Is an ebike conversion right for you? Feverishly you are researching pre built electric bikes and scoffing at the prices. "Three thousand?!? Are they out of their minds?" Suddenly a thought pops into your head, "What if I just convert my old bicycle to electric?" There you go, stick one to big bicycle. But, is converting your existing bike to electric the best answer?
There are many pros and cons to building your own conversion. If you are a tinkerer and love building things, such as myself, then you are on the right path. If you like things to just work, without tinkering with them, a conversion is not for you.
Conversions are fun to build
If you love to get greasy and dirty! Conversions are fun! Installing the motor, battery, and controller are fun! Wrenching on the bike, finding out how to hide the wires is a great time!
Sure, you can thumb you nose at big bicycle companies and save yourself a bit of scratch. That's always a good feeling, to know you beat the others and got a great deal doing so.
Make it your way
Just like Burger King. You can make it your way. It's your bike, your conversion. Do as you please.
I joke, but as a bicycle mechanic, as much as I love fixing bikes, do you? Conversions are riddled with problems. Unless you love working on, and fixing, and rebuilding stuff. Conversions are not for you, bottom line.
Sure, you are about to save all the money. But wait, did you think to consider how much it would cost to pay a mechanic to do this for you? Most bike shops will charge on average around $70 an hour to convert your old bicycle to a new electric one. If doing it yourself think of how many hours it would take you to build the conversion and know you are not being paid for this extra work. Another thing to consider is what system you are ultimately going to go with. The price of a particular motor and battery system usually reflects the quality. A good motor system will usually run between $1000 and $1500. That is not cheap by a long shot.
Bike not Built for Electric
A lot of times a consumer wants to convert an old bike they have lying around in their garage. Two problems can arise from this, one being it is a shame to see an original bike modified and essentially destroyed from its original intent. I often hear people wanting to convert a classic bicycle that is much better off being left in its original state. The second problem is most conventional bikes were never designed or intended to take the weight and speed of an electric motor system. Often times a conversion will literally shake the bicycle apart requiring constant maintenance and inspections to keep on riding safely. Also, consider the brakes. Will they be sufficient enough to stop the bike with the new electric system’s speed?
Very Little or No Warranty Support
The biggest issue with a conversion is the lack of support. With a premade electric bicycle the shop you bought it from will handle any and all warranty claims, leaving the fun part of actual riding of the bike to you. With a conversion it is up to you to contact the manufacturer for replacement parts or repairs should any problems arise. Conversion kits do have a support structure usually built into place but any and all headaches fall solely into your hands.
In conclusion conversions have a ton of pros and cons. If you are a tinkerer and enjoy messing around in the garage then a conversion is certainly a cool way to build something you can be proud of. If you absolutely despise getting your hands dirty and like when things just work, then a conversion is not the way to go. The idea of saving money can be a tantalizing idea, but at what cost? Your safety? Your sanity?
Be sure to check out to check out our resources tab and look into the idea for yourself. There is also a great video below that we put together about the pros and cons and approaches it in a fun exciting way. You could always give us a call or shoot us an email but a quick internet search could alleviate such questions and sometimes in much greater detail. Endless Sphere is an excellent resource for DIY ebikes. If you are interested in seeing a ready made electric bike in action come down and see us at our shop. Our staff would be more than happy to talk systems and give you a demo of what a great pre made electric bike can do. Whatever direction you go, keep riding bikes! -Cody