What is the best mountain bike for ebike conversion? If you want to make an ebike from a mountain bike, there are some bikes that are much easier to convert than others. Almost any mountain can be converted to an e-bike. Fortunately, the easiest mountain bikes to convert are also some of the cheapest. Let’s take a look at what the best and easiest mountain bikes to convert to ebikes are.
The best Mountain bike for ebike conversion. What to look for.
The easiest mountain bikes to convert to electric power are those that can use front and rear drive conversion kits. These conversion kits cost between $250 and $450. They are easy to install and don’t involve much tearup in your bike. Mid-drive conversion kits can be used on almost any mountain bike. They involve replacing the cranks and bottom bracket which is a much more involved task.
The mountain bikes that work the best with front and rear drive conversion kits are the $300 to $500 mountain bikes. You want to find one with the following characteristics.
- Aluminum or steel frame
- 26inch, 29inch or 26inch fat bike wheels
- Regular axle spacing
- 7 rear cogs/speeds
- Front suspension or full rigid
- Cable operated disc brakes
Frame material – Aluminum or Steel
You want a steel or aluminum frame. No carbon frames. Carbon frames are expensive and they are designed to be as light as possible. The drive motor loads in the chain stays may break the frame. Steel and aluminum frames are designed with a lot more excess strength and durability. Weight is not that important. We’ll be adding pounds of battery and motor weight to this bike.
Wheel size – 26 inch, 29 inch or 26inch fat bike
Front and rear wheel ebike conversion kits come in 26 inch and 29 inch wheel sizes. 29 inch wheel size may be referred to as 700c in the conversion kit. These conversion kits include a wheel with a motor built into the hub and you need a wheel that matches your bike. There are no easy front and rear wheel conversion kits for 27.5 inch wheels.
The third option is fat bike wheels. Fat bikes have 26 inch wheels with 4 inch wide tires.
Axle spacing- Regular (no boost spacing)
The frame and fork must be built with regular drop out spacing. This is 100mm for the front wheel and 135mm for the rear dropout. The wheels can be quick release or bolt on. Bikes that have boost spacing (110mm front wheel and 148mm rear wheel) won’t work. Frames and forks with thru-bolt front or rear axles won’t work. Thru-bolts axles are found on higher end (over $1000) mountain bikes and are much larger diameters than quick release or bolt on axles. Go here to learn more about mountain bike axle spacing.
Speeds – 7 rear cogs
Currently available rear wheel drive ebike conversion kits are built with 7 speed freewheels. These are compatible with bikes that come with Shimano Tourney components. SRAM X3 will also work although they are much less common than Shimano Tourney. It needs to be a bike with 7 rear cog gears. These are only found on cheaper mountain bikes that cost less than $500.
Suspension – front suspension only.
Mountain bikes with front suspension only or a rigid fork are best. Rear suspensions on cheap bikes are not well designed. They don’t have damping and they really hurt pedaling efficiency. They make fitting your battery into the bike frame much more difficult. Stick to a bike that doesn’t have rear suspension. If you want a smooth cushy ride it is better to look for a fat bike with big cushy tires. They will do a better job of smoothing out the ride then a cheap, poorly designed, rear suspension.
Brakes – disc cable operated
Disc brakes perform much better than v-brakes that stop a bike by clamping on the rim. Rim brakes don’t work well when riding when it’s wet. They don’t work well if the wheel gets out of true or bent at all. A perfectly setup good set of rim brakes will not have the stopping power that a set of average to low end disc brakes will. Disc brakes are much easier to replace brake pads and adjust then rim brakes.
Most front and rear wheel drive ebike conversion kits come with a set of brake levers. These brake levers are designed for cable operated brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes require special brake levers and won’t work with cable handles. Look for a mountain bike with cable operated disc brakes.
How to convert a mountain bike into an e-bike
If you choose the best mountain bike for ebike conversion, then converting it is easy. The below video shows all the steps to converting a mountain bike into an ebike using a rear drive conversion kit.
To sum it up, the best mountain bike for ebike conversion is a $300 to $500 bike with aluminum frame, 26 inch, 29 inch, or fatbike wheels, 7 rear cogs, cable operated disc brakes and front suspension or a full rigid bike. Below are a couple of examples of mountain bikes that would make good examples for bike conversions.
Ebike Conversion Kits
Below are a couple of examples of ebike conversion kits that can be used to convert a mountain bike or fat bike.
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start this Gear Craver as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.