How to Convert a Mountain Bike to Electric Bike [Everything You Need to Know]

With the increasing popularity of e-bikes in the United States of America, you might also be tempted to get the extra push on your rides. So if you are thinking of a way to get all those electrifying features while keeping your existing bike, this blog has got you covered.

From attaching a drive unit to the bottom of the bracket to fitting power wheels, there are several ways to upgrade your conventional mountain bike into an e-bike.

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Here’s everything you need to know about converting a traditional mountain bike into an electric one.

How to Convert Your Mountain Bike to E-Bike? | A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether your old school mountain bike is collecting cobwebs in the garage or you want you have just invested in a wicked new bike and want it to be even sweeter; you will be surprised to know that the process of transforming a standard bike into an electric one is simpler than you might think.

While purchasing a brand new full-blown bike might cost you thousands of dollars in the United States, converting a regular one into an e-bike will save you from the extra cost.

If you are someone who would instead get their hands dirty than opting for investing their yearly savings for an electric bike, this guide is for you!

Without further ado, here’s how you can upgrade your traditional mountain bike into an e-bike:

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Step 01: What Are the Things to Consider When Converting Your Mountain Bike into an E-Bike?

Not every mountain bike can be transformed into an electric one. Therefore, whether you have purchased a new one or are planning to convert an old school bike, consider the following factors to find the right kind of conversion bike:

a. Smaller Wheels

If you wish to upgrade your mountain bike into an e-bike, note that the ideal wheel diameter should be 66 centimeters or 26 inches for the converted bike to work efficiently. However, a slightly larger wheel size will also work.

b. No Carbon Fibers

Because an electric bike is too susceptible to weight, you will want your e-bike to be made of solid materials.

Therefore, make sure that your mountain bike has no carbon fibers, or else there’s a high chance that the modified bike will collapse because of the added electric components.

c. Wider Handlebars

When converting your mountain bike into an electric bike, you will need to attach some extra equipment to the handlebars.

In simpler words, if the handles are too narrow, the new accessories won’t fit. Therefore, ensure that the handlebars have enough space to hold the new components.

d. Strong Frame and Bottom Brackets

Before starting the conversion process, make sure that your mountain bike’s bottom brackets and frame are strong enough to bear the extra weight of the electric components.

e. Disc Brakes

You are going to ride your electric bike on steep landscapes. Therefore, try to find a bike that has front disc brakes as it will guarantee a more robust and more efficient braking system.

Ensure that all the aforementioned check-boxes are ticked if you are modifying your old mountain bike. This is primarily necessary because some of the e-bike conversion kits are only adaptable to a specific structure.

Therefore, having an idea of your bike’s features and investing in an e-bike conversion kit that goes well with it will not only save your time but your money as well, guaranteeing a hassle-free transformation process.

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Step 02: Invest in an E-Bike Conversion Kit

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Why rebuild the wheels of your old bike when you have an easy way out? Now that you know that your mountain bike is ready to be electrified, the next most crucial step is investing in the right electric bike conversion kit.

Comprising all essential e-bike conversion equipment, including hub motors, speed controller, throttle, a lithium battery pack, the motor itself, and some extra gears, having a conversion kit is just like having an extra pair of hands. It will make the transformation process much easier and simpler.

Although you can search for the necessary components piece by piece, we recommend purchasing a full-flash e-bike conversion kit.

With hundreds of electric bike conversion kit options in the market, how does one know which one to get? Keep the following pointers in mind when looking for an e-bike conversion kit:

Brand Name

When shopping for an electric bike conversion kit, do not focus much on the brand name. Because your e-bike conversions might differ from ours, the recommended brand choice can be very subjective.

However, one thing to keep in mind when looking for an electric bike conversion kit is to always purchase from a reputable brand and website so that you can quickly return the kit in case it doesn’t fix it.

Some popular e-bike conversion kit brands include Ebikeling, Bafang, and Voilamart.

Read How Heavy is an Electric Bike?

Size

Your mountain bike’s wheel size plays a critical role in finding the fitting conversion kit. When looking for an electric bike conversion kit, make sure that the wheel measurements match the kit’s requirements.

When installing the e-bike conversion kit, you will need to attach the hub motor to the front wheels.

Therefore, in case you have already invested in a wrong size conversion kit, switching the front wheel is an easy solution to the problem.

Price

The higher the price, the better the quality. You will already be going through many challenges when converting your mountain bike into an e-bike.

Therefore, when looking for an electric bike conversion kit, please don’t invest in the cheapest one you find, as it can damage the quality of your bike.

The right way to do this is by exploring all of your options and investing in the one that fits your needs.

Read How Long Does an Electric Mountain Bike Battery Last?

Selecting the Right Battery

Despite being very comprehensive, keep in mind that not all electric bike conversion kits will include a battery. Therefore in order to choose the right battery, you will be required to do some additional research by yourself.

Ideally, you should look for a battery ranging between 36 to 48 volts and has the capacity of 10 to 20 amp-hour.

As the necessary requirements for a well-functioning e-bike, note that any battery with lesser configuration will malfunction or die quickly.

Therefore, it is better to be familiar with the working of the battery before implementing it. The rule of thumb to help you with the decision-making process is that the higher the battery’s voltage, the more powerful and efficient your electric bike will be.

So, if you use your e-bike for the daily commute, opt for the 20Ah battery. Comparatively, if biking is just your hobby, a 10Ah e-bike battery will be enough to satisfy your needs.

Advice: If possible, purchase both the battery and the electric bike conversion kit from the same website or distributor, as it will make the integration process easier. Also, you can quickly return/exchange any of the products in case of malfunctions or size issues.

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Step 03: Remove the Brackets

Now that you have all the essential tools and equipment to convert your mountain bike into an electric bike, it’s time to start building! You will be surprised to know that the conversion process is relatively more superficial than the first two steps.

Well, first things first: It’s time to deconstruct the mountain bike. Start by removing the brackets according to the following steps:

  1. Turn over the bike such that its seat touches the ground.
  2. Now use a quick-release lever to open the nuts and bolts around the wheels.
  3. Once done, carefully remove the wheel that you plan to change. Although ideally, the battery should be placed on the rear wheel, you can attach it onto either one. To attach the battery, open the rim and cantilever brake (in case you have one attached to your bike).
  4. Use delicate pliers such as needle-noses to remove the brake pads.
  5. For the next step, you will be needing someone’s assistance as the person will be required to hold the mountain bike’s frame firmly while you pull the derailer backward.
  6. As soon as you hear a click sound, unhook the chain or any attachments to disconnect the wheel.

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Step 04: Install a Motor Unit

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Now that the wheel is disconnected, install the tube and tire that came with the electric bike conversion kit.

In other words, for the motor unit to be attached to your bike, you will need to reverse the same steps in “Step 03.”

In our experience, reattaching the bike’s chain is one of the most tiresome processes. Therefore, to help you out here’s a link to make the process hassle-free and more manageable.

Once the chain is all set, fit the new tire and close all levers. You can also use pins or clips to secure the brake pads in the new position. If your electric bike has hydraulic brakes, pump the brake lever.

If it has traditional brakes, use calipers to tighten them up, and in case it comprises mechanical brakes, use calibration material to set them right.

Although it may sound overwhelming, know that every electric bike conversion kit comes with a set of easy instructions, which makes the overall conversion process doable.

Therefore, follow the instructions to the tee and attach every component as instructed, as the steps will always vary depending on your brand name, voltage requirements, and wheel size.

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Step 05: Integrate the Battery

Now that all the handlebars and gauges are connected, it’s time to integrate the Battery Pack power source! This is one of the most fun steps, as all you have to do is once again follow the directions on the electric bike conversion kit and plug the battery connectors with the wheels accordingly.

To explain the process further, what you need to do is: You have to attach the speed gauge first with the battery and then with the throttle. You will require pliers for the process.

However, regardless of how tempted you are, please do not touch or mix up the wires as it can result in an electric spark.

Once the battery is attached, the next thing you need to do is add a battery box for protection. For this, all you have to do is drill some holes and attach the box perfectly over the battery, also. Don’t forget to screw it up.

The ideal place to set the battery box is somewhere in the middle of your electric bike near the water bottle. Not only will it allow 100% functionality, but it will also keep the bike’s aerodynamics intact.

How to Convert a Mountain Bike to Electric bike
How to Convert a Mountain Bike to Electric bike

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Step 06: Connect All the Components

Though the easiest, this is the most critical part as any mistake can destroy your hard work.

From securing all the loose wires to connecting everything to the battery and the throttle, every step needs to be taken with utmost care. Here are some tips and tricks to make this step easier:

  • When deconstructing your mountain bike, pay attention to every step as you will be needing to reconnect it all in the same way—taking a picture before construction can help.
  • To hold everything in place, use zip-ties. Doing so will also protect your electric bike from tumbling.
  • Have difficulty in unscrewing the handlebars? Use soapy water and a screwdriver. You might also need pliers to loosen up the handlebars.
  • When connecting the battery, make sure that the wires connect each part of your electric bike. You can also use a soldering iron to give your e-bike a neat final look.

Step 07: Take Your Modified Mountain E-Bike for a Ride!

Without wasting any minute, it’s time to take your electric bike for a ride! Take your time to test it on different platforms and speeds.

Although it might still look like your old mountain bike, the speed will save you an insurmountable amount of energy, saving lots of time and money!

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Final Thoughts

It’s time for you to pat yourself on the back as you have succeeded in reconstructing your old mountain bike into an e-bike.

Other than doing something amazing by inventing a better-performing electric bike, you have proved that it’s a much simpler, affordable, and easier way to increase the capability of your ride.

So without wasting any more time, hit the streets to make the most of your hard work, and in case you still haven’t started, invest in an e-bike conversion kit, take out your tools, and get started right away!

Converting a Mountain Bike into an E-Bike | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Should I convert my existing mountain bike into an e-bike or invest in a new one?

Although it entirely depends on your preferences, electric bike conversion kits are much cheaper when compared to the cost of a new e-bike. However, modern e-bikes feature a simpler installation procedure and do not require much maintenance, saving you from future expenses.

What do I need to install an e-bike kit?

An electric bike conversion kit comes with all the necessary components. However, you are advised to have some handy tools with you, such as pliers, wrenches, and screwdrivers.

What are the different types of electric bike conversion kits?

The market is filled with a myriad of e-bike conversion kits. These include; mid-drive conversion kits, front-hub motor conversion kits, and rear-hub motor conversion kits. Therefore, it is recommended to invest in the one that suits your budget needs.

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