electric bike gears problems

How to Fix Electric Bike Gears That Won’t Shift

If you are facing issues with your electric bike gears, don’t worry. This guide will provide a comprehensive solution to fixing electric bike gears that won’t shift. You will learn how electric bike gears work, how to identify and fix the problem, and how to prevent future problems. Following this guide, you can restore your electric bike gears to optimal condition and enjoy a smooth and safe ride.


Understanding How Electric Bike Gears Work

Before you can fix your electric bike gears, you need to understand how they work. Electric bike gears have three main components: the shifter, the derailleur, and the cassette.



The shifter is the part you use to change gears on your electric bike. It is usually located on the handlebar and connected to the derailleur by a cable. The shifter has two levers: one for shifting up (increasing the gear ratio) and one for shifting down (decreasing the gear ratio).



The derailleur is the part that moves the chain from one gear to another on the cassette. It is attached to the rear wheel and controlled by the shifter. The derailleur has two springs: one for tensioning the chain and one for aligning the chain with the selected gear.



The cassette is the part that contains the gears or cogs on your electric bike. It is mounted on the rear wheel hub and consists of several gears of different sizes. The smaller gears provide higher speed and lower torque, while the larger gears provide lower speed and higher torque.

The combination of these three components allows you to change the gear ratio of your electric bike according to your needs. The gear ratio is the ratio between the number of teeth on the front chainring (the sprocket attached to the pedal) and the number of teeth on the rear cog (the gear selected on the cassette). A higher gear ratio means a higher speed and a lower torque, while a lower gear ratio means a lower speed and a higher torque.


Identifying the Problem

Now that you know how electric bike gears work, you need to identify the problem causing them to malfunction.


Possible causes for electric bike gears that won’t shift properly:

  • The derailleur is out of alignment or adjustment
  • The cable or housing is damaged or worn
  • The shifter is broken or faulty
  • The cassette or chain is worn or dirty

To identify the problem, you need to perform some troubleshooting steps. 


Tips for identifying gear problems

  • Check if the shifter works properly by shifting through all the gears while stationary. If you hear a clicking sound from the shifter but not from the derailleur or feel no resistance from the shifter lever, there may be a problem with the cable or housing.
  • Check if the cable or housing is damaged or worn by inspecting it for any signs of fraying, rusting, kinking, or bending. You must replace the cable or housing if you find any damage or wear.
  • Look at it from behind to check if the derailleur is aligned or adjusted correctly. The derailleur should parallel the cassette and align with each gear. If not, you must change it using the limit screws and barrel adjusters.
  • Check if the cassette or chain is worn or dirty by examining them for any signs of wear, such as missing teeth, bent teeth, or uneven spacing. You can also measure the chain wear using a chain checker tool or a ruler. If you find any wear or dirt, you need to clean or replace them.


Fixing the Gear Problem

Adjusting the derailleur 

The derailleur is the device that moves the chain from one gear to another. It needs to be aligned correctly with the gears. Otherwise, it may cause skipping, noise, or poor shifting. It would help if you used the cable adjusters on the shifter or the derailleur itself to adjust the derailleur. These are small knobs that you can turn to tighten or loosen the cable tension.


To check the alignment of the derailleur, shift to the lowest gear (the largest cog) and look at the position of the derailleur pulley. It should be directly below the cog, not too far to the left or right. If it is not aligned, turn the cable adjuster clockwise or counterclockwise until it is. Repeat this process for the highest gear (the smallest cog) and check that the derailleur pulley is also aligned with it. You should fine-tune the cable tension by shifting through all the gears and making minor adjustments until you get smooth and accurate shifting.


Replacing cables or housing 

The cables and housing are what connect the shifter to the derailleur. They can wear out over time or get damaged by dirt, water, or corrosion. This can affect the shifting performance and cause friction, drag, or sticking.

To replace the cables or housing, disconnect them from the shifter and the derailleur, and remove them from the frame. You can use a cable cutter or a sharp knife to cut off the old housing and a wire cutter to cut off the old cable. Then, you must measure and cut new housing and cable to fit your bike. You can use a file or a drill bit to smooth out the ends of the housing and a crimping tool or pliers to attach ferrules (metal caps) to them. You also need to attach an end cap (a metal tip) to one end of the cable. Then, you need to thread the cable through the housing and connect it to the shifter and the derailleur. You may need to adjust the cable tension using the above cable adjusters.


Fixing the shifter 

The shifter controls how much cable is pulled or released when you change gears. It can malfunction due to dirt, wear, or damage.

To fix the shifter, remove it from the handlebar and inspect it for any signs of damage or contamination. You can use a screwdriver or an Allen wrench to open up the shifter and clean it with a rag or a brush. You can also use a lubricant spray or grease to lubricate any moving parts inside. If there are any broken or worn parts, you may need to replace them with new ones or get a new shifter altogether.


Replacing worn gears or cogs 

The gears or cogs make up the cassette on your rear wheel. They can wear out over time due to friction, dirt, or corrosion. This can cause poor shifting, noise, or skipping.

To replace worn gears or cogs, remove them from your rear wheel using a chain whip and a cassette lockring tool. You can buy these special tools at a bike shop or online. You must also remove your bike’s rear wheel using a quick-release lever or a wrench. Then, you need to slide off the old cassette from your wheel hub and slide on a new one. Ensure you align it correctly with the splines on your hub and tighten it securely with your lockring tool.


Preventative Maintenance Tips

One of the best ways to avoid electric bike gears that won’t shift is to take good care of them. Regular maintenance and inspections can help you detect and fix any issues before they become serious problems. Here are some tips on how to maintain electric bike gears to prevent future malfunctions:

Clean and lubricate your chain and cassette regularly. 

Dirt and grime can build up on your chain and cassette, causing friction and wear. This can affect the smoothness and accuracy of your shifting. To clean your chain and cassette, use a degreaser and a brush to remove dirt. Then, apply a thin lubricant layer to your chain and wipe off any excess. You should do this every few weeks or after riding in wet or muddy conditions.


Adjust your derailleur alignment and cable tension periodically. 

Your derailleur is the mechanism that moves your chain across the cassette. It needs to be appropriately aligned with the cassette and have the right cable tension to shift smoothly and accurately. To check your derailleur alignment, look at it from behind your bike and ensure it is parallel to the cassette. To check your cable tension, shift to the smallest cog on the cassette and pull the cable gently. There should be a slight amount of slack in the cable, but not too much. If you need to adjust your derailleur alignment or cable tension, use the screws or barrel adjusters on the cable housing.


Replace your chain and cassette when they are worn out. 

Over time, your chain and cassette will wear out due to friction and use. This can cause your shifting to become noisy, sluggish, or inaccurate. Use a chain checker tool or measure 12 links with a ruler to check your chain wear. You need to replace your chain if the length is more than 12 1/8 inches. To check your cassette wear, look at the teeth of the cogs. You need to replace your cassette if they are hooked, pointed, or uneven. You should replace your chain and cassette every 1,000 to 3,000 miles depending on how often and hard you ride.


Take your electric bike to a professional mechanic regularly. 

Even if you follow the tips above, having your electric bike checked by a professional mechanic at least once a year is still a good idea. A mechanic can thoroughly inspect and adjust your electric bike gears and other components and fix any issues that you may have missed or are beyond your skills. A tune-up can also extend the lifespan and performance of your electric bike.


Following these preventative maintenance tips, you can keep your electric bike gears in good shape and avoid shifting problems. Remember that electric bike gears are complex and delicate parts that require proper care and attention. If you have any doubts or questions about maintaining electric bike gears, consult your owner’s manual or contact your electric bike dealer or manufacturer.


Final Thoughts on Electric Bike Gear Problems

Don’t let ebike gear problems slow you down. With the knowledge and skills gained from this comprehensive guide, you can troubleshoot and fix your electric bike gears and prevent future issues with regular maintenance. Take care of your e-bike gears and enjoy a smooth and safe ride every time.


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