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Any advice on ebike conversions?

Old 07-26-20, 11:51 AM
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BengeBoy 
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Any advice on ebike conversions?

Hi - I was away from my bikes for a few years but recently got back on them and am wanting to add an ebike to the herd. I am truly out of room in the garage so I was going to get rid of a couple of bikes to make room, and then realized maybe I should convert one of my existing bikes (all of which I really like for one reason or another) to an e-bike. Given the very high prices of quality ebikes, I figure I don't have to skimp on conversion kits, happy to pay for something top of the line, and still come out ahead vs buying a new bike (and I get to hang onto an existing bike I like).

Wondering if any of you have experience/advice on converting nicer bikes to ebikes would could provide some advice? (A lot of what I see on quick searches online is videos on "how to do a cheap conversion" or "take a really rotten old bike and electrify it."). I am more interested in something that would make me happy I didn't spend $$$ on a top of the line ebike while allowing me to save one of my bikes I really like.

I recently retired, and while I used to be comfortable riding all over town (which is Seattle, which is pretty hilly), I would like an e-bike so I could run errands, visit friends, or just go out for lunch on the other side of town riding civilian clothes. I used to commute, but could take a shower when I got to work; I want something that allows me to comfortably drive 10 to 15 miles for a lunch or errand, and then buzz home (and avoid the temptation to do all this by car). [I would still have a couple of non-electric bikes for out-of-town road riding and mountain biking - this e-bike would be my "retired guy buzzing around town" bike].

After doing a bit of research, I am interested in a mid-hub conversion kit (not a hub kit), and I think it would mechanically work on either of my 2 options:

1. I have a great custom-made steel commuter bike that I used for 22-mile round-trip commuting for several years. Awesome all-weather bike, has also done a little bit of light touring. Triple chainring, drop bars, already has lights, rack and fenders. 32c tires. 3 questions:
(a) should I also consider converting the drop bars to flat bars? I've always ridden drop bar bikes, but lots of things I read say that on an ebike you will find yourself riding upright a lot more because you don't need the aerodynamics of riding on the drops, and you're going faster so you want to sit up and look around.
(b) Would I always want to get away from the triple chainring and simplify the bike with a double or even single chainring?
(c) I see lots of local ebikes here in Seattle with bigger and bigger tires. My commuter has 32c tires; would I find them too small riding a bit faster all the time on (somewhat ragged) city streets?

2. A second candidate to convert is an old Specialized steel mountain bike that I converted into a commuting bike before I got the bike mentioned above. The past several years mainly use for lending to guests, short grocery-getting type rides, etc. I put on butterfly bars, racks, fenders, and street tires. It's not as a high quality bike overall as the one above but I am wondering if it might be a better candidate because (a) it already has flat bars (butterfly bars, which I like a lot) and (b) it has the fatter 26-inch tires which I might find more comfortable zooming across poorly maintained roads. On the downside, it is a heavier bike than the one above, which I know doesn't matter as much on an ebike but does cut battery range a bit on the margin.

Any opinions? Or any guidance on what I might look at/research? Any good guides or forums I should look at?

I know it is a sin to say that I am "thinning the herd" instead of obeying the rule of N+1, but if I don't convert one of these bikes I truly have to get rid of one (or more) to make room.

[It has been several years since I posted on this forum but look forward to your advice]
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Old 07-26-20, 12:43 PM
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Getting new genetic material will probably give a better result than keeping a stable of inbreeds <grin>

I just can't imagine it any better than the little gasoline engines we used to put on our bikes in the sixties and probably before. Never was quite the motorcycle I wanted it to be.

Similarly, I think an E-bike needs to be an E-bike from the drawing board to production through sale to owner. But I might be wrong.
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Old 07-26-20, 03:52 PM
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LBS here does mid drive conversions starting at $1600 (& no sales tax) Bikes and Beyond ? Since 1988, the leader in bicycle sales and service on the North Coast.

Elk hunters went for conversions on MTB over the last few years
a good E bike combo Shimano STEPS Motor in frame built around the motor, and an Alfine Di2 11 speed IGH

Or an E shift Rohloff & a Bosch Motor .

in both cases the system integration is beneficial .. shifting has the motor power pause to let the hub shift easier..

E bike Brake levers also cut the power off when you want to stop ..so add switches
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Old 07-26-20, 03:57 PM
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Often wondered the same. I have a Trek FXS5 that I have wondered if I could be converted? Hull carbon frame.
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Old 07-26-20, 04:45 PM
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Here's a forum of people discussing their current/future/in-progress builds: some of these are interesting if you are interesting in diving down this rabbit hole...
https://electricbike.com/forum/forum...ing-directions

Here's a gallery of completed bikes:
https://electricbike.com/forum/forum...stomer-gallery

Here's an example of a bunch of components packaged together as a conversion kit:
https://lunacycle.com/bafang-bbshd-1000w-middrive-kit/
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Old 07-26-20, 06:30 PM
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You probably should have this moved to ebikes but I'll throw in my 2 cents first. I helped a friend install a Bafang on a nice Bianchi steel cross bike. He rides it but I wouldn't. The conversion is heavy. That means the canti brakes are marginal. It was fun cruising up a hill but terrifying on the descent. The max 32mm tires are inadequate w/o enough pressure to make them rocks. The battery attaches to the bottle cage bosses but it is too heavy and was ripping them out. He had to move the battery to a rear rack which made the contraption unstable. IMO, if you need an ebike, spring for a purpose built one. Fat tires, disc brakes, hefty frame. The weight constraints of a pedal bike don't apply.
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Old 07-26-20, 07:05 PM
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If you want to keep the bicycle as a bicycle, with some assist... I would get a pressure sensor type of system that controls the amount of assist, NOT, a rotation sensor type of E-Assist... and... Certainly NOT, anything with a throttle... JMO...

Also, something that would work as when you want to ride the bicycle without any assist, weight, and the drag of the electric motor can make it really hard to ride an E-Bike without it being turned on... again... JMO riding my E-assist bicycle that I can ride without the motor on and not feel like some, that say it was almost impossible to ride their E-Bike without it being turned on, (dead battery)...
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Old 07-27-20, 05:55 AM
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Take a look at cytronex.com. They sell complete bikes and a conversion kit, the C1. Their system allows you to easily convert, about 30 min job, to e-assist and if you want to revert to no assist, replace the front wheel with the original and remove the bottle battery. Very simple. We have two: one on a tandem and the other on a solo bike.
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Old 08-01-20, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
You probably should have this moved to ebikes but I'll throw in my 2 cents first. I helped a friend install a Bafang on a nice Bianchi steel cross bike. He rides it but I wouldn't. The conversion is heavy. That means the canti brakes are marginal. It was fun cruising up a hill but terrifying on the descent. The max 32mm tires are inadequate w/o enough pressure to make them rocks. The battery attaches to the bottle cage bosses but it is too heavy and was ripping them out. He had to move the battery to a rear rack which made the contraption unstable. IMO, if you need an ebike, spring for a purpose built one. Fat tires, disc brakes, hefty frame. The weight constraints of a pedal bike don't apply.
Thanks for the advice. Those are the kinds of things I'm thinking about.

After doing a little more research, talking to some folks, I think I have eliminated the possibility of converting my drop-bar steel-framed commuting bike. Tires too small (32c), I don't think I want drop bars on an e-bike, and rim brakes.
Am still considering a conversion on my old steel mountain bike, which was converted to a commuter. It's an older model, but in good shape; the frame is really more like a modern gravel bike or hybrid, and it has flat bars and fat 26-inch tires. The shop that does conversions here lets you test ride an equivalent bike, and if you like what you ride you can either buy the kit, or leave it for them to do the conversion. I still have concerns if this is the right move but I am thinking about this as a one-year trial to figure out whether e-biking is in my future.

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Old 08-01-20, 04:55 PM
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Yes, I think a mtb would make a better platform for a kit conversion. Bigger tires, flat bars and maybe V brakes might resolve some of the issues.
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Old 08-17-20, 03:08 PM
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I converted a Trek 830 mtb bike 5 years ago, Steel frame made around 1991. It was not difficult. Rear hub motor, about $200. Battery on frame, about $280. I found the center pull brakes were too old with corroded cables. The bike had posts for cantilever brakes so I swapped. Still use the original derailleur and the eliptical crank. Put on Shimano trigger shifters. Still have the origiak seat. It was my son's bike in High School.

It's only a three level pedal assist with throttle. Not too fast. Tops out around 20 mph. The Trek was always heavy, Motor/battery bring it up to 52 pounds. Still lighter than your average store bought ebike. I like it for my senior riding. I have since converted a few others, which are lighter, but this was my first.

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Old 08-18-20, 06:04 PM
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Thanks for posting. That's sort of what like my bike would / will end up looking like after I convert it.

I think as a next step I'm going here to take a test drive - it's a place in Seattle called Bike Swift. They take brand-name bikes and convert them to electrical. You go on in for a test drive, ride something similar to what you are thinking about converting, and decide whether to go ahead and buy the stuff they sell (or have them install it). I have a friend who got a bike there who likes it a lot.

https://www.bikeswift.com/
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Old 09-03-20, 03:51 PM
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I did a mid engine conversion on a Specialized Sirrus with rim brakes. I got the kit from Luna Cycle and just had to get a bottom brac ket tool. It was a very easy project. I had to reconfigure the battery mount a little bit, and I upgraded the brake pads. After riding it for a week or two I realized e-bikes weren't my thing and I sold the bike. I didn't like being reliant on a motor, and the bike didn't ride very well without the power, but it was a cool project.

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Old 09-03-20, 08:07 PM
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The biggest hurdle in my fantasy e-bike purchase is battery storage in a hot garage ( 120F + / 48.9C + ). Or cold. An easily removable battery is a must for me as the majority of e-bikes are too heavy to carry into the house. I've seen only a few candidates: folding bikes ( ff to around 5:05 in video below ), and Onemotor.


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