What’s on your New Year’s resolution this year? Assuming you believe in making resolutions, getting more active is likely to figure.
Changing the daily commute to a bike ride is possible for some of us. However, if you aren’t an experienced cyclist, the idea of tackling it twice daily might be a little daunting. There are compromises, but electric bikes can prove too expensive, especially with the current cost-of-living crisis to take account of.
Enter the Swytch Kit, which can be fitted to a regular bike quickly and easily, and costs significantly less than buying a new, purpose-made electric bike. Aimed at those who already have a decent bike and don’t want to invest in a rather expensive replacement, the Swytch Kit transforms your manual bike into an electric one with some relatively quick upgrades.
The kit is compatible with different types of bikes, from mountain bikes to step-throughs to road bikes, and will work with both rim and disc brake bikes.
It consists of a wheel, a 250W geared hub motor and a pedal sensor that detects your speed of travel and decides what power is delivered from the power pack. The Swytch kit has already been through one iteration, with a handlebar bag that contained the battery pack; the updated kit shrinks the battery considerably. That makes it a bit less conspicuous on the bike, and easier to pop in your bag – or pocket – if you are parking it in a public place.
The version reviewed here was supplied as an upgrade to the existing Swytch that we reviewed last year. That made the process a little simpler, but if you are starting from scratch, it‘s not too difficult to add the Swytch Kit to your existing bike. It might take a bit of time and twiddling, but there are plenty of videos on the website to guide you through the process. Even with minimal bike maintenance experience, it is easy enough to swap out the wheel and fit the pedal sensor. The power pack is held on the front of the bike with a special mount.
Run out of juice and it is highly likely that you will still be able to trundle along under your own steam without too much extra effort
The main features remain the same: the only thing that’s changed is the size of the power pack. The new kits have two options: the Air, which offers 15km range, or the tablet-sized Max, which has up to 30km in range. The ideal battery will be dependent on what works for you; if 15km will comfortably cover your round-trip, you can stick with the smartphone-sized battery, and if not, the Max isn’t hugely bigger in size. Both are much thinner than the original battery pack, so it’s a decent improvement, and you can easily carry another battery pack if needed, as they weigh as little as 700g.
One issue with some – not all – electric bikes is that the weight of the battery makes it tough to use when it inevitably runs out at the wrong moment. You don’t have the same issue with the Swytch kit, as the battery and associated motor are so lightweight, you barely notice they are there. Run out of juice and it is highly likely that you will still be able to trundle along under your own steam without too much extra effort.
A smaller power pack makes the kit more convenient, especially if you frequently park the bike in public. It’s also quick to charge, and the Swytch is reasonably easy to set up. All in all, you can get going in under an hour.
It’s well priced, especially compared to a new electric bike, and if you already own a good bike it means you don’t have to find the storage space for a second bike just for commuting.
Less isn’t always more. The new power pack offers a shorter range than its predecessor, which might mean carrying a charger or spare battery on the commute to work to ensure you can get home. That means paying out for extra packs – and remembering to carry them, plus the charger.
There are different versions of the kit available, so make sure you choose the right one for your bike. It depends on your wheel size, which for Swytch can range from 16 inches to 29 inches, and there are also foldable bike versions.
If you check out the website, you can find offers to get up to 50 per cent off the price of the kit.
An excellent way to electrify your existing bike.