- One of the easiest electric bike kits to install that I've ever tested, front wheel mounting, color coded quick-connect wires, clip-on 12 magnet cadence sensor ring
- Offers both throttle mode and pedal assist with five levels, can reach 20 mph in the US and 15.5 mph in the EU
- Optional trigger throttle, one year comprehensive warranty, secure and organized shipping box, smaller LCD display that can be tricky to mount
Dillenger is an Australian company that has been assembling and selling electric bike kits since late 2007. Their products are value priced and use industry standard parts like 8Fun / Bafang motors but feel a cut above cheaper options because of the excellent packaging, solid year-long warranty and little extras including wire management brackets and brake levers with integrated motor inhibitors. The 350W Geared kit seen here is exactly “standard” in my mind in terms of power, range and quality. It allows you to convert almost any bicycle you already have into a respectable electric powered ebike with pedal assist and throttle… as long as your bike uses 24″, 26″ or 700c ~28″ wheels. It’s front mounting which does change the steering dynamic slightly but is also the easiest, fastest way to go. If you live in Australia or the EU this bike will only offer 250 watts of power but is otherwise very similar to what’s shown here. The big upsell here for me is the downtube mounted battery pack and easy-install pedelec disc which does not require you to remove crank arms or unscrew the bottom bracket. While it’s not the zippiest drive system I’ve ever tested, it is very capable and visually appealing.
The motor is a 350 watt (or 250 watt) geared hub that’s laced into a double walled aluminum rim with 13 gauge stainless steel spokes. You don’t get a tube and tire with this kit like you might with others but that keeps the price down, makes it easier to ship and saves materials. The only drawback is the extra work you have to do transferring your existing tube and tire back and forth. The good news is that your tires will match perfectly! The bad news is that if you decide to switch back for some reason (like if you leave the battery off the bike and just want a light-weight pedal powered bicycle again) then you have to do more work switching tube and tires. The motor is made by Shengyi which is a company I’m not super familiar with but is obviously Chinese. It’s small, silver in color and fairly light weight. Depending on the drive mode you choose the motor can make a whirring noise as demonstrated during the ride test in the video review. It’s fairly generic but gets the job done and the size and weight are nice for active riding. It’s freewheeling which means you can coast efficiently without motor power and it’s not so heavy or powerful as to feel dangerous on a thinner fork or one with suspension as shown here, but that’s just my opinion and they recommend using a solid steel fork for best results. Note that if you do use a suspension fork, the motor will be pulling forward and this will make the up and down motion of the suspension less smooth or completely lock it up.
Powering this kit is a beautifully packaged 36 volt ~11 amp hour battery pack. Honestly, on the pack it says 10 amp hours but the company has told me 11 and both sizes are fairly standard and should get ~20 miles on throttle power only. The bike can only be operated in pedal assist mode and there are five levels so if you choose to pedal along your range could easily double (especially in the lower two levels of pedal assist). The chemistry of the cells here is Lithium Manganese Cobalt which is one of the lightest weight, most durable types (similar to what’s in cell phones and electric cars). You should see upwards of 1,000 cycles before the capacity really drops off and you can extend the life by storing the pack in a cool dry place and keeping 20% to 80% full at all times. I love that this battery mounts mid-frame because it keeps weight low and center for improved stability. On the right side of the pack you’ve got three rubberized sections and the first will activate an integrated LED charge level indicator that works on or off the bike (as long as the pack is powered on using the silver button on the left side). The other two rubber tabs on the right are for the charging port (you can charge this pack on or off the bike which is nice) and a USB power port for your portable electronic devices. The pack locks to the frame with a key but the key does not have to stay in while riding which is nice. Taking it off is pretty easy, just flip the plastic lever on the top side of the pack and slide the whole thing forward. Nice.
Once the battery is charged, mounted and locked to the frame you just press the silver light-up button on the left and then press the mode button on the middle of the handle-mounted button pad. The J-LCD display (which perhaps stands for Junior?) will come to life and show your charge level, speed, range and assist level. Again, there’s no zero level here and no throttle only mode but level one is so smooth and gentle that it works well enough for that type of riding. The throttle seems to offer 100% power output in all levels of assist which is great because it’s a variable speed design. You can request a trigger throttle instead of the standard twister if you’d like and this might work better for mountain bikes or other applications where you want to keep your custom grips, avoid compromising your hand position or plan on mostly using pedal assist. I personally prefer trigger throttles for all of these reasons. The pedal assist sensor is quite good and surprisingly easy to install! It’s a plastic circle with twelve little magnets embedded which are designed to pass by a sensor that you mount near the bottom bracket. The two half pieces clip together around your crank spindle and are held tight by a circular metal clip. I found that fitting all of the sensors and wires was pretty easy and the system “just worked” without much issue. If you do notice that pedal assist is inconsistent I recommend checking the disc (make sure it’s straight and not wobbling in and out as you pedal) and the sensor alignment.
These Dillenger kits are really clean, professionally packaged and well supported. I’ve tested several similar kits like the Leed 30k and Clean Republic Hill Topper which are much cheaper but also less powerful and use ugly battery packaging and lack pedal assist by comparison. There’s also the E-BikeKit 350W Geared but if price were no issue the Dillenger would definitely be my first pick. I love the color coded wires, the extra mounting clips, the downtube battery and the different throttle options. The company is responsive, have run successful crowd funding campaigns (for a folding ebike) and seem to know their way around all of the different parts that can go into kits. They offer a wide range of systems including rear-rack mounted, gearless hubs and mid drives. You’ll be dealing with a bit more clutter than a purpose built electric bike but you might save some money and get to revitalize a bike that hasn’t been getting much use or one that you already love in terms of fit and style.
- The four signal-input connector cables are color coded so you know which ones to connect! This includes the two brake levers (Red), the twist throttle (Yellow) and the LCD display (Green) in the front
- A unique plastic bracket is included that allows the front wires to connect to your frame (it resembles a reflector mount) and this keeps wires out of the way while riding, the kit also includes a plastic wrap for gathering cables and a hand full of zip ties
- The battery mounting cradle feels very strong and has a wide range of screw-in points along the bottom so it should work with most downtubes (regardless of whether your bosses are higher or lower on the tube)
- Comes standard with twist throttle and a five-level pedal assist function which will extend your range, it felt very natural and responsive with a 12 magnet disc
- Available in three standard sized double walled rims including 24″, 26″ and 700c ~28″ with sturdy 13G stainless steel spokes (tire not included)
- The kit includes an extender for the motor cable which helps it reach on longer and taller frames, if your bike is smaller this cable can be taken off and you won’t have as much wire clutter to deal with
- Solid one year comprehensive warranty, Dillenger has been doing business in Australia since ~2007 and is now a global brand with a good website and solid customer support
- The LCD display unit is a bit small and was difficult to mount on our test bike because the edge of the unit collided with the curved handle bars
- The motor started a bit slow in throttle model and just didn’t feel as “zippy” as the equally rated Dapu motor found on Easy Motion ebikes or some others I’ve tried, for a front motor it was fine and rode fairly quiet which was nice
- The stock brake levers will only work with mechanical brakes, Dillenger will replace them with hydraulic levers for an upgrade fee of $29 which would be worth doing to get the motor inhibitors in my opinion, alternatively you could simply forego this feature (not sure if the kit will work without plugging in the brake levers?)
- Does not include a tube or tire like some kits, this means you’ll have to do extra work setting it up and that if you want to switch back to your old wheel temporarily you’ll have to move the tire again
- There doesn’t seem to be a throttle only mode or a zero mode for riding the bike with the display on but not having any drive systems active, basically you are always in some level of pedal assist and the throttle can be used at any time
- Official Site United States: http://dillengerelectricbikes.com/electric-bike-kits.html
- Official Site United Kingdom: http://dillengerelectricbikes.co.uk/electric-bike-kits.html
- Official Site Australia: http://dillengerelectricbikes.com.au/electric-bike-kits.html
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/s83nxZ7748QQ8S9ZA