- Basic electric bike kit for front or rear wheel, includes battery pack, hub motor in wheel and twist throttle
- Good value with support and warranty, easy to install, multiple battery options for weight and range optimization
- Basic interface lacks a display panel to let you know how fast you're going or how much battery is left
This review is for the 2012 version of the E-BikeKit 350 watt geared motor that works with the front or rear wheel of most bikes. This kit did not come with an LCD display and output 20 amps vs. 22 on the newer designs. You can see the newer kit reviewed here.
E-BikeKit has been selling electric bike conversion kits since 2008 and has a positive track record of offering good value and solid customer support. The 350 watt geared hub motor kit is available with a wide selection of batteries that let you optimize for price (with a heavier sealed Lead-acid pack) or for weight (with a more expensive but lighter Lithium-ion pack). It’s really up to you to determine how you want to mount the batteries and you can even decide which wheel to put the hub motor on (they sell front and rear version). Basically, you figure out which wheel you’re going to swap out, read the size (usually printed on your tire) and order that kit. Once it arrives you can take your old wheel off and set it aside. The hub motor comes “spoked in” so you don’t have to do much besides fitting it onto your bike. Note that the rear wheel tends to be more complicated to swap out because there’s a cassette built on that connects with the chain for pedaling. That said, my preference is still for the rear design because the back of bikes tend to be sturdier and more weight tends to be exerted there which gives you better traction as well. This is especially true if you use a rear rack for mounting the battery… but the downside to this is that all of the weight from your (kit 20+ pounds) is all at the rear, making your bike less balanced. The other thing to install here is a torque arm, this is a metal bracket that helps to distribute the force of the motor up into your fork arm or seat stay vs. letting it all go into the smaller dropout arms.
The 350 watt geared motor design has a couple of advantages to a direct drive (gearless) equivalent. It’s smaller (blends in more), lighter weight (~6 pounds) and easier to pedal with because it uses a freewheel. If you’re trying to pick one design over the other I’d suggest asking yourself whether you want to spend more time pedaling and are an active type of rider or if you’re more interested in cruising around and using your bike like a scooter. The geared design will be best for those who enjoy pedaling along because of the weight and freewheel benefits but note that it won’t be as powerful or quiet. The gears can also wear out more quickly than a direct drive equivalent but E-BikeKit actually has a program where you can send it back to them for a paid repair! This is pretty amazing to me and a great example of recycling and customer support.
The battery packs offered with this kit are all 36 volt which is enough power to get you up to 20mph and climb moderate hills (as long as you provide a bit of speed going in and maybe help out along the way if it’s really steep). Depending on how light you want the kit to be and how far you plan on traveling there’s a range of choices from 9 to 15 amp hours in sealed Lead-acid or Lithium-ion. I prefer the Lithium packs for the weight savings, especially since I’m an active style rider and that’s what this kit is all about. They do cost more but they last nearly twice as long and have a two year warranty vs. six months on the SLA.
This kit comes with brake levers that you can use to replace the ones already installed on your bike. At first this had me concerned about how much work would be involved but it was actually pretty easy. There’s a wire with a piece of metal at the end called a “tumbler” and you just pop this out of your existing levers and re-insert it into the new ones. It’s a great safety feature to have the brakes cut out when you pull the levers and otherwise they look fine and perform as you’d expect. The other piece of kit that you’ll need to mount to the handlebars is the twist throttle. It comes with a half-grip twist section and a black rubber end piece but you could also just cut one of your existing grips in half to use with the twist portion. I prefer grips with a lock on the end (basically a screw that can be tightened to clamp the end of the grip so it doesn’t spin or slide around).
Compared with other electric bike kits this one is about finding a happy medium of quality, support and low price. You don’t get a fancy LCD screen showing your battery capacity or top speed and you have to manually flick a toggle switch on the controller (pictured above) to turn the kit on (which might be buried in the battery pack). Mounting the wheel isn’t too tough and adding the brakes and throttle are fine but you’ll also have to run cables along your frame and secure them with zip ties so this will look a bit tackier than buying a purpose built ebike… but you’ll save money. There are other cheaper kits around but they don’t always use a variable speed throttle. The more expensive kits have displays, pedal assist and regen modes but cost much much more.
- Available with Sealed Lead-Acid, Lithium-ion or no battery option at different price points
- Efficient 350 watt geared hub motor is smooth, relatively quiet and blends in (stealth)
- Different mounting options depending on which battery you choose, included bag keeps pack clean and dry
- Great two year motor warranty, solid battery warranty depending on which pack you get (sealed Lead-acid has a shorter six month warranty)
- Solid track record with responsive customer support, E-BikeKit has been around since 2008
- Designed, assembled and partially manufactured in the us, packaging is recyclable and does not use styrofoam
- Twist throttle and trigger throttle offer variable power output vs. some basic kits that only have an on/off drive button
- Available in a wide range of wheel sizes that don’t cost extra including 20″, 24″, 26″ and 700c / 29er
- Can be used on all types of bikes including tandem, recumbent or on a trailer wheel as a pusher
- Geared motor design is light weight and doesn’t add rolling resistance (uses a freewheel)
- No pedal assist options, kit comes with a half-grip twist throttle or trigger only (kit includes both)
- No display panel to let you know how much battery is left or how fast you’re riding
- Geared motors have more moving parts inside vs. gearless and can wear out faster, E-BikeKit does offer paid repair services if this happens after a few years which is pretty cool
- Official Site: http://www.ebikekit.com/electric-bike-conversion-kits/
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/aQRaMmgMyxobgFEr5