2 Ways to Build a DIY Electric Bike

It’s easy to complain about gas prices, especially since rising inflation is making everything expensive. While gas prices have fallen from their peak in early 2022, it remains a significant expense for many. Filling your tires to specification and cleaning your MAF sensor increases efficiency, but does not eliminate the need for gasoline.

Many have opted for electric vehicles – from eScooters to Teslas – to cut fuel costs. And of these energy-efficient modes of transportation, electric bicycles are one of the most viable options for most commuters. However, they are still often expensive. So to help you save even more, here are two ways to build a DIY eBike yourself.

Build an eBike from scratch

Building an eBike is like playing with Lego; you can build whatever you want. You can tailor the perfect bike with the availability of many different parts, such as different fork configurations for different frames.

So, here’s what you need to build an electric bike from scratch:

1. The frame

You can choose two frame styles: with or without rear suspension and one without. Frames without rear suspension, also known as hardtails, are more affordable than full-suspension bikes. However, the front and rear damping of full-suspension bikes make for a more comfortable ride.

Nevertheless, the most optimal frame style will still depend on the terrain you plan to ride.

2. The Forks

The front fork is the part that holds the front wheel of your bike, and as with bicycle frames, you have solid or damped options. Again, the optimal choice depends a lot on your preference and the surface you often ride on. The ride of a bike varies between asphalt and loose gravel; how it reacts depends on your suspension.

That’s why you should do your own research and read the features of an eBike before choosing whether to market one.

3. Electric motor

Customizability doesn’t stop with your bike’s structural components; it also extends to the electrical components on the bike. There are several power kits available online and you can choose between hub drive or mid drive motors.

Mid-drive kits mount to your bike’s crank – where the pedals are attached and how you ride traditionally. However, mid-drive motors are more expensive and complex. Because it uses the factory drivetrain, you have to learn to shift at optimum points. As with manual transmission cars, a longer gear at a lower RPM can cause the engine to stall.

Alternatively, hub drive kits are single speed systems and do not require shifting. Due to the simple operation, however, you also have less control over the performance.

Speaking of performance, if you need speed in your daily commute, you should consider getting one of the fastest electric bikes on the market instead.

4. Brake systems and other various bicycle parts

Now that an electric motor powers your bike, you also need to think about how to stop it. Most bicycle brakes are cable actuated – inexpensive to manufacture and easy to install and maintain. However, the braking performance is noticeably poor, especially when cycling at higher speeds.

This is where you should consider hydraulic brakes. These use brake fluid to multiply your clamping force so you can stop at shorter distances.

Aside from braking systems, you will also need other miscellaneous hardware and components to fully build your custom kit. While it’s fun for some people to build things, it’s usually more work than most people want. So instead of building something from scratch, why not rebuild a bike you already own? This can save you a lot of time and effort. Here’s how you can do it:

Convert your current bike to electric

If you don’t want to deal with the complication of building a bike from scratch, you can get conversion kits online that allow you to add an electric motor to a bike you already own. Since your bike is already assembled, all you need to do is add some power.

As with the previous build process, there are two available motor options: hub drive and mid drive. Hub drive contains the motor(s) in the wheel(s), while mid-drive kits use your existing drivetrain.

The main differences between the two options are cost, rideability and aesthetics. Mid-drive kits are more expensive, although they have a sleek look. It allows you to shift gears using the derailleur on your bike to handle different speeds. Access to multiple gears provides instant torque at any speed, making them suitable for high-performance bikes.

While hub motors perform just as well as mid-drive kits for everyday use, they generally cost less. However, they seem to rattle the bike. These single-speed units require no shifting, making them friendly to new riders. If you’re focused on energy efficiency, this isn’t a major concern, but you may need to look elsewhere if style and performance are a priority.

Adding a hub motor to a bicycle is relatively easy as most of the complicated electrical work has already been completed. Here’s how to add one to your bike:

  1. Place your bicycle in a usable position using a bicycle or wheel stand.
  2. Remove the front or rear wheel (depending on the kit you purchased) with the appropriate size wrench. You may need to hold the other side of the shaft with a different wrench to keep it from spinning freely.
  3. If you plan to reuse your tire and inner tube, deflate and remove them from your old tire.
  4. Install your tire and inner tube on your new motorized wheel. Don’t forget to install your existing freewheel on the motorized hub if it’s not there.
  5. Mount the electronic speed controller on the handlebars of your bicycle. Make sure to mount them where you can easily reach them while cycling.
  6. Route the wires from the hub motor to the speed controller accordingly. Use zip ties to secure them to your bike frame and make sure they don’t rub with moving parts or hinder your movement.
  7. Connect the wires to the speed controller.

Your bicycle is now officially electric! Please note that it is necessary to charge the battery before using your eBike. Batteries usually run down during shipping and you need to recharge them before use to optimize their health.

Going electric is easier than you think

Many people want to go green; however, they may find electric bicycles too expensive. But with readily available conversion kits, you can now build an energy-efficient personal vehicle or make the most of all the parts of your motorcycle for maximum performance and a crazy ride. But regardless of your preference, prioritizing your safety with the right gear is imperative when traveling at higher speeds.

Now that you know how to build or convert your bike, all you need is a kit, some tools and a free weekend. With that, you can get an electric bike before your next work week starts.

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