If you think all it takes to ride an electric bike is knowing how to maintain your balance and pedal, you’ve probably only got 10% of the equation. Electric bikes might look like traditional bikes, but they come with a complex system of gears and pedals that can be powered by a battery or your lower body strength.
The key component of an electric bike is the motor which generates the power to provide you with additional ease when you’re cycling, but when it comes to getting the most out of your bike, you need to learn more about the mechanism.
While there are quite a few components, in this article, we’ll be tackling gears. More specifically, we’ll be talking about ‘how to use gears on an electric bike,’ so you can understand the importance and functions of gears on your electric bike.
Why Do Electric Bikes Need Gears?
Whether you’re riding your bike for fitness or sport, the gear changer may help you fine-tune your ride so you can achieve your objective, whether that’s going for a long ride, burning the most calories, or exerting the most effort.
Additionally, having gears and using them properly while riding an electric bike might help you increase the life of your battery, which is especially important for longer journeys.
You can also always utilize the gear changer to make your ride simpler or tougher, reducing your need for pedal assist and the throttle.
The gears also allow you to maintain a steady cadence throughout your ride, which is always a good goal to have, as it can help you get uphill when you don’t want to rely solely on your throttle, or if your battery dies and you have to bike home with no power.
What Are The Types Of Gears?
There are two types of gearing systems that are commonly used on an e-bike – derailleur gears and hub gears.
As these bikes are fitted with a motor, the gearing systems are used to I’m sure you can extract the right amount of power from your bike during your rides.
The primary difference between these gearing systems relates to the type of performance you desire, the number of gears you’re comfortable with, and maintenance.
Also known as external gears, these gears come with a chain, sprockets, cables, and a lever that is used to shift gears by the rider. The mechanism is quite simple as the chain connects two sprockets that are located at the rear and front of the bike, and the chain rotates as you pedal while also allowing you to select the size of the gears.
Cycling gets simpler when you have several derailleur gears. With this gear system, you can pedal at a suitable pace, regardless of how fast or slow your wheels turn. This is especially useful when the terrain is steep or windy.
These external gears are also lightweight, resulting in lighter wheels, which allow you to accelerate more quickly while exerting less effort. Derailleur gears allow riders to cover more ground in less time due to their increased efficiency and less weight.
However, these gears are also high maintenance. As the system relies on the smooth functioning of the chain against the sprockets, you’ll need to spend some time keeping the chain clean and free from grace, dirt, and grime regularly.
Timely maintenance is important to ensure your gears run efficiently and without any hiccups.
These gears are internal, meaning the gearing system is encased in the hub shell, also known as the planet cage. The system consists of planetary hubs, which are gears of different sizes that are capable of rotating at different speeds.
When you change the gear, a different planetary hub comes into contact with the chain and thereby alters the speed of your electric bike accordingly.
Hub gears tend to have a longer lifespan than their external counterpart, and they also don’t have any heavy maintenance demands.
One of the best features of incorporating hub gears on your electric bike is that it allows you to swap gears when it is stationary. The gear system can allow you to adjust the gears from high to low or vice versa, even when the bike is not moving.
This set up not my is an excellent feature if you tend to use your bike to navigate traffic in the city as you can easily adjust your gears at traffic signals without stalling.
When it comes to chains, you can ensure that your chains will have a longer lifespan between cleanings and replacements by installing hub gears.
The decrease in chain maintenance comes primarily due to the fact that a chaincase can be used to entirely surround the moving parts, so it is not exposed, and it does not get greasy or loaded with grime.
This can be especially beneficial for riders who prefer to keep their clothing free from oil stains when they’re cycling.
However, while these gears excel in longevity and cleanliness, they are also not as efficient as derailleur gears; nevertheless, they do function better as they are worn in and become more flexible over time.
Hub gears come with a limited range, and they don’t have a washed range between the lowest and highest gear option, which makes them less versatile than the external gears.
How To Adjust Gears On Your Electric Bike
Regardless of the type of gear system you’re using, the gears will be arranged numerically, with smaller numbers representing the lower gears while the larger numbers correspond to higher ones.
For example, on a bike with 24 gears, if you’re riding on a gear in the single digits, you are in low gear, but if you’re closer to the 20s range, you’re in a higher gear.
Before we move on to the gear adjustment process, you need to know a little bit about cadence. Cadence is the rate at which you’re spinning your pedals because most electric bikes operate at their best between 80 and 120 revolutions per minute.
If you go to a higher gear, you operate with fewer revolutions per minute, and it offers more resistance to your bike, making it more difficult to pedal.
Similarly, if you’re at a lower gear, the number of revolutions per minute increases, and you’ll be speeding down the road or trail with faster pedaling and minimal resistance.
At the same time, however, be sure not to pedal too fast. If you exceed the optimum cadence, the bike will stop providing you with support from the battery, and you’ll exert maximum energy by pedaling on your own.
On an electric bike, shifting gears is remarkably similar to shifting gears on a traditional bicycle. The simpler it is to pedal, the lower the gear number. The gear number is directly proportional to how hard the motor must work.
The lower the gear, the more the electric bike will depend on the motor, causing the battery to drain. When you adjust the gear to a higher number, you’ll have to pedal more, which will help your battery last longer.
When you have an electric bike, the gears tend to function exactly as they would with a normal bike. For example, if you want to put in more effort and use more leg power when cycling, you’re going to shift it to a higher gear.
How it differs from a regular bike is that you also have pedal assist, so the amount of energy you’re willing to put in determines what gear you’re in and what pedal assist level you’re using.
In an electric bike, pedal assist and gears go hand in hand to control your bike’s speed and ensure you get the most out of your biking experience.
The purpose of having gears incorporated into your bike is to enjoy your battery life that lasts throughout the journey without causing any excessive strain on you when it comes to cycling.
The electric bike’s handlebars let you manage the gears and the pedal-assist system. In most cases, the gear shifter is located on the right handlebar, where you may change the gear level, thereby altering the resistance your bike experiences on different inclines and level planes.
You can also adjust the pedal-assist system’s power level on the left handlebar to assess how much battery power is being consumed by your bike during the ride.
What Gear Should You Use And When?
Even though the gears on an electric bike or similar to those on a regular one, if you’re unfamiliar with the system or I’ve recently purchased an electric bike, you might avoid the gear systems if you are unfamiliar or uncertain about using them appropriately.
There is no need to fear when it comes to using gear systems as you just need to focus on practicing with them a bit, and you’ll get the hang of it in no time
If you’re confused about which gear to use and when let us lay down a few guidelines so you can get the basics down and tweak your gears accordingly.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can use the gears to go uphill and downhill. If you’ve ever gone uphill, you’ll know the upwards slope takes extra energy on your part to reach the top.
As the uphill part of the journey is often tough, you’ll benefit from a lower gear on your electric bike that will allow you to get up without being too taxing on your legs.
However, if you’re looking for a challenge and a workout when going uphill, you can ramp up your pedal assist and also ramp up your gear shifter, so if you shift to a higher gear, you’ll still feel like you’re exerting energy, but since you have the pedal-assist, you won’t be completely slowed down.
Also, if you’re tackling a steep hill, and pedal-assist is not enough, and you don’t want to use the throttle, or if your battery is low, shifting to a lower gear is going to help you get up that hill more easily without having to stop.
When going downhill, the downward slope allows your bike to accelerate faster, which is why you should switch to a lower gear so there is additional resistance that can prevent your bike from accelerating too fast and having you lose control of it.
If you like riding your bike on flat and level terrain, you can use your gears depending on how fast you want to go or how much effort you want to put into your cycling with pedal assist.
Pedal-assist can help you bike faster, and the gear shifter can determine your cadence, so shift to a lower gear if you want a faster cadence. If you want a lower cadence or if you want to use more leg power, shift to a higher gear.
If you enjoy going for longer rides on your electric bike, you can depend on your gear shifter mainly for the first half of the ride so you can get a high-intensity cycling session.
By relying on your gears, you can ensure your battery lasts throughout the journey and that you’ll have enough alpha power reserved to draw from once you’re tired of cycling during the latter part of your ride.
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My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric bikes caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my e-bike. Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric bikes. Check out more.