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Gear Up! How to use gears on your eBike

So you have a new eBike, but you're not sure how to use all the gears that come with it. 

Most electric bikes have multiple gears that allow you to adjust pedaling effort for different terrain. Gears are essential for electric mountain bikes if you plan on climbing hills or riding on steep or uneven terrain.

Gear principles are similar between eBikes and traditional bikes, but there are a few details where the two differ. If you've never used gears before or aren't sure how they differ between classic bikes and eBike, we've got you covered. In this article, we'll walk you through how to make the most of your bike's gears.

What do the different eBike speeds mean?

Gears are essentially different speeds, and QuiteKat eBike models come with varying gear capabilities. Knowing how you want to use your eclectic bike will help you choose the best model based on gear capability. 

If you're primarily riding on flat surfaces or are very athletic, then one gear might be enough. For backcountry or mountain biking, you'll probably want eight speeds or more. E-Bikes with more gears will be able to get you up even the most challenging hills.

Here's a rundown on different speeds and what they mean.

Single-Speed

A single-speed eBike has just one mechanical gear that does not shift. The QuietKat Ripper Kids eBike is our only single-speed electric bike. Gears are often more difficult for children to manage, so a single-speed eBike may be a good choice for your junior shredder.

7-Speed

A seven-speed eBike like The Ranger is excellent for riding long distances and tackling some uneven terrain. The Ranger is a great choice for hunters or overlanders who want to attach trailers. 

Shimano 7-Speed

Like the Ranger, our Sherpa Cargo Bike is a 7-speed model that's great for transporting cargo. This model is a popular choice if you need to transport heavy loads. 

SRAM 9-Speed

A nine-speed bike offers you the most choice for lightweight, strength, and precise shifting. The QuietKat Apex eBike is an example of a 9-speed electric bike capable of climbing steep heights. 

Note that Shimano and SRAM refer to bicycle component manufacturers and both Shimano and SRAM offer a range of high-quality components. 

What is the derailleur on an e-bike?

The derailleur is a crucial bike component. It is responsible for moving the chain from one cog to another when you use the gear shifter.

Derailleur gears are external, so the rear derailleur is usually connected to a cable. As you shift up and down gears, this cable either loosens or tightens. This process applies either more or less force to the derailleur gear mechanism that moves the chain up and down on the bike cassette or chainrings. 

Derailleur gears are lightweight and both cheaper and easier to maintain or replace than some other setups.

How do I properly shift gears on an eBike? 

A common question posed by new eBike riders is, "how should I use gears on an electric bike."

You can move between mechanical gears, known as "shifting gears," by either sliding or clicking the right shifter on the handlebars. Note that the left shifter on an eBike changes the level of pedal assist.

Lower numbers are low gears, and higher numbers are high gears. Lower gears make it easier to peddle, while the highest gears will take the most peddle effort. You can adjust your bike's gear and power to obtain your ideal level of pedaling effort. 

When changing eBike gears and power levels, you should first change electric assist levels, then change mechanical gear levels.  

Which gear is best for flatland riding? 

When riding on flatland, you'll want to use one of your mid-level gears; this allows your room to shift up or down when you reach steep terrain. The level of power assistance you use on flatland will depend on how much energy you want to exert peddling and how long your ride is. If you're out for a day's ride, you may want to conserve your battery power while riding on flatland and save it for steep hills.

Which gear is best for climbing hills on an eBike? 

The ability to climb hills is one of the biggest selling points of an eclectic bike. E-Bikes allow you to tackle much more challenging terrain than you can on even a mountain bike, all with less exertion. 

To tackle a steep hill, you should first increase your power assistance, then move to a low and easy mechanical gear. If you're going up and down frequently on uneven terrain, be prepared to quickly switch both power and gear levels.

Which gear is best for riding downhill on an eBike? 

Changing gears as you go downhill will give you better control of the bike to descend safely. You should decrease your electric assistance level to eco as you go downhill, then shift up mechanical gears to one of your highest gears. 

Knowing how to use your gears properly when going down hills is an important part of eBike safety.

Tips for gear shifting on an eBike

You should never try to change mechanical gears while a bike is stationary; only shift gears while the cycle is in motion. However, you can change the level of pedal assistance while the eBike is stationary. 

Shift your gears to a low and easy mechanical gear before you stop. If you stop the bike in high gear, it will be difficult to start pedaling in high gear when you next ride. 

It's essential to adjust your cadence to be efficient while riding. If you're riding in really high gear and find yourself pushing hard on the pedals, then you should change to a lower gear. But if your pedals are spinning too quickly, you're wasting peddling energy, so you should switch to a higher gear.

By ensuring you are riding with the right cadence and in the appropriate gear, you can help preserve the battery life of your electric bike. For example, riding in high gear on a flat surface with pedal assist will drain your battery faster. 

Get in gear

Learning how to adjust your gears appropriately will make riding an eBike more enjoyable and provide greater longevity from your battery life. If you’re having issues with your gears, you can learn how to reset shifting and derailleur in this video.

Electric bikes are climate-friendly and great for people who want to ride with less physical exertion on backcountry trails and challenging terrain. With an eBike, you can lower your effort but go twice as far. Anyone who wants some extra power can benefit from an electric bike. 

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