– Off-the-shelf E-bikes are
not cheap, that's very true, but that does not mean to
say you cannot build your own using a kit whether you've got
a mountain bike, a road bike, a cruiser, or a BMX. – Yep, so today, we'll take a look at a few different options, and the pros and cons of each system. (machine beeping) – Now, before we dive
into the different systems on the market, let's have a look at some of the key considerations you
guys need to be thinking about before you start building
your own E-bike kit.
(upbeat music) – I think you really
need to take into account whether you want throttle assist, where you twist the grip or push a button, or you want to pedal assist. Also the terrain you're riding,
is it hilly, or is it flat? Whether you want that kit for commuting, or plain mountain
biking's a big difference. – Yeah, there's a big
difference there, Chris. And also there's the hardware issues to take into account, as well.
Now, can the bike you're converting, can it actually deal with
the added weight of a motor, and a battery, and a control? Second thing is such things
as the bottom bracket with now some of these
motors only suitable for certain widths such as 60 to 73. And also think about the
chain line on your bike. Can it actually deal with, say, a hub drive or a mid-drive motor? – And also the frame type
that you're going to be using. Now, a traditional hardtail
is quite easy to swap across to an E-bike motor kit,
'cause you can fit the battery inside that front triangle quite easy. But if you've got a full suspension frame, you might struggle to fit
that big bulky battery inside there, as well.
And also think about the
axles that your bike runs. Now, a traditional old
school mountain bike's 135 mm dropouts, and
that back wheel should slot in there quite nicely. But if you're using a newer school bike, something that may outboost
or bolt your axles, then it's not going to be compatible. And lastly, are you
technical minded enough to put that kit in?
– Ooh, that's a big one. – Or we cannot take it to a
shop and spend even more money. – In fact, Chris, I think that is possibly the biggest consideration of
all, and has a massive impact. Is the bike you're about to build, is it suitable for the purpose that it's going to be
intended to be used for? Because if it's not, then maybe you should
think of an alternative. Now, earlier this year, we
bumped into a couple of guys. They bought some mid-drive kits. They spent about 500, 600 pounds, and then they mounted them. They were really good, but
they found that they did actually fall down in certain technical conditions.
It wasn't what they expected it to be. And so they ended up actually going for a off-the-shelf E-bike, and they had to sell
their custom build kit. And also, like you say, Chris, don't underestimate the
technical know how needed to put a kit together, because if you're not electrically minded, I'd probably go elsewhere, right? – Yep.
(upbeat music) – So you've got the bicycle
that you're going to convert using your E-bike kit, what then are the main
types of kits on the market? – Well, first up, you've got
your front hub drive kit, which obviously powers the front wheel clamped in the front forks,
propels the bike forward. – Yep, very straightforwards. Then of course, there's the mid-drive kit, which is centrally located on the bike and is actually powered off the cranks.
– And bringing up the rear, you
got the rear hub drive unit, which bolts into the rear
dropouts of the bike, and again, propels the
bike forward pretty simply. (upbeat music) – Right, Chris, let's start
off with the front hub drives. Now, it's amazing, isn't it, how many companies there are now making these kits for E-bikes? – Yeah. – We went to Eurobike in
Germany earlier this year and we counted 156 different
brands making motors from the Far East, from
France, from Spain, from Italy. Today we're going to be
looking at a few systems from actually from Cyclotricity
which is a small UK brand, and they make front, rear,
and mid-drives for E-bikes. – Yeah. So the great things about the
front hub drive motor, Steve, is that they're small,
they're great for commuting, and of course, you can
fit them fairly easy at your own home if you're
a confident mechanic.
– Yeah, and obviously
there's a lot of these motors where there's throttle assist drive, but you might want to go
to a pedal assist system. How can you do that? – Well, a lot of these kits
are actually upgradeable to a pedal assist sensor. All you need to do is just add
a ring to the bottom bracket and a sensor that clips
onto your seat tube usually, and it just detects our crank movements, meaning you get a lot more range, and a lot more natural feel to that ride. – And that doesn't cost much, right? – No, it's not a lot. The upgrade, you can
get all sorts of things, LCD screens, pedal assist
upgrade, you name it, usually it's going to come in that kit. – I think what you guys
need to be aware of is, a lot these kits do start
from maybe 150 pounds for a front hub drive, but you've
also got to get the battery on top of that, and those,
what are those, Chris? From 200 pounds upwards?
– Yeah, upwards.
Yeah, usually kind of doubles the price of the kit, to be fair. So they range in lots of different sizes. Watt hours and amps, and things like that, so just make sure you're
getting the right sized battery to see that kit. – Yeah, but yeah, you're right. If you're looking for a
very straightforward system, you're going to be using fire
roads or commuting to work and I think front hub
drive is a great option. (upbeat music) Right, mid drives. – Mm-hmm.
– Our favorites, right? – For sure, yeah.
– Yeah. Now, the advantage of a
mid-drive over a hub drive is they're actually better suited for those really hilly conditions. And that's because they're
operated through the cranks and the gears, rather than that rear hub, which means you can
get the optimum cadence for the bike involved. – Yeah, not forgetting
you're removing the weight from the wheels and transferring it into the middle of the bike. Therefore, the suspension's
going to work better and the grip of the wheels. You're not lugging those
big hub motors up the steps and down routes, things like that.
– But it is a hugely complex
area, the mid-drive market. You're thinking about
such things as the weight, the power, the legality,
throttle or pedal assist, it's a total minefield, right? – [Chris] Yeah, for sure. – Right, let's have a look
at some of the systems on the market. This one on the screen
now is from Cyclotricity. It starts at 350 pounds. Really easy to fit but
doesn't include the battery, but it's a really good starting point. Moving on to something a
little bit more expensive. This is now from Dillenger UK. It involves a Samsung unit. 771 pounds, so a little
bit more expensive, but remember, that's the
whole kit you're getting there to get your E-bike going. – Yeah, some good buys there for sure. And of course, there's those
crazy high-powered kits, like the type of kits
we see from Lift MTB. Now, these start at around
1,000 pounds up to 3,000 pounds. Simply bolt onto your bottom bracket, twist to throttle, you get
to the top of the hill.
– Yeah, but again, there's
a lot involved here in fitting these motors and batteries. And like we keep saying,
you need to be pretty cute to be able to fit there. But it gets even more insane, right? – Monster batteries like this. – Now, Martin Ashton went to Whistler and he had an Eagle kit on there. The power, the price, you're
looking at about five kilos for the motor on your bike, which is a significant weight. – Yeah.
– And they're not cheap. About 3,000 euros for a kit like this. So at this point, you got to be thinking, well, actually, should I just
buy an off-the-shelf bike? – Definitely, at that kind of price, and the speeds that these
bikes can go, as well. We went out to Croatia
recently, rode the great G12. And that thing was restricted
to 110 kilometers an hour just on a hop drive motor,
so they can propel the bike. Crazy speeds, crazy money, it's
down to what you want to do on the bike at the end of the day. (upbeat music) Right, Steve, rear hub drive motor kit. – [Steve] Yeah, well,
I've actually got one here from Cyclotricity, this is
1,000 watt unit, I think.
– Yeah, well, it comes in
loads of different prices, they tend to start at around 150 pounds. So that's going to get you the
motor and all the components you're going to need to
get it, minus the battery. These is a pretty simple to fit. They're a plug and play kit, so fairly simple if you're
fairly mechanically minded.
Loads of different options. They do tend to come in throttle only, but you can get pedal assist
sensors and LCD screens. Lots of different options in that package. – [Steve] Talking of the package, this actually is the package. You've got the wheel
and the motor in here, you got the cables, you got the battery, you've got the display.
– Speed control. – And you get the speed controls.
So it's pretty much just
a matter of just putting all this together, right?
– Yeah. Connecting it all together. Twist the throttle and off you go. Simple as that. – I think if you're riding fire trails and not a hilly ground, it's
a fantastic option, right? 'Cause you can convert your bike which you might even have
it in the shed for 20 years and away you go. – And some of these kits are
restricted from the factory, especially if you're in the UK. It can be 25 kilometers an hour or 32 if you're in the States and Canada. But a lot of those kits you
can actually de-restrict if you want to, you're legal
and you got the right place to ride it.
They can be a pretty powerful unit. – So how that works is
actually comes as, say, you can have a mix. You can have like a 250, 500-watt mix, or a 250, 1,000-watt mix. So, you simply switch on and
off between the power levels. It's a very simple system. – [Chris] Easy, it's good. (upbeat music) – Chris, let's move on to batteries. Now, I want to pick you up
on something you said earlier about the different type
of bikes you've got. Obviously with a triple triangle hardtail, you can fit that onto the down tube– – [Chris] Very easy, yeah.
– There's bottle mounted
bosses there, that easy. So I think the key consideration is, get the measurements of the batteries and the type of battery
to get on the bike. But you still can fit batteries to full suspension bikes, right? Such as the Lift MTB.
– [Chris] Yeah. – It's got the thin Panasonic batteries, you can bolt those on. But, yeah, a key consideration
is the type of mounting. And there are a few different
mounting types, right? – Yeah, you can obviously fit that onto, Steve mentioned the water bottle bosses, if it will fit in the frame. We get seat post-mounted
racks that the battery simply clips onto, and
also panniers as well. So, there's lots of
different options out there if you can't fit it in the
front triangle of the frame. But it definitely needs to be super secure because it's a heavy unit, you don't want it bouncing around.
– Yeah. And finally, a lot of the
higher powered mid-drive kits actually come with a battery
pack which you carry around in your backpack, and they can
range from two or three kilos up to maybe six or seven kilos
depending on the capacity. So what you're going to
bear in mind with those is you got a backpack
with a battery in it, and you've also got a
lead which comes down and plugs actually into the bike rather, to make that connection.
So, yeah, lots of different
options out there, but just make sure you're
using the right one, for the type of riding you want to do. – And also that you've
got the technical know how to be charging and putting
those batteries together. Not easy. (mellow music) Okay, so we've looked at the motors, we've looked at the batteries. What about some of the
other parts involved in these home build kits, Chris? – Well, a few different
items, Steve, in the box. You're going to find the LCD unit. Now, this is obviously a display, it mounts on your handlebars. Can be an optional extra on some kits, but this displays your speed,
what power mode you're in, what speed you're going
at, and how much range you've got left off the batteries. Now, lots of different options on those, and I think you were
talking about Bafang– – Yeah, being the Bafang one
that comes with the BBS01 kit, another kit, really quite a
detailed display on there. You got those nine power
modes on that bike.
Swaps between different outputs
250, 500, or 1,000 watt. And pretty high tech actually,
again, for the money. – Yeah, exactly. And over home you're out finding your kit, well, you definitely
will find in your kit, is going to be the speed controller. Now, this regulates not
only the motor's speed, but it's the absolute brains of the bike. This regulates like when you're braking, it will cut the power off to the motor, and literally is the brains of the bike, so you don't want to be
without one of those. (upbeat music) – Big question is how much are
these kits going to cost you? Well, we've actually built
up a kit from Cyclotricity. We've built up a rear hub
drive, 250 watts, obviously, making it street legal.
We've got the speed
sensor on there, as well. We've Chris's hardtail for,
what was it, 100 pounds? – [Chris] Yeah, it wasn't a lot of money. It's been kicking around
in the back of the shed for a while.
– Yeah. But we've actually built up this kit, and here's a shot of the bike before, and here is what it looks like after we've put this kit on it. I've been for a spin down
the road on it, Chris hasn't. And, well, I'm just going
to tell you something, it's pretty cool. – I'm looking forward to ride on it. – Bottom line on the cost,
I think we managed to get in at just under 500 pounds, right? – Whoa, now that is an absolute bargain for a bike like that.
– It is.
So if you're looking to
ride fire roads or commute, or maybe just make your first
journey into the countryside, because this is what these
bikes allow you to do, right? – Yeah, dip your toes
into the E-bike world, is what it's about.
– Yeah. (mellow music) But then when you start
going up the scale, you start spending a bit more money, like I said, you can you
can spend maybe up to 3,000, 4,000 on these mid-drive kits. You've got to be asking the question, should I be buying an off-the-shelf bike? Now, there's this rear hub
drive bike from Decathlon, which comes in at 799 pounds. So if you're not
technically, mechanically, electrically minded, that
might be a good alternative. – Yeah, I'm sure, yeah. – Earlier this year, we
rode the Focus Whistler, and that was a good bike.
– That was a good bike- – [Chris] Out of the box. – Out of the box, 799 pounds. Or maybe a mid-drive bike. Now this is from Decathlon,
the Rock Rider, 1,599 euros, I think it is. It's a great setup. So, if you are thinking about
making your own homemade kit, I think there's so many considerations you're going to bring into mind.
– Yeah, definitely. I think budget, what you
want to do with the bike, and how capable you are,
can you even build it, or do you want something safe as maybe you can have a warranty, and it's going to all
be brand new components on that bike, as well. It's not a second-hand bike,
you're putting a new kit onto it as well, so it
can make a difference.
– So there you go, that's our
overview of homemade DIY kits. If you want to see about mid-drive kits, done a video just about that there. I've actually done a motor fundamentals which did on the national mid-drive motors like off-shelf ones just down over there. I think in the meantime, Chris, we need to get out on your home belt. – Yeah, I'm looking forward to this one. – Do some technical challenges. – Yeah. – And see what it's up to.
– For sure. – Don't forget to give a thumbs
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