Which conversion kit?

Ceiclo

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 4, 2021
21
1
Hi
I'm Alice a new member and would value some advice on which conversion kit to get for me hybrid bike.
I live in Snowdonia, so lots of hills and in particular riding home is long pull up since we live at 750 feet above sea level. Hence I'm not riding my bike much.
I'd like to do rides from home, maximum two hours. I want a really light kit. On the cycling front I'm prepared to do a bit of work but need bit of assistance. I'd like the conversion to be as simple as possible. I was thinking of a front hub motor because it's lighter and also to have the option of occasionally changing back to my normal wheel easily.
I think Vekkit would fit the bill. Advice and suggestions gratefully appreciated.
 

vfr400

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
8,346
3,337
Basildon
Hi
I'm Alice a new member and would value some advice on which conversion kit to get for me hybrid bike.
I live in Snowdonia, so lots of hills and in particular riding home is long pull up since we live at 750 feet above sea level. Hence I'm not riding my bike much.
I'd like to do rides from home, maximum two hours. I want a really light kit. On the cycling front I'm prepared to do a bit of work but need bit of assistance. I'd like the conversion to be as simple as possible. I was thinking of a front hub motor because it's lighter and also to have the option of occasionally changing back to my normal wheel easily.
I think Vekkit would fit the bill. Advice and suggestions gratefully appreciated.
Some of what you say doesn't make sense. " I was thinking of a front hub motor because it's lighter". Lighter than what? You get big, medium and small sized motors that can be fitted in the front, rear or middle of the bike. Some rear motors are smaller and lighter than the VeKKit one. Small motors can't sustain the high power, like a bigger one can. That might be important for the long climbs you have in Snodonia.

Are you sure about the idea of riding your bike without the kit fitted. you say, "I'm not riding my bike much". Presumably, that's because it's not an enjoyable experience. An electric conversion would give you the ebike smile while riding. Why would you want to change back?

Rear motors take a a bit more work to fit, but the extra efort will pay you back over the years of more enjoyable cycling you'd get. It's a small investment for a long term gain. A mid motor might also be a good choice for your type of riding. They're dead easy to fit (normally moreso than a front motor) and are much better suited to long climbs. You can get problems with traction on steep climbs with a front motor, especially on off-road trails.

Ultimately, it might all be moot, when you're limited in your choice of motors/systems by the type of bike you have, so show a photo of it and we can give you more specific advice.

Kits like the Swytch and Vekkit are good for uninformed people that want the simplest way to fit a kit, but all the weight on the front, doesn't give a very good riding experience. It makes the steering a bit weird, but it works. Also, they never tell you about filing the drop-outs and all the safety aspects of installing the motor when the drop-outs have lawyers lips (dimples). I've seen people bust their forks, just by tightening the axle nuts.
 

Ceiclo

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 4, 2021
21
1
Some of what you say doesn't make sense. " I was thinking of a front hub motor because it's lighter". Lighter than what? You get big, medium and small sized motors that can be fitted in the front, rear or middle of the bike. Some rear motors are smaller and lighter than the VeKKit one. Small motors can't sustain the high power, like a bigger one can. That might be important for the long climbs you have in Snodonia.

Are you sure about the idea of riding your bike without the kit fitted. you say, "I'm not riding my bike much". Presumably, that's because it's not an enjoyable experience. An electric conversion would give you the ebike smile while riding. Why would you want to change back?

Rear motors take a a bit more work to fit, but the extra efort will pay you back over the years of more enjoyable cycling you'd get. It's a small investment for a long term gain. A mid motor might also be a good choice for your type of riding. They're dead easy to fit (normally moreso than a front motor) and are much better suited to long climbs. You can get problems with traction on steep climbs with a front motor, especially on off-road trails.

Ultimately, it might all be moot, when you're limited in your choice of motors/systems by the type of bike you have, so show a photo of it and we can give you more specific advice.

Kits like the Swytch and Vekkit are good for uninformed people that want the simplest way to fit a kit, but all the weight on the front, doesn't give a very good riding experience. It makes the steering a bit weird, but it works. Also, they never tell you about filing the drop-outs and all the safety aspects of installing the motor when the drop-outs have lawyers lips (dimples). I've seen people bust their forks, just by tightening the axle nuts.
Lighter compared to the vekkit rear hub.
I sometimes put my bike in the car and cycle with a friend on flatter terrain hence / wanting the option to revert to non ebike mode. Weight is important too. I can't lift heavy things. Also storage, we have limited space to accommodate another bike.
 

pentiumofborg

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 13, 2020
1,196
329
Lighter compared to the vekkit rear hub.
I sometimes put my bike in the car and cycle with a friend on flatter terrain hence / wanting the option to revert to non ebike mode. Weight is important too. I can't lift heavy things. Also storage, we have limited space to accommodate another bike.

You also have to bear in mind that there is a little extra cycling resistance, with nearly all ebike motors... For instance, on my Dahon Helios P8 with Bafang BBS10b, it's about a rear gear or two difference, to when it wasn't electrificationated - your bike won't feel the same in non-ebike mode, after you've converted it.
 

Ceiclo

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 4, 2021
21
1
You also have to bear in mind that there is a little extra cycling resistance, with nearly all ebike motors... For instance - on my Dahon Helios P8 with Bafang BBS10b, it's about a rear gear or two difference, to when it wasn't electrificationated. Your bike won't feel the same in non-ebike mode, after you've converted it.
That's good information to know. Thanks. I'll post some pictures of my bike tomorrow.
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
12,893
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West Sx RH
Front motor for very hilly terrain can be awkward esp if the surface is wet or loose, wheel spin is more prevent if you are light weight.
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
12,893
5,033
57
West Sx RH
Thanks. I'll be cycling on lanes so meaning not such a problem?
It's not what is inferred in #1, you say ' lots of hills' ?
 

sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
2,343
1,833
Thanks. I'll be cycling on lanes so meaning not such a problem?
Even on lanes there is often loose gravel or mud, as well as wetness. Wheel spin on the motor can be an issue with front hub drive; partly offset by the fact that you own effort is driving the rear wheel so you may well keep moving enough to get the front wheel to a point it grips again.
 

Ceiclo

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 4, 2021
21
1
Steep lanes. So one ride I would like to do involves a lane descending approx 200 feet, followed by half mile on level, then lane ascending 200 feet, then along plateau, another descent, cycle track for one mile, then ascent on lane back home.
 

Ceiclo

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 4, 2021
21
1
Even on lanes there is often loose gravel or mud, as well as wetness. Wheel spin on the motor can be an issue with front hub drive; partly offset by the fact that you own effort is driving the rear wheel so you may well keep moving enough to get the front wheel to a point it grips again.
Okay, thanks for your input. I am thinking now that a dedicated ebike would be better.
 
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Benjahmin

Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 10, 2014
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The bike in my avatar is front hub, an Ezee, not noted for their subtle control system. I ride the steep hills of west Wales lanes, often narrow, gritty and/or mossy. I have never (in some 9k miles) had full wheel spin. Don't want to mislead you, I do get wheel scrub on very steep loose surfaces, I simply transfer my weight forward - more over the bars. My front tyre lasts about half the life of the rear (Marathon pluses). It can, and does, present handling differences that I see as an enjoyable challenge,but in no way dangerous. Depends on your confidence and experience as a rider.
The advantage of self conversion is that you end up with a bike you know and understand and you are not at the mercy of uncaring manufacturers or bike shops inexperienced in e-bikes if some thing goes awry. So long as your forks can take it, and you use at least one torque bracket, a front hub is easier to fit in my experience. There are no chain alignment, wheel dish or gearing issues to deal with.
If it comes to a choice between a front hub or not converting - I'd go with the hub.
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
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West Sx RH
How heavy are you Benjahmin as this has benefits to front wheel drive, not every would be comfortable with trying to shift there wait over the front end.
 
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vfr400

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
8,346
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Basildon
The bike in my avatar is front hub, an Ezee, not noted for their subtle control system. I ride the steep hills of west Wales lanes, often narrow, gritty and/or mossy. I have never (in some 9k miles) had full wheel spin. Don't want to mislead you, I do get wheel scrub on very steep loose surfaces, I simply transfer my weight forward - more over the bars. My front tyre lasts about half the life of the rear (Marathon pluses). It can, and does, present handling differences that I see as an enjoyable challenge,but in no way dangerous. Depends on your confidence and experience as a rider.
The advantage of self conversion is that you end up with a bike you know and understand and you are not at the mercy of uncaring manufacturers or bike shops inexperienced in e-bikes if some thing goes awry. So long as your forks can take it, and you use at least one torque bracket, a front hub is easier to fit in my experience. There are no chain alignment, wheel dish or gearing issues to deal with.
If it comes to a choice between a front hub or not converting - I'd go with the hub.
That's good info. I wouldn't disagree with any of it; however, I would like to add a couple of points.

A front motor is not a deal-breaker. You soon get used to it. Some people (not including me) wouldn't like it - the way it can affect the bike's handling, especially immediately after installation when they're comparing it with how it was before. The situation is made even worse when you add a battery to the handlebars. The extra swinging mass makes the steering a bit weird. From that point of view, a rear hub-motor is better.

The second point is that it's true that it's easier to fit a front motor, but it's also true that it's a lot easier to fit it incorrectly, which would bring safety issues. For people that take the correct advice and check afterwards that they've done it right, that's not an issue.

To make my point clear. If front hub-motors and batteries on the handlebars were the only option for an ebike, we'd all have them, and nearly all of us would be happy. Some people are finicky or less tolerant. That's human nature.
 
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overlander

Esteemed Pedelecer
Apr 22, 2009
478
15
I am in the lucky position of having 3 different types of system so can compare directly as myself and wife use all of them.

Front motor system:

I have the Swytch kit fitted to a voodoo bantu and it fitted in 30 minutes with no modifications needed. However this is not always the case but thats another thread. I have both the tour and the pro battery, the tour is a large battery and the pro is a small light battery think its about 2kg roughly 7A/hr. The tour battery is 14 A/hr and its heavy. With the pro battery (connected to handlebars via a mount) the steering is a little heavier but to be honest once on the move you do not notice it. Where you do notice the weight is when the bike is getting moved about but no big deal. Now put on the tour battery and you definetly notice it at all times, but its not a big deal. If the road gets bumpy again with the pro no issues but with the tour its an issue. As for traction never been an issue so overall its a pretty good configuration as long as you keep the battery size over the front wheels lightish. If the battery is elsewhere this issue would go away.

Rear wheel system:

The bike is a Whoosh Rambletta with rear wheel drive. First thing I will say and I think this is an important point is the Rambletta is a factory built electric bike. The reason I highlight this is because in my experience a factory electric bike is completely different to a kit bike. Its hard to put into words but a factory electric bike always feels like an electric bike but if you convert a bike it feels more like a traditional bike as the geometry and components are better on the standard bike if you use a decent bike. Now I would say this does not apply to someone the higher end MTB crank drive bikes.

I really do not notice much difference with the rear wheel drive with regards to traction etc. One bid difference I do notice is the Rambletta is much more balanced due to a better weight distribution. Its also much better integrated system and you kinda forget that its even there except for the bionic legs.

So I would say the position of the drive really does not make a big difference but the placement of the battery can make a big difference.

Crank Drive:

Only had the bike (voodoo Bizango) less than a week but cannot say too much about it. I do find it a better climber than the hub drives but you do need to put in the effort. My intial thoughts are it more suitable for someone who goes off-road but im sure lots of people use them for commuting.

So if I had to only have one bike what would I choose, sorry if this is a seen as a copout answer but honestly any of them would be good. All have plus and minus points but no minus outweighs the benefit. I think its more important to get the base bike correct, make sure the bike fits and has the components you require then put on any kit that fits well.

So in your case just pick a system that fits your budget and how fit you are and be realistic about the miles you will do. You do not want to be carrying about a massive battery if you do 10 miles a day.
 
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pentiumofborg

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 13, 2020
1,196
329
Steep lanes. So one ride I would like to do involves a lane descending approx 200 feet, followed by half mile on level, then lane ascending 200 feet, then along plateau, another descent, cycle track for one mile, then ascent on lane back home.

That's very similar to some of my routes home - the 250W BBS01b mid-drive on my Dahon Helios P8 folding bike, handles that.
 

overlander

Esteemed Pedelecer
Apr 22, 2009
478
15
You also have to bear in mind that there is a little extra cycling resistance, with nearly all ebike motors... For instance, on my Dahon Helios P8 with Bafang BBS10b, it's about a rear gear or two difference, to when it wasn't electrificationated - your bike won't feel the same in non-ebike mode, after you've converted it.
I thought my swytch kit had massive resistance and was not really happy with it. With the power assist off it felt like cycling through treacle. If i put it to level one all was well again. When i got home i tried spinning the wheel battery on and off etc did not feel a big difference. So i bite the bullet and put the original wheel back on and guess what felt like cycling through treacle. But got used to it again but those big 2.4" tyres do suck on the road. I think it is just easy to forget what a difference a motor make. I now get into the habit of starting off with no motor then turning it up gradually makes you appreciate it more :)

I should add as it is relevant to the original posters question I swap my standard wheel back and forth all the time. I use the Bantu for hill descents where we have access to the top by car. I can do this in under 5 minutes but could not do that with a rear wheel hub. But we have run out of local places where we can do this hence why i bought the crank drive.
 
Last edited:

pentiumofborg

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 13, 2020
1,196
329
Steep lanes. So one ride I would like to do involves a lane descending approx 200 feet, followed by half mile on level, then lane ascending 200 feet, then along plateau, another descent, cycle track for one mile, then ascent on lane back home.

How steep are your inclines? vfr's lightweight hill climber looks very interesting, for steep hills:

 

Ceiclo

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 4, 2021
21
1
Steep lanes. So one ride I would like to do involves a lane descending approx 200 feet, followed by half mile on level, then lane ascending 200 feet, then along plateau, another descent, cycle track for one mile, then ascent on lane back home.
That's very similar to some of my routes home - the 250W BBS01b mid-drive on my Dahon Helios P8 folding bike, handles that.
Thanks that's good to know.
The bike in my avatar is front hub, an Ezee, not noted for their subtle control system. I ride the steep hills of west Wales lanes, often narrow, gritty and/or mossy. I have never (in some 9k miles) had full wheel spin. Don't want to mislead you, I do get wheel scrub on very steep loose surfaces, I simply transfer my weight forward - more over the bars. My front tyre lasts about half the life of the rear (Marathon pluses). It can, and does, present handling differences that I see as an enjoyable challenge,but in no way dangerous. Depends on your confidence and experience as a rider.
The advantage of self conversion is that you end up with a bike you know and understand and you are not at the mercy of uncaring manufacturers or bike shops inexperienced in e-bikes if some thing goes awry. So long as your forks can take it, and you use at least one torque bracket, a front hub is easier to fit in my experience. There are no chain alignment, wheel dish or gearing issues to deal with.
If it comes to a choice between a front hub or not converting - I'd go with the hub.
That's great thanks.
 

Ceiclo

Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 4, 2021
21
1
I thought my swytch kit had massive resistance and was not really happy with it. With the power assist off it felt like cycling through treacle. If i put it to level one all was well again. When i got home i tried spinning the wheel battery on and off etc did not feel a big difference. So i bite the bullet and put the original wheel back on and guess what felt like cycling through treacle. But got used to it again but those big 2.4" tyres do suck on the road. I think it is just easy to forget what a difference a motor make. I now get into the habit of starting off with no motor then turning it up gradually makes you appreciate it more :)

I should add as it is relevant to the original posters question I swap my standard wheel back and forth all the time. I use the Bantu for hill descents where we have access to the top by car. I can do this in under 5 minutes but could not do that with a rear wheel hub. But we have run out of local places where we can do this hence why i bought the crank drive.
That's really useful information Thanks.