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Can You Convert Your Normal Bike to Electric? (And Should You?)

With new technology coming out every year, you may have thought about your means of transportation. Or maybe, you would like to ride your bike to work, but the commute is a bit too long. This raises the question of whether or not you can convert a regular bike into an electric one.

It’s possible to convert almost any bike into an electric bike with an e-bike conversion kit, however, the main downsides of doing this are the cost, installation, and maintenance. With that said, there are some serious benefits like power, speed, and a better ride.

Regardless of the potential headache, converting your bike to an electric bike can be both a rewarding and enjoyable experience. It’s a great way to dip your toes into a new hobby and get more out of your regular bike. As we just noted, all these positives don’t mean there aren’t any downsides to conversion kits.

How Do Electric Bike Conversion Kits Work?

L-faster 24V250W Electric Conversion Kit for Common Bike Left Chain Drive Customized for Electric Geared Bicycle Derailleur (36VThumb Kit)

Buying an electric bike like this one (on Amazon) right off the shelf isn’t cheap. Luckily, you can transform your current bike with a conversion kit. How do these kits work? E-bike conversion kits work by placing an engine or motor on either wheel of the bike. There are also mid-drive motors that are placed between the petals of the bike. Riders typically use a lithium battery to power these motors and engines.

Most conversion kits come with an LCD screen. These screens display things like speed, settings, and battery life. On higher-end models, you can find GPS systems and Bluetooth compatibility. Some of these kits don’t have batteries included. This factor isn’t all bad. Being able to choose your battery provides a variety of benefits. Things like range, weight, and battery type all add customizability to your ride.

How Much Do E-Bike conversion Kits Cost?

E-bikes conversion kits can cost between $100 for the most basic packages to over $1,000 for the most advanced, however, the price can vary depending on the quality.

A kit priced at just over $100 is an excellent option for the casual rider. That being said, it doesn’t have a powerful motor and is missing some of the bells and whistles of the other price points. This L-faster conversion kit (on Amazon) is a great budget option!

You can find the Bafang Front Hub Motor Kit (on Amazon) anywhere from $265-$800. This kit is an excellent representation of the midrange price point. It comes with a stronger motor than the lower tiers, more options, and higher quality parts. At the high end, you can find another model by Bafang like this one (on Amazon).

Some conversion kits top out at $1,400. In this price range, you’ll get all the bells and whistles you could ever ask for, plus top-of-the-line performance.

$100 – $200

The $100 to $200 range is a good price point if you’re just looking to dip your toes in the hobby. You can find some decent motors and kits that are easy to install, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of the bells and whistles from the other price points.

$200 – $600

The $200 to $600 range will give you everything you need to enjoy the hobby to its fullest. Kits will come with higher-powered motors with better quality parts. You can also get some additional niceties with better LCD screens that will make your ride more enjoyable.

$800 and Up

At the enthusiast-grade level of $800 and up, you have to start asking yourself if purchasing an electric bike off the shelf is a better option. You’ll get the latest tech and highest-powered motors, but if you’re new to the hobby, this might not be the best price point.

Another thing to consider is maintenance and service costs. Buying replacement parts and tools can all add up. Going to your local bike shop will also add additional fees. These fees will depend on your location, shop, and maintenance issues. A potential range you might be looking at for bike shop repairs is $50 to $300. These costs are something you should factor into your overall budget.

What are the Different Types of Electric Bike Conversion Kits?

E-Bike conversion kit options include front hub, rear hub, and mid-drive motors, and there are a few differences between them including how they’re set up, the cost, and the time it takes to install them, among a few other features.

What Are Front Hub Motor Conversion Kits?

48 Volt 1000 Watt 26 Inch Electric Bicycle Conversion Motor Kit LCD Front Wheel

Front hub motors are the most common conversion kit option. They work by installing the motor inside the hub of the front wheel. Front hub motors make an excellent option for casual commuting. These motors’ power output typically ranges from 250W-350W. Some models can reach up to 750W, but you’ll see an increase in price and weight. These conversion kits do lack power compared to the other kits.

What Are Rear Hub Motor Conversion Kits?

EBIKELING Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit 48V 1500W 700C Direct Drive (NOT 26") Electric Bike Conversion Kit - Rear Wheel Electric Bicycle Hub Motor Kit (Rear/LCD/Thumb)

Rear hub motors allow for more power than their front hub counterparts. They work nearly the same as the front hub but are placed on the rear wheel instead. Although rear hub motors offer more power and torque, they’re not for every rider.

These motors have a more complex installation process and add wear and tear to the bike frame. Rear hub motors tend to be more expensive as well. That being said, if you’re looking for more power, they make a great option.

What Are Mid-Drive Motor Conversion Kits?

BAFANG BBS02B 750W 48V Ebike Motor with LCD Display C961 Mid Drive Electric Bike Conversion Kits

Mid-drive motors are commonly considered the best option by enthusiasts. The motors are placed in between the pedals of the bike. The motors also utilize the bike’s gears, providing a more natural feeling. Mid-drive motors offer even weight distribution, energy efficiency, and a natural feeling.

Unfortunately, these motors tend to be the priciest and there are a few other downsides to then. For example, the mid-drive options require more frequent maintenance, which can be a hassle for some riders and consumers.

How Easy Is It to Install E-Bike Conversion Kits?

E-bike conversion kits are typically very easy to install, although, it does depend on what type of conversion kit that you’ve chosen and your skill level among a few other factors. One of the main things to look out for when purchasing a conversion kit is compatibility. Not all kits are universal!

Make sure the options you are looking at are compatible by checking the manufacturer’s guidelines. Conversion kits will also come with a set of instructions. It may be a little more complicated motors than setting up furniture from IKEA. Some extra tools you might need are screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, bike tools, and a crank arm tool.

You might already have some of these tools lying around. If not, you can always check your local bike shop or hardware store. If you choose one of the less complex options, like the front-hub motor, you can set up your e-bike in less than an hour. With some of the more intricate mid-drive options, your time will vary.

You can find plenty of fantastic resources online. You may even be able to find someone who has put together your specific model on YouTube. Complicated motors. As mentioned earlier, you can always visit your local bike shop. If you need help, tools, or advice, this will be a great resource. Not to mention, they can usually do the complete installation for you.

Disadvantages of E-Bike Conversion Kits

Things like cost, installation, and maintenance are all things to consider when building an E-bike with a conversion kit, despite their many advantages. Some other things you should look into before you purchase include the following:

  • Installation is a significant factor to consider. Although some kits can be easy to install, some kits can take hours to days to finish. If you’re not tech-savvy, this is something to consider.
  • Price. Even at the lowest price point, conversion kits don’t come cheap. To some people, it may not be worth the investment. To others, it might be a better option to buy a pre-built e-bike.
  • Weight is something to consider as well. The added motor will add extra weight to your bike. Excess weight can make transportation harder and reduce the handling.
  • Performance issues should also be considered before your purchase. Conversion kits can break from wear and tear. On top of that, you probably won’t reach the speeds of pre-built options.
  • Style. Conversion kits don’t offer the sleekest look. The kits can be bulky and contain wires and chords. If your someone who cares about aesthetics, this could be an issue.

Maintenance issues can arise with any conversion kit. If you’re not handy, this could become a significant hassle. On top of that, your local bike shop might not be equipped to help. When you consider converting your standard complicated motors bike to electric, you should factor all these into the decision.

Figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice and where you draw the line. Style may not matter to you as much as price. Or, if your DIY friendly, you might purchase a more complex kit and not be bothered by the maintenance and upkeep.

The Final Verdict

Can you convert your normal bike to electric? You can convert your standard bike to electric. Most bikes are compatible with modern conversion kits. All it takes is a little research, and you will be able to find an option that works for you. But, should you?

Electric bike conversion kits offer a variety of benefits, but they may not be for everybody. They require maintenance, time, and an upfront cost. On top of that, depending on your commute, it might not be a practical option. Whether you go with a pre-built electric model or a conversion kit, this hobby is sure to add enjoyment to your life. Do some extra research, plan out your budget, and see what works for you.

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