With the interest in electric bikes mounting daily, both for commuting and just for fun, it's tempting to start looking at purchasing a pre-built e-bike, but the retail cost for one can be quite high, which keeps many of us still pedaling manually.
However, there is another way to get your electric cycle on, and that's through an e-bike conversion, which could save you about 75% of the cost.
If the idea of building your own electric bike sounds a bit overwhelming (after all, where does one even start?), a new video course could help you get your ride converted to an e-bike by teaching you how to build it, step-by-step.
"Electric bicycles help people save money, get around town faster and protect the environment. Learn to build your own with this video!"
This Learn To Build Your Own Electric Bicycle Video Course comes from Micah Toll, the author of The Ultimate Do-It-Yourself eBike Guide and long-time e-bike builder and teacher.
The project just launched on Kickstarter, and if he reaches his initial goal of raising $1000 to fund camera equipment rental and finance a filming space (plus demo parts), he'll be able to film the video series and empower more people to build their own e-bike.
"I often hear from people something along the lines of "why would you want to replace traditional bikes with ebikes?" However, what I've found is that most people that switch to an ebike were never cyclists to begin with. The majority of people I help electrify bikes are people that want to replace their car. So ebikes aren't replacing traditional bikes, they are actually getting more cars off the road. And every car an ebike replaces in one more step in the right direction." - Micah Toll
I asked Micah a few clarifying questions about his project, in hopes of getting more people interested in building their own electric bikes:
Q: What is the minimum skill set that people need to have to be able to build one of these e-bikes? What sorts of tools are necessary?
A: Most people I've worked with are surprised by how simple the process of converting a bike to an electric bike is. The skills required are very minimal because most ebike conversion kits are designed to be simple bolt-on, plug and play units. There are obviously some more complex options out there for people looking for extreme power or custom options, but most kits don't even require any soldering. The general tool requirements are usually flat and phillips head screw drivers, an adjustable wrench (or set of box wrenches), pliers, some type of cutter for cable ties, electrical tape and occasionally a soldering iron if you want to start swapping out non standard parts (bigger battery, adding custom lights, etc).
So basically, if you can turn a wrench and use pliers/screw drivers, you can build an Ebike.
Q: What would be the average (or a low and high) cost to build one, assuming you might already have the bike itself?
A: This is going to vary widely based on the type of ebike and the specs you are looking for - mostly speed and range. The bare minimum I could build a low powered ebike would be around $200-250, but that would be suffering in quality and reliability. My wife's ebike cost me about $350 to build, not including the bike. So that's perhaps a better example of the low end of price for an ebike that I feel comfortable enough putting my wife on. Her bike goes about 18 mph and has about a 15 mile range, for reference. My daily driver ebike, on the other hand, goes about 30 mph with a 20 mile range and cost me about $580 to build. It has specs comparable to that of many $2500 retail ebikes. Of course the price of a DIY ebike can go even higher when you are adding even more range or more speed. I've built ebikes pushing $2,000, but these were monster machines meant for serious off-road fun, climbing mountains, that sort of stuff. Equivalent ebikes exist in the retail world, but the price of such retail ebikes can range from $6,000 - $10,000. So as you can see, a DIY ebike is usually around a quarter of the price of an equivalent retail ebike.
If you'd like to build your own electric bike, but don't even know where to begin, consider backing this build your own electric bicycle video course, and get access to the course at the $40 level.