How To Buy Your First Ebike Or Ebike Kit And Not Get Punked

This article has been swimming around in the back of my head for a while now. Since I am over $20,000 into the sport, and since I have spent the better part of my life being a Rock Punker I feel like I am probably the best-qualified person to write it.

Most people’s experiences with e-bikes goes something like this. They discover Endless-Sphere and spend a bunch of time reading articles, then they look at people out there selling ebike kits and they decide to buy the cheapest kit they can get. They have done enough research to avoid Lead Acid batteries and are totally going with Lithium cells, because that is all people ever talk about. Everyone seems to get super stoked over the very inexpensive Lipo packs from Hobby King that are oh-so-much cheaper than the fancy 18650 cell packs that seem horrendously overpriced. They might talk to their local bike shop who probably are pretty clueless about ebikes, or if they are lucky they talk to their local ebike shop who just try to sell them something that is really, really expensive. In they end they buy a cheap ass kit from ebay or and then throw it all together. They don’t understand that much about the differences between Direct Drive, Gear Hub and Mid drive systems so they just buy whatever is cheapest which is generally a direct drive or small geared hub motor.

This is not your average ebike blog

or build an ebike and get punked.

When everything arrives they spend about an hour putting it together, maybe two and they take the ebike out for a ride. Because they cheaped out and refused to spend more than $350 for the motor & battery they end up being underwhelmed by the performance of the motor or battery. If they are lucky they don’t burn down their house with the Lipo cells and they don’t break the dropouts on their bike frame because they cheaped out and didn’t get torque arms. Mostly they just end up being dissatisfied with their builds.

This dissatisfaction leads to buying a bigger controller and trying to run more power through a crappy motor that was not designed for it. Eventually, they burn out the motor or they break the controller. This DIY disappointment I have personally experienced, and have seen it play out time and again online. This whole process I’m going to call ‘getting punked’ and I’m going to try to describe to you how to get into the ebike world without ‘getting punked’ like I did.

There is no question that the biggest barrier for people getting into ebikes right now is cost. There are a few companies that have made headway into the world of inexpensive electric bikes by using crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. I don’t recommend buying an ebike this way, because basically you’re just gambling with your money. Although gambling this way has paid off for a lot of people, crowdfunding is not shopping and although the sites look like you are purchasing a product you’re really just donating money to a ’cause’ in the hopes that they will give you a free ‘perk’. I have never bought anything over about $50 on crowdfunding sites and honestly, I never will.

For ~$1500 you can build an ebike that outperforms this $80,000 one.

For ~$1500 you can build an ebike that outperforms this real purty $80,000 one. It won’t be as sexy though.

Overpriced commercial e-bikes

If you want to buy any commercially available ebike from a bike dealer you should expect to pay at least $2000, and most of the bikes are closer to $3000. If you want a fancy mid drive system like the Bosch or Yamaha then you are suddenly in the $4000-6000 territory. In all honesty, many of these expensive commercial ebikes really suck. They are underpowered and ugly and marketed toward older people who have a hard time pedaling normal bicycles. The number one ebike company in the US is Pedego who have never produced an ebike that I would be remotely interested in even testing, much less buying. Most of their ebikes have the motor and the battery in the rear of the bike which leads to an incredibly unbalanced ride because all weight is in the rear. Although lots of the bigger ebike review sites seem to really, really like these ebikes, they are also accepting money from them for advertising so of course they are going to sugar coat their bike reviews. You’re not going to bite the hand that feeds you, right?

This site has spent most of its time being extremely critical of any commercial ebikes I’ve reviewed. I accept no money for advertising and frankly most of these overpriced commercial ebikes just suck. If they don’t suck then they are astronomically expensive. There has got to be a better way.

How did I do it?

I’m going to talk about how I got into ebikes, because it’s something of a tragic comedy. My friend Larry started Boxy Bikes about 2 years ago and I stopped by to see his new shop. I asked what the cheapest ebike he had for sale and he showed me a pretty well-loved several-year-old Giant Twist that he had taken in on trade with a 24v motor and a torque sensor. I took it for a spin and I told him that I would take it for $700. I have a problem with impulse shopping for large things with wheels as you can tell by the fact that I am just one person with 6 crappy cars.

Thats me in the hoodie. Darth Lister.

That’s me in the hoodie. Darth Lister. Just click on the ‘Abuse’ button.

Shop for ebikes on Craiglist first

I should have shopped around first because then I found a guy on Craigslist selling the EXACT same bike in pretty much NEW condition (he had used it about 3x) for $400 that evening. I did what any degenerate scumbag would do, and bought the cheap bike and tried to weasel my way out of buying the $700 bike from Boxy Bikes. I got into something of an awkward conversation with Larry about how I didn’t really want the bike that the day before I had said I was going to buy, but he rightfully called me on my sh!t and told me I already said I would buy the damn bike. He was right and I was an ass so I just bought them both. I was hoping that my son would enjoy going for rides with me. He hadn’t wanted to be on a bike since that time I took him singletrack trail riding when he was about 7 and he took that header off the bridge and dropped 3 feet down into the creek. I guess he never forgave me for that one, and has hated biking ever since. Long story short my son would only go out with me riding under threat and I got tired of threatening him. I thought my wife would love the ebike too, she rode it for about 100 feet and then got off and said ‘Don’t buy me an ebike, please’. This is from a woman who loves to cycle and was born in the Denmark, the cycling utopia of the world. She liked to bicycle for exercise and just didn’t see the point of the ebike except to help us get fat and lazy quicker. In the end, I gave up and resold the ebike on craigslist to some other sucker for $500, which brings me to my first point:

Don’t piss off your local e-bike/bike dealer 

I could have alienated Larry and refused to buy the bike I already said that I would buy. In the last 2 years, Larry and I have become really good friends and we talk about ebikes all the time. Looking back at this deal with the Twist I am super glad that I didn’t have my head as far up my ass as I actually did. I want Larry to succeed and I want ebikes to become the dominant form of transportation in the USA. It’s funny because the other local non e-bike shop I used to frequent I now avoid because one of the bike mechanics likes to give me a hard time about riding an ebike on the singletrack trails. When someone is harassing you at the bike shop about your ebike just politely defer and leave and don’t come back. Don’t try to educate them and don’t try to defend yourself. That is the same trap that Internet trolls use. When someone insults me on the internet I simply click the BLOCK or SPAM button and I don’t give it a second thought. Does everyone have a right to their opinion? Of course. Do I have to listen to it? No fricken way. I can barely tolerate listening to myself type.

The kit comes with everything you'll need except some washers, the donor bike and a single speed chain.

The $390 3000W Cyclone kit is the most watts per buck you’ll find in any mid drive. A diamond in the rough. Not for noobs. Check out my mid-drive shopping guide to see how it compares to the BBS02 & BBSHD

The quest for more power

24v on an ebike is a bad joke. 36v on an ebike is a joke that might be funny if you were totally out of your gourd wasted. 48v on an ebike is getting into some what reasonable territory, but 52v on an ebike is ideal. When I first got the Giant Twist the first thing I did was hook it up to a 36v battery even though it was only designed for a 24v one. BMS battery in China had a custom battery pack and charger for the Giant Twist. The bike performed much better at 36v than 24v but still cut out at 16mph which is about as fast as I can run if I’m getting chased by the cops. Although this Twist is an utter POS I still use it all the time in town, mostly because I love the torque sensing derailleur hanger. Although this ebike is a total ripoff at $1500, at $400 it’s actually a pretty good deal. Giant was poised to be a leader in the ebike field, but they stumbled and floundered, like most everyone else has. When you buy a battery, make sure it has enough amps for future ebikes you might buy.

If you go with a large hub motor (over 500W) then use a torque arm on your bike or suffer the consequences. Power has it’s price.

Buying a bunch of crap from China that is now all in my ebike junk pile

I spent several thousand dollars buying stuff off ebay, alibaba and aliexpress. I read all the warnings against doing this on Endless-Sphere but I thought I was really smart and would not get burned. I was wrong. Pretty much everything I bought I ended up burning up or destroying or trading them for used fat bike tires from Larry. I learned pretty quickly that you get what you pay for.

After getting burned on Ebay & Alibaba I decided that I would buy a bunch of prebuilt hub motors & batteries from actual real companies with websites in China. I ordered thousands of dollars worth of stuff from BMS battery and Elifebike because they were the cheapest I could find and spent almost $600 in shipping alone. I got burned from all of them, although I was sure I wouldn’t. The motors burned out quickly, the batteries underperformed from their claims and were several pounds heavier than what they were listed as on their website. It was a nightmare. The funny thing is I still get emails from these Chinese companies on a regular basis asking if I want to order anything else. Thanks, but no thanks.

You get what you pay for when it comes to HK Lipo batteries. Don't waste your time.

You get what you pay for when it comes to HK Lipo batteries. Don’t waste your time or dime.

Hobby King is synonymous with crap

Then I went the Hobby King route because their stuff was so cheap. The cells got frighteningly hot under just a fractional usage of their claimed C-rates. The packs started getting very puffy when maxed out and the chargers were a complete nightmare to use. I was convinced that these cells were going to blow up in my sleep and kill everyone in my house even though I charged them in the oven. In the end, I gave up on the HK Lipos too, and honestly I have no regrets about that at all. You get what you pay for. Lots of people tout the positives of these batteries online without being completely honest about the downfalls of them. Everyone brags about their fancy HK Lipo builds, but you rarely read about the catastrophic failures that I know must be pretty common with these batteries. Go figure.

Time to switch to LifePo4

After a while, I decided to go with LifePo4 cells because they seemed the least likely to kill me in my sleep. I bought a 52v 20Ah prismatic cell from imotorbattery on ebay which at $500 shipped seemed like the deal of the century. Within 3 months of use the battery was only putting out 12Ah not 20Ah. I tried to balance the cells, then swapped out the BMS but the problem persisted. They ended up shipping me a replacement 25Ah battery for free that I have never used because at 20lbs it’s just way too heavy to carry around. The charger that imotorbattery sold me exploded in my house last month and I vowed never to buy cheap batteries from Alibaba or Ebay ever again. Kind of sad that I had to almost have my house burn down to figure that out. I guess I’m not the smartest peanut in the turd.


This drive unit completely changed my life. Finding it was like finding The Holy Grail in a world full of Solo cups.

This Tragic Comedy is starting to sound like a Horror story

Enter the 750 watt BBS02. This drive unit completely changed my life. Without this drive unit, it’s extremely unlikely that I would have continued to waste my time and energy with ebikes at all. When I first started this blog I was going to call it because it was all I wanted to talk about. Unfortudently there was no BBS02 unit for 100mm fat bikes. Although you could buy a fat bike and grind off the 100mm BB to make it fit, before Doug at California Ebike came out with his conversion kit, there was just very few options out there other than the Deadeye and Deadeye Monster conversions which are fat bikes that have 68mm BB. Doug changed the entire playing field. His axle kit was quickly copied by Lectric Cycles and Biktrix before Bafang released the BBSHD which would work with any BB from 68mm to 120mm. The BBS02 was an amazing drive unit that only reached its potential at the end of it’s product life. This unit was never meant to be able to take 1300W continuous and many people who bought it and insisted on using full throttle up hills with a 48T chainring ended up frying their controllers. There was also a lot of problems with the pinion gear and the nylon gear which were both a pain to replace. Once they switched to 3077 mosfet controllers, many of the controller problems from lighter abuse were fixed. The BBS02 750W was a nightmare for most dealers to warranty and some dealers even ended up losing money from selling that drive unit too cheaply then being faced with tons of warranty replacements. Larry from Boxy bikes bought 4 BBS02’s and had a 100% failure rate on them.

Did Bafang finally get it right with the BBSHD?

The BBSHD picks up where the BSS02 left off. It is incredibly reliable under 30Amp load even when I beat the panther piss out of it on a daily basis.  How is it that Bafang went from having so many problems with the BBS02 to having so few with the BBSHD? They built the drive unit to survive 50 amps and then only sold it as a 30 amp version. I burned out my plastic gear in about 5 minutes by running 65 amps through it with a giant 18FET Lyen ‘brick’ last week. Eric from Lunacycle has been successful at consistently running 50 amps through this BBSHD drive unit with an Adapto Sine Wave Controller without any issues at all. If the mechanicals can take 50 Amps and you only run 30 amps through it then that means you are going to have a pretty low failure rates on the drive. This is the key to the BBSHD’s success. It’s also the key to my misery as I can’t stop thinking about how awesome 65 Amps on the BBSHD felt for those precious 5 minutes we had together. I buy my 1000W BBSHD from

I buy my 1000W BBSHD from for $699 right here, who are a little more expensive than China, but worth every penny. They also have a bunch of custom chainrings like the 42T Luna Eclipse (for street) and the 30T Mighty Mini (for trailriding) which are a must-have upgrade that you can’t buy unless you get your drive unit from them.

I have had better days.

The nylon gear is the weak point on the BBSHD and fails somewhere between 50 and 65 amps. The stock controller only gives you 30 Amps.

So how do I not get Punked by my first ebike or ebike kit purchase?

Test ride it before you buy it

Ride any and every ebike you can get your paws on. There is no better way to cut through the hype and BS. You know what feels good between your legs. There is no substitute for raw, unrestrained power. The Direct Drive guys love to talk about how awesome their motors are, but the reality is at the same power levels a mid drive will beat the feeling of a DD motor every single time. At higher power levels (over 4000W) and at higher speeds (over 40mph), most mid drives tend to extremely problematic and this territory is where large DD motors really shine.

Don’t believe the hype

The ebike message boards are a complete wasteland of opinions that you can easily waste and infinite amount of time on and learn very little. The absolute last person you should listen to is me, I honestly have absolutely no idea what I am talking about and I am a complete fraud. My biggest fear is that you will find out how mentally unstable I really am and will totally stop reading my ramblings.

Everyone thinks they are smart. Everyone thinks they know what is best for you. They are all wrong, there is only one person who knows what kind of ebike will suit you best and that person is you. For me, I want 1300W-3000W in the lightest mid drive I can get that still runs at 52V. That setup is not for everyone, and I realize that and try to respect other people’s opinions, even though I know that what’s right for them (like a 25lb hub motor running at 6000W) is not what is right for me and will never be what I want on my bike. There are plenty of elderly people out there who only want and need a 350W hub motor, and for them, that is just perfect. Am I going to harass and insult them?


Be polite

The world is such a better place when people are not assho|es to each other. Is it really that important that everyone think that your $500 crowdfunded ebike is the best thing ever? Do you really have to insult and harass anyone with a different opinion? When I was younger and people looked at me the wrong way I would fight for ANY reason at all. Now that I’m older I look back at my youth as completely insane. If something isn’t right with your ebike kit or battery then don’t be an ass to the dealer. You’re much more likely to get much better service that way.


Buy everything from the same vendor

Certain ebike vendors are now saying that the warranty on their drive units is void if you use it with anyone else’s battery. Personally, I find this kind of lame, but it is well within their rights. If you want to make sure you don’t have these issues like that then you should just buy everything from the same place. Then the connectors will be right too, and you won’t have to cut wires and solder things, which can be downright dangerous if you’re doing it on a live battery.

Forget about Alibaba, Ebay and Aliexpress 

If you want to buy your drive units, ebikes, or batteries from any of these companies you are just nuts and there isn’t anything I can do to help you.  Good luck buddy. Just flush your money down the toilet. In the end, you’ll be better off; less stress, same result. Buy from someone reputable. How do you know if they are reputable? Ask someone else (other than me).

Buy from the US when you can

If you want to get support when your stuff breaks the best way to do that is to buy from US companies. You can save a few bucks buying from China, but in the end, it’s really not worth it. Trying to get stuff across the pond is expensive and time-consuming, both ways. Shipping Lithium batteries across the ocean legally is astronomically expensive. If you have a local ebike shop then support them whenever you can. These guys are the foot soldiers on the new frontier and they need some love.

Be extremely wary of used lithium packs 

There are lots of messed up lithium packs out there because as the packs age they lose their energy capacity. If they are physically abused or charged incorrectly they will also get pretty wonky, although it might be hard to tell this from a cursory inspection. If you’re buying a lithium pack from someone on craigslist or on the street you have NO way of knowing if it even works properly or not. When you buy an ebike from ANYONE other than an ebike dealer you should negotiate like the battery is NOT included (even though it is). Be clear that you cannot give the seller the value for the battery unless you can have it and test it for a week before you buy it. The easiest way to test it is to run it till the BMS shuts off then attach a watt meter backwards to the charger to see how many Ah the battery can take from the charger before it is fully charged. There is no other easy way to tell how much power a Lithium battery can store. If you are buying it from an ebike vendor find out about how long they will warranty it for before you buy it.

Drill baby, drill.

Drill baby, drill.

Buy a battery pack that you can use with ALL your ebikes and will last you a few years

At this point, the only kind of battery pack that makes any sense is a 18650 pack made up of quality non-Chinese cells. You can use one battery pack between several ebikes, so when it comes time to figure out what pack to buy, I suggest you get one that is powerful enough to use on all of your ebikes. Since you are only one person, you can only ride one ebike at a time. I have about 15 ebikes but only about 5 battery packs to use between them. If you want to use a shark or dolphin pack then you can buy extra mounting brackets and put them on all your ebikes. I really like the frame packs and if you have to choose between a large triangle pack or using two smaller frame packs and swapping them out when the first one dies, I’d chose the latter. If your drive unit pulls a lot of amps that might not be a feasible solution for you. Expect a good 18650 pack to last you 3-4 years if it is mounted properly and it is not abused. Within 4 years it will be obsolete anyways.


My favorite pack for the BBS02, but it gets too hot for a BBSHD, the NCRb shark pack from

I’ve bought and tested a lot of packs from a lot of different vendors and the only packs I use anymore are 18650 packs from I’ve written reviews of the 52v NCRb shark pack here (the best pack I’ve ever owned) as well as a 48v 30q pack here. Other ebike dealers talk a lot of crap about Luna, but I gotta say their batteries are top notch and Eric stands behind his product in a big way. His pricing is insane, not because he’s using Chinese cells, but because he buys the batteries 15,000 at a time direct from the manufacturer and gets a great price. With all the Chinese fakes out there that is probably the only safe way to do it.

It’s no secret that Eric and I are caught up in a bittersweet friendship/rivalry that reminds me of Tupac/Notorious B.I.G. East coast\West coast thing. Let’s hope one of us doesn’t end up getting popped.

Build the industry up, don’t just tear it down

With everything you do, work towards a future where ebikes are accepted and not shunned. Be an ambassador for the sport and treat all other bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists with respect even when they totally piss you off and are in the wrong. Don’t blatantly break the laws and rub it in other people’s faces. Let’s stop talking smack about everyone else behind their backs, and let’s start to work together to make something real.

Ebikes in America are destined for great things and hopefully it won’t take a Zombie apocalypse for it to happen. We can do it. Together.

If it DOES take a Zombie apocalypse for ebikes to take off, then we’ll all be glad we have really fast ebikes to get away from them and solar cells to charge them with.

Ride On.



102 thoughts on “How To Buy Your First Ebike Or Ebike Kit And Not Get Punked

  1. Hi Karl,

    re “At this point, the only kind of battery pack that makes any sense is a 18650 pack made up of quality non-Chinese cells”

    Don’t forgot the Boston Power cells. So far with my 22ah 48v pack pack no problems 🙂

    I’m also using an external controller (Lyen, 9 fet), but now I’m thinking of changing that for a 12 fet, and running with 45 amps. I think that could be a good compromise between power and reliability…

    Keep up the good work, Jeff

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome post Karl as always – keep em coming!

    I’m gonna jump on this bandwagon one day if the Canadian dollar ever stops thinking its an Italian lira.
    Maybe by that time industry prices will of come down anyway – or – pigs will fly and we wont need e bikes – we’ll just be riding flying pigs.


  3. Great article, will save noobs lots of grief. Here’s my 2bits. I’m a bike nerd. I’ve built built, maintained, and ridden singlespeed, roadbike, mtnbike, fatbike, and gnarly dirtbikes. Been riding ebikes for 4 years now, mostly on steep singletrack, about 100 km a week, or whatever butt allows.
    First of all, start with a good quality bike that fits and is comfortable. Brand name SantaCruz, Kona, Rocky Mt, Giant… Your WallyMart ride will suck no matter what. You need decent components, not the most expensive. Shifters that shift and brakes that brake! 4 piston hydraulic brakes to handle the extra weight of the motor and battery. Replace your worn out 6″ rotors with 8″ and you will be amazed at the increased braking power. Buy a good 48 or 52 V 18650 battery and don’t use the cheapoChineseChargers that fail and fail and fail. You have to find a balance between the battery weight you want to carry, how far you want to ride, and how much power you want to use when you ride. Mount the battery to keep your centre of gravity low, don’t mount it on a rack behind the seat or you will be buying your orthopod a new swimming pool. I need about 15 AmpHours for the riding I do. I like my mid drive BBS02 much more than any hub motor I’ve ridden. Period. It has enough power to take me up steep grades (15-20%) if I pedal hard. When it overheats on long steep climbs I just stop and let it cool off. Haven’t peanutbuttered the plastic gear yet because that problem is on my radar. The best direct drive motors overheat long before the BBS02 does on the same climbs.
    If all you want to do is commute to work or ride sidewalks, then disregard what I have to say. Every rider has different needs, so build what you want to ride accordingly. I can’t wait for the next new battery and motor combination, they just keep getting lighter and more powerful. Thanks for all your helpful hints and insights Karl.


  4. Your site, electricbike, and a general suspicion of random Chinese components from Ebay served me well in building a good ebike on the first try!


  5. Very thorough, I remember seeing ebay prices and being tempted by the HK lipos, glad I didn’t make that mistake!

    I decided on a 3000w cyclone kit from luna, in large part inspired by your “Burning Chrome” build, and while I do wish it was as silent as the bbshd, it has the side benefit of being able to run with a front derailleur. I have both 44t and 32t rings so I can actually pedal up hills if desired (or needed!) but the cyclone motor happily climbs anything even with the 44t.

    I really do hope it lasts forever but if it dies I’m definitely going to be looking at the bbshd, anyways thanks for putting out all this great info!


  6. Thanks for another great article. Not all of us old folks want to ride around on 350w motors. You can never have too much power, but you can have too little.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Is It Wise To Power My 48 Volt Mid Drive System With A 52 Volt Battery, Master Yoda? |

  8. Karl,
    Your shared experience will save others tons of money. Thank you.

    I’m new to the e-bikes community, but I have some experience in the motorcycle world.
    First time I took an e-bike for a ride was about a year ago. I was buying some parts in a bicycle store and a store clerk convinced me to take an e-bike for a test ride. I liked the ride, but I didn’t buy the bike. I’m an non-impulse buyer. I often feel sorry for all those sales people who think that they can sell anything to anybody.
    For the last week, I was scouring the net for info about the right kit to convert my old Trek Fuel EX9 to an e-bike. My goal is to build a solid e-bike that will take me and my gear around the Island of Shikoku.
    There is something called 88 Temples Pilgrimage, and in October 2015 I had a pleasure to experience it on a bicycle. It was fantastic. Total walking route is 1100 km. Bike route is about 20% longer, especially if you take more spectacular roads. If you do that, you will never forget it. Japan is mountainous, and Shikoku is not an exception. Riding a bike with camping gear and all other stuff was very hard. Going down the mountains was not picnic either. In 11 days I covered 1075 km and 59 temples. Next time, I’m planning to visit all 88 temples and spend more time there. I’m planning on doing it on a bike with a mid-drive and improved disc brakes.
    I figured that for me, the mid-drive kit is a way to go. At first, I thought 350W or 500W 36V unit will do the job but now, after all that reading, I decided that reliability is the key to successful trip, so I will need something bigger.
    Either Bafang BBS02 or BBS03 looks like a good candidate, but somehow I don’t trust small planetary transmission with plastic gears. I also don’t like built-in controller that is difficult to work with, if something goes wrong. I like GNG kits and Lightning Rod based on GNG motor is the best. I also like new 2016 GNG Premium mid-drive kit. Is that new kit worth a try? Not much info about it. I’m thinking about getting one and playing with it for a while. I have a very well equipped hobby shop and I can do plenty of changes to that kit. Karl, what are your thoughts on that idea?
    I already set my heart on 52v Panasonic Ebike Pack 13.5ah sold by LUNA CYCLE. It is very difficult to ship the battery and my hope is to get the same battery in Japan once I’m there.
    I’m looking forward to my next Shikoku adventure. This time on e-bike. I’m very comfortable traveling by myself, but I think that it would be even more fun to have two or three guys riding together around the Island.
    Any takers?


    • Hi Les,
      I live in Kochi (11 years now)
      IF I can get the time off, I`d be more than happy to join you on your pilgrimage partially.
      Being married with kids doesn`t afford a lot in the way of free time.
      I can be reached at a_s_a_h_i @ (no spaces naturally)


  9. Thanks for another great article.. Happily I got in to e-bikes late and have been able to learn much from other’s mistakes .. your writing style and honesty is terrific…


  10. Hi Karl, great post! What are your thoughts on the E Rad 750 W motor with a 48v 14 ah battery? Is lectric cycles a shady company are a good company in your opinion?


  11. Yes thanks Karl for an excellent article. You certainly demonstrated why you know what you are talking about. I got interested in electric motors for bicycles a long time ago, can’t remember the exact year. There were only there or four companies online, and I could not find a good prospect, in any of them, as I read everything I could find about each of them. What I finally came up with was a least offensive manufacturer to deal with. I was really trying not to “get punked”, and didn’t have the time to do the research to build my own. Much to my surprise, after all this time, I came upon your article. Thanks again for the writings, and hopefully your son will become interested in riding an ebike. Cheers!


  12. Hi Karl,

    Thanks for all the great info. I read this guide and the guide on mid drive selection, but I’m honestly still on the fence on whether to get the bbs01 or bbshd. I’m building an ebike for long daily commuting on almost all flat paths and streets. I have no intention of going off-road so it seems the bbshd is really overkill. But the philosophy here seems to be that overkill means reliable. What would you recommend? Thanks!


    • I wouldn’t get the BBS01. The BBS02 will be fine if you don’t peg the throttle full bore with a 52v battery on big hills. I would get it with a Lekkie ring so you don’t have to worry about chain problems.

      The BBSHD is great if you want to go 30mph all the time. The BBS02 is good if you’re happy with 25mph. I run my BBS02 with a 52T ring and PAS 9 all day long without issues.

      You will be happy with either.



  13. My friend advised me never to let my ebike battery run all the way down (which i already knew) or charge it fully. is that correct?


  14. Karl
    I’m a first timer, rookie, non bike builder who loves the idea of getting some “help” up the hills on my 5 mile commute to work. My needs are similar to Brandon’s above.
    Do you advise converting my lightweight, 15 yr old Giant road bike to electric ? Can the wheels, tires, brakes, etc … handle the weight of the entire kit needed to convert it ?
    Since I’m only seeking the “20 mph” level do you recommend a lighter kit ?
    My alternative is a $3,300 Haibike from a local dealer that sounds like a poor value according to your past writings.
    I appreciate the time & knowledge you share here, thanks Ros


    • If all you want is 20mph a BBS02 and 52v NCRb shark pack is the way to go.

      I would get a BBSHD with a 52v GA shark pack, that will do 30mph all day long. Once you start going faster you don’t want to go slower anymore. Unless you’re Amish of course.

      Haibike is a POS compared to the BBSxx products.

      As long as the Giant has decent brakes then you should be fine. A front suspension is recommended.


  15. Hello,

    Do you really think that Elifebike (or another seller on Aliexpress for example) sell bad items? You say that “the motors burned out quickly, the batteries underperformed” but how long is it?


    • If you buy a BBS02 from elifebike and it is a vB unit then it would be EXACTLY the same item as if you bought it from Lunacycles or Lectric. They all come off the same assembly line with slightly different firmware programming. All the BBSHD’s on the market also come off the same assembly line and are totally identical (different logos and firmware again).

      If you’re buying a hub motor the only brand I recommend that is <1000W is the Mac, GrinTec and anything with Bafang on it. There are thousands of factories churning out dirt cheap hub motors in China of varying quality. I've seen some pretty bad ebay specials.

      When it comes to batteries the biggest problems is counterfeits. Buy from a reputable dealer and the cells will likely be authentic. Buy the cheapest battery you can get and it's almost guarenteed to be Chinese cells that look exactly like a reputable cell. There is just no way for the consumer to tell. When in doubt just post a question on endless-sphere drama.


  16. Hi – We’re interested in an ebike for a teenager to get to school and back, with one long but not too steep hill on the way. She’s small and rides a jr bike with 24″ wheels. Also, I’d rather not park a $2k bike outside of the highschool all day, but I’m not too keen on junk that melts during the first ride either. So what would you recommend for light duty, small riders, & short rides (& that might get stolen)? Am I describing the ebay blue-light special?


  17. Karl,

    Thanks so much for this post. It gave me the confidence to give it a shot and build myself an eBike. Ended up with a BBS02 and a carbon shark 52V from LunaCycle, slapped it on a cheap bike from Nashbar and have been “super commuting” ever since. So much great content on your site – I keep finding new nuggets of wisdom.


    Liked by 1 person

  18. Karl, Awesome article and history of your ebike adventures. This is the first article on ebikes that is totally engaging and hugely educational. Thank you.


  19. Hi i’m new to ebiking i would like to convert my 26 in mountian bike to part time electric just for hill . can you recamend a good front wheel kit? hope you can help thanks


  20. Karl,
    I have never, repeat, never been inclined to write a comment about any solicited or otherwise opinion about a topic of interest to me. I have always taken much of what others say with a large grain of salt and am always suspicious of their true agendas.
    You my friend have broken my cycle. Your writing style is appropriately raw and refreshing. More importantly causes one to consider what you have said, but confidently told us not to be a drone follower, but find out ourselves.
    I am just getting started on this ebike journey, but without the intent to blow smoke up your skirt…. thanks, just thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Clearly this is not your bag…. but in your opinion are the battery and motor that come on the Radrover Radmini total garbage….. or decent at $1499 if you only want to go 20mph anyway?
    Many thanks


  22. Great blog. Very informative. I have done a ton of research on ebikes and conversion kits. Bionx is the name that seems to keep coming up as the best on the market and is also made in Canada. I didn.t see it metioned here at all. Is that because of cost or rear hub motors or something else I’m missing? You seem to have done as much or more research than anyone I’ve found so far so I’m wondering if you have an opinion on Bionx.


  23. G’day Karl, Like many others I am very new and I would like to build an ebike for casual rides through the neighbourhood and surrounding areas (just to keep myself active) I think a rear hub will be sufficient but what size and also what battery size? Should I go for a 250W or 500W or more ? I would really appreciate your input on cost as I am on a budget and here in Australia it is a very expensive exercise to purchase green energy. Best regards Clem


  24. i have built a custum ebike from a 48 v 1000 w kit <> for kit .. the kit was bought from of all places walmart for 379 bucks .. 48 v 1000 w front hub motor with lcd display , and bought a 21 ah 48v 1000 w battery from dhgate in china and has been great … took some time to get to seattle but put it together and i pass cars ,, will run 38 mph and do 40 miles ,.,. its all in how you install people


  25. Hi Karl,After a year or so of ‘umming and ‘ahhing (without discovering this site!).Approximately three months ago I dropped some hard cash on a BBS02 with a 48 volt 17.5 ah ‘whale’ battery and DPC14 display.Here in the UK the e-bike laws are silly.As an ex-biker I feel laws,that restrictive,just beg to be broken.My present (unused) bicycle was not really suitable for conversion,so I scoured ebay and Gumtree for a donor.After a few weeks I spotted something I liked the look of.It had front and rear suspension with disk brakes.I had to travel fifty or so miles in my car across London to buy it.
    I fitted new brake calipers and pads,mudguards and lights and saddle.Incidentally I found a neat LED stop/tail light with horn and direction indicators for less than £3 including postage on eBay which is about $4.That came all the way from China!
    I’m really pleased with my (first time) build as it rides surprisingly well.On the road it’s comfortable at around 18 to 23 mph (I don’t push it much further than that).When I get some new tyres and tubes the whole shebang should come in at around £1000.So not as inexpensive as in the US but about half the price of the cheapest similar quality,store bought effort.
    I really enjoy reading your site,most interesting!


  26. Really good article and blog with sound advice to follow.

    My newest broject is ebike parts to run my powered kayak cart to help my old body get through the sand. Probably 36v and not sure of the other parts yet. Saltwater is evil, so nothing to valuable




  28. I started down this path, and quickly realized I would goon it. I drank the coolaid and bought a Trek Super Commuter 8s with a 36V Bosch battery and motor. cost me $4800, but it works the dogs danglies, goes as fast as I can use, and seems to last a long time. did I waste some money, yes sir, did I avoid losing money trying to do it myself, yes sir. so far the thing just works, they put some thought into it. Just trying to work out how to do the dual battery modification and i’ll be good to go. Thanks for the good read.


  29. First, I loved the “no holds barred” approach in your article. I’d rather someone wave me off than invite me in. I’ve been commuting to work on my Trek fitness bike for over 2 years now and prospecting for my first ebike for the past 6 months. The longer I look the more I notice how everyone’s production bike looks like the next guy’s and owner opinions are endless. I could probably manage a BBS02 DIY build, but I don’t think my Trek with its rim brakes and rear derailleur cable under the bottom bracket would be the best candidate. To be honest, I’d probably save the DIY for my second bike after being an owner for a little while. Any thoughts about one of Lunacycle’s bike builds as my first ebike, such as the 2018 Luna Giant Roam 3?


  30. Karl, I enjoyed this article, and appreciated your recommendations: however, I’d like to know if you think an ebike conversion kit (Hilltopper 24v) would be an ok choice for a very senior lady who, a) wants to save money (tight budget but want to keep riding), b) doesn’t ride very far, but would like to ride farther, c)would like a boost from time to time up small hills, and d) doesn’t ride fast. What might disappoint me if I bought a kit like this? I like the idea that it appears that I could install it myself. Thanks!


  31. I’m older with knee problems but love to ride. A buddy loans me a bike to ride and I do pretty well, but need a assistance on the hills, many times walking up. Another friend gave me a Giant Cypress bike which I’ve only ridden twice so far, and am not sure it’s the right size. I would like to convert it to the Luna system you noted. I’m 5’11”, my weight is about 250 so the 48v to 52v seem appropriate.
    My question is, in your opinion is the bike sturdy enough to handle the conversion and who does conversions if I can’t?


  32. Hey Karl,

    A most entertaining article. As a former cycling purist, I am now looking to make the ultimate sin and go electric, much to the disgust of all my former cycling buddies. it’s been a couple of years since you wrote this and many advances have been made. Eric at Luna Cycles is doing amazing things and has some really nice complete bikes, but as he in in the US and I’m in Australia, I have to withdraw from my mortgage, just to pay the shipping and taxes to get one in. As I’m used to having high end bikes, I want build up a high end fat bike frame with a quality motor and battery, because I already have a flash mountain bike, a flash road bike and a flash TimeTrial bike. While paying attention to all the warnings about Alibaba and Ebay, I found a Bafang Model G510 Motor. There are a few frame makers making a frame to fit this particular motor, I really like it because I’m a neat frame prim donna and this fits into the frame rather than a bolt on scenario, it can come in 48V 1000W. Is it brand new for Bafang? Hopefully I can get one of Luna’s 52V 17.8 Battery to go with it, anyway after this long tale, a short question, What do you reckon? Do you think I’m in for a world of hurt?


  33. like your writing. what do think of rad ebikes . I bought the radrover . what can do to upgrade it . I like the bike im a 66 year old disabled navy vet. one of them yes have hard time on regular bike . battery has samsung cells 48v 14ah could i put a 52v battery on this bike . got alot more questions but ill wait


    • It looks like Rad Ebike runs on hub motor. If it has a re-gen, running it on 52v battery in not a good idea.
      Why change from 48v to 52v anyways. You will get a little more speed, but sacrifice reliability. I don’t see the point in that. Most of controllers are build with 60v components. One spike of voltage and your controller will be toast.
      My 2 cents.


  34. Thanks for this article, lots of great info. I’ve been doing a bunch of research and ended up buying the cheap $130 eBay 500w front DD hub kit,for my first ebike. I dont regret it and its been awesome for what I want, just something cheap to cruise around town on. I don’t like going over 25mph and 15 is fine. I just use two 18v 9ah Ryobi cordless drill batteries in series for 36v and they don’t even get warm. They use high quality Samsung 20q cells. Since I already had the batteries that was a win. Thanks for the idea about the Sturney Archer 3 speed hub. I’m next going to build a fat ebike with the same ebay hub but run it at 1500w @60v and run it as a mid drive with the Sturney Archer 3spd hub. It’ll be geared way down for a top speed of around 18-20mph so at 1500w @60v with 3speeds, I’m guessing I’ll have enough low end torque for decent climbing. This will just be a tame trail, leisure bike to explore Utah desert, mostly soft sand, and terrain. I dont mind riding a 60 lb ebike, as I’m not jumping or riding fast/aggressive.


  35. An often overlooked cheap battery solution for an ebike DIYer is to use lithium Ion Ryobi 18v 9ah batteries wired in series to get the voltage you want. Twice a year they go on sale at Home Depot, 2for1, so you can get them for $70 each. Going this route, $200 gets you a 60v 9ah pack with high quality Samsung 20q cells. And you get the very liberal HomeDepot warranty. Also, if one battery goes bad you just replace it and you don’t have to tear apart or replace the whole 60v pack. These Ryobi batteries can easily handle 1500 watts when linked together, so good for beginner setups. Seeing as most diyers already have cordless tools, it makes alot of sense to use the batteries for someone wanting to save a lot of money and still have high quality batteries. Especially if you already have them.


      • Cool, great write up. I agree I definitely wouldn’t go out and buy Cordless packs specifically for ebikes, if I didn’t already have them for my cordless tools, and it’s more of a use em cause I already got em thing. I’m pretty excited where battery tech is going, and as I progress with my ebike building journey, I’m sure I’ll eventually be buying top end and more compact batteries like what Luna sells.


      • Are you for real? Luna sales Chinese junk. You can buy the same stuff directly from China for 33% less.
        First I bought 48V carbon pack from Luna and because they no longer stock it I bought the same one from China for 1/3 less including shipping. The best way to go is to build you own pack from good quality 18650 cells. That is exactly what I did lately.


  36. Pingback: How to buy an e-bike suitable for you ? – Wheelive

  37. Karl, I like your old article. I am 66 and did a lot of road and Mountain riding in my younger days. I did a lot of homework and ended up buying a M2S mid drive fat bike with a Bafang M400 350w and 48v, 16ah battery. I am doing trails in northern NJ most days now and happy with it. I can make it up all the brutal climbs now!
    For road riding, I just converted my 29er with a BBS02 kit that I got from Bafang USA. The only mistake is I should have gotten a larger battery. I got the 52v, 11.6ah dolphin. I run out of battery after 25 miles but can easily average over 25mph. I just ordered a Wallen Power 48V 17.5Ah Hailong Plus Li-ion Battery on ebay. I hope I didn’t make a mistake.


  38. Pingback: Electric Bike Conversion – Just How To Convert Your Typical Bike To An Electric Bike – The Journey of Cummings 445

  39. Pingback: Benefits Of Obtaining An Electric Bike – The Life of Boyle 401

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