For several years now, I have built various motorized bikes, from Wizzy style gas bikes, to electric bikes for offroad, onroad, and long range uses. While I am not an industry expert, I've amassed some opinions, and often get asked to share them, so here they are! I'll keep updating this as more information comes along.
I'll show a spectrum from DIY builds from parts, to DIY kits, to off the shelf bikes, and some specialty bikes I'd recommend. All of these bikes in this list, I've at least ridden once, and seen in person. I can't attest to all of their long term viability, but this is a great jump off point.
Ultimately, the best value is in building your own electric bike. It's worth thinking of the electric bike as a few major parts which are now fairly widely available. The bulk of the money will be spent on the Motor, and the Battery. Motors tend to last a long time, batteries depend on the manufacturer and their use.
- Control Levers/Inputs
- Electric Motor Speed Controller
- A Battery (Typically LiPo - light/expensive or Lead - heavy/cheap)
- Electric Motor - Hub Direct Drive Mount, Hub Geared Drive Mount, or Mid Drive
DIY from Parts
Minimum Hub Motor Build
- Lipo Battery (Panasonic 18650 cells - same as Tesla) -> https://lunacycle.com/48v-panasonic-11-5ah-or-13-5ah-carbon-shark-pack/
- Speed Controller
- Control Lever
- Motor 1000 Watt * Torque Arm (to protect overtorqueing forks)
DIY Bolt on Kit
Dirt CHeap Chinese Bolt on Kit (They work!)
Hub Motor Kits
Hub Motors are part of the wheel and replace a standard hub. They spin and apply force against the forks to move the wheel. This type of ebike mod is often the easiest and most universal, but typically is the least performant.
While these can be bought on ebay, I'd recommend Lunacycle as a vendor:
Bafang Mid-Drive Kit
Excellent choice for those willing to do more work, and put this on a frame that fits the mid-drive. Very powerful, and good packaging. Retains your ability to use gearing, which is much much more efficient than hub motors.
Youtube for Installation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf6BMf28ats
Premium Kit from Bosch, good for lightweight bikes
Good Cheap Ebikes < $1,000
- Good solid bike - some parts such as shifter are not the best, but can be replaced over time with parts of choice just like a normal bike.
More Performant Ebikes > $1,000
Great everyday commuter, solid platform
I built a clone of this with parts, saving a few hundred, and it's doing great!
Mountain-ebike with solid performance, and competitive pricing in class
The Specialty EBikes
A Seriously solid road ebike
Stylish, comfortable, and speedy cruiser ebike
Ignorantly fun offroad dirtbike with pedals