Folding Bike Conversion
Long gone are the days of standard two-wheel bicycles. In the 21st century, there seem to be countless different types of bicycles available for purchase, from the traditional road bike to mountain bikes, bikes with enormous tires that can be used on the beach, bicycles with motors, and folding bicycles.
Today, the advent of the folding electric bike is transforming the way we get around. With this new technology, you’re now able to travel farther and faster, and without the inconvenience of having to lug around a cumbersome, awkward bike with oversized 26 or 27-inch wheels.
Front Hub Vs. Rear Hub VS. Central Motor
When it comes to electric bikes, there are three different motor placement types: front hub, rear hub, and central motor.
Front Hub: Sharing some of the advantages of the rear hub motor, the front hub motor relieves the chain of the motor’s load by funneling power directly to the front wheel. Furthermore, this makes the bicycle an all-wheel drive by delivering power to the front wheel through the motor and power to the back wheel through your legs.
Rear Hub: A heavier bike that emphasizes power to the rear wheel, driven by a combination of force generated by a rider’s legs and the bicycle’s motor. In some cases, the placement of the battery at or near the rear wheel will increase the weight on the back wheel.
One of the main drawbacks of a rear hub is that the bicycle will require a specifically designed wheel to accommodate the motor, and if you need to remove the back wheel for whatever reason, it will be a far more labor-intensive, time-consuming process.
Despite this, there are several advantages to a rear hub motor.
- This type of bike will offer the most natural feeling when you’re riding it, by distributing power to the rear wheel.
- In addition, the rear hub motor won’t wear the chain down, instead driving its power directly into the rear wheel, while the chain absorbs the usual load of the power output by your legs.
Central Motor: A central motor offers a balanced weight distribution between the front wheel and the back wheel. A bicycle with a central motor placement is the optimal solution for off-road biking because it offers a lower center of gravity and more stability. A central motor is also versatile and compatible with any wheel type, in contrast to the bicycle with a rear hub motor. Finally, the central motor also allows for easy removal of the wheels, again in contrast to the rear hub motor placement.
The placement of the motor at the center of the bike frame can improve stability and handling, but like a car that’s been lowered its lower ground clearance also exposes the bike itself to potentially harmful obstacles in its path. A central motor also restricts the bicycles drivetrain, so in the event that your battery dies, you may find yourself stuck with a heavy bike in a single, higher gear.
Which Motor Type is Best for a Folding Bike?
When it comes to motor placement for a folding bike, your best option is going to be the front hub motor. Why? First and foremost, you have to keep in mind that when folding your bike, you are going to be collapsing its parts into the center. A front hub motor is going to stay out of the way and ensure that you don’t have any unnecessary wires running across the center that may get caught or damaged during the folding or unfolding process.
Since a rear hub motor requires a special wheel, it may not be the best option for converting your folding bike, which likely already has a uniquely undersized commuter-type wheel. With a central motor, you’ll likely interfere with the folding mechanism of your bicycle, and you’ll be putting a lot of stress by driving all of the power through the bike’s chain.
Nevertheless, there are many rear-wheel conversion kits that can be used for folding bikes. In many cases, you may find that a front hub is simply not an option, due to the fact that there is inadequate space between the front fork dropouts. In situations such as these, you’ll have no other option besides going for a rear hub motor. If you have a choice however, the front wheel is the preferred course because installation is slightly easier, future removal is significantly easier, and you’ll have yourself a reliable all-wheel drive bike.
What Tools Will You Need to Convert Bike to Electric?
So, you want to convert your folding bike into an electric folding bike? Congratulations on the upgrade. In order to add a motor to your bike, you’ll want to watch a couple of videos on how to make the switch. In this video by Swytch Technology, you can see each step of the conversion process.
In fact, there are many ways to add the power of electricity to your folding bike. One option is to simply purchase a powered wheel which can be installed on your bike. Another option is to affix a drive unit to your bike, while a third choice allows you to power up your wheels by placing a motor in the seat post.
In this case, we’re going to be focusing primarily on adding a powered wheel to your bike, since it’s the simplest and most pragmatic option of the three.
For this project, you’ll need a couple of tools, most of which can be found in a basic bicycle repair tool kit, such as this one available from Bikehand. Included in these kits is:
- flat and Philips head screwdriver,
- folding tool,
- chain rivet extractor,
- lock ring remover,
- tire levers,
- a crank extractor,
- a spanner,
- a hex key wrench,
Additionally, you’ll want to get your hands on a freewheel, a freewheel remover tool, and a handful of one inch and 7/8 inch sockets.
What Conversion Kits Are Available for Folding Bikes?
Finding the right conversion kit is a crucial step on the road to instilling power in the wheels of your folding bike. There are dozens of different conversion kits available, just make sure you take the time to ensure that the conversion kit you’re purchasing is the appropriate size for your specific bicycle’s wheels.
E-Bikerig.com offers a number of high-quality conversion kits to quickly get your electric bike up and running with power to the wheels. Here, you can find several different options to provide power to your folding bike through a dependable Samsung or Panasonic motor. When ordering, be sure to utilize the dropdown tool to select the corresponding wheel size to your folding bike (16 inches or 20 inches).
What’s Included in the Conversion Kits?
The electric bike conversion kit includes almost everything you need to transform your bike into a motorized machine. These items often include the following:
- Front or rear geared motor hub
- Front or rear motor
- A warranty (may vary)
- A wheel set
- Rims (often available in your choice of black or white)
- Tube and tire
- E-Bike battery pack
- Proprietary charger
- Battery Management System
- Lithium battery charger
- Motor to controller
- Pressure grip throttle
- Controller to throttle
- Carrying case or luggage bag
What Other Modifications Do I Need to Make to My Folding Bike?
Depending on your particular bike and preferences, you shouldn’t need to make any further modifications to your electric bike if you’ve followed the instructions and used the tools contained in the kit you purchased.
As mentioned earlier when discussing the three motor placement options, you may need to customize your rear wheel in the event that you opt for a rear hub motor placement. As far as other options are concerned, there may be several to choose from as add-ons when purchasing your conversion kit, though the conversion kit should include everything you need, and modifications to your bike should be very minimal.
By now, you’re an expert on how to convert folding bike to electric. You’ve read all about it, watched the videos, and you’ve got all of your tools and your conversion kit in place. Now, all you have to do is make the switch and you’ll be zipping and zooming down the streets in style on your brand new folding electric bike! Best of all, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself, and probably saved a bundle in the process.
Before you perform the conversion, be sure you have all the correct tools to fit your bike. There are so many different bikes out there and it’s crucial to the success of your project that you double-check all of the items in your kit to ensure perfect compatibility with your bike. Be aware that folding bikes have smaller tires than your typical mountain bike or road bike, and while there are plenty of choices for folding bike conversion kits, you need to make sure you measure your wheel and have the right kit to fit your 16 or 20-inch wheels.