The electric bicycle kit ECZO is a do-it-yourself (DIY) that should fit just about any mountain bike. And the good news is that it’s a powerful little beast.
There are so many DIY kits for electric bikes (e-bikes) that it’s practically impossible to try to list them all. Thankfully, Oleg Evseenkov, the СЕО of ECZO Bike, came to meet us in Southern California so that we could try his kit.
Oleg’s idea started in Russia — actually, Vladivostok, where the temperature can be quite cold and there are plenty of hills to brave. This makes riding bikes not that practical in the spring and fall weather, never mind in the winter time. After tweaking a few mountain bikes with electric motors, they decided to build their own kit using the best testing ground ever, Vladivostok! Since then, the kit has been sold in Europe and now the company is working on the US market, starting with LA.
A natural question is, “Why not start in North America directly?” Oleg told us that it’s because the two biggest markets are Germany and China. Since people live closer to where they work, even the cold weather isn’t as big a deterrent in Germany as it would be in North America, where longer commutes (in heat and cold) render bicycles a moot point for a large number of consumers tempted by free parking and the cars sitting in their garages.
We asked Oleg why he developed a kit and not a full e-bike? He told us the idea started as a fun project. Oleg’s partners, Vasiliy Sukhoparov and Dmitriy Bogdanchikov, one an electrician engineer and the other a former sportsman, wanted electric bikes but couldn’t find anything that fit. One wanted to get back on a bike and the other wanted a better quality than what was available. They met on a forum and decided to build something powerful enough to climb the Vladivostok hills, which we are told are very much like San Francisco’s famous/infamous hills. They directly went to a mid-drive motor for two reasons — power and a lower, better center gravity.
The Beefy Electric Bicycle Kit ECZO
Sporting a 750W mid-drive electric motor, the ECZO kit comes with two battery sizes — 970Wh and 620Wh. The batteries are from Samsung and LG Chem. The company is also open to other cell makers if the price and quality are right.
The kit mounts on most bikes, even mountain bikes, fairly easily. We are told most tinkerers with the right tools and experience will be able to slap it on in 30 minutes. However, we’d caution an hour to an hour and a half for a first-time kit installation.
The fun part of the project was in matching the right battery to the correct motor. In the end, ECZO decided to build its own motor, build its own battery management system (BMS), assemble the battery cells into packs, create their own controllers, and create the control panel, hardware, and software. Not bad for a two-man show. But it eventually meant growing the team to 3 full-time people and 3 part-time engineers with a designer in order to meet the quality standards they set.
The result is a highly tuneable system. It is purposefully left open to be tweaked, but only to a certain point. It uses the same CAM Bus normally found in cars. The BMS controls every cell, the temperature, and the general state. This system reminded us a lot of the original AC Propulsion eBox, where you could check every individual cell in the car.
Feel & Ride of the ECZO E-Bike Kit
Bear in mind that the kit will feel different depending on which bike you use. We rode a 4 Link FSD bike. What we like about the ECZO kit is that it felt like a kit with plenty to tweak to our preferences. In fact, it feels like one that reminds you have a 750W electric motor on the bike. It launches you forward with frank and pronounced accelerations.
The thumb throttle was ergonomically well positioned and this is something you can also tweak to your personal comfort. The electric boost was linear and had no problem climbing our local hills. And no, Long Beach doesn’t have hills like those in San Francisco.
We mention to Oleg that although we like frank accelerations, some people might not like that kind of boost delivery. He showed us that the power output can be tweaked through the LCD display fairly easily.
Where To Find the ECZO E-Bike Kit
So far, California, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon are particularly ripe for the e-bike kit market. ECZO wants to move its primary business there. Oleg told us their client base likes to tweak and fiddle their e-bike kits in general and most are mechanically and technologically savvy. He did tell us that almost anyone handy with their opposing thumbs can get it installed on most mountain, city, and hybrid bikes.
The system uses standard brackets suitable for most bikes, 68 to 86 mm. For anything over 100 mm, ECZO has other brackets.
As far as what to do before buying the kit, the company asks to measure the frame to match the right equipment. Oleg told us that in the near future, you will be able to print a version of the battery size to see if it fits on any given bike.
You will be able to order the ECZO e-bike kit as of January 2018.