First Look | Swytch’s new ‘pocket-sized’ electric bike conversion kit

Swytch’s updated ebike conversion kit has a 700g battery and will provide power for up to nine miles

Swytch ebike conversion kit.

In April 2022, Swytch Technology announced a new conversion kit that will turn almost any bike into an electric bike with a ‘pocket-sized’ battery that powers a hub-based 250W motor.

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Swytch first debuted an electric bike conversion kit in 2017, but says this latest version improves on all aspects of the previous design, from design and functionality to performance and weight.

In a market that sees many electric bikes costing more than £1,000 / $1,000 and offers little financial help for those who want to trade their car for an ebike, could this £999 kit be a signal of where the electric bike market is headed?

We’ve received the new Swytch kit for testing. Here’s what you need to know.

Unboxing the Swytch conversion kit

Swytch offers two battery sizes in a range of colours.
Stan Portus / Our Media

The Swytch ebike conversion kit BikeRadar has received is an upgrade kit for the previous version of the kit we used to turn an old hardtail into a super commuter.

This means our new kit doesn’t have the pedal sensor, magnetic disc or hub motor. But we do have two of the new battery packs, the handlebar mount and the OLED display.

The two batteries are different sizes, providing varying amounts of charge. Swytch claims the small battery can provide power for up to nine miles (15km). The large battery can power you for up to 17 miles (30km).

The handlebar mount houses the cabling and electronics to join up the system.
Stan Portus / Our Media

On the BikeRadar scales, the small battery weighs 744g and the large battery weighs 1,071g.

The edge of the batteries is rubberised and Swytch provides options in different colours, such as the blue and orange we have.

There is a line of LEDs on the batteries, which show how much charge is left. You can recharge the batteries using the cable supplied by Swytch via a port on the top of the battery.

The battery fits into the handlebar mount, which houses all the cabling and electronics to link up to the rest of the system.

The OLED display has a small rectangular screen and three buttons for control, plus an on/off button for the complete kit.

Swytch provides spacers so you can fit the mount and display to different handlebars.

Swytch conversion kit features and setup

The battery fits into the handlebar mount.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Engineers Oliver Montague and Dmitro Khorma founded Swytch having identified a gap in the market for sustainable, power-assisted city transportation that isn’t prohibitively expensive.

This kit is designed to achieve that with the battery size and weight, plus the fact the battery can be charged in an hour and removed easily from the bike.

The battery pack powers an electric bike motor in the front wheel’s hub. The motor provides 250W, which is the maximum power an ebike motor can have, according to UK electric bike law.

The Swytch ebike OLED display.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Swytch can build a wheel with a motor that you can then fit into your bike. The brand accommodates a variety of wheel sizes, including smaller wheels found on the best folding bikes. There are also options for rim brake or disc brake bikes.

The system provides power as you pedal. The pedal sensor detects when you are pedalling, with a controller in the mount drawing power from the battery.

You can adjust the power level via the OLED display, which also tells you the battery charge levels, your speed and the distance travelled.

All parts of the system are linked together via cables with colour-coded ends, which should make for easy assembly.

Stan Portus’ Swytch conversion kit first impressions

A Brompton with a Swytch ebike conversion kit.
Stan Portus / Our Media

BikeRadar’s Swytch kit is yet to be fitted to a bike, so I can’t attest to what it’s like to set up. However, I did have the opportunity to ride a Brompton fitted with the conversion kit at Eurobike 2022.

The Swytch kit has a maximum speed of around 15mph in the UK, 25kmph in the EU and 20mph in America.

The display is clear.
Stan Portus / Our Media

You can feel the power of the motor when it kicks in, but acceleration was smooth and the front-hub motor never felt as if it was pulling me along too much, nor did it make the bike feel unsafe.

I found the Swytch kit OLED display easy to read and it was straightforward adjusting the power levels with my thumb.

We’ll deliver our full verdict on the Swytch kit – including how easy it is to convert a bike, plus the kit’s battery life – in our review.

The future of electric bikes?

Swytch says it recently received £3.8 million of investment.
Swytch

The electric bike market is expanding, and if Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton, is to be believed, they will make up the majority of bikes in the future.

Much of this growth can be seen in the world of electric road bikes, electric mountain bikes and electric gravel bikes.

But more affordable ebike options are arguably where we’ll see the most growth because of people looking for alternative ways of getting around.

Swytch is a case in point for this. When it launched the most recent Swytch Kit, the brand said it had seen 300 per cent annual growth and in 2020 it sold 9,000 conversion kits.

Swytch has also said its sales are likely to be over 5 per cent of the entire UK electric bike market, based on data from market research company Mintel.

A Swytch spokesperson said at Eurobike in July that the brand had received 10,000 pre-orders for the new kit before its official launch.

This growth is backed up by investment. Swytch says it has closed an investment round of £3.8 million, which follows a previous investment round of £800,000 in 2018.

Swytch isn’t the only brand at the less pricey end of the ebike market receiving investment. American electric bike company Rad Power Bikes received $154 million in investment in 2021, following another $150 million investment earlier that year.

There is also the environmental angle to Swytch bikes specifically and conversion kits more generally.

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A kit that enables conversion an existing non-assisted bike into an electric bike is said to help reduce waste, with users not having to buy a whole new ebike to unlock motor-assisted transport. This may be appealing to some, with ebikes having comparatively high life-cycle emissions compared to non-assisted bikes.