The Swytch kit was already a clear leader in the eBike conversion kit market and the 2022 update just makes it better. Just make sure it makes sense to convert a bike instead of buying an off-the-shelf bike with everything integrated.
- Battery is tiny
- Pleasant ride
- Easy to move to a new bike frame
- Inexpensive as long as you are patient
- Makes inexpensive eBikes inclusive
- Ordering process can feel convoluted
- Short range
There is a ton of interest in electric bike conversions and our list of the best electric bike conversion kits gets a lot of traffic. For some reason, despite the demand, there aren't many options out there. It feels like there is always someone new about to come to market with a new kit but the actual options come down to only a few names. One of those names is Swytch and last time we reviewed the Swytch conversion kit, we loved it.
As we start to wind down 2022, Swytch has an update, taking its old kit and making it even sleeker. Is it still the best option on the market or have they fallen behind? We spent time looking to answer just that. We've investigated what's new and how it all works but we've also had the opportunity to interact with the community more. We've seen how Swytch users have chosen to use the product and gotten insight into why it might make sense. We've also had a chance to see some frustrations and look at the places where Swytch could improve. If you are considering an electric bike keep reading to see if the 2022 Swytch eBike conversion makes sense for you.
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Design and aesthetics
The great majority of the Swytch eBike conversion kit has had no changes made to it. The core continues to be a 250-watt front hub motor system with a top speed of 25 km/h (15 mph) in Europe and 32 km/h (20 mph) in the US. Assistance is cadence based so it knows you are pedalling, not how hard, and adds power based on the power level you've set.
Given that those pieces are all the same, the process of installation is the same. The hardest thing to set up is the cadence sensor. There is a magnet disc that fits around the crank and stays in place with a series of plastic "bristles" and a metal retention ring. If you don't have enough room to make all that fit between the crank and the frame then you can also attach it to the crank arm. Doing it that way does away with the bristles and instead uses an arm that attaches to the crank arm then holds the magnetic ring in place around the crank spindle.
The magnet disc is only one side of the cadence sensor. Once it's correctly installed the second piece is a stationary sensor that installs on the bike frame. The only challenge for this piece of the installation is getting the sensor aligned. It's able to rock back and forth to get the perfect angle and you just have to find the right place on the frame of the bike that gets it aligned with the magnet arc and close enough to read.
The next major piece of the system is the front wheel motor. Swytch offers any wheel size, including 26in, 28in, 700C, Brompton 16in, and more, and the brakes can be disc or rim. You can get as creative as you want with projects, just make sure to communicate with Swytch before purchase so you get the right thing. The one system that will not work is a thru-axle of any kind. This isn't something unique to Swytch and if you've got a thru-axle bike, it's going to be a challenge to convert.
- Electric bikes: everything you need to know
Once you've got the right wheel ordered and slotted in, plus the cadence sensor mounted, you will now find yourself looking at the big update for the 2022 version of the Swytch kit. Previously the battery and control scheme consisted of a handlebar-mounted unit that looked like a front bag. Some units had a light on the front and they weighed about 2kg. All the controls sat at the top of the pack and there was a series of lights to let you know battery life and power level. It was a very slick system and really the best thing about the Swytch conversion kit.
With the 2022 Swytch kit update, that whole system is gone. Instead of the fabric outer with integrated controls, there is now a battery that weighs about half as much. It's available in two versions that will either take you 15k or 30km and seven colours are available in either version. The size is roughly 22.5 x 9.5 x 3.8cm and there are no more controls built in. Instead of buttons on the battery pack, you can now access the modes, battery level, and current speed via a small display.
The battery is still removable but that system has changed as well. The last generation was mounted in the centre of the bars with rubber spacers and an anti-rotation strap. The new unit uses metal spacers, lacks the strap, and mounting the battery involves sitting it on a small shelf and then pressing the top down. The upper part of the mount connects the power as it clamps down and to remove it just pull up. Like before you can take the battery with you but now it will fit in a big pocket.
If you wanted to upgrade your previous-gen kit, all the connections are exactly the same. The cadence sensor and the wheel motor run up the frame and connect with a colour-coded connection with only one possible orientation. The last kit had unused plugs and so does this one but the display fills one of them and there's an optional throttle, either twist or thumb activated, that will take up another.
The first part of the Swytch story is that it's an electric bike conversion kit. It's important to highlight that because it's only part of the story but it's the place you have to start. If you jump on Amazon and search for a conversion kit, most of them come from tiny companies. They are individuals who have seen the market hole and attempted to fill it. Bafang is the biggest brand name you'll see in this space but Bafang doesn't sell its parts outside of wholesale orders. No matter what you might find out there, the person you are buying from has purchased the pieces wholesale and put together a kit that they are now selling on Amazon.
That arrangement doesn't mean that the parts you purchase aren't quality parts. It's also not completely different from what Swytch is doing given that the newly included display is just an off-the-shelf SW102 e-bike display. The difference is the same as with any discussion of the value of a name brand. Swytch might be a young company that's still pretty small, but in the wild west of electric bike conversion kits, it is the name brand. If there's an issue with your kit, Swytch has infrastructure to help you. It will also arrange a video call to help you with installation if you need it.
That name brand status isn't just in support either, you can see it when putting together the kit. While some pieces might be off the shelf, other pieces don't seem to be. If I dive deep enough maybe I could find the battery and integrated controller somewhere else but it seems unique. By contrast, we also covered a Bafang eBike conversion kit from Amazon and while it worked just fine, it wasn't anywhere near as polished. The end result of that kit is that there's a lot of cabling everywhere and nothing feels all that put together. The Swytch eBike conversion kit is nicer to put together and it looks great once it's complete.
However, as I said, the fact that the Swytch kit is a conversion kit is only half the story. The other half is the end result. The point is to get an ebike that you can ride and, on that front, you've got to judge the finished result against other options. It's this point that I find to be the most interesting part of the Swytch eBike conversion kit. The bottom line is that once converted, it's just a really good eBike.
I've ridden a lot of eBikes at this point and the Swytch kit is my favourite. A big part of this experience is the base bike you use so make sure you've got a great starting point. I've used a Brilliant Bikes Carmen which is a three-speed, belt-drive, cruiser that's already a joy to ride. The combination of the two pieces is even better.
In the American market, most inexpensive eBikes are big, heavy, bikes with low-quality components and a max of 28mph. The Brilliant Carmen and the Swytch kit come together for a lightweight solution with a speed limit of 15mph for UK customers, 25km/h for European customers, and 20mph for US customers. I'm an experienced rider and 28mph without pedalling feels nerve-racking. It's even more nerve-racking when the cycling infrastructure isn't designed to accommodate that speed. By contrast, the power delivery of the Swytch kit is mellow and fun without ever feeling dangerous or scary. It lets you cruise along with ease but it still feels like riding a bike.
How to purchase
This section might seem unnecessary but, the first time we covered the Swytch kit, one of the things we heard often was that potential customers found themselves confused. Swytch has been so overwhelmed with demand that the brand had to find ways to put a pause on orders without directly turning customers away. The solution was to reward customers with a discount when they are willing to wait. It also involved an invite system for placing a pre-order. Instead of jumping on the site and pressing purchase, you had to sign up to pre-order in production batches.
As I write this, the situation for the 2022 Swytch eBike conversion kit is that it's sold out. Existing waitlist customers will receive their pre-orders first and there is still room to pre-order for December delivery at a 50% discount. A third batch is also offered for a Jan/Feb 2023 delivery at a 60% discount. For the first time, these pre-orders will be easy to access on the Swytch website but if even that sounds confusing, Swytch is hoping to normalise the process further. The hope is that there will be normal stock that is easy to purchase on the website sometime in the first quarter of 2023.
The biggest problem with eBike conversion kits in general, and Swytch suffers from this as well, is that they struggle to compete based on price. You feel like you've got an old bike at home so why not throw a motor on it and have a bargain ebike? Except that your old bike isn't going to be much fun and you actually need a reasonable bike. Even if you have a decent bike, the next problem is that the price of an eBike is in the motor and battery, not the frame. It all adds up to a tricky value proposition. Brands like Aventon and Rad Power have beautifully designed eBikes that cost about the same as you would pay for a conversion.
There's another aspect though. I touch on it a little bit in my experience of riding the Swytch bike when I say that I actually prefer the ride quality compared to other options. It comes to advantages that exist when you compare value ebikes with a Swytch bike and there's a whole other aspect that isn't really part of my experience. If you are a small person who can't deal with a heavy bike, or a tall bike, you might have trouble finding a low-priced ebike option. There are also no options for those who need something different from a standard bike. It turns out that the Swytch kit makes ebikes a lot more inclusive for those who need it.
If you are considering the purchase of a Swytch eBike Conversion at full retail then you will want to really think hard. If you are going to be happy with a standard-sized bike, even if it's a bit heavy, then there are a lot of brands that will sell you an eBike that is probably a better choice for about the same price. That is even truer if you don't have a good bike to convert and need to buy a bike. On the other hand, if you have a bike you love or you need a very specific bike then the Swytch kit is the best choice for converting a bike into an eBike. The Swytch kit is also a great buy if you pre-order for a big discount.
|Ease of conversion||The instructions are easy to follow and there’s plenty of help to be had. The only problem is that Swytch isn’t always great about helping make sure you have the exact kit you need.||9/10|
|Ride quality||One of the best eBike systems on the market. It’s even better than a lot of dedicated ebikes but a lot of the end experience depends on starting with a good bike.||9/10|
|Range and power||The battery fits in your pocket because it’s tiny. The energy density isn’t low but a smaller battery lowers range and adding extra batteries makes everything less convenient. Power is totally fine.||7/10|
|Aesthetics of finished product||Significantly better than other conversion kits but you still end up with wires zip tied to your bike.||8/10|
|Value||The price is amazing if you pre-order but otherwise it’s more like exactly what it should cost.||7/10|
Tech Specs: 2022 Swytch eBike Conversion Kit
- Price: Swytch Air (15km range) £999 / $1199 / €1199 | Swytch Max (30km range) £1299 / $1599 / €1599 | Swytch Upgrade Kit (for existing customers) £599 / $799 / €799 | Discounts available for pre-orders
- Size: Swytch Air: Width 212mm, Length 100mm, Height 25mm | Swytch Max Width 228mm, Length 100mm, Height 36mm
- Wheel size: built to match your needs 16" up to 29"
- Total added weight: 2.2kg-2.6kg
- Top speed: 32kph (restricted to 25kph in some regions)
- Waterproof rating: IP65
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