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electric conversion kit

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.

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E-Bike Grocery Shopping and Errands

by Electric bike guru on July 15, 2011

First. If you don’t have one already, you will need a luggage rack for your bicycle.

Figure 1 First. If you don’t have one already, you will need a luggage rack for your bicycle

Owning an E-Bike, like a BionX Electric Drive System presents the perfect opportunity to perform errands, stock your refrigerator, save money, and get healthy exercise, all at the same time. Grocery shopping with a regular bike can be inconvenient and awkward; the added weight can slow you down to a crawl and affect the handling of the bike, especially on hilly terrain or heavy traffic. The powerful proportional assist motor of the BionX system can easily handle the extra weight of your weekly grocery shopping, with no degradation of performance, and the faster transit time to and from the supermarket is important to get your perishable items home before the summer heat has a chance to cause any damage.

Get started shopping with your electric bike

First. If you don’t have one already, you will need a luggage rack for your electric bicycle. Rear luggage racks are the most common, but racks are available for the front of your bike as well. Expect to pay $40 – $50 for a sturdy, well-made, light-weight aluminum rack, and make sure to attach it securely. Next, select panniers, or saddlebags that are large enough to carry several bags of groceries. Be sure to specify whether they are going to attach to the front or the rear of your bike, as they must mate to the luggage rack you have installed.

Figure 2 Select panniers, or saddlebags that are large enough to carry several bags of groceries.

Figure 2 Select panniers, or saddlebags that are large enough to carry several bags of groceries.

In the supermarket, self control is essential. If your refrigerator is nearly empty, or you have just returned from a two-month stay at your vacation villa, maybe now is not the time to go shopping with your e-bike. Start with a grocery list, and stick to the list. Remember that liquids add the most weight, and be careful not to buy too many boxed items, which are bulky and take up a lot of space. Once you have checked off the items on your list, you can add impulse and last-minute items to the extent that space allows.

When you are done shopping, think about how you will organize and pack your groceries into your bike bags. The basic rule is to keep the load balanced on your bike by dividing the items into two groups of approximately equal weight. If possible, try to do this before you leave the store. This may be easier if you go through the self-check.

Loading up your ebike

When you get back to your electric bike, load the groceries into each pannier and close it. If you cannot close the panniers, you may have to leave the top open. This is easier if the bag is equipped with a zipper rather than a top flap. If you do have to leave your saddlebag open, try to tie the supermarket bag closed to prevent groceries from bouncing out in the event that you are traveling on a bumpy road.

Figure 4 Organizing Your Groceries

Figure 4 Organizing Your Groceries

Still can’t fit everything on your ebike? Here are two additional tips/tricks you can use.

1) Look for items with unnecessarily bulky packaging, such as breakfast cereal and potato chips. Remember that with some items, like chips, the inside of the bag is mostly air. If you puncture the bag with a small knife or apartment key, it will release the trapped air and allow you to compress the bag (you may be disappointed when you find out how much air you have been buying). Also, if you have “hamburger helper” type mixes, or cereals which are packed in plastic pouches inside a cardboard box, in a pinch, you can take the pouches and leave the cardboard boxes behind.

2) If you are still struggling for space, as a last resort, and only as a last resort, you can put some of the lighter items into a plastic grocery bag, then slide the bag onto the bicycle handlebars through the bag handles. Keep the weight of the bag as light as possible (no liquids!) as the bag will swing on your handlebars as you ride, and the shifting weight will make your bicycle’s steering and handling more difficult and less predictable.

Grocery shopping by bicycle is challenging, but planning ahead and thinking creatively will allow you to use your e-bike to save money and provide healthy exercise while accomplishing a necessary household chore.

Dave Balzer

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The Savings of a Bicycle with Motor Power

July 17, 2010

Riding a bicycle with motor assistance is like a cross between a standard bicycle and a motorcycle. It feels like a pedal-powered bike, but it gives a boost powerful enough to go up steep hills. The advantages of this are fun, eco-friendly, and healthier than riding in a car or public transportation, but there is [...]

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The Best Electric Bike Motor Kit

July 10, 2010

There are so many different kinds of electric bike motor kits available that it’s often overwhelming trying to figure out which components make up the best electric bike conversion kit, and if there’s a good balance between cost and investment of electric bike conversion kits. You don’t want to buy something that’s cheap and needs [...]

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Make Your Own EBike: Electric Conversion Kit

May 17, 2010

Would you like to own an eBike?  Have you got an old bike sitting around that you don’t ride very often?  Are you interested in saving some money?  If you answered “Yes” to these three questions, then you are a good candidate for an ebike conversion kit. You may have seen one of these kits [...]

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