Installing an electric bike kit is easy to do, can be done in just an hour or so and can last for many years if done right initially. Deciding on the right electric bike conversion kit, the one that suits your riding style and your bike best, is the most important decision you’ll make during this process. Good news... you’ve come to the right place!
The Super Commuter is very aptly named. The 350w Bosch motor will help you sustain speeds of up to 28mph, and the burly, 2.4-inch wide, Schwalbe Super Moto-X 650b tires will keep you secure on even the roughest city streets, and Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes provide ample stopping power. Fenders provide welcome protection from road spray so you arrive at your destination fresh, integrated lights are critical for post-sunset riding, and a side-view mirror hanging on the left side of the handlebar gives a great view of traffic around you. After all, you can ride at the speed of urban traffic on the Super Commuter.
Cost: Good e-bikes are not cheap, and unlike most bikes, the costs associated with owning an e-bike don’t end when you hand over your credit card in exchange for a shiny new steed. The average cost of operating an electric bike is around $390 a year, including maintenance and charging. You’re also likely to need to change the batteries every 3-5 years so factor that into your costs.
The Gazelle was made for city commutes - the riding position is relaxed yet so upright, you can look around, over car roofs and feel confident even in heavy traffic. The Orange is no fly-weight, though. With its rudimentary suspension fork, Post Moderne suspension seat-post, rack-mounted battery and "built for comfort" wheels, it’s 24.4kg weight (plus battery) excludes it from being regularly carried up-stairs or into flats for commuters who don’t have street-level entry or a bike store.
The features continue with integrated lights and a minimalist display set into the top tube that relays charge, speed and level of assist. The most exciting aspect to the Vanmoof though is a setting on the app that allows you to toggle your bike’s speed limit between European 25kph and more generous (but not entirely legal) 30kph United States limit. That cheeky extra 5kph is enough to make the Vanmoof the bike for city riding at pace. The S also features a Turbo Boost button (that puts the motor at full assist), which was a welcome bonus nipping across busy intersections or powering out of a tight corner where your speed has dropped.
We ran the C330 almost entirely in its speediest Turbo setting, switching back to Eco or Tour in heavy traffic for a more predictable assistance weaving between cars. Crucially, the display also displays how much assistance you’re getting as well as your speed, trip distance, etc. We used this to ease-back effort and stay in a light power sweet-spot, arriving at WIRED’s HQ without breaking a sweat.
Thankfully, the Pendleton Somerby is an affordable option which, though not as high performing as some pricier e-bikes, offers a chance for a beginner or less serious cyclist to venture into the electric bike world. With a classic, elegant, low step through frame, getting on is as easy as possible. This is to all intents and purposes a city bike, from its look to the mudguards and chainguards that keep your clothes pristine, and the space for a luggage rack.
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.