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E-bike Conversion Kits

We do not offer conversion kits for electric bikes at the Electric Bike Team.

10 years ago it was something we commonly sold in Sydney at Glow Worm Bicycles. At the time it was an attractive option. Take your pick of any non-electric bike on the market – new (including on sale), used or the one in your garage that you don’t use anymore. Add an electric conversion kit and then hooray, you’re on the electric bike wagon!

As each year passed, the option became less appealing. More and more full electric bicycles became available, making the conversion kit less necessary. The level of finish on the factory e-bikes quickly surpassed anything you could do with a conversion kit. And the inbuilt mudguards, lights, racks, battery locking system etc is as important as the bike itself. Conversion kits also have many compromises that require rose tinted glasses – the throttles clash with shifters, the kickstands no longer balance the bikes, the brakes are often inadqeuate and they are impossible to re-sell later. The fact that no-one wants to buy them from the original owner hints at something.

In 2013 we were asked to join an ‘expert roundtable’ on e-bikes and field a variety of questions. The very first question was on e-bike conversion kits vs the real thing: https://www.bicycles.net.au/2013/05/australianexpert-round-table-buying-ebike-part-1/. Even then, my answer was clearly in favour of the real deal. And that was 7 years ago!

In the following years, we mainly just used conversion kit for exotic bikes like cargo bikes, where the options for fully electric versions were scarce. We converted Gazelle Cabby’s, bakfiets, Surly Big Dummy’s, Nihola and all manner of weird and wonderful cargo bikes. And year by year, more electric cargo bike options came out.

The only conversion kit we do now is on the Brompton folding bicycle. And that one’s years are numbered. The official Brompton electric still has teething issues and hasn’t been released into NZ, but you’d imagine sooner or later it has to happen.

We still get a number of enquiries for conversion kits, but we decline them. We are confident in almost all cases that there is a better solution out there for them. The fact that one has a bike in the garage that isn’t being used shouldn’t be a reason to go down a sub-optimal path for obtaining an electric bike. Give the non-electric bike away to the many community groups that make use of them, or put it on Trademe cheaply and treat yourself to a real electric bike!

And for the minority who are sure that they are truly are better off on a conversion kit – I do sympathise. After all I have been using my Gazelle Cabby converted to electric with the eZee kit, for the last 6 years and I love it! But the world has moved on and if you’re going to go the DIY conversion kit path, it will have to be just that – a DIY job. We genuinely wish you the best on that, but we won’t be along for the ride!

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Maurice Wells

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