Changing Gears?

We have the e3 metro and soon the e3 Dash. This is our first e bikes and our first bikes with more than one gear. The question is when changing gears should you peddle while changing or stop peddling, change and then peddle? I just saw a great review on this blog about the Neo carbon and i think the guy said never peddle while changing gears. I was like….AHHHH!!! I continue to peddle when changing so is this bad for the bike? Whats the correct way to change gears on an e bike or any bike with multiple gears?
 

Dave

Active Member
On my Carbon with the Shimano XT rear derailleur, and trigger shifters, the manual says the crank needs to be turning while shifting. The only way to do that is to be peddling. It does not mention how fast or slow one should pedel, just that you must. I would think you would want to use " soft " peddling as you were changing gears.
 
Yeah. That's a good question. If you're really hitting it with something like a BH or Dash, then yeah, it can damage the teeth. I've done a good bit of damage to my cassettes in the past. But quite frankly, who cares? It's fun to ride hard and freewheels and cassettes aren't too expensive. Just plan on buying a new one every year and ride your ass off.
 

James

Well-Known Member
Yeah. That's a good question. If you're really hitting it with something like a BH or Dash, then yeah, it can damage the teeth. I've done a good bit of damage to my cassettes in the past. But quite frankly, who cares? It's fun to ride hard and freewheels and cassettes aren't too expensive. Just plan on buying a new one every year and ride your ass off.

Ha, its true! I was going to suggest not going full out stand up pedal and shift.... but like EBS says cassettes are cheap so who cares. My bike doesn't mind at all when I shift (I only use the top 3-4) but when I'm leaving a light or stomping on it it definitely shifts harsher
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
Riding on flat or down hill gradients, I just change as required and try to make sure that the driveline/chain remains as straight as possible. When going up anything steep, I try to plan ahead and change just before it is required to save putting any extra strain on the components.
 
If it's really something you're concerned about, just adopt a faster ride cadence as you should a normal bike. That should keep a your cassette nice and healthy.
 
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Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hey Justin! Good question... I'm going to offer a slightly more delicate stance. Having been a skateboarder for many years I learned to finesse the cracks and bumps by shifting my weight from the rear of the board to the front just as I encountered obstacles. I learned this the hard way with multiple hard stop falls where the board got hung up and I flew off onto my face. This skill came in handy riding half pipe later and also surfing where you might spin around and actually fall but still be able to keep the board under control by shifting your weight. Checkout this clip with Clay Marzo to see what I mean:


I believe the same is true for bicycle riding... And really any physical sport. You see BMX riders pumping through the whoops and rollers and airing off giant kickers then accelerating out smoothly... The same fluidity can be applied when changing gears and it's actually very easy (and satisfying) to accomplish. Not only will it extend the life of your sprockets, it will protect your chain and knees when riding and sound so much better. It just feels beautiful when done correctly and it will keep your derailleurs in better shape as well.

Here's the key: before you shift any gears make sure you've got a little bit of extra speed (maybe push off with a bit more energy on that last pedal stroke). Now, prepare to shift and reduce all force on the pedals while still carrying them through the motions. Bam! Shift the gear and listen for it to change completely to the desired ring while still spinning the cranks (but not applying pressure) and once it's secure you can pour force back into the system. It's super simple and will make you feel like a pro... This entire sequence should take less than one and a half pedal rotations, under a second if spinning at 100rpm).
  1. Gain momentum before shifting
  2. Reduce force completely but maintain cadence then shift
  3. Listen and feel the gears align then continue pedaling hard
Here's a true pro tip: If you have two or more rings in the front you can use your rear derailleur to align and stretch the chain in preparation for a change. This is useful for the front rings especially because the jump is much further than with the cassette. By moving the chain higher up onto larger rings in the rear you make it easier to jump in the front... This makes me think of how they use towers in wake boarding to "pull" athletes higher into the air when they launch off the wake. This video should help demonstrate but it was just showing black on my computer when embedded, you may have to click onto YouTube to see it:


Now everything I just said applies to regular bikes... but ebikes are a little bit trickier and it's even more important to shift properly due to the increased force being applied through motor systems, especially mid-drives. Since motors do not adjust as quickly as legs do (releasing pressure when shifting) in pedal assist mode you need to build in extra time to let the motor ease off. The same 3 steps listed above apply but with step 2 you may actually need to completely stop pedaling to let the motor quit before shifting. Again, this is most relevant to mid drive systems.

Even though chain rings and cassettes are affordable to replace, I've never had to replace mine and I've even bought several used bikes. With a good tuneup, proper maintenance and the right approach to riding you can save some money and avoid unnecessary waste all while looking (and sounding) like a pro.
 
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Cameron Pemstein

New Member
When I ride it's all about anticipation. What obstacles are coming my way and what gear I should be in for that obstacle. If you know you are coming up to a steep hill make sure you shift before the hill, you never want to shift while being under a big load (mashing the pedals). Also, if you know you are coming up to a stop, drop a few gears so it's easy to get going from a dead stop.

ALWAYS PEDAL AND SHIFT!

I attached page 24 from Motiv Electric Bikes' manual on shifting.

motiv-electric-bikes-manual-pg-24.jpg
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
I have a dumb question or a question from left field. Shifting is obviously an issue with mid-drives. Is there technology that would make a mid-drive some kind of 'automatic' transmission, like a CVT automatic?
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Great share on the vocabulary and basics of shifting Cameron. I especially appreciated the part about down vs. upshifting to lower or higher gears as Dave called out.

A downshift is a shift to a "lower" or "slower" gear, one which is easier to pedal. An upshift is a shift to a "higher" or "faster", harder to pedal gear.
 

Blanco111

New Member
After reading these posts, I am still not clear about how you coordinate gear shifting with the electric component of the bike. For example, with my non-electric bike, as I approach a hill, I downshift the gears as I'm pedaling. If I do this with an e-bike in assist mode, my bike would go faster, wouldn't it? Also at a red light I'll downshift before I come to a stop so when the light turns green, I'll have an easier time pedaling through the intersection. But if I change gears, I'll have to do it while pedaling, which would thrust me forward in assist mode. And I'd want to slow down not speed up as I approach the traffic light. In general, how do you upshift and downshift differently with an e-bike?
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
After reading these posts, I am still not clear about how you coordinate gear shifting with the electric component of the bike. For example, with my non-electric bike, as I approach a hill, I downshift the gears as I'm pedaling. If I do this with an e-bike in assist mode, my bike would go faster, wouldn't it? Also at a red light I'll downshift before I come to a stop so when the light turns green, I'll have an easier time pedaling through the intersection. But if I change gears, I'll have to do it while pedaling, which would thrust me forward in assist mode. And I'd want to slow down not speed up as I approach the traffic light. In general, how do you upshift and downshift differently with an e-bike?

Very simple. Just apply gentle pressure on the brake lever so that the motor cuts out and shift as you would do on a non electric bike.
 

Blanco111

New Member
Thanks for responding.

Oh. So once at the red stop light I would press the button to go back into pedal assist mode (1-4) to be ready for the green light?

Prior to going up the incline of the hill, I would press the button to go back into pedal assist mode (1-4)?

Would you use throttle in either of these instances?
 

calvin

Active Member
Ha Ha! In anticipation of a green light, I prepare to use the throttle to initially to get going, then start pedalling. On hills I throttle and/or pedal at an assist level that doesn't require much effort. IMHO hard pedalling on an ebike!!! with a torque sensor is reserved for newly hatched peoples who forget why they bought an ebike in the first place!