Electric Bikes vs. Electric Bike Conversion Kits – Which one is for you?February 17, 2023
Are you trying to weigh up the pros and cons of a store-bought electric bike and an e-bike conversion kit? If you are this is the post for you because today we will go over all the things you need to think about.
The first thing to consider is assembly time. Putting together an electric bike is extremely simple. The bike comes shipped to you in a large cardboard box, upon opening the box, you will find the bike is almost entirely pre-assembled. All you need to do is attaching the handle bars, inserting the seat post into the frame, put the front wheel on and inflate the tyres. That’s pretty much it for most complete bikes, and you are ready to roll. Not much more is needed than a couple of Allen keys to complete the assembly.
The assembly of a conversion kit involves installing it on a pre-assembled bike; this requires some more tools and a little more time and patience, making the DIY path a factor in your decision. If you are not too mechanically minded, an e-bike may be easier for you to handle than the conversion kit. That said, some electric bike shops do offer conversion kit installations, or if you don’t have the tools you can purchase them. More often than not, it can end up being a relatively enjoyable and satisfying learning experience.
Are you capable of installing a conversion kit?
As mentioned, there is a little more involved in installing a conversion kit. Hub drive motors are not too difficult but still require some patience. I have also had plenty of experience with mid drive conversion kits. These are more involved than the hub drive motors and involve more tools. If you are at all concerned with the installation, I would recommend having a quick look through Dillenger’s online product manuals and the steps involved. I followed these for my conversions, and they may give you an idea of whether or not you are capable of completing it.
Do you have the necessary tools for a conversion kit?
If you buy a conversion kit, the best way to make the installation easy and trouble-free is to have the right tools. When I received my kit, Dillenger was nice enough to send me a toolkit along with it. They offer these toolkits for sale on their website for a reasonable price, and the best part is, the kits are put together with the exact tools you need for the conversion kit you choose. You should have no problems installing a conversion kit if you have the Dillenger toolkit as well.
Do you already have a bike?
If you already have a bike, you may not want to spend the money on buying an electric bike, rather opting for a conversion kit to put on your current bike. It is comforting to know that the hub and mid-drive motors that come on Dillenger’s ebikes are the same motors that come in the conversion kits. If you want to install a conversion kit on your existing bike, there are a few things to consider which I will try to explain below.
What is the quality of your current bike?
One thing to consider is the quality of the bike you want to install your conversion kit on. If you spend the money on a high-quality conversion kit, it would be a shame to install this on a less than average quality bike.
The conversion kits can add a bit of weight to your bike, so you want to make sure your bike is strong, structurally sound and stable.
Is your existing bike compatible with a conversion kit?
You should also assess the compatibility of your bike with conversion kits. When you visit Dillenger’s product pages for the conversion kits, they have specific measurements so that you can check your bike will work. The kits will fit most bikes as they use pretty standard sizing of components.
For hub drive motors, the dropout slot widths and distance between dropouts must be checked. For mid drive motors, your frame bottom bracket width and diameter must be checked.
Dillenger also has a printable cut-out of their most popular NT battery (the battery that came with my hub drive kit) so that you can hold the cut-out up against your frame and visualize where/whether the battery will fit in your frame.
Does the electric bike come with the components you desire?
If you think you want to purchase an e-bike, you should investigate the components currently installed on it. The gear on the Dillenger Hunter is fantastic, but this is a higher end model. If the ebike needs some component changes to get it up to your needs, you may want to take this into the cost consideration.
Obviously, installing a conversion kit on your ideal bike would avoid this situation.
Cost is a big factor in the decision between conversion kit and electric bike. If you have a bike which you are happy with, and have verified that a conversion kit will install on it, you may want to opt for the ebike kit and save some money. Obviously, a complete electric bike is more expensive, as you are getting a high-quality bike designed around the battery, motor, controller, etc.
As most high-end ebikes such as the Dillenger Hunter I tested out will have the battery integrated into the frame, they can have a better look aesthetically than some conversion kits. The battery is almost totally hidden, and overall looks very much like a regular push bike. The motors in the conversion kits are the same and mounted the same as on an e-bike so this is no different. Just the battery and controller can sometimes look a little bulky in conversion kits as they have to mount to your frame.
As long as you install your conversion kit correctly, the maintenance will be no more than a regular ebike, which really is no more than regular bike maintenance.
As the components in the conversion kits are those used to build the Dillenger ebikes, the performance (as described in previous reviews) between the two options is much of the same.
A few more things to mention. With some of the conversion kits, you have your choice of battery. This can be helpful if you have the money and buy the largest battery for the longest range, whereas you don’t have the freedom to choose with a complete e-bike.
Dillenger also offers regular push bikes that are designed to take conversion kits really well. So if you were planning on buying a regular push bike and a conversion kit, say for example so you could switch between normal bike and ebike with the one bike, this could be a good option for you.