Why Buying New Ebike May Be Better than DIY Conversions

Is it REALLY worth converting your current bike to an e-bike??? It can be very tempting to buy a conversion kit online and embark on a journey of converting your regular bicycle to an electric bike after watching a few Youtube videos. However, there are more notes to consider before barging into a DIY e-bike project.

In most cases, it is better to invest in a budget-friendly e-bike than to convert your regular bike.  Because successful conversions usually end up requiring more parts and tools than initially expected, and the final cost of a good conversion may shoot up to be about the same as a new e-bike.

There are also additional factors to consider when deciding between purchasing a new e-bike or converting your original bike.

Read on for insight into what to expect when converting a regular bike to an e-bike, and see what people who converted their bikes say about the process.

Should You Buy a New E-Bike or Convert Your Bike to Electrical?

The question of buying a new e-bike versus converting a regular bike to an e-bike comes up all the time. 

There may not be a right answer for this question, but there certainly is a better choice depending on your intentions.

If you’re somewhat of a handyperson and your purpose is to enjoy the experience of converting your bike to an e-bike, then, by all means, go ahead.

But, if you’re not much of a DIY person and are looking for an affordable way to set up your first electric bike by converting your regular bicycle, there may be better options for you in the market.

To put it bluntly, for most starters, purchasing a new e-bike can be a better choice as there are excellent options that are decent quality and may not necessarily be more costly than a completely successful converted bike.

A typical e-bike conversion kit will cost about $400 to $700 (some even more), and usually, additional tools and accessories will be needed for an effective outcome.

With the high price points of sound quality conversion kits, along with tools and additional parts you will need for a successful conversion, the final cost of converting a bike to an e-bike may spike up to the price ranges of decent quality new electric bikes.

Other factors to consider are the experience and knowledge needed to work on your bike. YouTubers make it look effortless to convert your bike at home. However, the actual process is more delicate than you may think.

Conversion kit advertisements will make it seem like an easy home project, but without some previous practice of installing bicycle parts, you will only end up frustrating yourself and possibly even damaging your bike.

How Much Does an E-Bike Conversion Cost? (DIY People Weigh In)

Cost of Conversion Kits

As mentioned above, the initial cost of purchasing a conversion kit can be anywhere from $400 to $700+, not including any additional tools you may need.  That said, anyone who has converted their regular bike to an e-bike will tell you that several tools and supplementary parts will be necessary for a complete conversion.  

Below, under tools and parts, you will see what additional items bike owners had to add to their list after purchasing their conversion kits.

But, for now, to better understand what people generally pay for conversion kits, let’s look at a survey taken by 136 DIY enthusiasts who converted their regular bikes to electrical.

This survey is a Facebook poll conducted in a DIY e-bike group and it will give you a good idea of how much typical conversion kits cost.

Survey on Prices of E-bike Conversion Kits

As you can see, the poll starts from “under $300” and it incrementally increases to “$700 and more”.  A poll taker went ahead and added another category labeled as “WAY MORE”.

Note that the “Way More” category may not apply to average bikers because this could be a subgroup of e-bike enthusiasts who intentionally purchase super expensive conversion kits for higher performance (example: bikers who like to build off-road e-bikes that travel 30-40 mph on dirt roads, etc).

Hence, to be safe, let’s not count the Way-More people in our poll numbers. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the largest number of respondents spent “Way More” than $700 on a conversion kit.

However, the numbers of the other categories in the Facebook poll were converted to a pie chart, and the following price ranges and percentage breakdowns surfaced.

Pie Chart Showing Breakdown of Prices Paid for Conversion kit (From Facebook Poll)

This pie chart shows the typical prices of regular conversion kits and the percentage of people who buy those kits in each price range. It helps you figure out how much money you might need to spend on a conversion kit.

So, based on the numbers and breakdowns in this pie chart, it’s safe to assume that the average amount you will spend on a conversion kit will be about $550.00.

Now, let’s look at what the same group of DIY e-bikers said about needing additional parts and tools for a complete conversion.

Additional Tools, Parts, Upgrade, and Costs

We asked the DIY group members for their input on what other tools and parts they found necessary for a bicycle conversion to an e-bike?

Here are their direct responses:

Sticky Notes of Additional Tools and Parts Needed for an E-bike conversion

Here is a list of all the tools, parts, and upgrade poll-takers noted as necessary based on their actual experience:

Adjustable SpannerTorque ArmBrakes
Allen Key SetBox, Bag, or Carrier Rack
Cable Stripper
Cable Ties
Connector Blocks
Crank Puller
Crimping Tools
Flat Screwdriver
Heat Shrink Tubing
Philip Screwdriver
Rivet Nut Tool
Soldering Iron

As you’re reading through the list of these tools, parts, and the upgrade, you may see items that you already have in your toolbox or even disagree with the necessity of some others.  But, it’s worth noting that people who have gone through the conversion process found that these tools were necessary.

Cost of an E-Bike Conversion

Here is a cost breakdown analysis of converting your bike to an e-bike based on data collected from poll participants and factoring in the average prices of tools, parts, and the upgrade needed for a conversion.  On the bottom, we’ll insert a 30% plus and minus to account for any money you end up saving or overspending.

ToolsPartsUpgrade(s)Conversion Kit
Adjustable Spanner $4.98Torque Arm $9.99Brakes $75.00Average Kit $550.00
Allen Key Set $10.87Box, Bag, Carrier Rack $25.00
Cable Stripper $17.99
Cable Ties $5.99
Connector Blocks $7.95
Crank Puller $14.95
Crimping Tools $15.99
Drill $29.99
Flat Screwdriver $5.99
Heat Shrink Tubing $3.99
Philip Screwdriver $4.95
Plier $7.95
Rivet Nut Tool $29.99
Soldering Iron $15.99
Voltmeter $12.99
$190.56 $34.99 $75.00 $550.00
Total $850
30% +/- $595.55 to $1,105.55

The breakdown analysis gives us a range of costs and three price points to expect if you decide to convert your bike to an e-bike.

Expect to spend anywhere from $595.55 to $1,105.00.

The lowest you should expect to spend is $595.55 (aka $600)

On average, you probably will end up paying $850.55.

And, don’t be surprised if the final cost goes up to $1,105.55 (aka over a thousand bucks).

Is It Cheaper to Build or Buy an E-bike?

If you look at the numbers in this article, you will see that the cost of converting your bike to an e-bike can be anywhere from $595.55 to $1,105.00.

In some cases, your conversion may even cost more than purchasing a good-quality entry-level e-bike. 

However, there isn’t a one size fits all answer because e-bike conversions and buying a new one come in various price windows.

Deciding between buying an e-bike or converting your old bike takes some research.

Clarify what you need and what your goal is, determine the costs for each option, and decide what matches your individual needs best!

So, Let’s Do Some Recapping

When deciding between converting your bike or buying an e-bike, there is no right answer. And you’ll find plenty of different opinions on this issue from people with other preferences.

Ultimately, three key factors that should determine whether you buy an e-bike or build your own are:

Objective Are you converting your bike just as a fun DIY experience, or do you intend to save a few bucks?

Budget Have you done the math to determine which is more feasible?

Installation and repair skills Are you handy enough to end up with a functional converted e-bike and avoid potential mechanical problems?

Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to make it a fun experience and learn from it.

In the meantime, please spread the word about this post by sharing it on social media and forwarding it to friends who might also benefit from this article.