A neat and, relatively, cheap way of upgrading your bike to be a fully-fledged e-bike, the Swytch eBike Conversion Kit has a slightly confusing ordering process but ultimately works with the vast majority of donor frames.
Its 250W motor is powerful enough to handle everything, keeping you moving at close to the maximum speed of 15.5mph in the UK.
The ride can be a bit harder up hills and riding slowly can be tricky but this kit is generally a well-polished upgrade to make your existing bike that bit easier to ride.
- Cheap way to upgrade an existing bike
- Clever removable power pack
- Simple controls
- Hill climbing could be smoother
- Lots of cables
- TypeThis is a DIY e-bike upgrade kit.
- SpeedTechnically capable of 20mph, in the UK the kit is limited to a top speed of 15.5mph.
There are two general issues holding people back from getting an e-bike: price and the thought of having to replace a decent existing bike. The Swytch eBike Conversion Kit solves both problems: it’s an upgrade kit that turns your regular bike into an electric one.
It’s light, generally easy to fit and comes with a huge number of options, even if the ordering process is slightly odd. The end results will depend on your donor bike, but the general results are impressive even if the overall ride isn’t quite as smooth as with a ‘proper’ e-bike.
Design and installation
- Huge range of wheel options
- Can be fiddly to fit
- Slightly odd ordering process
Rather than an off-the-peg product that you can buy, the Swytch eBike Conversion Kit has a Kickstarter feel to it. Instead of directly ordering it, you’re asked to sign up to the waitlist, which offers 50% off the list price. When enough people have signed up and pre-ordered, the kits are manufactured and posted. It means that wait times can be long (we’re talking months) but the overall price is kept down.
Ordering isn’t as easy as you might think, and the options can be confusing. For example, the kit is nominally available in the Universal and Brompton flavours, but if you have a different option such as my Dahon folder, then there doesn’t appear to be the right option.
Instead, you first have to pick the rough type you want, with the Brompton kit for folding models, and the Universal kit for everything else. Then, you’ll get an email to choose your options. At this stage, you can customise wheel size, select the size of the battery pack (there are Eco and Pro versions available, depending on the range you want), and choose option extras.
Extras include Twist and Thumb throttles (not allowed for use in the UK) and Brake sensors that cut the power to the motor if you hit the brakes. Note that once you’ve ordered, there’s no easy way to buy these accessories later on, so make sure you get things right off the bat. And, if you don’t order the accessories, you’ll end up with spare cables dangling from the power pack.
After that, you sit back and wait until your kit turns up. Once it does, you’ll need some tools, including tyre levers, a bit of time and the handy guide that walks you through the installation.
Largely speaking, the installation isn’t too hard. With this kit, you get a new front wheel, which has the hub motor built into it. This replaces your existing wheel, so the first job is to remove your old wheel and move the tyre to your new one. Then you fit the Swytch wheel into place: make sure you put it on the right way, so that the motor works with you, rather than trying to run into reverse.
The battery back fits onto a mount that’s designed to be clipped to your handlebars. This has two grips that should fit either side of the handlebar’s central mount and should fit the vast majority of bikes. With my Dahon, the handlebars attach with a double connector, spaced exactly the same as the one for the Swytch mount. I had to fit the battery pack slightly off centre; fortunately, as this weighs 1.5kg it didn’t unbalance my bike.
Given that the front motor weighs 1.5kg as well, you’re only adding around 3kg to your bike’s weight overall. That made my Dahon folder considerably lighter than the GoCycle G4.
To power the motor, there’s a pedal sensor. This uses a magnetic sensor that picks up the movement of your pedals. There are many ways to fit this, depending on the type of pedals you have. I ended up using cable ties.
Cable ties are then used to keep the cables in place: pedal sensor and motor to the battery pack.
You’ll probably need to adjust your brakes at the end of the process so that they operate smoothly. All-in, it took me around an hour from start to finish to get everything working, and the bike ready to ride.
At this point, it’s as simple as turning on the power pack, and choosing the peddle assist level that you want. As soon as you start to peddle, the motor kicks in and the bike moves off, accelerating with the power of the motor.
On the front of the bike, you can see two gauges. One shows the battery charge, and the second shows the current power assist level. You can adjust the power assist level, choosing motor power in 10% increments from 60% to 100%.
Press both the up and down buttons together and you get into the menu system (the full guide is online). Here, you can adjust some of the bike’s settings, and it’s worth checking the options. First, you can choose between a maximum speed of 15.5mph (UK) or 20mph (US); do note that it is illegal to ride your bike at the higher speed in this country.
You can change the way that the motor spins, which could be useful if you had to fit the front wheel the opposite way round from what the instructions say. Finally, you can set the wheel size (16-inch, 20-inch, 24-inch, 26-inch and 28-inch), so check that this is correct.
When you’re done riding and want to charge, the battery pack lifts off its mount and can be carried inside for easy charging. In this regard, the Swytch eBike Conversion Kit is the easiest e-bike system to charge.
- A powerful motor soon gets you up to speed
- Decent range, even from the smaller pack
- Motor doesn’t always feel powerful enough
Total ride comfort will largely depend on the frame that you fitted the system to, and this will vary a lot. What doesn’t change is how the 250W motor works, and when it kicks in.
Here, there’s only a pedal sensor, rather than a torque sensor as used by GoCycle. The power pack can measure the speed at which you’re peddling and then decide on the optimal level of power (based on the set assist level).
That’s good in theory, but the bike isn’t always as smooth as this makes it sound. Start cycling slowly, for example, and the motor can kick in quite hard, rapidly accelerating you. If you’re navigating through a quiet area, such as a car park or your drive, I found it best to turn the system off completely.
For general riding on the flat or on gentle slopes, the Swytch eBike Conversion Kit does what it’s supposed to do. As you start to pedal the motor kicks in, taking you up to the bike’s maximum speed quickly. The motor will gently kick in and out as you dip below that maximum speed automatically – I found it hard to notice.
Where I didn’t find the bike so good was for very steep hills. With the speed of your peddling deciding the level of motor assist, I found that climbing hills often needed a fair amount more leg work than with, say the GoCycle. Dropping down a gear to make it easier to pedal faster helped, but it would be better if there was a handlebar-mounted boost button to kick the motor in at full power for when you need it.
Don’t get me wrong, going up hills with the Swytch eBike Conversion Kit is still easier and faster than doing it manually, but the system could be smoother.
Overall, I covered my commute from the tube station at close to the maximum speed, although a touch slower than with the GoCycle G4. Still, given the price discrepancy, that’s not bad going at all.
Range is quoted at around 22 miles on medium power or the Eco kit and 31 miles for the Pro kit. Using the Eco kit, with maximum power for the big hills and medium power for the rest of the journey, I found that I had three bars left (just over half) on my 8-mile commute. For most people, then, the Eco kit will at least suffice to get to work.
Once empty, the Eco battery pack takes around two-and-a-half hours, and it’s three-and-a-half hours for the Pro back. In a more useful way, Swytch says that you can get 15km (9.32 miles) per hour of charging.
Available from Swytch
Should you buy it?
If you’ve got a bike that you’re happy with, this is a neat upgrade.
It’s slightly fiddly to fit and not as neat as a dedicated e-bike.
Opt for a ‘proper’ e-bike, such as the GoCycle G4, and you get a smoother ride and neater appearance. You’ll also pay a lot more for the pleasure. So, while the Swytch eBike Conversion Kit may lack some polish from time to time it’s a minor inconvenience for a kit that turns your regular bicycle into a fully-fledged e-bike that will make covering the miles far easier.
How we test
We test every e-bike we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used as our main e-bike for the review period
We ride the same route for each review, taking in hills, standard roads and B roads, so we can see how well each bike rides.
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You need to sign up for the waiting list and then you can get it for 50% of the regular list price.
Yes it is, and you get an additional waterproof cover in the box.