Many electric bikes suffer from ghost pedaling, or sometimes called hamster wheeling, due to poor gear ratio. A bike’s gears is one area where many electric bike makers try to save money. It drives me nuts! Otherwise good bikes are sometimes ruined by the choice of the bike’s rear cassette or free wheel.
Top speed is limited by bad gear ratios, but more annoying to me is that they create an uncomfortable or dissatisfying pedaling experience. A poor gear ratio will make it impossible to maintain good cadence on an ebike. Cadence is the rate it which you turn the pedals.
In order to fix this problem, you need to know what type of gears your bike is using. Is it a freewheel or a cassette? This information should be online and listed in the bike’s specifications. If it isn’t, you can contact the company and ask. Alternatively, you can identify what type your bike is using yourself.
Many cheaper ebikes use freewheels because they are less expensive. Luckily, freewheels are fairly easy to swap out. Since I’m not a bike mechanic, I found a terrific how-to video from Park Tools to walk you through the process.
Sometimes, just changing the chain ring can greatly improve a bike’s gear ratio. Even a chain ring with just a couple more teeth can make a noticeable difference. A nice thing about ebikes is that they rarely have a front derailleur, so switching to a different size chain ring is a bit easier.
Depending upon what type of chain ring your bike uses, you might have to use a different method from the video above to remove it. Some may require that you remove the crank arm. You will need a special tool for this. Wiki How has a step-by-step article on how to do this.
Of course, you can look for a bike shop to make these changes for you. That’s what I would do.
Changing the gear ratio on your ebike can drastically improve its performance by allowing you to reach higher speeds, climb hills better, and just have a more satisfying pedaling experience. I wish all ebikes just came with a good gear ratio, but if you’re tired of being haunted by your bike’s freewheel or cassette, you can do something about it.
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