It's really easy to make a bike electric

Over the weekend, I converted my seldom-used mountain bike to an e-bike.

I never used my MTB much to begin with, but since moving it is even harder to find the time (or a place) for a ride. However, the hills here are pretty steep and this city’s roads seem adversarial to cars. It’s a great use case for a utilitarian e-bike, but I didn’t want to let my old frame go to waste.

I chose to purchase a mid-drive conversion instead of a hub motor kit. My original thinking was that retaining use of the bike’s existing transmission would be beneficial. Starting with a MTB not just granted the comfort of a front suspension to lessen the blow of all the potholes, but also meant I’d have a cogset with a good selection of low gears for uphill rides.

Contrary to my expectations, it turns out that many of my gears became useless. The CYC Photon, at least in my 52V setup, is plenty capable of starting up a steep hill in even my 4th (28T) or 5th (24T) gear (with a 38T chainring). Even the upper gears are too close for them all to be super useful under assist, and my top speed (in 11T) is quite limited. A more compact cassette (and probably a larger chainring) are in my future.

Downsizing with this move meant I had to give up my project car, but it seems like I’ve found something else to tinker with.