With the cost of fuel going through the roof and public transport a joke in Cornwall, those wanting to do their bit for the environment have been turning to electric bikes in larger numbers.

Being a regular cyclist and bike commuter myself, there is nothing more galling than being overtaken by an someone cruising by on an electric bike while you struggle up the hill. Or arriving at work all sweaty and not being able to take a shower.

Falmouth Packet: Swytch bike's latest e-conversion kitSwytch bike's latest e-conversion kit (Image: Swytch Bike)

If you have a keen interest in bikes like I do, you might have well have seen an advert constantly popping up in your social media channels with two trendy young blokes called Oliver Montague and  Dmitro Khroma riding around on different bike models declaring “No, This is a Swytch bike!”.

Their mission, they declare, is to turn drivers into cyclists by converting the pedal bikes into eBikes.

Their genius idea is not to have you buy a complete electric bike but convert your current bike into an electric bike for a fraction of the price.

Since 2017 they have sold more than 35,000 kits across the world.

The latest universal e-bike conversion kit has just been released in either the 15km or 30km range model which you can literally fit in your pocket. I know because they have given me one to try out and it does.

When you first order your eBike kit you are asked to fill in a form to give the type and dimensions of the bike and photos. Then their engineer will literally build it for you.

The kit arrives in a big box containing all you will need to convert your bike including the wheel, a very nice bike tool kit, the mount, a pedal sensor, a small LED display and power charger and of course the power pack and lots and lots of cable ties, but believe me, you’ll need them!

When I first opened the box I was very impressed with the actual power pack itself. For a start it looks really cool, it's heavy and good build quality but you can also hold it in the palm of your hand.

Also the build quality of the wheel is of a high standard but you have to provide your own inner tube and tyre off your own bike.

Installation of the kit itself is not that difficult, but allow yourself plenty of time to do it to make sure you get it right. There is an instruction booklet, a video and the engineer from Swytch will video call you to check you’ve put it on right if you need to.

You put the wheel on, you can have wheels for either disc brakes or rim brakes, the motor cable, the pedal sensor, the handlebar power pack mount, insert the battery and attach the OLED display and you’re ready to go.

One problem I encountered straight away though was that the mount for the OLED display was too small for my handle bars and couldn’t be secured and I ended up using one of the cable ties to fix it in place. However I am told they are aware of this and there will be a fix on future models.

Falmouth Packet:

One of the things I found to my cost after putting it together myself was how important it is to make sure the pedal sensor is on correctly. I found it cutting out when going up St Gluvias Hill, not somewhere you want it to happen.

A video call with Dimitro soon got to the root of the problem, I hadn’t tightened the screws on the magnet disc properly meaning it was pulling away from the sensor and losing contact.

The operation is pretty straightforward. On the OLED you have four power levels low, medium, hill mode and extreme hill mode. You can adjust using up and down arrow keys.

I use my bike to get to the office which is about eight miles there and back with one very steep hill and a number of other long hills as well as flat roads, country lanes and an A road.

It may not have the power of my son’s purpose built electric bike but it certainly does go.

You have to make sure that you use the power levels correctly as the higher you go the more power you use. I’m guessing mine was the 15 mile radius model which coped with my trip to work, but I would probably have preferred the 30 mile radius for security, but there is a price difference.

Falmouth Packet:

But that’s what’s great about the Swytch bike, if you run out of power you just continue cycling like it’s an ordinary bike, unlike a heavy normal eBike which once the power goes is almost impossible to pedal.

You can even remove the power pack and put it in your pocket or back pack to make the bike even lighter. However I would have liked a clip to secure the top of the mount to stop it flapping up and down when you cycle without any power if you want to, like I did on occasion.

On the straights and gentle hills it flew along, you have to put more effort into going up steeper hills, but the more you put into it the easier it becomes. It does tackle the steep hill, but you do have to put the effort in.

Overall the kit is very easy to operate, although being short sighted I would have preferred a bigger LED display for displaying what power mode you are in, the speed display is more than big enough and it also show your mileage and battery level which is also indicated on the power pack with a lights display. The more power you use, the battery level will dip but will return once you go into lower gear.

Overall I was very pleased with the Swytch bike. I like the fact it gives you the option to keep your own bike and convert it to an eBike. Using you own bike gives you the advantage of scrolling through all of your gears if you have them, whereas most eBikes only have five.

Falmouth Packet:

 It would be nice if the battery would illuminate to give you extra visibility at night but that’s a minor quibble and I am told they are looking at that option.

Unfortunately if you have a handlebar mounted front light, the battery does block some of the light immediately in front of your path. Also there are a hell lot of cable ties. Making it easier to remove the kit completely from your bike if you wanted to, would be good.

But overall the Swytch bike is a brilliant piece of kit that I would highly recommend.