Skip to Content

Can You Convert A Tandem Bike Into An Electric Tandem Bike?

Tandem bikes are widely known for their unique front and back seat design. They’re just goofy enough to be endearing, even if they’re a bit tricky to ride. With the current craze for E-Bikes, the tandem design hasn’t been left behind, and you can even add e-bike functionality to an existing, traditional tandem bike if that’s really your thing!

A tandem bike can be converted to electric using a conversion kit for as little as ~$400. The install is DIY-able, but you may want to have it done by a bike shop. Several brands have tandem E-Bikes available to purchase, including Pedago and Vanraam, but they’re quite expensive.

Fortunately, you can modify your tandem bike easily yourself without needing to go to a mechanic. This will be a lot cheaper, but if you have no experience with tweaking bikes, then you may need a mechanic’s help after all. However, if you want to take on the task 100% by yourself, all the necessary steps you should follow are laid out here, in this article. Read on to find out more!

What Tandem E-Bikes Exist Already?

Senior couple on country bike ride

Tandem E-bikes have existed since the first one was released by Pedego, an electric bicycle company. Pedego’s tandem e-bike is made up of similar components to a regular e-bike, but it includes two seats, double handlebars, and a motor at the back.

This tandem e-bike is powered by a 750-watt motor and 48-volt Lithium Manganese battery. 

Ever since Pedego brought about the world’s first tandem e-bike, there have been various productions of this bike type by several companies. One of these brands is Vanraam, which has released several tandem e-bike designs.

Vanraam is a manufacturer focused on producing bikes for people with disabilities, and the brand has a product line of 5 different e-tandems. These include:

  • The Twinny: A tandem with two wheels for two adults.
  • The Twinny Plus: A tandem for two adults, with three wheels, two of which are located at the rear.
  • The Kivo: A tandem with two wheels designed for an adult and a child.
  • The Kivo Plus: A tandem for an adult and a child, with three wheels – one at the front, and two at the rear.
  • The Fun2Go: A tricycle with two seats situated side-by-side, instead of one behind the other.

Can You Change A Traditional Tandem Bike to Electric?

Generally, this is possible and there’s a set of procedures that need to be followed carefully. If you plan to do the conversion yourself, you need to be as precise as possible. 

Note that your conversion kit must be set up before attempting your conversion. You can use the heavy-duty Bafang BBSHD 1000W conversion kit (on Amazon) if your e-bike is sturdy enough and used typically for off-road purposes.

Will A Converted Tandem E-Bike Work Well?

This is a tricky question. The bike may work well, but it might not. This is because regular non-electric tandem bikes are generally not designed to carry extra weight, nor is it designed to travel at higher speeds.

Both these can be achieved with an e-bike, so cycling using a converted tandem bike maybe a little more complicated and requires some adjustments.

Frankly, with two people riding the bike, the weight may be larger than the kit is designed to accommodate. So, when cycling on hills, the bike may struggle a bit more compared to when you are cycling on flat terrain. 

Also, with the extra weight, hitting top speed will be much harder and may end up being hard to control; therefore can be more dangerous. All the weight will strain the weaker components of the bike, such as the frames, brakes, and wheels.

For your revamped bike to work well, it’s highly advisable to let an experienced mechanic handle it, to ensure these issues are dealt with appropriately.

How Much Does it Cost to Change to an Electric Bike?

Electric tandem bicycle

It’s actually not as expensive as you may think to convert your regular bike to an e-bike, but converting a tandem bike to electric will be more expensive. As mentioned above, you’ll need to use a conversion kit for this, and these conversion kits are not cheap.

Conversion kits typically cost between $300 to $900; this range is for good quality conversion kits, but you can find lower-priced ones that will of course be lower quality.

Apart from the kit, you’ll also need to purchase batteries, that won’t be included in the kit. If you decide to hand your bike over to a mechanic to do the conversion for you, the total cost of the conversion will be about $1,000. 

Here are the top 5 best-selling conversion kits with their current price ranges:

How To Build A Custom Tandem Electric Bike

Building a custom tandem electric bike is quite straightforward but requires a lot of skills and understanding. First, you’ll need to source four important parts: the battery, the motor, the electronic speed controller, and a throttle.

All these parts come in a conversion kit, so it’s much easier and cheaper to get yourself one of these kits than purchasing the parts individually.

As you know, a tandem bike has an odd crank position, so it’s advisable to use a hot motor for the motor instead of a mid-drive. Also, for your battery, you should choose one based on the range you want your bike to reach.

  •  Step 1: Ensure the motor, battery, and electronic speed controller are close together, so you don’t have to deal with much wiring.
  • Step 2: You’ll need to elongate your throttle to reach the handlebars and the electronic speed controller.
  • Step 3: Turn the bike upside down, take the rear wheel off, then install the hot motor wheel. Ensure the hot motor wheel fits properly into the draw belt and then tighten the knots.
  • Step 4: You can turn the bike over now that you’ve installed the motor. Moving on, install the rack at the rear of the bike, where you will also insert the battery.
  • Step 5: Place the controller beneath the rack to keep everything in place and out of the way. Note that you can also place the controller anywhere you want on your bike.
  • Step 6: Attach all the connectors, including wires from the motor and the battery, and connect it all to the controller.
  • Step 7: Place your throttle on the handlebars and then run your wires to the rear of the bike. Then, you connect the wire from your throttle to your electronic speed controller.
  • Step 8: You should test your bike now. Make sure to check all fittings and connections to make sure they work properly.

After all this, you’re good to go. You can now easily build an electric tandem bike by yourself without having to purchase a new electric bike by following each step carefully!