In our opinion, a person should only use a bicycle to get around if they want to lose a few pounds or if they’re trying to save the environment by not adding to the fuel emissions produced by the hundreds of cars in the area. If you’re looking to just get around for the sake of it, you could do better.
We’re guessing you don’t get much use out of that old Schwinn that stays hung up in the garage, collecting layers of dust. But what if we told you that you could change that old Schwinn into an electric bike? There’s more than one benefit to this, too. Converting your regular bike into an electric one not only gives you an electric bike without having to pay the hundreds of dollars it costs to buy one, but you get a project that gives you purpose and makes you feel like you’re doing something with your time. It can be a good way to bond with someone else, too, if you decide to make it a joint effort.
Yes, it may be a good idea to plan ahead before partaking in an endeavor such as this. Converting a bike into an electric one takes planning and know how. Some questions you should be asking yourself before you get started:
- “Am I really a do-it-yourself kind of person?”
- “What do I need to get started?”
- “Do I know how to put a motor on a bike?”
There are probably more questions you should be asking yourself before hand, but our time here is limited. If the answer to more than one of those questions is “yes”, then we suggest you go for it.
Concerning the conversion, you need to consider whether or not you want throttle assist (which involves twisting the grip or pushing a button to accelerate) or pedal assist. You also have to consider the type of terrain you will be traversing regularly with your new electric bike. Will it be hilly, or is it mainly flat? Will you be going off-road more often than not? Will you be using the bike for commuting or mountain biking? You will want to get the most mileage out of the kit you use before repairs will inevitably have to be made.
There’s hardware issues to take into account, as well. Consider the bike you are converting. Can it actually deal with the added weight of the parts you will add to it? Understand, you’re adding a motor, a battery, and a control to the frame of your bike. These all will add a significant amount of weight that you will now have to carry with you with each trip back and forth. Can the chainline on your bike deal with the motor it will have to work with once it is added? But, if you have taken all of those considerations into account and made whatever preparations needed to make this a successful project, you’re free to begin. Once you’ve learned how to put a motor on a mountain bike yourself, there will be added rush in your offtrack mountain biking, for sure. We promise.
The Step by Step Process
Here, we get to it and show you how to convert your bike into an e-bike. If done right, the minimum amount it takes to do this should be just under an hour. This is step by step and assuming you’ve already gotten your kit and donor bike ready to go.
1. Installing the motor
The tools needed to do this should be included within the kit, but you’re free to use whichever tools you have at your disposal, if you so desire. You’ll have to remove the pedals, cranks, and bottom bracket first, because the motor replaces them. The pedals come off first and keep in mind that the non drive side pedal has a reverse thread, so you’ll have to turn in the opposite direction to undo.
The cranks come off next, followed by the bottom bracket. We found that this part can be very, very stiff to remove as they’re are usually applied when the bike is constructed quite tightly, and for good reason. Remember that the threads are opposite to the pedal’s threads.
The motor slides into the bottom bracket and is fixed with a mounting plate that’s locked in place with a lock ring and a lock ring cover.
2. Applying the battery
There’s a fixing plate that attaches to the down tube bottle bosses. The battery fits into that and can be locked in place with the key that comes with the kit.
3. Attaching the controls
Remove the grip shifters and brakes from both of your handlebars. You can now attach the display unit that you received with your kit to the center of the handlebars. Choose the configuration that works best for you as far as where you want the e-brake, throttle, and display controls to be located on the handlebars and on which side. It is totally up to you. Replace the grips and re-attach the brake cables you previously took apart.
4. Everything else (and then off you go!)
Connect the battery and give everything a quick test to make sure it works and that there are no glitches. The display should be working and the wheel attached to the motor should be able to move with a push of a button.
That’s the simplest way to describe what it takes to convert your bike into an electric bike. It sounds like an incredible complex task until you break down each component, as with most do it yourself projects. It all comes down to knowing what you want and in which steps to achieve them in. With the right preparation and the right kit, transforming your bike is just plain ole fun. Almost as fun as the rides you’ll have after the job is done.
Kevin Stard – professional sportsman in category MTB. Participant of the Downhill World Cup #1