The highest quality most expensive E-bike kit you can buy at this point is the Austrian made Ego Kit drive. This is one of the few kits on the market that is a mid-drive motor kit. Mid-drives offer distinct advantages over a hub motor especially when it comes to torque and efficiency (read our article about mid drives here). To see a list of other mid drive kits for converting an existing bicycle read our article on mid drive kits here.
Hub motors normally work well in most conditions because electric motors have a wide and flat torque curve. However, if you need to ride up steep hills, a hub would have to use very high volts (72V is becoming common on extreme hub climbers), use a smaller wheel…like a hub laced to a 20-inch wheel with a moped tire, and usually you’d need to specify a hub with a high turn-count which makes your bike a good climber…but with a slower top speed. Pikes Peak this year was won by a direct drive hub instead of a mid-drive, but…he was using 104V!
Allowing the motor to use the bikes gears gives the bike a multiple personality. On flat land you can gear-up for speed in the 30-MPH range, and when you downshift to the lowest gear (losing top speed)…you gain an awesome climber. And all the time your motor is kept in its efficient RPM range, allowing it to run cooler and merely sip battery watts, instead of getting hot by draining your battery when the motor is bogging down while trying to keep up as a single-speed.
The Focus Jarifa is an excellent example of how a mid-drive provides a wide range of performance, and its efficient mid-drive configuration does well while getting maximum miles from a smaller battery. The 2011 model that was using 24V was well-received, but for 2012, they upped the volts to 36V. The off-road EGO kit didn’t waste any time experimenting with lower voltages, they went straight to 48V. The $14,000 Optibike 1100R also uses a mid-drive at 48V. If you want to climb extreme hills, a high-volt mid-drive has been proving itself as the system that simply works.
These advantages are really accentuated when mounted on a full suspension mountain bike. No where is a mid-drive needed more than when climbing steep hills off-road. Hub motors need speed to operate efficiently and properly. Add to this the problem of the heavy weight in the rear-hub wheel when going over rocks or taking jumps, and the hub motor bike starts to make even less sense for mountain riding. An Ego Kit is a great solution for the hard core electric bike trail rider.
The Ego kit can be bought in the US from Ebikessf.com for $3000 and they will even install it on your bike for an extra $300. Ilia at Ebike.sf is also willing to buy the bike on your behalf, build the bike, and then ship it to you. To reach the full potential of the Ego Kit, it is highly recommended that the kit be installed on a high quality full suspension mountain bike.
One of the problems with converting a full suspension bike to electric has been that its difficult to get the battery to fit inside the triangle. The Ego Kit addresses this issue by placing the 48V / 12-Ah (600-WH) battery in a high quality backpack that is strapped to the riders body. The back pack battery weighs 10-lbs and takes a little getting use to riding with this weight on your back. However once you are accustomed to it the battery is surprisingly comfortable in the quality back pack and the bike stays light and maneuverable.
Top speed is about 33-MPH without pedaling. This system incorporates a double freewheel so that when you are not on the power, the bike freewheels just like a regular bike.
Although $3000 seems expensive, remember this comes with a relatively large high quality battery (lithium manganese, LiMn) and if you buy a quality used mountain bike for $2000 you could have a quality mountain climber that will rival any production electric bike for just $5,000. The Ego Kit on a quality mountain bike would be at the same performance level of a $14,000 Optibike 1100R.
Imagine what the Ego Kit gives you is essentially an electric chair lift that can lift you to the top of a mountain so that you can bomb your way down. Essentially you can make a downhill mountain bike park out of any mountain.
Check out this video put out by Ego to get a good idea of what this bike is capable of:
Also here is great review video of the Ego Kit:
- Brushless, maintenance-free electric motor with planetary gear-reduction for increased torque; 1200 W continuous
- Motor weight 3.2 kg (7.05 lbs), total set on bike about 5.5 kg
- 48V, 12.5-Ah LiMn (Lithium Manganese) battery with built-in management system, 8x11x28 cm, comes with ERGON backpack
- Battery weight in backpack 4.6 kg (10.14 lbs)
- With the right skills and surface, you can master inclines beyond 40°. This is just the beginning, with steeper inclines possible just by assisting the motor by pedalling.
- 70km/h (43mph)…depending on your bike setup
- Compatible with 70% of bikes on the market
- Center pedal assist motor concept and low center of gravity maintains the original handling characteristics of your bike
- The EGO-kit does not alter the response of the suspension