The Difference Between Geared Hub Motors and Gearless

Posted on By Emu Bikes,

Here at Emu, all of our electric bikes come with Shimano Nexus 7 Gear Hubs. This means we only sell models with geared motors instead of gearless, or ‘direct drive’, motors.

There is sometimes confusion with customers when they hear the term ‘geared’. This doesn’t mean you will have to manually change gears up and down constantly while you’re out for a ride. Instead the bike uses the gears to self manage torque, helping you get up to speed from stationary positions and to help you uphill.


Geared e-bikes require a smaller motor in comparison to direct drive and this greatly reduces the weight of the bicycle. This is because gearless bikes have to rely on a big and heavy motor to drive the wheel directly, while geared versions only need small gear system on the wheel.

This makes them more favored by commuters as they are less cumbersome to get on trains and to store at home or in the workplace.

People new to e-bikes also prefer more lightweight models as they similar to the weight of regular bicycles and easier to handle.


Being lighter not only helps the handling but also improves the acceleration. This helps you pull away from a stationary position far more quickly and with less effort.

Going uphill is also easier due to geared bikes being able to produce more torque at lower speeds. This means you can let the power assist do some of the work an upward climb and you won’t need to pedal as much.


On average, geared bikes are capable of going further on a single charge. Direct drive motors are built for maintaining higher speeds, which isn’t always necessary for day to day use. Due to this, the motor sucks more power from the battery.

For more information on batteries, read our e-bike battery guide.

Pros and Cons of Geared e-Bikes

Overall, geared motors are preferred by commuters and daily users who want a lightweight electric bike with a good range. While gearless motors are preferred by users looking for speed.


  • Lighter
  • Better acceleration
  • Better at tackling hills
  • Improved range on a single battery charge
  • Durable


  • Harder to maintain top speeds
  • Produces a quite humming noise

Shimano Nexus 7 Gear Specs.

Speeds: 7

Gear Ratio Difference: 244%

Gear Ratio 1: 0.632

Gear Ratio 2: 0.741

Gear Ratio 3: 0.843

Gear Ratio 4: 0.989

Gear Ratio 5: 1.145

Gear Ratio 6: 1.335

Gear Ratio 7: 1.545

Axle Length: 182 / 201 (mm)

Over Locknut: 130mm

Spoke Holes: 36, 32H

Spoke Size: #13, #14

Sprocket Options: 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23T

Chain Line: 16T: 45.3 , 18-23T: 40.3 /45.3

Cassette Joint: CJ-NX10 / CJ-NX40

Flange Distance: 54.6mm

Spoke Hole PCD: 87mm

Flange Diameter: 99.6mm

Flange Width: v 3.2mm

Sprocket Thickness: 2.3mm

Chain Size: 1/2"x1/8" or 1/2"x3/32"


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