What are the pros and cons of conversion e-bike kits vs a specialist e-bike?
Are you considering upgrading your regular bike to an electric bike? There are two ways to do this: using a conversion e-bike kit or purchasing a complete "ready-to-ride e-bike". Both options have advantages and disadvantages, so weighing your options up is essential before purchasing.
Full Electric Bike
- Easy and Convenient: Full electric bikes come ready to ride, with all components already integrated and tested for optimal performance.
- Advanced Features: Full electric bikes often have advanced features like integrated lights.
- Integrated components: Motors are either in the rear wheel or between the pedals (central hub), meaning the bikes are balanced and provide smoother power assistance. Batteries are now either semi-integrated or built into the frame, meaning the designs are sleek, the batteries are easily accessible, usually larger, and offer greater range.
- Wide Selection: There are a wide variety of full-electric bikes available on the market, with different styles, designs, and features to choose from.
- Warranties: Most full electric bikes come with warranties from the manufacturer, giving you peace of mind.
- Cost: Full electric bikes are generally more expensive than conversion kits.
- Limited Customisation: While a wide selection of electric bikes is available, you may need help customising them to meet your needs and preferences.
Conversion E-Bike Kits
- Affordable: Conversion e-bike kits are generally cheaper than full electric bikes.
- Versatility: You can choose the type of conversion kit that best suits your needs, including front-wheel, rear-wheel, or mid-drive systems.
- DIY: Conversion kits allow you to modify your bike yourself, which can be a fun and rewarding experience (although not always easy)
- Compatibility: Conversion kits can be used on almost any bike, making them versatile.
- Limited Support: If you are not mechanically inclined, you may need help installing the conversion kit. There may be little support from the manufacturer or retailer, which can be frustrating.
- Compatibility Issues: You may encounter compatibility issues using an older or less common bike model. Some kits may not fit your bike's frame or require additional modifications.
- Limited Features: Conversion kits may not include some features that full electric bikes offer, such as integrated lighting systems.
- Limited after-sales support: fixing issues with conversion kits can prove challenging, particularly once they are out of warranty. Fewer bike mechanics are able to help with conversion kit repairs.
- Some kits require you to fit a new front wheel, meaning switching between an e-bike and a regular bike is a fiddly process.
- The more popular conversion kits include a motor in the front wheel, affecting your bike balance and riding options. Having so much weight in your front wheel isn't ideal and you will find it a very different bike to ride vs pre-conversion.
In summary, full electric bikes and conversion e-bike kits both have advantages and disadvantages. Full electric bikes offer ease and convenience, advanced features, and a wide selection, but they usually come with a higher cost. Conversion e-bike kits offer affordability, versatility, and DIY satisfaction but may require more mechanical skill and have limited support and features. Ultimately, the decision depends on your budget, needs, and preferences.