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What Types of Bikes Can Be Converted Into an E-Bike

What Types of Bikes Can Be Converted Into an E-Bike

First thing’s first: any type of bike can be converted to an e-bike! That said, there are some factors you may want to consider to ensure you start your electric-riding journey on the right foot. Whether you have a bike in mind or want to know the best place to start your search, we can help. Read on to find out the features to look for when converting to an electric bicycle!

Reasons To Convert

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of picking the perfect bike for conversion, you might be wondering why you should convert at all. “Aren’t there electric bikes available for purchase without a conversion kit?” you may ask. Well, yes—that’s an option! However, we think that you’re much better off with a converted bicycle than outright buying an e-bike.

Price

The biggest reason to convert rather than purchase a dedicated e-bike is the cost. A conversion kit isn’t cheap by any means, but you can save yourself hundreds of dollars when you opt to convert. Dedicated e-bikes can cost upward of $2,000, while conversion kits are closer to $800.

When you realize that a conversion kit provides the same experience for a fraction of the cost, turning a standard bike into a zippy electric one seems like a no-brainer.

Familiarity

Many bicyclists have enjoyed their bikes for years, and you may risk getting saddled with an uncomfortable ride if you buy a dedicated electric bicycle. A conversion kit lets you enjoy the feeling of your favorite bike plus the added benefit of power and speed. On top of that, your bicycle could be high-end and well worth investing in!

Weight

A dedicated e-bike is heavy. Converted bicycles are heavier than conventional bikes without question, but you’re almost guaranteed to enjoy a lighter ride than if you purchase a “true” e-bike. This extra weight can really change how your ride feels, with heavier bicycles seeming sluggish and cumbersome to turn.

Visit Your Local Bike Shop

Once you know you’d rather convert, we suggest taking a trip to your local bike shop (keep in mind, this tip is for people who don’t already know what bike they want to convert). Chat with the employees about your conversion dreams—are you hoping for a particular size or style? Do you want to make sure the bike comes with certain features?

Most bike shop employees should have an idea of what bicycles will work best when converted, but it never hurts to double-check their work. E-bikes are more common in Europe, so some American bike shops might not have all the information you need.

What To Look For

After the employees give you good jumping-off points, you’re probably wondering what features translate best to an e-bike.

Frame

The first thing you should check for is a strong frame. The main options for frame materials are alloy, carbon, steel, and titanium, and each comes with caveats.

Alloy frames are low cost but aren’t great at handling sharp impacts. While an alloy frame may snap after an impact, a steel frame is more likely to bend, not break. Steel and carbon frames offer the best all-around performance, with carbon being the lighter option. Titanium offers the best performance at the highest price—if you’re willing to splurge, a quality titanium frame won’t let you down.

Dropouts

This one is simple: you want beefy dropouts. If you’re new to this hobby, you might be looking at us like we’ve got two heads, so we’ll clarify. Dropouts are the part of the frame that comes down to hold the axles of your wheels.

For an e-bike, you want to make sure these dropouts are strong and sturdy (also known as “beefy”). Steel dropouts are usually a good choice, but you can strengthen weaker dropouts with a torque arm.

Find Better Brakes

Brakes require special consideration on an e-bike. Because a regular bicycle won’t go much faster than 15 to 20 miles per hour, powerful brakes aren’t as much of a necessity. An e-bike can reach 30 miles per hour, and even faster if you’re traveling downhill. When you’re dealing with speeds that equal those of the cars around you, brake capacity becomes a major factor.

Disc vs. Rim Brakes

The main types of brakes are disc and rim brakes, and each applies its braking force to a different part of the wheel. Disc brakes sit in the middle of your wheel and apply force to a rotor on the central wheel hub. Rim brakes, on the other hand, are suspended above your wheel and press on the rim to slow you down.

Disc brakes are excellent because they provide the most braking force and don’t require as much maintenance as rim brakes. However, disc brakes are trickier to fix when they do require maintenance. If you aren’t planning to make those repairs yourself, this may not be as much of a concern, but remember: you should expect a higher bill when paying for labor.

Rim brakes have their upsides, too. They’re simple to install and maintain (though they require more frequent fixes), and while they don’t provide as much force as disc brakes, rim brakes can get the job done.

Either option has the potential to work well, assuming you purchase quality brake parts and brake pads. Your best bet may be a compromise: disc brakes in the front, rim brakes in the back. This puts the stronger force where it’s needed while leaving your rear wheel uninhibited to allow for easier hub motor installation.

Consider Suspension

Investing in a suspension bicycle may seem like the way to go, and there’s no doubt about it: suspension bikes offer more comfortable rides. However, they can also add some unnecessary trickiness if this is your first time installing an e-bike motor kit.

If you’re willing to accept the added difficulty, you’ll enjoy a smoother ride with better traction. If not, remember that there’s no reason you can’t make some upgrades down the road!

Now that you know what types of bikes can be converted to e-bikes and what you should look for, pick up a conversion kit and get ready to ride!

What Types of Bikes Can Be Converted Into an E-Bike
by Ebike Essentials