An electric drive system on a bicycle is a great thing: you don't get out of breath so quickly when pedalling uphill and you don't have to wait for a tailwind on longer distances. But the old bike is just perfect and should not be replaced by a new e-bike that you have to get used to first.
René Filippek from the General German Cyclists Club (ADFC) understands this. “For many, it's about being able to continue riding the bike they have grown fond of over the years. When I buy a new bike, the whole thing starts all over again.” Nevertheless, the ADFC-expert, advises against converting a bike into an e-bike. There are several reasons for this.
“Conventional bicycles are not designed to bear the enormous loads acting on them due to an electric drive system,” says Filippek. “That's 250 watts, or significantly more at peak or when starting off. An average cyclist can hardly manage that by his own efforts.” This can lead to overloading of the frame, the fork and the add-on parts.
Bicycles are not designed for so many kilometres
In addition, bicycles with e-assistance cover all in all much more distance. “A standard bicycle is designed for a service life of about 10,000 kilometres,” explains the ADFC spokesman. “90 percent of all bicycles don't even reach the distance during their use. If you're equipped with an electric drive system, you'll easily cover that distance in two years.” If the parts are not designed for that much distance, there is a risk that they wear down faster.
Dirk Zedler also contradicts cyclists who think that their old bicycles can be easily converted. The managing director of Zedler-Institut (Zedler Institute for Bicycle Technology and Safety) is a specialist in testing bicycles and their components.
Retrofit drive systems for bicycles are often not up to date
Although some companies do offer retrofit drive systems, the big renowned manufacturers are not among them, according to Zedler. His experience: the retrofit drive systems are technically not up to date “Electric bicycle technology has been subject to an extreme further development in the past five years,” the expert explains. “This does not apply to the retrofit kits to the same extent. They usually don't ride as comfortably and are often subject to a lot of quirks.” In Zedler’s opinion the drive systems are usually much simpler in design, have a worse response, often run over and sometimes wear down faster. What seems to be a bargain at first glance can turn out to be a disappointment later.
“You think I have my classic bike and I love it,” says Zedler. “Then, when you have the drive system installed and are honest, you have to admit that riding it is often just no fun and definitely not up to the standard of today's electric bikes.”
Good e-bike retrofit kits are expensive
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Author: Christina Bachmann