The Process of Converting Your Bike to an eBike

Receiving the Bike

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Bikes come to us in an incredible array of type and style. Some are more than 50 years old and others have yet to be ridden. Some are without blemish and in like new condition while others have been well used and are ready for some reconditioning. Most, not all, bikes we receive are good candidates to be converted into an electric bike. Bikes we typically do not convert are those that need major modifications that compromise the integrity of the bike, some carbon fiber bikes, and bikes that we consider to be dangerous under the the power of an electric motor. We do take into consideration the rider's experience when adjudicating what would be considered dangerous. 


When a bike is placed in our stewardship we treat it as our own. Every night it is locked securely in a building that is equipped with a state of the art alarm system. 

Cleaning the Bike

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Cleaning the bike is an important first step. In fact, any shop that omits this step is committing an egregious error. Cleaning a bike is equivalent to inspecting a bike. Inspecting a bike is how we find stress cracks, loose spokes, damaged wheels, worn out derailleurs, worn cassettes, loose bolts, the list is endless. Everyone who works in our shop cleans bikes, including the CEO.


We patiently clean every part by hand using biodegradable soap and water. We clean the bike before we take our measurements. When a bike first appears on a work stand for a mechanic to access, it will be free of all dirt, mud, grease, or any other contaminate that will prevent the mechanic from an accurate appraisal of the bike.  We cannot express how important the cleaning stage is prior to motorizing any bicycle. If, it is the professional opinion of the mechanic assigned to the bike that the bike will be unsafe under power the bike is resembled, tuned up, brakes recalibrated, tires aired up, and returned to the owner at no cost.


No bike is exempt from this initial cleaning. The bike will go through two more cleanings at different stages before it is released to its owner. Each step in the cleaning process has its purpose.

Disassembly of the Bike

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Here is an example of a dissembled bike on the work stand. Notice that everything is removed. This allows us to continue the cleaning process. It simply is not possible to clean a derailleur, cassette and chain while on the bike. Also, there are important areas we will inspect further. For example, the derailleur hanger screws, the derailleur hanger, wheels bearings, quick release, wheel for true, and the brakes. If the wheel is out of true our wheel building mechanic  places it on our Park TS-4 trueing stand and trues the wheel. If a wheel is so far out of true, or has broken spokes or eyelets the owner is notified.


Disassembly also allow us to inspect the bearings and bearing races. Under human power poor wheels can go unnoticed but under power the wheel wobble can become a problem quickly. We see many cone and cup wheels that need adjustment. Wheel axel adjustments are not easy to do and will require a professional mechanic with the right tools.  


Disassembly also allow us to correct any poor assembly initially  done on the bike. We find stripped threads, cross threads, and sometimes incompatible parts. All of these can be corrected.

Ultrasonic Cleaning

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This is a commercial grade Ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cleaners use high pressure sound waves to create minute cavitation bubbles that force contaminates from objects placed in the tank. We use a biodegradable cleaner in conjunction with the ultrasonic cleaning tank. Nothing can clean a chain, derailleur or cassette better than ultrasound cleaning.

High Grade Oil

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After cleaning, the derailleur is lubricated at every pivot point and the pulley wheels. It is not possible to oil these pivot points if the derailleur is on the bike.


Pulley, also known as jockey wheels, tend to catch string and hair as the small wheels spin. These wheel are now free of all contaminates and are lubricated.

Grease the Right Parts

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This is very important! There are certain parts on bike that need to be greased prior to installation. These parts include, derailleur, cassette lock ring, pedals, bearings, all tubes that are inserted into another tube, and just about any threaded part that may need to be removed in the future for service. Failure to lubricate these threads my make it impossible to remove that part without damage.  



Conversion Process Continues

Tighten all Bolts

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We check for missing bolts and tighten all connectors on a bike. Cargo bikes, for an example, has connecting hardware located in a inaccessible area. All of these bolts and screws become accessible when the bike is dissembled. We tighten every bolt and screw. By doing this it helps the bike be more solid, and produce less rattles and squeaks. 

Beginning the Build

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First we install new shift cable and new shift cable housing. This is very important as shifting smoothly is an imperative with an electric bike. Adding power to a bicycle adds a whole new dimension to the bike and any flaw will be magnified. We always install new shift cable and new shift housing. 


Now we install the shift sensor. You never see us sell the shift sensor as an upgrade. It is included with all our bikes. We believe it is essential to the build.

Shift Cable Example

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This rusty shift cable was on a bike that came to our shop for conversion. Of course it has to be replaced but remember also to replace the shift cable housing! All of the bikes we convert will have new shift cable and new shift housing.

Checking the Drop out Hanger

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Before installing the derailleur we check the hanger.

Many rear derailleur hangers are bent. Sometimes we check a brand new bike and see that the hanger is bent. A hanger is supposed to bend when it strikes the ground. It bends in order to protect the more costly frame or the derailleur. If the hanger is bent then the shifting will never be correct. 

Conversion Process

Preparing for the Motor

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The only motor we use on all of our eBike conversion is the Bafang BBS02b and the Bafang BBSHD mid drive motor. We do not build any bike with hub motors. Mid drive motors are the gold standard of all electric bike motors. The mid drive motor is lighter (by far) and has much more power in both terms of climbing torque and speed. Mid Drive motors are used on all high end bikes whereas hub motors are used on bikes that are less desirable. 

The Battery Placement

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Battery placement is one of our biggest challenges. The battery has to be level and straight in order for it to slide into its base plate. How we achieve that goal is we manufacture a base plate, that is very rigid, and attach that to the base plate of the battery. This creates a very solid foundation for the battery.


We also carry a wide array of batteries of different sizes giving us the ability to find the right battery to fir small frames

Cabling

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Cabling a bike does not have to look like a plate of spaghetti. Proper cabling requires a great deal of experience working with electric bikes. Many types, styles and sizes of bikes come into our shop every day. Some will be some to route the cables and other will take hours. Each bike will have a 6v cable, two brake cutoff cables, one display cable, one throttle cable, one speed sensor cable, one shift cable, and harness cable, one motor cable and one batter cable. All of those have to be joined together in one neat arrangement!  Not a job for beginners.

Heat Shrink

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We produce the most water resistant eBike on the market. We only use water resistant Higo connectors and then we go a step further by sealing each one with heat shrink. A question we hear everyday is , "What will happen if my eBike gets wet?" We expect those who commute on their eBike, or use their eBike as a car replacement, to ride in the rain occasionally. Therefore, we do everything we can do to make your electric bike as water resistant as possible.

All Done

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Thanks for reading all this material and I hope it provides you with an idea of how what the process involves in creating an electric bike out of your existing bike. We believe you bike will have the best motor and the best battery on the market and will give you years of trouble free riding pleasure. Give us a call and let us know if you have any questions.


Alvin Carpenter, PhD

Island City Bikes, CEO

Lets Ride!

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Maybe after my nap