Convert A Bicycle To Electric:

What You Need To Know!

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If you're a cyclist living in a city like the one I live in, covered with hills, you've probably spent a few moments trying to figure out if it's worth it to convert a bicycle to electric power. There are some compelling reasons why you might want to do something like this: electric power is inexpensive, and fossil fuel prices continue to climb. Electric motors are nearly silent and very efficient. And, of course, nothing feels better than coasting up a hill without doing any work! 

This article will talk about what's involved in a plan to convert a bicycle to electric. It's not an easy task, nor is it necessarily cheap, so you'll probably want to know all the facts before diving in. This piece will talk about how to convert a bicycle to electric, the different methods to achieve that end, and the components and associated costs involved in this project. 

Let's get going and learn how to convert a bicycle to electric power.

Convert A Bicycle To Electric:

Starting Info

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There are a few things to be aware of that might complicate your plans to convert a bicycle to electric power. First off, know that any bicycle you are needing to convert was not express build for the purpose of handling an electric motor and all the components included. A purpose built e-bike is carefully made to cleverly house the motor, hide the wiring, and make sure the vehicle is properly weighted and efficient. No matter what type of frame or materials used when you convert a bicycle to electric, you're going to face some challenges here. 

An e bike conversion with a conventional bicycle frame will probably have a few loose wires, an exposed motor, and quite possibly a heavy use of various types of tape. If you're super picky about having a sleek, minimalist ride, you might want to consider a purpose built machine. 

If you're the backyard tinkerer type who doesn't mind riding around on a bit of a frankenbike, this is a good project for you. Of course you get to decide just how much effort you put in: after you convert a bicycle to electric you can always go to greater measures to hide everything and make it pretty. 

Convert A Bicycle To Electric:

Parts Needed

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Now we should talk about the parts you're going to need in order to convert a bicycle to electric power. There are three main components to an e bike conversion kit, and they are all essential. 


Obviously the first thing you're going to need is a motor. Electric motors are pretty readily available these days, and it's a good thing. A few years ago you'd have a difficult time finding something for your bike, and you would probably have had to heavily customize it to make it work. Now many companies are manufacturing electric bicycle motors and kits. 

In order to convert a bicycle to electric, you'll have to choose between the two most popular types of motors: the rear mounted chain driven motor, or the electric bicycle hub motor. The rear mounted variety will mount somewhere within close proximity to the rear wheel, and a chain will run from it to the wheel hub. A chain ring will need to be attached to your rear wheel on the opposite side of the crank chain. The electric bicycle hub motor simply sits in the center of your front wheel, no chain necessary. 

Both have advantages and disadvantages. The rear mount avoids a heavy and wide front wheel, while the front hub motor means no extra chain is necessary, and the weight is distributed close to the ground, which is good for balance. The price tends to be higher for an electric bicycle hub motor than for a rear mounted variety. 


Next, you're going to need a battery or two. Batteries come in a variety of styles and sizes, but they're still quite heavy and cumbersome. You'll want to figure out some kind of clever mounting system as you convert a bicycle to electric. 

Control Box, Throttle:

Lastly, you'll need a control box and throttle. The throttle is usually a hand grip twist variety similar to that of motorcycles, and the control box is light and can be mounted virtually anywhere (though preferably somewhere that's less grimy and wet). 

Convert A Bicycle To Electric:

Work Involved

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If you're going to convert a bicycle to electric all by yourself, I highly recommend taking a course or educating yourself in general bicycle mechanics, because you're going to have to remove the wheels and attach things, and realignment and adjustment is inevitable (especially considering how much weight you're adding to the bicycle frame). 

To convert a bicycle to electric, you don't really have to remove much. You'll want to work out a good system for mounting the electric motor, batteries, cables and control box. Make sure that whenever you attach a part, cover the frame with tape and padding to protect it from scratches and rust.

If you're using a rear mounted electric motor, you'll want to be very careful to align the chain properly, very straight and without a lot of slack. This is an important thing to note as you convert a bicycle to electric, because a too-tight or badly aligned chain can make a lot of noise and wear your motor and chain out quickly. 

Whenever you make electrical connections with raw wires, be sure to cover them adequately with tape or crimp them and use a heat gun to seal. After you convert a bicycle to electric you'll be taking it through grime, mud, rain and other stuff, so proper sealing is essential. You may want to use waterproof grease around sensitive areas of the motor too. 

Once you're finished, tune up your gears and brakes. Remember, these motors are usually powerful, so be tentative as you first try it out. An e bike conversion is a big project, so kudos to you if you manage it, and happy biking. 

Good Luck!