Things Many Really Never Knew About Bike Chains and Cassettes

reed scott

Well-Known Member
Did you know a 9 speed chain is a full size bike chain and that everything above that gets thinner and lighter? I did not know that.

Have you considered that 10 speed and up expensive cassettes are probably not made of steel and all that extra money is about weight saving and shift speed? Not me.

So why do we put fancy schmancy drive train components on ebikes when they are probably not the best or even correct choices?

Could it be true that electric motors do not need all those gears?


I guess I should add that I'm coming from a higher watt motor perspective.
 
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reed scott

Well-Known Member
Here is what a well sorted 'hunting' ebike company specifies on their bikes:

  • Gearing: Shimano Alivio Hill-Climbing 9sp, 40t Front & Sunrace 11-42t Rear cassette
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
...
Could it be true that electric motors do not need all those gears?
....

If you ride your beach cruiser on the flat golf cart trails in your retirement park in Florida then probably not.

If you ride where there are actual hills then you probably do. If you use your bike as a car replacement in a hilly city you need those gears.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Have you considered that 10 speed and up expensive cassettes are probably not made of steel
Not correct. In the 11- and the 12-gear cassettes all cogs except the largest one (made of aluminium) are made of steel.

Could it be true that electric motors do not need all those gears?
Not true. Try to achieve high speed such as 45 km/h (28 mph) on the flat and then climb up a significant hill then you will notice you need both the 11T and the 46T or 51T granny gear, even in the Turbo mode. The big number of gears is meant for maintaining constant cadence and smoothness on changing gears under all conceivable situations.

So why do we put fancy schmancy drive train components on ebikes when they are probably not the best or even correct choices?
We use them if we are enthusiast or competing cyclists because we need all these gears. Try to ride for, say, 50 miles with 4600 ft elevation gain and you'll know why.
 
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reed scott

Well-Known Member
Not correct. In the 11- and the 12-gear cassettes all cogs except the largest one (made of aluminium) are made of steel.

So this is a general practice amongst cassette makers? Shopping cassettes with the well known suppliers I find they are not too good at specifying what materials the cogs are made of.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
So this is a general practice amongst cassette makers?
Shimano and SRAM actually compete on that because that is the demand of the competitive and enthusiast cycling market. Honestly? When I am on advanced rides, I need the stuff (read my edited post above). However, riding in a city located in the flatland and covering short distances only requires 3 gears in an IGH on a traditional bike... The needs are very varied.
 

reed scott

Well-Known Member
Shimano and SRAM actually compete on that because that is the demand of the competitive and enthusiast cycling market. Honestly? When I am on advanced rides, I need the stuff (read my edited post above). However, riding in a city located in the flatland and covering short distances only requires 3 gears in an IGH on a traditional bike... The needs are very varied.

I had to edit my original post to say that I am coming from a higher watt motor perspective. I hear people saying that they are powering up hills with little effort in smallish gears. I know a lot of people are wearing out chains and cogs at an alarming rate.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
I hear you @reed scott. Indeed, riding in small cogs destroys the drive-train fast. I think riding at lower wattage is doable as well :)

I need to add something. The reason for putting so many cogs in the cassette results from using a single chain-ring in modern 1x drive-train. In the traditional drive-train, 2x or 3x chain-ring was used. It is not the best for mid-drive motor, as it is wide, and the objective is to reduce the spread between the cranks as much as possible (improving the Q-factor). Another reason of using 1x system is simplifying the drive-train. Of course, you could ride a fixie with a high-wattage motor...
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
I had to edit my original post to say that I am coming from a higher watt motor perspective. I hear people saying that they are powering up hills with little effort in smallish gears. I know a lot of people are wearing out chains and cogs at an alarming rate.
Like how many people and where are you getting this information? Which specific ebikes are involved?