eBike Conversion: The Best of Both Worlds

eBike Conversion: The Best of Both Worlds

by Brent Robinson on Mar 27, 2024

Cycling is a great way to stay active, explore the outdoors, and enjoy adventures with friends and family. However, challenges such as age, ailments, injuries, and safety concerns can make riding a traditional bike difficult for many. 

Electric bicycles (eBikes) offer pedal assistance, making riding easier and more enjoyable for everyone, regardless of fitness level or mobility.

The best part about eBikes is that you control the level of assistance. Turn it up for a sweat-free ride to the office, or turn it down for a heart-pumping mountain bike ride. eBikes give you the electric boost you need to ride more, extend your range, get healthier, and save the planet.

The US eBiking revolution is exploding, with the market growing by 190% to reach $9 billion in 2030. The average eBike buyer is 54 years old, with many citing health challenges as their primary motivation for buying an eBike. But younger generations are catching up, as eBiking loses the “but it’s cheating” stigma and is quickly becoming the next “gotta have it” technology gadget.

With this demand, there is a wider range of cost options available. However, the mean price of an eBike in 2022 was still $4,247, leaving many people looking for more affordable eBiking options.

When it comes to embracing the electric biking revolution, you have choices. However, it all boils down to finding the sweet spot between quality and affordability. 

This guide explores the options for buying a new eBike and offers a compelling alternative: converting your existing bicycle into an eBike. This combination of a quality bike and an affordable electric motor offers the best of both worlds.

Your Path to Electrifying Rides: Buying New or Converting Your Bike

High-end eBikes: The Cream of the Crop 

High-end eBikes represent the pinnacle of both bicycle and electric technology. Boasting top-tier bicycle components alongside the latest in mid-drive motor technology from reputable brands like Bosch, Specialized, and Shimano, these eBikes offer an unrivaled riding experience. However, the premium features come with a hefty price tag starting at $4,500 and can go way up, like this Specialized eBike for $15,000.

Mid-tier eBikes: Balancing Act 

Positioned as a middle ground, mid-tier eBikes offer a balanced mix of decent bicycle components and electric functionality. While they may not have the high-end frames or the cutting-edge motor technology, they provide a satisfactory riding experience for the daily commuter. These eBikes usually come with hub motors and range between $1,000 to $4,500, with options like this Rad Power RadRover for $2,500.

Budget eBikes: Economical Entrants 

Budget eBikes are the most pocket-friendly option, making electric biking accessible to many. They typically feature lower quality frames and components, paired with hub motors. The electric tech might be older or use bolt-on solutions akin to what you'd get in a conversion kit. Prices start at $500 to $1,000, featuring choices like this Walmart Hyper Bicycle 26” 36V eMTB 250W Hub Drive for $348.

Conversion Kits: The Goldilocks Solution 

Imagine coupling your existing bicycle's high-quality frame and components with the electric boost from a mid-drive motor. 

Conversion kits from manufacturers like Tongsheng and Bafang (check out why we’re fans of Tongsheng), who also supply motors to mid-tier eBike brands, allow you to do just that. By converting, you retain the essence and quality of your beloved bike while upgrading it to an electric version at a fraction of the cost of a new eBike.

Your existing high-quality bicycle + Our Mid-drive Motor Conversion Kit = An eBike with superior ride quality and electric performance without breaking the bank.

Sounds Awesome? Here’s Four More Reasons to Convert

Here’s why upgrading your current bicycle to an eBike using a conversion kit is a smart move.

  1. Save Money: Owning an eBike doesn't have to break the bank. Upgrading your existing bicycle is a cost-effective option compared to buying new. With quality conversion kits ranging from $500-$1,000, you save a good chunk of money, especially when new quality eBikes start at $2,500.
  2. Customize Your Ride: Now you have options for your eBike technology like power: 500 or 750 watts, battery size: 10 or 20 amp hours, and type: torque or cadence sensing.  Unlike buying a new eBike with fixed features, upgrading allows you to choose a kit with the exact features and specifications you want.
  3. Revitalize The Bike You Love: You’ve already invested in a bike. You have the brand you love, be it a Cannondale Capstone, a Terratrike Gran Turismo, or an Electra Townie. It already has the component package that works for you. Converting it is an upgrade to get it back on the trail for years to come.
  4. Avoid the Landfill. By upgrading your existing bike, you're keeping one more old bike out of the dump. What’s good for the pocketbook is good for the environment.

Bonus: A Rewarding DIY Project: Converting your bicycle to an eBike can be a fun and rewarding DIY project. It's a great way to learn more about your bike and how it works, adding a layer of personal connection to your upgraded eBike.

Double Northwest Arkansas Bonus: If you still want to convert but aren’t the Do-it-yourself-er type, we’ll do it for you [link to northwest arkansas page].

Get The Mid-Drive, Not The Hub Motors:

Whether considering a new eBike or a conversion, you've likely come across the terms mid-drive and hub motors. Premium bikes utilize mid-drive setups, and some mid-tier bikes do too. Hub technology, still in use for its low cost, is the older of the two and has limitations that the mid-drive overcomes:

Riding Experience: 

  • Hub motors are integrated into the wheel at the front or rear. Front hubs create a sensation of being pulled along, while rear hubs feel like you're being pushed. 
  • In contrast, mid-drive motors, mounted at the bike's center, make the pedal assist feel more natural like it’s working in harmony with your efforts.


  • The placement of hub motors at either end of the bike can compromise traction and power transfer, making them less efficient. 
  • Mid-drive motors work in concert with your natural pedaling making better use of the power it provides.

Weight Distribution: 

  • Mid-drive motors' central location ensures an even weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. 
  • This leads to better handling and stability when compared to hub motors, which can skew the bike’s balance.


  • Because the mid-drive is connected directly from the pedals to drivetrain it is able to put more power into the push. 
  • This is power for tackling hills, headwinds, and heavy loads that hub motors just cannot provide. 

Torque Sensing Beats Cadence Sensing:

How the motor works to give you assistance is based on two methods: torque (or effort sensing) motors and cadence (or speed sensing) motors. Premium eBikes and some mid-tier brands use torque-sensing mid-drive motors, while many mid- and low-tier brands still rely on hub motors to keep prices down. 

For premium bikes, the primary manufacturers are Bosch, Specialized, Shimano, and Yamaha, among others. For everyone else, there are two primary manufacturers in China, Tongsheng and Bafang. These two companies make integrated motors as well as conversion kits. 

Tongsheng motors, such as the TSDZ2B, are mid-drive motors with a torque-sensing controller system. Bafang models, like the BBS02, are speed sensors. 

When it comes to conversion kits, the Tongsheng torque sensing motors have three key advantages:

Rider experience: 

  • The controller in the Tongsheng measures the effort (torque) you put into each pedal stroke and adjusts the level of assistance accordingly. 
  • This gives you a more natural and intuitive riding experience compared to the Bafang cadence sensing motor, which assists based on the pedaling speed, often resulting in less precise control.

Battery Efficiency: 

  • The nature of the torque sensors means the Tongsheng constantly evaluates your pedal strokes and adjusts the amount of power it sends to the motor to maximize battery usage. 
  • The Bafang is all on unless you stop pedaling, or a brake or shift sensor cuts off power, chewing up battery unnecessarily and shoring your range.

Simplified Installation: 

  • The Tongsheng motor has three cables: battery, speed sensor, and display. 
  • The Bafang motor has three more sensors (and four wires): a shifting sensor, brake lever sensors (left and right), and a throttle. These all have to be routed and concealed along the frame. There is a mechanical brake with an integrated sensor, but if you have hydraulic brakes, you’ll need to use special sensors that mount to the brake handle. 

So What Does It Take To Convert My Bike?

We’ve done it hundreds of times and experienced so many common pitfalls that it seems effortless to us but don’t be fooled - i. Still, it’s not as complicated as you might think. 

  1. Remove Components: Remove the pedals, crankset, front derailleur, and bottom bracket.
  2. Install the Motor: The motor fits in place of your old bottom bracket.
  3. Mount the Battery: Choose a rack-mounted or frame-mounted battery, depending on your bike.
  4. Install Display and Sensors: Mount your display and attach the speed sensor.
  5. Connect the Wiring: Plug all components into the motor and neatly secure the wiring.


If You Don’t Like It, You Can Undo It

Take pictures of everything before you get started, and save all your parts. When you’re done, if you don’t like the conversion, you can always undo it and put everything back to its original setup.


The choice between buying new or converting can be likened to choosing between an iPhone and an Android. The iPhone comes out of the package ready to go with minimal configuration, and limited variations to keep it easy to operate. Whereas the Android lets you pick and choose dozens more options and tweak everything. 

Hopefully, we’ve shared what you need to make an informed decision. All that said, we’re a Tongsheng shop for a reason. With the torque-sensing motor, you get an electric boost and a more natural, efficient, and enjoyable riding experience. 

Explore our Tongsheng mid-drive motor conversion kits and take your biking adventures farther!

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