I’ve seen and played around with a lot of DIY electric bicycle conversion kits. Hell, I even wrote the book on the subject. But the Swytch kit is something unlike any other conversion kit I’ve seen. It’s an interesting new take on the classic e-bike conversion problem.
What’s a Swytch kit?
The team behind the Swytch kit calls it the smallest and lightest e-bike conversion kit in the world. And they might have a pretty good stake to that claim.
The whole kit adds barely 3 kg (6.6 pounds) to an existing bicycle, but gives it all the benefits of an electric bicycle.
The kit includes all of the parts necessary and it fits nearly any bicycle, outside of odd or specialty bikes with non-standard parts or frame sizes.
To see the kit in action on my bike, check out my review video below. Then read on for the rest of my review!
Swytch kit video review
Swytch kit tech specs
- Motor: 250 W geared hub motor (40 Nm torque)
- Top speed: 32 km/h (20 mph) in the US or 25 km/h (15.5 mph) in the EU
- Range: 30-50 km (18-31 mi) depending on user input and battery pack size
- Battery: 36V 5Ah (180 Wh) and 36V 7Ah (250 Wh) options
- Charge time: 3 hours
- Weight: 3 kg (6.6 lb)
What’s in the Swytch kit?
The main parts of the Swytch kit include the hub motor wheel, the pedal sensor, and the Power Pack. There’s also an optional throttle as well, for those that want to reap the e-bike benefit without having to pedal.
There’s nothing particularly special about the motor, pedal sensor, or throttle. They’re standard parts and can be found in nearly any e-bike conversion kit.
The Power Pack houses the bulk of the innovation here. It’s a handlebar-mounted battery that also conceals the sine wave controller and wiring harness to bring it all together. Plus it has a quick release system that allows you to pop it on and off your handlebars with just one finger. And it’s even fully waterproof.
It’s a really well-designed system that makes sense, considering that this isn’t the first version of the kit. The Swytch team has already sold over 3,000 units of their previous Swytch kit versions before coming up with this latest version.
How do you install it?
The installation is generally pretty simple, though it took me a bit of extra time because my bike had some non-standard parts. If you want to see my full install video, check it out below:
First, you remove the bike’s front wheel and swap in the Swytch kit’s wheel in its place. This is normally pretty simple, but my bike had a fairly chunky suspension fork that rubbed on the motor, meaning I had to play with the motor’s washers to find a good spacing to prevent the motor from rubbing.
Next, you snap the two-piece magnet ring onto the pedal crank and then zip-tie the pedal sensor onto the bike’s frame. This sensor reads how fast you are pedaling to help the kit decide how much power to send to the motor.
Lastly, you mount the quick release system on the handlebars and snap on the battery. My kit included the optional throttle, so I added my throttle at this stage as well. And that’s it, you’ve just converted your pedal bike into an e-bike!
How does it ride?
Keeping in mind that this is a low-ish power kit, it actually rides really well. The motor pulls nicely when you give it throttle or begin pedaling, though there is a perceptible amount of lag on each.
Part of that is the controller, which is designed to ramp up power instead of dumping full power all at once. This helps reduce wear and tear on the motor as well as increases range, though it means you don’t get as much power in that first few seconds of pedaling or throttle application. But hey, I can live with doing a bit more of my own pedaling work for a couple seconds.
The bike hits 32 km/h (20 mph) fairly quickly, though I have the American version of the kit. Europeans get a more limited 25 km/h (15.5 mph) kit that is legal across the EU.
I found that I could maintain about 30 km/h (18.5 mph) on slight uphill climbs, though I don’t have a lot of big hills in my area to test. I imagine that you’ll slow down a lot more on large hills, though I was impressed that it maintained almost full speed on small uphill climbs.
The coolest part of the kit for me, though, and the area where Swytch’s innovation is center stage, is in the removable Power Pack. With literally one finger I can grab my battery and go. The controller comes with me, and there’s almost nothing electric left on the bike for a thief to walk away with. The battery is so small and thin that I can almost fit it in my pocket. If I had a pair of cargo pants, it’d definitely be pocketable. But for now, I mostly carry it by the strap or toss it in my bag. And the team paid such attention to detail, they even include a tiny little elastic rain cover just for the bare bracket, in case you park your bike outside in the rain and bring the battery in with you, leaving the bracket exposed.
I also love that the kit leaves the entire frame triangle unobstructed. That means I can either add storage bags to the center or leave it open to throw the bike over my shoulder when I climb up to my third-story walkup apartment.
And since I live in an area that gets a lot of police scrutiny over e-bikes, especially DIY e-bikes, the fact that my bike doesn’t even look like an e-bike is a big benefit. The Power Pack on the handlebars basically looks like a little basket, if anyone even notices it at all.
The battery doesn’t have huge capacity, mind you. It’s certainly enough for most city commutes, but you’ll want to remember to charge the battery every day. This isn’t an e-bike system that you can get away with once-a-week charging.
In terms of pricing, I’d rate it at good, not great. You can currently get the Swytch kit for a steal on Indiegogo, where it’s priced at a 45% discount. That means kits start at as low as $449. The bummer is if you have to pick it up after the Indiegogo when the price hops back up to the $799 MSRP. But to be honest, it’s actually hard to find a decent e-bike for that price, so even at $799 I’d probably put my own money on the table for a Swytch kit. In fact, I’m honestly thinking about getting their smaller Brompton-optimized Swytch kit to do a folding e-bike conversion for my wife.
But she doesn’t know that yet, so shhhh!
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