Do Electric Bikes Have Gears? : Comprehensive guide

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Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, have risen in popularity in recent years as efficient and eco-friendly transportation options. But “Do Electric Bikes Have Gears?” like regular bicycles? The answer is yes – most electric bikes do come equipped with gearing systems that are necessary for optimized riding performance.

This article will provide an in-depth look at how gears function on electric bikes, the benefits of having multiple gears, proper gear-shifting techniques, and tips for beginners learning to use gears on an e-bike. Whether you are a new or experienced electric bike owner, understanding gear usage is key to getting the most out of your e-bike.

How do Gears Work on an Electric Bike?

Gears on traditional bicycles allow riders to adapt to changing conditions by shifting between different pedaling resistances. Lower gears make pedaling easier for climbing hills, while higher gears allow you to gain more speed on flat terrain.

Electric bikes work similarly – the motor provides electric assistance as the rider pedals, but gears still play an important role. The derailleur mechanism shifts the chain between different-sized sprockets to change gear ratios. Lower gear ratios give the rider a mechanical advantage for tackling inclines without overexerting. Higher gears enable maintaining higher speeds without excessive motor drag.

Shifting gears on an e-bike provides the same benefits as a regular bike – adjusting pedaling effort for efficiency, speed, and comfort over varied terrain. The electric motor enhances pedaling power but does not eliminate the need for gears.

Understanding the Derailleur on an E-Bike

The derailleur is the mechanism that enables gear shifting on most multi-speed bikes. It moves the chain between the different-sized sprockets or cogs that make up the gearset. Derailleurs allow rapid gear changes to adapt effortlessly to changing riding conditions.

Electric bikes typically have a rear derailleur with a cassette of 8 to 11 gears. The front derailleur, if present, shifts between 2 or 3 chainrings. The combined gear variations allow a wide range of pedaling resistance suitable for everything from steep hills to high-speed cruising.

Shimano and SRAM are popular derailleur brands used on many electric bikes. The derailleur design is optimized on e-bikes to handle the extra weight and torque. Rapid Fire or trigger-style shifters provide easy access to gear changes.

The derailleur gives e-bike riders the versatility to conquer diverse terrains – as long as they use appropriate gears and shift smoothly.

Is It Better to Have Gears on an E-Bike?

Gears offer valuable benefits that make them well worth having on electric bikes, including:

  • Efficiency – Properly utilizing gears prevents overexertion on hills and ineffective pedaling on flat roads. The motor works optimally in the right gear range.
  • Enhanced range – Wise gear usage reduces unnecessary motor drag, conserving battery. Lower gears provide hill-climbing aid without taxing the battery.
  • Comfort – Shifting to easier gears prevents muscle strain and fatigue over long distances.
  • Control – Selecting an appropriate gear allows better control and safety at high speeds during descents.
  • Adaptability – Multiple gears make an e-bike ready for diverse conditions – inclines, varied terrains, heavy loads, etc.

However, single-speed electric bikes can be ideal for casual short-distance flatland riding. For serious riding, the benefits of having multiple gears far outweigh any minor added complexity in gear shifting.

How Many Gears Do Electric Bikes Have?

Electric bikes tend to have a larger gear range than traditional bikes – often 8-11 rear sprockets and 2-3 front chainrings. An increased gear range provides smooth transitions between cruising speeds and hill climbing assistance.

Common gearing configurations are:

  • 1x gearing – A single front chainring with 8-11 rear sprockets. Simpler but has fewer overall gear ratios.
  • 2x gearing – 2 front rings and 9-11 rear sprockets. Provides around 18-22 gear combinations.
  • 3x gearing – 3 front rings and a 10-11 speed rear derailleur. Maximizes gear variations up to 30+ options.

Higher-end electric mountain bikes can feature advanced 12-speed gearing. The ideal gear range depends on the e-bike type and intended riding purpose. Urban commuting needs fewer gears than off-road trail riding.

How to Use Gears on an Electric Bike

Using gears properly is key to maximizing electric bike performance. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Shift gears before encountering changes in terrain to maintain momentum. Don’t wait till you’re struggling uphill in high gear.
  • Use lower gears for starting, hill climbs, and off-road conditions to reduce strain on the motor. Shift progressively as speed increases.
  • Higher gears enable cruising at top speeds on flat roads. But don’t overexert the motor with excessively high gears.
  • Change only one gear at a time and ease off the pedals during shifts for smoother transitions.
  • Try to maintain a steady cadence around 60-80RPM and shift to different gears to achieve it.
  • Don’t hesitate to shift gears frequently according to riding needs. E-bike transmissions are designed for it.

Practice will help build confidence in using gears for efficient and comfortable rides.

Do You Need to Shift Gears on an E-Bike?

Many new e-bike owners mistakenly believe that shifting is not necessary since the electric motor provides assistance. But regularly using different gears has many benefits:

  • It ensures the motor runs within its optimal efficiency range.
  • Frequent gear changes reduce unnecessary battery consumption.
  • The right gears allow maintaining your preferred pedaling cadence.
  • Shifting to easier gears provides hill-climbing aid.
  • Proper gear usage enables better control over speed.

So while you can potentially stay in one gear on level terrain, shifting frequently helps optimize performance and riding experience. Think of the gears as tapping into the full capabilities of your e-bike.

Properly Shifting Gears on an Electric Bike

Shifting gears on an e-bike is very similar to a regular bicycle. Follow these steps:

  1. Check the terrain ahead and anticipate the need to shift gears.
  2. Ease pressure on the pedals and stop pedaling momentarily before shifting.
  3. To shift to a lower easier gear, use the left shifter. To shift to a higher harder gear, use the right shifter.
  4. Press the shifter until you feel it click once. Just one click shifts one gear up or down.
  5. Resume pedaling smoothly after the shift. Multiple clicks lead to bigger gear jumps.
  6. Use the left shifter for front derailleur shifts to the smaller or larger chainring.

Avoid over-shifting the chain into extreme gear ratios. Practice training your shifting reflexes and coordination.

How Many Gears Does an E-Bike Need?

Electric bikes are commonly available with:

  • 3 to 5 gears – Suitable for casual flatland riding and commuting
  • 7 to 9 gears – Provides good versatility for both flat and hilly terrain
  • 10+ gears – Allows a wide range ideal for tackling steep hills and high speeds

Ultimately, the number of gears depends on:

  • Intended riding purpose – off-road, hills, cruising, etc.
  • Level of assist – more assist needs fewer gears.
  • Personal preference – casual riders may need fewer gears.

Try to test riding e-bikes with different gearing to determine what suits your riding style. More gears provide greater flexibility but require more skill in shifting.

Riding an Electric Bike with Gears

Here are some tips for new riders learning to use gears on an e-bike:

  • Initially use lower gears more to get a feel for smooth pedal assist.
  • Practice gear shifts on flat areas before attempting hills or uneven terrain.
  • Focus on coordinating gear changes with motor response to avoid abrupt power changes.
  • Build experience gradually – don’t immediately tackle tough inclines in high gears.
  • Let the electric assist help you optimize gear usage over time.
  • Learn to anticipate terrain changes and shift gears proactively.

Gears allow you to get the most from your e-bike. With practice, gear shifts will start to feel instinctive.

How to Ride a Bike with Gears for Beginners

For beginners, here is a simple step-by-step guide to learning to use gears on a bike:

  1. Begin by shifting into lower gears for easier pedaling.
  2. Pedal smoothly without pedal pressure during shifts.
  3. For hills, shift into easier gears beforehand to maintain momentum.
  4. Upshift to higher gears with increased speed on flat terrain.
  5. Use the left shifter for the front gears and the right for the rear.
  6. Change one gear at a time and get used to the pedal response.
  7. Don’t shift under high pedal pressure as it can cause the chain to slip.
  8. Find a mentor or watch tutorials to perfect the shifting technique.
  9. Practicing riding on varied terrain will rapidly improve gearing skills.

Be patient, build experience gradually, and enjoy learning to shift like a pro!

Understanding Different eBike Speeds

Electric bikes typically have 3-5 selectable speed or assist modes that impact riding performance:

Eco mode – Provides mild assistance, ideal for flat terrain to conserve battery. Top speed around 16 mph.

Tour mode – Moderate assist for everyday riding. Tops out at around 20 mph.

Sport mode – Stronger assist for fast riding on flats and hills. Can reach 28 mph.

Turbo mode – Maximum motor assist for steep climbs. Speeds up to 32+ mph are possible.

No assist – Turns motor off and allows riding like a normal bike. Saves battery power.

Understanding speed modes allows for picking the right setting for different ride conditions and needs. Lower assist modes optimize battery efficiency while higher modes provide performance boosts when required.

Selecting the Best Gear for Flatland Riding


For efficient cruising on flat terrain, ideal gears have you spinning at 60-80RPM in the bike’s highest gear ratios. If you are pedaling too slowly or struggling to get suitable speeds in the highest gears, try shifting to a lower gear for better cadence. Spinning too quickly can also indicate being in too low a gear. Finding the right balance comes with practice. Appropriate flatland gears enable maintaining your preferred riding tempo without overworking the motor.

Climbing Hills on an eBike: Choosing the Right Gear

Climbing Hills on an eBike

Tackling inclines on an e-bike is made easier with lower gear ratios. As a climb approaches, shift down 1-2 gears lower than your flat-surface cruising gear. This reduces pedal resistance, allowing you to maintain rhythm. If the grade steepens further, continue shifting to easier gears to keep a steady 60-80 RPM cadence.

Avoid waiting till you lose all momentum before downshifting. Timely shifts prevent the motor from overstraining. Opt for Turbo mode if you need maximum assistance. With practice, you’ll learn to anticipate gear needs by looking ahead at hills. Use the e-bike’s power, but rely on gears to optimize efficiency over changing terrain.

Riding Downhill on an eBike: Gear Selection Guide


Descending downhill on an e-bike warrants caution with speeds exceeding 20+ mph. As gravity accelerates you on inclines, shift up 1 or 2 higher gears. Heavier gear ratios limit speed, allowing you to retain braking control. Position yourself carefully, apply brakes intermittently, and avoid sudden braking.

Activating higher assist modes when descending can lead to dangerous speeds. Lower assist modes provide necessary speed regulation. Refrain from pedaling during steep descents – rely on gear selection for controlled speed reduction instead. With experience, you’ll gain good judgment in choosing gears that allow safe downhill riding.

Shifting Gears on a Hill: Best Practices

Shifting gears on hills requires planning ahead and timed execution:

  • As you approach an incline, shift down 1 or 2 gears lower while still on the flat section.
  • Climb Hills in relatively lower gears to reduce strain on the motor.
  • When climbing long hills, shift progressively to easier gears as the incline gets steeper.
  • Avoid abrupt shifts while pedaling under high pressure on slopes.
  • When cresting a hill, shift back to higher gears as the terrain levels out.
  • Descending hills warrant shifting to higher gear ratios before the slope.

Stay off the pedals during shifts, maintain momentum in lower gears uphill, and regulate the speed with higher gears downhill. With some experience, you’ll handle hill shifts like a seasoned rider.

Do E-Bikes Change Gear Automatically?

Some e-bike models have automatic gear shifting that requires no input from the rider. The most common are:

  • Automatic Hub Gears – Internal gearbox with preset automatic shifts. Convenient but fewer gear ratios are available.
  • Continuously Variable Transmission – Belt/chain drive that automatically varies gear ratios for optimal cadence. More sophisticated system.
  • Auto Derailleur – Electronically actuated derailleur that shifts gears based on riding conditions. Provides performance similar to manual shifting.

While automatic options simplify gear changes, they offer less flexibility compared to traditional manual derailleur shifting. Each system has its own pros and cons depending on riding needs. Test ride to decide which suits your requirements.

The Importance of Multiple Gears on an E-Bike

Having an expanded gear range provides many noteworthy benefits:

  • More options to optimize pedaling cadence across speeds
  • Ability to maintain momentum over varying terrain
  • Improved battery efficiency with closely matched gear ratios
  • Enables tackling steep inclines with lower gear ratios
  • Higher gears add top-end speed where permitted
  • Greater overall riding versatility
  • Options tailored for all rider skill levels

The precise shifting of modern derailleurs makes accessing a wide gear range easy. More gears provide flexibility to adapt to diverse real-world conditions – ranging from gentle cruising to aggressive riding.

Should You Change Gears While Pedaling?

Shifting gears on a moving e-bike under pedal pressure can be problematic:

  • Adds wear and tear on drivetrain components
  • The chain is more prone to slipping between gears
  • Creates abrupt power delivery changes
  • Can cause you to lose your pedaling rhythm

However, with practice, it is possible to execute smooth shifts even when pedaling lightly. The key tips are:

  • Reduce pedal pressure but keep cranks turning when shifting.
  • Make quick single-click shifts to prevent chain-slack buildup.
  • Maintain a steady cadence through the entire shift.
  • Ensure the gear is fully engaged before reapplying force.

Progressive cyclists can master on-the-go shifting. But beginners should get the basics right by avoiding shifts under load.

Do You Have to Pedal an Electric Bike? | Explained


Electric bikes retain multiple gears that serve important benefits ranging from enhanced efficiency to battery preservation. Taking the time to practice proper gear usage techniques can help unlock an e-bike’s full potential. The motor offers power, but the clever application of gearing enables conquering diverse real-world conditions. As your experience grows, so will your enjoyment – gears add skill and finesse to riding an e-bike.


How many gears are ideal for an electric bike?

7-10 gears provide a good balance of versatility and ease of use for most e-bike riders. More options are better for tackling steep terrain.

Do I need to pedal while shifting gears on an e-bike?

It’s recommended to briefly ease off the pedals during shifts for smoother transitions. But skilled riders can shift even while lightly pedaling.

What gear should I use to start from a standstill on an e-bike?

Use a lower gear like 1 or 2 to pull away without excessive motor strain. Shift to higher gears as you build momentum.

How do I keep my electric bike’s gears properly adjusted?

Periodically check for smooth shifting performance and use a derailleur adjustment barrel to fine-tune if needed. Keep the chain clean and the drivetrain lubricated.

Can too much gear shifting damage an electric bike?

Modern e-bike transmissions are designed for frequent shifting. There’s no need to limit gear changes as long as you shift correctly.

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