- One of the most powerful electric bike motors available, ideal for heavy duty cargo hauling, blurs the line on legality shipping with 20 mph top speed limit but unlockable to ~40 mph for off-road use
- Offers physical shift detection compatible with cassettes, internally geared hubs and CVT systems like NuVinci, this reduces drivetrain wear on the chain, sprockets and derailleur significantly
- Three battery size options (all run at 48 volts) with premium Samsung, Panasonic or Sanyo Lithium-ion cells, solid one year comprehensive warranty on all parts
- Choose from trigger throttle or twist throttle (for left or right bar), you can wire in lights, the system lets you override pedal assist with the throttle and the display looks great but doesn't swivel and isn't removable, as with most aftermarket kits the wires use zip ties to attach and may add clutter to the frame
The e-RAD BBS HD-1000 or “BBSHD” for short, is a 1,000 watt centerdrive electric bike motor that strongly resembles the older BBS01 and BBSO2 motors manufactured by Bafang but this one offers a big step up in terms of power and speed. The casing has actually been redesigned and while it’s still round and black with little fins extruding from the metal casing (likely for heat dissipation) the weight has increased about two pounds from the 750 watt version offered by e-RAD (the next step down in terms of power). Technically, in many parts of the US and around the world this BBSHD motor would not classify as a “low speed electric bike” and would therefore only be permissible off-road or if you added turn signals and purchased license and registration. Some states, like California, have historically allowed motors up to 1,000 watts but I’m not super well versed in all of these regulations and they tend to evolve, so if you’re concerned… best to look into it or weigh your options. Lectric Cycles (makers of e-RAD) have an entire line of kits similar to this one ranging from 350 watts to 750 watts and they all ship with 20 mph top speed limiters (just like the BBSHD) but are adjustable by the end user so it’s up to you to decide how you want to ride. So… if you’re someone who plans on riding a cargo bike that’s loaded with gear… the extra copper winding in this kit could be a big help. Or if you’re planning to go off-road on private property or in a national forest and want the extra speed just for the thrill of it, this might be one of the best options.
One goal of electric bike kits is to extend the use and feature set of existing hardware… maybe you already own a bicycle that’s aesthetic appealing or comfortable to ride, maybe you’re hoping to “reuse” existing hardware in an effort to save money or maybe there simply isn’t a purpose built electric bike in existence that matches your needs. Bicycles have been around since the 19th century but most modern bikes adhere to standard wheel sizes, bottom bracket layouts and handlebar designs. Now, there are still dozens of variables within this “common feature set” but sadly, only a small handful were compatible with electric bike kits and mid-drives like the Bafang 8Fun BBS02 mentioned earlier. What does it all mean! In short, you may have had very limited options to convert your bike and the products that were available often had to be ordered from China and didn’t come with great instructions, support or warranty service. Furthermore, the BBS02 has suffered from firmware that wasn’t very refined and could burnout the motor more easily (especially under high voltage). Still, this was one of the most popular kits in 2013/2014 and many people opted into the adventure of buying, assembling and adapting their ride style to make it work. What the e-RAD kits from Lectric Cycles offer are an evolved version of this earlier product. It’s still assembled by Bafang in China but follows the strict specifications set out by the US designers and engineers who have added better bearings, a tighter axle, more durable mosfet resistors, a shift sensing signal wire and optimized firmware and software that keeps it all running smoothly. To top it all off, while the standard Bafang BBS 1000 is only adjustable to fit 68 mm to 73 mm bottom brackets, the e-RAD variant can be custom engineered to fit press fit bottom brackets like those commonly found on Trek and Giant bikes for BB86, BB90, BB93 and BB95 sizes and even the extra long 100 mm size found on many fat bikes (like the Origin8 Scout XLT in this review).
Whenever you’re converting a bike to electric (especially with a mid-drive that’s high powered like this) it’s important to consider the physical limitations of your frame and your own weight (and cargo weight). Most bicycle frames come with a “max load” rating but that might not account for added bottom bracket forces transmitted by a motor. I can’t really help you much here, proceed with caution. This kit is powerful and can be unlocked to go quite fast (hitting the upper 30’s when using high gears). Not only can it become a legal liability if operated irresponsibly, it could also result in serious injury to yourself or others. Please keep the countless other enthusiasts and individuals like myself who are building a career in ebikes in mind when bending the rules and most of all ride safe. Keep an eye on your spokes and make sure they don’t start coming loose, also pay close attention to your brakes and consider hydraulic disc brakes for maximum stopping power. In general, I’m a big proponent of mid-drive ebikes because they keep mass low and centered on bicycle frames. They reduce unsprung weight which improves rebound performance if your bike has a rear suspension or front suspension like the fat bike in this review. Centerdrive units improve climbing power and efficiency by leveraging a gear cluster or continuously variable transmission like a NuVinci in the rear.
The motor unit mounts directly to the bottom bracket of your bike and comes with two y-plates for strength, like torque arms for the motor… It’s black, relatively small and surprisingly quiet during operation. During my test rides I found that noise increased as I shifted to lower gears and had the motor spin faster. Built right into the motor casing is a controller that has been customized by Lectric Cycles for smooth starts. As mentioned earlier, the bearings inside have been upgraded along with the mosfets which are switches that control electromagnets for acceleration. When compared side by side with a standard 8Fun 750 watt BBS02 unit (and likely the new BBSHD) this motor feels similar but benefits a lot from smoother starts and shift sensing which should result in longer lifespan for the system and your bicycle drivetrain. This is one of the only mid-drive systems I know of that even offers throttle mode and I love that it overrides pedal assist because that gives you a sense of control and maneuverability that’s perfect for the trail. I often ride in the lower levels assist and then pull the throttle for extra juice when climbing short hills. For those who plan on using this kit for off-road with steeper conditions e-RAD offers several chainring options from 34T, 36T, 38T, 40T and 42 Tooth. In addition to the smaller diameters with fewer teeth, all Race Face chainrings offer narrow wide tooth arrangements which improve chain retention by reducing slop from side to side. To make these work, e-RAD includes a custom spider (chainring adapter) and they made an extra special adapter for the Origin8 here which creates alignment on the wider fat bike frame. Chainrings and software are nice but to me, the really amazing part of this motor system when ordered in one of the larger custom widths or the BB press-fit configurations is the machined improvements to the axle and casing. These guys actually tap the spindle tube and add extenders, they engineer new longer spindles which fit tighter and they create shims to adapt the system for press fit. It’s kind of amazing and something that would be very difficult for an individual to do themselves without some very expensive hardware. Here’s a deeper look at the shop and some of the engineering that happens to make these alterations.
Powering the kit is your choice of a mid mounted or rack mounted Lithium-ion battery solution offering 48 volts of power. The big question is whether to go with the 9 amp hour standard pack or upgrade to 11.6 amp hour or 14 amp hour. The more amp hours you have the further you’ll go but it also increases the weight by about half a pound at each step. The smaller pack uses Samsung cells while next is Panasonic and the 14ah is Sanyo. They’re all reputable brands, especially Panasonic, but unfortunately I can’t add much in terms of testing feedback given my limited time with the demo bike. One other point about choosing battery sizes… the faster you accelerate and ride, the more energy you’ll lose in terms of drag and therefore the shorter distance you’ll be able to travel per charge. If you ride slower and use pedal assist, you’ll be maximizing range. The battery case used here looks beautiful and stays very close to the downtube (using the two bottle cage mounting points that are built in to most frames). The pack is fairly long and may not fit perfectly if your frame is petite, consider calling e-RAD before purchase for more specific feedback on fit or consider one of the optional rear-mounted batteries if you have a step-thru and want to keep that area of the bike open. The pack is black, made of plastic and includes a charging port on the right with a keyed lock on the left. At the top, there’s a little power indicator LED strip with a test button to let you know how full the pack is when it’s not attached to the bike. One big difference between the older and newer pack design from e-RAD is the lack of a USB charging port but that has been replaced with a new port up on the display. In my opinion, this is a big improvement as it’s less likely to get snagged or kicked off when pedaling. As a side note, during my tour of Lectric Cycles I was able to peer inside one of the Panasonic packs and was impressed with the hard point welding used to connect each 18650 cell. Many less expensive batteries use simple wires which are easier to shake loose and short circuit. To further strengthen their new battery design the company has engineered a plastic grid frame that holds each individual cell in place. There’s a strong emphasis on quality with the e-RAD system and a thoughtful approach from guys who all love to ride and want to deliver a product that will endure under rigorous use (especially with this top end kit). Keep in mind, to extend the life of your battery it’s best to store it in a cool dry place, extreme heat and cold can be hard on it. Also, try to keep it at 50% charged when storing for long periods so the cells aren’t stressed and check in every couple of months for a quick top-off… Use that LED battery indicator ;)
Operating this electric bike conversion kit is fairly standard and the display and control systems are very adaptable so they should work on a wide range of handlebars. First, you charge the battery pack up (either on or off the frame). Next, use the handlebar mounted button pad to power on the system… Pretty easy and fast. I like that the control pad is mounted separately from the display and can be fit snug next to your grips for easy access while riding. If you’re using this e-bike kit for a cruiser (with extra long bars) e-RAD offers an extender cable so the button pad will reach… just ask when ordering. So, the LCD display mounts to the center of the handlebars and sits just above the stem. I saw it installed on cruisers, city bikes and mountain bikes without issue but did notice that it’s not designed to swivel or be removed which could be an issue in terms of glare, wear and tear or vandalism if you leave the bike outside a lot. Once on, you’re shown speed, battery level and assist level (default 0-5) which is controlled by pressing up and down on the pad. If you’d like, you can also change the increments to 0-9 and I think e-RAD will do this for you if you want finer incriments but the top end power and speed will be the same. You can also press left on the pad to view average speed and max speed or right to view trip distance, odometer and time. This is all fairly standard but the really interesting bits are buried deeper in the system, by pressing the power circle two times rapidly in succession you enter into the advanced settings. By using the passcode provided by Lectric Cycles or your dealer you are able to adjust wheel size, top speed and other defaults like the backlit and auto-off time (which defaults to five minutes). Depending on how you adjust the bike it’s possible to reach ~40 mph as mentioned earlier. Overall, the display and control pad are fairly standard but they enable you to do a lot with your bike because they are more open. It’s worth noting that the LCD and button pad can also be used to activate lights if you wire them in and the LCD itself has a backlight. I’m not sure how difficult it would be to add your own lights and I tend to use rechargeable aftermarket solutions like these Cygolites.
The e Rad mid-drive electric bike kits are some of the best I’ve reviewed to date and the 1,000 watt option is quite impressive but also a bit concerning to me. The 350, 500 and 750 watt kits look similar but you can tell which one you’ve got by looking at the bottom of the unit (in case you’re buying this second hand). The newest BBS HD looks entirely different and weighs more as mentioned earlier because they include more copper wiring inside to handle increased current. Whether you get this as a DIY, purchase through a shop who can help you install it or choose one of the pre-built Electra or Origin 8 models from e-RAD, you’re getting a nice drive system. I thoroughly enjoyed Origin8 fat bike with its RockShox Bluto and was amazed at how peppy the kit was and how well shift sensing worked. I never heard the gears mash, even when I shifted under throttle mode! I often hear forum users discussing the system components offered by Lectric Cycles, excited by the opportunity to convert a fat bike, use a continuously variable transmission like the NuVinci or upgrade a full suspension bike. For those who already have a Bafang 8Fun kit, Lectric Cycles does sell many of their accessories and upgrades independently and this can be a great way to improve performance or fit. Given the warranty, solid customer support and dealer network being built by this company I feel like it’s a great way to go if you don’t mind the extra cable clutter and a bit of time and energy spent converting. If you’ve already got a bike you love and don’t mind getting your hands dirty (or paying a shop) this could be a great option. As someone who has had multiple concussions (while wearing a helmet) and hit parked cars (while filming reviews for this website) I would urge you to ride safe, I cracked one of my teeth in half when I was younger and am reminded daily that some body parts don’t heal. I rated this kit slightly lower than the 750 watt (and other lower-power kits) because of the potential legal liability issues it introduces and the unproven performance it offers compared with the time-tested BBS02.
- Some of the older E-RAD battery packs had integrated USB ports (for charging your phone or other portable electronics) but the latest kits have moved this port up to the display where it is even more accessible
- The display panel and button pad are setup to operate lights (if you wire them in) and work with either trigger throttles or twist throttles (and E-Rad offers both and Left or Right side specific)
- For the base $1,195 motor price the eRAD mid drive motor kit is compatible with 68 and 73 mm bottom brackets and for $1,295 you can get it custom built for BB86, BB90, BB92, BB95 with press-fit (Trek and Giant) or 100 mm for fat bike frames
- While the motor is assembled by Bafang and resembles the other 8Fun kits I’ve reviewed, it uses higher quality bearings, mosfet transistors and chainring designs as well as an integrated shift-sensor wire and firmware to control it
- Mid-drive designs reduce unsprung weight (if you have suspension) and offer improved balance because they are low and center on the frame, they are also more efficient with paired with a gear cluster or CVT because they provide mechanical advantage for the drive system
- Three battery size options are available for the 1,000 watt motor size including 48 volt 9 amp hour, 48 volt 11.6 amp hour and 48 volt 14 amp hour for improved range, the stock option is downtube mounting but rear rack designs may also available in some sizes
- Solid one year comprehensive warranty with a 1,000 cycle guarantee on the battery pack, quality Samsung, Panasonic or Sanyo Lithium-ion cells are light weight and durable
- Available direct online either as a customized kit or pre-built into select frames (possibly the Electra Fast 5, Moto 3, Townie or Origin 8 Fat Bike) more may be coming in the future, they also do custom work
- Great dealer selection with over 50 shops in the United States who can install this or receive and build your bike
- Quiet and relatively smooth to operate considering the power rating, extra firmware and software optimization has been done to delay the throttle when starting from rest for safety and reduced wear
- The display panel doesn’t swivel very easily and is not removable, this is fairly common and doesn’t present much of an issue but it may expose the part to more weathering and the possibility of vandalism or tinkering if you leave the battery on the frame when parked
- The cables for this kit have to be arranged and connected to the frame using zip-ties which can look a bit cluttered, many times they are a bit too long (one size fits all) and this leads to some jumbling, looks best on black frames because they blend in
- The stock brake levers are mechanical so if you have hydraulic brakes on your bike you will have to ask for the universal brake sensor and then glue or zip tie in the sensor and magnet
- This motor may not be legal as a “low speed electric bike” in some states due to the 1,000 watt nominal rating (I believe California allows it but many others do not, they limit power to 750 watts) consider the next step down if this concerns you, e-RAD offers a 750 watt kit I’ve reviewed here or stick to off-road use