Do you actually USE the gears on your e-bike?

FitzChivalry

Active Member
I've ridden my new City Commuter for a bit over 90 miles. (That sounds like so much, but it's just scratching the surface of how many miles I will be riding it!)

In those 90 miles, I'm finding that I just leave the bike in the 7th (hardest) gear, because the motor cranks me up. It seems like a waste of effort to shift down to a lower gear (or is that higher gear? I've never taken the time to learn which is which). Am I taxing my geared hub motor by riding this way?
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hey Fitz! That's kind of how I used to ride as well... especially for longer stretches where I wanted to reach top speed. Considering the distance you travel each day I can totally understand the tendency to keep it in the harder gear most of the time.

Gears on ebikes is an interesting subject. I've found that there are definitely moments where they come in handy (struggling up a hill, starting from rest or if/when the battery runs out) but I mostly rely on just a few gears. For bikes that have more than one sprocket on the front I tend to leave the chain on the middle ring and never mess with it. I almost always just change the rear gears. For this reason I think Pedego and others have chosen well to just include a ~7 speed cassette on the rear. It keeps the bottom bracket area cleaner, provides room for a chain guard, allows the chain to be shorter, tighter and thus less prone to falling off and it's just easier to maintain having one derailleur on the rear and none on the front. I also like it when ebike companies put a bash guard or chain guide on the front ring to make it sturdier and protect pants from snags and grease :)
 

Dave

Active Member
Great question. The Carbon has 30 gears and I doubt I will use more then 7. I like Court's idea of keeping the front chain ring on the middle ring and just shifting the rear gears. I guess my question is how are hub motors affected by gear changes? I can understand how my legs react, but the hub motor is not pulling on the chain, like a SIMBB. I suppose in the case of EM Neo bikes, the torque sensor is sensing pedal pressure, which is dependent on gear selection. I guess I will have a better understanding after I start riding and experimenting with my Carbon.
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
With three chainrings at the front, I tend to use the largest one in unassisted mode, the centre one in assisted mode, and the smallest 'granny ring' on extremely rare occasions in unassisted mode.
As most of my riding is off road, in assisted mode the bikes spends most of it's time in one of the largest four gears of the rear cassette.

Interestingly what I have noticed is that if I am riding in assisted mode, then switch to unassisted mode, I instantly have to change down two gears. So basically I am gaining a two gear advantage in assisted mode. :)
 

Gilbert

New Member
I am brand new to the electric bike world. I just received my new Xtreme XB300li bike today. First time I ever rode an electric bike. It takes just a few meters of riding, and I'm already in heaven! BOY is it a great riding experience. Lot's of fun.

Now speaking of the using the gears question. Even I say the same! Even having ridden only 5 miles so far. YES 5 miles only as of today! I can already see that I don't even need to be on low gear as much to take off. I can see that the bike takes off pretty decently fast if I pedal decently hard on the higher gear while using the throttle, taking off from a stop.

On my regular bike, I got SO used to always shifting to the lowest gear just before the complete stop, then I pedal hard, so I can accelerate quickly! But that can get tiring. I'm gonna love it now!
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Gilbert,

The low gears might be handy if you ran down the battery and had to get back :(

I think the way ebikes get going is a huge advantage. Downshifting 3 or 4 gears and then getting back to a cruise gear is too complicated. If you forget or can't plan a stop, you are fighting to start in a high gear and then crunching down into a lower gear.

I've only had a week's experience (Prodeco X3), but it's changed my view of biking. I was a pretty dedicated biker, but the hard parts just got to be too hard. No hills, no wind.

George
 

DHS

Member
I only use the lower gears for infrequent (unappealing/unnecessary) regenerative workouts, zero assist situations and very slow riding on my SMART electric bike. For all the rest top gear's the best.
 

Drew

Active Member
I've had a Currie Zuma E3 for a couple of years and have put on 2100 miles. Because I live in a hilly urban area where some streets have grades in excess of 10%, I use all the gears all the time. I really appreciate that Currie thought to make the bottom gear a "granny" gear (a disproportionately large gear on the rear sprocket). Plus, I find it is a great advantage to be able to accelerate briskly through urban intersections when my turn comes, so I often run through the gears in those situations. I can pretty much stick with the cars across the intersection, which means much less risk of being smacked by an oncoming left-hand turner that didn't see me. Before motor, this was an ever-present hazard.

Also, there are many parks I frequent where it's not appropriate to use the motor, I just switch off and pedal through those areas, but with a 70# bike (and usually some cargo), the gears are definitely needed!
 
With torque sensors, I use every gear I have. Mind you, I live in a hilly city and like to ride in low assist, but even in power/boost mode I'm constantly shifting the rear derailleur. It keeps things speedy, efficient and fun.

With cadence sensors I'm generally shifting between two speeds because the motor can override my pedaling. I definitely always start low and end high, but don't bother with as much in between.
 

Stewart Teaze

New Member
Drew said: "Also, there are many parks I frequent where it's not appropriate to use the motor, I just switch off and pedal through those areas, but with a 70# bike (and usually some cargo), the gears are definitely needed!"

There is a large open-space county park (San Diego Sycamore Canyon), that I plan on frequenting (commuting through, for about 2.5 miles, from Santee to Poway in the mornings, then back again in the evenings), which allows bicycles on the fire roads (no unauthorized OHVs) - however, the speed limit for bikes is 10mph in the park. To not draw attention, I'm planning on keeping my speed at or below 10mph (at least when in site of the Ranger Station, or other hikers/bikers), always keep the front sprocket in the "middle" setting, and use the "middle" rear "pedal-assist" gears while in the park (again, always "pedaling" to not draw attention), and then going to the smaller rear gears while on the roads leading into and out of the park (where I don't really need to pedal, unless I have to be "inconspicuous" because there is a Ranger present to open/lock the park gates at opening/closing time, which is 8am-7pm April-Sept; 8am-5pm Oct-March).

Any pointers or recommendations, in regards to the above, on keeping a "low profile" are welcome.

BTW, here is a trail map for Sycamore Canyon Park - (bikes are allowed on the dirt fire roads, and some marked trails, only):
http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/common_components/images/parks/doc/Trails_Goodan_Sycamore.pdf

BTW II: I'm doing this because the traffic for my commute to Poway from the SDSU area (either via the I-15 & Pomerado Rd, or via the 67 thru Lakeside) has been getting more and more congested each month. Also, California continues to raise gasoline taxes through the roof (we pay about a $1 more per gallon versus the rest of the country, and there are plans by the super-socialists at CARB to DOUBLE the price of gasoline to $8/gallon, and put restriction on the amount of miles one can drive per week!), and I've got to figure out a way to "beat the system".
 

dmydlack

New Member
I'm finding at cruising speed I am almost always overriding my pedaling (I have a Magnum Premium.) I wonder if I can swap in a larger pedaling gear (would, therefore need a longer chain)?
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Been riding for a while now, and ride because I like to, when I want to. Point being I'm rarely in a hurry unless trying to get home in front of a rain storm. :) Riding mostly trails and bike paths.

I shift a lot so I can maximize the efficiency of the amount of energy I put into pedaling (not exactly fit, with no plans on getting "fit"), mostly in an attempt to get as many miles as I can on a battery charge. I rarely ride at top speed for the same reason, as it uses way more power.

Bottom line, I'm generally riding in PAS 1 or 2 (using less than 200 watts), and depending on conditions, I use 3rd through 6th of my available 7 speeds the majority of the time. Most of the time 8-14 mph, averaging about 10.

Some of my tendency to shift frequently may come from many years of riding motorcycles. It's something I don't even think about a lot of times. I wouldn't dream of trying to take off in top gear with one of those, and when riding in traffic (at the speed of the traffic around me), rarely would I use overdrive (top gear).
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
I'm finding at cruising speed I am almost always overriding my pedaling (I have a Magnum Premium.) I wonder if I can swap in a larger pedaling gear (would, therefore need a longer chain)?
Not familiar with the Magnum particulars, but I can say the RAD product had a similar issue on those built previous to this year (2019). Freewheel changes were pretty popular, to the DNP 11:32 gear (the only freewheel available with an 11 tooth top gear). These same gears are now used in all RAD production bikes (so RAD does listen to ideas that make sense!). Though DNP as a manf. has had mixed reviews among "experts" previously, they work fine for me, and don't seem to be generating many complaints from others. Previous to the change, it was tough to pedal over 15-16mph. After the change, 20+ mph not that difficult.

Bottom line, oh yea. I would highly recommend a gear change on a bike you can't stay up with when pedaling!
 

ruffruff

Member
I play a game...how low can I run the PAS for long stretches and still maintain a good pace. I try to shift gears before I bump up the PAS.
That often means I'm in 0 or 1 PAS and shifting gears.

I'm researching a scratch commuter build and will probably use a Strumey Archer hub and mid drive. Because you just dont need the gears.
 

Slowpoke

Member
I'm finding at cruising speed I am almost always overriding my pedaling (I have a Magnum Premium.) I wonder if I can swap in a larger pedaling gear (would, therefore need a longer chain)?
Yes you need a longer chain.I have only been riding an ebike for 10 months now. Having come from pedeling I would focus on an 80 rpm cadence and adjust gear to maintain that cadence.On my ebike its easy to lose site of that cadence.My ebike is a 7 speed with 36 tooth ring which is perfect for 20 mph top end.But I want to go faster on downhills.On a 36 tooth and a 80 rpm,flat ground I'm usualy running 4th gear in pas 1,sometimes 5th whith a struggle.Downhill in 7th to get to 25 mph my rpm is easly over 100.I installed a 48 tooth ring,added 3 links and hit the trail.That changed everthing.Now in pas 1 I can only hold 80 rpm in 3rd gear,4th is too much.Downhill I have hit 33 mph.From what I'm learning about ebikes and gearing is try to maintain a high motor speed to help keep temps down,and a high gear at low speed stresses out motor and drive train.SE Michigan is pretty tame on hills so 48 is ok.If I go where there is larger hills I would put my 36 back on.I stay with my 80 rpm and change gears in the hills to keep that 80,motor and drive train seem to like that.I run pas 1 easly 75% of the time @ 11mph 80 rpm 3rd gear and 6 to 10 watts/mile.Downhill is free speed and thats when I go all out for speed.By the way my LBS sells Magnums and I test drove the Cruiser and and I love that bike,I have to stay away from the bike shop,there are too many great bikes there.
 

dmydlack

New Member
I've found a 54T gear that fits my 130 BCD

My chain says KMC Z. I've got 7 speeds.
KMC website has chains and 'missing links'.

Would I buy a chain breaker and then add two (or so) 'missing links'?
(My original gear was 52T)

Thank you for any advice.
 

Slowpoke

Member
I've found a 54T gear that fits my 130 BCD

My chain says KMC Z. I've got 7 speeds.
KMC website has chains and 'missing links'.

Would I buy a chain breaker and then add two (or so) 'missing links'?
(My original gear was 52T)

Thank you for any advice.
Yep.I did fool around trying 5 links,then 4,3.There is good info on Youtube under Parks tools.There is video for every repair imaginable
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Quite an old thread. The quiet snick of a well tuned derailleur is like music to my ears. Yes, I've always used the gears on my ebikes. I like to mix motor and muscle in a manner that maxes out battery life.

I even added a front derailler to my 26" fat bike to make it 21 speeds. Quite an install job,. I had to fab an extender that could securely hold the assembly an extra 3/4" away from the frame. It allows me to set a comfortable cadence, and I have ridden that clunker 10 miles w/o power here on pavement in the flat suburbs.