If you choose to convert your normal bike into an electric one, instead of buying a brand new electric bike, you should choose the type of conversion kit you are going to use. There are four main types of conversion kits: front wheel, back wheel, mid drive, and friction drive conversion kits. Here we will look into the details of front wheel conversion kits that can be found in the UK.
Front Wheel Conversion Kits
In this type of conversion kit, an electric motor will be placed inside the hub of the front wheel. The hub motor can be either Direct Drive (faster, quieter, and more durable) or Geared (smaller, lighter, and more torque). These kits are the easiest to install. All you need to do is to replace the front wheel of your bike with a wheel that is included in the kit, and then connect it to a controller on the handle bar. The battery can be either placed on the back or attached to the middle frame and connected to the motor. It should be noted that some of the kits do not include the battery and it should be bought separately. The battery is the most expensive and important component of the electric bike and should be selected with caution. The kits with Pedal Assist System will have pedal sensor that will detect when you are pedaling and powers the bike as you ride.
Pros: Easy to install and remove – Better weight distribution – Compatible with most bikes – Low price
Cons: Wheel may loose some traction on steep slopes or surfaces with loose top layer – heavier front wheel requires stronger front fork and makes the steering slightly more difficult
Things to Consider in Choosing a Conversion Kit
Battery: Regardless of whether the battery is included in the kit or you buy it separately, you still need to pay a lot of attention to the details of the battery to make sure that it suits your riding needs. The main things to consider in a battery are the capacity and voltage.
The more volts means more power and higher speed. It also means that the battery will be more expensive and larger. The normal range of voltage for an electric bike is from 24 to 72 Volts.
The capacity of a battery shows how far you can go with a fully charged battery before you run out of battery. The normal range of capacity for electric bikes is from 10 to 20Ah (Amp hours). Again, the more capacity means that the battery will be heavier and more expensive.
Multiplying the battery voltage and the capacity will give us the battery energy (in Wh) that can be used to compare the overall performance of different batteries.
The Bike Itself: The bike you are using for the conversion should be in good condition. For a front wheel conversion kit, you have to make sure that the kit is compatible with your bike. Especially, the front fork dimensions and condition should be checked. The front forks of normal bikes are not usually suitable for powerful motors, and smaller installs (250 to 350 W) are more appropriate for this type of conversion kits.
The Law: In the UK, electric bikes can be ridden anywhere that a normal bike is allowed, without a license, if the e-bike meets the following requirements: 1) The electric motor does not assist when travelling more than 15.5mph. 2) The power does not exceed 250 watts.
You also need to be over 14 to be able to ride an electric bike in the UK.
Five Front Wheel Conversion Kits:
Front wheel 250W Conversion E-Kit by Cyclotricity gives you the option to build your own kit by choosing different types of batteries, Pedal Assist System, dashboard, and tyre size. You can choose to buy just the kit without the battery and dashboard, or buy the compatible battery and dashboard from the same supplier. The good thing about this website is that you can choose between different types of batteries (bottle, rack, or frame battery) with different capacities. The price of the kit without the battery and dashboard is £200. The price range of the battery, depending on the type and capacity, is between £150 to £400.
2020 Sparticle Electric Bike System by Electric Bike Sales is another front wheel conversion kit that includes all the components needed for the conversion. It has a 250W front wheel motor with an Advanced Lithium Battery up to 40A Amp peak. The starting price of this kit is £700, and then you can add additional options such as Pedal Assist System, Integrated Lights, and different types of battery and performance. You also have the option to have it fully installed by the shop or they can even collect, convert and redeliver your bike. Electric Bike Sales have stores in Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and York.
Dillenger’s Street Legal Electric Bike Kit has a geared hub motor with 350W power (limited to 250W in the UK) and a pedal assist system. The Samsung battery has a voltage of 36V and a capacity of 13Ah. The special price, including the battery, is £579 (reduced from £825).
You can find a wide range of conversion kits in Amazon. This YiWon front wheel conversion kit has a powerful brushless hub motor with 250 W and 36 V and a Pedal Assistance System. This kit has everything needed for the conversion, except for the battery.
Swytch eBike Kit is a pedal-assist system with the power pack (battery) installed on the handlebar, a front wheel motor, and a pedal sensor that detects when you’re pedalling. The system has a compact and decent design and includes all the equipment required for converting your normal bike. Swytch is a start-up company and they are currently developing two different versions of front wheel conversion kit, which you can reserve now. It has 250W power and 15MPH top speed, which is good enough for flat ground and lighter riders (remember that 250W is the maximum power legally allowed on-road).