Assist Your Ride

An electric bicycle along a bike path.
An electric bicycle along a bike path. Photo credit to @himiwaybikes on Unsplash.

In the interest of preserving the environment, more people are embracing green energy for transportation. As such, e-bicycles are becoming a popular alternative to carbon-emitting vehicles. They have the advantage of being a bit easier to pedal than traditional bicycles, making them preferable for longer rides.

Unfortunately, e-bikes can be expensive, but you don’t have to dump your regular bike for a new e-bike to go green, and improve your riding experience. With an e-bike conversion kit, you can upgrade your regular bike, save money, and preserve the environment.

Unless you’re a biking expert, it’s difficult to know which e-bike conversion kit is ideal for your needs. Different brands manufacture different kits with varying features. Although different brands offer different conversion solutions, there are two broad categories of e-bike conversion kits: hub drive and mid-drive.

Hub drive conversion kits are sub-categorized into rear and front wheel hub drives. Front hub motors are installed on the front wheel, and rear hub motors are installed on the rear wheel. Both options are versatile, affordable, and easier to install. But since the motors are bulky, they tend to throw a bike’s weight off-balance.

With the front hub motor, you can even out the weight distribution on your bike by installing the battery in the rear. Unfortunately, they cannot handle much power without spinning the bike’s wheel. On the other hand, rear hub motors can handle more power since the weight of the motor on the rear wheel offers higher traction. Unfortunately, the weight distribution is off, and you could end up doing wheelies.

A mid-drive motor sits in the middle of the bike and sends power to the rear through the bike’s chain and gear system. Many of these kits are small and lightweight but still provide higher torque. Since they are installed in the middle, they provide optimum weight balance and improve your riding experience.

If you love off-roading or mountain biking, mid-drive motors are ideal. However, for the higher efficiency, you’ll pay a high price.

The important measurements to look into are torque rating and wattage. The wattage of a motor is similar to a vehicle’s horsepower. Also, check the continuous wattage as it describes the watts the motor will sustain for prolonged periods without overheating.

If you commute on flat land and aren’t interested in speed, a 250-watt motor is okay. But if you navigate steep hills and go offroad, a 750-watt motor is better. Also, if you don’t accelerate fast or navigate steep terrain, a motor with a 40 Nm torque rating is enough, but if you ride through rough terrain, about 80 Nm is preferable.

E-bike conversion kits require batteries. A large motor drains a battery faster. To determine the watt-hour of a battery, multiply the voltage by its amp hours. For instance, a 24-volt battery using a 10 amp hour controller offers 240 watt-hours. This means the battery can continuously deliver 240 watts for an hour (or 120 watts for half an hour). Using the pedals frequently helps extend battery life. To know which battery is ideal for you, consider motor size, riding time, and how much help you need when pedaling.

E-bike sensors are of two main types: torque and cadence sensors. Torque sensors measure how hard you pedal. The harder you pedal, the more power gets generated and the faster you ride. They are common in mid-drives. On the other hand, cadence sensors measure how fast you pedal – pedaling faster generates more power and increases your speed.

Before buying an e-bike converter kit, ensure it’s compatible with your regular bike. For rear and front hub motors, the dropouts should be wide enough for the electric motor. That being said, it’s important to ensure the motor you choose is compatible with the brakes on your bike.

If you choose a mid-drive motor, it should be compatible with the bottom frame’s bracket’s diameter and the bike’s cassette. Manufacturers list diameters their motors work with. And since mid-drive hub motors are powerful, they exert pressure on the frame and drivetrain. As such, ensure the bike parts are strong enough to handle this increased force.

Depending on where you are and your intended use, you should consider state laws. Some states require a license to ride e-bikes while others have speed restrictions between 20 and 30 mph, and others limit the motor power you can have. Always review these laws before making a purchase.

The best e-bike conversion kit depends on your needs. You can go with any brand provided the product quality and features match your needs. Although some kits can be expensive, they are generally much more affordable than purchasing a new e-bike.

Written by Editorial Team

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