Introduction: DIY Electric Bike!

Picture of DIY Electric Bike!

I live in Eugene, Oregon, one of the most bicycle friendly small cities around, and I really like making use of the many, many bike paths and bike lanes that thread throughout the town and out into the surrounding natural areas. As long as you can handle the rain, this place is a fantastic area for bicyclists!

On my travels I've encountered a lot of different types of bikes, but I've always been intrigued by the occasional electric bike I've seen. It seems like a great way to commute! Recently I've had some problems with my back and foot, and that's left me stuck to car commuting to and from work. Gas is crazy expensive, and I've considered more than once looking into an electric bike as an alternative to my current situation, but it's all seemed a bit out of my price range.

As fortune would have it, I was contacted a few weeks ago by, interested in having me review one of the many tools and gadgets they carry. I jumped at the chance, and they sent me this awesome DIY electric bike conversion kit! Now I finally get to try of these things!

Of course, this is just the start. This instructable will cover the basics of installing, using, and customizing the kit, as well as my review of the overall experience. Down the road, I've got bigger and better (and more LED filled!) ideas about what to do with this thing next!

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

As I mentioned, I got the conversion kit from They've got a variety of kits, but I went with one for the front wheel of your bicycle. Originally I wanted to go with the back wheel version with the pedal assist system, but I'm thinking that for future hacking and modifying of the basic kit, the front wheel version will be easier to migrate to a different platform. I went with the 48 volt / 1000 watt system, as I'm a pretty big guy and I didn't want to get the 36 volt system installed only to find out it didn't have enough kick to pull all 300 pounds of depotdevoid around town.

The next thing you'll need is batteries. This is the biggest expenditure aside from the kit itself, and probably the biggest ongoing expense in owning an electric bike. The cheapest option is a sealed lead-acid battery, or SLA. There are certainly other less bulky options available, but for someone trying to get onto an electric bike without breaking the bank, this is the way to go. Furthermore, the charger that comes with the kit is designed for this type of battery, so there's no need to convert that particular piece of hardware.

The kit recommends four twelve volt batteries, with a minimum of 17 amps each. I found these 18 amp batteries at Amazon. Most sources I read say this sort of battery will be good for about two years before you need to replace it, so with a price tag of about $160 for all four, you're looking at a yearly operating cost of around $80, plus electricity, repairs, and maintenance. If you're using this to commute, that's waaaay less than driving or even busing will cost you!

The last thing is a bike. "Great!" I thought to myself, "I've already got one of those!" Of course, this kit is designed for what most adult bikes in the US have, a 26" wheel. I'd forgotten that my bike has a goofy 700mm European size wheel. I ended up going to the local St. Vincent de Paul's and picking up a halfway decent and mostly rust-free used bicycle for about $20. Turned out the brakes were bad, and I ended up blowing another $60 to have the pros at a local bike shop install and adjust a new set. I figured this was a pittance to pay, after my second ride on the completed bike ended up with me coasting in terror down the sidewalk with the sudden realization that the brakes I'd spent the last three hours adjusting didn't work at all!

Step 2: Install the Motorized Wheel

Picture of Install the Motorized Wheel

This kit uses a motor on the front wheel, so you don't have to mess around with the gearing and the chain. You'll still be able to pedal as well, which is useful for getting going or just to reduce the strain on the motor and driver--more about that in step 8.

The motor should be installed with the cable on the left side of the bike. For now, just leave it loose, but later on you'll run the cable along the bike frame. Make sure you tighten the nuts securely.

It's worth noting at this point that when I had the brakes fixed, the guys at the bike shop mentioned that they'd seen a similar front wheel motor, that a customer had been using for his day-to-day transport for about a year. It had done some damage to the fork itself. I'm not sure if this was a problem with the bike or just that the fork isn't designed to take force in that area, but it might be useful to install some sort of torque arm or otherwise reinforce this area if you plan on using your electric bike a lot.

Step 3: Install the End Bracket and Carrying Case

Picture of Install the End Bracket and Carrying Case

The bulk of the weight involved in this conversion comes from the batteries, and these, along with the motor driver, will be installed on a cargo bracket above the rear wheel of your bike, in a fabric carrying bag--I have some problems with the bag, more about that in step 9.

The bracket is designed to fit with most standard bicycles, at the clamp that fixes the seat height. Remove the bolt here and put the bracket on the bolt. At the other end, remove the nuts holding your back wheel in place so the bracket can slide into place along the axle, then tighten everything back up.

The last thing to remember to do is remove the rear reflector and place it on the end of the bracket.

Step 4: Install New Brake Levers and Throttle

Picture of Install New Brake Levers and Throttle

This kit comes with new handlebar grips, which is good as I destroyed my old ones when I removed them!

Remove all the hardware (grips, shifters, brake levers) from your handlebars. Fit the new brake levers on first, then the throttle control, then your shifters. Don't tighten anything up too much, you'll probably want to adjust everything after your first ride. New grips go on last.

Switching out the ends of the brake cables from your old levers to the new ones is pretty easy, just loosen the appropriate screws, remove the cable, and reinstall. The new brake levers both actuate your brakes and cut power to the motor. I had trouble adjusting them though, and messed around with the brakes for hours and hours. Eventually I took the bike into a local shop and had new brakes professionally installed (after discovering that my own attempts had resulted in no ability to brake whatsoever). Turned out the old ones on this crappy second hand bike weren't very good!

Step 5: Install the Electronics

Picture of Install the Electronics

The bag that comes with the kit has a main section for the batteries, and two side pockets with little wire holes cut into them. I think if you have a front and a rear motor you're supposed to put one driver in each side pocket, but since I've only got the front, I put the charger in the other one.

The kit came mostly wired up, but you'll have to detach everything to get it into the bag. Most of the connectors are different so there's little chance of miswiring something, but pay attention to what you're doing when you hook everything back up. A couple are similar enough that mistakes could be made.

Feed the main power connector from the driver pocket through to the battery pocket. Next, feed the wires from the motor and brake levers through the large grommeted hole in the bag, through the battery compartment and into the driver pocket. Use zip ties to secure the motor and brake cables along the body of the bike. Hook everything back up, and you're almost done!

Step 6: Install the Batteries

Picture of Install the Batteries

These batteries are bulky and difficult to move around, so I built a little box to keep them all together. It makes removing them from the bag a snap, and I don't have to worry about accidentally pulling a wire loose.

Using heavy gauge wire (I used the wire from an old computer power cable), wire the batteries in series--positive from one battery to negative of the next. Attach the included connector to the positive lead of the first battery and the negative of the last (see pictures).

The whole kit-and-caboodle goes into the bag! Plug it into the driver, zip things up, and use the long bungee cable to wrap things up tight. You're ready to ride!



Wear a helmet! This motor can go scary fast, way faster than I can pedal, and way, way faster than I feel comfortable! It turns out that 45-48 kmph is kind of scary on a bike. The throttle lets you control your speed though, so nothing to worry about. I do find myself overdoing on straightaways, but I usually get nervous and slow down. This thing goes FAST!

Step 8: Pros and Cons

Picture of Pros and Cons

Let's talk about the good first:

  • This motor goes really fast, and has no problem with my weight, the batteries, and my oversize backpack, even pulling me uphill.
  • It is really fun!
  • The charge lasts a long time, I've gone the five miles to and from work four times, and it's still showing half full.

Now the issues I've had:

  • The back end of the bike is now really heavy--you feel it when you hit a bump or try to walk the bike. Be aware, because if you lose control and drop the thing, it's going to smash REALLY HARD into the ground, possibly with you still on it.
  • I don't like the carrying bag. It's too wobbly, even with the bungee cord strapping it down.
  • The driver overheats and shuts off the whole system. I found this out the hard way and thought I'd killed the motor. However, once it's had a chance to cool down, it will run again.
  • The back end of the bike is too heavy now to use the kick stand, I have to find something to lean it against.

    All in all, the conversion kit is awesome. I'm in love with it, and have been using it to commute when the weather isn't too awful. What's more, I've got BIG IDEAS for fun things to do with it!

    Step 9: Improvements

    Picture of Improvements

    Beyond totally taking this conversion kit in a different direction, I have other ideas about ways to improve it. On my maybe someday list are adding a bike light, brake light, and turn signals, replacing the on switch with a key start, and adding an airflow vent on the case to keep the power supply cool. I'd also like to reinforce for forks just in case the bike shop guys were right and this sort of motor can rip them up.

    However, by far my biggest complaint about this kit is the carrying case. It's too wobbly, and the big bungee cord holding it in place is both ridiculous and a pain in the butt. So: time for a trip to the hardware store!

    I picked up a medium sized toolbox, and four threaded brackets with hardware. I also had some locking collars to use as spacers, but you can really use anything, from a piece of wood to stacks of washers.

    Trace an outline of the end bracket on the bottom of the toolbox, and drill eight holes to line up the brackets. Install on the end brackets, with the threaded ends of the brackets inside the toolbox--no need to worry about them hitting the tire that way.

    I had to redo the battery box so it would fit better in the new case, made it more square than rectangular. This actually worked out quite well, leaving lots of room at the back end of the toolbox for the driver and the charger!

    The final thing to do was to drill a big hole in the front side of the new case, thread all the wires through, and hook everything up! The result is far better that the original. It's much more stable, the batteries actually sit closer to the center of the bike (which helps for balance), and the handle on top of the case makes maneuvering the heavy back end way easier. All told, the modification ran about $30.

    Step 10: Legal Notes

    Picture of Legal Notes

    After an insightful comment by instructables user and fellow Oregonian Jobar007 followed by a trip down the rabbit hole of Oregon's DMV website, I've come to understand that this "bike" is actually a moped! I hadn't even considered the legal implications of this conversion. Turns out it's a much more complex grey area than I knew!

    If you make a similar conversion, make sure you take a look at state and local laws before you take your new vehicle out on the road!

    Step 11: Final Thoughts

    Picture of Final Thoughts

    I've had a lot of fun with this kit, and look forward to making further modifications and new projects with it down the line. It's a fun and economical ride, and a great way to get into an electric bike without braking the bank. Thanks again to thediyoutlet for providing the hardware!

    As always, thanks for stopping by! Please take a moment to favorite, follow, and comment! If you do an electric bike conversion using these instructions, post some pictures below and I'll send you a digital patch and a three month pro membership!


    ckoehler1904 (author)2014-11-14

    Great job on this Indestructible! Looks like lots of fun. However, I would second the recommendation that you reinforce the front spokes since there is a LOT of torque and wear on that very small area. You will find this recommendation mentioned on other electric conversion sites. The guys at the bike shop know what they are talking about......

    depotdevoid (author)ckoehler19042014-11-14

    Definitely on my short list of modifications! Thanks for seconding this suggestion, I'll flag your comment to the top!

    Yonatan24 (author)depotdevoid2015-09-29

    What does "flag your comment to the top" mean?

    Is that the "Feature Comment" box at the bottom right of a comment?

    depotdevoid (author)Yonatan242015-10-31

    Exactly right, it puts the comment at the top of the list so it's easier for others to find.

    Jobar007 (author)2014-11-13

    You need to be careful with laws and electric bikes. Some places require license and registration (just like a motorcycle). Oregon doesn't, as long as your motor has less than 1 KW of power and can't move you faster than 20 mph on level ground. You are also restricted to being at least 16 and have a clean driving record. There are also some restrictions on where you can ride it. I just don't want to see a fellow Oregonian get a fine is all.

    That being said, this looks like a good mod for a bike for commuting. Personally, I am fortunate enough to live close enough that I walk to work. My commuting costs are sneakers (and boots in the winter).

    depotdevoid (author)Jobar0072014-11-13

    Good to know, and not something I'd even considered! I've pinned this comment to the top the stack! I didn't know about the 20 mph limit . . . a speedometer might be a nice addition to this.

    srilyk (author)depotdevoid2014-11-17

    A $10 bike computer should fit that bill!

    depotdevoid (author)Jobar0072014-11-13

    Jobar, I just did some reading on Oregon moped law, and realized I really should have been looking into the law the whole time. Thanks for pointing this out, I've added a step talking about potential legal issues, and sent you a 1 year pro membership. Thank you!

    LachnidtA made it! (author)2017-08-02

    This was great! Admittitedly my husband was the one who put it together mostly. We found a cheaper kit, but it had the same contents. The problem we had is the rack that holds the batteries. The batteries are really heavy and it sometimes rubs on the back tire. We are looking for a solution. Most racks have a 40 pound limit. I like the lower CG solutions mentioned below. Also the bike needs a different kickstand because of the weight of the batteries. I recommend a duel stand like the ones on motorcycles. Thanks so much for posting this!

    Ethan1976 (author)2017-01-22

    This was my thought too. Or at least saddle bag the batteries so that they're lowering the center of gravity. It would be better if they were in the middle of the frame though

    testmonkey (author)2014-12-19

    Another great how to. I agree that large bulky box has got to go somewhere lower on the bike to at the least lower the "center of gravity". In the future while doing maintenance (or more like reconfig) could you maybe weigh "bulky box"? I'd really be interested in its weight. I am maybe thinking about separating the components and mounting in the "triangle"? Just a thought. Nicely Done

    bwwardiii (author)testmonkey2016-10-06

    This was my thought too. Or at least saddle bag the batteries so that they're lowering the center of gravity. It would be better if they were in the middle of the frame though.

    depotdevoid (author)bwwardiii2016-10-06

    I've currently got the bike disassembled in my shop, with the plan of distributing the batteries around the frame. I'll put one on the very front, attached to the frame above the front wheel, one in the center under the seat, and the last two in a saddlebag arrangement on the back.
    I think that will solve a lot of problems, but I'm still trying to decide how to weatherproof the batteries in that arrangement. It rains way so much here I have to do something, just not sure what.

    depotdevoid (author)testmonkey2014-12-19

    I will weight it next time I have to pull it off. It's pretty well secured so I don't know when that will be, but I'll definitely let you know.
    With the way this bike is set up I don't know if I could fit the stuff in the triangle, but I've heard from other people who have . . . one thing I'd thought of doing was distributing the batteries around the frame, maybe a couple in the triangle and one each on the back and front. It would make the wiring more complicated, and changing out the batteries a pain, but it might work to distribute the weight.

    testmonkey (author)depotdevoid2014-12-20

    Yes, absolutely don't take it apart on my account. Like I said next time maintenance or reconfiguring is in the cards. I maybe thinking about doing it in the future and would just like to know what I'm up against.

    Happy Holidays

    robo sagar (author)2015-09-21

    can you say which motor you have been used for E-bik

    rush_elixir (author)2015-06-29

    To lessen the load on the rear with the batteries and controller, you can relocate it on the middle part of the bike to balance all the components.

    JoshS1 (author)2015-05-09

    If you still have this try adding some Dense foam to pad the batteries in the event you get hit or crash.

    milesnorth (author)2015-02-28

    Pretty sweet. Does it give you the option of assist or "non-assist" when you are riding so you still get some exercise out of the deal? And do you think it might be adaptable to a hand cycle? Handcycle has one front wheel and two back (daughter had feet reconstructed and used it for awhile. Very stable but ALOT of work. Thoughts?

    blodefood (author)2014-11-13

    Awesome 'ible! In Ontario, a moped is a gas powered bike. The police do watch home made e-bikes as the legal limit is 32 km/h. I understand from a friend who made her own e-bike is that you can set the controller to go a km or two under the legal limit to ensure the police can't clock you any faster than the limit.

    andrea biffi (author)blodefood2014-11-13

    I usually go faster when I go cycling... that law is crazy :-|

    In Italy there is another crazy law: you can go as faster you wish with an electric bicycle, but the motor should turn off over 25 km/h!

    blodefood (author)andrea biffi2014-11-30

    If you can pedal faster than that, the police cannot do anything. If you have a motor on the bike and the bike looks homemade, they will watch you. My friend's bike was quite obviously homemade.

    depotdevoid (author)andrea biffi2014-11-14

    I had no idea getting into this that there were so many weird laws about electric bikes!

    john.west.96343 (author)2014-11-23

    Thanks for showing this. Checked the price and is not too bad. Really liked the Front Wheel drive version. Leaves the Pedal option. Those are 17 Ah Batteries (based on a 20hour rating) by the way. Think the 17A was just a typo as they will put out much more then 17A's. I service X-Ray equipment and can suggest making friends if possible with the Biomedical Engineering or Clinical Engineering Dept at your local Hospital. Portable X-Ray and some other devices have mandatory battery replacements and you would be saving them the task of having their take outs picked up. Many times still good (or good enough) Batteries. Sometimes the 24 Ah are available. Good luck......jw

    michyvi (author)2014-11-14

    I did the same thing, but with a mountain bike.

    I placed the batteries in the frame, so the weight is better devided.

    depotdevoid (author)michyvi2014-11-14

    Cool! I'd love to see how you mounted the batteries. Do you have any pictures you can share?

    michyvi (author)depotdevoid2014-11-14

    So the first 3 pics are from how I built it at first.
    But after driving it a while I noticed it was unballanced.
    I first placed the battery on the back just like you, but all the weight was at the back, so it remained unstable.

    Then I read about placing it in the frame, and it felt much better.

    Just took the latest 4 pics (yes it is a flat tire at the back, ran in a nail today).

    The controller is still at the back, and the battery is in the frame.

    It is a 48v 10A battery, last long enough to drive +-40 km without pedaling.

    I placed a kill switch key, and some other safety's just to be sure.

    Loved reading how you did yours, keep up the good work!

    iphlue (author)michyvi2014-11-21


    depotdevoid (author)michyvi2014-11-14

    Very slick, thanks for sharing! That's definitely a mod I'd consider making!

    jcharles11 (author)michyvi2014-11-14


    michyvi (author)jcharles112014-11-14

    Just uploaded them :)

    BlueWeasel (author)2014-11-21

    Tempting...but I need a 20" kit.

    onepower (author)2014-11-21

    Just to clerify does this charge by paddling at all or you have to charge it at home?

    depotdevoid (author)onepower2014-11-21

    Charge at home. You can augment the motor's power, or begin your acceleration with the pedals, but to actually charge the batteries you need to plug it in.

    astrong0 (author)2014-11-17

    Idaho doesn't care about electric anything. The law says any gas powered engine larger than 49cc's has to have insurance but people circumvent this all the time by having electric scooters that can compete with cars on the road speed wise. Anyway i wanted to say that someone should make a Tron style bike with the electric wheels. Just for pure speed.

    depotdevoid (author)astrong02014-11-17

    That sounds totally awesome!

    Wingloader (author)2014-11-17

    how long can you ride this when you are using a decent amount of power?

    depotdevoid (author)Wingloader2014-11-17

    I've gone 25-30 miles without a recharge (about 4 miles at a time), but I've never tested the max range. It's best for your battery health to keep them as charged as possible. So far the real limit has been on overheating the controller after too long riding it, so I'm going to add some airflow to keep that to a minimum.

    tkjtkj (author)2014-11-16

    Oh .. Addendum to my comment of moments ago:

    re: The federal '20mph max' law : your controller box should be programmable to set that max speed .. Do ask your supplier about this!

    That top speed refers to what the motor alone can do.. Of course it's not a problem for you to pedal in addition to what your motor can do ...

    depotdevoid (author)tkjtkj2014-11-16

    Wow, thanks for the thoughtful comments! Looks like Oregon law (not sure about federal) says that this bike, since I can still pedal and the governor tops it out at 30 mph, is technically a moped, as far as the law is concerned. If it went any faster, it would be a motorcycle!

    I'm definitely making reinforcing the forks a priority, I've had SEVERAL comments from people with real world experience mention that it's a serious concern.

    When I have to replace the battery, I'm thinking I'll go with the LiPo. I went with the SLAs because the actual buy-in cost is so much lower, but if I stick with this long term the weight will really be an issue, and the cost is amortized over time.

    tkjtkj (author)depotdevoid2014-11-17

    Good plan! It was very rational to go the SLA route, your not knowing yet if an ebike is for you!
    I'm glad you're as thrilled about them as I am ;)
    Also, i'd suggest you actually remove your fork and just buy a replacement one that will fit .. Otherwise, it's gonna be tough cutting/drilling/tapping and fitting a thick piece of stainless steel. Pure ebike forks have wide flanges at tip of fork, with mounting screw tapped holes .. It's critical that the fork tips PERFECTLY contact the wheel hub, with maybe shoulder washers. That plat will have to be accurately cut (it's NOT a simple hole!) to be a slot that matches the flat-spot on the ends of the axle
    The legality of your 'speed issue' is NOT 'how fast you go' .. it's IS THE BIKE CAPABLE of going over 20 ... that's the rule. Im sure your controller can be reprogrammed to be the 20mph max speed under power alone requirement. Besides, I think its nuts to go faster! 300+pounds of steel and flesh hitting the far rim of a pot-hole can be a very bad experience. .. the least of which will be loss of the wheel .. There really are fools out there who juice up their bikes with an 8hp (ie, 8x's 750 watts!) on the front AND another on the rear wheel, for 70+ mph! .. Recently a guy strapped some rockets to a plain bike on an airport runway and got to 270+mph and is now shooting for 330mph (400 kph)! Something is very wrong there!
    Happy riding .. and you know what to do with the rubber-side!

    srilyk (author)2014-11-17

    You might look at fabricating/buying a stand that props the whole wheel off the ground - it might be a little sturdier. Alternatively if you've got a welder around you can stick a pretty large flat piece of metal to the bottom so it looks more like a motorcycle kickstand.

    depotdevoid (author)srilyk2014-11-17

    That's a cool idea, I was thinking of asking one of the machinists at my workplace to weld on a torque arm, maybe I'll get them to add a plate to the end of the kickstand while I'm at it!

    paler31 (author)2014-11-17

    This is a good project I think I might have a go at this as I have an electric hub motor in my garage. However I think I will try to use lithium batteries they are more expensive but much lighter and should last longer.

    depotdevoid (author)paler312014-11-17

    Very true. I went with the SLAs for the lower buy-in cost, but if I keep using the bike I'll switch to lithium when it's time to replace them.

    DavidTangye (author)2014-11-16

    Great bike!. 1000w would give great acceleration! I made one about 5 years ago. I weigh 67kg and find that my 350 watt motor gets me to 40km/hr max, 33-35 cruise. To get faster than 50km/hr, you would need a more expensive high frequency motor controller. also, I used a 15amp-hour LiFePO4 battery, costing over $600, more than the bike and motor etc combined. i think it was well worth it though. Range is about 50km mainly unassisted (peddle a little to assist take offs) careful biking. It only weighs 7.5kg, so my own weight and the battery weight on the carrier on the back is fine for the back tyre, and the bike is nicely balanced. Finding a suitable battery box was very hard. I still need a nice aluminium one. Website

    depotdevoid (author)DavidTangye2014-11-16

    Very cool! I'd like to get a nice little trailer like that for mine. I had one when my daughter was little, but we gave it away when she got older, now I'm wishing we still had it!

    DavidTangye (author)depotdevoid2014-11-16

    Actually, that trailer tipped too easily, when I had shopping in it, when riding >10km/hr. A 13kg corgi would not even ride in it. He probably sensed the danger. Very smart dogs, corgis :-)

    rcolleary (author)2014-11-16

    How long did it take you to make and how hard is it to make?

    amackenzie5 (author)2014-11-16

    Nicely done, good write-up. Good mix of detail HOWTO and considerations beyond that.

    End result is a pretty bulky box on the back though?

    Maybe given your comments about its "ample" power, and weight....would you reconsider now and go with the 36V motor and 3 batteries in series - making lighter?

    Three batteries in a flat triangle inside the frame would be interesting to see.

    About This Instructable




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