It’s actually easier than you thought!
With its sales skyrocketing for the past couple of years, reaching up to millions all across Asia, Europe, and the United States, electric bikes have undeniably dominated the world. With their numerous benefits and advantages, electric bikes indeed have captured the hearts of our commuters and bike enthusiasts. Experts say that these figures will only go higher in the years to come, which is no longer a surprise since everything about electric bikes is genuinely remarkable.
However, since the demand for electric bikes is only getting bigger and bigger, prices are also spiking up. Although there are many excellent and readily available budget electric bikes in the market today, such as the ones in these collections: Best Electric Bikes Under $1000, Best Cheap Electric Bikes, and Best Budget Electric Bikes, you can opt not to buy one and just make your own. Because if you’re on a really tight budget, you might just find yourself creating your own electric bike from scraps and old materials to save hundreds of dollars. And the best part is that you don’t have to be an expert to create an electric bike for yourself! So here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a DIY electric bike that won’t hurt your pocket.
(Just a disclaimer, this guide does not include any safety tips or precautions on handling tools and parts. If you are not knowledgeable about the basic bicycle components and equipment to be used, better leave it to the experts. On the other hand, watching YouTube tutorials can also help but is not adequate enough to ensure your security. So for reliable additional guidance, you may consult or check up on the nearest e-bike shop to you. Your safety is always our top priority so be careful and have fun making that personalized electric bike of yours.)
#1 Source all parts
The first thing you have to do is gather all the materials and equipment needed. Take your old regular bicycle out from the storage room and clean it up. Don’t worry if you don’t have one. You can just buy a used one from any buy and sell sites but make sure it’s still of good quality. Or if you have more money to spare, getting a brand new bike is better. Whichever way you choose, just ensure it’s a durable and high-quality e-bike you’re going to get. Because frankly, the bike’s frame will be the most crucial part as it will hold all the electrical components such as the motor, battery, and wirings. So yes, you must get a good one that can withstand all that.
Now the next part is the most important one. To make your regular bicycle an electric-powered one, you will need an electric bicycle conversion kit. If you haven’t tried building an electric bike before, an electric bike conversion kit will make everything simpler and faster for you.
For starters, an electric bike conversion kit comprises either a front or rear wheel with a hub motor or a mid-drive one, wirings and connectors, control system components, and most of the time, an e-bike battery with a charger. Basically, when choosing a conversion kit, make sure that the kit's wheel is the same size as the bicycle you previously own. And as much as possible, get a conversion kit with a front wheel hub motor because it’s easier to replace a front wheel than a rear one with all the gears and overlapping sprockets.
Featured Product: Electric Bike Left Drive 450W/36V Conversion Kit (Twist Kit)
There are times e-bike conversion kits do not include a battery and a charger, and in this case, you need to look for either a 36 volt or a 48-volt ebike battery pack. Now, the voltage of the battery does not necessarily determine the mile range of your electric bike, but it will give you an overview of how fast the electrons move within the battery pack. If you want to build an electric bike with a more extended mile range, we suggest you go for the higher 48 volts and higher amp-hour battery. With a battery capacity like this one, you won’t have to worry about running out of charge in the middle of an enjoyable ride. For better understanding, check out this blog for an in-depth explanation on how ebike batteries work.
Essentially, an e-bike battery conversion kit may cost you around $200 to $300 depending on the level of specifications of the electric motor, the capacity of the battery, and the type of control system. If a conversion kit does not include a battery yet, make sure to get one that is compatible with your chosen electric motor.
After getting all the necessary parts, it’s time to put them all together correctly, starting first with the wheel. Remove the old wheel (rear or front) that needs to be replaced.
Removing a front wheel
Most bicycles have front brakes. Either you have a rim or a disc brake, you will need to release the cable tension connected to the brake of the front wheel to remove it.
2. Flip or Turn Over
Unless you have a mechanical stand to support the bike, you will have to flip over your bicycle to remove the wheel from the bike frame. Do this by making use of the seat and handlebars as the stand of your bike.
3. Quick-Release axle vs. Thru-Axle
With a quick-release axle, you won’t have to use an external tool to remove the wheel. It basically allows you to remove the wheel without getting rid of the axle itself. On the other hand, a thru-axle attachment system may provide more security within your bicycle’s forks, wheel, and hub, but it will need a removal tool before you can altogether remove the wheel from the bike.
So make sure to have the essential tools before you start extracting the wheel.
Removing a rear wheel
1. Stand and Rest
Find a good resting stand for your bicycle to make it easier for you to remove the wheel from it. It ensures a stable stand holds the bike frame once the rear wheel is remove.
Release the brakes first. If your bike has rim brakes, just open the brake carefully. However, for disc brakes, gently adjust the calipers so the rotor won’t bend when you remove the wheel.
3. Derailleur Gears
For a bike equipped with a derailleur gear system, shift the chains to the smallest sprocket combination. In essence, change the gear ratio to the smallest possible combination; the fastest at the back and the slowest at the front. Then turn your pedals, so the chains move to them.
Find a tool that is compatible with the size of the nuts that connect the bicycle cassette (cluster of sprockets) and the hub of the wheel to the bicycle frame. Slowly turn the nut until it is loose. Most of the time, it is not necessary to completely unscrew the nut to avoid getting lost. Once you remove the nut that connects the wheel and the cassette to the frame, slowly lift the bike frame and pull the wheel towards you.
5. Remove and Unhook
After accomplishing all the previous steps mentioned above, simply unhook the chains from the sprocket, and you’re done removing the rear wheel from the bike.
#3 Attach and Connect
After removing what needs to be removed, you will have to replace and attach essential parts to your bike. First stop, we have the front or rear wheel containing the electric hub motor. Before anything else, from the old wheel, transfer the tire and inner tube to the new wheel. In replacement of the newly removed wheel, attach the wheel with the electric hub motor just like a regular bicycle’s wheel, and don’t forget to connect the brakes again and adjust accordingly.
Secondly, take your battery and connect it to the throttle and speed controller. Usually, you will just need to secure the battery's connection and the speed controller's plugs and connectors. However, following the instructions from the e-bike conversion kit would be best. After connecting all the necessary connections between the control system and the battery, it’s time to improvise a battery holder and mount it on your bicycle. You can use a plastic container or box as your battery storage and mount it at your bike's back on top of the rear rack. Or you can put a basket at the front and place the battery there, but ideally, since e-bike batteries are heavy, they must be placed near the center of gravity of the bicycle.
When you’re done with the main component, attaching the wiring and electrical parts is next. As included in your electric conversion kit, attach the throttle and speed controller to their designated locations based on the set of guides and directions that came with the conversion kit.
Extra parts or accessories that were not initially included in the kit, such as a speed controller, an LCD, or LED display system, must also be attached at this step.
#4 Test Ride
Before proceeding directly to the test ride, make sure there are no loose connections and all replacements are correctly attached. You may use zip-ties or other types of ties and clips to organize wirings and cables, so they don’t get tangled with the wheels or chains.
Before you head out there to give your newly-assembled electric bike a spin, don’t forget to wear essential protective gear such as a helmet, gloves, and knee pads because safety should always be our top priority.
With most electric bikes amounting to an average price of $1,000, you’ll surely enjoy riding this own-built electric bike, just costing around $400 to $500. However, if you still want to upgrade to a higher specification set, you can always do so by replacing the essential parts. For example, if you want to increase your DIY budget electric bike's mileage capacity, you can replace the ebike battery with a more long-lasting battery cell. That means, a higher amp-hour.
On the other hand, if you want your electric bike to be suitable on rugged trails and challenging terrain, you will need to upgrade your set of derailleur systems to a more extensive one. Likewise, your wheels also need to be replaced with more robust, wider, and higher quality fat tires to ensure smoother and more convenient rides, even on rough terrain.
Lastly, if you want to have a more engaging display system, we suggest you invest in an LCD screen or panel. There are some electric bikes equipped with a display system wherein a USB port is included to which you can conveniently charge your portable electronic devices. Through a more advanced display system, you’ll be able to see more details about your e-bike’s performance such as its speed, trip distance, pedal-assist level, battery life, and even the electric motor’s power output, plus you can enjoy the benefits of a USB charging port!
The advantages of electric bicycles are seen in their powerful, unique features such as the pedal-assist and throttle modes through the battery-powered electric motor and digital displays. Unlike the other typical vehicles that run on fossil fuels and release carbon emissions into the atmosphere, electric bikes are powered by electric energy. And being so does not emit harmful gases and is therefore considered zero-emission vehicles. No wonder e-bikes are the most preferred by the majority of commuters and mere travelers as the best and most efficient transport means.
Making a self-built electric bike is not that hard, right? Just be careful executing each step as they require basic bicycle repair skills. And we just want to remind you that any harm or accident this guide may cause you is out of our responsibility so make sure you practice maximum safety measures while doing every step.
By remodeling your old bicycle into an electric bike, not only will you save hundreds to thousands of bucks, but you will also gain expertise regarding how electric bikes work. Plus, having an electric bike will give you a more practical and eco-friendly mode of transport whenever you go to work or school. But of course, if you don’t want to go through all the hassle of sourcing and assembling the parts, you can always opt to order and buy a ready-made electric bicycle from the internet. And what better place to shop for the best electric bikes than here at Electric Bike Paradise!
And lastly, for your information, having an electric bike that is either personally or commercially built does not matter if it does not comply with the existing electric bike regulations in your area. To be sure, here's a quick rundown on the states where electric bikes are legal.
Whether it costs thousands of dollars or not, to own an electric bike means nothing if you won’t abide by the rules. Electric bikes are meant to be used for both commuting and recreational purposes, and whether they came from scraps or the factory they should always be used properly and within the limits.
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If this article wasn't helpful for you, then you might want to check out out detailed guide on how to assemble an electric bike. But, if you're actually considering buying an electric bike instead, then check out first if your budget will suffice by reading this article on how much electric bikes cost.