Electric bike conversion kits, dissatisfaction in a box!
The transportation landscape, especially inter urban commuting and micro mobility are evolving at a dramatic clip. The classic two-wheeled bicycle method of transportation is no longer defined by man-power, but rather by electric assistance. Electric bikes (also known as e bikes) are steadily growing in popularity as a practical alternative to the automobile when it comes to our daily trip to the office or job site and back.
Many people are now contemplating making the switch to an electric bike to get to work faster, or to simply arrive there without a sweat! Even non-cyclists are considering adopting the technology for a more ecofriendly journey in exchange for the car, bus or uber. Which leads us to the question, should you buy a completely dedicated pre built electric bike, or buy a conversion kit and convert a non-electric bike instead? There are many electric bike conversion kits on the market, and this may be the cheaper route but is a conversion kit better than investing in an electric bike manufactured exclusively for your purpose? Remember cheaper is not always better when it comes to your daily commuter, or your last mile delivery vehicle. Is it better to get out the hacksaw and your bike from the shed, order a kit from Alibaba and ‘get er done’, or are you one who puts greater value on your time and your peace of mind?
One thing to consider is the effort required to convert an existing bike to electric. As I am sure you have guessed by the word conversion, a conversion kit requires some research beforehand to check that the kit is compatible with the bike you intend to convert. Once the conversion kit arrives, it then needs to be fitted. While a dedicated pre built electric bike made for this purpose can be purchased with little to no assembly.
The speed and ease (just like the quality) of the conversion kit will depend on the type, and mostly the cost of the kit you choose, what type of bike you own or purchase for the conversion, and your own comfort and confidence with your mechanical capabilities.
If you're not confident with fitting the kit yourself, some companies have a network of dealers who are licensed to fit the kit. For easy-fitting kits a local bike shop or bike mechanic will be happy to do it for a price. Of course all of this will cost you some $$ which will effectively eat into, or eliminate the cost benefit from going the kit route in the first place. The effort required for a DIY conversion is definitely greater - but is it the most beneficial option?
Most of the DIY stories we hear go something like this… Customer looks into electric bikes, they discover some electric bike forums and spend a bunch of time reading the articles, then they look at “companies” (drop shippers living in their parents basement for the most part) out there selling electric bike kits and they decide to buy the cheapest kit they can get their hands on. They have done enough research to avoid getting suckered into purchasing a kit with lead acid batteries and are totally committed to Lithium cells - because that is all people ever talk about. Everyone seems to get super pumped over the very inexpensive lithium packs that come in these kits which are so-much cheaper than the fancy 18650 lithium polymer cell packs that seem so ridiculously overpriced. Unconquered Customs uses 18650 lithium polymer cells exclusively within our packs, read why here. They might talk to their local bike shop who are probably are pretty clueless about electric bikes. In the end they buy a cheap ass kit from ebay or alibaba and then throw it all together. They don’t understand much about the difference between friction drive, mid-drive, direct drive or geared hub systems so they just buy whatever costs the least which is usually a direct drive hub motor.
At this point the kit arrives and many customers realize that that their non-electric sacrificial bikes have a smaller or larger opposite wheel, meaning they need to either buy a new front wheel and tire to match the back one or visa versa - exchange their conversion kit for a one laced into a different sized wheel. Usually this is the part where they realize that their brakes are also incompatible and need to be swapped out
(side note …Depending on the type of conversion kit you go for, you might need to upgrade your tires and brakes = additional expenses!) Second side note – Not all kits come with the batteries!! If you are going the way of the kit, ensure that it includes a battery pack!!
If all is good, they spend about an hour, maybe two putting it together, and they take their new ‘electric bike’ out for a ride. Because they went economy all the way, and refused to spend more than $1500.00 for the motor & battery combined they end up being completely underwhelmed by the performance of the motor and or battery. Read here about the performance of an Unconquered Custom Electric Cycle. If they are lucky and their pack doesn’t light on fire from the garbage cells within, and they don’t tear the dropouts out of their bike frame because they were so cheap that they didn’t invest in a set of torque arms. - Most likely they will just end up being completely dissatisfied with their builds.
This dissatisfaction leads to getting back online and buying a bigger controller to try and push more current through a crappy motor that was never designed for it. Ultimately, they burn out the motor or they break the controller. And remember unlike purchasing a new electric bike, these people have no access to a manufacturer’s warranty – an Unconquered Customs warranty is 5 years on frame, and a year on all electrical components with extended warranties available.
We see this scenario play out time and time again.
Unpleasant look of most electric bike conversions
Let's be honest, we all love a great aesthetically pleasing design – and electric bikes are no different! An advantage of a complete electric bike like an Unconquered Custom is that the design has been drawn up with the intention of electric parts being incorporated in to the machine. In turn, this means that many electrical cables and batteries can be hidden inside the frame and components. At Unconquered Customs we believe that we are indeed the best when it comes to vintage electric bike design, we want you to get where you are going in retro style!
In fact, one of the main things keeping people off electric bikes even though they make so much environmental and economic sense is some sort of an associated shame factor. Each Unconquered is expressly built to eliminate that notion completely! We only build vehicles our customers will be proud to drive. Our designs are based on vintage motorcycles from the early 1900’s, recalling the early nostalgia of the Indian, and Harley board track racers. This was a time when the beauty of each design was of top consideration. Motorcycles represented joy freedom, and they achieved this without top ends of 200 mph. By contrast, electric bike conversion kits are designed to fit to a range of bikes and this necessitates having all or most of the electric components on view!
If you still want to go the conversion kit route for your electric bike, here are some quick tips
Forget about Alibaba, Ebay and Aliexpress
If you decide to find and purchase your conversion kit, drive units, electric bike, or batteries from any of these sources you are just nuts and there isn’t anything anyone can do to help you. Good luck bro! Why not make the process more efficient and simply walk over to your bathroom, and flush your money down the toilet. In the end, you’ll be better off.. Less stress, but with the same result.
Buy from someone or some company that is reputable. How do you know if they are reputable? Your guess is as good as mine. You can check out some Unconquered Custom Electric Cycle reviews here
If you want support when your stuff breaks, the best way to do that is to buy from North American companies. You can save a few bucks buying from China, but in the end, it’s really not worth it. Trying to get stuff into the continent is expensive and time-consuming. Shipping Lithium batteries across the ocean (legally) is astronomically expensive. If you know of a local shop (shameless plug for Unconquered Custom Electric Cycles) then support them whenever you can. After all, we are the foot soldiers on the new frontier of vehicle electrification and we need some love.
On that note I’d like to rattle off some of the benefits of purchasing a pre built electric bike, they include:
Use our electric bike payment calculator to help design a payment plan that is right for you!
Non-existent cost of maintenance
No surprises. If you buy a new bike, all parts and components are brand new. You will not have to deal with any recurring faults that your converted bike had from the past No need to worry about a bad tire, a broken chain or a malfunctioning brake. You will spend less will be spent on repairs over the next few years especially with your warranty still intact.
Good after-sale service
When you purchase a new prebuilt electric bike from a North American manufacturer, you will be sure to enjoy excellent after-sale service. This is a given, especially when you purchase your bike from a well-known brand such as Unconquered Customs. Your electric bike will come with manufacturer’s warranty. Therefore, if any dysfunction occurs apart from regular tear and wear, it will all be covered by the manufacturer.
Advanced available technological features
New electric bikes come with advanced technological features. Features such as GPS, cadence sensors, full throttle mode etc enhance your journey’s efficiency, and allow you to partake in better and more enjoyable riding experiences in general.
High resale value
Variety of design choices
Nuff said … design a bike to suit your tastes here.
Easier and much more reliable
If you are looking for dependable transportation for your daily commute you will not want any breakdowns that may jeopardize your punctuality. This is where a brand new machine really shines! A new prebuilt electric bike is much more reliable. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that each day you will beat the traffic and get to wherever you are going on time.
When it comes to electric bike conversion kits one should be cautioned not to be penny wise and pound foolish. What seems like a great deal in the beginning, may cost you big down the road. Also, as far as Unconquered Custom Electric Cycles is concerned whichever path towards electrification you choose - you are already a brother or sister of ours, facilitating a future where electric bikes are universally accepted. That being said, we are always here for support, in return - please be an ambassador for this new mode of transportation, and treat all other cyclists, pedestrians and motorists with respect even when they totally piss you off!. Electric bikes whether they are kit based, or prebuilt are destined for great things in the USA and Canada, and we are making it happen together.
Ok, on to more important things! Design an Unconquered Custom electric bike that suits your style! Click on the button below and get started!