Which type of gears?

If you set great store by the type of gears on your e-bike, it is advisable to decide on your choice early in the selection process for it. The type of gears can in fact have an impact on the position of the motor, the chain case configuration and the maintenance requirement of the bike. You have a choice of three types of gears.

Derailleur gears

The bike chain is shifted between sprockets by means of a shift mechanism. The mechanism and the sprockets are fitted on the rear wheel. With derailleur gears you simply choose an appropriate gear, the large number of sprockets means there is an equally large number of gears available.

You will often see this type of gears on sporty e-bikes, due to their weight (lighter than hub gears) and the range of gears.

Advantages

  • The system has a large number of available gears 
  • The gears can be matched more accurately to the conditions (smaller steps in gear ratios) which means a wider range 
  • Simple to maintain thanks to the open chain case 
  • Light in weight

Disadvantages

  • The system needs to be readjusted precisely and regularly 
  • Gear can only be shifted on the move, not while the bike is at a standstill

Can be combined with

  • Motor position: front-wheel motor, mid-mounted motor and rear-wheel motor 
  • Chain case: open and semi-open

Hub gears

With hub gears, all the gears are concealed in the rear-wheel hub. This means there are no gears or sprockets visible on the bike. There are larger steps between gears and they will adapt less precisely to cycling conditions.

Hub gears are sensitive to the pressure applied while pedalling, hence it is better not to pedal while shifting. Damage to the hub gears may result if the pedal assistance is engaged and you don't stop pedalling while shifting. That is why e-bikes with hub gears are sometimes equipped with a shift assist. This assist cuts out the assistance briefly while shifting, thus protecting the hub gears.

Hub gears can be equipped with a toothed-belt drive. Because no lubrication is required, the toothed belt requires little maintenance. There are two variants, a manually-operated version and an automatic version. With the automatic variant, the pedal frequency can be set and it is maintained regardless of speed. The system shifts down to the lowest gear when the bike is at a standstill.

Advantages

  • Little maintenance required (almost maintenance-free) 
  • No exposed gears/sprockets 
  • Shifting can also take place with the bike at a standstill 
  • The automatic variant shifts back down to the lowest gear at a standstill

Disadvantages

  • The gears are matched less accurately to the conditions (larger steps in gear ratios) 
  • The rear wheel is not easy to remove (the tyre needs to be changed with the wheel on the bike) 
  • The system is heavier in weight than a derailleur

Can be combined with

  • Motor position: front-wheel motor and mid-mounted motor 
  • Chain case: enclosed and open

Continuously variable gears

With automatic or continuously-variable gears you don't have a fixed number of gears available. The number of gears is actually infinite. Using the control on the handlebar (in the form of a rotary switch) you determine yourself how gently or how hard you want to pedal. This type of gears draws more power from the motor, which reduces the range of your e-bike.

Advantages

  • Little maintenance required (almost maintenance-free) 
  • No exposed gears/sprockets 
  • The automatic variant shifts down to the lowest gear at a as soon as the bike comes to a standstill 
  • The automatic variant shifts up through the gears as soon as you increase your speed 
  • You can shift while pedalling

Disadvantages

  • The hub is relatively heavy 
  • A lot of shifting to get from the lowest to the highest gear

Can be combined with

  • Motor position: front-wheel motor and mid-mounted motor 
  • Chain case: enclosed