Electrify Your Ride: Page 4 of 4

Converting Your Bike to Electric

Inside this Article

Electric Bike Ride
The newly electrified bike goes for its first test drive—with success!
Rear-Wheel Hub Motor
A rear-wheel hub motor.
Outboard-Mount Currie Motor
An outboard-mount Currie motor and drive.
Dual 1,000 Watt Golden Hub Motors
Dual 1,000 Watt Golden hub motors give near-motor-scooter performance.
Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
A rack-mounted lithium-ion battery pack.
Thumb Speed Control
A thumb speed control.
Motor Speed Controller
A motor speed controller.
The E-BikeKit comes with the motor (the wheel shown in the box) and controller. The battery (the silver tube), charger, and rack came separately.
Electric Bike Ride
Rear-Wheel Hub Motor
Outboard-Mount Currie Motor
Dual 1,000 Watt Golden Hub Motors
Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
Thumb Speed Control
Motor Speed Controller

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.

The Ride

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

Kit Manufacturers:

BionX • www.bionx.ca

Crystalyte • www.crystalyte.com

Currie Technologies • www.currietech.com

E-BikeKit • www.e-bikekit.com

eZee •www.ezeebike.com

Golden Motor • www.goldenmotor.com

Other Resources:

Electric-Bikes.com • www.electric-bikes.com 

Endless Sphere forums • www.endless-sphere.com

Comments (3)

Mark Smith W4CHL's picture

Quick comment: in the interest of simplification, the author should not have linked "speed" of an ebike motor to battery pack voltage. Peak speed under power is regulated in many countries, and even some areas within a country. Across the US the federal law is the motor assist must kick out at 20mph and the motor may be no larger than 750w (~1hp) to maintain the unlicensed ebike status. Most older systems are 24v, newer are 36v or 48v. Some may be modified to run faster, but the limits are not battery voltage, but the controller electronics and the motor peak wattage/hp.

Michael Welch's picture

Thanks for the good info, Mark. Yes, the federal limit is held to 20 mph and 1 hp for commercially-made bikes. But if you make your own ebike, state laws kick in. Here in CA, for example, I can build an ebike from parts or kit, and have a 1,000 W motor, though I am still limited to a max speed of 20 mph from the power system.

Bob Hoboken's picture

Your article is spot on in many ways. I ordered the Chinese kit from "the bay" for around 750 shipped. It's a 1kw golden motors hub with 20ah LifePo4 battery. I got around 1 year use out of it before the battery management system (BMS) failed. The battery is just a bunch of cells wrapped up in duct tape. It does work well though when it runs. I am 300 lbs and can get average 25-30 mph. Would recommend TOP of the line tires and tubes though. I had a front blowout at 25 mph and the road rash wasn't pretty. Also, anything handling power (controller / bms) gets hot. Hang those out in the airstream for cooling. Braking is HUGE when you add all the weight and speed to your bike. I honestly don't feel much difference in wheel braking vs disc. In wet weather I'd go disc. I don't have the controller to give regen a try for braking. I don't recommend rear drive given my setup. Adding disc braking is next to impossible and it was a b!tch to get the freewheel cluster to spin after installation. Clearances were tough to obtain given the chain and frame in high gear. If I were to buy another kit from China, I'd go front wheel drive. I'm hoping top tire makers like Schwalbe realize the need for beefier e-bike tires and develop them. Past 25 mph, you really are asking for it if you have a blowout. A helmet is a definate must, gloves and even other padding case you go down.
All that said, I'd not steer away from e-bikes for a second. They are flat out FUN and I've used mine for short commutes to work on a regular basis. Passing up gas stations daily is a joy you simply have to experience for yourself. I plugged in at work after doing the math for my boss (kill a watt meter helps) how little juice my bike drank. My commute was free at that point. I tow my battery in a well built 2 seat kid trailer. Work stuff and stops by the store go into the trailer. Don't rely on a seat post mounted tote for your 20ah battery unless it's welded steel. My very well made aluminum tote broke inside of 3 months.
Final thoughts, I will probably graduate into a small motorcycle simply for the better tires and brakes. A 48-72v motorcycle will have all the speed / range I need to get to work and our company now has charging stations available so again, my commute will be free. I look forward to leaving gas for good !!

Show or Hide All Comments