E-bikes could be considered some of the most innovative inventions of the 21st century. They are fast and efficient apart from being rider, as well as environment-friendly.
Cycling (or peddling) is assisted by motors in these machines and hence sometimes these machines are known as pedelecs.
Owing to vast areas of its applications and varied health benefits, more and more people want to own these bikes. There has been a tremendous increase in the sales of electric bikes in the past few years. Consequently, sale and servicing of spare parts of e-bikes have also risen sharply.
Can a traditional bike be converted into an e-bike? The answer is definitely yes. Traditional bikes can indeed be converted into e-bikes. You will need an e-bike conversion kit and about an hour of your time. The help of a qualified technician may be required if you do not feel comfortable to take this as a DIY project.
The process to convert a traditional bike into an e-bike is quite simple and does not take quite a time. Although a trained mechanic/technician is recommended to do the initial installation, one can usually do this task quite easily as a DIY (Do It Yourself) project.
How to convert a traditional bike into an e-bike?
The first and foremost thing that is required is an “e-bike conversion kit“. A wide variety of conversion kits are available in the market and the user has to choose them cautiously to cater to his/her specific need.
In some cases, amateur riders will be there and they need more speed so more powerful motors are required. In other cases, school going children are going to be using an e-bike and there a good battery backup is necessary. If obese people are trying to lose some weight using e-bikes then also a more powerful motor is necessary to haul their weight. Strong tires and the comfortable saddle is also required.
The e-bike conversion kit
Generally, an e-bike conversion kit consists of:
- 48 V, 750 W geared brushless motor
- A strong controller
- HornKey and Battery Level Indicator
- Free Wheel Chain
- Wires to make connections
- Throttle set and a charger
A motor is the most important part of an e-bike. It is an electromechanical device that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. In e-bikes, the source of electrical energy is a battery. Nowadays, 90% of e-bikes use brushless DC motors. These are maintenance free motors having high output power, compact size, efficient heat dissipation, higher speed range and lower noise output. But, these types of motors are a bit more expensive.
A brushless DC motor mounts its permanent magnets, usually four or more around the perimeter of a rotor in a cross pattern. Brushless motors are synchronous motors which mean their rotors and stators turn at the same frequency. These motors have higher efficiency.
A motor controller is an electronic device that reads the throttle setting of e-bike and adjusts the current being supplied to the motor. Other functions usually include a low voltage cut off over current shutoff and high-temperature shutoff. When brakes are applied this controller shuts down the motor. Most of the controllers work with hall sensor motors and the newer sensorless motors. Most DC motor controllers are designed to operate across a range of motor and battery sizes.
Twist throttle is the most preferred throttle. It gives better control and also increases the run time. Pedelec e-bikes do not operate with a throttle.
A battery charger is one of the most important devices for e-bikes. The battery of e-bikes gets used up as it is driven so it becomes necessary to charge it. Consequently, a battery charger is required. This charger should not be very heavy and should be easily carriable. In most of the European countries there exists a public charging point where batteries of e-bikes can be charged as and when the need arises.
In the e-bike conversion kit, a battery indicator is a very important device. It gives us beforehand information regarding the amount of charge left and hence a rider can judge how much far he/ she can go without charging.
A set of wires is given in the e-bike conversion kit. These wires make the connection from the battery to the motor.
A headlight is also usually given in an e-bike conversion kit and is of immense importance during darkness (such as when riding early morning or at late evening).
It is provided in the front to switch on and off the horn. The horn of e-bike should be used only according to need. Unnecessary blowing of the horn is not recommended as it drains the battery.
A freewheel on an e-bike makes rear wheels to turn faster than peddles. If there wasn’t any freewheel in e-bike a simple ride could be more than exhausting. Freewheel chain transfers peddling effort from peddles to wheels.
With all the equipment in the conversion kit, it is quite easy to convert a simple bike into an e-bike. The whole process takes less than an hour.
Here’s how we do it:
Fixing the motor
- First of all, the old wheel of a normal bike is removed and it is replaced by an electric bike wheel (as it has a slightly different type of freewheel).
- After this, the most important part that is the motor is fixed to the rear forks.
- The new e-bike wheel should be firmly fixed with bike’s body frames with the help of screws. Any type of washers and nuts should be firmly tightened.
- Finally, using a wrench axle nut should be tightened.
Fixing the wires and the battery
After motor and wheel have been firmly fixed, necessary cables need to be hooked. This is done by using the Velcro strap. These straps provide a neat and tidy solution to bundle together all the wires which run from battery to motor and between motor and throttle. This is important because if wires are not secured properly they will hang loosely and may cause further trouble.
After wires are securely placed throttle is mounted on the handlebars.
Here, it is worthwhile to mention that Li+ battery which is used to power the motor is a bit heft and is generally placed in the mid-frame region of the e-bike. It is because by doing so the weight of battery coincides with the center of e-bikes leading to better balance.
Finally, all that is needed is to turn on the Li+ battery. If all goes well the e-bike (in fact, a traditional bike converted to e-bike) is ready to go!
Thus, it can be concluded that a traditional bike can be converted into an e-bike quite easily. All that is required is an e-bike conversion kit. Here, the user has the freedom to use the battery and motor of his choice and according to his requirements. If mileage is more important, then a better investment on the battery is required and if more power is required (if a rider is heavy or if more speed is required) then a better brand motor is required. Bosch, Yamaha are worldwide known brands famous for their performance.
Are traditional bikes converted to e-bikes as good in performance as factory made e-bikes? Absolutely yes! The traditional bikes, when converted to e-bikes using e-bike conversion kit, are equally as good in performance as factory made e-bikes. Better motor and a reliable battery give enhanced performance.
Can conversion of a traditional bike to e-bike be taken as a profession by small scale mechanics and technicians? Yes, with a thorough knowledge of various types of motors and batteries coupled with hands-on working experience, small scale mechanics can take this task as a profession and enhance their income. As sales of e-bikes are increasing by leaps and bounds, their servicing, maintenance, redesign, and development provide for a great business opportunity and thus promote entrepreneurship.