Electric bicycle conversion kits are made by dozens of manufacturers and sold by hundreds of vendors. Some of the best prices on these kits can be found on eBay. But are eBay electric bicycle kits a good way to get a deal or a good way to get ripped off?
The answer is probably a little bit of both, but with a little research you can make sure you fall on the ‘good deal’ side of things.
It’s important that you know what you are looking for. Many vendors on eBay simply resell ebike conversion kits without knowing much about what they have. This often leads to mislabeled merchandise and misunderstandings between buyers and sellers.
Other sellers may have an understanding of their ebike kits but still incorrectly list the details, usually in regards to the correct wattage of the kit. Always make sure you check with the seller to confirm the specs of the kit. Pay close attention to max controller current to give you an idea of what kind of power the motor will be providing.
Many eBay electric bicycle kits come with inferior rims and spokes. This can be tricky to determine without seeing the kit in person. Although almost all sellers will list “stainless steel spokes”, there is a wide spectrum of stainless steel spokes ranging from junk to really good quality spokes, so it can be a bit of a crapshoot. At the end of the day though, unless you’re going to be using your ebike for commercial use, even lower quality stainless steel spokes should hold up to average day-to-day use.
The seller should also list the type of rim on the motor (if this is a hubmotor kit). Look for “double walled aluminum rims” in the listing. Again, there is a spectrum of quality for rims, but if you don’t see double walled rims listed, that should be a bad sign. Ask the seller to be certain. If the kit comes with single walled rims, walk away. That’s already a sign of a low quality kit. Any self respecting ebike kit vendor will put their motors on double wall aluminum rims.
Controllers in eBay electric bicycle kits are almost universally low to mid-level quality. They are made with components that often can’t stand up to extended high power usage. If you want to use your ebike for heavy duty use, like making deliveries all day up and down hills, an eBay controller might not be for you. If you plan on using your bike for flat, level ground cruising at speeds of 25 mph (40 km/h) or less, or the occasional medium level hill climbing, there’s a good chance that the ebike controller will be enough for you. If you live in a super hilly area or want to obtain higher speeds, you’re taking a gamble that the controller could burn out on you when you need it most.
Lithium batteries from eBay can be hit or miss. Most eBay electric bicycle kits don’t come with batteries, requiring you to pick them up separately. Sometimes the same seller will also stock ebike batteries, but there are many other ebike battery sellers on eBay. One well known seller is sun-thing28. He provides good quality LiFePO4 batteries and has done so long enough for the ebike community to vouch for him.
Other components found in the kit, such as throttles, pedal assist systems, displays, e-brake levers and lights are usually of adequate quality. These are pretty much all made to the same standards in a few factories in China before being sent to a million different vendors, so kits of varying quality and price levels may have some of the same throttles, displays, etc.
The main parts you should be double checking are the motor, rim, controller and battery. This is where you’ll be able to determine (hopefully) the quality of the kit and whether or not you are going to be happy with the purchase. Like everything else on eBay, you should always read reviews of the seller’s past transactions and check his or her feedback rating. A scammer or vendor with subpar ebike kits will likely not have a good feedback rating. Anything less than 98% positive feedback should give you grounds to worry.
Ebay Electric Bicycle Kits: What’s The Verdict?
With a sharp eye and patience to ask all the right questions, low and medium power electric bicycle conversion kits can be found for a steal on eBay. These are especially well suited for moderate speed ebikes that are going to be used for easy, around the town riding and speeds up to about 25 mph (40 km/h). For anything more powerful though, you’ll need to look for better quality vendors than what you’ll find on eBay. It is still safe to say that for most of the ebike population, eBay electric bicycle kits will meet your goals and produce an excellent and fun electric bicycle.