We are often asked about whether it’s better to buy a fully integrated bike, or fit a conversion kit on either an existing bike, or a brand new regular bike.
I would like keep my views simple, so as not to overload readers with information. I also want to state that my views are only based on my previous experience, and they are in no way written in stone. The reader is advised to do a reasonably thorough research before making a decision on their purchase. Below is a summary of what I think.
1. You get what you pay for. So both cheap kits and cheap integrated bikes will invariably come with host of problems that will in the end cost more in repairs, not to mention the added frustration and inconvenience.
2. You probably can get marginally better value by going for a kit. Do make sure that your kit is fully covered by warranty, and there is a physical service centre you can take your bike to should you encounter problems. In other words, don’t buy online unless it is fully supported buy a dealer.
3. Fully integrated bikes can have better weight distribution, and lower center of gravity, so generally better stability than a kit conversion.
4. Fully integrated bikes will look more polished, as there is often some thought gone into making the wiring hidden.
5. If the fully integrated bike has the motor in the rear hub, it will give you more traction on startup. The drawback of the rear-hub motors is that they have higher level of maintenance than front-hub motors, and are usually an indication of lower grade mechanical components on the bike.
6. Fitting kits on a regular bike will often encounter a problem with fitting e-brake levers because the majority of regular bikes have the gear shifter integrated with brake levers. Many conversion specialists opt for the lazy way of omitting the installation of e-brake levers. This puts your motor at risk of burning out. To do the conversion properly, the gear shifter(s) must be changed to non-integrated ones (for example Microshift shifter), that way, you will have space to fit e-brake levers.
7. The fully integrated electric bike has the advantage of being more of “What You See is What You Get”. If you get to test it before buying, you don’t have to guess what it will feel like. With a conversion, even if there is a demo in the shop, chances are, there will be 1 demo, but then you will have to order a bike which may have an entirely different feel to what you got to test-ride.