This clever kit turns bicycles into electric bikes using their disc brakes

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We’ve seen plenty of electric bicycle conversion kits around these parts, but rarely is there one that strays as far from the pack as the Skarper. This novel e-bike kit sports a unique look and claims that it can convert just about any bicycle into an electric bike – as long as it uses a disc brake.

That’s because the Skarper e-bike kit actually drives the rear wheel via the disc brake.

There’s a 4 kg (8.8 lb) clip-on mount that houses the motor, battery, and electronics in a slick-looking unit that connects to the bike’s chainstay.

The motor engages the disc brake, but not how you might expect. It doesn’t touch the braking surface, but rather interfaces with another section of the disc closer to the hub. That’s why riders will have to swap on the Skarper disc rotor in place of their own. Other than a few extra grams and a different-looking disc rotor, the bike won’t really be affected when the kit isn’t attached.

With the drive unit removed, the bike theoretically works as it did when it was a traditional pedal bike. But with the drive unit snapped in place, suddenly pedaling the bike will unleash the motor’s power and give riders a boost.

That power is a bit limited, perhaps due to the company’s European roots. The UK-based team had to conform to Europe’s more restrictive electric bicycle laws, which resulted in the Skarper e-bike kit offering just 250W of power and a maximum assisted speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph).

There’s also no throttle, meaning riders will need to spin those pedals to turn on the helper motor.

With 45 Nm of torque, the assist is likely modest and not overpowering. It will help level out a hill compared to riding without any assistance, but it won’t turn an arduous hill climb into a pleasure cruise.

But while it may not be overly powerful, the company says the kit still boasts an impressive range to the tune of 30-50 km (18-31 miles) depending on the selected power level.

Recharging takes 2.5 hours, though in a pinch they say a quick 30-minute charge will get you 10-15 km (6-9 miles) of range.

The Skarper electric bike conversion kit seems to be sold out, but the company says they’ll open a new round of pre-orders for the £1,295 (approximately US $1,650) soon for delivery in early 2024.

That price is fairly lofty when you consider that many light electric bikes with similar power levels and battery sizes are priced at half as much, but then again they don’t turn themselves back into pedal bicycles with the click of a button.

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