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To Retrofit or Not to Retrofit?

In the latest edition of Cycling Electric magazine, ARCC Bikes appeared in an editorial on the growing industry of e-bike retrofitting. Find out more on conversions and our Intelligent Drive Pod system from the excerpt below.

For most electric bike buyers, buying their first power-assisted cycle often requires far more research than the purchase of a pedal-powered bike. The product is now without doubt maturing, becoming both socially attractive and technically advance – but this evolution has left some consumers, quite understandably, bewildered.

Then there’s the price. In the context of what people expect to pay for a bicycle, e-bikes are seen as expensive. The UK consumer spends on average between £250 and £500 when buying from an independent bike shop, according to research by – a price for which you cannot buy even the most basic e-bike.

“You could buy a car for that” is an all-too-common phrase heard by bike shop staff. While in some cases it’s true, this is not comparing apples with apples. The car will keep on costing you in fuel, tax, parking and MOT fees. It will not whip through rush hour traffic at the same speed as an electric bike, nor will it keep you fit or bring down your carbon footprint.

Pay to Play

Still, price is one of the key obstacles for those looking to get into power-assisted cycling – and unfortunately, in the most basic sense, it’s not an area that’s improved recently. What do we mean by this? In previous years a lot of electric bike imports came from China, but now that anti-dumping tariff legislation applies to such imports, the actual volume of bikes brought into the UK to sell at low-end price points has fallen.

This means a higher proportion of our e-bikes are now sourced from countries that cannot match China’s high-volume, low-cost manufacturing clout. It’s fair to say that the recently changed trading relationship between the UK and Europe has similarly not benefitted the budget-conscious consumer in the market for an electric bike…

But another, possibly more appealing, option is retrofitting a conversion kit to your existing bike.

Convert operations

One supplier of such a kit is ARCC, whose Cambridge-designed bolt-on is well suited to bikes from Brompton, Moulton, Cinelli and many others. In this case, the customer sends their bike away and the firm’s engineers convert the bike on site, returning it within a week.

This process does still carry a significant price tag at £1,799, but certainly in the case of the Brompton owner it would save the customer shelling out twice for essentially the same bike. Plus, there are perks that are not immediately obvious, most notably that the battery used is widely commercial available.

“The 6Ah Bosch batteries are available from power-tool suppliers and are compatible with the ARCC system – these will provide a range of up to 52km,” explain ARCC’s Joe Campbell.

This means that you have a ready supply of affordable spares, especially in comparison with many other e-bikes’ spare batteries. To cater for this ARCC fits, as standard, a spare battery holder to its Abington bikes, as well as for customers sending in Moultons.

‘For an average cycling commute of 8km, a 4Ah will provide around two day’s worth of travel (32km) before it needs to be recharged. This takes between 35 and 50 minutes depending on the charger used,” Campbell says.

A retrofitted e-bike can give you many hours of satisfying riding – all the more satisfying for knowing you’ve made environmental and monetary savings.

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