Best electric bikes are a convenient, efficient, and comfortable way to go around town. With their electric motors, they relieve us of the sore muscles and joints that long treks by conventional bikes can sometimes cause. But can you extend the battery life of your electric bike even further by using gears?
Using gears on an electric bike is essential on all but the shortest trips. While pedaling where appropriate saves a lot of energy by itself, further deregulating the Pedal Assist System (PAS) and relying more heavily on gears can extend the battery life of your electric bike even further.
In simple words, the harder you make your muscles work when riding your electric bike, the more you’ll save on battery power. Using gears smartly can be a big part of this, but just how do you do that? Read on below for our comprehensive guide.
How to Use E-Bike Gears to Save Battery Power
If you want to maximize efficiency while riding your electric bike, while also giving yourself the best possible workout, knowing how to use your gears is essential.
Changing gears on an ebike is really quite easy and similar to how it works on a conventional bike. Usually, your right handlebar will be controlling the gearshift while the left hand will take care of the pedal-assist system.
Lower gears are easier to pedal, and higher gears offer more resistance. Try to combine a relatively high gear with a relatively low PAS setting for the average ride and see how it feels. This alone should give you much better mileage, as you will be using more muscle than battery power to keep yourself moving forward.
Be mindful however that every rider has their own preferences, and no gear-PAS combination is ever “perfect” or “right”!
There is some very basic gear use etiquette you should be aware of though, to improve your efficiency and comfort while biking.
- Before coming to a stop, shift down! Starting from a stationary position is the hardest part of the ride in terms of pedaling effort, so make sure to always lift off on a lower gear
- Vice versa, shift up as you get going and reach your comfortable cruising speed
- Conserve energy by using the highest possible gear when riding down an incline. This saves battery power by letting the motor do less work
- Try to develop a thing called “cadence” – a slow, rhythmic motion of the legs to keep pedaling that should be effortless. It comes with time and practice, don’t worry!
When to Use Gears, and When to Use PAS
While using gears is quite intuitive and easy to learn, the question might arise: If gears are there to reduce pedaling effort, why not just use the pedal-assist system instead? Isn’t that what it’s for, making gears unnecessary on an e-bike?
The answer here is both yes and no.
On the one hand, PAS does serve a very similar function to the mechanical gears on your e-bike, and the two can go hand in hand. However, these systems achieve their means using very different ends.
While gears are a mechanical setup that physically changes the resistance in your bike’s pedals, the PAS is an electric system that changes how much power the bike receives from the battery.
Therefore, manipulating the PAS settings directly affects your energy consumption while riding.
On the one hand, you can put your PAS to the maximum (highest) setting and enjoy easy riding without even having to use the pedals! On the other hand, this will reduce your mileage to an absolute minimum.
For saving battery power as much as possible, we, therefore, recommend relying as little as possible on PAS and as much as possible on gearing.
How to Take Care of Your Gears
Your gears are the most important part of your electric bike that works mechanically, through a linkage between the derailleur, chain, as well as a few smaller parts.
Therefore, you need to be aware of how to take care of them properly so that the gears on your e-bike can last for a long time!
The first and most important tip regards technique while riding. It is important to never change gears while at a stop. This can damage and wear down the whole mechanism, negatively affecting the longevity of your bike. Instead, shift down before coming to a stop as we recommended above, and shift up as you accelerate. For example, this should make it unnecessary to ever touch the gearshift when waiting at a traffic stop.
Many think that this advice only applies to traditional bicycles and not e-bikes, but this is false!
You should also always remember to periodically clean and oil the chain of your e-bike to keep gear changes coming smoothly and reliably.
Other Ways to Maximize the Battery Life of Your E-Bike
Besides proper use of gears, there are a lot of other things you can do in order to improve performance and conserve energy at the same time riding your e-bike!
- Adhere to proper battery charging etiquette: don’t overcharge (unplug when at 100%), use only the official charger belonging to your e-bike battery, and store your bike in a cool place to get the most out of each charge
- It is a myth that discharging your battery completely helps prolong its life! In fact, the opposite is true – aim for periodic partial recharges
- Avoid starting and stopping very often – go for routes that offer a lot of constant-speed cruising with little acceleration or braking
- Make sure your tire pressure is in order, as flat tires can make you waste energy very easily
About the author:
Trevor Fenner is the founder of Electric Bike Paradise, the #1 online retailer of electric bikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards, mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs, and electric golf caddies. Trevor has been selling bicycles, electric bikes, and electric scooters online since 2010 and eventually established Electric Bike Paradise in late 2013 when he happened to meet a car enthusiast that introduced him to electric bikes. Trevor spent time searching for electric bikes online but couldn’t find a website that offered a wide selection of electric bikes, scooters, and informational articles. That is why he decided to start a website where everyone can shop conveniently, browse buying guides, and read educational posts. The website is called Electric Bike Paradise.