E-Bikes For All: How E-Bike Conversion Kits Will Change The World - by Joe Headland from Spokesafe
Interested in electric bicycles but unsure about making the fairly sizeable investment? We have Mike Ghali from the U.S. based E-Switchy, a start-up designing e-bike kits, here to explain how it might be easier than you think…
Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, have rapidly grown in popularity in recent years. With a battery-powered motor to help propel the bike forward, their most immediate benefit is that they open trips via bike to members of the population who may not have been able to make them previously, such as the elderly. Indeed, Rad Power Bikes, has reported that 82% of customers fall between the age of 45 and 84.
By improving the accessibility of cycling, the increase of e-bikes is also directly linked to new forms of employment. The growth of on-demand food delivery platforms around the world over the last few years owes much to the e-bike, with many delivery workers relying on these bikes to make a living.
And perhaps most importantly, e-bikes offer a less carbon intensive option than both traditional gas-powered cars, and newer electric cars. Here in the U.S., where E-Switchy are based, transportation is the largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A study by the European Cyclist Federation found that, taking into account the complete life cycle of a vehicle, a passenger car emits 271g of CO2/km, compared to 22g CO2/km for an e-bike. This growing realization has led to Americans purchasing over 600,000 e-bikes in 2020, more than double the rate of electric cars.
And there’s even growing evidence that trips made by e-bike may be more energy efficient than traditional push bikes.
So, why isn’t everyone on an e-bike right now?!
There’s a couple of reasons. Culturally, pretty much the last 100 years in Western society have been dominated by the automobile. Think of the media – films, TV shows – which have glamourised the car as a rite of passage and vehicle of freedom. It’s going to take some time for society to move away from that mindset and accept e-bikes as the cultural norm for shorter trips.
A lack of bike friendly infrastructure is another reason. While countries like the Netherlands and Denmark have spent decades building infrastructure that encourage cycling, here in the U.S., and the UK, we still have some catching up to do.
An underdiscussed element of infrastructure that is particularly important to e-bike growth and adoption is secure parking. As e-bike sales have increased, bike thefts have been on the rise. In New York, for example, electric bike thefts have doubled in the last year. Of course, as a Spokesafe member, you’ll be all too aware of the importance of this!
But there’s a final reason that’s worth discussing. Currently, e-bikes are prohibitively expensive, and price many out of becoming potential e-bike owners.
The Price of E-Bikes
The average price of an e-bike is an astonishing $2500 in the U.S. In the UK, e-bikes can range in price from around £1000 all the way up to £6000.
Now, we don’t think it’s right that the benefits of an e-bike are only available to those with the deepest pockets.
That’s why we started E-Switchy. Using sophisticated Formula One technology, we set out to make available an electric battery kit would be within everybody’s reach. We wanted our customers to experience the joy of an e-bike instantly, which is why we offer a battery kit which can work on most regular traditional bikes, and effectively turns them electric.
Why do we believe in the power of battery kits?
E-Switchy allows you to reduce the price of an e-bike, instantly. There’s now no need to spend an exorbitant amount of cash on a whole new bike, when you can upgrade your own. We take huge pride in changing the course of electric bicycles, making them both more affordable and accessible to the general public.
And why is that important? As discussed, e-bikes help more of us stay active, enjoy our commutes (and save on gas!).
So how exactly does a conversion kit work, you ask? The exact specification will vary from kit to kit, but the technology behind this is advancing at pace. Our simplest kit, the Switch One, is actually an integrated motor, battery, and control module all in one wireless wheel. More advanced models have more features (and require a few more cables to connect the different functions of your bike), but it’s just as efficient as a specifically purchased e-bike.
These kits are also game changers because they make it so easy to switch to e-bikes. How so? We’ve actually named our kits based on the number of steps it takes to convert. Our Switch One literally requires just a single step (a quick wheel change, with no cables involved) and you are good to go.
While we can’t speak for the wider market, an increasing number of kits are being developed with this ease of installation in mind.
Our highest spec kit is the Switch Three, with a range of 75 miles and an easily removeable battery that allows you to charge it quickly. That’s quite an incredible capability to have – and it takes just 8 minutes to install. Not too shabby if we do say so ourselves!
To put it simply, at E-Switchy we believe that adding a motor to your existing bike is cheaper, easier, and the best way to share the joys of e-biking with everyone. So, if you’re considering switching it up, but are afraid of the price, don’t be. Other alternatives are available, and it’s far easier than you think!
You can read more about E-Switchy here, and check out just how easy the installation process is here. Want to keep up to date on their journey? Then give their socials a follow too.