Front Sprocket Upgrade Improves Folding E-Bike Performance [VIDEO]

There are certain folding e-bike questions that get quite repetitive on social media. The questions range from how much does a folding e-bike weigh to what are the best bike accessories. But if you have ridden an electric bike for any length of time you will want to know how to get rid of the hamster wheel effect.

What is the “hamster wheel effect” on a folding e-bike? This is where a rider is outpedaling (pedaling like crazy) the capabilities of the e-bike gears while trying to increase the overall speed beyond the e-bike’s motor.

The initial thought is to replace the rear cassette. A standard rear cassette on a typical electric bike is 14-28T and is usually replaced with an 11-34T rear cassette. Can this new gear ratio solve the “hamster wheel” pedaling issue? It can, but it’s a difficult upgrade since it requires rear wheel access which includes the hub motor.

So what is a better upgrade? We have found that upgrading the front sprocket provides an easier and better solution. Most folding e-bikes come with a 48T front sprocket (some are 52T so check first) so you have two choices: a 52T front sprocket upgrade or our recommendation which is going all the way up to a 56T front sprocket.

With most folding e-bikes you should have enough length in the chain to handle a front sprocket modification.

Our experience has been that moving up to a 56T front sprocket makes gears 1 thru 3 finally usable and 7th gear very challenging for those seeking more performance and speed.

How to Change a Front Sprocket

Upgrade your front sprocket with these simple steps. *Please note this does require a Park Tool CCP-22 Crank Puller (or CWP-7 Compact) for square taper cranks.

If you’re not into do-it-yourself upgrades any local bike mechanic would be more than capable.

To start, we highly recommend the use of the Original Handlebar Jack V2. We have used this tool numerous times and it does just as touts – which is it keeps your e-bike handlebar cockpit damage free when working on your e-bike.

Original Handlebar Jack in action!

Front Sprocket Replacement Steps:

  1. Turn the e-bike upside down and elevate the handlebars with Handlebar Jack
  2. Remove pedals
  3. Remove the bolt cap and center bolt (8mm Allen wrench)
  4. Use the crank puller to remove the original front sprocket and crank arm
  5. Remove the crank puller and then remove the other crank arm (same process)
  6. Put on the new crank arm
  7. Put the chain on the new front sprocket and crank arm (make certain it is opposite the other crank arm)
  8. Add Blue Loctite to the bolt threads
  9. Fully tighten crank arms
  10. Put caps back on to cover bolts

You can also watch the Sondors Crankset Replacement video below.