Clutch Mechanisms on Electric Bikes

Hi Richard here from eBike Sussex the electric bike specialists in Shoreham by Sea West Sussex! This short article will explain a little more about the Rear Derailleur Clutch Mechanisms fitted to our eMountain Bikes. Many of our Haibike Electric Bike models have this device fitted as standard.


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What is a derailleur clutch mechanism? This clever device is built into the rear gear changing arm called the derailleur. The idea is when you change gear the chain will either slacken or tighten and a derailleur takes up that slack to prevent locking of the gears or chain bunching. The clutch mechanism basically increases the tension of the derailleur to take the slack up quicker.

This is essential on our powerful eBikes because the chain can be thrown around the front chainring with over 300% force. This means the chain could bunch and damage the gearing system, or worse lock the wheel. The derailleur needs to take the slack up much quicker and this is possible with a clutch mechanism.

This tighter chain will reduce chain slap too, so you are less likely to get that terrible slap noise and damage to your chainstay on the bike frame. The gears will also feel more positive with the clutch on.

We see many eBikes purchased from elsewhere with customers riding around whilst their clutch mechanism is in the ‘off position’. THIS IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!

Usually the customer was not told at the hand over of the bike about the clutch mechanism and how to engage and disengage it. It is an essential tool in our eyes to keep you riding safely with a smoother gear change.

So why can you switch it off if its such an essential item on an off-road electric bike? The answer is simple, when you change a rear tyre/tube and have to remove the wheel, the derailleur and chain will be stiffer if the clutch is on, so the wheel would be harder to remove. By disengaging the clutch mechanism you can remove the wheel with ease. Please consult the instruction manual for your specific derailleur system before playing around with the clutch.

We can demonstrate the clutch mechanism engagement and disengagement for you in store. We can also upgrade your eBike to take a clutch mechanism rear derailleur in many cases. Please contact us for details.

Hope you enjoyed reading my article,


eBike Sussex

Electric Bike Specialists