Bike update: Trek 820 electric conversion

#bikes #electric #touring #1x #update
2022-05-12

When I was a child, growing up in post-communist Romania, very few people owned cars1, and those that did usually had some real clunkers2. Every single weekend some neighbor would be outside from dawn to dusk, banging and fixing on his car for the umpteenth time, trying to get it road-worthy for the week ahead. This bike and I have developed a similar relationship, only instead of fixing it, I keep making changes to it. This time I’ve added an electric motor!

After last time, I decided to follow my own advice and buy the components individually, rather than as a complete conversion kit. I’m very happy I did it this way (for all the reasons I listed in the previous post), but I did also hit a couple of snags that I thought you should be aware of, should you decide to go this route too:

Learn how to make electrical connections3

Unless you’re pretty lucky, chances are high that the electrical connector(s) on your battery won’t match the corresponding connector(s) on the controller. In my case, the battery had a male AMP Superseal connector, while the controller had a couple of cheap bullet terminals (like the green ones in this picture). I like the Superseal connectors, so I decided to go with that. I cut off the bullets and replaced them with the corresponding female Superseal connector, and all was good. If you prefer soldering to crimping, XT60 connectors are a popular choice. Either way, this is DC, so make sure you get the polarity right!

Program the controller for your motor

Don’t let the word “program” scare you into thinking there’s any computer programming involved. All it means is that you’ll have to configure some settings on your display so that the controller “knows” the parameters of the motor it’s working with. When you buy a complete kit, the seller pre-programs the controller, but don’t worry because it’s not complicated and only takes a few minutes. Google and the display’s manual are your friends. My display is a KT-LCD4, which runs similar software to the KT-LCD3, so I just followed this excellent guide to figure out what I needed to do.


  1. My parents in fact never did. ↩︎

  2. Feast your eyes on the Dacia 500↩︎

  3. If learning to crimp or solder wires intimidates you, don’t let it. This was the first time for me too, and if I can do it, so can you. YouTube is a treasure trove of invaluable knowledge on both subjects, and learning is fun! ↩︎

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