Electric Bike Drivetrains: Internal vs External Gears (Derailleur, Enviolo, Rohloff, etc)

Electric Bike Drivetrains: Internal vs External Gears (Derailleur, Enviolo, Rohloff, etc)

#electricbikedrivetrain #ebikegears #internallygearedhubs

As the electric bike industry is growing so are the options for drivetrains, in this video, I explain the difference between electric bike drivetrains. We discuss internal and external gears with a focus on the derailleur, Rohloff, and Enviolo hub.

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Musicbed ID: MB01GTNN2BFINP1

Traditional derailleur: 0:37
Internally geared hub: 2:00
14 Speed hub by Rohloff: 2:47
Enviolo continually variable transmission: 3:09
Variable transmission vs. derailleur: 4:20
Enviolo hub pro/con: 6:30
Maintenance cost: 7:36
Overall costs: 9:04
Shifting delay: 9:45
Shifting without/without moving:  11:04
Which system is best for you: 12:35

Readers Comments (50)

  1. It’s all about the Gates carbon belt drive for me…no noise..no maintenance and no mess….

  2. What the efficiency of the N380? Also what kind of mileage life can you expect?

  3. what electric bikes are currently available with the Enviolo hub

  4. There is also the pinion gearbox. It is an interesting option if you want a more powerfull rear hub motor and internal gears.
    The Bosch performance line speed is somewhat underpowered to maintain the highest speed with headwind or uphill.

  5. Is the Enviolo hub going to be ok on the hills?

  6. Hi I have a kalkhoff Sahel 8speed internal hub failed 3000 miles, would not recommend kalkhoff very bad customer service.They are so big a company they don’t care about,after sales,just new, after that your on your own.Darby cycles own most bike manufacturers.

  7. Very well thought comparison!

  8. Greetings from Finland! I did buy yesterday Atala B-Tour ebike which have internal gears

  9. Just saying with my 80s non index top shifters I can shift top to bottom gear on a 5/6/7 speed instantly so long as teeth are profiled… And to to the middle quite easily, it’s just moving one at a time that’s difficult compared to modern shifters but for urban use not as important I find.

  10. Joe Gotillyoublow April 29, 2021 @ 12:29 am

    This covers the features and use but nobody talks about reliability and longevity. Ebikes get ridden more often and further so it would be good to know which systems are bullet proof over the long haul.

  11. Thanks for the video, very informative! Quick question regarding the N380 vs Rohloff: do you know what the final gear ratio on each of these are? Which one would have the higher theoretical top speed, given the same amount of pedalling?

  12. You have the most useful video I found on this topic (and other great videos). I tried a new R&M Enviolo 380 HS bike and I found the highest gear too low to get to top speed! According to the R&M website with Enviolo 380 as the highest gear (9.54m) vs Derailleur (8.36m) and Rohloff (9.3m). In your experience is this true? Or does the inefficiency make the Derailleur or Rohloff better. Thanks in advance.

  13. Liam & Antoinette Heenan-Roberts April 29, 2021 @ 12:30 am

    Thanks for the video. Does anyone know why the Rohloff IGH is not compatible with the Bosch/CIBO SmartphoneHub?

  14. Very helpful reviews, Chris, in both style and content. Much appreciated.
    My Questions:
    – with the 2021 GSD Cargo motor support topping out at 20mph is there much point in the top end extended gear range of the Rohloff vs Enviolo as those top gears only come into play at speeds that are + 20mph when the 85# bike + cargo etc would be hard work to pedal with no assist unless aided by gravity, is that so?
    – As an older person (64)planning on riding into old age my gut tells me the twist control of the Enviolo would be harder to manage? Impressions?
    And lastly: why no Cargo speed motors on the GSD? If not on them then what are they putting them on?

  15. In the seventies to change gear you hand to reach for the gear level which was mounted on the frame and feel for each gear. Thumb and trigger is a massive improvement Having a 400% range on the rear cogs is further better as you do away with the front 3 rings.

  16. internal gears and belt drive for me

  17. Very informative review. I recently was in the market for an eBike and wanted one with a belt drive and internal gears. However, the dealer advised me against that because of the difficulty of removing the wheel to repair punctures. I ended up with an excellent eBike with conventionally derailleur gears thereby saving myself a lot of money, around £1,500. However, was he right about the difficulty of removing rear wheels with hub gears?

  18. I’m looking at a Supercharger2 Vario HS.
    Can you reach 28 mph using the Enviolo system with that bike?

  19. Alexander Sutton April 29, 2021 @ 12:37 am

    Having owned several bikes over the years and as someone who uses their bike for touring, commuting and as a form of transport I honestly couldn’t go back to a derailer now I’ve got a Rohloff Speedhub and Gates Carbon Drive. I typically cover 5000 miles a year on a bike. Yes, it’s a touch heavier and is roughly 94% efficient compared to 98% for a derailer, but the lack of maintenance is a huge bonus. Plus it’s silent and the gear changes are always spot on, it never misses a gear or does anything unusual. I suspect that a Rohloff and Belt drive is actually more efficient than a chain and derailer in the real world once the chain and derailer pulleys becomes a little dirty or dry. I think for people who go mountain biking, commuting or leisure cycling should only consider internal gear hubs with a belt. The only people who should have a derailer are athletes who use their bikes for competition use where even slight weight and efficiency gains are important and could be the difference between winning and losing.

  20. E-bike goes with a carbon drive, internal gears and disc brakes. Everything else is a fail because you want as maintenance free as it gets. Also, continual variable gears are the future just need to have auto gear down when breaking. Meanwhile the Rohloff internal hub is very nice.

  21. Clear as mud.

  22. Bonjour, j’ai acquis un R&M avec Rohloff E14, cela fait la troisième fois que j’ai un problème de connexion électrique, plus important les uns que les autres, à continer, je pense que je vais passer à la commande par câbles. le système parait fragile pour un usage tout chemin.

  23. Great review. Thanks for making great video for us. I have seen a lot of videos about rohloff speedhub and nuvinci mechanical hub.
    But I cannot find a really great video for enviolo automatiq. Can you make a good video for enviolo automatiq?

  24. Thanks for this great video! Have you experienced any reliability issues with the Enviolo CVT? Is it a robust and durable system, or do you see a lot of warranty claims?

  25. My biggest problem is that I don’t weight the importance of the drivetrain decision high enough to find an ebike that I like that also has the drivetrain that I like.

    I want a folding ebike with an extremely low step through frame with a belt drive with internal gearing. That bike doesn’t exist yet as far as I know.

  26. What’s the cost of Enviolo cvt and to Roller hub

  27. Supeerr !!

  28. Thanks for the video! Wondering if you could use a Sturmey Archer kick back 2 speed hub with mid mount motor? Bafang bbshd is what i am buying. I like the idea of no cable

  29. A big one he doesn’t mention is Pinion, the German gearbox system with a wider more even range than Rohloff. Pinion / Gates is my current #1 fitness all purpose all weather choice with a Priority 600. In an ebike that forces a hub drive system with plenty of good options. The point about chains and derailleur maintenance and cost is well worth considering, especially with the big extra stress of an ebike. I’m on my third chain / cassette combo in 7,000 miles of ebike riding and I’m really getting tired of paying for them and dealing with the sloppiness when they get worn. More so after the Gates/Pinion experience. For Rohloff you’ll find it much easier to fit into any number of traditional and custom frames. Where I am, close to the old Paramount shop with Gunnar / Waterford you have any number of Rohloff choices. No Pinion as it requires a custom BB frame build.

  30. Hi. I have an Iron Horse Tango Tandem that I’d like an internal hub, so as to have a coaster brake. I’d like to have an mid-motor for it also. Is there a good pairing you could suggest? Thanks.

  31. Thanks. Good breakdown on the systems

  32. Just got a Cannonale Tesoro Manits very confused by the manual shifting, it is true that you should never shift when you are in assist mode and peddling?

  33. Chris, great video, great information. I very much appreciate your down-to-earth, relaxed, informative style. Have you had an opportunity yet or do you have plans to evaluate the Kindernay hub on an e-bike with a Gates carbon drive?

  34. Anyone who ever owned a e-bike with center motor, should realize that a belt drive is superiour to chain in most regards. If you drive it in any amount of milage, know how many chains and sprockets you go trough. Rohloff gear is the best internal gear made….so far…only con, is the price. I sell ebikes.

  35. Do you think that I can fit a Rohloff / Nexus with belt in a bike that originally has traditional gear? Like the new Bianchi E-Omnia?

  36. Thanks for a very informative vlog.

  37. There is also the pinion gearbox. It is an interesting option if you want a more powerfull rear hub motor and internal gears.
    The Bosch performance line speed is somewhat underpowered to maintain the highest speed with headwind or uphill.

  38. On my old, non-electric bike i have a Fichtel & Sachs derailleur / internal hub combo with grip shift (I think an equivalent system is avaliable from SRAM). Always liked it.

  39. Thank you for the awesome, very informative video. Do u know if Rohloff is working on a internally geared hub combined with a rear hub motor? I am interested in a all wheel drive, dual battery, commuter bike to replace a car. I would like to get to commute speed of 50mph, in order to shorten my commute times, as the distances travel are quite far and I need the speed to keep up with ICE vehicle traffic.

  40. Have you ever used a shimano nexus 8 speed internal gear hub with a mid mounted motor? Do you think it will hold up well with the extra torque a electric motor can supply? Thanks

  41. Great vid and well done for doing this … lots of complicated choices very well explained – thank you.

  42. Aileen O'Rourke April 29, 2021 @ 12:58 am

    Hi Chris, this video is very helpful. I spoke to a cargo bike shop near me and they told me the cables with the Enviolo hub tend to freeze in the winter. What’s your experience with this, is there anything that can be done to prevent it?

  43. StuffOffYouStuff April 29, 2021 @ 1:05 am

    I gotta admit, I’ve never had a long period where my derailleurs shifting has been seamless, apart from when I first had it. I’ve spent ages trying to get it right, cleaned, re-cabled, tuned and I always end up being haunted by shifting niggles, I get by but I hate it. When i got on a Moustache in France last year i couldn’t beleive how smooth the shifting was. The Rohloff is too expensive for my budget. Heck, you can buy two decent road bikes for the price of one Rohloff hub!!! So the Enviolo is looking like the main contender atm when i do eventually plumb for it

  44. Ro Van Rooster April 29, 2021 @ 1:09 am

    Was hat er gesagt? Ich glaube, ich bin eingeschlafen nach ner Minute.

  45. I have Derailleur geared and internally geared bikes and do maintenance on both, but overall, I prefer Internally geared for all the reasons you mention. Additionally, Derailleur gear maintenance increases dramatically during winter months as they readily attract dirt, increasing chain and sprocket wear unless cleaned and lubricated after every ride. I also find gear changing operation is more susceptible to temperature changes, requiring fine tuning of cable tension between chilly days (1C – 3C) Vs warmer days (9C – 10C). I plan to buy an electrical bike, and I will go for internally geared hub with belt drive. The other advantage of this configuration is the front "chain" wheel and rear sprocket are always correctly aligned, further reducing wear. This is rarely the case with Derailleur gears due to the nature of how you select gears, and though the gear change mechanism is mechanically simple in operation, it is quite crude by today’s standards.

  46. Question, I am planning to buy a Supercharger 2 HS (45km/h version). Is it true that the Enviolo system generally blocks around 35-38km/h? Is it true that the only option is to go with derailleur or Rohlof to be able to reach the 45km/h? I do not have the budget for the Rohlof, really hesitating between the external & the enviolo… any advice? I do 100km per week in average. Many thx for your answer 🙂

  47. 12:28 why do you have a license plate on a bicycle?

  48. If you’re living in steep terrain, the Rohloff is a must.
    Don’t make the same mistake like me and destroy your expensive Bosch motor by the insufficient gears on a common drivetrain.
    Plus, no maintenance. How cool is that?

  49. I’m trying to decided between the Tern HSD S+ and the Riese & Muller Tinker HS. My main concern is that the Tern has the enviolo 380 sport hub and the Tinker has a derailleur. I live in Colorado and after reading reviews on the Tern, I’m concerned that the enviolo might struggle with the some of the hills (not off-roading, just commuting on paved roads). Can you give me any advice?

  50. With the Enviolo hub, you can shift under load when you have the motor turned off or in eco, but if you have the motor in turbo, you cannot shift under load and do need to stop pedaling for a hundred milliseconds or so, so that the motor can disengage before you can shift. Pretty easy and fun, but worth noting.

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