This startup can turn almost any bicycle into an e-bike

Welcome to the e-bike revolution.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A swytch bike in action.jpg
A swytch bike in action.

Swytch bike/Twitter 

London-based startup Swytch Bike offers kits that allow users to convert almost any bicycle into a motor-assisted electric ride, according to a report written by Bloomberg's Ira Boudway and published on Wednesday.

Boudway tried the user-friendly kit himself and shared his experience.

Today e-bikes have become so mainstream that conversion kits have largely been relegated to niche status. However, Swytch is hoping to reach a much wider target market: anybody with a bicycle. 

The firm's kits, which start at $500 for a 98-watt-hour battery version and run up to $800 for a 180Wh battery, sold out this fall. The easy-to-install kits offer a way for consumers to join the e-bike boom with minimal disruption, cost or carbon footprint. 

Really easy to do

"It's really easy to do," Swytch co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Oliver Montague told Bloomberg during an interview in October. "And it'll save you a lot of money."

His business and its accompanying transformative kits began when Montague was an engineering student at Oxford University in 2012. He started a small startup building and selling e-bikes and conversion kits online. 

This initiative led him to stock hundreds of different pieces of hardware made to work with different models and sizes of bikes. 

"The problem that drove me to the first version of the Swytch kit prototype was just trying to simplify my online shop," he said.

Five years later, Montague co-founded Swytch with his now-wife Hayley, 40, and chief technology officer Dmitro Khroma, 27, using a crowdfunding campaign. 

Swytch has now raised about $6 million and expects to ship around 30,000 units this year alone. The company boasts about 70 employees and revenues of roughly $20 million.

A user-friendly experience

Montague often claims that anybody who can change a bicycle tire is qualified to use a Swytch kit, and Boudway testified in his article that this fact seemed to be true.

"I managed to install the kit on my own. I bolted on Swytch's front wheel, which has a 250-watt motor in the hub; mounted the battery rack to my handlebars using a hex wrench; attached the stick-on pedal sensor to my bike's frame; zip-tied the corresponding magnetic disc to one pedal crank; mounted the controller on the handlebars; attached all the wires to the battery mount and zip-tied them all along the bike's frame," explained Boudway.

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Boudway further noted that everything in the Swytch kit comes off and on easily, and nothing prevents the bike from being ridden without power from the motor. 

"With full-on electric bikes, if the battery's dead, you're never going to ride that thing," Montague said. "With a Swytch bike, if you take the battery off, it's still a bike. It weighs the same, rides the same, handles the same."

Montague further added that besides the practicality of his kits there is also a joy to creating your own e-bike. "It's quite a fun little project to do," he said.

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