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How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Normal Bike to Electric?

When it comes to electric motors and bikes, things can get expensive. While a full-fledged e-bike can cost thousands of dollars, how much will it set you back to just convert your existing bike? This is a common question for people trying to find a middle ground between assisted pedaling and a high price tag. So, how much does it cost to convert a bike?

You can expect to pay between $300-$1200 for an electric bike conversion kit. Generally, front hub replacement kits are cheaper, more universally compatible, and easier to install. Getting a kit that’s easy to install will prevent you from needing to pay for a bike mechanic to install it, keeping the cost low.

Why is there so much disparity in prices, and what can you get away with when it comes to cutting costs? While you can’t beat the price between a conversion and an e-bike, what else should you consider before you buy? We’ve got all those answers and more, just read on!
Do You Have to Pay Someone to Install an E-Bike Conversion Kit?

Can You Install an E-Bike Conversion Kit Yourself?

E-bike conversion kit

Okay, so you might be wondering what part of the conversion process you’ll need help with. The reality is that it’s going to depend a lot on personal skill level with bike maintenance and the particular type of kit that you choose to use. There are some that are easier to fit, and some that will take a bit more time and may require some specialized tools.

In some cases, yes, you might need some help from your local bike mechanic. For other types of kits, you can accomplish installation with limited tools and work on your bike. For the most part, front-wheel hub kits are the easiest to use in this respect.

If you aren’t as mechanically inclined, there’s nothing wrong with getting the help of a professional. The truth is, there’s a lot that goes into converting your bike to electric. In some cases, it’ll require not just bike knowledge, but also knowledge about electronics and how to run wires. If this is not something you are comfortable with, don’t hesitate to get help.

Another thing to consider is sizing and parts. While, in most cases, you’ll get everything you need in a kit, often they will come with parts missing — like the battery. Additionally, it’s often the case that one wheel on a bike is bigger than the other.

In these cases, it’s easy to buy the wrong kit and be left with needing to either buy a new kit or buy a new wheel. In a lot of ways, a bike mechanic can help you a lot during this process.

What Type of E-Bike Conversion Kit Should I Get?

BAFANG 48V 500W Front Hub Motor Electric Bike Conversion Kit for 27.5inch Wheel Drive Engine with LCD Display SW102

Let’s take a look at the different types of electric bike conversion kits you may come across:

  • Front hub — This type of kit replaces the front wheel.
  • Rear hub — Similar to the front hub, a rear hub kit deals with the back wheel.
  • Mid-drive — The motor for the mid-drive is on the bike’s drivetrain, behind the pedals.
  • Friction-drive — These kits will place a motor that can transfer power toward the back wheel on the rim of the existing wheel.

When it comes to ease of installation, the front hub is the easiest as you don’t have to deal with the bike’s drivetrain. The gears and chain are really where things get complicated. For the rear hub and the mid-drive, this is an issue that can separate a DIY project from a professional job.

If you are comfortable around bikes, you may not find any issues.

The rear hub is certainly the most complex conversion kit. It requires you to remove and replace the back wheel. You’ll need to re-run the chain and make sure the wheel is true. While a mistake in installation is bad across the board, a problem here could cause even more damage to the gears and the wheel itself.

The mid-drive style is not as difficult as a rear hub installation but isn’t as easy at the front wheel. For this type of conversion kit, you’ll need to place a motor on the existing chain and wire everything up. Placement is key here.

Friction-drive style kits are not as easy to come by but offer a lot when it comes to ease-of-installation. All you need to do is connect the small motor to your existing wheel. The problem with these kits, and the reason they’re not as widely available, is the fact that they don’t do well with wet conditions.

All in all, a front hub replacement kit like the Bafang 500W Kit (on Amazon) is going to be the most approachable as a DIY project and is going to be more universal and work with more bikes. Meanwhile, a mid-drive option like this Bafang 750W Kit (on Amazon) will require a little more technical know-how and work to get in place properly.

Mounting Parts

The motor is just one part of the equation. In most cases, you’ll need to find a place for all the additional parts and wiring. This includes the battery. Finding a place for all these parts is just another aspect of the installation process. You’ll need to take an assessment of your bike and find the best place for the heavy motor.

Keep in mind that the placement of heavy parts will play a role in the balance of your bike. It’s a common problem for electric bike conversions to have issues with weight distribution, so place your parts carefully.

You’ll also want to take into account that every bike is different. Say you need to mount something on the handlebars; in some conversion kits, that’s where you place the battery. The mounting brackets that the kit provides may not be wide enough to fit your thick bars. In this situation, you’ll need to think on the fly — adding an extra step in the installation process.

Battery Price

One of the most expensive parts of your project is going to be the battery. While some kits come with a battery already, some don’t. This is not only to drive down the price of the kit but also to give you more of a chance to better match the quality of the battery to your bike.

If you need a bigger or better battery, get ready to pay extra. The battery is also one of the most consequential parts of the build, so it’s good to go for quality over cheap price. If you don’t, it could mean paying for another battery sooner rather than later.

Can Any Regular Bike be Converted to Electric?

The selection is pretty wide when it comes to what bikes can get the electric treatment and which can’t. This is because of the many different types of conversion kits and the broad appeal of adding an electric motor to your bike. In most cases, your bike will be able to get converted without too much hassle.

But that doesn’t mean all bikes. In fact, older bikes may have a hard time moving through the installation process. While you may be able to get away with a kit that attaches to the chain, the front and rear hub options are essentially unavailable for bikes of a certain age.

Additionally, coaster bikes are usually a no-go. These would be your beach bikes that operate the brake by turning the pedals backward.

Some kits, especially the front and rear hub options, may have trouble with bikes that utilize a disc brake. Always check to make sure the kit you have in mind will be able to fit your bike. This information is usually found in the specs of the electric bike conversion kit.

Can You Convert a Mountain Bike to Electric?

While you might think that a mountain bike would be off-limits, you’d be wrong. Much like other bikes, mountain bikes contain all the necessary components you need for an electric bike conversion. Almost every type of conversion kit is available to a mountain bike — that includes front and rear hub kits in some cases.

With mountain bikes, the extra weight can be more of a pronounced issue. This usually happens if you intend to use your mountain bike as it is intended and on trails. While the extra power can be useful for more tame rides, in more strenuous conditions, it might not be useful at all.

Consider how you are going to be using your bike and what terrain you’ll be on. It’s also work considering that most manufacturers don’t intend for their motors and other components for use with a mountain bike.

That’s not to say it won’t work, but rather to say that the extra dirt and grim may be an issue down the road for all the electrical components.

To sum up: you can convert most mountain bikes to electric with a conversion kit. But, you might not need to motor in the first place and the conditions could wear the parts down faster.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to cost, you can expect to spend around $500 for the average electric bike conversion kit. Some kits can cost more, and the type of kit will have an effect on price. Keep in mind that price does not dictate quality. Some motor kits are for certain rider types.

You can convert most bikes quite easily, although some older styles and frames will be harder to deal with. Additionally, specialty bikes like mountain bikes are also fair game for conversion, although you might not go down this road for practical reasons. Overall, converting your bike to electric is easy to do and relatively cost-effective.