KITS VS TURNKEY (NEW!)

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
https://www.ebikes.ca/learn/kits-vs-turnkey.html

KITS VS TURNKEY (NEW!)

Background:
In the initial days of the ebike movement you almost had to make your own ebike from scratch to get decent performance. The options for turn-key electric bicycles in the early 2000's were limited, with with poor range and power, clunky aesthetics, and questionable craftsmanship. The only way to get a proper looking bicycle with power assistance was to build-your-own around a modern bike platform, often using batteries, motors, and electronics taken from other industries such as PowerTools, RC Hobby vendors, and so on.

During this founding period, many early adopters came to Grin for kit components simply because what they could build from scratch was substantially better than buying a turn-key solution. Today, however, the options for turn-key ebikes are phenomenal and expanding each year. You can purchase most common types of bicycles, including cruisers, cargo, mountain, commuter, road, fat, folding and so on, ready to go in an electric variant, and all in a range of prices and quality to suit many different budgets. In general, these factory ebikes will have reliable and sophisticated electronics, dependable lithium batteries, a smooth control system with a nice display and tightly integrated wiring.

So Why Build an Ebike?
Even though turn-key ebikes solutions abound today, electric conversion kits still have a bright and understated future and will continue to play a major role in the movement towards personal electric transport. At Grin, we believe that conversion kits designed around open standards will fit into the long-term bike industry model better than factory ebikes. In spite of the wide assortment of good quality turn-key electric bicycles to choose from, a setup based on retrofit kits offer several advantages that might not be apparent up front. Here are 8 reasons why people still go the kit route.

#1. You already own your ideal bike
The first reason many people go looking for a conversion kit is because they already own a perfect bike that has been personalized to their needs, but wanting an upgrade to electric assist. It makes little sense for them to buy an entire pre-built electric bike when they already have a great bike for the task. Converting an existing bike will be less expensive, since the costs are limited to purchasing the electric components, and will guarantee a bicycle platform that's been proven to fit.

#2 The ebike you want doesn't exist
Although there are plenty of prebuilt ebike options now, they still don't cover all the variations and needs of different people. Turn-key producers tend to focus on major markets such as mountain bikes and commuter bikes, or trendier markets like beach cruisers and fat bikes, or cargo bikes where electric power is largely necessary. And their offerings tend to fall within a common window for power, range, and speed.

If you have specific requirements related to hill climbing power, or cruising speed, or maybe you need a bike that can reach an extended range, then these might not fit the bill. A similar situation faces cyclists who are into niche vehicles like recumbents, tadpole tricycles, handcycles, or velomobiles. A conversion kit allows you the flexibility to make exactly the ebike that you want even if it doesn't exist on the market.

#3 DIY is in your blood – you can build your dream bike
Our customers include countless inventive people working on all kinds of wild, original, and exciting projects based around our ebike hardware. For these people the entire point is to make something new from scratch. It's a similar motivation to people who sew their own clothes, build their own furniture, or machine their own steam engines.

Converting a bike to an ebike can be a rewarding hands-on learning opportunity that mixes electronics, mechanical assembly, and power, where the output of your project becomes something you can actually ride. Ebikes are a DIYers dream. Whether your project is for creative expression, or learning cutting edge technologies, we love it, and Grin is here to help make that a reality.

#4 You can move a kit from one bike to another
Another benefit of the conversion kit over a turn-key ebike is the implicit ability to move the entire electric drive over to a new bicycle platform. As you outgrow your current bike or your cycling needs change, you can usually move the kit over to to your new setup, and revert the original platform back to being a perfectly good non-electric bike.

We've had customers running the same hub motor for 15 years having migrated it across numerous platforms, re-lacing it from a mountain bike rim, to a road rim, and then to a small recumbent wheel rim. Other customers have a vague idea of an ideal electric bicycle build that they want in the future, but are keen to get started with what they have now. A conversion kit allows them to get their initial bike electrified and then have it evolve to their dream ebike as ideas develop and budget allows.

#5 Future Upgradeability
With a conversion kit bike based on open component standards, you have any number of options to upgrade components as your needs evolve. As new technologies in battery density, motor controller performance, and pedal assist control schemes become available, you can upgrade the associated parts on your ebike. If your commuting distance increases, you can hook up another battery in parallel, if your speed requirement changes, you can swap out to a higher voltage battery pack. If you need more torque from the motor, you might be able to simply upgrade to a higher current motor controller.

A conversion kit ebike is ripe and ready to swap-in future and better technologies as they become available. With a turn-key ebike, it's rare that you will be able to deviate from the stock performance without some deeper level hacking that the manufacturer will often go out of their way to complicate.

#6 Flexible Battery Solutions
Factory ebikes are usually designed with a custom formed battery pack that fits elegantly into a custom cavity on the frame. Out of the box it looks smart; but there is only that one make and model of battery pack that is a drop-in compatible to that bike. You can only hope that the ebike manufacturer will continue to produce that battery model, and make it available at a reasonable price. Without a battery, an ebike isn't much of an ebike. Most conversion kits, meanwhile, are based on a premise that the battery is a black box power source. By their nature, kits can work with a wide range of battery options.

One thing we can tell you about any ebike is that the battery will eventually need replacing. Early ebike packs would often reach end of life in two to three years. Today's lithium batteries can last four to six years or longer, but at some point for sure, the battery will wear out.

With a factory ebike that is out of production, either you'll need to find a custom pack manufacturer who can open up and replace all the cells in your original battery casing with new cells and migrate the battery electronics in the process, or you have to hack the ebike to work with a 3rd party external battery somehow, leaving the custom frame cavity empty and no longer looking so elegant. With a conversion kit it's usually no problem replacing a battery. You can see what new batteries are available, and choose one that fits where you want it to go, your frame, your bike rack, your saddle bags and so on.

#7 Support
This point may not be obvious upfront. You would think that getting a turn-key ebike from a store would mean that you can take it back to that shop for service, while a DIY kit install would leave you on your own for any troubleshooting. The latter is generally true, though in the process of selecting and installing the kit yourself, you will learn many of the skills required to troubleshoot any problems; you will become your own support crew instead of needing a shop mechanic.

When purchasing ready to ride ebikes, the long term support can be very tenuous. Many shops that retail ebikes have little technical knowledge of how the system works or how to service components. Instead, they are dependent on the manufacturer to supply replacement parts and look after warranty work. In the first few years after purchase this service model generally works fine, but it starts to break down beyond the five year mark.

Does the shop that sold the bike still exist? Does the manufacturer still make compatible replacement parts for that particular model? Does the manufacturer even still exist? We've been in this industry long enough to see countless ebike companies come and go, with only a few lasting past more than five years, and fewer still surviving to the ten year mark. Even those that were thought to be well backed and financed can suddenly disappear leaving tens of thousands of customers with an unsupported proprietary system.

With an ebike built from a conversion kit, you learn how the pieces fit together through the process of installing the package. You will have a much easier time finding compatible replacement components if parts fail over time. Plus, your bike still contains regular bike hardware, such as the drivetrain, brake pads, shifters, parts all still easily found at any bicycle store.

#8 Proprietary Controls and Components – bikes can outlive companies
In our opinion, the single biggest issue with most ready to ride electric bicycles, especially the more premium models from a brand name, (for example Bosch, Yamaha, Specialized, Shimano, etc.) is that they are designed around proprietary mechanical components and electric communication protocols. Everything may look slick and neatly integrated out of the box, but that tight integration almost always comes with a price tag on flexibility and support life.

Imagine you purchased one of the first generation Bosch classic+ ebikes. The entire mechanical drivetrain for the pedals is packed inside custom gearbox and motor assembly that is mounted to a custom frame interface on the bicycle. If the gears wear out and need replacing, the crank freewheel pawls stop engaging, the motor controller fails, or any number of other problems crop up. your only solution is to get that exact replacement part from Bosch. But guess what: Bosch has moved on to their newer active and performance lines no longer making the Classic+model or supplying parts for them. You have a troubleshooting problem but unfortunately the system is well out of warranty and the damaged part no longer available.

Surely then, you can at least upgrade the bike to use Bosch's new active model, replacing the entire drive (motor, battery, controller, cranks, display and all) even though it's only just one of those parts which failed? Sadly no, as the actual frame interface has changed too. That new Bosch drive will not physically fit on your bike frame that was designed around the Bosch Classic system. And in fact, no other commercial mid-drive kit will fit on it either. Your bike frame is engineered around one specific product interface that is now discontinued. What should be a perfectly fine bike with plenty of life left is now all but useless because of one failed component. This is not a hypothetical situation, this is exactly what many people who purchased factory ebikes five-to-ten years ago are facing right now.

Traditional bicycles have a wonderful history of lasting through multiple decades and even generations, with industry settling on a few component norms that are broadly standardized and available from multiple sources. If you dust off an old Schwinn cruiser from the 1960's or a road bike from the 1970's or a BMX from the 1980's or a mountain bike from the 1990's, you can still get any needed components to keep riding that bike today. Bikes typically out-live the companies that make them, and we think ebikes should last the same way.

Instead, factory ebikes are moving in a different direction that looks like the automotive industry, where every make and model of vehicle has a unique list of custom components. In order to do repairs after the warranty period we would need a shop like NAPA that stocks over a million specialized parts to replace all the proprietary pieces out there. It's either that, or ebikes will be treated like expendable consumer electronics, to be tossed and replaced rather than repaired.

We don't look forwards to either of those scenarios. There is no specialty supplier for model specific ebike parts, and there is no point in electric bicycles being tossed into the scrapyard for one failed proprietary component. If you have a conversion kit built with open part standards, there is no dependency on a specific company. You'll be able to upgrade to different batteries, motors, or motor controllers if parts wear out. Your bicycle can always be upgraded mechanically since it started off as a standard bicycle using standard bicycle hardware. And you can always remove the electric and go back to riding it as a regular bicycle again.

Though this reason is #8 on our list, it's the #1 reason in our hearts for why we're staying in the kit industry and are exited to keep advancing the quality of parts available for aftermarket conversions.

Conclusion
We hope this article is helpful in developing your understanding of why Grin is committed to kits, and helps you in your decision process in whether to buy a complete ebike or a kit. We're under no illusion that a majority of potential ebike riders will want to purchase ready-to-ride electric bicycles and we hope to see that industry continue to thrive, but ideally thrive in a way that takes the long long term view of support and product life beyond just the two year warranty window. For us though and the reasons outlined above, we're all about the kits. Always have been, and always will be.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I would likely be pegged under #3.

I built my first e-bike, and continue to modify my second one (an '18 Rad City) for 2 reasons I think. The first is because as a very active, hands on DIY'er, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than learn about (the research AND hands on parts) and build something new like this.

Second, as regarding the first bike, after a lot of research I was pretty sure I could come up with a pretty nice bike for a LOT less money than what the manf's were asking for something similar - while using all BRAND NEW parts. I started with a brand new Schwinn mountain bike that was equipped with disc brakes, and the gentleman that bought the bike when I went on to bike #2 was tickled to death to trip into the deal he got on it. He had this grin that kept getting bigger and bigger, from the time he saw the bike, learned a little about it's particulars, test drove it on a nice demo ride, and loaded it into his van! I got what I paid for it back out of it after riding it for several hundred miles (and learning a TON), so I'd call that operation successful! I took a professional approach to the bike's construction, and it paid off handsomely.

I continue to learn with the Rad. That it was very easy to improve on the stock electronics, that it was awesome to be able to configure the control system (display and controller) a hundred different ways to find the way I like best. I've installed and been using components very similar to what Mr. Bolton has now developed into a plug and play "kit" for Rad riders for nearly a year now. Lately, have been gathering info regarding a switch from the current 1500 watt Direct Drive hub I've been using in both the first bike and this one, to a geared rear hub with similar wattage (likely the 1500w Mac 12t) for much better hill climbing performance at a very modest cost. From what I've seen to date, I think it's just going to be a matter of swapping out the rear hub and wheel, and using the rest of the bike and electronics over again.

My background has no engineering degrees, but I am driven when it comes to DIY projects. I do nearly all of my own work on everything. My home (I do draw the line at roofing though!), my car, my boat, everything.... -Al
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I could come up with a pretty nice bike for a LOT less money than what the manf's were asking for something similar - while using all BRAND NEW parts.
I was stunned at how soon my build reached $2500! Once the racks, brake upgrades, seat post, seat. lights and display were upgraded, and more, well... my advantage was I could do it incrementally. But I easily have a $2500 bike. My newest build from scratch frame will hit that easily. No escape, unless one were to build on an uber-cheap frame with a cheap China copy kit. AS ALWAYS YMMV!
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
My son went to UBC at the same time as Justin of Grin Tech and I have followed ebikes.ca for years and visited their different facilities as they have moved upwards and onwards. They are a great group of young folks that have amassed a following by becoming leaders in the kit marketplace and developing new products and doing extensive testing as they are very engineering oriented. The fact that they freely submit their results to the world and even go as far as to provide analytical programs so that individuals can do their own analysis online sets them apart from the manufacturers that feel in order to survive they must be as proprietary as possible. As evidenced above that is fine for people that are not as afraid of planned obsolescence as those that prefer to think longer term and how far their investment dollars will stretch.

Using open source components all but guarantees that your system will be replaceable and upgradeable on your existing bike or transferable to another bike in the future. All other bicycle rated components as well which is also true of more proprietary system eBikes but when their e systems fail or falter years down the road it is generally expected that one will just do a complete upgrade and get rid of their old bike as best they can. If there happen to be replacement parts available then all the better for that segment and with the amount of bikes being sold it might be worthwhile for someone to stockpile components now for later sale.

My V2 bike is being transformed into V2.2 using a new frame and wheelset with the same hub motor/controller and most of the components that cross over. It would otherwise be impossible for this to happen if it wasn't for my decision to use open source components. But what drove me to that decision to begin with is that there weren't, and still aren't, any manufactured bikes equipped to my specifications but all the components were available so I just put them together.

My MTB was the same story in that I had a perfectly good bike and I found a mid motor kit system that I felt would do what I was after and installed it. The bike was 10 yrs old at the time and the system cost me less than $600 and as I was able to use the same battery as my other bikes that is all that it cost for me to get exactly what I wanted. There were a few bumps in that road but all turned out to be learning experiences that gave me confidence that any future issues could be dealt with by myself. At this time I would like a more integrated mid motor system as the kit one does hand down lower than I like and the Q factor and chainline still aren't ideal but until one comes along that meets my parameters I am fine with what I have as it gets me where I want to go.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Not a bad article, Thomas, but it's still like an ad for Grin where he gets to bash Bosch. Justified on his website, but maybe a bit slanted on an open forum. Grin sells very nice hardware and strong motors, Actually great stuff, and if I were just getting into this, I'd be swayed or mezmerized by torque sensor brackets, Cycle Analyst, powerful motors, etc.

Now I've scoped out my niche in this ebike revolution, and it's just me and my wife, old folks, riding around on bike paths. 500W motor. 20 mph. 25 miles. More than enough at home. Enough to climb any hills we've seen. I built two more ebikes I didn't need last year. They were under $300 and $500, not counting batteries.

With more inexpensive, but perfectly good ebikes being imported from China now coming to the USA, the make-buy decision for a new ebiker on a budget would be tilting toward buy, except for the suspicions held against low cost bikes.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Bike, from Walmart, current price 228.00 Lesson learned here, it was WAY TOO TALL to get on and off of easily for this old man! Don't buy a 29'er.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/29-Mens-Schwinn-Boundary-Dark-Green-and-Black/153585860

Battery, I learned this one is too much everything, but I didn't know any better at the time. It was heavy, and had a 50 mile plus range - WAY more than I needed. 450.00 shipped. I would go with a shark or dolphin type today, and about 14ah capacity. Good range without excessive weight.

(Link Removed - No Longer Exists)

Conversion kit, from leafbike, who enjoys a pretty good reputation for support and value on a bucks spent for bang received basis. Purchased just before the 1500w kits came out for about the same price. 299.00, plus about 100. for freight.

https://www.leafbike.com/products/d...-rear-hub-motor-bike-conversion-kit-1014.html

Misc, including seat, 5" riser handlebars, kits to make new cables, rear rack, fenders, etc. All purchased on Amazon. 150. or so.

Bike 228.
Battery 450.
Kit 400.
Misc 150.
total 1228. For a NEW bike w/top of the line display, controller (by KT), 1000w DD hub, and a way too big battery, exceeding 95% of those available today!

Point being, No uber cheap components used. ALL pretty much standard over the counter stuff. -Al
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
I think the news about Bosch Classic drive bikes being abandoned is just the sort of sleaze I expected from the big boys. I was already suspicious of all those custom batteries being stuffed in proprietary forms in beautiful frames. The next one is going to cost what? And who is going to be in business in three years? And will he support their old stuff without a 300% premium for maintaining a parts stock?
I spent $2000 on the unpowered bike left. It has one advantage over the 4 previous bikes, in a year of riding it hasn't fallen down and dumped me on my chin. That is worth $$$$$. I broke the chin in 2017 on a Pacific Quantum MTB. Or off the MTB. My legs are kid sized, but MTB & cruiser forks are waaaay too twitchy, however cheap and common the frames are. Putting groceries in a basket on the back lightened up the front without me on it to 20 lb sometimes, and that doesn't help stability either.
But the bodaboda cargo bike is a bit slower than the MTB, and the winds are getting much higher in September when I still want to ride long distances. I just don't want 5.7 hours worth of struggle into such a 15 mph headwind. The bike left came in a mid drive when I bought, but mid drives do NOT permit one to pedal oneself when the wind is down. At age 68, I feel stressing my heart moderately a couple of times a week is necessary to not vegitating. And I can't swim laps like my favorite 96 year old friend, my nose runs too much in pools. My knees won't let me walk or run either, I'm a Viet Nam era Army vet. So bike or polka dancing, and going in circles makes me too dizzy to stay upright.
Costs $189 on a hub kit, $630 on a battery, $10 on some aluminum angle, $4 in screws & nuts. In restrospect the 17.5 AH 48 v battery is too small, at 30 deg F the display runs into the red (44 v) after 25 miles. That is just round trip to my barber's, not even to my summer camp & back. But how was I to know, with comments like above about battery size? Am I the only person that rides year round? Last Sunday the headwinds to church were 48 mph at 40 deg, I really needed the electricity on just 5 miles RT.
Two cool things about this rig. Nobody has stolen it yet, it looks too weird. The 3rd e-bike I saw in this county, the owner wanted me to look for his stolen fat wheel Pedego with the purple wheels. Other cool thing, I can change the battery when it wears out, or upgrade the drive to a geared one which will drag even less, with no compatibility problems. 130 mm dropouts have been standard for a decade or more, the torque arms were made of scrap, the battery mount was custom by me, and can be upgraded at will when the battery goes in two or five years. I hope to be riding a bike 40 more years if I dont' get hit by a car, so having to replace the entire system in 2 -5 years would be a nuisance. Take that, Bosch. Same with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan etc. ****ed cars & trucks get a check engine light in 10 years whether you put 200000 miles on it, or 20000. I'm much more likely in the latter category. I'm not buying a car with brass tin & copper connectors & 15 sensors at 12v that have to work or the catalytic converter plugs up in "limp home" mode. ***** them, I'm not buying a 10 year life car. Gold plate connectors, or nothing, and nothing it is.
 

Credible Hulk

Active Member
I enjoyed reading this article, because I just went through the process of deciding between upgrading a cruiser bike I have to electric, or buying a turnkey bike. I was on a very strict budget (tax refund). It was fun picking out all the parts, and I did a lot of math figuring out what I could afford and what I wanted on the bike. Sadly the cruiser frame didn't support the brakes I was comfortable with, so I ended up buying a turnkey ebike that was only $100 more than the parts I was going to buy for the cruiser.

However, I enjoyed the process of choosing the parts to upgrade a bike. I used to fix and build electronics for a living and I had been looking forward to putting the bike upgrade together. So, in a year or two I plan to buy another bike secondhand and upgrade it instead. Now I have a better idea of what to look for in a bike I want to convert. I belong to the local ebike club and I've seen some of the incredible custom bikes other members have built.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Grin where he gets to bash Bosch.

Gosh, you surprised me with that. In all my contacts with Grin’s owner he’s never slammed Bosch. Rather in the context of a diy builder Bosch IS a nightmare. I can’t find an argument with those facts. I support and sell mid drives and use many Grin products on my hub motor bikes. Last conversation with Justin he suggested a motor he doesn’t sell as a potential good choice. It not meant in any way to be an ad. It is an opinion piece from a highly respected kit source. I apologize if you mistook my intent. We’re looking at his from two entirely different perspectives. I started this thread to discuss DIY. Not attack or defend either side.
 
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indianajo

Well-Known Member
There are a hundred people on here that tell new people to buy a mid drive because hub drives can't get up a hill. I got up Spikert Knob Rd in New Albany two weeks ago with a DD drive, not even geared, and it was 40 deg F. Good to see somebody point out the ugly side of the dominant mid drive manufacturer. Only an expert like Grin would know about Bosch classic drives being unreplaceable and unrepairable. Bosch is certainly not issuing any press releases about it.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
With more inexpensive, but perfectly good ebikes being imported from China now coming to the USA, the make-buy decision for a new ebiker on a budget would be tilting toward buy, except for the suspicions held against low cost bikes.
I've seen a few, some even popular, that may well be parts nightmares. BTW quite a few Grin motors are suited to 36V and are still good performers. I'm finishing a MAC/Grin build that COULD be a 60V bike but will be a 36V. Lower volts, higher Amp rating. 36v, 20 plus Ah.
 

pnop

Active Member
I have less than $500 in mine. (not including the bike I already had and got for free from VW). It does everything I need. I will admit that turnkey bikes generally appear a bit more
slick. I couldn't hide all my wires like I would have liked.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Hiding wires and installing cables of the correct length are generally a function of time and patience, and a desire to work to standards where workmanship is apparent. I've thrown stuff together to get it functional on several occasions, then gone back and cleaned things up to make it pretty. Hastily assembled bikes with wires and cables hanging everywhere (even when done by the factory or somebody that's supposed to know what they are doing) make my eyes hurt. That's me though. ;^)
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
Not a bad article, Thomas, but it's still like an ad for Grin where he gets to bash Bosch. Justified on his website, but maybe a bit slanted on an open forum.
I don't find it slanted, or Bosch-bashing. He does mention Bosch more than a few times - not surprisingly, since Bosch is an example of extreme propriety in parts and design.

The article is not just about "building" a bike. Other than par. 1 and 2, this all is true for majority of ready-to-ride kit bikes that use 3rd party components, even when they are branded. Advantages are the same - future upgradeability, possibility to make it closer to "dream bike" by replacing the components, swapping the components between the bikes if you have to. I wrote about this many times. Plus, modest cost for what you are getting. Grin didn't mention this last one probably because they are not the cheapest 3rd party source - though their quality is high.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
"Justified on his website, but maybe a bit slanted on an open forum"

To be fair TJ clipped that from Grin's website and pasted it here without Grins knowledge I would suppose but within his rights to do so on an open forum.

It's not like somebody Winging it by flooding the forum with thinly veiled advertisements posted by new members all from the same place......
 
D

Deleted member 4210

Guest
The performance of the right kit conversions can be great. Often tuned better than a number of OEM ebikes.

However, the installation time is usually underestimated, and the level of customization needed if a bike is not a 'perfect ' fit is often always missed by a first timer, and even some of the pro's.

It's going to be a royal pain for most, as a surprising number of people tend to overestimate their mechanical or electrical skills. Just ask any spouse of a DIY homeowner how their originally planned project times in reality doubled, tripled, or worse.

Most practical advice : Either hire someone who has done many, and you have bike that you love that someone ( who has done this many times) has Assessed will be a good candidate for conversion, or just buy one factory made.

Of course Unless you just love tinkering a lot, and the satisfaction of the accomplishment, and don't mind possible cost over runs or have an unlimited budget, then go for it. It can be a lot of fun and quite rewarding. Especially if you are the type who is always thinking how can I make the next build even better.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Mike, I think you hit on it in your last paragraph. I believe a home built is best viewed as a project. It's ready when it's done. Putting time constraints on it takes much of the fun out of it.

My first e-bike took me a week or 10 days of old man playing in his shop puttering (a couple of hours a day) as I had to figure EVERYTHING out. The second bike was done slightly differently, with a few different ideas (lessons learned), and built to a higher standard. That one took a week. The 3rd bike, where I stripped a Rad of all it's electrical and installed a 1500w DD kit in it's place, took an afternoon. It would have been quicker if I didn't have to remove all the old parts in a manner where they could be sold.

I don't think picking a project bike to convert to a rear hub drive (DD or geared) is all that difficult. Personaly, I wouldn't do one without disk brakes, but that's me. A flat lander may not care as much. The second (and main) focus should likely be the drop out area of the frame. That needs to be substantial. It's that simple. A bike that's been lightly built in that area with just a thin area of material in the area of the axle may be a bigger project than it's worth. Once the hub is mounted in the drop out securely, the rest of the project is a cake walk.