You could definitely say that e-bikes are the biggest evolution in the world of bicycles ever since these two-wheeled contraptions were invented. Sure, cycling tech in general has advanced leaps and bounds over the couple of centuries it’s been around. However, it’s with today’s crop of electric bicycles that we’ve started to see two-wheelers in all sorts of funky shapes and sizes.
Needless to say, getting the flashiest, most technologically advanced e-bike on the market can cost you more than a brand new car. So much for no-frills, accessible mobility, eh? Worry not, however, as on the other end of the spectrum, there are ways to get in on the e-bike fun even when on a tight budget. Livall’s PikaBoost e-bike conversion kit is the perfect example of this sort of tech. You see, for just $599—$299 if you avail of the early bird promo—you can convert any old bicycle into an e-bike by simple strapping this thing onto your seatpost.
Designed by American company Livall, the PikaBoost gives you a peek at the boost (see what I did there) provided by full-on e-bikes. Sure, given the fact that it’s a generic e-bike kit, it’s certainly going to miss out on some of the tech features found on dedicated e-bikes. Nevertheless, it presents itself as a gateway drug into the world of e-bikes—perfect for today’s generation of kids who are scared of commitment, right?
All jokes aside, the Livall PikaBoost certainly has some real-world advantages apart from its affordable price tag. Say, for example, you’re going bike packing for a few days, and anticipate a long, boring climb that you’d rather sit out. All you have to do is strap this thing onto your seatpost, and pedal along as if you were riding on a flat surface. The device should be good for a distance of around 30 kilometers, or 19 miles on a single charge, which isn’t too bad, all things considered. Additionally, the fact that it weighs just three kilos means you can easily store it in your backpack or in your saddlebag when not in use.
Charging is estimated to take around three hours, and the PikaBoost comes with a built-in tail light, and a nifty USB charger that lets you juice up your phone as you ride. That said, doing so will certainly eat into your range somewhat. What’s more, this bolt-on e-bike conversion kit has three riding modes for you to choose from—Hold, Roll, and Sport.
Surely on paper, this e-bike conversion kit looks like the perfect way for you to get on an e-bike on a budget. However, as someone who’s been wrenching on all sorts of bikes for nearly all his life, I know that not all the glitters is gold, and chances are the same is true with the PikaBoost. As is the case with most e-bike conversion kits of this nature, it’ll never operate as smoothly as a hub-motor or mid-drive-equipped e-bike. Also, expect to stop every now and then to make sure the roller is aligned with the rear wheel. Oh, also make sure you’re not on a full-suspension bike, as this kit will only work properly with a static rear wheel.
Having said all that, I won’t take away any of the real-world benefits I mentioned earlier. Especially given how attractive the pricing is, I’d certainly say that this thing is worth considering, especially for someone who’s curious about getting into e-bikes, but isn’t quite ready to financially commit to a proper electric bicycle.