Do You Need Gears On An Electric Bike?

If you have ever ridden a bike uphill, you’re at least familiar with the use of gears.

Shifting gears ensure you use less energy on the incline, enhancing your riding experience on different terrain.

While this is true for regular bicycles, you may be wondering whether electric bikes have similar engineering.

Do you need gears on an electric bike? Let’s see…

Does an Electric Bike Need Gears?

Although these new generation bikes do not need gears, they are necessary for some situations. These bikes have components that ease riding and let bikers manage their speed on inclined terrains.

Electric bikes have motors that power their automatic assistance system, which performs most of the functions of a gear system in a mechanical bike.

The automated assistance ensures a smooth transition from one speed to another without fumbling with the handlebar to adjust your pedaling intensity.

Likewise, the motor increases the bike’s torque output to traverse rugged or steep terrain easily.

However, although the automated assistance gives a significant power boost that helps you get where you need to go, sometimes gears will come in handy. An electric bike running solely on automated assistance may not be ideal for riding long distances.

The battery may drain at a faster rate. Thus, it is essential to have gears as a backup. Similarly, the motor may not be powerful enough to drive your pedal assistance when climbing a large hill.

When To Engage Gears on an Electric Bike

If you choose an electric bike with gears, it is essential to know when to engage them for a smooth ride and to ensure you don’t damage your bike.

An electric bike’s gears are no different from an ordinary bicycle’s.

Lowering the gear makes pedaling easier, while setting it to a higher gear setting makes it harder to pedal but easier to maintain high speeds.

Here are the appropriate times to engage your gears when riding your electric bike.

When Ascending and Descending an Inclined Terrain

Riding through hilly terrain on a bicycle can be difficult; it requires a lot of leg power to pedal through the landscape.

However, switching the gear to a low setting reduces resistance, making it easy to pedal and gain speed. The low gear also allows the motor to initiate more pedaling assistance, making it easier to ascend an incline.

You don’t necessarily need to shift gears when going downhill since the bike will coast downhill regardless of what gear you are in.

Instead, keep your weight behind the saddle by leaning slightly backward and while gently but steadily applying the brakes.

This slows you down safely while keeping your weight from toppling you forward.

How to Shift Gears on an Electric Bike

Now that we’ve seen when to shift gears on your electric bike, the next step is to know how to do it.

The mechanical gear shifter on your electric bike is located on the right side of your handlebars.

Most electric bikes have 24 labeled gears, with the lowest number marking the lowest gear and vice versa.

Changing these gears tightens or loosens the cable connected to the gear handle, which moves the bike’s chain up or down depending on your engaged gear.

Making this gear shift is as easy as sliding or clicking the gear shifter, which places the bike chain on a different-sized gear on the cassette.

Changing to lower gears shifts the chain downwards, while switching to a higher gear shifts the chain upwards. The gear shift also changes your bike’s electrical output.

The left handlebar contains the electrical assistance shifter; it allows you to set assistance power levels when riding your bike.

Always set the appropriate pedal assistance level on the left handlebar before shifting gears on your electric bike.

Using Gears To Prolong Battery Life

As the name suggests, electric bikes need battery power. Ensure your battery operates at optimal levels every time you ride out.

You can easily do this by following best practices for conserving your battery power.

For instance, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on electrical power when riding uphill, so ease up on the pedal assist when climbing.

You could also change the front chain gear to a smaller one so that the motor doesn’t have to work too hard when providing power assistance.

Using higher gears and power assist on flat terrain effectively extends your battery life while riding fast.

The motor works to keep you moving, thus using up the battery. On the other hand, high gears use less energy since you pedal harder and use the motor less.

Despite this energy conservation technique, it is not possible to use high gears all the time to prolong your battery life; you will get exhausted.

Find the right gear and balance when cycling to mitigate energy wastage.

Tips for Effective Gear Shifting

People say nothing is as easy as riding a bicycle. However, inexperienced riders may have issues changing the gears on their electric or mechanical bikes.

If you struggle with shifting gears, here are some tips that can help you shift your gears effectively:

  • Avoid changing gears when stationary. Only shift gears when you are on the move and the pedals are turning. Moreover, shifting gears when stationary could damage your bike.
  • Adjust your hand to a comfortable position. Place your hand on the gear handlebar to make the shifter and brakes easily accessible. Ensure you only need to move your thumb to rotate the gear lever for easier and quicker shifting.
  • Plan for ascents and descents. Shift gears before every climb and when you are about to start a descent to ease cycling.


So, do you need gears on an electric bike?

Electric bikes do not generally need gears since they have components that transfer power to your bicycle. However, shiftable gears can have multiple benefits, especially for those who ride trails.

You conserve juice and enhance your riding experience, allowing you to go faster with less effort, resulting in a more enjoyable ride.