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

ChezCheese:)

Active Member
I definitely use my gears! I only have 8, but use the assist like it was the front gear. I have rarely used first gear, but I have it saved for some hill that kicks my butt. I also rarely use the highest gear, but it's there if I feel like kicking a straightaway's butt. Sometimes I'll shift gears as I go up an incline, other times I'll ramp up the assist. I know exactly where on my home hill to shift down and ramp up assist. For me, it's all about maintaining a comfortable pedaling cadence and having sufficient torque to handle the hills.

I don't feel the need to have more gears, but I think it would be good to be able to pedal more slowly at higher speeds. That would be a smaller front gear, yes?
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I'll focus a bit more on the technology than the subjective view on the need for gears. Most electric mopeds, motorcycles and cars are gearless so that says a lot. With enough power/torque the needs for gears on a bike go way down. Much of what the bike industry does is about keeping with tradition so it will take some time for the industry to evolve away from gears. Obviously, low powered ebikes (those with under 350W mid drive / geared hub drives or 500W direct drive hub drives) probably still needs gears as they are are not going to have the performance that most riders would not benefit from still having gears.

I understand that some of the comments that the gears are important if you ride the bike without the drive system turned on or the battery has gone dead but I didn't buy an electric bike to ride it like that any more than I would want to push an electric car around with dead batteries. I bought an ebike because the combination of human and electric power on a human scale transportation device is the most efficient mode of mobility humans have ever had available (a regular bike increase of human power demands is actually more inefficient when you consider the food element in the total efficiency equation). If my battery goes dead that means I just miscalculated my transportation needs on the bike that day and I'll deal with the consequences of a hard ride home with no power and maybe only one gear.

At slow speeds electric motors are inefficient, but the torque is higher which results in a good acceleration but if a rider is really wanting best overall efficiency it would make sense to use bike gearing or just not use assist until the bike has achieved a speed that the motor is more efficient (like say 10kph or faster). Most riders are fully capable of pedaling even a fixie bike to 10kph in a few seconds of exertion. I've heard of a few throttle only ebikes not allowing assist until a minimum speed is achieved but haven't heard of any using cadence and/or torque PASs.
 
I definitely use my gears! I only have 8, but use the assist like it was the front gear. I have rarely used first gear, but I have it saved for some hill that kicks my butt. I also rarely use the highest gear, but it's there if I feel like kicking a straightaway's butt. Sometimes I'll shift gears as I go up an incline, other times I'll ramp up the assist. I know exactly where on my home hill to shift down and ramp up assist. For me, it's all about maintaining a comfortable pedaling cadence and having sufficient torque to handle the hills.

I don't feel the need to have more gears, but I think it would be good to be able to pedal more slowly at higher speeds. That would be a smaller front gear, yes?
I'm still familiaraizing myself with the characteristics of ebikes in general and my own 1st one. I'm finding that the nature of the cadence assist along with using the gears and the sense of pedal resistance or pedalling torque channels my pedalling toward spinning instead of grinding on the pedals and automatically improved my spinning and feel for it so much that for the most part I would only grind the pedals now for starting to pick up speed from after a stop. Definitely I use the gears matched with a paired assist level - for example, starting off from stop on level ground I'd be using assist level 2 and 3rd gear of 8 gears where I could exert some torque. After engaging the motor I'd immediately start changing gears and upping the assist while switching over to spinning.
 

RabH

Well-Known Member
My Giant Road E+1 Pro has 22 gears and on most of my rides I use almost all of them, especially today as I cycled 100 miles! So I have to try to save my battery for the climbs which means using the small ring a lot! My first big climb today was at 38 miles and I still had 84% battery (started with 94%) so that first 38 miles was mostly without assist! With the cut off at 15.5mph here you really have to use the gears to their full potential.
 

AlanDB

Well-Known Member
I use all the gears (8) on my Gazelle Arroyo and shift quite often. It is one of the reasons I really like the Shimano Nexus internal geared hub … makes changing gears easy whether moving or stopped. The pedal assist on the Arroyo is mostly torque sensed, there is no throttle, and I ride mostly in Eco mode (assist level 1). With this combination there really is no sense of "clown pedaling" with the pedal assist, so shifting gears for grade changes, wind, etc. just feels natural.
 

Ken M

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.
You ride a fat tire bike and yet worry about maxing out battery life. My guess is the rolling resistance of the fat tires will consume more battery than having a fixie with thin high pressure tires.

If you really think about maxing out the human element a 200lb rider standing on a crank from a stop generates about 160nM at the crank which is more torque than any mainstream ebike yet ebikes are set up to sense that and apply max motor power when the motor is most inefficient at those slower speeds. It's all kind of backwards as I think the drive system priority, at least on urban mobility ebikes, should be on sustaining higher average speeds with less human effort. Most of us should be OK with putting a few seconds of power out to get the bike to say 10kph regardless of how many gears the bike has.
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
Yup. I try to ride it in the lowest assistance mode and shifting makes that easier. It has gears so I use them. I live where there is topography. Gotta shift.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
Does anyone know the maintenance and wear out costs of an 1/8" fixie chain and chain rings vs a 3/32 std chain, cassette, and derailleur? My guess is the cost of ownership differences would shock most riders. I know my friend replaced his chain and cassette in under 500 miles on his Yamaha mid drive ebike and he was not very happy about that but he may not have been riding it very effectively either (I think he road as if his Yamaha drive system had shift sensing.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
Tests prove that the biggest cause of chain/sprocket wear is using a shifter that allows you to go up/down the gear range several gears at a time, this causes the mechanical components a lot of stress. The trend especially on emtb is to shifters that only allow changes of one gear up and down. On the mountain bike I ride, an Easymotion Rebel Lynx 5.5, most riders have to replace chains 200-500 miles, that bike is a Yamaha mid drive, 80 Nm, whith a Shimano 11 speed and a shifter that allows 1-2-3 gear changes at a time. Sprocket wear on these bikes is also very poor, usually 500-1000 miles. Most if not all real e mountain bikes are mid drive.
 
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Feliz

Well-Known Member
I guess I never answered the OPs original question. How often I shift depends on the bike I'm riding. My BBSHD and ultra powered bikes don't require any shifting, my rear hub drives require a lot in comparison, depends where you live, your bike(s), and your fitness level.
 

Figs

Active Member
I shift gears fairly often to keep Cadence up. Mashing the pedals is not really the best for the bike, or your legs.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
You ride a fat tire bike and yet worry about maxing out battery life. My guess is the rolling resistance of the fat tires will consume more battery than having a fixie with thin high pressure tires.
Actually, I liked building that bike more than I liked riding it. I had it set up with front/rear drive
for snow, and discovered that I could fall down and no one might find me. I set aside the front motor, put on smooth slicks, and it really pedals nice. But I've only taken it out twice this year.

I like the pedal assist aspect of biking, and my favored bikes are lighter models with small motors and relatively small batteries.
 

cheekee

Member
I think its better to use gears. The motor puts a lot of torque through the chain and cassette and using the smallest cog all the time will just speed up the wearing out process of the chain.
 

The Lee

New Member
I disconnected my front derailleur and use only the big ring. I only use 5-6-7 in the rear. When I first built my e-bike I usually used PAS 3 and occasionally PAS 4. Now I enjoy a more leisurely ride in PAS 1 and once in a while PAS 2. My rides are relaxing and friendly; "beep beep, How are you today?"
~Lee
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I use the gears frequently when I'm pedaling unpowered, which is over half the time. I don't think my 17 AH battery would get me a full 30 miletrip without pedaling over half the way. I had plans of riding 80 miles with this "large" battery. I went from 51 v to 44 v in 15 miles Saturday, taking a particularly hilly route home from grocery to see about buying an engine crane. Controller was dropping power on the next to last hill because the battery was below minimum. My route camp to home does have 77 hills, not the terrain the bike salesmen talk about in their range estimates. All the flatter land is taken up by state highways with narrow rutted berms, not even maintained for bikes.
I've shifted so much my right thumb joint is complaining, won't let me play piano for more than 40 minutes. After investigating power shifters from Shimano & SRAM and discovering they are limited to drop handlebar hydraulic brake bikes, besides costing $1300, I've ordered parts to build my own electric shifter for the rear derailleur. I'll see how it does in the rain we get here.
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
I want an ebike that can sustain 20mph or more up most hills so I want to remain in a high gear the vast majority of the time because when you are commuting (not just riding around the retirement community) time is actually valuable. I ride most of the time in 5th, 6th and 7th gear on a 7 speed PIM ebike.