Best electric bikes | 15 top-rated ebikes for every type of rider
The best electric bike for you will depend on the type of riding you want to do, so in this guide we’ll cover the whole range of different electric bike types and recommend some of the best we’ve tested.
Electric bikes – or ebikes as they’re commonly known – are bicycles with an electric motor and battery that provides assistance as you pedal. There are many benefits to riding an electric bike. Electric bikes make riding up hills easier and will enable most riders to travel at a higher speed over longer distances without arriving at their destination covered in sweat.
Despite common misconceptions, you can still ride an electric bike for fitness. Electric bike laws limit the power of an ebike’s motor, so you still need to pedal – there’s no twist-and-go throttle here. There is an electric bike for every type of riding. Electric folding bikes and electric hybrid bikes are great choices for cycling to work, the best electric mountain bikes will help you get to the top of the next trail so you can enjoy more descending and the best electric road bikes and electric gravel bikes will enable you to take on longer adventures. Making sense of how an electric bike works and how to choose the right one for you is a daunting task. Luckily for you, BikeRadar’s team of expert testers have put in hundreds of hours riding more than 175 electric bikes across all categories. Our testing is 100 per cent editorially independent, so you can always trust our recommendations. In this in-depth buyer’s guide to choosing the best electric bike for any rider, we’ll talk you through the things you need to consider for each category of ebike. We also highlight the best bikes we have reviewed, as selected by BikeRadar’s expert team of tech editors, for each type of ebike, with links to our detailed buyer’s guide for each category. We also have a general buyer’s guide to electric bike tech at the bottom of this article that answers common questions. For even more information, take a look at our ebike FAQs. There’s a lot to cover here, so use the links below to skip to the section you need, or read on for every detail.
Best electric hybrid bikes
Like a non-assisted hybrid bike, electric hybrid bikes feature an upright riding position, flat bars and stable handling. They’re often the least expensive entry point into ebikes.
With lots of mounting points for accessories such as pannier bags and mudguards, electric hybrids are great if you’re planning to commute to work by bike, ride around town or want to go for leisurely rides on bike trails or through parks.
Electric hybrid bikes can be quite heavy because they tend to use less sophisticated motor systems and the bikes are built for robustness. This is worth bearing in mind if you need to carry them up stairs.
Below is a selection of four of the very best electric hybrid bikes as tested by our senior road technical editor, Warren Rossiter. For more recommendations, check out our full round-up of the best electric hybrid bikes.
Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0
- £2,600 / €2,999 / 3,500 as tested
- Pros: Well-tuned power delivery; low weight
- Cons: Lower-torque motor means you have to put in more work
Specialized makes two electric hybrid bike ranges. Whereas the standard Turbo Vado is a heavy-duty ebike, the Vado SL uses a less powerful motor with 35Nm of torque. This reduces the weight to under 15kg, but the flip side is that you have less assistance than with the Turbo Vado, which could be a problem on hills.
The other advantage of the lower output is clean looks, with the concealed battery giving a sporty appearance. Specialized fits lights to all models and includes mudguards and a luggage rack on pricier models.
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5
- £2,499 / €2,699, as tested
- Pros: Great handling and confident off-road
- Cons: Heavy versus its rivals
The Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 is a powerful electric hybrid bike that handles and rides commendably. Our testing found the Canyon’s 100km claimed range to be true, but there’s no denying the bike is heavy at 23.5kg.
Where the Pathlite:ON 5 truly stands out is off the tarmac, where it rivals electric mountain bikes with confidence-inspiring chunky tyres and a shock-absorbing suspension fork.
Tern Quick Haul P9
- £3,100 / 3,299 / AU4995 as tested
- Pros: Great fun to ride and versatile
- Cons: Official add-ons are fairly pricey
The Tern Quick Haul P9 looks like a cargo bike at first glance, but its compact design means it isn’t much longer than a typical electric hybrid.
With the option to fit a huge array of useful add-on accessories both front and back, our tester described the Quick Haul P9 as a “genuinely viable car replacement”.
Best electric folding bikes
Commuters who travel by public transport or are short on space are catered for too. Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media
If you want to cycle to work or are just pressed for space to store your ride, a compact electric folding bike could be the answer.
Folding ebikes often have the battery hidden in their frames, or they may come with a removable battery to make carrying them on and off public transport a bit easier.
A removable battery also means you can take it somewhere where it’s easier to charge (at your desk, for example, if you use the bike to ride to work).
But the extra weight of the motor and battery means carrying a folding ebike on and off public transport, and up and down stairs, will be harder. The available range can be quite limited in some models too.
For more product recommendations, check out our round-up of the best folding electric bikes.
The Brompton Electric adds a front-hub motor to the iconic folder. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
- £2,725 as tested
- Pros: Very compact fold; smooth power delivery
- Cons: Quite heavy; two pieces to carry
A front-hub motor adds electric power to the classic Brompton folding bike, giving you a range of around 40km. The battery sits in a separate pack, which can be removed from the bike for carrying.
Since we tested the Brompton Electric, the standard bike has been redesignated the C Line Explore. It’s been joined by the P Line, which uses lighter frame materials and components to chop almost 2kg off the C Line’s 17.4kg claimed weight.
- £3,999 as tested
- Pros: Larger wheels ride more smoothly; stylish design
- Cons: Expensive; doesn’t fold as small as some ebikes
While pricey, the GoCycle G4 is a folder, commuter and electric bike in one. The ride and handling are far more assured than most folding bikes on- and off-road, thanks to the meaty tyres and larger wheels.
The bike folds in half at its centre, making it easier to roll than to carry and the removable battery in the front of the frame is accessed via the fold. At over 17kg, it’s quite heavy though.
MiRider One GB3
The GB3 is an upgrade on the original MiRider One, with an accompanying price rise. David Caudery / Our Media
- £2,495 as tested
- Pros: Very compact
- Cons: Price has increased significantly from the original bike
The MiRider One GB3 is an upgrade from the original model we tested a few years ago. Unfortunately, that’s resulted in a significant price hike, but the ebike is still a compact, nippy city commuter.
The belt drive is cleaner and lower-maintenance than a chain, there’s good adjustability, and built-in rear suspension and wide tyres add comfort.
The GB3 design has three speeds, adding flexibility over the singlespeed predecessor, and you can change gear while stationary. We achieved a range of up to 50km.
Best electric mountain bikes
Electric mountain bikes can be great on the climbs, but handling on the descents can take a bit of getting used to. Ian Linton
An electric mountain bike will get you to the top quicker, particularly on technical, steeper climbs, and with more energy to enjoy the descents. Plus, getting up the ups more easily will give you extra range to explore further.
Recent improvements in eMTB performance mean handling is approaching that of the best mountain bikes without a motor, providing heaps of flat-out riding fun.
But, nevertheless, the extra weight can make handling more tricky on particularly technical sections, so it’s a good idea to ease off a bit until you’ve got the feel of the bike
This is a small selection of the best electric mountain bikes we have tested, as selected by our expert team of mountain bike tech editors, Alex Evans, Robin Weaver and Tom Marvin.
Vitus E-Sommet VRX
For the money, the E-Sommet has to be one of the best electric mountain bikes out there. Ian Linton / Our Media
- £5,499 as tested
- Pros: Quality spec; great geometry and suspension
- Cons: Awkward cable routing and bottle placement
The Vitus E-Sommet adds a powerful Shimano EP8 motor and large-capacity battery to Vitus’ enduro platform. It rolls on a 29in front and 27.5in rear wheel mullet build and is impressively specced for its price, with a 170mm RockShox ZEB Ultimate fork, a Super Deluxe Select RT shock and Shimano’s XT groupset.
The E-Sommet descends and climbs impressively, with both comfort and great grip, making it fun, engaging and highly capable.
Marin Rift Zone E2
- £5,895 / 6,299 / €6,899 as tested
- Pros: Lively; great spec
- Cons: Slightly over-geared; less powerful motor than its competitors
The Marin Rift Zone E2 is a classy, comfortable full-suspension electric mountain bike with 140mm travel. It can take you beyond its trail riding mandate, handling more technical descents well.
The Rift Zone ebike is well specced for its price, although the Shimano EP801 motor’s 85Nm torque is a little less than competitors. We’d have preferred a smaller chainring than the 38t fitted for easier climbing.
Whyte E-160 RSX
- £7,999 as tested
- Pros: Calm and composed handling; hides its weight well
- Cons: Some chain slap; seat tube too slack for optimal climbing
The Whyte E-160 RSX is a well-equipped enduro bike, with its battery mounted below the Bosch motor to lower its centre of gravity.
Whyte says the full down tube this allows improves torsional rigidity as well. Lower-spec E-160s are available in both 29in and ‘mullet’ form, so you can pick your preferred wheel configuration, although this top-spec model is 29in only.
Despite its 26kg-plus weight, we found the low centre of gravity made for impressive downhill performance, although we’d have liked to see a slightly steeper seat tube for better climbing.
Best electric road bikes
It’s often hard to tell many electric road bikes from their unassisted counterparts. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
If you enjoy road cycling, but want a bit of help to keep your speed up or to get you up hills, an electric road bike could be the right choice for you.
Most e-road bikes use lightweight motor systems that provide less power than the motors used on electric hybrid or mountain bikes. This means they’re typically a bit lighter too, with the very lightest models tipping the scales at around 11kg.
However, with many road riders achieving speeds on the flat of 15mph or above, you may feel you’re carrying dead weight around, with the motor cutting out at that top-assisted speed, although assistance can continue to 20mph, or even in some cases 28mph in much of the USA.
Below are three of the very best electric road bikes senior road technical editor Warren Rossiter has tested to date.
BMC Roadmachine AMP One
- £7,600 / €7,999 as tested
- Pros: Smooth ride; compact motor; impressive range
- Cons: Tyres may need a swap-out for colder, wetter conditions
The BMC Roadmachine AMP One doesn’t look much different from its non-assisted sibling; it’s only the slightly expanded down tube, hiding a 350Wh battery, that shows there’s extra assistance. The Mahle X20 motor is so compact it hides between the largest cassette sprocket and the disc rotor.
The ride feels like the non-assisted Roadmachine as well, despite the 12kg weight. Range is impressive, heading up to 160km, depending on the conditions. We’d swap out the tyres for winter use though.
Scott Addict eRide Premium
The Scott Addict eRide Premium looks and rides like a racy road bike. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
- £8,349 / 9,299 as tested
- Pros: Great looks; top-spec build; lovely handling
- Cons: Non-removable battery
The Scott Addict eRide Premium has similar geometry to the Scott Addict RC Disc and the same carbon frame. The result is a possible sub-11kg build powered by the consistent ebikemotion rear-hub motor.
Neatly concealed in the down tube, the battery managed 100km and 2,000m elevation in testing. The 2022 version of the bike has been renamed as the Scott Addict eRide Ultimate.
Electric bike conversion kits 2023 – Give any bike a boost
Why pay for a brand new e-bike when electric bike conversion kits can easily give a boost to the bike you already have?
E-bikes have enabled people who need or want some pedal assistance to broaden the range and scope of their riding while making it easier than ever to choose sustainable and greener transport methods.
Whatever your reason for wanting pedal assistance — whether it makes cycling more accessible to you and your family, or you think you’ll have more fun with that boost. the e-bike market is vast and often requires a large upfront cost. So if you’re struggling to find an e-bike that suits you, and already have a bike at home, then you might consider an electric bike conversion kit instead.
Whichever option you go for, there’s no denying that the best electric bikes make it easier for riders to explore and experience different terrains and riding environments. Plus they offer a cheaper and greener form of transport to get you from A to B at a higher pace for less effort than a conventional bike, which is especially beneficial for those who are commuting or using them for work. The best electric bikes for commuting can make for a speedier and altogether less sweaty cycle to work, not to mention the money saved when compared to soaring fuel or rail fare prices.
But what if you’re not sure about which option to go for? If you’re weighing up an e-bike vs an e-bike conversion kit, consider whether you already have a bike that you love riding. Converting it means you can continue enjoying the same ride quality while introducing you to a new world of electrically-assisted fun.
To make all these decisions easier for you, we’ve outlined the key things to consider when fitting an electric conversion kit to your own bike, including the various motor and battery options available. We’ve tested as many as possible in real-world riding conditions, assessing how easy they are to fit, and what kind of electric assistance they provide.
So here are our findings, and our roundup of the best electric bike conversion kits you can buy right now.
Best electric bike conversion kits available now
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Reasons to avoid
A thorough purchase process ensures the product is easy to install, but it’s complicated so can take time
The first on our list is one we reviewed very recently and which really impressed us. The Cytronex electric bike conversion kit is extremely well thought-out, with great specs and top-notch engineering. You only need Allen keys to install it, it comes with an accompanying app to offer up basic diagnostics, and once it’s set up it’s a breeze to operate.
When purchasing, you’ll go through a thorough process, which can feel a bit over-complicated, but in doing so it means the actual conversion is a straightforward one. We tested out the Cytronex on a Brompton T-Line and found it delivered smooth and intuitive power. Plus, our hands-on time with it leads us to believe it’s strong and durable enough to use for commuting.
While it’s pricier than some of the options listed below, one thing to consider is that it comes from a UK-based company that offers comprehensive customer support. You can pay less for a Bafang kit on Amazon, but buying direct from a company that can support you if anything goes wrong, makes it a smarter choice in our view.
For an in-depth look, check out our Cytronex review.
Reasons to avoid
One of the easiest ways to convert a bike to electric is to swap out the front wheel for one with a front hub motor. This is the approach that Swytch takes, but there’s more to a good system than just a motor and battery. From our time testing and reviewing it, it’s clear to us that the team behind Swytch have considered the whole system in its design.
The battery mounts to the handlebars and we found that a really useful detail. It is easy to disconnect and take it away for storage, so it doesn’t get stolen when you are out and about, or to lighten the bike when, for example, it needs to be carried up a flight of stairs.
The 2022 Swytch system, which we tested, makes use of a neat handlebar-mounted LCD display instead of the buttons on the battery it had before. There’s also a cadence sensor that attaches to your bike. It’s a well-thought-out system that looks and feels great.
To read all about how it works, and find out why we gave it four stars, take a look at our Swytch review.
Reasons to avoid
If you’re on a tighter budget than the Cytronex or Swytch allow for, then as we mentioned above, getting a kit from Chinese manufacturer Bafang may be a better option. Plus, if you like the idea of an electric bike conversion kit but just don’t want to have to deal with the added complexity of a mid-drive setup, then the Bafang Front Hub kit makes things much easier.
Like the mid-drive system listed below, the Bafang Front Hub Motor kit covers everything required and gives tons of spec choices. We started by choosing our wheel size and display preference, then added the battery size and shape we wanted.
We did find it more of a time investment, given the installation process was more complex than the Cytronex, Swytch and Rubbee, but this did allow us to achieve a powerful, high-quality set-up.
To find out more about how we got on, read our Bafang Front Hub Motor review.
Reasons to avoid
There are a number of simple install options on the list but the Rubbee X takes it a step further. We were really impressed with how easy it was to attach the mount to the bike’s seat post and then click the unit into the mount. There’s no need to change the wheel like the Swytch system. Here the motor sits on top of the rear tyre and a roller pushes it around from above. There’s also a wireless cadence sensor, as this is a cadence-based system that adjusts based on pedalling cadence, rather than torque.
There is a slick-looking 250-watt motor with a single battery in the base kit. If the 10-mile range of the base unit feels a little constricting, another battery can be added to double the range. Rubbee also has a handy phone app that can be used to change assistance modes.
We’ve spent some time testing it out, so why not check out our Rubbee X e-bike conversion kit review for more details.
Reasons to avoid
Bafang is one of the largest and most well-known electric bike motor companies in the world. It’s been around since 2003, and in 2014 Bafang established a US arm to better support the US market. There are many well-known electric bike companies sourcing its components, so if you want to get in the game and source your own electric bike components, you won’t go far wrong with Bafang.
This particular option covers everything you need for a mid-drive motor conversion kit. As long as the bike you are starting with has a bottom bracket sized between 68 and 73mm, this kit will work. From there you can choose the front chainring size, the battery size, and what display works for you.
If you’re not sure whether or not a mid-drive motor conversion is what you need (or what other drive options there are), head down to our FAQs at the bottom of this article for an explanation of all the possibilities you can choose from.
Reasons to avoid
The most natural-feeling electric bike conversion kits are going to be those with a mid-mounted motor. If that works for you and you also like the idea of doing some pedalling, then the very best is a mid-mounted motor paired with a torque sensor.
Instead of the system knowing you are pedalling and adding power, such as the Rubbee X cadence-based system above, a torque-based system adds a percentage of power. The Max torque available on this TongSheng system is 80Nm but depending on your chosen assist level, that 80Nm will add between 36 and 300 per cent to your pedalling power.
To keep it simple, think about it as an amplifier. If you pedal harder you go faster, just like a normal bike, but now your muscles have extra support, so you can go further with less effort.
Reasons to avoid
If you like the idea of a mid-drive system and you want it to have torque-sensing pedal assist then you’ve got a few choices. The challenge with a system like that is complexity. For some people, it’s no big deal to take apart a bottom bracket, but for others, it’s a slightly more intimidating prospect.
The Pendix system does the same thing as other kits but there is a dealer network that handles sales, support, and installation. This comes with an extra cost attached, but the benefit is that you can feel comfortable that the system is correctly installed and ready to ride.
Types of e-bike conversion kits
Friction drive conversion
A friction drive e-bike conversion means there is a roller that pushes against the wheels tyre. So when the roller turns, the wheel turns. It’s not the most efficient strategy, but it’s simple and it works. There is very little involved with regard to making it work but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t work as well as other systems out there. The Rubbee X is an example of a friction drive conversion kit system.
The best electric bikes tend to be mid-drive because this delivers the most natural ride feel, and the same is true of conversion kits. The weight sits low in the frame and the power gets applied to the crank for a more natural power delivery sensation. The only downside is pricing and packaging, plus it can be complex to set up yourself. Different standards make it challenging to figure out exactly what you need, as well. The Bafang Mid Drive Motor Kit is an example of this.
Electric bike wheel conversion
Swapping either a front or rear wheel for one with a hub-mounted motor is a good balance. The conversion process is very simple and, depending on how the battery mounts, the weight distribution can be quite good. Powering the wheel does change the way the power delivery feels, and making the front wheel heavy can affect the handling of the bike. If mid-drive seems overwhelming, this is an excellent option. Cytronex and Swytch are examples of this.
How to choose the best electric bike conversion kit for you
If you’re interested in fitting an electric bike conversion kit to one of your own bikes, you should consider your own personal requirements first and do plenty of research. You’re in the right place, as this guide will help you with a lot of that.
Before anything, familiarise yourself with the laws regarding e-bikes in your region. Then you may want to choose a conversion kit based on your range and journey needs. If you live in a hilly city, for example, you may want something with a little more top-end power. Lastly, check whether or not the system is compatible with the bike you plan to fit it onto. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, think about getting a quote for installation from a reputable bike shop.
Do all electric bike conversion kits come with a battery?
The short answer is ‘not always’. You need a battery, of course, so when browsing online, make sure the kit you select has one included. Since not all kits include a battery, you might find yourself browsing through options and landing on something at an unbelievable price. If that’s the case, double check it’s got the battery included. If not, then it is possible to source the battery yourself, but be sure about what you are getting.
How fast do electric bikes go?
This is hard to answer specifically as electric bikes are, on the whole, designed to assist pedalling rather than replace it, and it is the same with electric bike conversion kits. The measurement of the power of the motors is in wattage and, in effect, the higher the wattage of the motor, the faster speeds it will be capable of achieving.
However, the speed is often limited as a result of country-specific regulations. In the UK, the assistance an e-bike can legally provide is up to 25kmph (15.5mph) and, after that point, the bike can go faster but without any assistance from the motor. Anything faster would not meet the UK’s electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPC) criteria, would be classed as a moped or motorcycle, and need to be licensed and taxed appropriately. The laws are different depending on the country, with the United States, for example, allowing more powerful motors – although individual states have their own legal frameworks.
Which bike is best for electric conversion?
You should consider the condition and componentry of your old bike. With an electric motor dramatically increasing the torque, using a low-quality or worn drivetrain will result in poor performance, with shifting being affected and the chain skipping or even snapping. Another important consideration is the brakes, adding the extra weight of an electric bike conversion kit and increasing potential speeds will put more stress on the brakes as they try to curtail momentum. We recommend choosing to convert a bike that has disc brakes as they will provide far better braking performance.
I haven’t heard of a lot of these brands, are they safe to use?
In the world of electric bikes, there are a lot of brands you may not have ever heard of. There’s been a boom going on for a while, so new brands are popping up all the time. Not only that but Europe, and especially the US, are playing catch up to the trend of electric bikes. You will probably stumble across a lot of unfamiliar brand names.
Consumers have a tendency to look away when they encounter a new brand. It’s not a bad strategy most of the time but in the electric bike world, including conversion kits, you’ve got to be more open than that. If you aren’t open to names you’ve never heard of you will find the options limited. A lot of the names you may come across are unfamiliar to you but have a solid history behind them.
That doesn’t mean you should go forward blindly. Do your research and be careful with your money, like always. The only thing that might be different is the need for being open to new companies. At the very least be willing to look a little deeper, read reviews, and do some research. The brand you’ve never heard of might actually be a well-established brand from a different part of the world.
Is converting my bike to an electric bike worth it?
There are plenty of reasons to install an electric bike conversion kit to your current bike, but the question of whether it’s worth doing is going to depend on your circumstances.
For many kits, once the installation has been completed, it will be an arduous task to remove it again, so one of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to retain the ability to use the bike as a ‘normal’ bike. If you expect to be flitting between the two (powered and non-powered) then a kit that can simply be folded out of the way – like the Rubbee X – might be perfect, but you might instead prefer to simply buy a second bike for the convenience.
The second question is to assess the state of your current bike. If you don’t yet have one, then the cost of buying a bike, buying an electric bike conversion kit and then fitting it, is probably not going to be worth the time, effort, or money involved. However, if you have a bike that is in reasonable repair, then the value for money – and effort – will be greater.
Beyond the financial and practical element, the question of ‘is it worth it’ will also depend on the amount of use you get out of it. E-bikes can be incredibly motivating and enjoyable and if converting your standard bike to electric helps you to ditch the car on a regular basis, then the answer becomes clear.
If you want a monetary answer to this question, then there are ways to work out whether the investment is worth it. Take a moment to think about your current car usage and work out the cost per day/mile, including fuel, parking and running costs. Try to work out how many journeys, days or miles you will use the bike for after it is converted. Once you know this, you should be able to work out the reduction in car running costs per mile/day and, with that, you should be able to work out how many miles/days it will take for the electric bike conversion kit to pay for itself.
Should I just buy an electric bike instead?
Remember to consider all your options. You have a bike in the shed you haven’t touched for many years and it seems like a perfect candidate for conversion to an electric bike. It might be, but it’s also just as possible that it’s a better candidate for a sale. Sometimes it’s better to take the money from that sale and put it towards an electric bike someone else built.
As with anything, consideration for the end-use during design and build can have advantages. A quality electric bike conversion kit might end up being very close to the price of a complete electric bike. If a company starts with a clean slate and designs an electric bike, it’s easier to keep costs low and integration high. Really consider why you are thinking about converting your bike and whether it makes sense compared to what’s on the market. In some cases, it will but in others, it won’t.
Are electric bike conversion kits legal?
The kits themselves are entirely legal, and fitting them to your bike is equally so. However, the question of legality arises in relation to where you then plan to use your newly powered electric bike. The answer will vary hugely, depending on where in the world you’re based, and which kit you choose.
For example, in the US, there are different classes of e-bikes that vary by their power, speed limitations and whether or not they have a throttle, and each class is subject to different rules. Things are a little more simple elsewhere, with the UK stating that anything with a speed limiter of over 25km/h is classified as a moped, while anything up to 25km/h (15.5mph) is classed as a bicycle.
Before you complete any purchase, make sure you have an understanding of the local laws that govern electric bikes, which is where our guide to e-bike classes comes in handy.
How do you install an e-bike conversion kit?
Sadly, there is no single and simple answer to this question. Each electric bike conversion kit works in a different way and therefore fits onto your bike in a different way too.
The most simple options are the friction-drive kits, such as the Rubbee X, which place a roller onto your rear tyre. In the example of the Rubbee, you simply need to mount the device onto your seat post, with the roller placed against the tyre. However, more complex systems require the removal of drivetrain components and wheels, and the installation of wiring. These are far from impossible, but they may require some tools and a bit of patience.
How much does an electric bike conversion kit cost?
will depend very much on the conversion kit in question. Some are available for as little as £250 (350), while the more high-spec and integrated kits can fetch as much as £750 (900).
Will a bike shop fit my electric bike conversion kit?
It’s understandable that you might not want to take on the arduous task of fitting your electric bike conversion kit yourself. You might not have the tools, the know-how, the confidence, or simply the time to invest. Luckily, almost all bike shops will be happy to fit it for you.
Some systems, such as the Pendix kit listed above, are only sold via physical stores and the fitting is sold as part of the overall package. However, with kits bought online such as the Bafang kit, the shop will charge you for the time it takes, which will add to the cost of the overall conversion. In our opinion, knowing that it’s been done correctly and safely is worth spending extra.
Some bike shops or workshops also may refuse to install a conversion kit to a bike they consider unfit for purpose or potentially unsafe. If you plan to have your local shop fit a kit it may be worth consulting with them on the job first to make sure they are happy to do it for you.
Individuals carrying out the instructions in this guide do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement. There is a risk to safety if the operation described in the instructions is not carried out with the appropriate equipment, skill and diligence and therefore you may wish to consult a bike mechanic. Future Publishing Limited provides the information for this project in good faith and makes no representations as to its completeness or accuracy. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future Publishing Limited, its suppliers or any of their employees, agents or subcontractors shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information, provided that nothing shall exclude or limit the liability of any party for personal injury or death caused by negligence or for anything else which cannot be excluded or limited by law.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Get to where you need to go faster and easier than on a regular bike. Depending on how you choose to ride, you can travel without significant effort at up to 20mph on some bikes and even up to 28mph on others.
- Climbing hills is a breeze. and we aren’t talking about the breeze from huffing and puffing.
- No sweat. Even though you can ride much faster, you won’t feel like you have to take a shower once you are there.
- Safer. That might seem counter-intuitive, since you can go faster than on a regular bike, but you also get an easier start from stopped positions, allowing you to get through an intersection steadier and quicker. When climbing steep hills with cars nearby you can FOCUS more of your energy on controlling the bike instead of propelling the bike.
- Easier on those joints. Use the electric assist to ease the pressure on your knees and hips.
- Staying together. You may have a riding partner that rides at a different pace than you. An e-bike can even out the pace for both of you.
- Ditch the car. The convenience, the ease and the speed of an electric bike make it an alternative to an automobile more often than a regular bike. A study by Portland State University shows that e-bike owners ride more frequently and farther than when they relied on their traditional bike. This was the case for all age groups.
- It’s FUN. Just try one and you’ll see. Or catch a friend coming back from their first test ride with a big smile on their face.
Do I need a license?
No. As long as the e-bike has a motor size of 750 watts or less (1000 watts in Oregon) and is programmed so that it can’t go more than 20mph without pedaling, there is no need for a license. No electric bike sold by Cynergy E-Bikes requires licensing. FYI – you must be at least 16 years of age to operate an e-bike in public places.
Where can I ride my e-bike?
First and foremost, make sure your bicycle with an electric motor is classified as an e-bike. The definition of an e-bike and rules on where to ride will vary state by state. For federal land the rules vary depending on the branch of government. For the most complete resource, check out PeopleforBikes.org
For Oregon, you can ride an e-bike on:
- Any bike lane on the street.
- Shared use paths that are reserve for bicycles and pedestrians
- For state parks, you can ride on paved trails that allow bicycles, but check with the individual park’s management for their rules for unpaved trails. It varies from park to park.
- Any trail where motor vehicles are permitted, such as unpaved forest service roads.
In Oregon, you must be at least 16 years old to ride an e-bike on public property. While most states have motor wattage limits of 750 watts, Oregon’s limit is 1000 watts.
- National Parks – opportunities are expanding, but check with the park.
- Bureau of Land Management trails – the trend is to allow e-bikes wherever non-electric bikes are allowed, but we advise you to check with BLM office that manages that trail.
- U.S. Forest Service – opportunities are expanding, but check with the Forest Service.
- Another resource for finding mountain bike trails where e-bikes are allowed is People for Bikes nationwide EMountain Biking Map.
What about theft?
As best as we can determine, e-bikes don’t get stolen with any more frequency than non-electric bikes. That’s most likely because people tend to lock them up better and because a bike thief needs to get a charger and a battery key to make the bike truly saleable.
The best ways to protect your bike from theft are:
- Get a high-quality bike lock. Cable locks are way too easy to cut. High-quality u-bolts and folding locks are better.
- If you are parking your bike in your garage, lock your garage. It’s probably the #1 location we’ve seen bikes get stolen from.
- When in public, lock your bike in a visible location.
Do I need special insurance?
Check with your insurance company. Some insurance companies do not treat e-bikes as bicycles, so you may need to get a rider added to your homeowners/renters insurance for theft protection. You can also check with two bicycle specialty insurers – Velosurance.com and Spokeinsurance.com.
Aren’t electric bikes heavy?
As one of our customers told us, “E-bikes might be heavy to lift, but they are heavenly to ride.”
Electric bikes are typically heavier than regular bikes. But the weight of any bicycle (electrical or non-electrical) is felt the most when climbing hills. The electric assist on an e-bike makes up for the additional weight many times over. Where weight does matter is if you need to lift the bike. That’s one of the many reasons why e-bikes are favored over electric scooters, which often weigh 150 pounds or more.
If you have to climb several flights of stairs to store your bike, we strongly suggest finding a more accessible storage location.
CHARGING, BATTERIES RANGE
Do electric bikes recharge when applying brakes or going down hill – like a hybrid car’s regenerative braking?
It’s rare and the concept doesn’t work very well. A few models of electric bikes include a feature to recharge the battery, usually while you are braking. In those cases the range of the battery can be extended 5-10%, while adding several hundred dollars to the cost. However, due to the design of the motors that provide regeneration, you’ll often find that the bike is harder to pedal if you are using the bike with the power off.
What is the range I can get from a single charge?
The biggest factor contributing to your range is whether you pedal or just use a throttle without pedaling, along with what level of assist you use. Cynergy E-bikes is a strong proponent of the synergy cynergy resulting from combining human pedal power with electric power, so we’ll tell you the expected range when you do both. With relaxed pedaling expect 22-50 miles on a single charge for most e-bikes. In some cases you’ll go even farther. We have bikes that are getting 80 miles on a single charge. Range will also be impacted by the battery capacity, the hills, wind and your size. Many electric bikes pedal easily as regular bikes. So you can extend the range even further by using little or no power on level surfaces and down hill.
How long does it take to charge an e-bike battery?
A lithium ion ebike battery that is fully depleted will take 3.5 to 6 hours to recharge. Batteries that still have a partial charge when you start charging will take less. In addition, the last hour or so of a charge is used to “top-off” the cells, and you don’t have to wait for that process to be completed. So some batteries can be 90% charged in 2.5 hours or less.
How many charges can I get out of a battery?
Most e-bike batteries sold in North America are lithium-ion, which will provide a minimum of 500 full charge cycles at which point the battery will hold about 80% of its original capacity. Some batteries can deliver up to 1200 charge cycles. If you recharge the battery when it is only 50% depleted, that counts as only 1/2 of one charge cycle. If you usually use your e-bike in pedal-assist mode, combining both pedal power and electric power, you can expect to go 10,000-30,000 miles before replacing your battery. That is a lot of miles on a bicycle.
How much electricity does it take to charge a battery?
Depending on the capacity of the battery, it will usually take 500-800 watt hours (0.4. 0.8 kilowatt hours) to charge the battery. Assuming a rate of 0.10/kWh, it will cost you 5-8 cents for a charge that will last you 20-80 miles.
MOTORS, SPEED PERFORMANCE
What is the difference between Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 electric bikes?
This system of classifying electric bikes is being adopted by several states as a means of regulating electric bikes. The classifications are as follows:
- Class 1. is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling (thus no throttle), and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
- Class 2. is a bicycle equipped with a throttle that can propel the bike up to a maximum of 20mph with the rider pedaling, and may also have the ability to achieve up to 20mph with the rider assisting, without the use of a throttle.
- Class 3. also known as a “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour.
For all classes, the maximum power output is 750 watts (1 h.p.).
Several states, including our neighbor to the north, Washington, have adopted regulations that use this class system. Our home state, Oregon, has not yet done so.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this classification system is how some states are treating Class 3 e-bikes. While these bikes are permitted in bike lanes on streets, they can be restricted from shared use paths, such as those in parks and “rails-to-trails” paths that are designed to be shared by cyclists and pedestrians.
Should I buy a bike with a mid-drive motor or hub-motor?
They both have their benefits. Hub motors tend to be a little easier to operate if you are a less experienced cyclist, because they require less shifting of gears. Mid-drives tend to get a little better range for equivalent battery capacity, because you’ll get more efficiency by shifting. While theoretically you get better hill climbing with a mid-drive, you’ll usually find both types will climb just about any hill.
Finally, it’s usually easier to change a rear tire with a mid-drive.
But the real test of determining which type of motor is best for you is to ride both and compare.
What’s the difference between a cadence-sensor and a torque-sensor?
With a torque sensor, the power that is delivered is increased in proportion to the amount of pedal force the rider is applying. So as you pedal harder, the motor automatically delivers more assist. As you reduce pressure, you get a little less assist. It’s essentially amplifying whatever power you are applying to the pedals. You have multiple levels of pedal-assist, with each level representing a higher or lower amplification of your own power. A torque-sensor can feel more like riding a conventional bicycle than a cadence-sensor. It also tends to deliver power smoother.
A cadence-sensor, perhaps more appropriately called a crank-sensor, delivers a uniform amount of assist at each assist level, regardless of the amount of pressure you are applyng. It is activated just by getting the crank turning. Because a cadence-sensor is not reading your pedal pressure, the power delivery is not quite as smooth or “bike-like”. But it’s fairly easy to adapt your use of the controls to smooth out the power delivery. Some people prefer a cadence-sensor because it tends to provide a great sensation of power without applying much pedal pressure.
The best way to know which type of pedal-assist is right for you is to try them both.
How fast can an electric bike go?
If you are pedaling, you can go as fast as you are able to pedal it. However, most bikes stop providing electric assist while pedaling at 20 mph (Class 1 and Class 2 ebikes). Some will provide assist going at speeds up to about 28 mph (=45 kilometers per hour – Class 3 ebikes.)
How important is motor wattage? (also. I’m really big, so don’t I need a 1000-2000 watt motor? or. I want to go fast, so don’t I need a lot of wattage?)
The benefits of a high wattage motor are very overstated. A street legal e-bike in Oregon can go only 28mph, and only 20mph unless you are pedaling (and we recommend pedaling). You’ll be able to get that with even some 250 watt motors.
With a properly designed e-bike and e-bike motor, you’ll find that you get far more power than you need with 500 watts or less. There are many 250 watt motors that deliver as much torque as motors that are 500 watts or higher. The design of the motor and the gearing of the bike are far more important than the wattage of the motor.
Higher wattage correlates with higher power consumption, so using a higher wattage motor means you’ll need a bigger battery to go the same distance. The most expensive part of your e-bike is the battery, thus a larger motor, requires a larger battery which leads to higher cost.
As for hauling a lot of weight, we have several 300lbs customers that do fine at 250-350 watt motors.
Can I ride an e-bike as a regular bike. without the electric power?
Yes. And it is easy to switch back and forth. For example, you might want to use the power only when you are going up hills.
Do I have to pedal?
It depends on the bike. Some electric bikes sold in North America allow you to operate by simply turning the throttle without pedaling. Europeans have stricter rules, requiring that you pedal. which we support. If you think you’ll get by without pedaling, think again. Even for e-bikes that have a throttle, you’ll need to pedal when going up long, steep hills, although you won’t have to pedal hard. Pedaling is more fun, extends the range of your battery, extends the life of your motor, and extends your own life too.
Is servicing an e-bike any different than a regular bike?
Look at an e-bike as being comprised of two groups of parts – mechanical and electric.
- Mechanical parts are the same parts that you’ll see on non-electric bikes. Servicing mechanical parts can be performed at any bike shop. You might find that your bike parts might wear a little faster than on a non-electric bike – especially brake pads, chains, cogs and tires. But that’s because most people put many more miles on their e-bike. There is some basic maintenance that you can do on your own, like keeping your tires properly inflated and lubricating your chain. For some basic bike maintenance tips, check out our recommended maintenance videos.
- The electrical parts don’t require any maintenance. If you do run into a problem with an electrical part, you’ll want to go to a shop that has some expertise in servicing e-bikes. While not really a maintenance task, you do want to make sure that the battery keeps some charge in it. If you don’t, it might discharge to a point so low that you can’t charge it anymore, thus killing your battery – an expensive mistake to make.
Cynergy E-Bikes has a complete service department for both mechanical work and electrical work, with expertise servicing electrical parts for from many different e-bike brands.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
How much will I reduce my carbon footprint if I use an ebike instead of a car?
Our favorite question! In Oregon, which depends on hydropower and wind more than coal and gas, it takes the carbon footprint of over 60 e-bikes to equal the carbon footprint of one single occupancy, gasoline-powered car. In states that depend more on coal, it might be around 20-30 e-bikes compared to one car. No matter how you calculate it, even though an ebike uses electricity that might come from fossil fuels, the amount of CO2 emitted compared to a car is miniscule.
What about leaving my electric bicycle out in the rain?
The motor and battery are sufficiently sealed to be protected from the rain. However, we do suggest that if you are carrying your bike on the back of a car and rain is in the forecast, that you place the battery inside the car. Driving 70mph in a downpour with the battery exposed is like pressure-washing your battery. That’s a lot different than riding your bike in the rain.
Replacement Electric Bike Batteries Guide
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A good e-bike battery should last for hundreds of cycles. With average use, this means several years. Eventually, electric bike batteries need to be replaced as their life cycle comes to an end.
You can tell when a battery is nearing the end of its life when it does not provide you with much range. Some high-quality batteries that come on the top e-bikes such as a Bosch battery have a battery management system (BMS) integrated into the battery that actually tells you the current capacity and also how many charge cycles it has gone through.
But no matter what type of battery you have you’ll sooner or later be asking yourself the all-important question: how can I replace my e-bike battery?
Down below Electric Bike Report dives into this question and more in greater detail.
Are E-bike Batteries Interchangeable?
In general, the answer is no – you should only replace a battery with one that comes from the same manufacturer and is of exactly the same spec.
The reason is that the original e-bike or kit manufacturer has the responsibility to ensure that the battery pack, charger, and e-bike all work safely together, and using a ‘non-original’ replacement pack potentially introduces all sorts of uncontrolled risks.
It’s a little more complicated than this in some situations. For example, some Bosch batteries of different capacities are explicitly made to be interchangeable and there will be many instances where an original supplier and/or manufacturer of the e-bike cannot be traced or has gone out of business – in such cases we look at your options below.
As an important side note: you should always, if possible, use a charger that comes from the original manufacturer too. The one that comes with your battery should sync up well and not overload the battery. Pairing your battery with a different charger adds in risk of malfunction during charging.
Let’s first look at the basics of getting a replacement battery for your e-bike, then we will look at some of the major manufacturers of e-bike batteries and some of the main e-bike manufacturers to see which common battery types are still replaceable. Let’s consider the options for replacement in terms of desirability.
Where Should I Go to Get a Replacement E-Bike Battery?
On this last point it may help to note that there are a couple of manufacturing standards for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes. Although it’s not a legal requirement, it may be that one of the standards is actually marked on the battery itself.
The standards are BS EN 50604‑1 and UN38.3, the latter required for lithium-ion battery transport by air, sea or land. Just because these standards are not marked on a battery doesn’t mean it does not comply with them – but it is a reassuring sign if a battery does bear one or both of these marks.
Note that using a replacement battery that does not come from the original manufacturer (whether a dealer is involved or not) may void the warranty of your electric bike or kit. Check with the e-bike or kit company to understand what their policy is regarding the use of aftermarket replacement batteries.
Replacement Batteries from Original Manufacturers
Bosch E-Bike Batteries
Only Bosch manufactured batteries will be used on any new Bosch e-bike – this has always been the case and so it makes advice on interchangeability a little more straightforward than with the likes of Shimano and Brose who have both allowed the use of third party batteries with their mid-drive motor systems.
There have been four basic designs made by Bosch over the years (good online overview here):
- Rack mounted batteries: PowerPack in 300, 400, and 500 Wh versions which are all interchangeable with each other.
- Down tube mounted batteries: PowerPack in 300, 400, and 500 Wh versions, current versions of which are all interchangeable with each other.
- Frame integrated batteries: PowerTubes in 400, 500, and 625Wh versions, with the 400 and 500 units being interchangeable with each other. The 625Wh may be retrofittable but it needs a compatible frame with a big enough space to house it (400 and 500 units are the same physical dimensions but 625 is bigger). 500 and 625 Wh units are used on the Dual Battery system to give a capacity up to 1250Wh.
- Frame Integrated ‘Smart’ Option batteries: This is a new 750Wh option for 2022 and will be only compatible with 2022 e-bikes that feature the Bosch ‘Smart’ system and will not be compatible with other Bosch e-bikes that are ‘non-Smart’. Similarly, other types of PowerTube batteries (400, 500, and 625Wh versions) will not be compatible with e-bikes featuring Bosch’s ‘Smart’ system.
Some third-party batteries compatible with Bosch systems are available as detailed in the section below.
There are some suppliers of batteries that will fit older models, in some cases dating back to 2011 when the Bosch e-bikes first entered the market, for example, The Holland Bike Shop in Europe sells some batteries compatible with much older Bosch-powered models.
Shimano E-Bike Batteries
Shimano produces its own brand batteries for use on their systems, but you may also find new e-bikes powered by Shimano motor systems with batteries manufactured by their licensed partners Darfon and SMP. These third party batteries are not interchangeable with any Shimano batteries.
Shimano’s current range includes rack-mounted, downtube-mounted and frame-integrated batteries from 418Wh to 630Wh. You can see a brief overview with detailed links to each battery on offer here.
It’s important to note that each battery model has a limited number of specific battery mounts it will work with, so it is important to replace an old battery with one that is compatible with the mount on your e-bike. You can check out detailed compatibility info here and here.
Shimano says that ‘the oldest current battery we have is the BT-E6000 and the corresponding battery mount BM-E6000. These are compatible with all five of our current drive units (DU-EP8/E8000/E7000/E6100/E5000), but not earlier systems. For reference, DU-E8000 is the oldest in that list – it was introduced in 2016.’
Brose E-Bike Batteries
The only battery listed on Brose’s own website is a 630Wh frame-integrated option.
However, Brose systems are widely used by other manufacturers who also spec own-brand or third-party batteries. These include the likes of the widely respected battery manufacturer BMZ and well-known brands like Scott and BULLS.
For example, Specialized’s ‘full power’ range use Brose-based mid drives and a range of their own brand frame-integrated batteries. Although information on interchangeability is scarce, a Specialized FAQ page, in response to the question ‘Can I increase range by using the 604Wh aftermarket battery in any Turbo Vado/Como?’ says yes, all Vado batteries are cross-compatible as long as you are running the latest firmware (by implication so are Como and Turbo full power batteries are cross-compatible too).
The above appears only to address compatibility on current Specialized models and battery availability for older models appears a bit more complex with lots of debate online over the matter.
The fact that the latest Specialized e-bike batteries contain a Bluetooth chip to communicate with the latest Mission Control App certainly suggest both backward compatibility and availability of third party batteries will be very limited. Current e-bike batteries available from Specialized can be found here.
Yamaha E-Bike Batteries
Yamaha has integrated, rack-mounted and frame-mounted options ranging between 400Wh and 600Wh but information on backward compatibility is rather hard to find. Their systems appear on Haibike models and in the US on their own brand models too.
Giant use Yamaha motor systems but apparently have their own brand of battery – the EnergyPak range. The standard EnergyPak comes in rack-mounted and frame-integrated options whilst the Smart Compact variant allows for faster charging.
Finally, there is the Giant EnergyPak Plus, for use with the Smart Compact – a range extender style battery that fits onto the frame and effectively increases the capacity of the main Plus battery.
Giant’s Service web page states that there are EnergyPaks with 300, 360, 400, 500 and 625Wh capacities and also states ‘Giant EnergyPaks are interchangeable’.
Fazua E-Bike Batteries
This lightweight German-made system uses a frame-integrated 250Wh design and there have been two types of battery, Battery 250 and Battery 250X, the latter having the ability to be switched on and off remotely.
The latest Fazua Evation 250X battery is compatible with all Fazua electric bikes from 2019-22.
GRIN and Cytronex E-bike Kit Batteries
Canada’s GRIN is a true expert in producing a wide variety of e-bike kits. Whilst they do several designs of batteries, one of their best options from a replaceability point of view is their own brand LiGo batteries.
LiGo batteries are very unusual in being modular so that you can easily connect together as many as you like to increase or decrease battery capacity at will. They are particularly suitable for lightweight and folding bikes (I use them on a GRIN Brompton kit) and also for those who want to air travel with e-bikes as the individual battery units are only 98Wh and so are generally allowed on passenger aircraft (disconnect them from each other for travel and reconnect them on landing to make a useful e-bike battery).
The design has been around for several years and is backward compatible.
The UK’s Cytronex produces both European and US spec lightweight kits which use a unique own-design of ‘bottle battery’.
Cytronex says all their lithium bottles are compatible forwards and backward from the first version in 2017. They have different firmware for the new Bluetooth variant but both this and the non-Bluetooth version allow you to use the new 2-way – 5 level Boost Button or the previous one-way 3 level button.
In fact, if you have old and new kits on two bikes you can switch the bottle between both and it will recognize the two different button types automatically.
E-bike Manufacturers Own Brand Batteries
There are hundreds of e-bike manufacturers in the more budget space so it’s way beyond the scope of this guide to cover the options for each one; rather we’ll take a look at a couple of the market leaders.
Rad Power Bikes E-Bike Batteries
Rad Power Bikes first started producing e-bikes for the North American market in 2015 and now claims to be the US market leader. Their website lists several replacement batteries and their current lineup of bikes uses one of two battery designs.
There is the External Battery Pack (with the option for the smaller pack specific to the RadMission) which is compatible with all 2018 and newer model ebikes except the RadRover 6 Plus and RadCity 5 Plus, which use the Semi-Integrated Battery Pack.
Rad Power Bikes does offer legacy options for bikes older than that 2018 ‘cutoff’ and although some of these legacy batteries are currently out of stock Rad says they have plans to restock them.
The battery packs are consistent across their main sales areas of Canada, US and Europe.
The Rad Power website has a great filter system so you can track down the compatibility of what batteries are in stock against all current and previous models, right back to the original 2015 RadRover. All e-bike manufacturers’ websites should provide this service!
Pedego E-Bike Batteries
A longstanding US manufacturer with a clear set of battery specs for current models here. However, there doesn’t appear to be any info about legacy batteries or backward compatibility.
Interestingly, and it seems uniquely amongst the mainstream manufacturers, Pedego have recently introduced a serviceable battery (pictured above) – designed to be easily maintained at the local Pedego store. It features a rear light, brake light and indicators to boot.
Batteries for Out-Dated Motor Systems
There are a number of older motor and battery systems that are either not used or little used these days but there are still some suppliers out there who may be able to help out and if you are in this position a bit of internet research might just turn something up. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
BionX E-Bike Batteries
BionX operated between 1998 and 2018 and were once one of the leading e-bike system manufacturers in North America, with the likes of Trek and Kalkhoff using their systems.
There are still limited stocks of spare parts available here and there, including batteries, for example on this Ohm webpage.
Heinzmann E-Bike Batteries
German company Heinzmann had a great reputation for quality and produced the now obsolete Classic system and the newer Direct Power system. At various times both were available as kits or fitted to off-the-peg e-bikes.
In the UK Electric Vehicle Solutions are the main stockist of complete Direct Power kits and of spare parts for the Classic system.
What About Non-removable Frame Integrated Batteries?
A relatively small number of e-bike batteries are incorporated into the frame and not designed to be removed by the rider – they must be charged on the bike. Whilst perhaps inconvenient for some, the system has the benefit of a sleeker and simpler design and keeps the battery cells well-protected.
The Ebikemotion X35 system is one example of the most common lightweight systems out there to feature a frame-enclosed battery.
When it comes to replacing these batteries, to be clear, our official advice is that this is a job for the dealer, or expert shops to do only.
DIY in this area can get tricky in a hurry. Looking into service options to replace batteries in an integrated system is something to consider before purchasing the bike.
Third-Party Replacement E-Bike Batteries
For some older batteries – or even some current ones – there may be manufacturers other than the so-called OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) who made the original batteries. These third-party companies are not recognized by the original e-bike manufacturers so if possible it is always best to go back to your dealer or the manufacturer directly to source an original battery.
However, third-party batteries may be a solution where no original batteries appear to be available.
There are a growing number of companies that provide third-party batteries and here we take a look at a couple of the bigger operations.
Please note that on e-bikes that are still in their warranty period, replacing the battery with one from a third-party manufacturer will most likely void the warranty.
FTH Power has a good amount of experience in the electronics business and has diagnostics and assembly capabilities. They look to have good stocks of popular far eastern battery brands such as Reention (used by the likes of Juiced and Surface 604) and Hailong. They also have this handy battery/model finder to see if they have batteries for your particular model of e-bike.
Third-party battery provision (and recelling services) appear to be bigger business in mainland northern Europe than in the U.S. It makes sense, this is where e-bikes have been around much longer and where the average value of e-bikes is higher. The need to keep older bikes going longer is greater. For example, Heskon is a major supplier of replacement batteries to dealers and Fiets Accu Revisie is the part of Heskon that sells direct to customers.
The UK’s Electric Transport Shop network offers battery diagnosis (refundable against a replacement battery or recell if required). The ETS says they also have stocks of Battery Management System chips that can be used on certain packs, usually on older e-bikes.
The ETS also says ‘There are so many shapes of e-bike batteries now that we cannot guarantee that we have cell packs to fit them all and it is usually cheaper to buy a factory-built replacement than to hand-build a replacement pack in the UK so we usually recommend buying a battery from the original supplier if the diagnosis proves that’s what is needed. If their supplier is no longer available to supply a replacement pack in this instance we will help people find a suitable replacement or as a last resort we will offer to wire in an alternative pack which may be in a different position on the bike.’
What Should I Do With My Old E-bike Battery?
If at all possible the ideal solution is to take it back to the dealer you bought it from who will send it on for recycling.
In the US the industry is in the midst of setting up its own recycling scheme. It was organized by People for Bikes and will be directly coordinated under the auspices of Call2Recycle. There will be a network of battery drop-off locations from the nation’s roughly 3,000 independent bike shops. Manufacturers and retailers can sign up here.
The batteries will be sent on to ‘processing partners’, four of which are domestic and two of which are foreign—one in South Korea and one in Belgium.
The consortium brands are funding the recycling service, which will be free to riders; of course, consumers will still have to pay for replacement batteries. There are also plans for a consumer-direct mail-in recycling option in the summer – EBR will keep you posted on its development.
There are already such ready-made recycling networks in mainland Europe and the UK is just beginning to establish such a network.
This guide to replacement electric bike batteries hopefully covered the basics of what is out there for you. It’s certainly just the tip of the iceberg though. If there is anything else that wasn’t covered here, let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below and we’ll update this guide with the info our readers are looking for!
What is an electric bike and how do they work?
Whether you’re ditching the car by cycling to work or want an easier ride to the top of trails, an electric bike can offer many of the benefits of a non-assisted bike, with motorised power on tap when you need it.
Electric bike technology has advanced at a pace in recent years and you can now find pretty much any type of bike with a motor. We have guides to the best electric road bikes, best electric gravel bikes and best electric mountain bikes.
If you don’t want to buy a whole new bike, the best electric bike conversion kits will transform your purely pedal-powered bike into an electric bike. In this general guide to electric bikes, we’ll explain exactly what an ebike is, how an electric bike works, how to ride an ebike and answer some of the key questions you may have before buying.
What is an electric bike?
An electric bike has a built-in motor and battery to assist your pedalling. Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media
An electric bike, or ebike, is a bicycle equipped with an electric bike motor to assist you when you’re pedalling. The motor will get its power from a rechargeable battery mounted on the bike. To classify as an ebike, the motor has to help you rather than propel you on its own. As a result, you need to pedal to get that assistance. How much power the motor delivers is regulated based on how hard you are pedalling and the level of support you have selected. Electric bike systems offer a number of modes to choose from, allowing you to balance the amount of power supplied through the pedals with range and battery life.
Electric bike assistance is restricted to 15.5mph in the UK, EU and Australia. Russell Burton / Our Media
Electric bike laws on how much help the motor can provide, and the speed at which assistance cuts out, vary around the world. But in general the motor is limited to 250 watts output and must cut out when your speed reaches 25kph/15.5mph, except in the USA where it can continue to work up to 20mph. You can go faster than that, of course, but only under your own effort – the bike’s motor will no longer provide assistance.
- must have a maximum power output of 250 watts
- should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph
How does an electric bike work?
An electric bike will typically have a motor housed either centrally on the bike (often referred to as a mid-drive motor, powered through the cranks) or on the front or rear hub.
Whereas a hub-based motor will push the wheel around directly, an axle-mounted motor will work through the ebike’s chain and gears.
When you pedal, a torque sensor will measure how much effort you are putting in and match that to the motor’s power output.
The idea is that the motor won’t completely take over; instead, you should get consistent power delivery that won’t send the bike lurching forward.
Therefore, one of many benefits of riding an electric bike is you still have to press on the pedals and get exercise. Riding an electric bike for fitness is eminently possible.
Power comes from the battery, which might be mounted on the outside of the frame or hidden within it.
Many batteries can be removed for charging, although others need to be charged on the bike. If that’s the case, you need to have somewhere to park the bike near a power socket.
There will be a controller for the motor, usually mounted on the handlebar or integrated within the frame, that lets you decide how much assistance you want, and to keep an eye on the battery level. Some will include a screen with navigation and other functions too.
Electric bike motors are held either in the middle of the bike, as shown here, or in one of the wheel hubs. Russell Burton / Our Media
Bosch, Shimano, Yamaha, Specialized, Mahle, FSA and Fazua all make popular ebike motors. Specifications can vary significantly and the type of motor found on a bike will depend on its price and the type of riding intended.
For example, an electric road bike is more likely to favour a lightweight system with smooth power delivery, whereas a motor on a high-spec electric mountain bike is likely to offer more torque for off-road capability.
How do you regulate motor power?
You can usually alter the level of assistance with a frame-mounted button, as pictured here, or a controller on the handlebar. Russell Burton / Our Media
An electric bike will usually have between three and five levels of assistance, selected via its controller.
These can give you anything from a gentle push to lots of power for tackling steep off-road climbs, depending on the specifications of the bike’s motor.
Some will also have a ‘boost’ button, which you can use to increase the power output for short bursts of additional power.
Many bikes also offer a walk-assist mode, to make it easier to push when you’re off the bike.
You can change between assistance levels as you ride and there’s usually the option to switch the motor off completely and ride under pedal power alone.
Many ebike motors are designed to be drag-free when switched off, but there is still the additional weight to overcome.
How much weight do the motor and battery add?
Electric bikes are heavier than non-assisted bikes and there’s a wide variation in the weight of ebike motors and batteries.
The lightest systems come in at less than 4kg and are typically found on electric road bikes, but most systems weigh around 6 to 8kg – and sometimes more.
The additional mounting points and frame reinforcement required on an electric bike can add some extra weight, too.
The weight of your system will depend partly on budget, but also the intended use of the bike.
Bikes that require lots of power, for example, an electric cargo bike or e-MTB, are more likely to have a heavier motor and battery package.
An electric road bike requires less assistance and will prioritise lighter weight.
The latest e-road bikes are near-indistinguishable from non-motorised bikes, thanks to the sleek, integrated design of the motor and battery.
The extra weight associated with electric bikes is worth bearing in mind if you need to lift or carry your machine anywhere.
If that’s the case, consider how much extra weight you can comfortably handle.
However, for day-to-day riding, the benefits of having a motor should trump any extra weight, particularly when it comes to climbing… unless you run out of battery.
How do you ride an electric bike?
Riding an electric bike is pretty much like riding a non-motorised bike of the same type.
You switch on the motor, select the assistance level you want using the controller, and then pedal. The motor will make initial acceleration much easier and then help you keep up to speed, particularly when you need to climb a hill.
However, because of the extra weight from the motor and battery, an electric bike may handle a bit more sluggishly than a non-assisted bike.
It may also have wider tyres to carry the extra weight and provide more grip, and it will usually have disc brakes because there’s more mass to slow down and stop.
What range will an electric bike have?
The motor type and battery capacity, plus your riding style and the terrain, all influence the range. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Batteries on electric bikes can give you a range of anything from 20 to 100 miles or more on a full charge, depending on their capacity (measured in watt-hours and abbreviated to Wh). Batteries are expensive, so an ebike with a longer range will, in general, cost more.
You’ll usually get a battery-level indicator, while some control systems will give you an estimated range as you ride or regulate the power output to let you achieve your planned ride distance.
Some ebikes let you plug in a second battery, which might fit in a bottle cage, to up range. You can also lower the assistance level during a ride to help conserve the battery and extend the bike’s range.
While many brands will offer an estimated range for a particular model of bike, and it is possible to gauge a bike’s theoretical range based on its motor power and battery capacity, ultimately it depends on the level of assistance you’re using and the terrain.
Fully recharging the battery from the mains can take anything from around three hours up to nine hours, or more depending on the model, charger and battery capacity.
What types of electric bike are there?
We’ve got a separate guide to electric bike types, but you can find almost any kind of bike with a motor.
The most common types of electric bikes are hybrids and mountain bikes.
The best electric hybrid bikes have flat bars and chunky, puncture-resistant tyres, useful for biking to work, shopping and more leisurely rides.
They may also have mudguards (or the eyelets to add full-length mudguards), a rack and lights, and sometimes have a step-through frame design to make it easier to hop on and off the bike.
Electric mountain bikes normally have a beefy motor with a high torque output to help you get up loose off-road climbs and over obstacles. Once you get to the top, the motor can be turned off to enjoy the downhill ride.
There’s also a growing number of electric road bikes. With drop handlebars, they’re designed to ride fast and are usually relatively lightweight (as far as electric bikes go), to help with handling and hill climbing.
Electric gravel bikes are designed to be capable off-road and fast on tarmac. Russell Burton / Our Media
There’s an increasing number of electric gravel bikes, too. With wider tyres to enable you to ride off-road with confidence and drop handlebars for road speed, e-gravel bikes are designed to offer the versatility to really broaden your riding.
The best electric folding bikes will be designed for versatility and compact size. They can be folded up to take on public transport or for easier storage at home/work, so they could be the best bike for commuting for many people.
There are also electric cargo bikes, designed to carry loads for deliveries around town and other day-to-day tasks where they can replace a car or van.
Whichever electric bike you choose, we suggest you read our guides to electric bike insurance and electric bike maintenance to look after what’s likely to be a sizeable investment.
In short, if you want a helping hand on your ride, you can find an electric bike to suit your needs.
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Paul has been writing about bike tech and reviewing all things cycling for almost a decade. He had a five-year stint at Cycling Weekly and has also written for titles including CyclingNews, Cyclist and BikePerfect, as well as being a regular contributor to BikeRadar. Tech-wise, he’s covered everything from rim width to the latest cycling computers. He reviewed some of the first electric bikes for Cycling Weekly and has covered their development into the sophisticated machines they are today, on the way becoming an expert on all things electric. Paul was into gravel before it was even invented, riding a cyclocross bike across the South Downs and along muddy paths through the Chilterns. He dabbled in cross-country mountain biking too. He’s most proud of having covered the length of the South Downs Way on a crosser and fulfilling his long-time ambition to climb Monte Grappa on a road bike