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Conversion Vs. Buying New E-Bike

Old 03-20-21, 07:25 AM
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Scubaquarius
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Conversion Vs. Buying New E-Bike

So I notice lots of folks around NWAR riding new E-bikes. We even have a few local dealers.
Any opinions on brands of E-bikes? Is it better to convert your own?

Appreciate your thoughts,
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Old 03-20-21, 07:43 AM
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I own a Specialized Vado SL 5 and I had previously built up a conversion. Even the best conversions look cobbled together with numerous wires strung up and down the downtube. Some conversions might not have sufficient braking systems. It may be a while before supply meets demand and the price of new e-bikes becomes more affordable, for now most new e-bikes are inflated by strong demand and limited supply.
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Old 03-20-21, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
I own a Specialized Vado SL 5 and I had previously built up a conversion. Even the best conversions look cobbled together with numerous wires strung up and down the downtube. Some conversions might not have sufficient braking systems. It may be a while before supply meets demand and the price of new e-bikes becomes more affordable, for now most new e-bikes are inflated by strong demand and limited supply.
Thanks for the information,

Is that really your bike in that picture?

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Old 03-20-21, 09:20 AM
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If you've already got a bike you love to ride, that fits you perfectly, then I vote for conversion. Otoh, if you don't have a bike you love, get a commercial e-bike. Conversions don't have to be ugly, there are fully wireless versions out there and your conversion will absolutely be a lot lighter weight than a commercial e-bike. By a substantial amount. So if weight matters to you (lifting and carrying up stairs, etc.) a conversion is the right choice as well. But if weight isn't an issue - no stairs, maybe a van to put the bike in instead of having to heft it on a rack, that advantage disappears.
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Old 03-20-21, 10:05 AM
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I'm really happy with my conversion. Wasn't hard to do, has considerably more power than most factory bikes and was massively cheaper.

Many of the factory bikes have proprietary designs or parts and don't let the user change the programming. Conversion kits typically allow one to mix and match batteries. They allow converting back to a normal bike or swapping the electronics to a different bike. Conversions do tend to be more hands on, whereas factory bikes often require repairs at a bike shop.

The wires everywhere is a valid complaint. I hate cable and wires, but seems like a small price to pay for everything the conversion gives you. Haven't had any issues with loose wiring so far. Some of the oversized tubing used in factory ebikes to hide stuff is not exactly pretty either.

There are a number of kit vendors out there. The Bafang stuff is highly regarded, lots of people using them, unbelievable amounts of information available on line with lots of aftermarket support/parts available. Bafang allows the user to custom tune things like power output, speed limits, etc. make for a much improved bike. I simply downloaded a tune from someone else, very happy with how it is set up.

I highly recommend a Bafang conversion on an older bike.

By the way ebikes don't really need anything special in terms of brakes. Standard rim brakes, as long as they are set up and adjusted correctly, are more than sufficient. I have V brakes on my conversion that are very responsive.
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Old 03-20-21, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Pop N Wood View Post

The wires everywhere is a valid complaint. I hate cable and wires, but seems like a small price to pay for everything the conversion gives you.

By the way ebikes don't really need anything special in terms of brakes. Standard rim brakes, as long as they are set up and adjusted correctly, are more than sufficient. I have V brakes on my conversion that are very responsive.
Well if you do a conversion with a hub motor rather than mid drive, chances are the wheel will only support disc calipers (regardless of what the vendor might claim). So if your bike is just set up for rim brakes, always check the reviews first to make sure the wheel will actually be compatible.

Also, Spiral Cable Wrap is your friend.
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Old 03-20-21, 02:20 PM
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Thank you everyone for your very helpful responses,

Biking weather is upon us ,

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Old 03-20-21, 03:27 PM
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I have both, and your choice may depend on your proclivities. I've pretty much always built my bikes from the frame up, so prefer DIY. BTW, they don't need to look "thrown together".
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Old 03-20-21, 03:33 PM
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BTW, my Santa Cruz Superlight MTB, which I built 16 years ago, is still ridden off road three times a week. Probably has 1,500++ rides and 20,000++ miles.
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Old 03-20-21, 06:34 PM
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You will get good support from a pre-built bike with Bosch, Brose, Shimano...with the kit motor you install yourself or at a shop you may get support you may not. The bike you convert certainly won't be designed for being an e-bike so that is something to consider as well.
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Old 03-22-21, 09:26 AM
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If you're in it for riding, buy the bike, pay for the service, and enjoy riding. I bought our first one, and after seeing how it was put together I converted my next one. I've converted a few more since then. I enjoy the problem solving part of it, but unless you have a nice bike already to convert, it's less money to buy a starter ebike these days.

The US market is stacked with heavy ebikes. You can't hardly find something like what 2old is riding a few posts back, a simple light bike. That's why I do conversions.
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Old 03-23-21, 09:39 AM
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Take a look at any production Class 3 (28mph) e-bike and then look at the same model (if any) sold without assist. For example: any Raleigh Redux (1 or 2) vs the Redux IE or the Giant Quick vs the Quck E+. The e-bike will have a (much) longer wheelbase. Hydraulic discs (180mm rotor f/r), 2.4" (vs (1.5") tires and usually integrates "be seen" lighting equipment. It will also cost a LOT more money than the unpowered version. Sure you can take whatever you've got and hotrod it with a motor kit but you might be missing out. I chose to try and get the best of both worlds. I didn't use an existing bike but I bought a new bike possessing most of the traits found on the best production e-bikes and then bought a mid-drive motor kit to power it. A short list of suitable donors include the Salsa Journeyman 650B Flatbar; Breezer Midtown; Surly Bridge Club. I couldn't find any of those bikes actually available! Everything is sold out. So I bought a Mongoose Envoy (large) and that was not easy to actually find. Someone returned one and I grabbed it. Ticks all the boxes. Tongshen TSDZ2 and 52V Battery from EM3EV round out the package. $4200 e-bike for $2000. Works for me. YMMV.
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Old 03-23-21, 07:19 PM
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I also vote for a DIY/conversion. I built a Surly Bridge Club with a 500w front hub conversion kit. It's a Grin Technologies RTR kit, SX front hub in a 27.5" Alex rim (rim brake compatible), 52v 14ahr (750w) downtube battery using 21700 cells, 30/55 amp Baserunner integrated controller, cadence PAS and twist throttle. The bike was bought new last fall and the kit applied shortly thereafter. Pricing was around $1100 USD for the bike and a similar amount for the kit ... so less than $2500 USD invested. The total weight without the fenders, winter tires and rear rack is around 45lbs and around 55lbs in it's full winter setup (including a pannier).

This bike is about as perfect a fun to ride urban commuter/grocery getter as I can build. The only thing I want to change is the gearing, I need more top end than a 32x11. It's quick and smooth (both throttle and PAS). The motor is protected from melt down by an internal temp sensor (the CA will roll back the power if the motor is pushed too hard and overheats). It handles all the different weather (icy, loose snow, rain, etc.) and still retains much of the rideability of the original non assisted bike. And to most folks it's just another bike.
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Old 03-24-21, 07:09 AM
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I could go either way on a bike. Conversion or commercial e bike. Each has their advantages.
The commercial bike is plug and play type riding. No hassles or planning and insurable with easier resale to upgrade. Disadvantages are higher cost, less DIY maintenance possibilities and fewer upgrade options.
The DIY bike gives multiple options for powering a bike, allows customization of programing, is cheaper and can be made more capable. The DIY option is more limited to the mechanically inclined, may be un insurable and may have questionable resale value.
Five years ago when I built my first e bike, the commercial choices were unrefined, expensive and pathetic on performance and range.
I have since built a dozen e bikes. My first e bike build was a sweet little bike for my wife that looked commercial, was 750watt mid drive, 360 watt hour battery and weighed 38lbs. My personal bike now has gained the pounds as time has gone on. It is now approaching 80 lb. The bike started out around 53lbs. The bike is still way more capable than you can buy commercially.
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Old 04-06-21, 10:48 AM
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Not an easy question, indeed. I like my 2013 BH bike very much and have never regretted buying it. On the other hand, a friend owns the same bike and his battery went bad a couple of years ago and he's never been able to get a replacement from the manufacturer or anyone else. I also recall the batteries were $600 when they were available. I saw a cheaper used one once, but I had no confidence in how many charges that one may have had left. There may be a way to repair the battery, but my friend hasn't found one and does regret his purchase. My next ebike purchase would probably be a finished one again, in part because there many more available than back in 2013; but, I know the risks and would try to cover my butt where/as possible.
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Old 04-06-21, 12:01 PM
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There's a place in Las Vegas (never used them; just my daughter lives there and I saw it once) that repairs batteries (probably many others too). In your friend's case that may mean replacing the cells and BMS, but shouldn't be too expensive. Other option is to look for a battery with the same connectors or find one that can be connected through a "dual connector" (one end for the female on the battery, one for the male on the controller).
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Old 04-12-21, 08:37 PM
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A purpose built bike will always be satisfying as long as you didnt buy a budget brand.

A kitted bike is always a compromise, even though it usually works.

-SP
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