What Bicycles can be converted to an Electric Assist?

Previously, professionals assembled bicycles before consumers would take them home. The bicycle would be assembled at the shop where it was purchased, and the customer would simply ride it away knowing that the gears, brakes, seat, handlebar were securely fastened and adjusted correctly. Today, many consumers are purchasing online and receiving goods at home that they have to assemble themselves. This is why prices are often much less expensive than in a store where trained personnel are overseeing the equipment installation.

Electric conversion kits for bicycles are one of the more challenging projects to undertake and should only be considered if you have a reasonably solid grasp of bicycle mechanics. If you do, then read on. Conversion kits are now gaining in popularity and igniting an entire new interest in cycling activities.

What You Need

If you are one of these DIY warriors and unafraid to roll up your sleeves on a project that could bring your cycling experience to a whole new level, there are a few things you are going to need. These component parts are necessary for converting any bicycle, recumbent, trike, or even skateboards to electric power. The primary components are a motor, power source, and some way to manage that power. You’ll also need a charger, and most likely, some accessories which will help to control that power. Several companies offer complete DIY conversion kits which afford the home-mechanic everything except the installation tools, and of course – the bicycle.  Depending on your goals, you can buy complete conversion kits from Voltaire Cycles. We carry the best brands for conversion in the business. These high performance and affordable kits are guaranteed to enhance your vehicle, further saving you the cost of buying a brand new bike.

Things to Consider

In general, any bike is a candidate for electric-conversion. In reality, many of the mass-produced economical bikes are made of weaker materials which can fracture and break under significant load.  If you decide to put a 1000 watt hub motor on inexpensive generic brand (like one that you might have purchased at a big box retailer), chances are fairly good that you may only get a few feet from your driveway before the rear seat-stays buckle and break. If you are planning on putting a motor on a bicycle frame, consider whether the frame material and welds used to construct the frame are strong enough to withstand the stress that an electric motor puts on those parts of the frame.

On the other side of the bicycle spectrum are high-end racing bikes that are made to be as light as possible are designed to support a rider’s pedaling forces – and nothing more! All non-essential material has been shaved off the bike to produce the lightest and strongest machine for a single rider. They are not made to stand the combined forces of a rider and an electric-motor system. If you have a high-end racing bike, consider buying a mountain bike, or at least a stronger framed bicycle for purposes of converting to an e-bike. The idea here is to find a bicycle that can support the weight of the battery and motor while also managing the combined forces of electric power and rider’s own pedaling energy.

After choosing the frame, consider the brakes. Standard rim brakes are definitely the economical choice but have substantially less stopping power than disc brakes. Disc brakes are clearly the safer route but complicate the installation of the hub motor.

Finally, most of the better e-bike kits now include E-bike brakes which come pre-installed with a shutoff wire that cuts power to the motor once the brake lever is depressed. This is a non-brainer safety device which should be mandatory on all e-bikes.

How to do it?

Most branded conversion kits come with complete instructions on how to mount the parts on your existing bicycle. There are four main components: motor, battery, controller, and LCD monitor.  The motor you choose will most likely be some type of hub that will replace one of the wheels on the bike. Most kits come with a complete hub-spoke-rim assembly. The entire assembly makes it easy to swap out either the rear or front tire of your bike and replace it with the new assembly. The battery can be fitted to the frame, or to the rear rack. Controller will likely fit onto some part of the bicycle frame. Finally, the LCD screen mounts to your handlebars for easy viewing. Wires to your grip/thumb throttle route along the frame to your handlebar. Once installed, simply power up and away you go!

So, if it’s that simple, why aren’t more people doing this? The answer is more complicated. Today, there are many more dedicated e-bike manufacturers that design and produce complete e-bikes that cost considerably less than what it would cost a DIY to build at home.

Another challenge for the DIY mechanic will be selecting the correct components for their bicycle model and wheel size. Just as there are a variety of bicycle styles and sizes, there is equally the diversity of e-bike components. Here is where consulting with knowledgeable professional can help save dollars and cents when ordering your first conversion kit. 

There is certainly no shortage of  overseas e-bike kits flooding the market today. Many of these kits are made to last about as long as it takes to ship them to your home. If you discover that after a few weeks of motoring around, your motor burns out, don’t expect someone on the otherside of the world to pick up the phone. This is the reality we live in today. If you want back-up, you will most likely have to fork out a few dollars more, but the savings you’ll be receiving in time, performance and reliability far exceed the dollars you’ll save by going with the lowest priced unit on Ebay.

Voltaire Cycles: Your First Choice

Voltaire Cycles offers a variety of conversion kits. The kits are easy to install, and are backed by some of the industry’s best warranties. But if you have any doubt about which kit will fit your bike, consider using our e-bike conversion services. We won’t just install parts; we guarantee results.