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The highlights ....
VERDICT:A clever way of converting your existing bike to an e-bike that will help up any hills you might point it at.
Excellent alternative to buying a whole new bike • Great customer service and expert help available on video chat • Convenient battery size and weight
Despite the technology being a number of years old now, e-bikes have really taken off over the last couple of years – boosted even further by those looking to avoid public transport during the pandemic.
Worth the wait?
Swytch's purchasing model differs from most. With the company tending not to hold much stock, customers are instead able to pre-order kits within set windows. Once the window closes, the firm aims to have kits delivered to customers within five to 10 weeks (with the unavoidable 'customisation window' of one to three weeks you may be looking at six to 13 in total).
However, on the plus side, this delayed gratification model means that you'll be able to get in at a much cheaper price as the firm will already know how many units it needs before starting production. Having already delivered around 20,000 kits, Swytch seems to have the system fairly well worked out.
In theory, you get 40% off the retail price. Of course, as most customers are getting them at that price you can choose to view it rather as just a very cheap deal. Either way, the kits represent excellent value assuming you're prepared to keep taking on hills under your own steam for a good while after purchasing.Buying a new bike, whether electrically assisted or not, can be a large outlay and so a common approach for cyclists is periodic upgrades. Think new wheels on a road bike, or more aero kit once you've got a bit fitter.
It's in that vein that the Swytch e-bike conversion kit finds its niche: rather than investing in a whole new e-bike, the Swytch systems allows riders to change out – swytch – to a new front wheel containing the bike's motor, which is connected to a battery pack mounted to the handlebars.
The bike can be back to its original, unassisted self within a few snips of the cable ties holding the connecting cables and a WorldTour-speed front wheel change – if such a reversion is ever wanted or needed.
The Swytch e-bike conversion kit is an excellent way of getting some assistance into your bike without investing – in terms of both cost and storage space – in a whole new bike. Retain your original front wheel and you can return the bike to its original non-assisted state; perhaps an e-bike for commuting and pedal-only power on weekends.
Although the effort of doing this might not be worth the bother when the hub motor only adds around 2.06kg to the bike's weight and the battery can be left at home if you are determined to ride without it from time to time.
While the assistance doesn't feel quite as smooth as a bike with a bottom bracket located system, such as Shimano Steps, it's plenty close enough in performance for the rest of the package – that is most of the bike still being your original – to more than outweigh this element and make the Swytch system a viable option for anyone looking to get a bike of help on the hills.