Recipe for a Badass DIY Electric Mountain Bike


IMG_20160525_185336By this point, we already know that bikes are awesome and good for you, cars are useful for a few limited things but come with major disadvantages, and electric bikes combine most of the advantages of both.

But they do still come with the downside of, “how does a somewhat experienced cyclist get a really good, fast one without spending several thousand dollars?”

I’ve made two attempts at the problem so far, with the following two bikes in my little test fleet right now:

I started with a home-brewed conversion of an existing commuter bike, putting it together with speed as the only consideration. This bike is fun and can hit 40MPH if you set both the motor and your legs to maximum. But the narrow wheels and zero-suspension design is not ideal for speeds like that: I blew out the front tire and broke a back spoke in bumps and potholes during the first thousand miles of riding. And even if you can avoid damage, the ride is VERY rough when you force yourself through city obstacles at greater than normal speed.

Somewhere in there, I added a Prodeco mountain bike, to see how pre-built bikes compare to a conversion and to see if I could tempt Mrs. MM and her friends into e-biking. Diagnosis: a solid bike, but too tall and heavy for smaller people. The big tires, front suspension and disc brakes, however, were way more useful to me than I expected. Despite the mandatory 20MPH speed restriction, this quickly became my favorite bike for trailer-pulling, rough roads, and snowy conditions.

However, a friend of mine in the neighborhood decided to seek the best of both worlds: a kit that is both more affordable and higher performing than the stuff I used, with a good quality full suspension mountain bike that he selected from Craigslist. Heavy duty, light weight, lower cost, and the full 40 MPH of speed on tap if you dare to use it – a rare perfect combination in the electric bike market.

My inventor friend is Carl, better known as Mr. 1500 from his blog 1500 Days to Freedom. He is another financially independent family man / tech industry veteran in his early 40s who likes to build stuff, which means we always have lots to talk about when our paths cross here in the streets of Longmont.

Since the real challenge of putting something like this together is the research, I asked Carl if he would share his findings. He surprised me with the following complete story and recipe for the build.

Mr. 1500’s Badass Electric Bike Conversion

I’ve always loved two-wheeled machines. I’m 42 now, but still remember the day that I learned to ride a bicycle clearly. I was 7 years old and my dad had been patiently running behind me, holding the seat while I learned to balance. After about a week of practice, he let go and I continued on, upright.

At that moment, I felt freedom. I could zoom all over the neighborhood at a pace that seemed like warp speed compared to my previous mode of locomotion, walking. My friends and I spent the summers putting many, many miles on our bicycles. It was good.

My love for two-wheeled machines never faded. When I was 20, I bought a motorcycle. While I enjoyed taking twisty roads at high speed, I just didn’t use the motorcycle enough. It mostly collected dust in the garage, so I sold it.

Back in 2014, I read MMM’s post on his Ebike with great interest. I occasionally missed the thrill of going fast on two wheels. Could an Ebike give me some of that need for speed while at the same time, getting me out of the car-cage?

Pete let me test ride his new machine and it was a thrill. At one point, I found myself thumbing for a turn signal, just as I would have on a motorcycle. Somewhere deep down, my brain thought I was back on a motorcycle. Game over. I had to have my own electric machine.

My Ebike

After doing loads of research, I decided to build a slightly different Ebike than MMM’s. Instead of a hub motor like his, I went with a mid-drive mounted motor. This means that the motor is mounted at the crank instead of in the hub. The mid-drive is great for climbing and centralized weigh distribution.

The bike: Mustache advised me to look for a full suspension bike. At the higher speeds of an Ebike, the suspension helps maintain control. I also wanted a bike that would accommodate the battery on the water bottle mount. Finally, I wanted low weight. The Jamis Dakar fit the bill, but there are plenty of suitable bikes out there. Its suspension geometry allows for mounting the battery pack centrally and the bike weighs in at 29 pounds. After a couple days of Craigslist* hunting, I found a nice example for $400.



The kit: I knew that I wanted a mid-drive kit, but I needed to figure out the details:

  • Motor: I went with a 750 watt Bafang unit (note that Bafang has since released a 1000 watt motor). This kit allows the bike to cruise around at about 30 mph with no pedal input.
  • Battery: Bigger is better. This bike is meant to be a commuting tool, so I went with a big battery pack; 52 volts, 13.5 amps. I also bought a pack with high quality, Panasonic 18650 cells, the same that sit in a Tesla.
  • Charger: Lithium-ion batteries are temperamental beasts. They last much longer if you don’t charge them up to 100%. I paid extra for a charger that can charge the battery up to 80% or 90% to prolong the life.


Clockwise from top left: charger, electric motor, crankset, tool kit, computer, battery pack

All of my Ebike components came in the form of a kit from Lunacycle (other places on the internet to order the kit include Dillenger and and EM3EV). The kits come with the motor, battery, sprocket, crank arms, display/computer, charger and just about everything else you need to build the Ebike. I also ordered a tool kit from Amazon and this adapter which was necessary to mount the battery on the water bottle mounts. Finally, I purchased a new chain which was needed to accommodate the larger sprocket.

The Build

I’ve done minor bike maintenance like changing tires and chains, but nothing quite as extensive as this. I was most concerned with taking apart the bottom bracket where the new mid-drive would sit.

My worries were completely unfounded. In fact, I was surprised at just how easy the build was. The most technical part was soldering together a couple of wires. With proper planning, even a novice can install this kit in two hours.

From left to right: Disassembling the bottom bracket, installing the battery mount and connecting everything up

Basic Steps

  1. Remove the bottom bracket. Note that you’ll need special tools for this.
  2. Install the mid-drive motor unit.
  3. Install the battery pack mount and battery.
  4. Install the electronics including the speed sensor on the back wheel, the display unit and throttle on the handlebars.
  5. Connect all of the electronics.



Optional: Because the bike was full suspension, I recalibrated the rear shock to accommodate the increased weight.

Cost: The Ebike ended up costing about $1,600. The bike was $400 while the Ebike kit was $1100. The toolkit, chain and other supplies ran the bill up another $100. While $1600 is a lot of money, this bike is far better than off-the-shelf models that cost twice as much. Also, have you seen what a car costs lately?

The Ride

The Bafang mid-drive has two different types of electric assistance; pedal assist and throttle. The pedal assist detects when you are pedaling and fires up the motor, giving you a boost. My version of the kit came with five different levels, 5 being the fastest. The kit also has a throttle that can be used similar to a motorcycle. You can also program the kit through an optional cable. For example, if you don’t want to use the pedal assist, you can reprogram the unit to eliminate it and just rely on the throttle.

When you take your new Ebike on its maiden voyage, brace yourself and be careful! You’ll feel like superman the first time you turn the pedals and the pedal assist kicks in. Prepare yourself to get around town at a speed much faster than you’ve become accustomed. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the motor is quiet and smooth. When I showed the bike to friends, most didn’t even realize it was an Ebike.

The first big ride was a 16 mile trip to Lafayette, CO. The ride would have taken me at least 75 minutes on a conventional bike. Despite a stiff headwind, rolling hills, and stoplights that didn’t go my way, I completed it in 45. Because it was my first ride, I was conservative. If I would have used the throttle to enhance the pedal assist, I would have been there much faster.

Why should you ride an Ebike?

Before I rode my new Ebike,  I was worried that it might make me lazy. Would I just lay on the throttle and coast around everywhere with minimal (or no) muscle effort? The answer is a decisive No. When I’m on the Ebike, I find myself pedaling as hard as I normally do. The difference is that I get everywhere much faster. With that in mind, I would recommend an Ebike for two reasons:

Kill your Excuses: A 20 minute trip to Home Depot becomes a 10 minute trip on an Ebike. No more of the “I don’t have time to bike” excuse. You’ll get to most places at a pace similar to what you’d do in the old car. Only, you’ll be in the open air. What is better than that?

You’ll expand the distances you’re willing to bike: A couple weekends ago, I went to visit a friend in a town 20 miles away. With an Ebike, a 40 mile round-trip commute is no big deal.

It all comes back to time. I work full-time and so does my wife. We also have two children. Time is precious. The Ebike allows me to spend more time on a bike and less time in the car. I’m getting exercise and enjoying the Great Outdoors, free from that old metal cage. It is good.

Thanks for sharing, Mr. 1500! I don’t have space for any more bikes, but if I were in the market, this would be my first choice of e-bike given today’s parts scene.

  • RasmusJ May 27, 2016, 7:55 am

    Interesting post.
    I just looked into the options of doing this to my own bike. While it might be possible, it is currently a no go.
    Living in Denmark, the law only allows for a 250W engine, and it can only assist when the speed is under 25 km/t.

    Is there no regulations for this in US?

    Another thing that I discovered while reading up on this. More than once I found people reporting that it was great and fun to have an e-bike, but their engine and/or batteries had failed them within 3-5 years.
    I know that as an alternative to a car, this is still cheap, and better exercise, but it does still seem like a short life for such a big expenditure.

  • mathias May 27, 2016, 9:06 am


    I see that you are from Danmark. For me the most badass bike in the world is danisch: Bullitt (larryvsharry.com)

    Mr. MM, You really have to check it out.

    (I use the bike every day in my job as elektrician)


  • GrowRichEnoughGeoff May 27, 2016, 10:16 am

    Another great post and I totally agree it’s worth considering an e-bike as part of your bike fleet.

    An e-bike replaced my car. With a hilly 30-mile round trip commute I was cycling up to three days a week by road bike. Meeting times at work and weakness saw me driving the other two days. Adding the e-bike to my bike fleet was a revelation. It saw me biking five days a week, alternating between road bike and e-bike, regardless of weather or season. Ultimately it meant I could sell my car benefiting from a huge reduction in spending and corresponding increase in happiness.

    I wanted to say thank you for all the cycling posts and the original e-bike post. It must be a great feeling watching the change roll-out across the world; inspiring so many people to take up this keystone habit. Not only are there massive health, wealth, well-being, and lower pollution benefits but also getting people out there produces a legion of people who care more about their world because they spend more time in it (rather than removed from it, stuck in traffic, in an air-conditioned box).

    I would totally recommend getting an e-bike for longer faster commutes.

  • Lucas May 27, 2016, 12:37 pm

    Sweet! I appreciate you linking to 1500days as well. Good reads, always fun to read about someone’s path to FIRE. I can’t imagine what a fellow mountain biker would think as I zoom past him on a steep climb! :)

  • Eric May 27, 2016, 12:43 pm

    Great article! If I had seen earlier I might have gotten a mid drive. I just thought the installation would be a lot more difficult than a hub kit. Seems like this kit is insanely efficient if you can get 50 miles with a 1/4 of that battery. Did you mean 13.5 Amp-hr battery? If so, that means a 700W-hr battery…. which seems right for the size you are showing. My 400 W-hr battery only gets about 30 miles on full assist.

    I got a street legal (i.e. 350W motor, 20mph speed limit) front wheel hub kit from Dillenger after reading MMMs e-bike articles last year and reading some other reviews. I love it…. it turned an occasional biker (last year I did my 10 mile one way commute to work probably a dozen times total) into a committed one (I’ve commuted on the bike 8 of last 10 days). The 20mph speed limit is not that big of a problem. It forces me to pedal a lot more than I otherwise would. It also extends range. (It takes a lot more than twice as much power to go 40mph vs. 20 mph) And I agree with a prior poster that on multi use bike paths, 20mph is plenty fast. In busy narrow sections of our local paths I tend to just turn the motor off. On the flip side… 20mph is fantastic on city streets. It makes me feel a lot safer to be going near the same speed as the cars.

    My only warning is I’ve recommended Dillinger to 2 of my friends and both have had terrible customer service issues with them. One had a kit that failed after using it for a few minutes, and they would not issue a refund. My friend had to return the kit and wait for them to test it. Another waited for weeks and had to threaten to call his credit card company before they would respond to e-mail requests for information. They finally used the “backorder” excuse. Still waiting for a kit after 2 months. We have tried to post a review and they don’t publish it… which would explain why the kit I purchased only had 1 (good) review. Pretty shady. I hope it is just growing pains.

    My wife just got a new Raliegh e-bike…. misceo I think. She loves it, and it is slick (built in lights!), but you do pay about 2X for a bike that isn’t a powerful as my kit + used mountain bike.

  • ZJ Thorne May 27, 2016, 3:28 pm

    I clearly need to research how safe these are in my city. We have some hills, but mainly the drivers are aggressively anti-bike, which makes biking incredibly dangerous. Thanks for an incredibly informative post. The battery would absolutely make the “stink” issue not apply in office settings.

  • Laura May 27, 2016, 9:07 pm

    Loved the post, just purchased a Flux electric bike the day before I read this for all the reasons already listed. Their crowd source campaign ends soon for anyone who’s interested.

  • Captain Dividend May 28, 2016, 9:30 am

    Now this is what I need to keep up with all my buddies on the trails.

  • Anthony May 28, 2016, 11:50 am

    I just finished building up my ebike in similar fashion, inspired by this blog a while ago. I have started riding to work 20 mi. each direction. The other day it only took me 9 minutes longer than by car! Despite some harassment and intimidation on the road, I find myself looking forward to the rides, whereas when I drive my car, all I feel is a sense of dread, boredom and pointlessness. If you are contemplating this, do it. I am not a master bike mechanic, nor particularly courageous or athletic and I can do it. Those of you out there who are totally awesome will do great.

  • aaron May 28, 2016, 2:02 pm

    just ordered my kit from luna cycle. thanks for the inspiration!

  • Fritz Oettinger May 30, 2016, 2:57 pm

    Why did you choose the 26″ tire? I have the motor and I’m coming across many different opinions in regards to 26″ 27.5″ or 29″ tire size. Also what are your thoughts on the rear suspension? A few inputs are suggesting that the motor will wear on the shock and it is best to go front suspension only with an aluminum frame to take the speed shock in the back.

  • Anne May 31, 2016, 5:02 am

    Hi Mr. Money Mustache! As a Dutch twentysomething living in Amsterdam, I thought this post might interest you: http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2008/10/16/bicycle-death-statistics-in-amsterdam-and-the-netherlands/. For all the people complaining about bike safety!

  • insourcelife May 31, 2016, 8:24 am

    Did you go with thumb throttle or twist? I was thinking that twist throttle would be more comfortable, like a motorcycle. Wondering what you reasoning/experience has been. Also, did you add the Gear Sensor and is it worth the extra $45?

    • Fritz Oettinger May 31, 2016, 1:47 pm

      I’d be interested to know this as well. Figuring I could return / exchange parts I don’t need I went ahead with all the add ons until I figure out the entire plan for the bike. Keeping the wrist throttle for sure.

  • Ben May 31, 2016, 12:47 pm

    The Jamis Dakar provides great bang for the buck! And it holds up well. I’m still enjoying mine after 10 years, granted it sees very little mud due to the dry climate here (central coast CA).

  • Darrell May 31, 2016, 2:38 pm

    My commute, if done by bike, would be 21 miles each way. For my current commute, I also have to walk about 8 minutes to my car and get out of a garage. It is not uncommon to take one hour desk to driveway. To bike through the city streets, I assumed it would take me about 1:45 – 2 hours at my current fitness (which is pretty good), plus more since I don’t have a road bike (specialized mountain bike). Considering that I don’t have the appetite to go 40 miles per hour, but would want to complete the commute in less than one hour, what would be the best way to go if I wanted to commute by bike? I’d need decent range to make the round trip, too.

    • Glen October 1, 2016, 4:23 pm

      Best solution is to move to within 3 miles of your work, then you could walk there in less than an hour or bike there in less than 15 minutes, no sweat.

  • Jeremy E. May 31, 2016, 2:54 pm

    I’ve put a lot of research into E-Bikes. To me, it seems some of the best options are as follows,

    1. Sonders Ebikes are VERY affordable, I’ve never ridden one myself, but I’ve heard good things, and the price is very compelling.
    2. Convert your own bike with an E-Rad Mid Drive Kit (this is an upgraded version of the Bafang BBS02 kit mentioned in the article). I’ve rode a bike converted with one of these kits and it has tons of immediate power, of all the ebikes I’ve ridden I’d say the bike with this kit in it seemed the most motorcycle-like and I loved it.
    3. Radwagon seems like a cool bike, I’ve never ridden one but have heard good things about them
    4. My E-Bike is a Haibike Xduro RX 29, it has a Bosch mid drive motor, which I think is THE Best E-bike motor, high quality parts, and a custom frame that enhances the E-bike. It was a bit pricey though at $2,800. Haibike is a great brand and I recommend them.
    5. Izips, Raleighs, Felts and Yubas all seem to be great E-Bikes as well. There is a Raleigh I was considering getting that was an automatic E-bike which seemed awesome, but also kind of pointless.

    • Fritz May 31, 2016, 3:11 pm

      What do you feel are requirements of a suspension for a home made ebike? Full suspension?

  • Kenzie May 31, 2016, 4:08 pm

    I have a mountain bike that I’d love to convert, and I’m struggling with a bit of a monkey wrench: thru-axles. Does this limit me to a mid-drive motor? Also, if I have a 32-mile round-trip daily commute with 700 ft elevation gain on the way home, should I go for a 250W or 500W? Or something else entirely?

    I’ve reached out to local bike shops for advice, but mum’s their word as they don’t want to assume any liability. Hoping someone can help me out and make my electric mountain bike commute a reality!

    • David (Parker, CO) June 7, 2016, 4:49 pm


      Check out my recent post to this thread. I have a 38 mile commute and my elevation gain is 800 ft on the way home and I normally face 10-20 mph winds. My Dillinger kit makes it a breeze.


  • CuriousChris June 1, 2016, 9:08 am

    So I’m really torn between all the options. The BBS02 looks good, but changing the bearing every 1000 miles seems less than ideal. Is it as simple as repacking a hub and replacing some of the ball bearings? Can you swap in a sealed bearing in it’s place?

    In lieu of that I have been considering the following:

    1. The Evelo OmniWheel can be had for $950 or $1250 (25 mile range vs 40 mile range)
    2. GeoOrbital Wheel $700
    3. Copenhagen Wheel $950 (it looks like they are beginning to ship a very small number of wheels, although I take it with a grain of salt: http://copenhagenwheel.tumblr.com/post/145219686944/insights-from-new-superpedestrians?mc_cid=545c5601c9&mc_eid=7369067e1c)
    4. Sondors Thin, an entire bike with a 350W motor, 50 mile range, and total weight of 38lbs, for $693 shipped!:
    5. BionX kits, $1700+. Seems to be very well built, but they are rather pricey.

    Does anyone have any experience with the above bikes or kits? I don’t need much power as I bike pretty regularly, just trying to close the gap on my 9.5 mile/50 minute commute and have no excuse NOT to bike to work.

  • Alvaro June 5, 2016, 7:55 am

    Hi there. I am a Spanish reader. I’d like to ask you something. Have you tested the Radrover (Power Bikes) or the Sondors one? Those 2 are options below 2000 usd quite similar to your experiments. The thing is that they are not very easy to find in EU and the shipping costs can be subtantial in relation to the price. Cheers and keep it up, Señor!

  • RodansOdyssey June 6, 2016, 3:33 am

    This is excellent, and has really brightened up my day. I used to be an avid cyclist (long distance) but after cycling into the front of an oncoming car 5 years ago my knee has never been able to handle more than an hour or so without starting to swell up. I spent a month touring France on a classic German steel frame bike (long wheel base, HEAVY but really comfortable) but by the end of the month I was resorting to cycling with one leg and my other leg resting on my pannier. My friends are keen for another tour in europe in the next few year, and I have been feeling bad about not being able to go because my my knee not making it. They have suggested mopeds etc but the feeling of the road would never be the same for someone who has sent bike and rider thousands of miles on pedal power alone. This conversion may very well be the perfect middle ground! New hope here, thank you for sharing both MMM and Mr.1500.

  • Financial Slacker June 6, 2016, 10:57 am

    I never really thought about converting a regular bike into an electric bike.

    I’ve just started riding again, but where I live it’s all steep hills. I’m thinking this would be helpful as I get back into riding shape.


  • Milhouse June 7, 2016, 7:13 am

    Instead of going through all this effort to build this super ebike, Kawasaki has already done it for you, it’s called the Ninja 250r. You can easily find a used one in great shape for under $2000. It will safely do highway speeds and gets 75 mpg.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 7, 2016, 1:33 pm

      Awesome! But how does that help me with my physical fitness, which is by far the biggest reason to ride a bike? And how does she do on bike paths and when being carried up staircases into an apartment building?

      • Gmullz July 4, 2016, 8:50 am

        Not to mention parking, insurance, registration, pollution, noise, road congestion (causing and dealing with).

        You might say eBikes also pollute, since they’re powered mostly by electricity sourced from fossil fuel power plants, but the electric motor is much more efficient than a combustion engine, and you’re way better off burning fossil fuels in a large power plant than a tiny, inefficient motorcycle engine.

  • David (Parker, CO) June 7, 2016, 4:47 pm

    Hey everyone,

    I recently purchased a kit from Dillenger and I couldn’t be happier. I was introduced to e-bikes on this website and I did a lot of research. I have an old Raleigh hybrid bike with steel forks (must have for front-hub motor).

    Kit: 350W, 36v, 13AH


    I live in Parker Colorado and I commute 19.1 miles (one-way) to DTC via the Cherry Creek Trail. I use a lower assist level and I can get home from work with 50% battery power. The range on my battery is incredible.

    I still ride to work in my car 3 days a week because I have drop off and pick up the kids while my wife works. I can’t afford to have a flat on the way home those days. Riding my bike adds 3 miles each way and about 20 min, so my work won’t tolerate me coming in later than I already do on those days. I would ride on my bike everyday if I could.


  • Matt June 13, 2016, 5:35 am

    What’s the noise level like on these mid-drive motors? Do people turn their heads?

    • Gmullz July 4, 2016, 8:45 am

      Quiet as can be. With enough of a breeze, even the rider will forget they’re riding with power.

  • Matt June 17, 2016, 5:50 am

    There may be some alternatives coming for e-bike lovers… This is a drop-in wheel that converts ‘any’ bike to ebike.


    • Gmullz July 4, 2016, 9:03 am

      As an eBike enthusiast, that wheel scares me a little.

      First of all, you can’t use disc brakes. Disc brakes are king in wet weather, eBike or not. With the power of an eBike, you’ll really want disc brakes in wet weather.

      Second, what if you hit a pothole the rim bends? Hopefully GeoOrbital has a plan for that! Without spokes, it’ll be tough to make it true again.

      • Brodie July 4, 2016, 5:23 pm

        The Copenhagen Wheel (https://shop.superpedestrian.com/) is a better design than that GeoOrbital thing, but it’s priced a bit high for what it is – something like $1200 + delivery for a 250w wheel and a low-capacity battery. DIY kits are definitely the way to go for overall bang for your buck.

  • Juan June 17, 2016, 9:23 am

    Thank you for sharing the knowledge! I’ll be buying a home soon and the prices close to my job and the Mrs. are pretty high. An electric bike might be the perfect answer for us to expand our search range for homes without becoming car-clowns.

  • John Rock June 20, 2016, 8:48 pm

    How about a post or two on buying used quality bikes? I still have my 20 year old StumpJumper (metal matrix ceramic composite!?) with a Judy fork. I used to read MTB magazines all the time back then, but I have no clue about bike tech today. Why did you pick that bike for your build? What has really improved in the last 20 years? At what point is putting money on an old bike a waste? Anyone else?

    • Dustin Stout June 24, 2016, 10:42 am

      Curious about this as well, not being up to speed on modern mountain bikes. Would love to hear what other bike models the author considered.

  • Joe Average July 20, 2016, 10:17 am

    Bought one of these at an estate sale for $50. It needed a spark plug to run and a $15 Rustoleum paint job. Few more things as time has gone by like tires. They still sell them new too.



    Figure huge fuel economy. Not too loud. 20 mph. They’ve been built since WWII so there are only millions of these out there.

    I like the Bafang mid-drive and would probably build that kit b/c I like it too but I’m not ready to put $1500 in a bike when I could do so many other things with the money.

    By the way for the same money you could also buy a “Genuine” brand Stella scooter (vintage licensed Vespa derivative) with only 1500 miles on it. Or a duplicate of our old Chevy sedan with a/c.

    Not the point I know but I have to look at the best ways to spend our money. An e-bike vs a tool (car) that I can use to haul my family around town year ’round. If it’s about fun then I get where you are coming from. Absolute best use of the money? Not yet in my book but then I’m a contrarian.

    • Joe Average April 3, 2018, 8:54 pm

      I ended up with a Lunacycle (Bafang) BBSHD with a 48V 14 AH battery. I love that darn bike and have ridden it all over. Even took it out of state on a business trip to ride more in the evenings.

  • Karl B. July 20, 2016, 11:04 am

    Because of this post, I built an electric bike using my old 1991 Diamondback MTB. I used a BBSHD with a 53V 13.5ah battery pack.

    Drive time would normally be 35 minutes, but it takes me about 62-67 minutes by bike. It takes me an extra hour to commute by bike but I gain two hours of exercise time each day.

    Today is the second day I have ridden to work. Yesterday was the bike’s maiden voyage. It went better than I expected and I averaged 20 mph. I am burning between 700 to 800 kcalories on each ride with an average heart rate of 140 bpm.

    The bike project cost me about $1,350 in parts, and it should take me 57 commuting days to break even on the bike (assuming IRS $0.54/mile) but I will consider it a win if I commute 100 days mainly because I drive a fuel efficient economy car. I charge the bike at home and work.

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 21, 2016, 9:14 am

      Wow, that is a hardcore bike commute Karl, nice job! How many miles exactly? And do your coworkers insist it could never be done by bike?

      • Karl B. July 22, 2016, 10:37 am

        According Polar Beat (fitness app), the route is about 20.7 or 20.8 miles each way. About a 500ft drop in elevation from home to work. It takes me about 5 minutes longer to ride home.

        Most were impressed, but some said that I won’t be able to keep it up. They were surprised to see the bike on day #2. I have ridden the bike to work every day, except for Monday. It was supposed to thunderstorm on Monday but it didn’t. As with anything it life, it has to become a habit, or a normal part of your behavior. I don’t see any reason why this won’t become a habit.

        I have worked out that I am outputting about 206 watts/sec, while the motor is averaging 290 watts/sec.

        • Dustin Stout August 11, 2016, 9:22 am

          This is awesome, I just finished a build myself on a fat bike mainly for recreation and getting around locally as I work from home. Curious to see how the BBSHD holds up to the volume of riding you’re doing, let us know.

  • Chris August 10, 2016, 11:06 am

    Wow, I didn’t realize the kits were so small nowadays. This is perfect for my slightly-too-long-and-hilly ride to the gym for a workout. No one has mentioned anything about legal requirements for riding a powered vehicle on public roads.

    Isn’t it equivalent to a Vespa scooter than requires mirrors, tail lights, tags and all that other crap? Or do you just ignore that until a bored cop takes notice? Or better yet – is there an exemption for electric bikes and scooters?

    • Joe Average April 3, 2018, 8:57 pm

      Our cops (very red state) don’t seem to care as long as bicyclists ride with their brains turned on. Just don’t get killed doing something stupid. I haven’t even had any problems with cars in nearly 800 miles. One driver asked me at a red light if I didn’t have a car (as in poor me, I have to ride a bike).

  • Dustin Stout August 23, 2016, 1:38 pm

    Here is a video of the fat bike conversion (Bafang BBSHD) that I just finished. It’s a blast.


  • Dustin Stout August 29, 2016, 2:06 pm

    By the way, for those looking for a suitable full suspension bike to do a conversion with, I did a lot of research on this. It turns out, the downside of a full suspension bike is limited to the smaller batteries due to the suspension impeding the triangle area. This unfortunately will limit the range you can get with the conversion.

    There is one full suspension bike that allows for you to use the entire triangle, and thats the Specialized Epic 2003-2008. With some patience on craigslist, sometimes you can come across a good example. This will allow for the much larger batteries and better range.

  • Dutch lake house October 22, 2016, 2:50 am

    Good morning all, my commute is a daily 100km, would there be better alternatives than my petrol powered vw golf from 1999? In all fairness, I would think I’m not ready for the saddle at those distances :)

  • Dave fleck November 25, 2016, 4:00 pm

    I purchased a electric bike from Amazon it’s called add motor with a rear hub bufang motor 500 watt 48 volt @11.6 amp hrs.
    This bike comes with comtroller box,, meaning when you brake,pedal, or Coast it regenerates back to the battery.
    I usually keep this bike on Low assist so I’m getting a good workout,amd I can get 60 to 65 miles out of a charge. Instead of jumping in my car in the morning or getting one of my motorcycles out I use this like to go for coffee and groceries and to run around the small village I live in I can’t say enough..go Electric…all for $1450…

  • Oliver Chapman August 9, 2017, 3:00 am

    Oh I love this idea far too much. It would save me a fair amount in fuel and make my commute far more fun than a road bike would. I’m sticking staying with my normal enduro bike for downhill though, feels like i’d be cheating otherwise.

  • Mighty Investor February 2, 2018, 4:30 pm

    Oh, man. Why didn’t I think of this one. Brilliant, economical, fun to build, and fun to use (I assume). Thanks for this one. Can’t wait!

  • Jon August 10, 2018, 11:10 am

    IMO, E bikes are the greatest thing to ever happen to the universe of biking. Lot’s of babble on this below.

    And go Bafang! A DIY kit like this can be switched bike to bike and maintained yourself. Big bonus that you can choose your bike first, then add the motor (unlike the crazy overpriced integrated products). The universal battery (vs stupid frame-integrated custom), means you can easily replace/switch battery sizes, and suppliers.

    I did the 750W kit (BBSO2) for my wife, and it changed my bike rides from lonely ones to fun ones with my wife. When we ride together, she can now maintain 30+km/h on a beefy mtn bike, which means riding with her is no longer a slow drag. When we hit a hill, she just plows on, and I get ditched. This is a big improvement from her pushing a bike up a steep trail. Few people are willing to do that regularly…

    Also, I borrow it to bike across the city to meet a friend prior to going to the gym. Turns the commute from a sweaty 45 min slog to a fun, non-tiring 35 minute ride. The advent of electric bikes should (but unfortunately won’t because people are close minded and lame) revolutionize commuting, and therefore, city design.

    To be clear, the e-bike changed my wife from a non-cyclist who repeatedly stated “I don’t like to bike” to someone who now suggests going biking, and is often on no or minimal assist. The assist was extra useful when I repeatedly broke my chain on some hills and needed a long pull home.

    My E-kit cost $1000 Cdn, I bought from “made-in-china.com”. Lot’s of suppliers, you can really customize the add-ons and specific battery style and capacity.

    The “750w” motor is actually rated 25 amps, which means with a fully charged 48V battery (54.6V; 4.2V/cell in series), it pumps out 1365 Watts, or almost 2hp! The 1000W BBS03 seems like a lot of extra size and weight for the extra (unnecessary?) power. Maybe I just don’t know because I don’t ride fat bikes.

    You can reprogram your bafang controller, which is highly recommended. The stock settings are inconvenient. I went with 5 settings, depending on the cadence and power assist you want. Buy the reprogramming cable, and add a safety margin in power output. There’s tons of info on these units online.

    The Bafang is different than expensive commercial systems, since its assist tries to maintain cadence. This is noticeable and should be considered when programming settings. (consider how fast you wish to pedal at different speeds/assist levels).

    Definitely get the throttle (programmed to full power). This quickly takes me (80 kgs) from 0-50 km/h with my feet resting on the top bar, on trail-tyred 29er hardtail. (Trek X-calibre 9; total weight with battery 22 kg).

    The Big Monkey is right – Endless sphere is where to go. E-bikes will shatter your world!

    • Eric Dinn February 2, 2021, 8:32 pm

      HI Im looking at the x-calibre 9 to do a conversion on also. Did you have issues with clearance? I have a BBSHD on a old trek 7000 and would like to upgrade . Any help would be great thanks!

  • Kyle September 17, 2018, 9:56 pm

    Had to come back and see how much further this post had come. Ebikes are only becoming more common! I’ve created a free online course (on Youtube) on how to build your own ebike and wanted the MMM community to know. :)

  • Matt Caron March 2, 2020, 1:33 pm

    Hi, just bought a Rocky Mountain Fusion and will be adding a bafang mid drive 1000w, how long do you travel on flat when using the throttle only with you 13ah battery? I dont have much place in my frame, I was looking at a 52v 21ah at first before realising it wont fit in there…

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 3, 2020, 5:44 pm

      Hi Matt,

      While I would strongly advise against riding any e-bike with only the throttle (because it’s a BIKE – the whole point is active, health-enhancing transportation!), I can offer the following two data points:

      – traveling at 15MPH on my own E-mountain bike requires about 250 watts, which means consumption is about 17 watt-hours per mile, so my 700 watt hour battery is good for about 41 miles.

      – running the same bike at its top speed of about 40 MPH requires 1200 watts, so it is consuming 30 Wh/mile and the range would be reduced to 23 miles.

  • CaptainFI May 31, 2020, 2:41 am

    Great idea MMM – Being a bit of a novice I opted to buy a professionally engineered bike – I can really appreciate the effort that went into designing and building my Easy Motion NEO 29 incher electric mountain bike. She is a real beauty. I remember taking design, CAD and F.E.A. lessons when I did my bachelor of engineering, and I was pretty shit at it – so I am certainly grateful for the awesome team at Easy Motion (USA company? Maybe?) that have persisted to make this awesome product. I picked it up second hand for a fraction of what they retail for new (Love the second hand economy) and estimate it will pay for itself in around 4 months of ditching the daily clown car commute.

    I know it probably wont last forever, so my next project will be to fit an electric motor to a road racing bike, or at least something with skinny 90psi tyres so I can get it up to around 50-60 kph so I can do my morning commute in 20 minutes or less! Alas that is probably unnecessary spending, but you’ve gotten me addicted to the e-bikes. Very liberating to be able to rely less and less on my Subaru. Which by the way, I am strongly considering trading in for a Toyota Tarago 8 seater mini van just like yours!

    Cheers mate,
    Capt FI


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