Bike Gears 101: How They Work and What They Do
If you have ever ridden a bike, you probably know that they have gears. They are typically mounted on the pedals and to the rear wheel and connected with a chain. Even fixed/single gear bikes have gearing, even if you can’t change it. However, despite the familiarity of bike gears, many people are still left wondering how they work and what they do.
The Basics of Bike Gears
When riding a bike with multiple gears, you likely can tell that lower gears make riding easier at low speeds or going up inclines but harder at high speeds because you have to pedal really fast. Unsurprisingly, high gears are the inverse of this, they are better for high-speed riding.
Gears change the experience of riding by altering the ratio of rotations of your pedals to rotations of the wheels. Lower gears require you to turn the pedals more to make a full rotation of the rear wheel. This means that you are applying more force (torque) to the wheels but need to turn them more than you would at a higher gear to move the same distance.
Many vehicles use gears for similar reasons. Cars and trucks have transmissions that apply the same principle as bike gears. Some industrial machines also use gearboxes to change rotational speeds and torque.
How They Work
Multi-geared bikes typically have a device called a derailleur. This has multiple sprocket gears, a chain and a special mechanism that can move the chain between the gears. By moving the chain, you can change the gearing ratio. A typical derailleur also features a tensioner gear on an arm that keeps the chain taut, no matter what the current gear ratio may be.
Some bikes also have multiple gears at the pedals. This allows the bike to have a greater number of gear ratios without having as many gears on the rear wheel hub.
The gears can be controlled using a shifter on the handlebars. When the shifter is actuated, it pulls on a Bowden cable and activates the derailleur, moving the gear ratio up or down as needed.
Why You Want Them
You have probably figured out the core benefit of gear already: they let you alter the force and relative speed that the pedals apply to the wheels. When you have a lot of inertia to overcome, having low gearing means that you can apply a lot of torque and push the bike forward more easily. As you pick up speed, switching to higher gears means that you can pedal fewer times to achieve the same speed (thus increasingly your potentially maximum speed).
These are important on all types of bikes, including electric bikes. On an e-bike, the motor also uses the gears to affect the riding characteristics.
Get an Electric Bike With Best-in-Class Gears
With the right electric bike, you can explore all the benefits of gearing for yourself. E-Lux Electric Bikes makes top-quality e-bikes for commuting, cruising and just having fun. Our bikes use eight- or none-speed Shimano derailleurs to provide the best possible riding experience. Check out our catalog of bikes today then schedule a test ride to experience one first-hand.