Table of Contents
Electric bikes are great. They make cycling a breeze. The motor means that a commute or a leisurely ride at the weekend requires a fraction of the effort needed to ride a regular bike.
The problem, however, is that ready-built electric bikes can cost a fortune. There is an alternative, though. It’s possible to purchase an electric bike conversion kit to transform a regular bike into an electric one.
We’re going to provide you with all the crucial information that you’ll need to build an electric bike yourself. We’ll also explain exactly what you need to do once you’ve got the correct bike, conversion kit, and battery. By the end of this article, you’ll be set to build an electric bike.
Let’s get started.
What Type of Bike Should You Buy?
Choosing the correct bike to convert into an e-bike is the most important consideration before you can begin. It isn’t as simple as taking any old bike and attaching a conversion kit to it. While it’s possible to convert a commuter bike into an electric bike, we recommend that you go for a mountain bike. The bike also needs to have a few important characteristics.
Firstly, you should select a mountain bicycle that has wide handlebars. You’re going to be attaching lots of different components to the handlebars, so they need to be wide enough to fit everything on them.
Secondly, the bike must have disc brakes at the front. Why is this an essential characteristic? You will likely be riding your new electric bike up steep inclines, and because of the extra weight of the conversion kit, having disc brakes at the front will allow you to stop more easily and more safely.
The third essential requirement of the mountain bike that you’ll convert is its wheels. In this article, we will explain how to build an electric bike with a conversion kit that has a motor built into a wheel. That means that the bike has to have a standard wheel size that correlates to the conversion kits that are on the market. Bikes with wheels that are either 26″, 20″, or 16″ are your best option, as these are the most commonly available sizes for the conversion kit.
You also need to make sure that the bike has a very sturdy frame, so we recommend mountain bikes. Some bikes just won’t be able to handle the weight of the kit and could be dangerous to try to convert. For example, a carbon-fiber bike should never be considered for a conversion kit.
What Type of Electric Bike Conversion Kit Should You Buy?
There are various types of conversion kits on the market. We recommend that you choose a kit that includes a front wheel with an in-built hub motor. We recommend this type of conversion kit because it is the easiest kit to attach to your bike and doesn’t require any expertise to do so. It’s also difficult to make mistakes with a front-wheel conversion kit.
You need to ensure that the wheel is suitable for your bicycle. You just need to find a kit with the same size wheel as the front wheel on your mountain bike.
The conversion kit will include more than just the front wheel. You will also receive a throttle and a speed controlling device. If you pay a bit more for your kit, then there will be other accessories too. One accessory that is handy to have is a display that will show you your speed and inform you of how much battery you have left so that you don’t get caught short.
What Type of Battery Will You Need?
Unfortunately, many electric bike conversion kits don’t come with a battery. Although, the kit’s manufacturer will likely offer a recommendation for a battery to be used with the kit. If your kit doesn’t have a recommendation, then you need to have a look online or in a bike store for one that is suitable. We recommend that you choose a battery that is either 36 or 48 volts. We also think that you should make sure that it has a capacity of either 10 Ah or 20 Ah. If you’re planning on taking your new e-bike for long rides, you’ll want the capacity to be as large as possible, with 20 Ah being your best option.
The Method – How to Build an Electric Bike
Now that you’ve got the right bike, conversion kit, and battery, you’re ready to build your electric bike. The process is quite simple. To do this, you’re probably only going to need a pair of needle-nose pliers, a tire lever, and also a screwdriver. Each kit will also have a slightly different method for attaching it to your bike, but it will also come with legible instructions from the manufacturer so you can know exactly what to do.
We’ll explain the basics of how you will attach an electric conversion kit to your bicycle. Always check the instructions from the manufacturer before attaching your kit, though.
Step One: Fitting the New Wheel
Before you can fit the front wheel from the conversion kit, you’ll need to remove the wheel that’s currently on your bike. The method will depend on your bike and the type of brakes and gearing system that it has, but you can do this in the following manner.
You have to deal with the brakes first. As we’ve recommended that you choose a bike with front disc brakes, we’ll focus on what you need to do with this type of brake. You need to locate the pin or clip that is attaching the brake to the front wheel. Sometimes this might be a spring or a cotter pin. You want to remove whatever it is that’s keeping the brakes attached to the wheel carefully, and once you’ve done so, you’ll want to fetch you needle-nose pliers so that you can then pull the pads from the disc brakes out. Put them in a safe place, and then you can move onto removing the wheel.
It’s easiest to remove the wheel when the bike is upside down. If you’ve got a bike stand that’s intended to be used for working on a bike, then use it, but if not, then just turn the bike upside down so that it’s propped up and in a stable position. Then you just need to find the quick-release lever that will allow your front wheel to detach from the bike frame.
Now that you’ve taken off the front wheel, you want to also remove the tire from it. Before you get your tire lever to do this, make sure that you deflate the tire. You want to ease away both the tire and the inner tube from your bike’s old front wheel using the lever.
Once you’ve removed the tire and inner tube from the old wheel, it’s time to install it on the new wheel that’s come with your electric bike conversion kit.
Next, you want to slot the new wheel into place. You should hear a click once it has attached itself to the bike. If you ever want to remove the wheel from your bike, you just need to press the quick-release lever again.
You’ll also need to reattach the disc brakes. All you need to do is attach the brakes to the new wheel using the spring, pin, clip, or cotter pin.
That’s it. Now you’ve attached the new electric wheel to your bicycle—time to move onto the next step.
Step Two: Attaching the Rest of the Electric Conversion Kit to the Bike
This process will, once again, differ depending on the electric conversion kit that you’d bought. Regardless of what kit it is, however, you will definitely have a speed controller and a throttle to attach to the bike.
It’s best to start with the speed controller. You’ll need to attach this directly to the bike’s frame. The recommended location for the speed controller is just above your bike’s chain. The kit will include the correct bolts to be able to attach the speed controller to the frame. Make sure that you read the instructions carefully to be sure that it’s secured properly to the bike.
Next, you’ll want to fit the throttle to the bike. This will go on your handlebars. You must think properly about where you want the throttle to be. While you’re riding your new electric bike, you’ll need to regularly press the throttle, which means that you want it to be in an accessible position. You may even want to sit on your bike to experiment with a couple of different positions for the throttle, and then you can find the one that best suits you.
As we’ve mentioned, some electric bike conversion kits come with lots of different accessories. Depending on what’s in your kit, you’ll also have to attach these accessories to the bike. Once again, always read the instructions, and make sure that everything is secured properly to the bike so that it won’t come off while you’re riding.
Now you want to fetch your new battery. You’ll notice that the connectors attached to it will marry up to the connectors on your throttle and your speed controller. It’s as simple as plugging the two into each other, starting first with the speed controller, and then moving onto the throttle.
You’ve now got to put the battery somewhere safe and secure on the bike. There are several different methods that people use to do this. One popular option is to screw a basket or some kind of storage box onto the bike. You can then keep the battery inside it. Then again, many kits will recommend that the battery goes where the water bottle holder is. If your kit suggests that this is the optimum position, follow its advice, and you’ll typically find that the necessary hardware to do this will be included in the kit itself.
You also want to ensure that the battery has been fully charged before you think about riding your bike. The amount of time it will take to charge your battery will depend on its capacity and voltage. Ensure that you don’t overcharge the battery, as this can shorten the battery’s lifespan in the long run. You should always remember to charge your battery when it is flat, too, as leaving a battery empty for long periods can also harm the battery’s effectiveness in the long term.
Step Three: Ensuring the Bike is Safe
Before you can get on your new electric bike, you’ll need to ensure that it’s safe to ride.
Firstly, ensure that both front and rear tires have been pumped up to the right air pressure.
Next, you’ll want to test your brakes. There’s a chance they need to be reset or realigned. Make sure that you do this before you start cycling.
Make sure that none of the new cables on your bike are flapping around or could get snagged, such as the pedals, when you’re riding it. Zip-ties are a cheap, affordable solution to this problem. Using them, you can ensure that all the cables and wires are tightly secured to your bike, which means that they won’t get in the way before you ride.
Step Four: The Test Ride
Now that your bike is ready to ride, then it’s time to take it out. But it’s important to ensure that everything is working properly and that you’re comfortable using the throttle. It’s a good idea to find somewhere that’s out in the open, without too many people or hazards around, to have a practice on your new electric bike. It will feel very different from what you’re used to. But it also won’t take you long to accustom yourself to the new power that the motor provides you with. The most important thing is that you enjoy your new bike. If something doesn’t feel right, check with your conversion kit’s manufacturer, just in case you might have made a mistake when attaching it to your bicycle.
Building an electric bike is easy. As long as you purchase the right electric bike conversion kit, and have a suitable bike to attach it to, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. The process of attaching a conversion kit to a bike is a breeze too. In many cases, all you need to do is switch your bike’s front wheel for the wheel in the kit. Attach the other parts of the kit to your bike, along with the battery, and that’s it.