Customization may require more skills and tools. I made some aluminum brackets in my machine shop, to give me a professional-looking, solid battery mount. This isn’t necessary, but it was a fun part of the project for me. None of the kits require fabrication skills or modifications to the bike frame structure.
After a lot of research and considering my needs, I chose a 350 W geared rear-hub motor kit from E-BikeKit. It has plenty of power as an assist, allows easy pedaling, and has a small, unobtrusive hub motor. E-BikeKits usually come with an SL-A battery pack in a heavy nylon fabric case, but we purchased a 36 V Li-ion pack. The battery is housed in a round aluminum cylinder that can be mounted on the down tube. It has 10 Ah of capacity at a good price. The bike is a Felt Café women’s bike, which has a derailleur-type 7-speed hub—a perfect match for our E-BikeKit, thanks to some great advice from the folks at the bike shop.
Naturally, I couldn’t wait to try out the bike with a little test ride. That test ride turned into a ride all over the neighborhood, then all over town. I literally couldn’t stop smiling, and never broke a sweat. About a half-dozen people wanted to give it a try, and one friend in particular couldn’t stop hooting and giggling. It even passed the “teenager test”—my 17-year-old son loved it.
In all, it was a project that was thoroughly enjoyable, both in the build and the result. It is, without a doubt, the first in a series of conversion projects—in fact, the teenager wants to convert his Schwinn Stingray to a 500 W hub motor. The time it took, not counting my bracket fabrication, was about three hours, including “sittin’ and thinkin’.”
If the DIY electric bike building bug bites you, one of the most impressive resources on the web is the Endless Sphere forum (see Access). There, you’ll find everyone from the greenest “noobs” to experienced builders who are designing and making their own frames, electronics, and even motors for electric bikes.
Ted Dillard is the author of www.ElectricChronicles.com, a website devoted to two-wheel electri....
A special thanks to the dealers who helped with this project:
East Coast Alpine • www.eastcoastalpine.com
Electric Bikes of New England • www.ebikesofne.com
Hollywood Electrics • www.hollywoodelectrics.com
BionX • www.bionx.ca
Crystalyte • www.crystalyte.com
Currie Technologies • www.currietech.com
E-BikeKit • www.e-bikekit.com
Golden Motor • www.goldenmotor.com
Electric-Bikes.com • www.electric-bikes.com
Endless Sphere forums • www.endless-sphere.com