Buy an E-Bike or Convert Your Old Bike? – How to Build Your Own E-Bike With an Electric Bike Kit

Do-It-Yourself: Convert Your Bike into a DIY Electric Bicycle

People often ask these questions: Is it even possible to build your very own electric bicycle? Can we do it at home? The answer to these questions is a resounding YES! With some technical understanding, adequate research skills, and a suitable DIY electric bike kit, you can convert your regular bike into a fantastic electric bike. An electric bike, or e-bike as people often refer to it, is as simple to construct as any other homemade Do It Yourself project. And the best thing is, it doesn’t even cost as much as people often expect to build an electric-powered bicycle. It’s also just as fun (maybe more!) as any other DIY project.

So If you are wondering how to make your bike electric, we are here to help. Today, we will look at how you can achieve this dream in a very cost-effective way. But first, let’s understand why you should try building your own e-bike instead of purchasing one.

DIY Electric Bicycle: Why Build and Not Just Buy?

This is a very pertinent question. Why put your efforts and time into building an electric bicycle when you can purchase a complete package from Amazon, Walmart, or any other bike shop nearby? There may be several scenarios in which buying a ready-made electric bike is a much better option. Such as:

1. You are not a technical person, and building machines do not interest you
2. You do not have the time (or energy) for DIY projects
3. Money is not an issue as you can afford almost any brand
4. You have your eyes set on a particular model or make
5. You do not want to convert your bicycle into an e-bike

Build your own fast e-bike

All of these are valid reasons. You can always purchase a complete e-bike as long as it is well built, sturdy, comes with useful features, and suits your preferences. But, for the sake of quality, we always recommend buying directly from the manufacturer and not from second parties like eBay, Walmart, or your local bike shop.

However, if you are a bike enthusiast and love tinkering with your hardware, building your very own electric bike should be a fun little project. There are two significant benefits of building your bicycle. First, you can save a lot of cash, and second, you can have custom specifications that you like. You can then invest the same saved amount in building a better version of the e-bike – according to the style and design you want.

There are other benefits of building your own e-bike as well. For example, when you create your own bike, you don’t have to pay for the markup or any overhead costs that go into purchasing ready-made e-bikes. You can also purchase their components and parts from reputable brands at a much lower price than the same parts and components which come with a ready-to-purchase two-wheeler. Last but not least, by creating your own e-bike, you can get the exact same specs (brake, battery, throttle, seating, motor, etc.) as you want.

So, are you convinced yet? Good! Let’s look now at how you can select the right bicycle.

Related: Best Value Electric Bikes: Top 5 Affordable Picks

Selecting the Right Bicycle

Yup, the most important part of your e-bike project is your two-wheeler. Without it, you can’t have an e-bike. You can either utilize your old bicycle or get a slightly better one with the help of all the money you have saved by not going for a factory-built e-bike.

After that, ensure your bike is suitable for an e-bike conversion. Whether it is an off-road bike, foldable bike, BMX, or mountain bike, it should have a very sturdy frame to handle all the extra motor and battery load. Besides, it should also have strong dropouts (a dropout is an area where a bike holds axels of the wheels). Bikes with dropouts made of steel are ideal for a DIY e-bike conversion. Aluminum bicycles are good too, but they need extra torque arms to further reinforce the dropouts. You should strictly avoid bicycles with carbon fiber construction as they are less durable. Don’t compromise on the frame’s quality!

Motor

Panasonic e-bike motor

The most important component of an e-bike is its motor. The majority of the eBikes utilize a hub motor. It is fitted right into the wheel’s hub. You can install it in the front as well as the rear wheel. There are two types of hub motors.

First are the direct-drive hub motors. These are simple and much more economical. They are also less noisy and more reliable as they come with fewer moving components. However, these motors are not very efficient. They are suitable only for regular paved roads as they generate very little torque.

Second, are the internally geared hub motors. These are a bit complex and expensive comparatively. This is because they have more moving parts. They are also noisy and not as reliable as direct drive motors. Internally geared hub motors are ideal for hilly and uneven terrain as they can generate more torque.

With that said, a motor’s choice depends solely on how you intend to use your bike and what kind of performance do you expect. For regular urban commutes, a 250W motor will do the trick (for the better range, you will need a battery with higher voltage). For off-road travels, a 500W rear hub internally geared motor should be your choice.

Battery

X-go ebike Battery 36v 10ah

Similarly, there are two types of batteries. You can select any of these for your DIY project.

First are Lithium-ion batteries. These are light, maintenance-free, quick to charge, and last for a considerably longer period of time.

The second is SLA or Sealed lead-acid batteries. These are comparatively cheaper yet heavier than the lithium-ion batteries yet provide more power.

When you are selecting a battery, consider its amp-hour (AH) rating along with voltage. Bikes that use higher voltage are faster, and ones with higher AH ratings provide a better range. However, your bike’s battery performance doesn’t depend on these two factors alone. It also depends on your weight, motor efficiency, rider input, and terrain.

So, how far and how fast can your e-bike go? To give you an idea, consider this. A custom-built bike with a 250W battery attains a maximum velocity of 18.7 miles per hour, and it has a range of 15 miles on a one-time charge. This bike has a 36V 8 AH lithium battery pack. The second bike with a double power motor attains a speed of 28 miles per hour, and it has a range of 40 miles per charge of a 48Volts 19 AH battery. Can you notice the difference?

Brake and throttle

When it comes to brakes, consider these two types for your DIY e-bike project.

MT5 eSTOP

1. Disc Brakes

These are highly effective brakes and require no maintenance at all. While their braking power is pretty strong, they are very difficult to replace when the pads get worn out after some time. Disc brakes also make hub motor installation a real chore.

2. Rim Brakes

Rim brakes are also highly effective, but they require maintenance on a regular basis. They are simple, light, and come super cheap. Rim brakes often wear out the walls of the rims. Therefore, they require replacement every once in a while.

When creating your own e-bike, don’t compromise on the quality of brakes and brake pads. Ensure your brakes are suitable for your front as well as rear wheels. Rim brakes are suitable for wheels that are held together with the help of a hub motor. Moreover, always check whether your motor is compatible with your brake type.

Similarly, there are two categories of the throttle. These are:

YWNYT 1Pair E-Bike Throttle Grip

1. Thumb throttle

A thumb throttle is a tiny lever sticking out from the handlebar towards you. It can easily fit most of the e-bikes. To operate it, simply press the throttle with your thumb. A thumb throttle takes up little space on your e-bike but can exhaust you on longer rides. It also presents a safety risk as you have to consistently keep one hand on the throttle.

2. Twist throttle

A Twist throttle, on the other hand, is a round tube-like structure. It takes up the entire end of your handlebar, replacing whatever grip is originally placed on the ends. To operate it, you need the whole hand. Although a twist throttle offers better control over the ride, they can tire your wrists. A twist throttle is also considered a safety risk because you can engage them accidentally.

Related: Disc Brakes vs. Rim Brakes – Which Is the Better Stop?

Choosing the Right DIY Electric Bicycle Conversion Kit

When it comes to selecting a suitable DIY electric bike kit, there are hundreds of options – literally. All of them come with different parts and components that you can fit on your bike. But, keep in mind, no one size fits all. Therefore consider its ease of installation before anything else. Is it easy to install for a beginner DIYer like you, or does it require help from a professional mechanic?

Furthermore, you should also ask yourself whether you have the patience and energy to assemble a bike and fit a kit? You should also be ready to invest your time in researching different e-bike conversion kits, techniques, and methods. By answering all of these questions, you will be able to know for sure whether you can put together your own e-bike or purchasing a ready-made one from a superstore is a more appropriate decision.

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Buy an E-Bike or Convert Your Old Bike? - How to Build Your Own E-Bike With an Electric Bike Kit — Bike Hacks