0W vs. 750W E-Bike: Does wattage matter on hills?
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Does size matter? It’s a query as old as time that, depending on who you ask and in what situation, is going to yield a broad and potentially colorful range of answers.
In the less colorful context of electric bikes, motor size (to most people) very much does seem to matter. The general consensus is that bigger is better. watts equals more power; equals more speed; equals an easier time climbing hills. But is bigger always better, or can a carefully tuned smaller motor compete with sheer wattage?
We set out to explore this question with a simple test: A head-to-head uphill race between a powerful 750W rear hub motor e-bike and a 500W rear hub motor e-bike that the brand claimed had been specifically tuned for hill climbing.
The result of that test was about as we expected, with the more powerful bike winning our race, but the relationship between motor size and climbing ability is far more complicated than power alone.
The test: How we did it and why
In the wake of Electric Bike Report’s September, 2021 review of the Tower Beach Bum 2, the brand reached out to us noting that their bike, which uses a 500W rear hub motor, had gone just as fast or faster up our test hill than some 750W e-bikes we’ve reviewed.
The 500W Tower Beach Bum 2 has a motor specially tuned for climbing, according to Tower’s founder.
Better yet, the brand’s founder, Stephan Aarstol, pointed out in an email, the Beach Bum electric cruiser bike had climbed faster than several Class 3 750W e-bikes, while the 500W Tower was limited to Class 2 speeds. In fact, he said, the Beach Bum was near the top of our hill test all-time leaderboard (at that time).
Aarstol wondered if we unlocked the Beach Bum to Class 3 speeds, if it wouldn’t be one of the quickest climbing bikes on our test hill. His bike, he explained, had a motor that is specifically tuned to climb hills quickly.
So, to test Aarstol’s claim and attempt to answer the question of if bigger is better, we devised a plan to pit the Beach Bum against a similar but higher wattage e-bike.
The Blix Sol Eclipse uses a 750W rear hub motor and was an exceptionally good performer up our test hill when we reviewed the bike in 2021.
The location would remain the same; we’d use our test hill, Hell Hole, a one-third of a mile long section of bike path with an average gradient of 12 percent. To keep the playing field relatively level, we chose the Blix Sol Eclipse electric cruiser bike as the more powerful challenger. That bike is similarly priced, similarly spec’d and of similar style to the Tower, but uses a more powerful 750W rear hub motor. It’s also an electric cruiser that put down an exceptional time on our test hill when we reviewed it last year.
Like in our standard review process, we’d conduct two timed laps up Hell Hole on each bike. One lap using just the throttle and the other using PAS 5.
The results: Blix beats Tower, higher watts prevail
Alas, for those rooting for the underdog, Goliath has prevailed and, at least in this limited test, added evidence to the argument that size does indeed matter (at least when it comes to e-bike motors).
In the PAS 5 test, the 750W Blix Sol Eclipse bested the 500W Tower Beach Bum 2 by a margin of 10 seconds with a time of 1:01.00 compared to the Tower’s 1:11.00. Ten seconds may not seem like a large difference, but in a distance of one-third of a mile just a few seconds can equate to a sizable difference in speed. The Blix, for example, held an average speed during the PAS 5 test of 17.8 mph while the Tower had an average speed of 15.3 mph.
The Blix proved to be the best climber of the two.
Despite upping the Beach Bum 2 to Class 3 speeds, it doesn’t appear to compete with the more powerful 750W e-bikes.
We saw similar results in the throttle only test, with the Blix beating the Tower with a time of 1:19.00 to 1:35.00, but this is about what we expected as the Beach Bum’s change in speed setting only affects pedal assist and not throttle performance.
At least in this test, the more powerful 750W Blix was the best performer despite the Tower’s carefully tuned motor and higher pedal assist speed. You go, little rockstar.
Some context: Why power isn’t always everything
In this instance power has reigned king, but this test is far from the end-all be-all. In fact, there are far more factors at play than just motor size when it comes to determining an e-bike’s uphill ability.
Arguably the largest factor is weight, and how much of it a motor of any size is having to push uphill. Rider weight is probably the largest variable, and obviously heavier e-bikes will likely need more power to climb as quickly as lighter e-bikes.
You also have to consider the type of motor. In this test, we did a head-to-head comparison of two geared rear hub motors of different wattages. If we redid this test to include a mid-drive motor, it’s likely the mid-drive powered bike would require far fewer watts to go as fast or faster than either the Blix or the Tower.
The 750W mid-drive motor on a QuietKat Jeep full suspension electric fat bike. The Jeep is among the most powerful e-bikes we’ve ridden and reviewed.
Mid-drive motors make more power out of less wattage by leveraging the bike’s drivetrain, meaning the bike’s performance, torque and speed will change depending on which gear you choose. Whereas a rear hub motor is a direct-drive system that applies power directly to the wheel.
Finally torque is a factor that must be considered, especially when talking about uphill performance. torque typically equates to better climbing, so it’s entirely possible that an extremely torquey 500W motor may beat out a more typically tuned 750W motor — it just depends on the bike and rider.
I could write a whole post dedicated to the factors that dictate climbing performance, so know I’m glossing over them here. But in this case, with these two bikes, on this specific hill and with me as the rider, the more powerful e-bike came out on top.
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Bakcou Kodiak AWD 500W Dual Hub Motor Fat Tire Ebike
The Kodiak AWD dual-hub electric bike is the first of its kind for Bakcou. It has two 500W hub motors, one in the front hub and one in the rear hub. These motors combined will provide you with more power and more capability than ever before on a hub-driven ebike.
Bakcou recognizes that not every hunt begins at the top of the mountain. Sometimes your secret hunting spot sits at the end of a long cornfield, miles downstream at the bend in the river, or maybe in those hard-to-reach cattails on the distant horizon. And sometimes, your hunt finds you traveling snow-packed trails. Bakcou took all of the high-end components of the Mule and Storm and engineered a hunting tool capable of handling hills, mountains, and winter terrains.
With dual hub motors and AWD capabilities, the Kodiak AWD is built to conquer snow, mud, and sand. While our mid-drive motor eBikes are built to climb, the dual-hub motors are made to push/pull each wheel through the stickiest of terrains.
Bakcou combined the power and performance of Bafang’s 500W, high-end hub motors with the same bulletproof aluminum alloy frame and high-end components that you expect in a Bakcou fat-tire electric bike.
As with each of their ebikes, it’s all in the details. They use wide handlebars and locking handle grips. They then added wide stance, deep-cleated pedals with wide holes for extra boot grip and space to avoid the accumulation of mud or snow. This gives their ebikes a greater base of support.
The LCD display allows for ease of use when flying down the trail, and the unparalleled traction and control of the Maxxis Minion tires allow you to go where you want to go. From the top-of-the-line coil-suspension forks to the drivetrain components, they’ve got you covered.
Bakcou eBikes Accessories
Please consider the following accessories for your new Mule, and add them to your cart before checkout:
Are you new to ebikes? Would you like to do a little more reading before making a decision? Well, check out our Free Ebike Buyers Guide, read some of our Verified Buyer Reviews (there are over 200), take a look at our eBike Encyclopedia, and even take a look (and post some questions) at Endless-Sphere, the world’s largest eBike forum, or on the ebike subreddit.
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eSoulbike 48V 500W Rear Wheel Electric Bike Conversion Kit
- 30-Day Return
ESOULBIKE’s e-bikes are free to return within 30 days of delivery (to be eligible for returns, your item must not interfere with a second sale). To return an electric bike free of defects or damage, please contact the customer service team
Controller Display: 1 year
Our eBike Conversion Kits have Free Shipping to EU countries and United Kingdom Typical delivery time frame is between 2 to 7 business days however, you may receive your items much earlier.
Our world-class Customer Experience team is here to answer all of your questions and make your buying experience rad.
High Quality, Long Battery Life and Powerful Function
Warehouse in Poland, Spain and Germany
Affordable transportation in the current environment and economy
Why are eSoulbike’s kits 1/2 even 1/3 the price of others on the market? Because we sell direct to you. Actually, over 90% of the world’s e-bike kits are manufactured in China. We have a Chinese e-bike kit factory in Shanghai. After the factory has finished production, We ship the goods to our warehouses in Poland, Spain and Germany. That’s why you can get goods quickly and cheaply. We’ve been focused on this industry for six years, as technology has improved, we’ve seen lithium batteries become safer and motors perform better. We care about the environment. As a sustainable energy source, lithium electricity should be used by more people. We also care about you. In this economy, are rising and you need a very easy and affordable transportation. Come and join us!
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The 6 Best E-Bike Conversion Kits of 2023
Heidi Wachter was a senior editor at Experience Life magazine for 10 years. She has written for publications like Experience Life, Shondaland, and betterpet.
E-bikes are easier on the environment than cars. They’re also easier to pedal than a standard person-powered two-wheeler. You get as much exercise riding an E-bike as you do a traditional bike. Thanks to improved technology and more people interested in alternative transit methods, E-bikes are also becoming more available—and more affordable.
But no electric bike is as cheap as the bike you already own. If you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint, live in a small space, or practicing minimalism, repurposing what you already have can be a win-win-win decision. So, if you love your current ride but want to add some juice for getting uphill or for powering your cargo bike when you’re carrying a heavy load, you can, thanks to electric bike converter kits. To electrify your bike, you need a battery, sensors, controls, and a motorized wheel or a drive unit.
Here are the best options for upgrading your bike with an e-bike conversion kit.
BAFANG BBS02B 48V 500W Ebike Conversion Kit
Since 2003, Bafang has been a leader in manufacturing e-mobility components and complete e-drive systems. Its products offer outstanding performance and reliability, and the BBS02B conversion kit is no exception, making it our top overall choice.
This mid-drive motor kit is versatile and compatible with road, commuter, and mountain bicycles. All you need is a bike with a 68-73 millimeter bottom bracket and the battery of your choice. Installation is relatively easy, and the battery is included. Once the kit is installed, you’ll be ready to tackle any hill.
Although several different conversion kits are available online from Bafang, those with more than 750 watts of power will be considered motorcycles in the United States.
Price at time of publish: 466
BAFANG E-bike Front Hub Motor 48V 500W Bafang Brushless Gear 20/26/27.5/700C inch Electric Bicycle Conversion Kits
This front-wheel E-bike conversion kit is easy to set up and easy on your wallet. Electrify your bike in one hour by following the installation video and manual. Don’t forget to choose the correct wheel size!
After setup is complete, ride around the town with pedal assist or switch to E-bike mode for longer trips. Commuters, long-distance trekkers, and mountain bikers can cruise up to 24 miles per hour. The battery is not included.
Price at time of publish: 579
Best for Commuting
Swytch Universal eBike Conversion Kit
Daily riders will love this easy-to-install, lightweight e-bike conversion kit. It is compatible with most mountain, road, hybrid, and step-through bikes, and disc brakes.
It’s as easy to install as swapping out your front tire. The controller and battery are combined into a 34.2-Volt power pack, which is included in the kit and mounts to the handlebars. That makes it easy to remove and keeps thieves at bay, but our tester did miss having the use of a handle bar basket. The battery pack is fitted with indicator lights that tell you how much juice remains and what assist mode you’re in. Once the system is set up correctly, you’ll be able to top out at 15-25 mph.
In general, I love it. It makes my ride easier without feeling like I’m riding a giant bulky e-bike. It’s got a phenomenal amount of power for such a little machine and seems like it has a good battery life too. ~ Treehugger Tester
Ebikeling Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit 36V 500W 700C Geared Electric Bike Kit
Do you want to go farther or faster? You can do both with this setup from Ebikeling, with its 500-watt motor. Ebikeling makes it easy to buy different compatible batteries and other accessories in an a-la-cart way. There are seven different batteries that come in different shapes (bottle, triangle, rectangular), so that you can pick the one that suits your bike and needs best.
The double-walled rim and motor are ready to install right out of the box—just swap them out for your original bike tire. An LCD screen is included to help you stay within your town’s speed limit. You can choose between a front or rear mount, as well as a thumb or half-twist throttle.
Price at time of publish: 390
AW 26×1.75 Rear Wheel 48V 1000W Electric Bicycle Motor Kit
Thanks to a 48-volt, 1000-watt battery, the AW wheel E-bike conversion kit satisfies anyone with the need for speed. A thumb throttle makes speed control simple. This kit is available as either a front wheel or back wheel conversion option. It fits any 26-inch bike frame with a 3.9 inch front dropout spacing (for a front wheel conversion) or 5.3 inch rear dropout spacing (for a back wheel conversion). The rear wheel kit weighs 24.7 pounds, the front wheel kit weighs 23.5 pounds.
The aluminum frame offers durability and stability, which is essential when you’re rolling at top speeds of 28 miles per hour. Hand brakes turn the motor off automatically to both improve safety and conserve battery power.
Price at time of publish: 300
Easiest to Install
Rubbee X Conversion Kit
If you want the fastest conversion possible, and even the option to take a motor off your bike quickly, the Rubbee X makes it a snap. The Rubbee X gives you a boost by resting against the rear tire, and has a special release that lets you remove the motor without un-mounting the entire system. You control the power just by pedaling, as a wireless cadence sensor that gets mounted to the pedal crank sends information to the motor, which shifts automatically without any additional user interface.
This conversion kit has some other nice features. It has tail lights on the back of the motor, to give you some additional visibility when riding at night. The base model comes with one battery, which weight 6.1 pounds, gives you 250 watts of power and has a top speed of 16 mph. Upgraded models have two or three additional batteries, each offering more speed and power, but also adding more weight. It’s compatible with any frame type, and with tires that are between 0.5 and 2.5 inches in width and between 16 and 29 inches in diameter.
There are a few things to keep in mind before you buy. First, the product ships from the European Union, so there may be an additional import tax. Second, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of room on your seat post to connect the motor.
Price at time of publish: 612
Whenever you’re buying a newer technology, sticking with a known brand makes sense. That makes Bafang’s E-bike conversion kits a sound choice—in terms of quality and price. If speed is what you’re after, the kits from Ebikeling.
What to Consider When Shopping for an E-Bike Conversion Kit
Is the battery included? You’ll need something to power and charge your e-bike conversion kit. Many kits include a battery. Cheaper kits may not, though, which means you’ll need to source a compatible battery separately.
You’ll also want to think about your power needs. The higher the motor wattage, the more power you’ll get. A 250-watt motor is typically plenty of power to make the daily commute less sweaty. If you want to take your converted bike out on tougher mountain trails, you’ll want more power.
Keep in mind that according to U.S. federal regulations, e-bikes with more than 750 watts of power are considered motor vehicles and require a motorcycle license.
You’ll want to check your state and local laws as some cities and towns have banned e-bikes from bicycle paths, so if that’s where you want to ride, you’ll want to make sure your town allows your upgraded bike to cruise around on them.
E-bikes come in three classes:
- Class 1 E-bikes that assist you while you pedal and top out about 20 mph.
- Class 2 E-bikes have a throttle that assists you regardless of whether you pedal and have a top speed of 20 mph.
- Class 3 E-bikes assist you while you pedal and top out about 28 mph.
Drive Type and Installation
There are several kinds of e-bike conversion kits, and the ease of set-up and installation varies.
- Friction Drive Conversion is a simple strategy. A roller pushes against the tire on the wheel. When the roller turns, the wheel turns. It’s a reasonably easy system to set up but sometimes isn’t the most effective.
- Mid-Drive Conversion is the technology that the best e-bikes tend to use. A weight sits at a low point on the bike frame, and the power is applied to the crank. These can be more expensive, but the technology is typically better. There’s no standardization, however, which can make figuring out exactly what you need to make your bike work a little more challenging. Adding the parts is also a bit more complex than friction drive conversion.
- Electric Bike Wheel Conversion swaps out a non-electrified front or rear wheel with an electrified one. The process is simple depending on where and how the battery mounts—such as on a rear rack. Once installed, weight distribution can feel natural. However, powering the front wheel may impact your bike’s handling.
The difficulty of installation depends of the type of conversion kit, as well as your comfort with the tools required. But generally speaking, converting your bike is a DIY project. Many manufacturers offer how-to videos that show what’s involved, so you can see ahead of time what you’ll need to do.
You’ll need a bike tool, crank arm tool, adjustable wrenches, and a screwdriver along with your electric bike conversion kit. These demos can show you how to install your e-bike conversion kit.
A visit to your local bike shop mechanic is a helpful step in the decision-making process. They can help you determine if your bike is a good candidate for electric technology. Your old bike may not be able to be converted because adding a motor can increase torque. You’ll want to make sure your bike’s drivetrain can handle it. The extra weight from adding an electric motor also impacts your brakes, so you’ll want to make sure they are effective for stopping at a higher speed. E-bikes tend to have disk brakes for this reason. If your current bike is in disrepair, has old parts, or needs other improvements, it may be more cost-effective to sell your trusty old ten speed and buy an e-bike. Also, consider that a quality electric bike conversion kit can be nearly the cost of an electric bike. Do some comparison shopping between the price of a conversion kit and a fully-loaded e-bike before you decide which way you want to roll. Our picks for the best e-bikes may help guide your decision.
Why Trust Treehugger?
Treehugger has reported on dozens of e-bikes and e-bike conversion options over the past decade. To make this list, we deeply researched the market by reading other third-party reviews, user Комментарии и мнения владельцев, and enthusiasts blogs. We also considered the product’s value and the manufacturer’s reputation.
Author Heidi Wachter has been writing about travel and adventure for over a decade. When she’s not writing, you’ll likely find her riding one of her six bicycles—even in the winter.