E-bike conversion kits enhance the good aspects of riding and soften the hardships; you can go faster for longer and don’t need to pedal as hard. So if you usually end up drenched in sweat before you get to the office or want to add some oomph to your weekend adventures, these kits are for you. There’s a kit out there for every type of bicyclist which, if you don’t know what to look for, can make it hard to pick the best model for you. We’ve made a buying guide to help you understand the different types of kits and what to consider before making a decision. You’ll also find a list of the top e-bike conversion kits on the market today.
Best Overall: Aventon Soltera
Best Value: Ebikeling Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit
Honorable Mention: Bafang BBSHD 1000W
Best Fat-Tire: Ebikeling Conversion Kit For Fat Wheels
Best Value Mid-Drive: Tongsheng TSDZ2 Ebike Kit
To choose the best e-bike conversion kits on the market, we employed a comprehensive research methodology. We evaluated dozens of kits before choosing the top contenders. Although we haven’t personally tested these products, our selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and our institutional knowledge of the automotive industry.
We visited Cycling News and E-bike Choices to get an overview of the industry from cycling experts. We also searched Reddit to get a more informed opinion of what e-bike enthusiasts felt about the products on the market.
Some brands are already well-established in this niche, and priority was given to their products. However, other lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were price, wattage, amount of torque, drive type, compatibility, battery options, sensor type, reliability, ease of fitting, and included accessories. Conversion kits were immediately disqualified from consideration if they were unreliable or hazardous in any way.
Best E-Bike Conversion Kit Reviews & Recommendations
Our Verdict on E-Bike Conversion Kits
When you consider the cost of a conversion kit and a decent bicycle, it makes the most sense to buy the Aventon Soltera. This e-bike is great value for money, looks sleek, and is ready to ride. If you’re on a tight budget, then check out the Ebikeling Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit. It has enough performance for commuters and should be relatively easy to fit and maintain.
What to Consider When Buying an E-Bike Conversion Kit
Unless you’re an expert in the niche, it’s difficult to know what e-bike conversion kit is right for you. There are tons of manufacturers producing different kit types at different wattages. This buying guide will outline the main e-bike kit types and key features to consider before making up your mind.
Types of E-Bike Conversion Kits
A front hub electric motor is arguably the most common and reliable type of kit for commuters as these models are normally the cheapest and easiest to fit and maintain, but they usually offer less performance and feel. Front tires on these rims are less likely to pick up a puncture, as the tire often kicks up road debris. If you need to change the tire, it’s easier on a front hub motor when compared to a rear hub motor. If you place your battery at the rear, then a front hub motor can even out the bike’s weight distribution.
The downside of a front hub motor is that it can’t handle too much power without spinning the wheel. Since front hub motors are considerably heavier than a regular rim, they put excess strain on your bike’s front forks and could damage them.
Rear Hub Motors
Like front hub motors, rear hub motors are reliable and relatively cheap. But they are slightly harder to fit and make changing your tire or tube more difficult. These motors can handle more power than their counterpart, as the weight over the rear tire provides more traction. But if you need to place your battery at the rear, it can lead to unwanted wheelies and an unbalanced feel.
Riders using these motors will feel a natural pushing sensation rather than the unnatural pulling sensation associated with front hub motors. There can also be an unnatural gyroscopic feel with front-wheel motors at high speeds, but not with rear-wheel motors. Rear hub motors could restrict you to 7-speed cassettes due to the size of the hub. Ultimately, these models can provide more performance than front hub motors but sacrifice some practicality.
In terms of performance, mid-drive motors are the king. They send power to the rear wheel via your bike’s chain and gear set. This means you can use a lower gear when riding up a hill or when accelerating quickly, which is arguably their main advantage over hub motors. So this type of motor can climb hills faster and for longer without the risk of burning out, but you put your chain and cassette through much more wear and tear. Mid-drive motors are usually lighter than hub motors, and some are so compact that it’s difficult to notice them at a glance.
These kits often use torque sensors at the crank instead of cadence sensors. These sensors deliver power from the motor based on how hard you pedal, which gives a more natural feeling that leads some riders to forget they’re being assisted when pedaling. There are more moving parts in these models, which means there’s more to go wrong. Mid-drive motors are more expensive than hub motors and might not be worth the extra cost for general commuters.
E-Bike Conversion Kit Key Features
As previously mentioned, there are three main types of e-bike conversion kit motors: front hub, rear hub, and mid-drive. The type of riding you do will largely determine what type will be best for you. Front and rear hub motors are relatively easy to fit and maintain. They also place less strain on your bicycle’s drive system. They’re great options for commuters who want to lighten the load on their way to work or simply get around faster. But you could be restricted in terms of what parts you can use, especially when it comes to tires, rims, and cassettes.
Mid-drive motors also work well for commuting, but where they really stand out is off-road. You’ll be able to use whatever chain, cassette, tires, and rims you like, but they’ll need to be heavy-duty to withstand the motor’s torque.
The next thing you should consider is how much power you’ll need. The two figures to consider are watts and newton meters of torque. How many watts an e-bike motor has is similar to how much horsepower a car has. The continuous wattage is how many watts the motor can sustain continuously without overheating. For people who commute over relatively flat land and aren’t too interested in speed, a 250-watt motor will do. But if you regularly encounter steep hills or ride off-road, you should look for at least a 750-watt model.
If you don’t need to accelerate quickly or ride up steep hills, a motor with around 40 newton-meters of torque will suffice. However, if you often accelerate quickly or ride over rough terrain, look for a kit with at least 80-newton meters of torque.
Some kits come with a battery, but many don’t. Even the kits that come with a battery usually have several options to choose from, so you’ll need to decide which one best suits your needs. The larger your motor is, the faster it’ll drain your battery. To figure out how many watt-hours a battery has, multiply its amp hours by its voltage. For example, a 48-volt battery that’s using a 10-amp-hour controller will be 480 watt-hours.
If you’re using a 500-watt hour battery, it can deliver 500 watts continuously for one hour or 1,000 watts for 30 minutes, etc. Of course, if you use the pedals and a low motor assistance setting then, you’ll extend the battery life. To determine the right battery for you, you need to consider the size of your motor, how long you ride for each day, and how much assistance you want from the battery when pedaling.
You’ll encounter two main types of e-bike sensors: cadence and torque sensors. Cadence sensors detect when and how fast the pedals are moving via a sensor at the crankset. These sensors will apply a proportional amount of power from the motor relative to how fast the pedals are moving. Although these models are cheap and easy to fit, they can have jerky power delivery that feels unnatural.
Torque sensors deliver power depending on the force of rotation applied to the crankset. These sensors feel a lot more natural, especially when ascending or descending steep hills. Some riders even forget that they’re being assisted by the motor. When compared to cadence sensors, torque sensors can even extend the battery’s range, as they only deliver as much power as needed.
Before buying an e-bike kit, you need to make sure it’s compatible with your bicycle. If you’re buying a front or rear hub motor, make sure the dropouts are wide enough to accept the electric motor and that the motors will work with the type of brakes your bike uses. Some rear hub motors won’t work with anything larger than a 7-speed cassette.
If you opt for a mid-drive motor, make sure that it’s compatible with your bicycle’s cassette and the diameter of its bottom bracket. Manufacturers list the diameter that their motors are compatible with and (normally) have options to fit various cassette sizes. Mid-drive motors also put considerable stress on your bike’s drivetrain and frame so, if you want a powerful motor, make sure your bike’s components are suitably durable.
Depending on what you’re going to use your e-bike for, you might need to consider whether it’s legal. At least six states require a license to operate an e-bike. Different states have different speed restrictions for e-bikes ranging from 20-30 mph, and some states have limits on how powerful the motor can be. You should check the legal requirements in your state before choosing a kit.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!
Q: Are e-bike conversion kits legal?
There are e-bike conversion kits, but whether they are legal or not depends on the state you live in and the e-bike kit you choose. Check out this website to see relevant laws regarding e-bikes in your state.
Q: Can you turn a regular bike into an e-bike?
Yes, any bike can be turned into an e-bike. But, if you’re going to use a powerful motor, then you’ll need to consider whether the bike’s frame and components can handle the stress.
Q: Is it cheaper to build your own bike?
If you buy the best value e-bike conversion kit and fit it onto your existing bike, it will be cheaper than buying a pre-assembled e-bike. But, if you want a powerful kit and battery and need to buy a suitably tough bike to handle it, it’ll probably be cheaper and easier to buy a pre-assembled e-bike, especially if you would need the help of a mechanic.
Q: How fast can a 3,000-watt e-bike go?
Some 3,000-watt e-bikes can go over 50 mph.