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How Many SPEEDS Do You Need on an E-BIKE | Electric Bike Questions

Hey, guys. Dustin here, CEO of Sixthreezero Bicycle Company, and today I'm going to answer the question, how many speeds do you need on your electric bike?

Stick around.

All right. So today we're going to answer the question, how many speeds do I need on my electric bike?

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All right. So electric bikes becoming very popular. There are different kinds, different speeds. So let's talk about how many speeds do I need on my electric bike.

Now, I've got a couple of models here. All three of these bikes actually have seven speeds.

Now, the one thing I want to clarify before we jump in is when I talk about speeds, I'm talking about the speeds of the actual bike itself. The speeds have nothing to do with the motor. So there's no shifting of speeds in the motor.

Now, there are different pedal-assist levels and different assistance levels that the motor can give you while pedaling, but there's no speed like a car or a motorcycle, or like on your bicycle derailleur.

So the actual speeds we're talking about are on the derailleur of the actual bicycle. So if you're using the pedal-assist and you're shifting your bike, you could go into seventh gear and the motor is still going, things like that.

So again, this is for how many speeds on the actual bicycle portion.

Now, this is a very tricky question to answer because the how many speeds you need is really up to you and how you're going to use your electric bike, where you're going to ride it. Are you concerned about maintenance? Are you going to be riding up tons of hills?

I'll try to broadly cover some different scenarios, and what I think my best suggestion is for speeds in those certain situations.


But there are a lot of elements to consider like I said.

So let's go through all the things to consider when you're thinking about how many speeds you need on your electric bike.

Where are you going to ride your bike? How far are you going to ride your bike? Are there hills on your rides? How fast do you want to go? Are you looking for variance in the speeds? Are you wanting there to be an easier gear or a harder gear? And then I think I said, how fast do you want to go? And there's one that's slipping my mind right now, but it'll come back to me at some point that I'll bring up.

So let me give you some different scenarios. If you are somebody that wants an electric bike, and you're just going to be on flat ground, and you're going to rely a lot on the motor, you could maybe even get away with a single-speed electric bike.

Now, one thing I want to point out too, on a lot of electric bikes is there are different sized chain wheels.

So right here, you have your chain wheel. The larger that is in the front, the harder it's going to be for you to pedal. So I've seen some electric bikes that they have a very large chain wheel and only one speed.

What this means is the one gear that you have will be relatively difficult to pedal, but it's going to allow you to get higher speed as you're going because it'll be more difficult to get going, but once you get it going, you're turning a bigger wheel. The bike will go faster.

The downside of that is it's going to be harder to go up hills, and because you're going to have only one gear and a large chain wheel, it'd be very hard to go uphill.

So my recommendation is to stay away from a one-speed electric bike. It's not going to give you a lot of variance in terms of where you pedal, and how you pedal.

In addition to that... Ah, I remember now.

Another thing you want to consider is if you're going to be riding your electric bike a lot without the electricity. That is a very important one. If you plan to use your electric bike without the motor turned on, you're going to want to have more speeds that are capable of doing more so you can use it more as a regular bike.

If you're going to use it mostly as an electric bike, you could probably opt for less speeds.

So, as an example, if you do opt for a single-speed bike, I would suggest that you're not really going to pedal it as a normal bike very often, and you're probably not doing a lot of hills, and you may even rely on the throttle quite a bit.

So, not all electric bikes have this feature. All of Sixthreezero's do.

You can ride the bike in three different ways.

One is a standard bike with no electrical assistance. Two is that the electrical assistance is just helping you when you pedal. And usually, there are five levels of assistance. One, two, three, four, five, and you can gauge how much assistance the motor will help you when you pedal.

The third level is full throttle. Not all e-bikes have a full throttle. The Sixthreezeros do. It's a thumb throttle here. You push it down and the bike will go with no pedaling.

So a single speed will be a great option if you're going to rely on the throttle quite a bit or you're on flat ground, and you don't think you need a lot of speed variance, you're not going to tackle a ton of hills.

Now, there are three-speed options and seven-speed options. If you are going to do very minimal hills, short, medium-range rides, I would say, below 10 miles, the three-speed could be a good option for you.

The benefit of three speeds and the three-speed systems is that they're very simple and they're integrated.

But now that I think about that, and I look at the hub, I don't even think a three-speed option would actually be possible. I've never seen it, but three-speed internal gears is an option on a regular bike. So it's possible that it does exist there out in the electric bike world.

If you've seen it, comment below. If you haven't, don't.

So next level up, which is what we use, is seven speeds and I see this on a lot of electric bikes out there as well.

Now, the difference I said, is the chain wheels on the front can vary depending on how large it is. You can still have the seven speeds, but the larger the chainring, the harder it's going to be to pedal in those gears versus one with a smaller chainring in the front.

When you get to the seventh gear with a larger chainring, it's going to be very hard to pedal, but you'll be able to hit higher top speeds as you start to get the bike moving a little bit more.

So we at Sixthreezero believe in seven speeds on e-bikes for a couple of reasons.

One, it gives you good gear variance to tackle hills. So even when you're riding up very steep hills on an electric bike, if you're doing pedal assistance, it's still beneficial to be able to have that first gear where it's pretty easy to pedal to get you up the hill.

And then you can also choose. If the hill's too easy, go into second gear. Getting easier, go into third gear. So it gives you the range to find that sweet spot for you but also matches your pedal cadence with the motor output so you can find a good rhythm.

In addition to that, for riding this like a normal bike, the seven speeds will give you ample range. You can go 10, 15, or 20 miles riding this like a standard bike. If you have that seventh gear, it's going to allow you to pedal faster, to go faster so you can go places quicker.

If you only had three gears, you're going to be limited to those three gears. Your bike's not going to be able to go as fast as if you had seven speeds.

The other benefit to the seven-speed versus a 21-speed is you only have these sprockets in the rear. If you were to have a 21 speed, you'd have to have potentially three chainrings in the front. So now you've got the chain moving in the front and in the rear to get to the gears above seven, basically. Seven through 14, you'd have to shift the front chain wheel and then 14 through 21, you'd have to shift again.

So adds a little more complexity to the bike. Not a big deal for 21 speeds. 21 speeds are everywhere with bikes.

For e-bikes, I don't necessarily think it's essential for standard pavement riding e-bikes around town, more lifestyle E-bikes.

Now, if you're doing mountain biking, uphill mountain e-biking, that's a whole different animal, and this is probably not the video for you if that's the type of e-bike you're looking for. But in that case, I would say you're going to want a 21-speed or some level of gears beyond seven speeds.

So I'm talking about seven-speed for general use cases around town, pavement, commuting e-bikes, seven speeds seem to be a good fit.

Now, in addition to that at the seven speeds are good because when you put it in pedal-assist mode, if you don't have a high enough gear, you're actually going to out pedal the motor assistance. Meaning you're going to be pedaling too fast, and the motor is going to be moving faster than your feet are even moving. So you're not really generating the kind of power to even assist the motor. So if you can get into that seventh gear and you start going full bore, you're going to be able to match the output of the motor with your pedal cadence, to be able to hit the top speed that the motor can output. And that's when you can really hit those speeds of up to 28 miles an hour like our 500-watt e-bikes can get you to.

Lastly, with the seven speeds, it just gives you that range. So as you're riding your legs get tired, you can back off a little bit, or you can use more pedal assist, but if you're riding it as a regular bike, shift down to third or fourth, and make it a little easier to pedal. Want to get going faster, shift into seventh, make it harder, turn the motor off, use the throttle, use the pedal-assist. The seven speeds is just a good number to give you that amount of flexibility.

Now, if you really want to commute, you really are looking to hit top speeds. Then I would look at a 21 speed for flat ground. If you feel like you want to push that pedal assistance to the highest possible output, definitely you want a 21-speed. You can go as fast as possible, and get into the highest gear, 21. It's going to be harder to pedal, but you can really crank once you get it up there.

So just know it might be a little bit more expensive than a seven-speed. There might be a little more tuning down the road. That's required in the 21 speed, but it does have its benefits depending on the riding that you're going to do.

So I think that sums it up in general. And just a comment, lastly. There could be other combinations of gears out there. There could be 14 speeds. I believe I've seen nine speeds. I'm not really speaking to those. I'm grouping everything really into one, let's say seven to 10. And then I said 21 speeds. There's also going to be like I said, 18 speeds, 23 speeds.

But the number one thing for you to think about is how are you going to use your electric bike? Are you going to use the throttle? Are you going to use the pedal assist? And then depending on those factors, that is how you would determine your gears.

More hills, you at least want seven speeds. Everything moderate. So moderate hills, seven speeds. Tons of hills, 21 speed.

Moderate speed, seven-speed. High speed, 21 speed. Flat ground, low speed, one speed.

So, I hope that helps. I hope that'll help you choose an electric bike and the correct speeds for you.

If you have any questions at all, or if you have any thoughts on this topic, please comment below. We'd love to hear it. Or reach out to us, at or call us at (310) 982-2877.

And don't forget, go to our website and use our proprietary body fit tool. It's going to ask you a few questions about your body and your life, and it will fit you to the perfect electric bike, including the speeds.

And we have a 30-day test ride on your e-bike policy. If you don't love your bike within 30 days, send it back. No questions asked. No money out of your pocket.

Also, we have a huge community of riders at Sixthreezero in our Sixthreezero Facebook Pedalers group. You can just search for Sixthreezero Pedalers.

Or our app, the Sixthreezero app, you can download in the iOS or Android store.

You can talk to anyone in our community, post a message, ask questions, ask them how many speeds they think are perfect on an electric bike, and they can be helpful because there's real riders out there riding real Sixthreezero electric bikes.

In addition, after you become an owner, it's a lot of fun to share your stories, talk to other riders, and compete in our app for the weekly leaderboard.

So I hope that helps. Thanks for sticking around. And don't forget, it's your journey, your experience. Enjoy the ride.


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