Should I convert my mtb or buy a pre-made one?

rz514

New Member
Region
Canada
Hey everyone!

So i've been researching alot about e-bikes and decided on a e-mtb for pavement\off road use and light mtb \xc trails, and i've fallen on 3000-4000$ canadian range as for what i'd like to do with it and it seems that Surface 604 Shred \ Quad falls into that category as nice e-bikes to get and have fun with.. I am no bike expert but as I look at the components, I have the feeling they are about the same as my Trek Marlin 6 2020 -- and then it made me wonder... What about converting the Marlin 6 into a e-mtb? Is this the way to go since I already own a bike that has similar specs? It would probably cost a lot less to convert than buying a new e-bike but i don't know if there are other factors I am not aware\considering.. I am going to test the surface 604 bikes in a couple of days but i'd like to hear what y'all have to say about this!

Also, if i were to convert the marlin 6 -- would there be any structural integrity issues due to the mods?

Keep in mind, I am beginner level and do not service my own bike .. I can learn if it's required but i'd like to throw that in as I have no idea if a converted bike would be high maintenance vs a purchased one.

Thank you!
 
Last edited:

TrevorB

Active Member
Most cities have the odd shop that will do conversion for you. They'll be able to give you best advise about whether middrive or hubdrive is better for your needs. Maintenace is no different than normal bike as its usual mechanical components like brakes and chains that need servicing. Motors and electrics are maintenance free.
 

rz514

New Member
Region
Canada
Most cities have the odd shop that will do conversion for you. They'll be able to give you best advise about whether middrive or hubdrive is better for your needs. Maintenace is no different than normal bike as its usual mechanical components like brakes and chains that need servicing. Motors and electrics are maintenance free.
yeah i've messaged a ton of places, so far no bueno... hopefully someone replies with a yes to help me out! i think that would be probably a better route to pick as i can pick better components for less $.. was just worried about possible structure issues with using my own bike as e-bikes seems to have a more beefy structure
 

JES2020

Well-Known Member
Region
Other
Hey everyone!

So i've been researching alot about e-bikes and decided on a e-mtb for pavement\off road use and light mtb \xc trails, and i've fallen on 3000-4000$ canadian range as for what i'd like to do with it and it seems that Surface 604 Shred \ Quad falls into that category as nice e-bikes to get and have fun with.. I am no bike expert but as I look at the components, I have the feeling they are about the same as my Trek Marlin 6 2020 -- and then it made me wonder... What about converting the Marlin 6 into a e-mtb? Is this the way to go since I already own a bike that has similar specs? It would probably cost a lot less to convert than buying a new e-bike but i don't know if there are other factors I am not aware\considering.. I am going to test the surface 604 bikes in a couple of days but i'd like to hear what y'all have to say about this!

Also, if i were to convert the marlin 6 -- would there be any structural integrity issues due to the mods?

Keep in mind, I am beginner level and do not service my own bike .. I can learn if it's required but i'd like to throw that in as I have no idea if a converted bike would be high maintenance vs a purchased one.

Thank you!
I did the same thing as you, researched the market pretty thoroughly.
I decided apon a rear internally geared hub, 1500w and 48v 21 a battery kit. It cost about $600 and was very simple to install myself, all you have to do is change the rear wheel.

I stayed away from the mid drive because of complexity to install and needing tools I didn't have. I stayed away from disk brakes for the same reason.
I stayed away from direct drive motors because they are heavier and cause drag when not under power.
Stayed away from front motors because the fork is much thinner and not made to withstand the torque, ( having the front wheel depart the bike at speed is not something I would like to experience).

Over 2k miles on it and have been pleasently surprised how dependable , fast and quiet it has been.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
Google eBikes.ca
See the RTR kits. Ready to roll. Sweet setup!
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
The least expensive Trek counterpart of your Marlin 6, that is, Trek Powerfly 4 costs CAD4,750. You might start thinking why Trek wants this money if the conversion seems so inexpensive and good or you think the Surface 604 is a good e-bike. (Perhaps Trek delivers a quality e-MTB that was designed and built to be the e-MTB from the very start?) If you want to compromise your trail safety, go another way.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
If you really go off road, branches & plants can snag the wiring on a converion. My wiring is visible & blatant. I ride on road 99% of the time; on gravel city trails occasionally. You see in the picture left, the motor & battery are on the front, the controller is under the seat out of the rain. When a Luna kit came with too short wiring to fit the controller under the seat, rain shorted out two pins on the ASI controller and burnt the pins off into the wiring harness. ASI controller was under the battery above the fender.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
Contrary to the resident evangelical fellas the have had one or two bikes and consistently diss kits. Many kits especially Grin are easy and very well designed.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
First thing I do for a conversion is think about where I would put the battery, There's room for one on the downtube,

1_trek.jpg

This should be a mid drive conversion in my opinion. I don't have experience with newer bikes. The issue is whether a mid motor kit fits in the space left after you remove the pedals (called the bottom bracket, BB).

Around a thousand bucks for a BBS02 and battery. I think 8 pounds for the motor and 6-10 pounds for battery,

You may not have the ecstasy of a torque sensing Euro middrive, but it's a lot less money to replace parts. I don't know if the BBS02 still ships with throttle enabled with zero pedal assist, but I think that's a great way to ride. All the pedal feel you want, and you can feather in 3X the power of those fancy bikes.
 

JES2020

Well-Known Member
Region
Other
If you really go off road, branches & plants can snag the wiring on a converion. My wiring is visible & blatant. I ride on road 99% of the time; on gravel city trails occasionally. You see in the picture left, the motor & battery are on the front, the controller is under the seat out of the rain. When a Luna kit came with too short wiring to fit the controller under the seat, rain shorted out two pins on the ASI controller and burnt the pins off into the wiring harness. ASI controller was under the battery above the fender.
I don't see a "picture left".
I have a ton of wiring for lights, horn, GPS, action camera, in addition to the standard kit wiring. I even have extra long wiring that instead of cutting, I wrap around the frame.
With a little due diligence, it is easy to strap down all that wiring with zip ties and or wire wraps. I mostly ride on trails, but have gone trough thick bush with no issues whatsoever.
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
BBS02 still ships with throttle enabled with zero pedal assist,
They should be. Odd that they changed it. My 2014 motors. I can throttle any time I need it.

I don't know why Bafang messed with the firmware. 07 errors were generated when they locked out 52V batteries.

The motors I love and hate!!!
 

CodyDog

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Texas Hill Country/Banana Belt, Colorado
Hey everyone!

So i've been researching alot about e-bikes and decided on a e-mtb for pavement\off road use and light mtb \xc trails, and i've fallen on 3000-4000$ canadian range as for what i'd like to do with it and it seems that Surface 604 Shred \ Quad falls into that category as nice e-bikes to get and have fun with.. I am no bike expert but as I look at the components, I have the feeling they are about the same as my Trek Marlin 6 2020 -- and then it made me wonder... What about converting the Marlin 6 into a e-mtb? Is this the way to go since I already own a bike that has similar specs? It would probably cost a lot less to convert than buying a new e-bike but i don't know if there are other factors I am not aware\considering.. I am going to test the surface 604 bikes in a couple of days but i'd like to hear what y'all have to say about this!
IMHO I can't see the Surface brand bikes being MTB worthy. Perhaps for very very light trials. A decent analog FS MTB is going to run you double that. Decent MTB shocks and group sets will cost you as much if not more than the Surface bikes you are looking at. I'm not trying to be a stick in the mud but just hate to see people buy some of these so called EMTB when they really are not.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
Regarding over the counter vs. kit/home built, I've been sorta going somewhere in between with my recent bikes. I like the clean look of the concealed batteries and some of the features found on newer bikes (the use of the round waterproof connectors and the 1t4 cables for example, and hydraulic brakes). I shop for an inexpensive bike that's as close as I can find to what I'm thinking of, then build it my way. Most geared hub motors come with garbage for a controller, so replacing that and going with a really good display (visible in direct sun light) is a given (100.). The spring type front forks are generally replaced with air forks that have adjustable rebound - to rid the bike of that pogo stick front end feel (banging on rebound, 150.). Suspension seat post and decent seat (200.), handle bars and riser custom chosen to allow me to sit comfortably upright (75?), good hand grips chosen to help my hands from going numb (25.), rear view mirror (10), and a set of good tires can make all the difference in the world. Current favorites are Schwalbe Super Moto-X 27.5x2.4" Not cheap, but tough to beat(100-150).

This leaves me with a bike that LOOKS like a production bike, set up/equipped exactly as I prefer, but there won't be another just like it available anywhere, at any price.... and we aren't talking about a huge amount of money invested in it. Price will still be competitive with anything in it's class.... especially compared to bikes available at the local shops. -Al
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
Four.
Some people think good things come free; they never do.
Can you ever respond without insults? LOTS of great quality motors are available in kits. Why not just do your post suggesting an LBS direct bike.

1654563458005.png
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
I don't see a "picture left".
I have a ton of wiring for lights, horn, GPS, action camera, in addition to the standard kit wiring. I even have extra long wiring that instead of cutting, I wrap around the frame.
With a little due diligence, it is easy to strap down all that wiring with zip ties and or wire wraps. I mostly ride on trails, but have gone trough thick bush with no issues whatsoever.
1654539872626.jpeg
1654539914150.jpeg

1654539957905.jpeg
 

tomjasz

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Minnesnowta
I'd consider a TSDZ2 kit. The maker responds and parts are available. If Bafang does what I think they will the BBSxx series will sooner than later have a dried-up parts stream. OR Add some common repair parts with the Bafang. My personal BBS01's are from 2014. Only because I re-lubricate every year. AND I never lug the motor by being in an appropriate gear to take off from a dead stop.
 

rz514

New Member
Region
Canada
IMHO I can't see the Surface brand bikes being MTB worthy. Perhaps for very very light trials. A decent analog FS MTB is going to run you double that. Decent MTB shocks and group sets will cost you as much if not more than the Surface bikes you are looking at. I'm not trying to be a stick in the mud but just hate to see people buy some of these so called EMTB when they really are not.
out of curiosity, why would you say that the Surface brand is not MTB worthy? My trek marlin 6 2020 is pretty much the same bike component wise