I would class myself as a cyclist. Not because I don’t own a car, not because I cycle to work everyday, not because I visit friends and go shopping by bicycle. I class myself as a cyclist because it is also a hobby for me. I love reading about bikes, building and repairing bikes, I watch YouTube videos about cycle tours and cycle holidays I could go on. Now there are lots of people mainly in cities and European countries that use a bike everyday for work, shopping and socialising and they would not class themselves as cyclists, they are simply using two wheel to get around. Probably because they do want to contribute to air pollution, maybe it is quicker than being stuck in a traffic jam and just maybe they love getting a bit of exercise and some fresh air. Now I understand that cities are normally flat and getting around may require a short distance. But this is where an e-bike might just be able to stretch the norm. You can travel further and quicker without getting sweaty, tired or stressed.
If you would prefer to watch rather than read. Click the video below.
Now ebikes can be expensive. You can buy cheaper models that will sacrifice performance, weight and range. An alternative is to purchase an ebike kit and transform your existing bike. Kits come in three flavours:
- Front Wheel
- Rear Wheel
- Mid Motor
I bought a rear wheel kit and a mid motor kit to see how easy they are to install and evaluate the performance and range.
Front wheel kits are the easiest to fit, but the performance won’t be the same as a rear wheel or a mid motor kit. These kits are made up of a front wheel with motor and a battery. The battery normally sits on the handlebars and the motor is in the front hub. Simply put on the wheel, attach the battery, connect the two together and you are off. There are lots of manufactures of these kits. www.cyclotricity.com (a Scottish company) make all three types of kits. https://www.swytchbike.com/ seem to have a big marketing push on their front wheel kits. There are loads more to choose from. As stated these are not as powerful as the two other types and are better for flatter terrain.
Rear wheel and mid motor kits can be bought with motors typically from 250 watts to 1000 watts, but this can be a lot higher. NOTE: Please bear in mind that in the UK a maximum of 250 watts and 15mph is the legal limit. You can buy high power kits but they must be used on private land. The rear wheel kit I bought from http://www.cyclotricity.com can be restricted to 250 watts from the 1000 watt setting. This process requires putting in different codes through the LCD display to restrict and derestrict.
Fitting the Rear Wheel Motor
A typical rear wheel kit comprises of:
- Rear wheel to suit the size of your bike with the motor in the hub
- LCD display
- Control Unit
- Brakes with sensors
- PAS (Pedal Assist Sensor)
- Torque Arm
The bike that this will fit on to will need to have traditional dropouts eg quick release, sliding etc. This will not work (at the moment) if you have thru axels.
A typical mid motor kit comprises of:
- The mid motor with integrated PAS sensor
- LCD display
- Brakes with sensors
- Gear change sensor
This kit allows you to use your existing wheels so dropouts out an issue. BUT this kit requires that the frame has the British Threaded standard bottom bracket.
Fitting all the kits is really easy. The plugs are colour coded and if you can perform simple maintenance on your bicycle you can install these kits.
A note about batteries and range. The batteries I got were 48v 14Ah to figure out how long a battery will give you, you need to convert that data to watt hours. To do that multiply the two numbers together, in this case we get 48 x 14 = 672 watt hours.
So for example if you worked out your watt hours from a battery and you got 500 watt hours and you were using a 1000 watt motor to its full all the time you would have 30 minutes use. But in the real world a motor would or should not be used to its full. You have downhills and flats where depending on the pedal assist setting you have used the motor would not be used. Even on the uphills your motor would not be doing all the work if you are giving it a hand with the pedalling. From my experience I was getting about 30 miles from the 1000 watt motors but I was really hammering them (not giving them too much of a helping hand on very very hilly terrain). So this range could be improved if you were willing to take more of the load or if the terrain was flatter.
I have create a video to show the performance and talk through the idea of fitting etc. If you would like to view the video click the link below.
If you are considering a kit do your research to find a company you can trust as there are a lot of sellers of kits online and you need to make sure you can get back through to them for after sales service if something does not work as it should. Also make sure you buy a kit that is suitable for your purpose. If you live in a very hilly area then maybe you might be better with a rear wheel or mid motor kit. Once you have your kit and installed you will be buzzing. They are so much fun!