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All about E-bikes

How to Use Gears on E-Bike? Everything You Need to Know

By Konstantin Kaliuzhnyj

Table of contents:

What are e-bike gears? What is the derailleur on an e-bike? What are the electric assistant gears on an E-bike? How to shift gears on an electric bike What is the derailleur on an e-bike? Which gear is best for climbing hills on an e-bike? Which gear is best for riding downhill on an e-bike? Tips for effective gear shifting Conclusion Why are gears important on an electric bike? How do I shift gears on an electric bike? What is the best way to use gears in combination with pedal assist? Can improper use of gears affect my e-bike's performance? Video

Riding an electric bike is easy when you know how to use its gears correctly and at the right time. Unlike conventional bicycles, electric bikes have multiple gears that need to be understood and put to good use or riders will spend all their energy pedaling and getting nowhere fast. Keep reading to learn how to use your e-bike gears properly for a smooth and efficient ride.

What are e-bike gears?

Before you take your bike out for a spin, it’s important to learn about the gears on it and how they work. On your bike, you will find standard double gears. This is a very good set of gears for racing and they typically feature two chainrings on the front and up to eleven progression sprocket variations at the rear.

Standard gear chainrings are the largest size harboring the biggest gears. They’re preferable for racing because they offer a smooth ride even at the fastest speeds.

Triple gears mean your bike has up to three chainrings which translate to smaller gears overall. The third chainring is usually smaller. The triple gears are perfect for smooth pedaling on steep climbs because the chain ring offers low gear when paired with a larger ratio rear cassette.

Hub gears are a low-maintenance gear system that is housed in a big hub at the rear of the bike. It’s one of the most robust gears that are used on an e-bike. Hub gears offer different variations of speed and options range from 1- 14 gears.

Compact gear is a double-gear setup that is surprisingly smaller and this size helps with reducing the ratios across the gear range.

Most e-bikes favor this kind of gear system because it reduces gearing at the lower end making it easier to maneuver and make deliveries in areas with challenging terrains. It also allows for fast descent while keeping the bike stable to prevent any spillages.

When choosing gear combinations, go for ones that allow you to have a smooth riding experience while making deliveries. Low-gear models should have the variety of a small chain ring in the front gear and the largest bike sprocket in the rear gear.

For middle gear, the best combination for a smooth ride is having the small chain ring on standard double or compact on the front gears while on the rear gears, have it on the middle e-bike sprocket. The best combination for high gear is a big chain ring on the front gear and the smallest bike sprocket on the rear gears.

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What is the derailleur on an e-bike?

The derailleur is a very important part of the bike as it is the component responsible for moving the chain from one cog to the other as you are using the gear shifter. Its gears are external and the rear derailleur is mostly attached to a cable.

This cable either loosens or tightens depending on how you are shifting the gears. This results in the application of force on the derailleur gear system that moves the chains up and down on the chainrings or bike cassette. Gears for the derailleur are lightweight, and easier to maintain or replace when need be. And it is also cheaper than all the other setups.

What are the electric assistant gears on an E-bike?

On an e-bike, the level of electric assistance is controlled by a control block that is situated on the mounting bar. The control block normally comes with buttons labeled up and down and it usually favors the left side.

The up button on the control block offers high electric assistance while the down button offers less electric assistance. The options to choose from include high, medium, and low. The amount of electric assistance given depends on the type of assistance selected and how hard you are pedaling.

Low gear uses a lot of electric assistance and it’s best for climbing. Here you get to pedal efficiently and with the smallest amount of resistance.

High gear is best for descents because it is hard and it is also where the highest electric assistance gear on your bike is.

How to shift gears on an electric bike

Different electric bike brands have different kinds of shifting. For instance, if your e-bike has drop handlebars, then it’s likely to use the same levers for shifting as it does for brakes. If that’s the kind of shifter your bike possesses, you have to move it to the side until you hear a clicking noise.

If you have a hybrid e-bike or a mountain e-bike with flat bars, you will probably need to use set paddles to shift the gears. These paddles are operated by the thumbs. Some of the e-bikes have a dial or a grip shifter that is placed inside where your hands go on the bike. This allows you to rotate the dial back and forth in case of changing gears.

Clicking through your bike's gears will also either tighten or loosen the cable that’s connected to the shifters. That means there is force application on the derailleur which moves the chain on the cassette or chainrings.

Your right-hand lever is responsible for moving the chain up and down the cassette to control the derailleur or rear gears. The left-hand lever is responsible for moving the chain up and down to control the front gears or the derailleur. The small lever’s job is to move the chain into smaller chain rings while the big shifter lever is responsible for moving the chain into the larger chainrings.

When you want to move the big shifter lever, it’s advisable to use your right hand to shift the larger rings. Similarly, use the left hand to shift the smaller rings. Why is this important? Because it makes it easier to pedal and switch the shifter levers.

Another tip is to not shift gears too quickly, especially while accelerating on a flatland or while going downhill. That’s because shifting too quickly could result in disconnecting your e-bike’s chain from the gears.

Rather shift gradually and make sure to engage the chain before bringing in the new gear. Keep in mind that different brands have different gear setups and it’s important to understand your bike setup in order to get an effective response from it.

When in doubt, use the easier gears and pedal at a higher speed while making sure to maintain a pedal speed that you can manage for a long time during the bike ride. Remember not to use the front and rear gear shifters at the same time. Do not wait until you are up a hill before shifting as you can shift through the gears while going downhill.

What is the derailleur on an e-bike?

When riding on flatland, it’s advisable to engage your bike's mid-level gears. You can always shift up or down depending on how steep your terrain is. You can also use certain levels of electric assistance depending on how long your bike ride is and how much energy you want to spend on pedaling.

If you have planned for a longer ride, it’s advisable to save the assistance for steep hills and not use your bike’s power on flat land. In fact, if you’re riding your bike on flat land, one gear speed is enough.

A seven-speed bike is a great choice for long rides and uneven terrain. These types of bikes are also great for attaching a trailer should you need one for deliveries.

For heavy cargo transportation, the Shimano 7-speed is an excellent choice while an SRAM 9-speed is the best choice for climbing steep hills. It is strong while lightweight and has precise shifting.

Which gear is best for climbing hills on an e-bike?

While climbing hills on an e-bike, go for low and easy mechanical gears right after increasing your bike's electric assistance. Get ready to switch gears and power levels if the ride is taking you through uneven terrain frequently.

Which gear is best for riding downhill on an e-bike?

You have a better chance of controlling the bike while descending if you change your bike's gears as you go. Make sure to first decrease the electric assistance then shift the gears to your bike's highest setting.

Tips for effective gear shifting

Electrically assisted bikes work similarly to conventional bikes when it comes to using gears. While shifting the gears of your e-bike can be tricky, all you need is enough practice to get the hang of it.

Couple that with knowledge of your e-bike’s safety will ensure an enjoyable riding time no matter how many deliveries you make in a day. It also means you won’t rely heavily on your e-bike’s battery, resulting in longevity for the battery and it’ll be lighter on your pocket.


The takeaway here is simple; learn and understand the workings of your e-bike. Do not attempt to change gears on a stationary bike, only do it when your bike is in motion. The only thing that can be changed on a stationary e-bike is the level of pedal assistance.

Also, do not stop your bike in high gear, instead shift to low and mechanical gear before stopping.

Why are gears important on an electric bike?

Gears on an electric bike help manage the bike's speed and make pedaling easier or harder, similar to a regular bicycle. They are particularly important for efficiently using the bike's motor power, extending battery life, and handling varying terrains, such as hills or flat roads, by allowing the rider to adjust the pedaling resistance and speed.

How do I shift gears on an electric bike?

To shift gears on an electric bike, use the gear shifters located on the handlebars. For smoother shifting, lightly pedal without putting much force on the pedals when you change gears. This helps prevent strain on the bike's chain and gears. Start in a lower gear when at a stop or climbing hills and shift to higher gears as you gain speed.

What is the best way to use gears in combination with pedal assist?

The best way to use gears in combination with pedal assist on an electric bike is to start in a lower gear and a low to moderate pedal-assist level when beginning your ride or climbing. As you increase speed or the terrain becomes easier, gradually shift to higher gears and adjust the pedal-assist level to maintain a comfortable pedaling effort and optimize battery usage.

Can improper use of gears affect my e-bike's performance?

Yes, improper use of gears can affect your electric bike's performance by reducing efficiency, increasing battery consumption, and putting extra strain on the motor and drivetrain. Using the correct gear for your speed and terrain can help maintain optimal performance, extend battery life, and reduce wear on your bike's components.


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