How Much Is An Electric Bike: Is a DIY kit cheaper than a pre-built electric bike?


Given the rise in popularity of electric bikes, many riders have started to look into whether or not they would be an option for them. However, electric bikes have a reputation for being very expensive. As a regular rider who owns an electric bike, I thought I would take the time to explain how much an electric bike might cost you.

The average electric bike owner spends £2680 on their bike, however, prices range between £400 and £10,000. Riders who convert a normal bike to an electric bike using a conversion kit spend on average £468. Electric mountain bikes are the most expensive type of electric bike and electric hybrid bikes are the cheapest.

So, we’ve established that the average electric bike will cost you over £2000, but do you really need to spend this much? I take a look at the cheapest electric bike you can buy as well as why electric bikes cost as much as they do in the rest of the article.

How much does an electric bike cost?

Electric bikes come in at a range of different price points. In general, when looking into buying an electric bike, the first thing you want to decide is whether you are planning to buy a pre-built electric bike or use a conversion kit to convert a traditional bike into an electric bike.

How much does a DIY electric bike conversion cost?

In general, DIY electric bikes (those that have been made by converting a traditional bike into an electric bike), are more cost-efficient than pre-built electric bikes, meaning you get a faster and better quality bike for the money you spend.

On top of this, you also have the added bonus of extra customization and the (possible) fun of building a bike, finally, they are easier to repair if something goes wrong and can be more easily upgraded in the future.

If you want to convert your bike into an electric bike, the cost will depend on whether you use an electric bike conversion kit or buy all the parts individually yourself.

Buying the parts individually

In general, people who build DIY electric bikes will tell you that you need 3 main components to convert a traditional bike into an electric one. These are the motor, battery, and controller, however, there are also a few extra components that are essential to ensure you have a comfortable and safe ride.

If you look in the table below you can see what gear is necessary when making your own electric bike and an estimated cost for each component.

ComponentPurposeEstimated Cost
Hub motorProvides the power to the wheels£100
Brake lever and cablesCuts the motor when braking£20
Controller/ThrottleControl of the motor£40
DisplayTo monitor speed and battery level£30
BatteryProvide power to the motor£200
Mounting RackTo hold the battery£30
Mechanical WorkTo convert the bike if you get someone else to do it£100
£520

Buying a conversion kit

Instead of buying all the components of an electric bike individually, you can also get pre-packaged conversion kits, the most popular of which is the Swytch bike kits that allow you to convert any bike.

There are a range of different conversion kits, each with a different quality of components. When buying a conversion kit is important to find out if it includes a battery or not, many of the cheaper kits do not include this and this adds a very large expense on top of the kit itself (over £200).

To find out whether or not conversion kits were a cheaper alternative to buying all the components individually, I asked a large group of electric bike owners how much they had spent on their bike conversion kits. As you can see from the results below, most riders spend between £400 and £500.

Overall, the price of conversion kits is equatable to that of buying the components you may get when buying individually.

It is important to consider that pre-made kits are often easier to use, this is because all the pieces have been designed to work together. On the other hand, you lose the customization that you get from making your own bike from scratch.

In reality, if you are not mechanically minded then I would choose a bike conversion kit, this ensures you get everything you need, that they all work together, and you’ll likely have some clear step-by-step instructions to help you set the bike up.

Individual partsConversion Kit
More customizationLess customization
Can be fun to decide on individual componentsYou are not directly involved in engineering your bike
Harder to purchase (different parts to buy)Easier to purchase (One single purchase)
Harder to installEasier to install
Parts may not work togetherParts guaranteed to work together

How much does a pre-built electric bike cost?

Electric bikes start from around £500 but can cost as much as £10,000 for a top-end model. In reality, the majority of electric bikes will cost between £1500 and £3000.

The variety in electric bike prices is caused by the huge range of different electric bikes available. The bike price will depend on where the motor is placed, the type of material the bike is made from, the power of the motor, and the size of the battery.

Factors that increase the price of an electric bike
Bikes with a mid-hub motor
Expensive frame materials (such as carbon fiber or titanium)
Bikes with a larger battery
A motor with a higher wattage

As a general rule, if you are looking to buy an electric bike then you can only pick from 2 of the following

To find out how much cyclists actually spend on their pre-built electric bikes I asked a large group of electric bike riders how much they spent on their bikes. As you can see, the average cyclist spends £2680 on their electric bike.

Which is the cheapest bike?

Over the last few years, electric bikes have become much more popular. This rise in demand has helped the price of electric bikes to fall due to more economies of scale. It is now possible to buy an electric bike for as little as £400, such as this one that can be found on amazon.

How much does a basic electric bike cost?

Given electric bikes can be bought for as little as £400, why are people spending so much on their e-bikes? In general, electric bikes costing less than £1000 are going to be made of worse quality components, and have a worse build quality.

While these bikes may be able to fit your needs, they are more likely to break down or require work. I would only consider a very cheap electric bike if you are planning to use it for very short distances. However, even in those cases, an electric scooter, regular bike, or converted bike will likely be better for you.

In reality, it is better to save up a little more and buy one of the many good entry-level electric bike options, for example, this bike found at Decathlon which costs £1000.

It is also important to look at the type of bike you are buying. For example, a basic electric mountain bike will cost a lot more than a basic foldable or hybrid bike.

Type of electric bikeThe estimated cost of a basic bike
Electric Hybrid£1000 – £1500
Electric road bike£1500 – £2500
Electric mountain bike£2000 – £4000
Electric foldable bike£1000-£2000

As we established earlier, when picking a basic electric bike you should look to decide between cost, speed, and reliability. If you take a look at the resource below you can see which bike I would recommend for each combination of these features.

BikePrice
Superdelite£8000
Omega£4000
Radrover Plus£1599

Why do electric bikes cost so much?

Cyclists are often surprised at how much electric bikes actually cost, especially when you compare their prices to electric scooters or even electric motorbikes, so why do they cost as much as they do?

Electric bike batteries are expensive

Firstly, the battery of an e-bike is going to be much larger than that of an electric scooter. The battery itself makes up a large proportion of the price, and this means that the larger battery has a disproportionate effect on the total price of the bike.

Bikes are larger than electric scooters

On top of this, bikes are much larger than electric scooters, making them much more expensive to manufacture and then ship, it also adds to other additional costs for bike manufacturers, for example, the cost required to store these bikes before they are sold.

Electric bike require specific parts

Most electric bikes have had specifically designed frames manufactured in order to hold the battery, motor and other extras. The specific design of these frames not only adds to the upfront costs but also makes the actual manufacturing process harder. Specific molds have to be bought for parts, and specialist factories have to be set up to produce them.

Electric bikes are made with high-quality bike components

On top of these costs, electric bikes are often designed around higher-end traditional bikes. For example, most comparable pedal bikes will cost £1000 after you account for the larger tires, suspension, and hydraulic brakes.

The effect of covid-19

Finally, the impact of the pandemic can’t be forgotten. Supply chain issues have caused bike prices to go up considerably. On top of this, the demand for bikes has increased as people look for alternative commuting options in place of public transport.

If you want to take a more detailed look into why bikes cost as much as they do, you can take a look at my article on it here.

Is it worth getting an electric bike?

Given electric bikes are so expensive, are they actually worth it? As an electric bike owner, I’ve had time to explore the advantages and disadvantages of an electric bike and have come to the conclusion that if you have one of a few quite specific uses for an electric bike, they are absolutely amazing! However, they are not for everyone.

Reasons why an electric bike would be worthwhile for you
If you have a commute with lots of hills
If you need to commute to work and find yourself arriving too sweaty
If you cycle on busy roads and feel unsafe going at slower speeds
If you have a commute with lots of stops and starts
If you are recovering from an injury and want to get back into cycling
If you cycle with friends who have better fitness than you

As you can see, in these very specific cases I think an electric bike can be worth it.

It is also important to take into account the country you are planning to ride the bike in. I live in the UK where they have quite strict rules on electric bikes. This means they are limited to 15mph which some people might find too restrictive.

Finally, if in doubt, go to a shop or ask a friend if you can take their electric bike for a test ride. This would be a great way to find out if an electric bike is a good choice for you.

Overall

As you can see, the price of an electric bike can really vary depending on the type of bike you choose to buy, as well as other factors including whether or not you plan to convert a traditional bike yourself.

If you are considering getting an electric bike, take a look at my article here where I look at whether or not you can use an electric bike for bikepacking.

Mark Holmes

30-year-old doctor with an interest in cycling, bikepacking, and statistics.

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