GPS tracking added to Vekkit ebike conversion kit for extra peace of mind
Sales of ebikes have exploded recently, and the upward trend is expected to continue for some time. But for those who can't afford the often high price tags of dedicated ebikes, conversion kits offer a cheaper way to give your ride a motor boost. Velotton introduced a fairly lightweight solution called the Vekkit last year, and now version two has been announced.
Though ebike conversion kits can offer a way to join the electric revolution without having to shell out thousands, many can add significant weight to the host ride, making pedaling something of a chore when the battery runs out or if you want to use it as a regular old bicycle without having to swap an unpowered wheel to do so.
Last year's Vekkit system lightened the weight of the wheel by removing the battery and electronics, packing them in a bag and hanging that from the handlebar. When the user no longer needed assistance from the motor, the bag could be removed and left at home, with the wheel rocking the motor-packing hub deemed light enough to stay put for regular rides.
The new version offers a similar package, but the company has now added a GPS+LTE module for keeping tabs on your converted ebike when you're not around.
When the module's sensor detects movement, such as when a light-fingered opportunist attempts to make off with the bike, it sends a notification to a smartphone and reports the location of the ride courtesy of GPS. It's been designed to work without needing to be hooked up to the kit's main battery for up to two months, and can be installed on previous versions of the Vekkit.
Other sensors in the module monitor air quality, register the gradient of inclines, track acceleration, and more. And Velotton says that all of this data can be saved without needing an active connection to a smartphone running a companion app.
The kit now comes with three battery options – there's a new 5-Ah Li-ion battery that tips the scales at 900 g (1.98 lb) for up to 25 km (15.5 miles) per charge, an airplane-friendly 5.2-Ah battery at 1.3 kg (2.8 lb) for around 30 km (18.5 miles), and a 1.7-kg (3.7-lb) 10-Ah battery for up to 80 km (50 miles). Kits are available for wheel sizes ranging from 16 to 29 inches too, as well as bikes with disc, rim or roller braking.
The waterproof Cordura bag doesn't necessarily need to hang from the handlebar either, it could be mounted to the seat post or in a pannier over a rear rack (if the host bike has one), for example. A single cable runs from the battery bag to the low-noise 36-V/250-W hub motor, which can provide pedal assist up to 25.5 km/h (15.8 mph) on public roads or 30 km/h (18.6 mph) on private roads (the top speed can be adjusted via a mobile app). A wireless cadence sensor attached to the pedal gets the motor going, with a handlebar-mounted wireless remote activating assist modes.
Installation is reckoned to take around 5-10 minutes, depending on the host bike, and kits are supplied with all the tools you'll need. Pricing for the new Vekkit starts at €670 (about US$800). The new GPS+LTE module will be available from October as an optional extra for €195 ($230).