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Quality vs. Cheap Electric Bike Kit


Here's what separates a high quality electric bike
kit from a cheap conversion kit...

The Difference Between EZIP vs. IZIP Brands...If you've been shopping around for an electric bike kit,
you've probably been overwhelmed by the wide selection of products and price points. What makes up a quality electric bike kit? First, you need to compare apples to apples to make a fair comparison. In many cases, the most expensive kits include "geared" hub motors that are smaller and lighter weight than gearless "direct-drive" motors. But direct drive motors are more affordable, have higher top speeds and will last longer due to the lack of internal gearing. Both types of motors have pros and cons, but no matter what type of motor you choose, it's important for you to know what separates a high quality electric bike kit from a cheap one. Is it really worth saving a few extra dollars on a cheap electric bike kit? Here are some things to consider before you choose an electric bike or conversion kit:

Brand Reputation

You get what you pay for -- this is especially true for conversion kits. A great way to
ensure you're getting the highest quality product is to research the brand or manufacturer. Unfortunately, most "discount sellers" don't provide a brand name or any manufacturer information. These sellers use auction sites and poorly designed web pages to sell low cost conversion kits imported directly from China. With little or no quality control, these kits almost always include the lowest quality parts and components. There will be no reviews and very little customer feedback (besides testimonials provided by the supplier). And if they actually offer a warranty, it will be virtually impossible to get support if (and when) you run into problems.

Do a search on Googe for "ebikekit" or "currie" (our primary conversion kit suppliers). You'll find numerous reviews and lots of customer feedback. You'll also find their websites and full contact information. Not only will you get support from an authorized dealer who actually sells and installs these products (ie: eCo Wheelz), but you'll also have direct access to the manufacturer if you ever run into any problems with us :(

Component Quality

A brand is only as good as it's components. Here are some of the major differences in quality between a cheap electric bike kit and a high quality one:

1.) The Motor - This is the primary component in your system and the one that will take the most abuse. The windings (or gears on a geared motor) will determine the overall quality of the motor. Cheaper motors use thinner windings (or plastic gears), while higher quality motors have thicker windings (or nylon / steel gears). Over time, thinner windings have the potential to burn up since they don't handle heat or load as well, and plastic gears will wear down quicker than nylon or steel.

The housing, or motor casing, is also important since it protects the internals. Cheaper motors tend to have heavier housings and poor designs that are easier to break. They're also more likely to leak, which can cause corrosion or shorts.

2.) The Controller - The controller is the "brains" of your conversion kit and the central hub for all the components. If it doesn't work correctly, your bike won't work either. Cheap controllers tend to have thin wiring, unsealed housings, poor solder joints and low quality connections. Although a cheap controller might work OK at first, it's more likely to malfunction, break, or burn-up after a short period time.

3.) The Batteries - When you're comparing kit prices, make sure you're comparing prices with - and without - batteries. Typically, low cost conversion kits will offer cheap SLA batteries as an option. These are usually the lowest quality SLA batteries available. Expect a very short life in comparison to SLA's offered by a quality supplier. This is also true for other battery types. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. These batteries tend to have cheap connectors, poor solder joints, thin wiring and low capacity cells that probably haven't been tested.

4.) The Connectors - Connectors are a simple component, but they make a huge difference to the overall quality of your bike kit. Cheap connectors are more likely to break, burn-up or come apart while riding. Cheap connectors will almost always have to be maintained, repaired or replaced. The highest quality kits (such as E-BikeKit) use rugged, long-lasting, watertight connectors. High quality connectors mean less frustration and less repairs over time.

5.) The Wiring - Cheap conversion kits tend to have low gauge wiring that can be easily crimped or cut. It's also more likely to fail because of it's lower load capacity. This is especially true of wiring exiting your hub motor. If this wire gets damaged it's very hard to fix. Not only do higher quality kits have thicker, heavier wiring that is less likely to fail, but they also include plastic covers and other protective devices.

6.) Kit Extras - Lots of low quality kit suppliers will try to entice you with cheap extras like headlights and tail lights. But these components are unnecessary and can be easily added to any bicycle. The most important extras include a torque arm and brake inhibitors (for safety and protection), a spoke wrench (since standard spoke wrenches won't work on larger gauge spokes) and an instruction manual. Believe it or not, many cheap electric bike kits don't include any instructions.

Inaccurate or False Claims

As a retailer of high quality electric bike kits, there's nothing more frustrating than to
see discount sellers making false claims about their products. In particular, the power ratings provided by many discounters are often inaccurate or misleading. An electric bike kit can be rated by "nominal" or "output" power. Nominal power is the actual power / watt rating of the motor. But many discounters mislead customers by providing the total output power which is much higher. Be skeptical of a seller who claims a kit is 1000W, but the price is comparable to most 500W setups. A motor with a "nominal" rating of 500W can easily be rated at 1000W "output" (Voltage x Amps = Output Power). At eCo Wheelz, we provide the nominal and output ratings of all our conversion kits.

Warranty & Service

Whether you need advice on choosing a product, assistance with an install or help troubleshooting a problem, having an experienced support network is vital. When you buy a cheap electric bike kit from an auction site or Internet distributor, it's very unlikely you'll get the support or advice you need (especially after the sale has been completed). And if a warranty is actually offered, you'll be lucky to get ahold of someone when you need assistance or replacement parts. Choosing a reputable dealer, like eCo Wheelz, ensures you'll always have someone to talk to if you run into problems. Not only do we stand-by all the products we sell, but so do our suppliers. You can contact us by email, use our forum, talk by "live chat" or give us a call. If for some reason you can't get ahold of us, or you just don't like us :( , you can always go directly to our suppliers. This is not the case with most discount sellers, importers or Internet distributors.
 

This article is copyrighted work owned by eCo Wheelz, Inc. You may not copy, reprint, distribute, create derivative work of, or use this content in any way without citing eCo Wheelz (with link to website). For example: "Article by <link>eCo Wheelz - Electric Bikes</link>"

 

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