Conversions and Kits
As ebikes get more and more popular, we are often asked what it takes to convert that old trusty bike hanging in the garage to electric. There are many different factors that go into electrifying your ride. There seem to be countless kits on the market from $200 all the way up into the thousands. How do you choose? What does Blue Monkey have to say about conversions? We will answer these questions here.
First off, what is the component level of the bike you want to convert? With the faster speeds of electric bikes, you’ll want to start with quality components, disc brakes and a sturdy frame. Although many people still convert Wal-Mart type bikes, you probably won’t want to ride one very far or very fast.
Next, where are you going to put the battery? Can you attach it to water bottle mounts on the down tube or will you put it on a rear mounted rack? Will your bike be able to handle an additional 15+lbs of weight the system will bring?
Keep in mind that you will spend $500+ for a good lithium battery alone. Just the battery! Most of the cheaper kits are for lead acid batteries and very small motors. These kits will build what we like to call a neighborhood toy. It will propel you around on flat ground but you probably don’t want to rely on it for a daily commute or even a run to the grocery store in traffic.
At Blue Monkey, we have done several conversions but they are usually based on a specialty bicycle or tricycle or a cargo bike where extra weight and battery placement is not a problem. Conversions are great if you want to dive in and learn how to build the system yourself. Conversions will never look as nice as a bike that is designed to be electric. You will have zip ties and adapters and probably a fair share of work arounds. Conversions are the ‘hot rods’ of the bike world. Think of it this way: you build a ’32 Ford for the challenge and pleasure of it and you drive your Toyota Camry because it has air conditioning and starts every time.
It is possible to build a great conversion ebike and save yourself some money over a designed and pre built ebike but it takes carful planning. Keep in mind that successful ebike builds that you’ll find on endless-sphere.com usually have quite a bit of history and several expensive tries to get the bikes dialed in the way the owner would like. If you like to get your hands dirty and get to know every aspect of your bike, this might be the right direction to go. If you like things to just work when you turn them on and maybe even a factory warranty from a reputable company backing you up, well, a prebuilt bike is probably best for you in the long run.
With all this being said, this is how we approach the question of “can you convert my bike to electric”. Yes, it can be done but should it be? It all depends on skill, ability, the original bike and what the end goal is and of course your budget. There are a number of quality bikes from solid manufacturers in the sub $2000 range which didn’t exist a few years ago. If your plan is to save money with a conversion, you probably won't save much if any money.
Here is Mikey’s take on the pros and cons of converting your bike to electric. Enjoy!
The few conversions that we do perform are done on a case by case basis and a bid is given based on our hourly labor rate. Contact us for any further questions you might have.
If you decide to do it yourself, we will point you in the right direction. Start with the ebike forums of Endless-Sphere.com to get you up to speed, so to speak. This is by far the best resource for diy ebikes.
Electric Bike Technologies (ebikekit.com) is an excellent resource for easy to assemble conversion kits. We have put several ebike kits on various cargo bikes and tandems running around Salt Lake City and they have held up very well. Ebikekit has great customer service and stands behind their product. Tell them Blue Monkey sent you!
BionX is know for their sophisticated, proprietary conversion kits. These kits feature torque based pedal assist, slick integration and regen braking capabilities. They also have price tags that rival pre-built ebikes.