July 19, 2024

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Convert almost any bike into an e-bike with the Clip

Convert almost any bike into an e-bike with the Clip

Zoom in / The clip is attached to an old mountain bike from the late 90’s.

Eric Pangman

Shortly after World War II, a French manufacturer by the name of Solex began selling scooters. This wasn’t your “typical” looking motorcycle with pedals – The bikes are made by Solex They were essentially bicycles with a small two-stroke engine mounted above the front wheel that could propel the rider about 100 kilometers on one liter of gas mixture. The downside: Solex scooters were loud and cumbersome to ride due to weight distribution, and they never caught on in North America.

section, a startup based in Brooklyn, New York, has come up with its own twist on Solex. Its sole product, called the Clip, is a friction motor unit that attaches to the front fork of any bike, turning it into an e-bike. At $499 for the Commuter model and $599 for the Explorer, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to convert any bike into an e-bike for a fraction of the cost of a new bike.

The clamp is mounted on the front fork just below the brake caliper.
Zoom in / The clamp is mounted on the front fork just below the brake caliper.

Eric Pangman

At 8.8 lb (4 kg) for the Commuter model (the Explorer is a pound heavier), it is essentially a portable friction drive. There is a detachable controller that mounts to the handlebar and the unit itself. The Explorer model we reviewed has a 192-watt-hour battery and takes an hour to fully charge. It has a range of “up to 12 miles,” which is a pretty accurate claim based on our testing, and top speed is 15 mph. The Commuter model offers half the battery capacity, charging time and range.

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Twelve miles may not seem like a lot, especially in contrast to e-bikes that have a range of more than 70 miles. But the Clip is not designed for long, leisurely rides. It’s a tool for people who want to revive old bikes that may be gathering dust in the garage. In my case, that bike is a 1997 Gary Fisher Marlin mountain bike that is now only ridden once or twice a year.

Cut the clip on your bike

The clip arrived in a box with a single sheet of instructions taped inside along with a pair of QR codes. One leads to the product guide, but the other has an amazing function: schedule a one-on-one mentoring session with Clip, which is unusual and cool at the same time. Mine took about 20 minutes.

Remote clip device.  Hold down the red button to launch;  The white button below will rebuild the battery.
Zoom in / Remote clip device. Hold down the red button to launch; The white button below will rebuild the battery.

Eric Pangman

In theory, attaching a clamp to a bike is simple, and fairly easy once you get the hang of it. First, remove the remote from the clip, which attaches to the bike handlebar with a smart rubber ring. Next, grab one side of the clip, slide the button on the handle, and push the handle forward. Then align the top edge so that it is directly below the brake caliper and pull the caliper handle down. If you do it right, you’ll hear a satisfying click, and the white LED battery charge indicators on the clip will light up. The Clip Wheel should now rest on the front wheel of the bike, so congratulations – you now have an e-bike.

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View from above.
Zoom in / View from above.

Eric Pangman

The process is very simple. Press and hold the red button to activate the friction motor. Press and hold the white button to perform some renewed braking action. The lack of displays and apps means we have to take Clip’s word that the rejuvenation function can restore 12 to 18 percent of the device’s range. In practice, it acts as a low-pressure brake as it sends the charge back to the battery.

Immediately after installation, I found that I had to pedal for a second or two before the button press registered in the Clip. After that, it worked like a charm. Placing the remote closer to the handlebar was best, and I gradually got used to holding the button while pedaling. Remembering to switch to the regeneration button while idling was a little trickier.

The extra 10 pounds of gear attached to the front wheel messes with the weight distribution, resulting in one or two “whoa” moments the first time I ride with it. If you’re feeling lazy, you won’t need to pedal at all, and the Clip will eventually get you moving at about 15 mph. Start pedaling, and you’ll feel the clip increase your effort – unless the road is wet. The clip works best on dry roads; Leave it at home if it’s raining.

At the end of the trip, unload the clip and take it with you.
Zoom in / At the end of the trip, unload the clip and take it with you.

section

Once you reach your destination, grab the handle, pull it back towards you, and remove the clamp from the bike. Drop the remote back into place, and carry the clip with you.

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There are a lot of e-bike conversion kits to choose from, but I have a hard time imagining something easier to install and use. That’s what makes the Clip such a good product – no need to fiddle with tools, mounting motors and installing batteries. The clamp literally clips onto your bike and electrifies it. I wouldn’t use it on a trip to the grocery store because I don’t want to carry the clip up and down the aisles. But for quick trips or short commutes, it’s a great way to breathe new life into an old bike.