Electric bikes are the most climate-friendly way to travel. Gas powered bike motor

Electric bikes are the most climate-friendly way to travel

Meandering around Chapel Hill, it is hard to miss the plethora of hybrid, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars in driveways, shopping centers, and parked on the street. On just about every block you’ll see a Tesla, which may have displaced Toyota’s Prius as the favored vehicle of the town’s environmental set.

But while electric cars and hybrids are a lot better than traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars powered by gas or diesel, they are not panaceas for the environment. When you drive in your 4,000 pound electric car, you’re lugging around a lot of wasted weight, and that means it takes a lot of energy to get from Point A to Point B. It’s more efficient than an ICE to be sure but it’s still a lot of energy being used to move you around, and much of that is coming from dirty sources like coal or natural gas.

The real climate-efficient way to move around is a variant on one of the oldest human-power modes of transportation, the bicycle. Electric bikes are transformative. They are lightweight, and relatively inexpensive, and make it easy to travel short and medium distances. You can pedal like on a normal bike, and the electric motor kicks in and gives you a boost. It’s just like riding a bike, but easier. With an e-bike, the hills of Chapel Hill are not a deterrent. They are the perfect mode for shorter trips of a few miles.

What’s an electric bike, anyway?

Let’s back up a bit and provide a little background. When I say “electric bike,” what I’m talking about is an “electric-assist bike.”

Electric-assist bikes are regular bikes that have an electric motor that assists the rider (hence the name). Electric-assist bikes typically do not have throttles (although there are electric bikes with throttles). If you want to engage the motor, you need to pedal. The electric motor only kicks in once you start pedaling. Most bikes allow you to adjust the power level through a switch on the bike and through a cell phone app, so that you have incredible flexibility to bike as hard as you want.

Going on flat ground and want to work up a bit of a sweat? You can put the assist on its lowest setting. Heading up a hill on the way to work in your nice button-down shirt and slacks? You can move to maximum assist and let the motor do most of the work. If you’re going downhill, you can let gravity do the work and turn the electric assist off altogether.

electric, bikes, most, climate-friendly

Electric assist bikes are available from a wide range of manufacturers; in Chapel Hill, you can test them out and purchase them at most stores that sell bicycles. Check out our e-bike guide for more.

The efficiency of an electric bike

Electric bikes make it possible to easily travel around town for less than a penny per day — literally.

I purchased my e-bike in 2019, and since then I’ve been regularly evaluating its efficiency in comparison to other transportation modes like driving a car. My e-bike tracks the number of times I do a full charge-discharge cycle of my 504 watt-hour (0.5 kilowatt hour, or kWh) battery, and I have been recording that information every 500 miles. With this data I can calculate about how much electricity I have used overall, and I can track the average amount of electricity expended to travel a mile. (It can differ from mile to mile, depending on how much electric assist I use.) In addition, since I know how many watt-hours I’ve expended, I can calculate the cost of the electricity that I’ve used to charge the battery based on Duke Energy’s standard rates.

The numbers are pretty incredible. The table below is the data I’ve collected from my nearly four years of ebike riding.

MilesWatt-hoursCost per mileTotal cost
500 5,040 0.09 cents 0.47
1,000 13,104 0.12 cents 1.23
1,500 16,632 0.10 cents 1.56
2,000 21,672 0.10 cents 2.03
2,500 26,712 0.10 cents 2.51
3,000 33,264 0.11 cents 3.12
3,500 39,312 0.11 cents 3.69
4,000 45,864 0.11 cents 4.30
4,500 52,416 0.11 cents 4.92

After traveling 4,500 miles, I have spent less than 5 on electricity. Five dollars! That’s less than a cost of a mocha latte something at Starbucks. That is astounding. That’s less than the cost of two gallons of gas. It means that on days I bike the 10 miles to and from work, I’m spending less than one cent on electricity to get there. And about half the time, I’m carting a bike cargo trailer behind me (often full of groceries) which means it’s a heavier load for the bike to carry.

Some look at Electric Vehicles (EVs) as the solution to our climate change problems, but there’s really no comparison. One of the most efficient EVs available today is the Tesla Model 3. It can travel around 3.2 miles per kwH. In other words, it needs to use about 312 watt-hours to travel one mile. By comparison, over 4,500 miles my ebike has used about 11.7 watt-hours for each mile. That means the e-bike uses less than 4% as much electricity as the EV. While the Tesla needs to use 1 kilowatt hour of electricity to travel just over three miles, my e-bike uses 1 kilowatt hour of electricity to travel more than 85 miles. The 4.92 I’ve spent on electricity to travel 4,500 miles would move the Tesla 167 miles (and a normal ICE vehicle about 50-60 miles).

And remember, the Model 3 is the most efficient EV on the market today. Larger, heavier vehicles don’t do as well. A Ford F-150 Lightning can’t even go two miles on 1 kilowatt hour, and so the e-bike is more than 40 times more efficient.

These efficiency measures don’t capture some of the other ways electric bikes are better for our environment. E-bikes don’t require large amounts of land for parking, such as the multi-million dollar parking deck being built downtown and the large parking deck that comprises a large part of the cost of Carrboro’s new library.

An under-reported source of pollution from cars comes from their tires, and because they are heavier, EVs cause even more tire pollution. over, electric bikes are significantly lighter and less complex, and so require exponentially fewer raw materials to construct than electric cars. It’s a lot less environmental impact to build my ebike’s 0.5 kwH battery than the GMC Hummer’s 212 kWh battery.

Plus, they’re fun to ride! I know many people who were skeptical of electric bikes and didn’t see the point, until they tried them and started pedaling up steep hills without breaking a sweat. They were quick converts. And, unlike driving a car, you do get exercise.

No, an e-bike is not going to get you to the beach. You’re not going to be able to transport a couch sectional. And it won’t work for your six-kid carpool to the soccer game. But there is no reason that a single vehicle needs to accomplish every transportation need. Use the car for the carpool, and use the e-bike for shorter trips in-town, to the pharmacy, out to dinner, to meet friends, or even to the grocery store, You’d be amazed what you can carry with the right equipment.

And, maybe you can make it work that you transition a two-car household to one car and an e-bike. You’ll come out far ahead. It’ll be better for your health. (And more people riding bikes means that there’s less car traffic on the road – so if you aren’t able to ride a bike or have a commute that doesn’t allow one, you still benefit from having more people ride bikes in your community.)

Electric bikes are the economical choice

Electric bikes are much less costly than a car and the ongoing costs are significantly less. My bike cost about 3,500, although today you can get high quality e-bikes for less than 2,000. Cargo e-bikes (which can often accommodate a second person on the back) cost more.

And since then, the cost of upkeep has been minimal I’ve paid 0 in registration fees to the DMV, and 0 in property taxes. I haven’t had to pay an annual fee to get my bike inspected, or wait in line at the Jiffy Lube. There are no costly oil changes or tire rotations. I’m not paying hundreds of dollars per year on car insurance. And maintenance costs have been minimal. I have had to get the chain and brake pads replaced a couple of times, and fix a flat tire, but total maintenance costs have been less than 400. I purchased my bike at The Bicycle Chain, and as part of that I get a lot of regular maintenance for free, which is helpful. So even though I have no mechanical skills, it has not been expensive to keep the bike going.

There are other impediments to using an electric bike to accomplish daily trips. While the town is trying hard, our current network of greenways and bike trails continues to have some significant gaps. For most routes you’ll need to mix with car traffic. In many cases, though, the routes take you on local neighborhood roads with cars that drive slowly, and the electric assist that e-bikes provide make it easy to travel at a comfortable pace. And the more that you ride your bike, the more comfortable you’ll get. (An understated benefit of electric bikes is that in mixed traffic they allow you to keep up better with car traffic, improving safety and reducing the amount of time you need to spend on roads with no bike facilities)

Sign up for the Carrboro Linear Parks Project mailing list to get updates on building out Carrboro’s greenway network. Visit the Carrboro Linear Parks Project website for more information.

Plus, there is often an annoying lack of bike parking at your destination, so you’ll be chaining your bike to a no parking sign or a cart corral. (Looking at you Harris Teeter!)

But, ultimately, these drawbacks are annoyances, not reasons to forego riding an e-bike. They do not detract from the joy of e-bike riding or the undeniable environmental and economic benefits. There’s a reason electric bike sales are booming. So give them a try.

Geoff Green

Geoff Green, AICP lives in Chapel Hill. In his day job he’s a practicing urban planner; in his spare time he rides his electric bike around town and advocates for improved facilities so that everyone can. by Geoff Green

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Best Electric Motorcycles

Love them or hate them, electric motorcycles are fast becoming a reality. From daily commuters to enduro and race bikes, we’ve seen all kinds of electric bikes hit the road over the past couple of years, and it’s about time we accept that we’ll have to eventually switch to one soon too. Lucky for us, there’s a vast array of electric bikes catering to riders of all shapes, sizes, and kinds. Here are our top 15 picks in the e-motorcycle space.

Updated March 2023: New electric motorcycles seem to be popping up every month these days! In an effort to keep our readers up to date, we’re updating this article with all the latest and greatest models available on the market.

Sondors Metacycle

Sondors had recently made waves by dropping the pricing on the already affordable Metacycle by more than a few pennies. That’s an astonishing tactic in a market where most electric motorcycles cost more than your average Harley-Davidson. It’s a handsome bike, with some nifty features, like low seat height and weight.

The 60-mile range will get you to work and back, provided you’re not too heavy on the throttle. The brakes are a little bland and the rear shock may be inadequate, but even all those caveats aside, you simply can’t beat that price. And if all you’re doing is going to and from work, it may just be the best vehicle for you, hands down.

Super Soco TC

As much as we love high-performance bikes, an electric motorcycle will probably spend most of its life in the city. And, this is why the Super Soco TC is on our list. The Super Soco TC not only looks retro in a stylish way, but it also makes for a great commuter electric bike. With a top speed of 75 mph, it comes with a single or a double battery pack setup, claiming an impressive range of 78 Miles (with the dual battery setup), which is more than enough for city duties. Meanwhile, features like LED lights, an anti-theft alarm, keyless ignition, and a semi-digital instrument cluster top off the package. It’s pretty cheap, at approximately 4,140, but here comes the bad news. You can’t get it in the U.S.

Pursang E-Tracker

If the more modern styling excesses of electric motorcycles are too much for you (and your wallet won’t stretch to a Curtiss One!) and what you really feel you need is a flat-track-inspired electric bike, then the Pursang is the best ev motorcycle for you. Taking its name from an old Bultaco model, the Pursang E-Tracker is a relatively normal-looking electric motorcycle, featuring a tubular chrome-moly tubed frame and carbon-fiber bodywork.

The range is quoted as 74 miles, but recharge time is a bloated six hours, which rules it out for any sort of competition riding, if that was ever a goal. It boasts a full-color TFT display that shows speed, range, riding mode, engine power regeneration, and of course, battery life. It even features smartphone connectivity and can be connected via the Bosch mobile app. It’s now available in Europe for roughly 10,052.

Fuell Fllow

From the fertile engineering brain of Erik Buell comes the Fuell Fllow. Featuring a magnesium monocoque chassis and housing for the battery, the electric motor is housed in the rear wheel and produces a quite frankly astonishing 553 pound-feet of torque! Twist the throttle on this, and you don’t move forward, the earth rotates underneath you. The top speed is 85 mph (max sustained) and a range of 150 miles. Regenerative braking is employed, and using a CCS Type 2 charger gives you a full charge in 30 minutes. There is 1.76 cubic feet of storage in what used to be the fuel tank, which Fuell claims can take a full-face helmet and a soft bag. Unusually for Buell, he has not fitted the rim-mounted brake rotors that were such a feature on his gas-powered sport bikes.

Cake Kalk

The good thing about electric motorcycles is that there are plenty of start-up companies that are manufacturing new models that have no corporate design language to adhere to and the results are refreshingly different. Swedish company Cake set out to create the ultimate, spare-no-expense, lightweight, high-performance electric dirtbike. Having done this, it then turned its attention to a street-legal version.

The oddly-named Kalk is the result, and you could be forgiven for thinking it is a glorified bicycle, such is its skimpy design and construction. Skimpy it might be, but there is nothing skimpy about the specification: extruded, forged, and CNC-machined 6061 aluminum chassis, Öhlins suspension front and back, and bespoke forged and machined wheels. It’s not cheap, but if you are looking for personal transport that is light and agile, then the Cake might just be what you are looking for.

LiveWire Del Mar S2

Designed around a modular Arrow platform, the Del Mar is the first of a series of models that will be released in the coming years and is certainly aimed squarely at the mass market of electric bikes. The platform includes batteries, electronics, a motor, and can have different steering heads and swing arms bolted to it to create the different variants.

It is due to arrive in showrooms by the second half of 2023. The power output is a claimed 80 horsepower, while it weighs in at 431 pounds. The city range is expected to be 110 miles, with a 0-80% charge time in about 75 min.

Damon Hyperfighter

Do you like sporty naked motorcycles? Let us introduce you to the newly launched Damon Hyperfighter. Unveiled in early 2022, the Damon Hyperfighter is an epic all-electric naked motorcycle that has a rather striking design. This radical design is complemented by equally striking numbers including a peak power of 200 horsepower, 170 mph top speed, and a 146-mile claimed range. The bike also packs a unique Shift technology, that lets the rider adjust the handlebar and footpeg position on the fly, along with 360-degree cameras to warn the rider about potentially dangerous objects and vehicles.

Zero SR/F

Looking for a do-it-all e-motorcycle? Well, we believe it’s the Zero SR/F. Sure, its price of nearly 23,795 isn’t for everyone, but this is one of the most sought-after bikes out there. It comes equipped with a powerful motor-battery combo that has a claimed top speed and range of 124 mph and 187 miles (city) of range, respectively.

This ensures you’ll have plenty of power to have fun while steering clear of range anxiety. Then, you have high-quality underpinnings comprising fully adjustable Showa Big Piston forks and Showa monoshock, alongside Pirelli Rosso III tires. It also comes with all modern-day features like ride modes, TFT instrumentation, smartphone connectivity, LED lighting, and even a stability control from Bosch.

LiveWire One

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire features a likable design, which shouts Harley in its own special way while promising a familiar torquey riding experience, too. Of course, there is no glass-shattering rumble here, but you do get 100 horsepower and 84 pound-feet of torque, right on par with Harley’s ICE bikes. Plus, all this power is instantly available and monitored by a handful of electronics to ensure you stay upright.

The LiveWire boasts a claimed range of 146 miles and a top speed of 95 mph, both more than enough for most riders. One item to note is that Harley spun LiveWire out into its own company, and is now producing LiveWire One in addition to the previously mentioned Del Mar.

Tarform Luna

The main point of EVs is to offer a sustainable means of getting around and if that’s your motive too, it doesn’t get any more eco-friendly than the Tarform Luna. I say this because nearly 55-percent of the bike’s parts are 3D-printed from recycled materials like pineapple-leaf fibers and recycled aluminum. But, Tarform didn’t stop there and threw in an impressive motor and battery combo which gives the bike a claimed range of 120 miles and a top speed of 120 mph. Not to forget, this is accompanied by features like a circular digital instrument cluster with an HD display, all-LED lighting, three ride modes, a 180-degree rearview camera, keyless ignition, and smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth.

Evoke 6061

Rarely do we see electric cruiser bikes, but the Evoke 6061 happens to be one of them. However, this isn’t why it’s on this list. You see, the Evoke 6061, while being an e-cruiser, can also charge from zero to 80-percent in JUST 30 minutes! That’s just a quick lunch! Before you get suspicious, let us tell you that this isn’t a marketing gimmick achieved by using a tiny battery. In fact, the Evoke 6601 packs a huge 25 kWh battery, giving it a range of 410 miles (city), which is accompanied by a beefy 120kW motor.

Energica Ego

If you’re a sportbike fanatic who wants to go electric, the Energica Ego is probably THE best electric motorcycle for you. Not only does it offer sport bike-like performance, 170 horsepower and a limited top speed of 150mph, the Ego also has a claimed range of 261 miles which is a lot more than your ICE sport bike can manage. Along with this, the Energica Ego boasts top-shelf underpinnings comprising a trellis frame, cast aluminum wheels, Marzocchi USD forks, and Brembo brakes at both ends. Not to forget, the Ego was also used in the MotoE world championship up until last year, so it’s safe to say that the bike is well kitted-out to tackle a racetrack.

Verge TS Ultra

One important consequence of the rise of the electric motorcycle is that much of the early development has been undertaken by small, and until now, obscure companies that previously had no presence on the world motorcycling stage. This in turn has led to more innovative engineering solutions than you can shake a stick at.

The specs are quite astonishing: 885 pound feet of torque is delivered instantaneously directly to the road, with no power-sapping chains or cogs to get in the way. Nor does the motor require cooling fluids. Four ride modes configure the power delivery to suit your mood or riding requirements and 80-percent charge is available in 25 minutes with the optional DC fast charger and range is quoted as up to 233 miles.

BMW CE 04

BMW is taking a Smart approach as it dips its toe into the electric motorcycle pool. They know that electric motorcycles are best suited for city commuting, and what better motorcycle to use in an urban environment than a scooter. It’s loaded with premium features like large TFT display and large storage compartments. Its design aesthetic is futuristic. It comes with a 3-year BMW warranty and its pricing is not too shabby either, starting at 11,795. It’s built for urban commuters, with a range of 80 miles. You can pull up to work, plug it and have it ready to take you home when you’re done.

Arc Vector

Range anxiety is a major concern for most people planning to go electric. But, there’s a radical solution to it, and it’s called the Arc Vector. The bike offers a range of over 270 miles, and if you still happen to run out of charge, it can be juiced up in just 40 minutes. Apart from this, the bike has a top speed of 124 mph and can get to 60 mph in merely 3.2 seconds. The Arc Vector is built around a unique monocoque chassis featuring Öhlins TTX mono shocks and Brembo Stylema brakes at both ends, making the package ever-so-premium.

How To Motorize A Bike? Detailed Instructions You Should Know 2023

Motorizing a bike can be a fun and exciting way to enjoy the benefits of cycling while adding an extra power boost. There are several ways to motorize a bike, from using electric bike conversion kits to installing gasoline-powered engines.

electric, bikes, most, climate-friendly

BSXInsight will provide a step-by-step guide on how to motorize a bike using an electric bike conversion kit in this article below.

We also cover everything from choosing the suitable kit to installing the motor and battery so that you can enjoy the thrill of a motorized bike ride.

How To Motorize A Bike?

Choose a Bicycle Buy Bike’s Motor Kit

The first step in motorizing your bike is to choose a suitable bicycle and purchase a motor kit. As mentioned earlier, you want a sturdy bike that can handle a motor’s added weight and power.

A mountain or cruiser bike can be a good choice, as they are typically more durable than road bikes.

When choosing a motor kit, consider the type of motor you want. Gas-powered engines are typically more powerful but heavier and louder than electric motors.

electric, bikes, most, climate-friendly

Electric motors are quieter and better for the environment than gas-powered engines but may not have as much speed or range. You’ll also need to consider how big the engine and battery are since more significant engines and storms will make your bike heavier.

After choosing your bike and motor kit, you can start assembling the parts.

Attach Engine Fitting To The Bicycle

The first component to install is the engine fitting. This is typically a metal bracket that attaches to your bike’s frame and holds the engine in place.

To install the engine fitting, you must remove the pedal crank and chain from your bike’s bottom bracket.

To do this, use a wrench to loosen and remove the bolts holding the pedal crank. Then, use a chain tool to break and remove the chain from the bike.

Next, attach the engine fitting to the bottom bracket using the bolts provided in the motor kit. Tighten the bolts to ensure the fitting is firmly attached to the bike.

Attach The Sprocket To The Bike

The next step is to attach the sprocket to the bike. The sprocket is a toothed wheel that connects to the engine and drives the bike’s rear wheel.

To attach the sprocket, slide it onto the rear wheel axle and secure it using the bolts provided in the motor kit. Be sure to align the sprocket with the chain to ensure proper operation.

Attach The Spark Plug To The Engine

The next component to install is the spark plug. This is a small component that ignites the fuel in the engine and generates power.

To install the spark plug, locate the spark plug hole on the engine and insert the plug. Use a spark plug wrench to tighten the plug securely, being careful not to overtighten it.

Assemble The Clutch

The clutch is an essential component that allows you to disengage the engine from the rear wheel when you’re not using it.

To assemble the clutch, first, attach the clutch lever to the handlebars of your bike using the clamp provided in the motor kit.

Then, attach the clutch cable to the lever and route it to the engine, securing it in place with the clips provided.

Attach The Drive Chain

The drive chain connects the sprocket on the engine to the sprocket on the rear wheel, transferring power from the engine to the bike.

First, remove any excess links using a chain tool to attach the drive chain. Then, attach the chain to the sprockets, ensuring it is properly aligned and tensioned.

Set Up The Accelerator

The accelerator controls the engine’s speed and allows you to increase or decrease power as needed.

To set up the accelerator, attach the throttle grip to the handlebars of your bike using the clamp provided in the motor kit.

Then, route the throttle cable to the engine, securing it in place with the clips provided. Be sure to test the throttle before riding to ensure it functions properly.

Install Everything Else

Finally, it’s time to install any remaining components, such as the fuel tank, carburetor, and air filter. Follow the instructions in the motor kit to install these components and carefully route any cables or hoses correctly.

You may also need to install a battery if you’re using an electric motor and a charger to keep the battery powered.

Put Fuel In And Enjoy Your Homemade Motorized Bicycle!

Once you’ve installed all of the components, it’s time to add fuel (if using a gas-powered motor) and test your new motorized bike.

Start the engine and let it warm up for a few minutes before riding. Be sure to wear proper safety gear, including a helmet and protective clothing, and follow all traffic laws and safety guidelines.

As you ride your new motorized bike, monitor the engine’s performance and make any necessary adjustments or repairs as needed.

With a little patience and know-how, you can create a reliable and fun motorized bike that will take you on adventures and save you time and energy.

Reasons to Build a Motorized Bicycle

Commute

A motorized bike can be an easy and cost-effective way to get around if you live in a place with heavy traffic or limited public transportation choices.

With a motorized bike, you can easily navigate through traffic, avoid the cost of having a car, and lower your carbon footprint.

Plus, a motorized bike can help you save time on your journey and allow you to arrive at work or school feeling fresh and energetic.

Get a New Hobby or Learn a New Skill

Building a motorized bike can be a fun and rewarding hobby that allows you to learn new skills and tinker with machinery.

From selecting the right components to assembling the bike, many steps are involved in the process of building a motorized bicycle.

Plus, once your bike is up and running, you can customize it to your liking, experimenting with different components and designs.

Build an Off-Road Bike

Building a motorized bike can provide an exciting new way to explore the great outdoors if you’re a fan of off-road adventures.

With a motorized bike, you can navigate through rugged terrain and reach remote locations that would be difficult to access on foot.

over, you can customize your bike with off-road tires, suspension components, and other features. Then enhances its performance and durability.

Hit the Racing Circuit

If you’re a fan of competitive sports, building a motorized bike can provide an opportunity to enter the exciting world of motorized bike racing.

Whether racing on a dirt track or a paved circuit, a motorized bike can provide a thrilling and competitive experience.

Plus, with the right components and modifications, you can enhance your bike’s speed, acceleration, and handling, giving you an edge over the competition.

Turn It Into a Business Venture

Building and selling motorized bikes can be a profitable and exciting venture if you’re an entrepreneur or looking to start a new business.

With the growing demand for alternative modes of transportation, there is a market for motorized bikes that are affordable, reliable, and stylish.

By building and selling motorized bikes, you can tap into this market and provide a unique product that meets the needs of commuters, off-road enthusiasts, and sports fans.

Building a Motorized Bike Is a Worthwhile Project?

Building a motorized bike can be a worthwhile project for several reasons:

  • Learning opportunity: Building a motorized bicycle can be a great learning experience that can teach you about mechanics, electrical systems, and how to use various tools.
  • Customization: When you build your motorized bike, you can customize it to your liking. You can choose the frame, motor, and other components that suit your needs and preferences.
  • Cost-effective: Building your motorized bike can be a cost-effective alternative to buying a pre-built one. You can save money by purchasing the components separately and assembling them yourself.
  • Eco-friendly: A motorized bike can be more environmentally friendly than a car or motorcycle. You can also choose eco-friendly components, such as electric motors, by building your own.
  • Fun and rewarding: Building a motorized bike can be a fun and rewarding project that gives you a sense of accomplishment. You can take pride in your creation and enjoy riding it.

FAQs

How do I choose the right electric bike conversion kit for my bike?

When picking an electric bike conversion kit, consider your bike type, money, and riding needs. Look for a kit compatible with your bike and with the features you need.

How fast can a motorized bike go?

The speed of a powered bike will depend on the motor type and the battery’s power. In general, most electric bicycles can reach up to 20-28 mph speeds, while gasoline-powered bikes can reach up to 40-50 mph speeds.

What are the benefits of a motorized bike?

The benefits of a motorized bike include the ability to travel longer distances, ride hills or against headwinds with less effort, and take heavier loads.

Is it legal to ride a motorized bike on the road?

The legality of riding a motorized bike on the road will rely on your area and the type of bike you have. Electric bikes are legal on the street in most areas, while gasoline-powered bikes may not be legal in some areas.

How do I maintain my motorized bike?

To keep your motorized bike, regularly check the motor, battery, and controller for any signs of damage or wear, and repair any old or damaged parts. Also, keep the bike clean and lubricated, and follow any care directions the maker gives.

Can I convert any bike into a motorized bike?

In general, most types of bikes can be changed into motorized bikes using an electric bike conversion kit or a gasoline-powered engine kit. However, it’s essential to choose a kit that is compatible with your unique type of bike.

Conclusion

In conclusion, motorizing a bike can be a fun and exciting way to enjoy the benefits of cycling while adding an extra power boost.

By choosing the fitting electric bike conversion kit and following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily motorize your bike and enjoy the thrill of a motorized ride.

Remember to choose a kit compatible with your bike and your riding needs, properly install the motor and battery and follow safety guidelines when riding your bike.

With a little effort, you can enjoy the freedom and excitement of a motorized bike ride while still getting the exercise and health benefits of cycling.

The best electric bike conversion kits 2023 and how to fit them

The best electric bike conversion kits can give you an extra boost of power without the expense of purchasing a new electric bike. We’ve fitted some of the best e-bike conversion kits ourselves, so will walk you through the process, how easy it is and how the different systems perform.

E-bikes are soaring in popularity – and for good reason. The best electric bikes replace a car for running errands around town and greatly increase the distances it’s possible to ride on one of the best commuter bikes. An e-bike can also be a great tool for boosting your fitness, whether that’s enabling you to ride with a greater range of people or offering the motivation of a greater range of roads to explore.

But is an e-bike worth it,? As the best ebike conversion kits promise to add power to an ‘analogue’ bike for a lot less than a full ebike, it’s an easy, cheaper way to get an electric boost.

In this guide we’ll take you through the surprisingly broad range of benefits an e-bike conversion kit has to offer and – most importantly – how to perform an e-bike conversion, based on our hands-on experience. For a walk-through on how to do it, you can check out the video above or read on for a step-by-step guide – it genuinely is so much simpler than you would think.

When buying an ebike conversion kit there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider. Most importantly you’ll need a kit that will fit your bike. To help with this it pays to take a few frame measurements, notably the width of your forks and the width of the rear stays, as well as noting the wheel size and the type of brakes. You can then match these details to the kit specifications.

Naturally you’ll also need to consider the cost and how much you chose to spend on an ebike conversion kit will be dictated by not only your budget but also your needs. If you’re unsure of just how much you’ll use the converted bike then it’s prudent to opt for a cheaper kit. you can always upgrade down the road.

You’ll also want to consider where the motor will be located, and match this to your bike and your mechanical prowess. Front hub motors are typically the easiest to fit, while mid-drive motors require more effort. A rear hub motor lies somewhere in between the two, and like a front hub option is applicable to a wide range of bikes.

Other considerations include the type of battery and the wattage rating. 36 or 48 volt battery is standard, with wattage usually running from 300 to 600 watts.

The Swytch kit is super-simple: just swap out your front wheel, wire up the controller and battery and you’re off. The battery is also very compact, allowing you to remove it from the bike easily to carry with you.

The TongSheng kit positions the motor at the centre of the bike, so it will fit to a wide range of designs. It’s lightweight for its high torque and power output, although you’ll need to buy the battery separately.

The Voilamart kit is an inexpensive rear wheel conversion option, although you’ll have to source a battery separately. It’s slightly fiddly to fit as well and requires additional waterproofing if you plan to ride in wet weather.

The best electric bike conversion kits

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Specifications

Wheel sizes: Each wheel is custom built – specify your required size at checkout (Bromptons also catered for)

Reasons to avoid

The newly updated Swytch system is one of the simplest conversion kits to fit out there. The latest version, launched in August 2022, has a smaller, neater battery pack that improves the bike’s dynamics and lowers its weight. There’s the choice of the Air battery (700g, range 15km) or the Max battery (1,100g, range 30km). Both use the same mount, which places the battery to the front of the handlebar.

The motor sits in the front hub and we found it to be pretty discreet. Incidentally, the new batteries will work with the original motor and pedal sensor, so if you already own the original kit you can upgrade it with just a new battery without having to buy the whole kit again.

The Swytch kit is incredibly easy to fit. It took us around 30 minutes working at a steady pace.

We tested it on both a reasonably light two-speed steel bike and a heavier Pinnacle utility bike. It transformed the ride of the two-speed bike, making it fast, nimble and responsive. We also found the stated range to be conservative: after 20 miles on setting number two (medium assist) it had only used two bars out of five on the battery.

With the heavier Pinnacle on maximum assist (and on draggy routes) we were getting slightly under the 30km for the Max battery. As with all e-bike batteries, range depends on the terrain, weight of bike and level of assist.

Great customer support makes this one of the best kits for people who are new to working on their bike and who aren’t familiar with electrics. And even if you do have a strong background in both those areas, a simple system is always appreciated.

Reasons to avoid

Like the Bafang mid-drive system below, the TongSheng offers the same benefits of compatibility with a wide range of bike designs and a high torque for steep hills and off-road terrain. However, the TongSheng mid-drive does manage to be a little lighter than the Bafang for approximately the same power.

This model doesn’t come with a battery included, so you’ll have to source your own 36v item. As a rule of thumb, around 10Ah will give a range of 29km / 18mi, whereas going up to 18Ah will typically give around 53km / 33mi, so be sure to factor that in when you’re making your choice.

There’s a huge range of batteries sold on Amazon, but Green Cell is a particular brand we’d recommend.

We found fitting to be reasonably easy. As with most mid-drive systems, you replace your crank and chainring with the one provided in the kit. There’s an LCD display for attaching to your handlebars and you’ll need a battery to be hooked up to the motor.

Read more: TongSheng TSDZ2 conversion kit review

Reasons to avoid

A mid-motor drive system offers a number of benefits over hub-driven conversion kits. With the power delivered at the cranks it can produce more torque, making it more effective on particularly steep and bumpy terrain.

Another perk is that the compatibility is much greater – no concern about wheel diameters, hub widths, axle standards and brake type. No matter whether you’re running rim brakes or disc, quick release or thru-axle, the crank driven system is compatible with all.

The only proviso is that the frame material must be alloy and the bottom bracket width is 68–73mm – but that covers most bikes you’re likely to be fitting this system to.

There are a few aspects to be aware of, the first being that this system doesn’t include a battery and that typically makes up about half the cost of a conversion kit. Finding an e-bike battery is quite straightforward with many being sold on Amazon, with Green Cell being among those we’d recommend.

Just make sure to get a 36V one for this motor as a higher voltage can damage it. Also you should be aware that capacity of 10Ah will give you a range of about 29km / 18mi, while a capacity of 18Ah typically gives about 53km / 33mi – so be sure to factor in the distances you’re planning on riding.

Reasons to avoid

This radically different approach from Rubbee makes for an e-bike conversion with much fewer parts. The battery and motor are housed in a single unit which powers the bike directly turning the rear wheel with its integrated roller.

Not only is the initial installation notably fast and easy, the quick release system means that you can take off the unit for rides that you don’t wish to be assisted on. At 2.8kg, it doesn’t add much weight to that of the bike, making the bike easier to handle.

The range of this model is quite low, limited to Eco mode it only offers a range of 16km / 10mi – although taking the device off to charge at the other end is easy to do and it only takes an hour to top up. There is the option to increase your range by buying additional battery modules that fit into the base unit.

Up to three can be accommodated, which in turn increases the maximum range to 48km / 30mi, or around 23km / 14mi with moderately heavy use. However, unlike many other e-bike systems, the Rubbee X supports regenerative braking, allowing you to scrub back some power on the descents.

Reasons to avoid

Bafang is a well established maker of electric bike motors and offers a front hub based motor, if you’re not a fan of the bulky profile a mid motor conversion system creates. You can buy this kit without a battery – although why would you? – but if you sensibly also opt for a power-pack there’s a choice of amp hours, and you can select either a downtube or a rear-rack mounted version.

The setup follows the same principles as most front-wheel e-bike conversions. First you need to set up the wheel with a disc rotor, tyre and inner tube and install that into the bike. Then attach the cadence sensor – so it can tell when you’re pedalling and need assistance – then attach the battery and the LCD display and you’re essentially good to go!

It’s worth bearing in mind that although this conversion kit comes in many different wheel sizes, it is only compatible with bikes that have a front disc brake and a Quick-Release axle. If your disc brake bike is a newer, more expensive model, it might not be compatible, so worth checking first.

Remember, that in the UK electric bike laws mean that e-bikes are not permitted to have a power output of more than 250w and shouldn’t propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph – you’ll have to make sure you select the right model with the relevant limitations.

Reasons to avoid

We’ve also tested the Voilamart kit, which comes with six main parts: the replacement rear wheel, the replacement brake levers, the control screen, pedal sensor, throttle and the control box. It doesn’t come with a battery however.

On review we found the kit pretty straightforward to fit, although you’ll need to remove the bike’s crank to fit the pedal sensor and this element of the conversion was a bit fiddly. Another potential drawback is that the connectors, which link to control unit, aren’t waterproof, with only a bag supplied to house the delicate electronics. While it does a good job of keeping everything tidy, we decided to buy a plastic enclosure, cut the wires to length, solder the connections and then heat shrink for added protection.

As for the ride, the rear wheel kit delivers plenty of power. However, since the pedal sensor only detects when you’re pedalling rather than how hard you’re pedalling it delivers the power as soon as your start to turn the crank arms. Fortunately, you can quickly adjust the level assistance, with five power options available.

All in all the Voliamart rear wheel kit is an affordable way to ‘go electric’, although it requires you to be mechanical competent to fit it and you’ll need to factor in the additional cost of a battery.

How to convert your bike to an e-bike in four steps

Here’s our step-by-step guide to how to add an electric bike conversion kit to your pedal-powered bike.

Swap the tyre and tube

Firstly, remove the tyre and tube from your current front wheel and then install them on the new wheel from the kit. Make sure to check if the tyre is directional, if it is, ensure that the tyre is mounted so that the cable sticking out of the hub is on the left-hand side (non-driveside) when the wheel is installed in the bike – otherwise it’ll be powered in the opposite direction to your direction of travel!

To swap the tyre and tube over, you will need some tyre levers and a pump. If you want to go over how to do these, we have a guide that can be accessed here.

Final points are to do up the nuts on the wheel’s axle to keep it firmly in place in the forks and to check that the brakes are correctly adjusted for the new wheel. If you’re unsure how to do that, we have another guide here.

Attach the bracket to the handlebars

There is a strap that needs to be attached to the bars to keep the bracket in place and stop it rotating around. There are also some adaptors included in the kit which can be used if your handlebars are a little skinnier.

But essentially all that’s needed to be done here is a couple of screws to clamp the bracket tightly to the bars.

Attach magnet disc and sensor

The magnet disc has a split design so it can just clip around the inside of the left (non-driveside crank) and is then held in place by its retention ring. Next, stick the sensor on the frame directly in line with the magnets – this will ensure that the sensor can tell when the cranks are moving.

Plug in the cables

The thickest one is the main power cable and that just needs to be plugged into the cable extending from the hub. The other orange cable attaches to the cadence sensor and this just needs plugging in as well.

It’s then a good idea to use some cable ties to tidy up the lengths of the cables a little bit, so they aren’t flapping about and risk getting caught on the spokes or on the cranks.

The blue cables, you don’t need to worry about, these are for an optional brake sensor upgrade kit.

Why convert your bike to an e-bike?

What types of conversion kit are available?

You can get conversion kits that power your front or rear wheel or power the bikes via the cranks.

Wheel-based systems usually have a hub motor and require replacement of your existing wheel with a compatible motorised one.

The alternative is a system like the Rubbee that drives your wheel by pushing on the tyre. Tyre wear can be an issue here though.

Finally, there are systems that power the e-bike via the bottom bracket.

Usually the e-bike’s battery will bolt onto your frame or be attached to your handlebars, although sometimes you can fit a battery pack to a rear rack.

We’ve more on compatibility. which can be an issue. below.

How much does it cost to convert a bike to an e-bike?

vary depending on the type of conversion kit and the size of the battery. To give a rough Band, you can expect to pay a total of between £500 and £800 from a reputable brand, but there will be outliers at either end.

Is it worth converting a bike to an e-bike?

There are many reasons to upgrade your bike to offer a little e-assistance. On the one hand, it can greatly increase the usefulness of your bike, enabling you to replace short car journeys – such as around town, to the shops, or to work – with going by bike instead.

It’s a lot more environmentally friendly getting about on two wheels than in a two-ton metal box. It can also save you time – bikes are able to take more direct routes and are less affected by traffic, as well as eliminating the need to search for a parking space at the other end.

But beyond just their practical benefits, e-bikes can also be a potent tool for boosting your fitness. Consistency is key when it comes to exercise, so making commitments with friends is a great way to ensure you’re heading out the door. Previously, differing fitness levels could make it difficult to find a riding partner but with an e-bike levelling the playing field, getting in a productive workout (for both of you) with a friend is much easier to do.

Added to that, an e-bike can be much more motivating in that it opens up a far greater range of roads than you’d be able to access just under the power of your own two legs. Exploring new roads is part of the fun of riding a bike and an e-bike can help preserve that.

Can you convert any regular bike to an e-bike?

Most bikes can be converted to an e-bike – it just requires getting the matching the right conversion kit to match the specification.

For conversion kits where the motor is located at the wheel’s hub, you’ll need to consider the wheel’s diameter, the width and axle standard of the hub and whether it uses rim or disc brakes. For instance, a 700c (AKA, 28”) disc brake wheel with a 100mm wide quick-release hub is a relatively common spec. Once you’ve determined what type of wheel you need, the conversion is quite a straightforward process

Crank driven systems are generally easier in terms of determining compatibility; the requirements are typically just an alloy frame and a bottom bracket width of between 68 and 73mm – which is the standard for all road and mountain bikes, it’s only specialist bikes that have a different spacing there. In replacing the crankset, these systems are a bit more involved to fit than a hub system, but still well within the remit of a home mechanic.

Other kits, such as those that directly drive the rear tyre, have almost universal compatibility – provided your tyres aren’t too heavily treaded.

electric, bikes, most, climate-friendly

Are electric bike conversion kits any good?

You won’t be getting the very best motors and the largest, seamlessly integrated batteries with an e-bike conversion kit. But with that said, e-bike conversion kits are much cheaper than purchasing a whole new e-bike and they do deliver many of the same benefits.

Converted e-bikes are great for commuting and utility cycling, giving that extra boost to help flatten hills, motor along the flat and lug about heavy loads. E-bike conversions are also good for leisure cycling, helping to moderate your effort level as needed and greatly extending the range you can explore.

For more specialist utility needs, buying a new cargo e-bike would help boost your carrying capacity and range. Equally, for the aesthetically conscious, the latest breed of e-road bikes are almost indistinguishable from a non-powered bike at first glance. Then again, both those options are much more expensive than a conversion.

How we test

Where we’ve been able to link to a review, it means that we’ve put the ebike conversion kit through its paces. We’ve assessed how easy it is to fit and maintain as well other factors such as quality of the components and battery life and charge time. Riding the bike once fitted with the kit, we’ve taken into account the ride quality, the ease of use and the battery range.

Where we haven’t yet had the chance to review an item, we’re still confident in recommending it as one of the best, because we either know the brand really well, and have probably tested another product or the previous version and can still happily recommend it as one of the best.

What Is a Motorized Bike?

So you’re looking to find out more about motorized bicycles, and you’ve come to the right place.

In this short article, I’ll cover all there is to know about motorized bikes, including; what is a motorized bicycle, what are the benefits of using a motorized bike, and are motorized bikes legal? Plus lots more.

If you’re thinking of building your own motorized bike or have found a new motorized bicycle for sale, keep reading.

It’s important to make sure motorized bikes are safe and compliant with local laws before committing to a purchase!

What is a Motorized Bicycle?

A motorized bike is a bicycle that has a motor attached that powers the wheels, either independently or to assist while the rider is pedalling.

There are many different local laws concerning what constitutes a motorized bike, and the regulations for use vary widely in different areas.

Some municipalities allow you to use any sized engine to attach to your bicycle. In contrast, others may consider a bike with a motor larger than 50ccs to be a motorbike, scooter, or moped.

Motorized bikes that are built rather than bought as a completed product typically do not come with a speedometer, lights, and other features that may be standard on a manufactured machine.

DIY motorized bikes are among the most popular options as many countries and states have relaxed regulations on self-made motorized bicycles.

What is a Motorized Bike Used For?

A motorized bike can assist in situations where a normal bicycle may struggle, such as when you need to carry extra cargo, climb steep hills, or make your commute more manageable.

Motorized bikes can save you time, money and energy, and they are perfect for situations such as:

  • Riding up steep hills
  • Saving money on your commute by not driving or taking public transportation
  • Helping save energy when you need to travel long distances
  • Cutting through rush hour traffic and congestion

History of Motorized Bikes

The history of motorized bicycles began in the late 19th century[1] when steam engines were attached to tricycles and quads by experimenters looking to power manual vehicles.

At the time, technology was limited, steam-powered bikes and other attempts to propel bicycles were largely ineffective and unsuccessful ventures.

The introduction of the gas-powered internal combustion engine just before the turn of the 20th century provided a breakthrough – the first practical way to power foot-pedalled bikes.

French motorcycle manufacturer Felix Millet built one of the first gas motors for a bicycle in 1892.[2] The “Millet motorcycle” was designed with pedals and had an engine with a crankshaft in the back wheel.

Phelon Rayner was one of the first motorized bike companies in England, operating from 1901-1903.

Their motorized bicycle utilized a 260 cc, 1.75 horsepower gas engine that could easily be mounted onto a 28-inch bike frame.

By the middle of the 1900s, companies began producing more elaborate vehicles with motorized functions, such as mopeds and scooters. At the same time, simple do-it-yourself motors for bicycles continued to gain popularity with bike owners throughout England, the U.S., and around the world.

Modern technology has brought more efficient motors and mounts, sleeker designs, and a FOCUS on environmental conservation.

Kits now come with lighter engines, powerful batteries, and design elements that make motorized bicycles as popular as ever today as they have been over the last century.

E-bikes (electric bicycles), a subtype of motorized bicycle, have gained huge popularity over the last ten years. Subsequently, the e-bike worldwide market is estimated to be worth 23bn as of 2020.

There are also companies selling fully-built motorized bikes, which are becoming increasingly popular in large cities worldwide.

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