history of ebike conversion kits

A Brief History of e-Bike Conversion Kits

The birth of the electric bicycle kit

E-bike conversion kits have a long and colorful history. The first electric bike conversion kit was created in 1927, but it wasn’t popular until the 1990s, when more energy efficient batteries became available. A new generation of these kits has arrived, with installation that is easier than ever before! Continue reading to learn more about this fascinating topic.

The Electrocyclette was a French invention of the early 20th Century. It looked much like an ordinary bicycle but with the addition of carrying around an extra-large battery case in its centre, which offered up 150 Ah for power! However, this led to a significant weight penalty as well: 75 Kg (165 pounds) vs modern electric bike kits where you only need less than 5% of that than at under 2kgs).

However, the age of the electric bike had begun.

Do it Yourself e-Bike Kits

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and technology had advanced considerably. E-bikes have become a frequent sight on city streets throughout the world, but they were once only available to people who could afford them. E-bike conversion kits are now available as kit components that allow you to convert your bike into an e-bike at home.

Since then, technology has improved by such an enormous amount. Electric bike kits are becoming more accessible to everyone, not just the well-to-do. Batteries have advanced to the point that they can now be fitted into any bike frame without requiring additional space or weight to be added elsewhere in order to make room! Furthermore, their power output has risen significantly while remaining affordable, allowing you to climb hills faster than previously. Motors may now be placed within the front wheel, designed inexpensively and are durable as well.

But there was one problem: technology was yet to catch up with consumer preferences. Whilst technically achievable, these early e-bike conversion kits consisted of many components, too many wires and bike users needed a PhD in rocket science to fit them at home.

The frustration of attempting to install numerous component parts and the tangled mess of wire that accompanied these early e-bike conversion kits influenced consumer demands. This led to enhancements helping them become accessible to most bike users. Innovative manufacturing firms responded, enhancing the ease of installation of current e-bike kits.

LVBU and Bafang e-Bike Kit Components

The leading pioneers of the easy fit approach were LVBU. They took the most reliable motors and twinned these with a controller and a battery. Most advanced was their research into the programmatic control of the motor. Their innovation and improvements meant that they could remove the need for brake sensors and pedal-assist sensors. This meant that all that was needed was one wire between the motor and the battery. The brains of the kit sat at the base of the battery, out of sight. No fiddly PAS sensor fitting was required and the whole kit could be installed in less than 30 minutes.

Furthermore, LVBU recognized that the majority of bike users didn’t want to appear to be riding an e-bike. E-bikes had a negative reputation as being unappealing and unfashionable, not to mention potentially dangerous.

LVBU countered this by promoting the bottle battery – an e-bike battery that looked like your water bottle. By switching bottle holders and installing an e-bike battery shaped like a water bottle, a regular bike could now be converted to electric without looking like an unfashionable e-bike.

Thirdly, LVBU realised that the part occasional cyclists really deplore is changing a tyre and inner tube. Often, there is as much difficulty in installing a tyre and inner tube as there is installing an e-bike kit. Realising this, LVBU adapted their bike kits to include a tyre pre-installed. No more fiddling with tyre tools or damaging bike wheels.

Easy Fit e-Bike Kits by LVBU

Cyclists could now convert their bicycle to an e-bike by themselves. Commonly known as ‘easy fit’ ebike kits, these quick install electric bike kits gained in popularity with retail dealerships being agreed in US, UK, Europe and Asia. Popular retail outlets of these easy fit packages in the UK included the Electric Bicycle Club, easi-fitemyelectricbikeshop.com, Ultra eBikes and Blacks. As LVBU retailers, the e-bike kits are identical, as they are all manufactured by LVBU, but pricing and availability is dependent on the retailer. As can be seen in the comparison table below:

Electric Bicycle ClubEasi-fitSmartfitUltra
StockOut of StockVariableUK StockUk Stock
All data available in public domain

As easy fit type kits became popular during the pandemic, there were still five noticeable problems for the average user.

  • additional handlebar clutter with controllers
  • illegal throttle controls
  • unnecessary costs to the consumer
  • lack of UK stock
  • lack of self-service technical support

Swytch Kit Electric Bicycle Kits

Some of these difficulties were addressed by the launch of the Swytch kit. A popular crowdfunding project, the Swytch kit followed the concept founded by LVBU but combining manufacture and retail.

There were downsides though, as the battery sits on the handlebars weight distribution is top-heavy, handlebar clutter is increased and aesthetics are affected. The search for the perfect electric bicycle kit continued.

Smartfit Easy Fit e-Bike Kits

Smartfit took the lead in re-engineering the LVBU eBike kit offer to the UK public. Innovation and strong partnerships with LVBU led to improvements that resolved customer frustrations. These were:

First and foremost, by removing unnecessary component parts making installation even easier than before. Secondly, by ensuring stock of the key sizes of ebike, 26 inch, 27.5 inch and 700C wheel sizes was supplied. Thirdly, by shaping operations that meets the need of the market and removing costs for the consumer. Fourthly, self-serve technical support is delivered using AI, professional video animations and voice-overs. Finally, by breaking the sub £500 price barrier. Smartfit e-bike conversion kits retail at £499 including UPS next-day delivery. The era of professionalism and customer attention had finally arrived in the e-bike kit retail market.

The Future of eBike Kits

We think that ebike conversion kits have a bright future. People are increasingly interested in them, whether they’re for commuting or to lose weight. They understand the idea and can see the advantages of having a bicycle that they can use more often.

The cost of e-bikes has recently dropped considerably. A variety of new ebikes have entered the market for less than £1000, either through a crowdfund or a major retailer. With fewer gears and features than a typical bike, slimmed down e-bikes are becoming more popular as well.

The electric bicycle has been around for almost a century, but its recent resurgence in popularity is being driven by the innovations of technology and battery design. Now you can have your own ebike conversion kit with just a few clicks from any device with an internet connection! But how do you know which one will be best for you?

We’ve put together a view on the evolution of the e-bike conversion kit and where it could go in the future. We explore retailers that are currently promoting easy-to-install kits that offer something different from each other. For example, some have more parts to install than others or come at a higher price point while others may not be stocked in stores near you yet. So take a read above to see what’s right for your needs and budget before deciding on the best e-bike kit for you!

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