Riding a bike is cheap, convenient and economical and it can save you hundreds of dollars a year on gas and routine car maintenance. But bikes may not be a good choice for individuals with arthritis, past injuries or the elderly because they can be hard to use on tougher terrain. The invention of the electric bike has changed all of that and allows individuals of all fitness levels and ages to enjoy a bike ride around town like never before.
In recent years factory made ebikes and electric bike conversion kits have gained popularity as an economic way to get around town and get in shape. There are a number of differences between a conversion and a factory made model, including cost, engine type and mileage. Learning about these differences will allow you to determine which type of Ebike is right for you, your family and your budget.
Electric Bike Conversion Kits: Motors and Modes for the Toughest and Best Ebikes
If you are considering turning your traditional bike into an ebike, there are a few things to consider, such as how much weight are you willing to add to your bike, how far do you want to travel per charge, are you able to install the conversion kit yourself or will you need to hire someone to do it, and of course, how much money can you spend on this conversion? Most kits will feature a couple of different riding modes: manual and full throttle. The manual mode turns the ebike into a traditional bike, while full throttle allows the motor to completely take over. Some kits will also include the pedal assist mode, which kicks on to assist the cyclist during hilly terrain.
There are several types of conversion kits to choose from, each of which is based on motor type and how the motor is mounted. These choices include front hub motors, rear hub motors, geared drive to rear wheel and geared drive to pedal crank.
The front in hub motor electric bike conversion kits are pretty straightforward are easier to install and will fit most types of bikes.
The rear in hub motor features a more complicated installation process and can add too much weight to a bike’s rear wheel, but they offer better up-hill traction than the front in hub kits.
The geared drive rear wheel kits provide better mileage and may require the purchase of extra parts during installation, but overall they’re usually one of the more affordable types of conversion kits for ebikes. This type of kit is bolted to the bike’s frame above the back axle and can require professional installation.
The geared drive to pedal crank kit features a motor that’s bolted to the frame, near the pedal cranks. Because the motor drives through the gears the cyclist can ride up even the steepest hill with ease. Because this type of setup requires plenty of additional parts and engineering know-how, professional installation is usually recommended.
The cost of a conversion kit can vary depending on manufacturer, motor type and mount, battery and the extra components included in the package. You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $2000.
Before you buy, consider what you intend to use your electric bike for and what your needs are in terms of power, speed and range. If you want an electric bike as a daily commuter for a route that features mainly flat terrain, then choosing a kit with a smaller motor will be perfect and more cost effective. The rougher the terrain the more energy a bike will use, which in turn will minimize your bike mileage per charge. Other factors such as the weight of the rider and weather will also affect mileage. Usually, an electric bike can get up to twelve to fourteen miles per hour with ten to thirty miles per charge.
Factory Made Ebikes: Ready Right out of the Box
A factory electric bike comes with the entire ebike setup and is basically ready to ride straight out of the box. Usually, this type of bike assembly can be completed in ten to fifteen minutes, making it a great option for individuals who have no prior experience with bike assembly.
A factory made ebike is equipped with an electric motor that starts up automatically once the cyclist starts pedaling. Most models will utilize lithium ion batteries because they provide the best charge and are lightweight and relatively maintenance free. They can also recharge within two to three hours.
A factory made model will include the same components as a conversion kit, however, they’re usually more affordable than a kit and feature a price that ranges from $200 to $1,200, depending on manufacturer. They can also offer more riding modes including pedal assist, full assist and manual. Manual simply means that the motor is switched off so that the bike works like a traditional model. Pedal assist will help the cyclist during a more strenuous ride and still allows them to burn calories. Full assist allows the motor to take full control of the ride.
Electric bikes are different than a traditional bike in a couple of big ways: they’re much heavier which means they can cause a lot of damage if you crash or hit a pedestrian and they’re also much faster than a regular bike.
Do I Need a License and Insurance to Ride my Electric Bike?
Most states will not require an ebike rider to own a license in order to legally pedal around town, as long as the motor is under 750 watts and doesn’t go above twenty miles per hour. Each state will set their own ebike laws, which can include a minimum motor wattage and age of the rider. On a ride, an ebike rider must adhere to the rules of the road and any additional laws that surround ebikes specifically, including helmet laws. Insurance is not required in order to ride an electric bike, but because most models are pretty expensive, we recommend purchasing insurance against theft.