LEED 250 Watt & 500 Watt Electric Bike Kit Review [VIDEO]

Leed 250 watt electric bike kit reviewBy Paul Willerton

There is beauty in simplicity. Consider the bicycle. Without electric assist, the most efficient human powered machine known to man.

With electric assist, the bicycle climbs off the charts. Still, many are intimidated by the bike – and particularly the electric assist bicycle.

Some electric systems can be complex. The influx of high-end, mid-drive motor systems have brought a surge of attention to the ebike, including a following of younger, more experienced riders.

At the other end of the spectrum is a much larger group of riders.

Has the market answered the call for the rider who may like everything about their traditional pedal bike but wishes they had some assist to ride longer, further or faster? Without spending much money?

Enter LEED Bicycle Solutions out of Mountain Green, Utah. What began as a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013 has continued to grow and service a large niche in the ebike space: front wheel ebike conversion kits.

Here is a video overview of their 250 watt and 500 watt electric bike kits:

Simply replacing the front wheel of any traditional bike and strapping on the included battery pack allows the converted LEED E-bike kit rider to enjoy the benefits of electric assist cycling.

Aside from assist, the big benefit of going with a LEED kit is cost. Through their website LEED offers two power choices and an assortment of battery options. LEED offers 250 watt and 500 watt systems, each with an assortment of battery options.

Leed 250 watt electric bike kit review battery packs

There are seven different battery sizes for the 250 watt kit. All are 24 volt versions providing ranges from four to 50 miles. I tended to use a “half on, half off” type of riding style that basically doubled range numbers for each battery.

The 250 watt kit has seven different battery size options. These run from a 24V, 2.6 amp hour kit for $479 to a 24 volt, 25.6 amp hour $1,079 version.

Frame bag by Revelate Designs was perfect for holding all sizes of LEED batteries. It had some extra space for tools, phone and other essentials.

The frame bag by Revelate Designs was perfect for holding all sizes of LEED batteries. It had some extra space for tools, phone and other essentials.

Leed 500 watt electric bike kit review battery

A closer look at the lockable and removable rack mount battery of the 500 watt kit. The rear light is a nice safety feature as well. The 500 watt LEED kit is available with this battery or a down tube mounted version. The batteries provide 20-30 miles of range for the 500 watt kit.

The 500 watt electric bike kit comes with either an 11 amp hour 36 volt kit for $899 or a 13 amp hour 36 volt kit for $949. These batteries come in either a downtube or rear rack mount versions.

We will get into the differences between these systems shortly. For all of these kits, LEED uses what are called 8-Fun geared hub motors from a company called Bafang.

I ride and review a lot of e-bikes. Most of the bikes I’ve had in for review have been high-end mountain bikes, heavy lifting cargo bikes and cruisers geared toward riders looking for comfort and style across the price spectrum.

Since LEED sells conversion kits and not complete bicycles, I wasn’t sure what we’d be riding for the review. The bikes that showed up were Electra city bikes.

Leed 250 watt electric bike kit review

LEED 250 watt kit installed on an Electra city bike.

This style of bike is popular in Europe, and that’s where I’ve done most of my riding on them. I’ve always enjoyed this style of bike.

Leed 500 watt electric bike kit review

LEED 500 watt kit with rack mount battery fitted on a smaller Electra city bike.

I find the riding position to be more comfortable – and powerful – than the lower cruiser style. They are also more efficient than cruisers, being lighter and riding on narrower tires. For the LEED kits, they are an ideal choice.

LEED kits can be fitted to any bike, and with prices starting at under $500, this became an eye-opening review. LEED demonstrates that the possibilities for mobilizing populations on two wheels is practically endless and achievable.

They prove that ebikes are not toys for the wealthier classes. Bicycles make humans the most efficient animals on earth. Adding affordable electric assist to that equation is a game changer.

One secret bike manufacturers don’t want you to know is that for the vast majority, new bikes are not faster than old ones. Literally any well maintained bike made in the last 40 years could be fit with a LEED kit.

Preferably, it would have a stout front fork, good headset, brakes and other components. Department store bikes are not worth converting for quality and safety issues. Well cared for bikes from the 80’s and 90’s can be had for next to nothing. The one’s in garages around the country are perfect candidates for a LEED kit.

I found the 250 watt kit a joy to use and ride for it’s elegance and simplicity. The old saying “Pick the right tool for the job” fits every form of cycling.

Leed 250 watt electric bike kit review motor

The 8Fun 250 watt geared motor installed on the front wheel.

In our cars, most Americans have more power than we have the skills – or roads – to use. The LEED 250w can be used close to full potential by any rider on every ride. There’s a lot of greatness in that.

Routing wires on the 250 watt LEED kit is clean and simple.

Routing wires on the 250 watt LEED kit is clean and simple.

Climb on the bike, hit the little button with your thumb, pedal and go. It’s that simple. Turn your legs and pedal. Grabbing bigger gears, the stock city bike starts to spin out at 16 mph, which is right where the 250 maxes out anyway on a flat road. Release the thumb button and add your own power for a while.

Leed 250 watt electric bike kit review throttle

Throttle button on the grip is held in place by velcro so it’s easy to move to either side. There is no half throttle – it’s either on or off.

Inclines, even 5%, show the limitations of the 250. Keep the power down, shift into smaller gears and pedal. Cyclists pedal up climbs and with the 250 they will still need to. Personally, I like the feeling of my own power on top of the motor and getting some light exercise on an ebike like this feels kind of therapeutic.

Witness the smallest and lightest ebike battery made, the LEED “PBJ”. About the size of a sandwich, it provides about four miles of boost up to 21mph and charges quickly.

Witness the smallest and lightest ebike battery made, the LEED “PBJ”. About the size of a sandwich, it provides about four miles of boost up to 21mph and charges quickly.

For the 250, LEED also offers the world’s smallest ebike battery. Initially part of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the aptly named “PBJ” battery packs 2.6 amp hours and 24 watts of power using Samsung cells in the size of a small sandwich.

It’s enough to add boost to 16mph for four miles. The way I rode the city bike with the 250, I only used power about half the time. The light weight of the PBJ made the bike more fun to pedal and easier to lift up stairs or onto a rack. One of the best urban batteries around for shorter trips, the PBJ is available from LEED for $169.

Batteries are connected via this 7 pin screw lock. As long as the small tab (visible below the pins on the inside of the ring in this image) is lined up properly with the female connection from the motor it connects quick, easy and secure.

Batteries are connected via this 7 pin screw lock. As long as the small tab (visible below the pins on the inside of the ring in this image) is lined up properly with the female connection from the motor it connects quickly, easy and secure.

At the other end of the battery spectrum for the 250w motor is a 25.6 amp hour 24 volt pack using Panasonic cells. This battery is marked at $799 and offers an impressive 50 mile range at the 250’s 16 mph top end.

The kit comes with this wireless Specialized cyclometer. The best way to monitor battery levels with the 250 watt kit is to keep track of distance traveled. It’s the electric bike equivalent of “dead reckoning”.

The kit comes with this wireless Specialized cyclometer. The best way to monitor battery levels with the 250 watt kit is to keep track of distance traveled. It’s the electric bike equivalent of “dead reckoning”.

The 250 does not have a digital display to show the rider battery levels or speed. Some ebikes can be very difficult to ride once battery is exhausted. The LEED 250 is one of the easiest riding ebikes once batteries are exhausted, especially with the smaller, lighter batteries in the lineup.

Don’t even bother trying this move with most electric bikes. There are pro’s and con’s to everything. Chalk one up here for the “light & simple” design of the LEED 250 watt kit on a fairly light Electra.

Don’t even bother trying this move with most electric bikes. There are pro’s and con’s to everything. Chalk one up here for the “light & simple” design of the LEED 250 watt kit on a fairly light Electra.

It feels like just another pedal bike. I see this as another positive feature for this simple kit. You won’t feel stranded, but you will need to ride a nice, smooth bike the rest of the way if you don’t have a spare battery.

Leed 500 watt electric bike kit review motor

The 500 watt 8FUN geared hub motor installed on the front wheel. The 500 watt motor is heavier and larger in diameter than the 250 watt. It does provide a noticeable increase in torque, power on hills and about a three mph advantage in top end speed, cruising at up to 24mph.

Moving up the power spectrum is the LEED 500w. As the name implies, it uses a 500 watt 8-Fun geared motor which can be mounted on the front or rear wheel. I like front wheel configuration for Leed kits if only for the sake of simplicity.

Leed 500 watt electric bike kit review display

The digital LED display that comes with the 500 watt kit provides the rider with information including battery levels, distance, time, speed, and assist level.

The 500w kit is not as simple however as the 250w. It has an added digital LED display to read speed, distance, battery and power assist levels. Power is applied with a thumb operated twist throttle.

Leed 500 watt electric bike kit review pedal assist

The 500 watt kit can also be set up with the LEED PAS, or “pedal assist” system. The magnetic ring, sensor and cable are visible in this image between the inside of the chainring and the bottom bracket shell. Even with the PAS installed, power can still be applied with the thumb throttle, which overrides the PAS.

Included is an optional Pedal Assist System. This is a two-piece install consisting of a round magnetic plate that is fixed to the inside of the chain rings on the crank set and a sensor that is positioned close enough to read the magnets.

Using the PAS option, electric assist starts whenever the pedals are turning. The thumb twist throttle will still override the PAS if it is used.

With the added torque of the 500w system, LEED includes a small torque arm to add extra rigidity to the frame whether the motor is installed on the front or rear of the bike. The addition of the LED display and PAS does add some complexity to the 500w kit compared to the 250w kit. For riders who want the added power, these extra pieces aren’t an issue.

The 500w kit has more torque and the ride tests showed a 3mph higher top speed, to 24mph. The added power does help on hills and carrying extra weight.

On the city bikes that were part of this review, the added torque and speed of the 500w were instantly noticeable. While that sounds like the winner in all respects, this review taught me some things. The results were somewhat surprising.

In a nutshell, on city bikes like these, ridden on road and without added weight, it was the 250w kit which ended up my ride of choice. I may love the feel of electric assist, but I am still a cyclist who likes to feel the pedals beneath me.

On the 500w kit, the Electra was under-geared for a 24mph top speed. The bike becames more of a coasting machine. That’s going to suit a lot of riders and may be the reason they want an ebike in the first place – to not have to pedal.

I still like the feeling of being on top of a gear while pedaling. Of course, none of this is the fault of the LEED 500w kit, it’s more of an issue with the bike it was installed on.

There’s something nostalgic about a city bike dressed with fenders sitting next to a river.

There’s something nostalgic about a city bike dressed with fenders sitting next to a river.

In contrast, the Electra with the 250w was a match made in heaven. I can say, the pleasure of riding the LEED 250w on that bike to the country store on several warm, Summer evenings to pick up a six pack and some drumsticks for the kids converted me.

Not only to city bikes in general (I will be adding one to my two wheeled quiver) but to lower power electric motors and smaller batteries for certain ebike applications.

One difference worth noting between the 250w and 500w kit was the ease of pedaling without electric assist engaged. With the 250w bike, cruising at 17mph without assist was easy. On the bike with the 500w kit, even more pedaling effort resulted in speeds closer to 12mph. That’s a huge difference and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The 500w kit does have a heavier and larger hub motor resulting in more rotating weight further out toward the rim of the wheel. The larger rack-mounted battery adds more weight to the bike.

More sensors and displays inevitably lead to more wiring. The fully accessorized 500 watt kit will need to have it’s cables managed. The extra wiring is not a deal breaker, in my opinion. My biggest fault was that I did find the 500 watt kit quite a bit more difficult to pedal when electric assist was not engaged. Buyers of the 500 watt kit may not be planning on applying any of their own power to the ride, so this would not be an issue for them.

Neither kit seems to add friction or added resistance. Other than these differences I was not able to figure out exactly what caused the difference in speed and perceived effort when riding unassisted.

LEED kits make sense for the vast majority of people who venture out on two wheels. Baby boomers who put their bike away years ago would be well served to resurrect those good memories and feelings with a LEED kit on those same bikes that have been sitting idle.

How many purchases do we make in our lives where we pay 100% the price of the product (or more, if financed) yet use it to a fraction of it’s ability? LEED ebike kits are one of those rare products that are amazingly useful, can be pushed to 100% of it’s ability on a daily basis and carries a very low entry price.

Leed 250 watt electric bike kit review

I did enjoy the LEED 250w kit on the Electra in this test more than many hub-motor ebike cruisers I’ve had costing significantly more. The bike achieves that elusive “less-is-more” balanced feel. It’s not hard to see this value equation coming into play in the ebike rental market, too.

The thing I like most about the LEED kits is the ability to give new life to any bike, new or old. I can think of a lot of old bikes I’d like to inject new life into.

Leed 500 watt electric bike kit review

If the bike has tall enough gears, I may opt for a LEED 500w after all. I don’t know, yet. It may be an old hard tail mountain bike or a retired steel Campagnolo equipped Italian road racing machine from the 80’s.

Whichever style ride I choose to give new life to, it will be my own choice and it will be totally unique. Thanks to LEED Ebike Systems, any of them are possible.

Thanks to Paul Willerton for his review of the LEED Ebike Systems.

P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!

Comments

  1. tkj tkj says

    Certainly good prices ..but I hope that a very important safety device is included: the ‘Handbrake Disconnect’ switch, which turns motor off whenever brake is applied!

    I can’t find any reference to this in the article .. Please do let us know..

    • says

      The hand brake doesn’t exist,what do you want for such junk…….they think you should be aware enough to let go of the ”Go Button” When you grab the brake,This sounds like the bottom of the line ,When it comes to kits!!

  2. Lin B says

    I’ve had two e-bikes and neither had handbrake disconnect switches. Since both bikes were throttle only, the motor stopped the minute my hand left the throttle. I would assume that is the case here as well, as soon as you stop depressing the button the motor stops. A disconnect switch seems completely unnecessary in this application.

    I’m interested in putting the PBJ model on my Bike Friday. I like the idea of being able to switch out wheels so I don’t ride with the hub in situations where I know I will not require the motor. I am a bit concerned about lifting the bike, though, as my front rack and bag and u lock add some heft to the front end already. My other option is the shareroller, which is coming out with a rear mount at the end of the year. Waiting to see how that looks, knowing it is a more expensive solution.

  3. Carl says

    Sounds great. Front wheel options very appealing. How much does weigh? Real important. I like all of the battery options. Could start with the one that offers approx. four miles, which for a ten mile ride is average.

    • Daniel says

      I have the biggest 250W option, 50 mile one. The net added weight was about 12.6 pounds. The battery was around 8+ and the hub about 4. i did not use the bag, so that is not included in the weight, but the bag is pretty light anyway. I mounted the battery in the V above the pedals to keep the weight as low as possible and more centralized. I built a special holder for the job made from thin aluminum awning material with a foam packing for cushioning. It is in a aero pocket that I had built from 7 mil plastic years before purchasing the electric assist.

  4. says

    Now a more personal reply,I stopped reading the article as soon as I realized I wouldn’t be using the kit anyway…….I would
    NEVER be caught riding such a hunk-o-junk as that ”Electra
    City bike”that style went out in the early 70’s,Only a man with/out nadds would ride such a ballbuster like that…..I just went out and looked and there is not one of the many bikes here
    on the property that even resembles that style of bike……..Having never used an ebike ,I can’t say for sure but I’m holding out for a ” BaFang 8fun”bottom bracket mid drive motor , that way I have power assist in more than one gear…..
    With 750watts of power assist on my already powerful hill climber,cruiser first gear being quite low,I’m not sure how write it in tech-speak butt first gear on the rear axle has a
    64 tooth chainring……while the smallest ”Chainring on the
    bottom bracket has 34teeth this makes hills easy but you have to peddle rather quickly to maintain forward motion,but hills are a breeze,and with the Bottom bracket motor,allus I needs to do is hang-on!!

  5. Paul Willerton says

    Whoa…. and someone fires a shot across the bow of a bike design that has enjoyed global success for decades. I couldn’t disagree with you more. The bike was very comfortable. Not a ballbuster at all. If you’re going to bring “nadds” into question, this bike actually harkens back to an era when men were men and rode in short shorts. They didn’t need puffy tires and soft design that cradled their manhood in such a gentle state.

    These style of bikes are still very nice riding, light and efficient designs, today. If you’re man enough.

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