The Accell Group – whose brands include Raleigh, Haibike, Koga and Lapierre, have launched a new e-bike motor that includes a 5-speed hub gear. The hub motor has been developed in conjunction with Sunrace - Sturmey Archer.
Hub gears are a popular choice for city e-bikes because the internal gears require less maintenance and it's easier to fit a chain guard because the chain doesn't shift position like it does with drailleur gears. However, to use a hub motor that meant until now putting the motor in the front wheel which can be a compromise, especially if you're using a suspension fork.
According to industry website bike.eu the new motor puts out 40Nm of torque and the gears give a range of 242%. The motor is designed for city use and as such the first bike to feature it is the Sparta R5e, a €1,999 step-through city bike that's available with battery options from 300Wh to 500Wh. The Sparta e-motion display unit looks like it'll display the gear information for you.
Combining gears and motor is something we'll definitely be seeing more of in the coming years, with the benefits of keeping everything contained and in one place reasonably obvious. We saw the Oeschler 3ve-matic at Eurobike; that was a 3-speed mid motor, and arguably combined mid motor/gearing systems make even more sense, keeping the weight central in the bike and allowing for easy wheel removal. Hopefully more manufacturers will be looking to move into this market.