So you’ve made the decision, you want to convert your regular bike to an electric-powered motorized wonder. When you go to check online, you’re met with quite a variety of options to choose from. Some are expensive, and some have too good to be true pricing. But what is the best?
When it comes to the best electric conversion kit, a Bafang Front Wheel Conversion Kit offers the best in terms of price, ease of installation, and quality. Depending on the price point and the features you want, there may be a specific kit that matches your expectations better.
If you are dead set on a conversion kit over an e-bike, how do you know which kit is best for you? What options and features should you weigh to make an informed decision? We’ll take you through the best options we’ve found for electric bike conversion kits; read on!
What Types of Conversion Kits are Available?
Before we get into which conversion kit is best, let’s first explore what types of kits are on the market. The reality is: there are several different types of kits to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Which type is right for you is going to depend on a few factors like rider size and the type of bike you are converting.
In most cases, though, you’ll run into four main types of electric bike conversion kits:
- Front hub — One of the easiest to install, the front hub style kit replaces your front hub with a motorized one.
- Rear hub — Similar to the front hub, a rear hub installation replaces your back wheel. In this installation, you’ll need to manage not only the rear wheel but also the gears and chain. For this reason, they are a bit harder to deal with than front hub style kits.
- Friction drive — This type of kit installs onto the rear or front wheel and provides power through a motor that pushes the wheel along the rim. While easier to install, they don’t tend to fare well in rainy and wet conditions.
- Mid-motor style — These kits go behind the pedals on top of the chain itself. While not the easiest to manage, it offers power right onto the drivetrain of the bike.
In most cases, you’ll see either front or rear hub conversion kits. Mid-motor styles are becoming more popular, though. While they both offer somewhat easy installation, price and quality can vary depending on the manufacturer.
What are the Best Electric Bike Conversion Kits?
Like we touched on earlier, finding the best is a matter of preference. But, if we look at kits according to several key factors, we can get an idea of what to look for.
For our purposes, we’re going to look at categories of conversion kits by price, with a review of: Ease of installation, Build Quality, and Overall Performance.
Keep in mind that what is good for one rider doesn’t mean it’s good for all riders. Always do your own research to determine the best kit for you and your bike.
When it comes to price, you can find kits that go as low as $300. But, before you go forward with a bottom-of-the-barrel option, consider what you are getting. In most cases, the part of the kits that costs the most will be the battery.
Often, you’ll find budget kits excluding the battery. Manufacturers do this not only to bring down the price but also to give customers more flexibility when it comes to price and quality.
Not only does the battery often cost the most, but it can be one of the most consequential parts of the entire kit. This is where the power comes from. A better battery means longer rides and higher speeds.
It’s that simple. So when shopping for kits and you see a really low price, check if the kits have a battery. If it does, will it go the distance and offer you years of steady service or fail in a few months? That’s why we recommend going for quality over price.
That being said, there are some options that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and leave you satisfied. For under $300, the AW Rear Wheel Conversion kit (on Amazon) offers a lot in the form of usability and function. While this kit lacks a battery, you can add one for a few hundred dollars more.
For an even cheaper option, check out the L-Faster Electric Conversion Kit (also on Amazon). While this kit lacks even the bells and whistles of the AV Rear Wheel, it can add some extra juice to most bikes. With this kit, some more assembly is necessary.
Okay, so we’ve got the cheapest option out of the way. While they can certainly get you the electric juice you need, they fall short when it comes to features and power. There are plenty of options to get your current bike retrofitted with a motor, but at a certain point, it may be worth the money to just buy an e-bike outright.
There are plenty of downsides to a conversion over an e-bike to consider before making a major purchase. On the other hand, you could have a bike that you already love. In this case, then a conversion kit can be a great way to add extra versatility and power to the bike you already know you enjoy riding.
If that is the case, the Bafang 8fun Front Wheel Conversion Kit (on Amazon) is a great choice for a top-end option. Not only does it come with everything you need to get started, including a battery, but it includes features like an LCD Monitor screen and an extra bright headlight.
If you are looking to not break the bank and still have a reliable product, there are plenty of middle-of-the-road options to choose from.
Be on the lookout for a brand you can recognize, as this can help determine the quality of parts and ease of installation. Additionally, you’ll have more options when it comes to the type of kit, as well.
The Bafang Mid Drive Motor Kit (see on Amazon) can offer quite a lot when it comes to usability. This style of the motor goes behind the pedals and can be a great option if you don’t want to replace your wheels. While the kit get’s great reviews, some people complain about the installation process.
Easiest to Install
When it comes to ease of installation, the Swytch takes the cake. This all-in-one kit combines easy installation with an attractive form factor. The company also provides fairly robust support for the product, which is great when things go wrong — something that can’t be said for all the brands in this piece.
The kit features quite a lot. Not only does the Swytch feature a high-torque brushless motor, but its lithium-ion battery pack is compact, and the battery quickly charges in under three hours. The best part of the product is the easy installation.
The kit is simple to fit, and you won’t need any special tools to get the job done. All you need to do is swap out your old wheel with the new hub, attach a few sensors and connect the battery pack.
While the Swytch has been turning heads, it does come with a hefty price tag considering what they are offering. But, much like other luxury brands, you pay for more than just the utility of the product. You also pay for customer support, snazzy form factor, and ease of use.
Can You Custom Build Your Electric Bike?
One option that isn’t for the faint of heart is building your own kit. Since most manufacturers will offer just the individual parts, it means you can easily shop around for the best parts for your build. This adds quite a bit of flexibility and customization to any project.
If you need more power, you can opt for a larger battery. Want to keep as much of the original bike as possible? Well, you can choose parts that best fit your original bike without needing to replace the wheels or other important parts.
Keep in mind, while this option does offer the most in terms of customization, it’s quite a challenge. Not only are you flying solo when it comes to installation, but you’ll have to do all the troubleshooting yourself. If you’re ready for the adventure, it can be a great way to get all you want out of a bike conversion kit.
Are Some Kit Types Harder to Install?
When it comes to easy installation, there is quite a bit of difference between the types of conversion kits. In most cases, the easiest option is a front-wheel conversion. This is because you can take the front wheel quite easily and without the need for too many tools and knowledge.
Since you don’t have to mess with gears or chains, you won’t need a working knowledge of bike maintenance to get the job done.
Next up would be the mid-drive option. You’ll need to do some reading to get a full grasp of what you’ll need to accomplish for installation. In most cases, you’ll need to attach the motor box to the chain behind the pedals. This can certainly take some finesse and may require some extra tools.
Last up would be the rear wheel. While installation is similar to the front wheel, you’ll need to deal with the chain and the bike’s drivetrain. This can be quite a challenge if you haven’t dealt with it before. Not only is it easy to mess up, but you could end up damaging parts if you don’t get the wheel centered.
How Does a Converted Bike Compare to an E-Bike?
You can get a lot of performance out of an electric bike conversion, but when you compare the kit to the real deal, you may be left wanting. You see, while an electric bike conversion can add a lot of functionality to your current bike, it can also add a lot of weight.
This might not seem like a problem, but when it comes time to ride, you’ll certainly notice the balance is off. For some people, this isn’t an issue. For others, it can be a deal-breaker.
Another thing to consider is the longevity of the parts. With e-bikes, most of the sensitive parts are hiding in the frame. This protects them from water, heat and UV damage. When it comes to parts like batteries, this can add quite a few years to the service of your bike.
With conversion kits, all the parts are out in the open. Sun damage will almost certainly wear down a battery quicker.
All this aside, a conversion kit will still add some speed to your rides. They also can last quite a while and provide years of service, even if they might not last as long as an e-bike.
When it comes to the best conversion kit, a front hub style kit is your best bet. Not only do they offer easy installation, but they can be a good middle ground between price and quality. Bafang is a great manufacturer of kits and offers both front hub and mid-drive style options.
Always do your research, as not every kit is right for every rider. Additionally, you’ll need to consider battery options quite thoroughly before making any purchase, as this part of the kit is often the most important.