Thinking about turning your standard bicycle into an electric bicycle using an Electric Bike Conversion kit? The different products on the market for electric bicycle conversion kits range in price from about $300 to $2000. There are more and more manufacturers every year, and the price gap between the cheapest and most expensive electric bike conversion kit keeps growing. In the long run, what is the expected performance and life span of a low end electric bike conversion kit, versus one that costs almost as much as a used car? Let's break down the specifications of some different systems.
If you're unsure about installing an electric bicycle conversion kit, then it's wise to select a cheaper option to test the waters, before making a long-term investment. A cheap introductory model is the Currie Electric Bike Conversion Kit. Compared to other electric bike conversion kits out there, this model is heavier, has shorter range, and tends to need more maintenance over time. The motor sticks out to one side of the wheel, driving it with a chain. This tends to be more problematic than the maintenance-free hub motor, which is the standard on electric bike conversion kits today. It also offsets the weight of the bike to one side, making it difficult to balance.
The main reason an electric bicycle conversion kit like Currie can be so cheap is the utilization of cheap Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries. Used in lawnmowers, golf carts, and toy cars, these batteries are fairly common for low-powered vehicles. On an electric bike drawing much more current, the batteries tend to only run for about five miles before they need to be recharged. This puts a limit on the distance an electric bike can travel, as well as weigh it down with two or three 10-lb batteries. It is no wonder these kits sell for only $300 - they are really not practical for someone serious about an electric bike conversion.
To make an electric bike conversion kit more efficient, the addition of a Lithium battery helps immensely. With an average weight of 7-8 lbs, a Lithium battery makes an electric bike at least ten pounds lighter. It also boasts an average range of 20 miles on a single battery charge. These electric bicycle conversion kits are viable for commuters, or people that want to invest in a long-term solution that has reliable components.
The eZee Bike Conversion Kit is a great option for a reliable, Lithium-based electric bike conversion kit. Since the battery technology is much better, these kits tend to start around $1000. The motor is also built into the hub of the wheel, providing excellent balance and reliable performance. Compared to the SLA-based electric bicycle conversion kit, this Lithium kit is far superior. Of course, there are even better kits than this.
Compared to an introductory Lithium bike kit, the BionX electric bike conversion kit is almost double the price. What makes the BionX kit so much more expensive? It uses a hub motor and a Lithium battery, so there must be something else that puts this above the competition.
The BionX motor has a built-in torque sensor, so it can actually measure the power of the rider and put out the optimum power. There are communication cables running from the motor to the battery to the controller, which means the system works optimally together and protects itself from burning out. Riding a BionX bike is like being gently pushed while pedaling. It's as if an extra set of legs is pedaling along with you, taking most of the effort away.
Regenerative braking means that the battery is charged every time the brakes are pulled. This allows a BionX electric bike conversion to run for up to 40 miles on a single battery charge, if the rider chooses to use the system efficiently. It also has double the life span of the average Lithium battery.
Obviously, the investment in an electric bike conversion kit like BionX results in one of the best electric bike conversions available. The benefits of owning a BionX kit will surpass the high price tag once the quality of components and longevity of the battery is taken into account. It's definitely a long-term investment.
Taking everything into account, it's easy to see how the price range of an electric bike conversion kit is so large. Sometimes it's a good idea to spend small, and try something out, and other times it's nice to have the best product out there and know that you'll never have problems.
Take a look at some electric bicycle conversion kits and choose for yourself!