel motor or a mid-drive one, any of these should work.
Just remember that hub motors are the more affordable option. If you mostly use your bike on city roads that are generally flat and don’t need the extra power from a mid-drive unit, then hub motors are your choice. However, if you want to take your bike on off-road mountain trails, then it is recommended that you get a mid-drive motor.
Now, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a decent electric bike. You can rely on any of these conversion kits to change things up and turn your bike into an energy-efficient machine that will take you just about anywhere without exerting too much effort.