I get asked this question often. The short answer is, ‘Yes, we could’, but we don’t think it makes sense and I’ll tell you why. Our e-bikes are heavy-duty, have well known quality electronics, batteries, motors and wheels with prices from $1199 to $3499. They are professionally assembled and have manufacturers’ support. When you look at the cost, including time and labor, of installing a kit compared to one of our complete e-bikes you will see ours are far superior and a good overall value. Still not convinced? Read on…
Do an Amazon search and you will find electric bicycle kits starting around $200. Each of these consists of a motor, controller, and display for rear hub systems. You will also find some for $1000. The major difference here is the battery is not included in the low cost kits. That’s extra and you better make sure you get the correct voltage and plug connection for you wiring kit.
We know from experience that a good battery is lithium ion and is typically labeled with the brand of cells included. Panasonic, LG, and Samsung are name brand quality battery manufacturers. These will offer the best lifespan and reliability. Our e-bike batteries are warrantied from 1-3 years depending on the brand. Replacement cost is $600-800.
OK, so you get a quality battery that will work with your system and you think you’re way ahead of the game. Now you need to install it on your bike. Most motors are inside the rear hub and you replace the rear wheel with the motorized wheel. Easy right? Well, some hub motors have an enlarged axle with a machined flat that keeps it from rotating. Standard frames with 3/8” rear axle may be too small. Luckily yours fits! So now you have to connect the battery, controller and display.
The battery is heavy (7-12lbs) and the battery is designed to mount on a water bottle cage mount. Otherwise you are attaching to a rear rack or you’ll attach it to a frame tube with pipe clamps. Don’t attach it too permanently because you shouldn’t expose it to extreme cold or heat and you will need to charge is regularly. But make sure it’s secure because a loose battery can lead to broken wires or connectors. Our e-bikes have a solid battery attachment or an internal compartment that holds the battery securely with a lock and key. Charge it on the bike or quickly remove it and bring it inside.
The controller is a critical part of the system that governs the battery amperage and thus the power of the motor. It is often based off of sensors on the bike, either by cadence, speed and/or torque. The best systems dole out power smoothly and predictably. They give more power at low speeds and high torque then reduce power once you get up to speed. The bad ones are herky-jerky and change when you pedal. If you get a good one you will have plenty of wires to connect and route from the rear wheel motor all the way to the handlebar. This usually ends up looking like black spaghetti zip tied all over. Our e-bikes have a fully integrated wire routing that is weather proof, hidden, clean, and robust. They have compartments that give you access to the connections and junctions that make it easy to replace components.
Finally you have the display and control buttons. These come is a wide variety but usually include on/off switch, power up or down, and battery indicator. This is where cheap electronics really show. These are also the most vulnerable as people drop the bike or turn it upside down to change a flat. Our e-bikes have horns, brake lights, range indicators, and trip odometers. The displays are larger and brighter and can have bluetooth with cell phone GPS tracking and mapping.
Well – you got it done! You installed your own system and it works! You’re good right? Well, you bought a 1000W motor and that is not a Class 1, 2, or 3 vehicle (750w maximum) so now you need a registration and insurance. Also, bigger motors are very hungry and that 7aH battery you got gives you 10 miles of range. OOPS! Also, your rim brakes don’t stop very well now that the bike is 25lbs heavier and goes 35mph. And when you have a problem don’t ask the bike shop because we can’t get parts for this and it’s dangerous. Also, you didn’t take our advice or buy anything from us so we are not too happy with you.
E-bike kits don’t make sense, but buying a new e-bike and supporting you’re local business does!