An electric bike is a lot easier to build than you might think! All you need is a bike in good working order, a conversion kit, and a battery. Using a conversion kit makes the process super simple and fast. Shop around online to find the best deal on the kit and repurpose a bike you already to make this an inexpensive project.
Gathering Your Materials
Image titled Build an Inexpensive Electric Bicycle Step 1
Select a mountain bike with small wheels, front disc brakes, and wide handlebars. If you don’t own a bike already, search online or in your local area to find a second-hand bike at a good price. Luckily, you can use just about any bike you have on hand, though certain features will yield the best results:
For best results, choose a bike with wheels that are 26 in (66 cm) or larger.
Mountain bikes are most commonly converted to electric bikes, though you could use a different type as long as it has a strong frame and standard bottom bracket. Don’t use a bike with a carbon fiber frame or forks, as these aren’t strong enough to support the extra weight or handle the extra torque.
Wider handle bars are best as they give you plenty of room for all your accessories and lights.
Front disc brakes will make it easier for you to stop on steep hills.
Pick up an electric bicycle conversion kit. If you’ve never built an electric bicycle before, a conversion kit will make the process much simpler. These bolt-on kits contain a throttle, speed controller, and a wheel with a hub motor. Some also come with gauges, displays, and brake levers, though these are not strictly necessary.
Ensure the kit comes with a wheel that is the same size as the existing wheels on your bike! It’s much easier to replace the front wheel than the back, due to the position of the gears, so opt for a kit in which the hub motor is on the front wheel.
In most cases, the battery doesn’t come with the conversion kit. For ease of installation, though, it’s best to purchase the battery and the conversion kit from the same manufacturer.
Choose a 36- or 48-volt battery with a capacity of 10Ah or 20Ah. Choose a battery designed for use on an electric bicycle, as it will come with a charger and be much easier to install. Make sure the voltage and capacity of the battery you choose is compatible with the conversion kit you purchased. The higher the voltage of your bike’s battery, the more powerful your bike will be. When building an electric bike, choose a 36- or 48-volt battery to allow for speed and comfort.
The capacity of the battery defines how long it’ll last. If you’ll be taking short trips, a 10Ah will suit you well, while a 20Ah battery will provide you with extra capacity for slightly longer journeys.
Replacing the Wheel
Remove the wheel you need to replace. Begin by opening the rim or cantilever brake using the lever (if applicable). If the bike has disc brakes, remove the retaining or cotter pin or the clips or springs that hold the pads in place. Pull the pads out with needle-nose pliers and set them aside.
To remove the front wheel, turn the bike over so it’s sitting on the seat and handlebars, then flip the quick-release lever over to the “open” position. Then, simply lift the front wheel off of the bike.
To remove the back wheel, crouch behind the bike. Hold the frame with your non-dominant hand and use your dominant hand to pull the derailer backward. Then lift the bike frame up and off of the rear wheel with your non-dominant hand and unhook the chain with your dominant hand.
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