Top 10 DIY E-Bike Modifications You Can Do At HomeDecember 13, 2022
Because a lot of e-bike riders choose to build their own with an e-bike conversion kit, or even from scratch, there are some downright incredible plans for DIY modifications you can make to your own e-bike. But before you tweak your motor, be aware that there are legal limits to how fast e-bikes can travel on the road and the voltage your battery can put out. You should also be aware that if you’re modding your bike beyond legal limits, you are not only risking serious injury but also that insurance companies won’t cover any damages.
That said, not all e-bike mods are illegal and not all of the illegal ones are necessarily dangerous. While we focus our list on legal DIY electric bike modifications if you do choose to super-power your bike, remember that safety always comes first, and if you make modifications to your motor or battery you should only ride on private property to avoid being ticketed.
1 – Light The Way
If you’re serious about going electric, you might have to bike at night sometimes, and having lights is an absolutely essential safety feature for night riding.
Think about setting up a front headlamp and rear tail light. You can find USB-rechargeable ones that are incredibly easy to set up. You’ll also want to use reflectors in addition to adding lights just in case of battery or electrical issues. Even if you have a built-in light you could always add a more powerful one quite easily.
2 – Master Your Battery
It is possible to upgrade your e-bike’s battery to go further, but the bigger the battery the more weight you’re carrying. Instead of asking, “how far can I go?” You should ask, “how far do I have to go?” If you’re commuting, it’s a much better solution to keep an extra battery charging at work that you can swap out rather than double the size of your battery.
To be honest most people wouldn’t need to add anything to their batteries as it should cover you for at least one-days riding, if not more.
3 – The Fat Tire
If you want your e-bike to be prepared for any kind of terrain, there’s no question you should look to upgrade your tires.
Putting some fat tires on your e-bike will help you gain the traction you need to ride safely in rain or snow and even off-road. Extra-wide tires will mean you might need to upgrade parts of your bike frame to accommodate, but this upgrade will give you the control and confidence you need to ride on any terrain. Plus they look awesome!
4 – Change Your Frame
If you need more speed, most people’s first instinct is to look for a lighter bike frame. That might be a good idea for traditional cyclists, but e-bikes are a different animal. You’re going to need a sturdy frame to hold together all of the extra mechanics.
Cyclists who ride in races often use aluminium frames because they are so lightweight, but for e-bikes, they have been known to wear down and break easily. The best e-bike frames are made of steel, which is much heavier than aluminium but can be designed aerodynamically. so yes, you could change it, but you probably shouldn’t.
5 – Don’t Grind Gears
Just because you’ve got a battery and a motor doesn’t mean you can forget all about your e-bike’s original drivetrain: your legs, pedals, chain, and gears. The question of what kind of drivetrain you want on your e-bike is essential if you want to maximize performance when combined with the mechanical parts of your e-bike. The larger the front gear or sprocket, and the smaller the back gear or cog (or cogset if you are running multiple gears), the harder it will be for you to pedal. But you will go faster.
There are two ways most e-bike riders go with their gears: either a traditional multi-speed shifter, if you plan on doing most of the pedalling yourself and only want a motor for occasional assistance, or a more extreme fixed-speed (meaning just one gear up front and one in back) setup that is tweaked for speed but will require far more battery assistance. Both are viable options depending on how you plan to ride your electric bicycle.
6 – Move Your Motor
If you built your e-bike from scratch you probably have a front, or possibly rear, hub motor. If you installed your motor up front to avoid messing around with all the bike mechanics on the back half, you might want to reconsider. A front-mounted hub motor might seem easier, but because most bikes don’t have a reinforced dropout on the front fork (that’s the bar connecting the front wheel to the handlebar) as they do in the back, your motor is less secure there. If you’re set on keeping your motor up front, a fork with reinforced dropouts is a must. You can always weld them yourself.
7 – Re-mount Your Battery
Rigging up a new battery mount is a great way for beginners to get into DIY e-bike modding. Most electric bicycles use a rack mounted over the rear tire to secure the battery. This is a good option if you have a large battery, but racks add unnecessary weight, especially if you plan on having a rear hub motor as well.
If you don’t mind downsizing your battery, mounting it directly to the bike’s frame is not only more secure, but it will help shift weight toward the center of the bike. If you’re a commuter, look for a solution where you can minimize your battery and keep an extra one charging at work to swap out for the ride home.
8 – Add a Carry-on Basket or Bags
Much of building the perfect e-bike lies in maximizing performance while minimizing the weight from the extra components. On the other hand, you have to build your bike to fit your life. If you simply need to bring a lot with you, look into some saddlebags, or a front or rear basket.
Whatever option you choose should make sense with the other parts of your e-bike. For example, if you have a rear-mounted battery or a back hub motor (or both), then saddlebags are going to pile even more weight onto your back tire. Use your carry-on to help distribute weight more evenly across your bike, giving you more stability and a more enjoyable ride overall.
9 – Upgrade Your Chain
Most bike chains will last a long time if given regular maintenance and care. That’s the nice part about chains – they’re simple. But bicycle chains are also greasy and they wear down over time and eventually snap. The chain/drive train is your last resort if your battery dies unexpectedly, so unless you want to keep an extra bike chain on you just-in-case, think about upgrading to a carbon belt drive system.
Carbon belts are lighter (not much, but every bit counts), and more importantly, they’re more durable and require zero maintenance. When they do get dirty you can clean them off with water. E-bikes take enough maintenance in themselves, so upgrading to a carbon belt drive system will be one less thing for you to worry about.
10 – Rear-view Mirror
This might seem like a joke, but a simple rear-view mirror is one of the easiest, least expensive and most useful mods you can make to your e-bike. Riding e-bikes can be so fun that it’s easy to forget you are on a serious motor vehicle. That goes double if you are riding on the road.
Think about how much you use (or have used) the rear-view mirror in your car. On a bike you are even more vulnerable, so having eyes behind you will save your neck in the long run.
Have you made any of these modifications yourself? Have you made another upgrade that you think should have made this list? If so do let us know in the comments below, or maybe get in touch with us via the Contact Us page.