Electric bike kits
How to find the best e-bike conversion kit to give your existing bicycle a power boost.
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Electric bikes are an increasingly popular option for commuters and cycling enthusiasts, but many models are quite expensive. If you're looking for a more affordable way to enter the world of e-bikes, an electric bike conversion kit may be the solution.
This guide examines the pros and cons of e-bike conversion kits and how to find the best electric bike kit for your needs.
What is an electric bike kit?
An electric bike kit allows you to convert a regular bicycle into an electric bicycle. Most kits do this in one of a few ways — some feature a hub motor that powers either the front or back wheel, while others are mid-mounted kits that attach to the bottom bracket. There are also e-bike kits that can be concealed in the seat tube, but these are much more expensive and not that widely available.
Electric bike kits will usually (but not always) feature all the key components to help you convert your bike, including a motor, battery, wiring, brake levers with motor cut-off and a handlebar display.
You'll also need to consider whether you'll be installing a kit with a throttle, or whether you'll be converting your bicycle to a pedelec-style electric bike. Pedelecs are more commonly available and ensure that the motor only provides assistance when you pedal. The motor also cuts out above 25km/h.
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. First, you'll need to decide whether you want a hub motor or a mid-mounted kit. Hub motors are cheaper and require minimal maintenance. Mid drive kits, though a more expensive option, centralise the extra weight on the bike and generally offer better performance.
- 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-fibre frames, or may be difficult to fit to bikes with rear suspension. It's worth heading in-store to find out which kits are suitable for you.
- Installation process. Read the fine print to find out exactly what you'll need to do to attach 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 amount of power the motor provides. In Australia, the law states that road-legal pedelec bikes can have a motor with a power output of up to 250W, while those without a pedal assist system are limited to 200W. Keep this in mind if you plan on riding your bike anywhere ordinary bicycles are allowed.
- Range. Next, find out how much range you can expect from the battery on a full charge. Once you allow a bit of wiggle room to account for real-world conditions, will this be sufficient for your cycling needs?
- Display. Consider what information is shown on the handlebar-mounted display. Does it contain all the essential details, such as how much battery is remaining? Is it easy to read in all conditions?
- Price. Most e-bike conversion kits are priced in the few-hundred to $2,000 range. Mid-drive models are more expensive, and it's always worth checking out customer reviews to make sure you're buying a reliable brand.
5 popular electric bike kits in Australia
Here are a few different electric bike conversion kits you might like to consider for your bike:
- Bafang BBS01B 36V 250W Mid Drive Kit. This lightweight kit is easy to assemble and is suitable to fit a wide range of bikes.
Front hub motor option
- Samsung Power 2.0. This popular option produces 250W of power and a maximum range of up to 100km.
Rear hub motor option
- TDR 36V 250W Rear Drive Hub Motor Electric Bike Conversion Kit. With five hours of charging time and a brushless gear motor, this option offers a range of approximately 50km.
- Das-Kit E-Bike Front Motor Conversion Kit. This front motor offers up to six levels of pedal assistance and is designed for bikes with 20-, 26- and 28-inch wheels.
- Bafang BBS HD1000 Mid Drive Kit. Churning out 1,000W of power and 160Nm of torque, this Bafang unit offers a range of up to 100km for off-road riders.
Pros and cons of electric bike kits
- Cheaper than buying an electric bike
- You get to keep riding the bike you know and love
- There are plenty of different kits to choose from
- Makes it easier to commute to work, cycle up big hills and generally stay active
- Not all kits will work on all bikes
- You need to make sure the kit you buy is legal to use in Australia
- 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 pedalling power. But there's a lot to consider before buying an electric bike kit, so you'll need to research a range of options and shop around to find value for money.
Ultimately, it may be worth visiting a few reputable bike shops in person to find out which electric bike kit will be the best fit for your existing bicycle.
Frequently asked questions
How fast can I ride my e-bike?
Assistance from the motor tapers off once you reach 25km/h. 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. Read our guide to find out how to compare e-bikes for commuters.
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 in-store for advice tailored to your bike and your riding needs.
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