From the monthly archives:

August 2013

There can be no doubt that riding a bike with an integrated electric motor is thrilling. Zooming off at barely a touch of your pedal, you can fly up hills without breaking a sweat, and bomb down the far side at hitherto unimagined speeds. But in your research on the NYCeWheels site, you have come across a whole range of electric bike conversion kits! You did not count on having the option of a conversion. So, what to do? Should you go with the electric bike, or deck out your old bike with a new kit?

Electric Bike Conversions: Electrify your favorite ride!

Let’s take a look at the conversion option first. At NYCeWheels, we love our BionX kits with a fiery passion. These systems are relatively straight forward–mechanically-minded folks can install them on their own bikes with enough determination–and offer the ability to toggle between a power assist and a power on demand mode using a simple handlebar mounted computer. These modes add a whole new dimension to biking, with the assist mode making even the most brutal climb easy, and the demand mode giving you the ability to fly along effortlessly at the tap of a button. BionX conversion kits are versatile enough that we have installed them on everything from small Dahon folding bikes to vintage mountain bikes and everything in between.

Even though BionX kits are our go-to conversion option, there are some situations where more specific tools are required to get the job done. Since the motors in BionX systems are built into the rear hub, bikes that use an internal gearing system will not accept the conversion. This is why we have cooked up a range of high quality front wheel-mounted kits for a variety of wheel sizes. We did this to ensure that we could install these conversions on any of our folding electric bikes–and it’s worked out amazingly well! Not only can we convert internally geared Dahons and Terns with 20- and even 26-inch wheels, but we have successfully installed these systems on the legendarily small Brompton! Our custom electric Bromptons use a capacious front-mounted commuter bag to house the battery, and because both the bike and the electronics are so streamlined, this is one of the lightest electric bikes available. Best of all, our electric Bromptons can still fold as small as ever–you don’t even need to remove the bag!

Surly Pugsley with a BionX motorOf course, the real draw to an electric bike conversion kit is that you get to pick the exact bike you want. We have seen some pretty wild BionX installations over the years–like a rack-mounted kit that one customer attached to their tandem, and dozens of customers who have been happy to compensate for the considerable heft of their recumbent bicycles and tricycles with a powerful motor. We have also whipped up some pretty unusual setups ourselves–our Surly Moonlander, powered by a 36-volt 350-watt BionX motor, generated so much buzz that we couldn’t help following that up by converting a Surly Pugsley in similar fashion. For the more sentimental among you, an electric kit can breathe new life into your favorite old beater. I know that personally, the next bike I would like to electrify is my dad’s old 1980 Fuji cruiser. Believe me, not having to work hard to get up hills on that thing would be a revelation.

Dedicated Electric Bikes: Power and performance

The downside of a conversion system is that there is no guarantee everything will work perfectly together–the shape of the frame might make it difficult to remove the battery easily, or as mentioned previously, you can run into difficulties with gearing systems and the like. With the high quality dedicated electric bikes we offer at NYCeWheels, you will get no such trouble. Everything is designed to work flawlessly together, and because we only carry bikes in which we have a lot of confidence, you can be assured that they are going to be well engineered.

At the entry level of this category, these bikes are configured not dissimilarly from the some of the conversion systems. With the Currie Technologies iZIP Path and iZIP Zuma, a low-profile battery is housed within the rear rack. However, since these bikes are designed from the ground up with the electric components in mind, their look tends to be more streamlined than what you would get with a conversion. The battery disappears into the shape of the rack, making for a very clean look.

Upper-end dedicated electric bicycles tend to have frame-integrated batteries. In the case of the iZIP Metro, A2B, and Stromer, large-capacity lithium ion batteries are housed in the bikes’ downtubes, keeping the extra weight close to the ground and centered so as to minimally effect the bike’s handling. Currie Technologies’ eFlow Nitro has a unique seatpost-mounted battery. In this case, the quick-release saddle is attached directly to the top of the battery pack. This positioning does a good job of keeping the battery’s weight centered, and makes removing the battery quite simple. In both of these configurations, the battery’s placement makes for a aerodynamically well-designed bike.

Kettler Twin electric bikeIf power is what your after, integrated electric bicycles are definitely the way to go. Whereas BionX systems can give your bike a respectable 350 watts of power, most dedicated electric bikes sport 500-watt motors. This translates into tearing up hills, seriously effortless acceleration on the flats, and the ability to haul a massive amount of cargo. What’s more, these bikes are designed to take the wherewithal of that kind of pressure, so they come equipped with disc brakes, and in the case of the Stromer Sport and Kettler Twin, front suspension systems to make sure you have a smooth ride as you lean on that throttle.

In my opinion, the main draw to an electric bicycle conversion is knowing that you are getting exactly what you want in terms of your frame and setup–from vintage Fujis to tiny folding bikes, almost any conversion is possible. With a dedicated electric,
everything will be more streamlined and powerful.

Ready to pick your poison? Head to the electric bike and electric bike conversion kit sections of our website and order yourself some serious wattage today!

About the Author

Miles Schneider is manages social media for NYCeWheels in New York City. He plays 6-string electric violin and loves dogs.