20 MPH vs. 28 MPH Ebikes

mh12345

New Member
Greetings! I'm new to the forums and to the world of ebikes. I'm busily researching which bike to buy and I have a basic question. 28 MPH ebikes are technically illegal in NY State, which is where I live. I've been following other threads here that discuss how much of an issue/risk that is or isn't, so that question lurks in the background, but it's not my key concern. My basic question is this: Is the tradeoff between 20 MPH and 28 MPH bikes just speed, or is it also power/hill climbing capability? I don't have a compelling need to ride at upwards of 28 MPH...when I ride a standard pedal bike at around 20 MPH, that feels to me like a fast, satisfying speed that allows me to feel like I'm still in control. And I'm not buying the ebike for commuting purposes or to replace a car, just for around town riding and possibly longer tours. But hill climbing capability is absolutely key for me...I live at the top of a fairly long and steep hill (significant downhill of close to a mile in both directions), such that I really don't ride my pedal bike from my house (i.e., currently need to put the bike on my car rack and drive to flatter terrain). All of the surrounding areas here are very hilly, so truly enjoying riding around the region will require really good hill-climbing power. I'm interested in members' views on this. I should add I have a fairly healthy budget (would spend around $4K) and I've been looking at Trek and Specialized ebikes, but would welcome other suggestions.
 

Gordon71

Active Member
I doubt hill climbing ability has much to with upper speed limit. Personally 20 MPH is plenty fast enough and I rarely ever hit or attempt to hit that mark unless I'm going down hill. I know 20MPH is the posted top speed on my local bike trails.
 

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
In the Bosch world, at least, I know their Performance Speed motor is the fast one, but the best climber has always been the highly regarded CX motor. I believe it’s tuned specifically for climbing torque.

I was down your way a couple of days ago on the Harlem Valley trail from Wassaic to Millerton and back. Hadn’t ridden it in a long time! Now I see there’s another section finished up around Hillsdale, so I guess I have to go do that one as well next time.

You do have a decent amount of hills around there, though, rail trails aside! You want to make sure you’ve got a good range of sprockets on that thing, I’d say a minimum of a 42 on the rear, and plenty of e mountain bikes now go bigger than that. I have a 42 crank on the front and an 11-42 on the rear and it climbs very well. Used to have a 48 crank, downsized it for some more grunt going up, still can go plenty fast across the flats. 20 is generally good enough for my riding.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Seems like a lot of people get hung up on how fast a bike will go going into them. I believe, in the end, after the novelty of that speed wears off and you get used to riding the bike, speeds over maybe 15mph or so don't get used much. Exception being, guys using their bikes to commute long distances. If you're riding that same 10-15 miles or more every day, that ride is going to get boring quickly, and it's very likely you're going to want to get that ride in back of you as quickly as possible. THOSE people want and use speed. The more the merrier.

The rest of us really don't care that much.

As far as hill climbing power, I think in most cases you're going to see little difference in a bike limited to 20mph vs. one set for 28. I think many times the drive trains are very similar, with the only difference being an electronic restriction placed on the 20mph bike.

Hill climbing is about motor wattage and gear ratios. Bigger gear driven hubs (750+ watts) can do well in the hills, but a mid drive with that same motor will always have the advantage.
 

Coolbob

Member
I have a Momentum Transend E+ that is class 3 (28mph) and I really like being able to move with traffic and be less of an obstruction to traffic. My wife is looking into getting an Ebike and we have narrowed the search down to either another Transend E+ with a step-trough frame or a Momentum Vida E+ which is a class 1 (20mph). Looking at the spec sheets, both bikes are equipped with the same components and same Yamaha based Giant Sync Drive motors, but the Vida uses a 38-tooth chainring whereas the Transend uses a 42-tooth chainring. So it would appear that the Vida may have the upper hand in his climbing even though the motors are identical.
 

mh12345

New Member
In the Bosch world, at least, I know their Performance Speed motor is the fast one, but the best climber has always been the highly regarded CX motor. I believe it’s tuned specifically for climbing torque.

I was down your way a couple of days ago on the Harlem Valley trail from Wassaic to Millerton and back. Hadn’t ridden it in a long time! Now I see there’s another section finished up around Hillsdale, so I guess I have to go do that one as well next time.

You do have a decent amount of hills around there, though, rail trails aside! You want to make sure you’ve got a good range of sprockets on that thing, I’d say a minimum of a 42 on the rear, and plenty of e mountain bikes now go bigger than that. I have a 42 crank on the front and an 11-42 on the rear and it climbs very well. Used to have a 48 crank, downsized it for some more grunt going up, still can go plenty fast across the flats. 20 is generally good enough for my riding.
Thanks. The HVRT is great. By this fall, the Millerton to Under Mountain Road section is supposed to open, making for a continuous ride from Wassaic to Copake. And they are planning a bridge across Rte 22 for next year to link up to a small section now open in Hillsdale -- when complete, the ride will be from Wassaic into the village center of Hillsdale. I love riding the HVRT on my analog bike. The ebike would be for road use.
 

BarryS

Active Member
Greetings! I'm new to the forums and to the world of ebikes. I'm busily researching which bike to buy and I have a basic question. 28 MPH ebikes are technically illegal in NY State, which is where I live. I've been following other threads here that discuss how much of an issue/risk that is or isn't, so that question lurks in the background, but it's not my key concern. My basic question is this: Is the tradeoff between 20 MPH and 28 MPH bikes just speed, or is it also power/hill climbing capability? I don't have a compelling need to ride at upwards of 28 MPH...when I ride a standard pedal bike at around 20 MPH, that feels to me like a fast, satisfying speed that allows me to feel like I'm still in control. And I'm not buying the ebike for commuting purposes or to replace a car, just for around town riding and possibly longer tours. But hill climbing capability is absolutely key for me...I live at the top of a fairly long and steep hill (significant downhill of close to a mile in both directions), such that I really don't ride my pedal bike from my house (i.e., currently need to put the bike on my car rack and drive to flatter terrain). All of the surrounding areas here are very hilly, so truly enjoying riding around the region will require really good hill-climbing power. I'm interested in members' views on this. I should add I have a fairly healthy budget (would spend around $4K) and I've been looking at Trek and Specialized ebikes, but would welcome other suggestions.
 

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
I do enjoy jumping off on some of those side roads that go up the hills along the Ct border. Also going by road from Millerton to Sharon and then over to Amenia and back up the trail. Nice little slope going up into Sharon, as I recall... it’s been awhile, haven’t had the ebike over there yet.

When they have it all linked up it will be a really nice trip. Too bad they can’t run it up along that ridge through Boston Corner.
 

Chancelucky2

Active Member
Class 3 bikes don't necessarily have more torque, but with rolling hills especially, they have a significant advantage. One hill climbing technique is to hit the hill going as fast as you can, maintaining the relatively high cadence while you downshift as you climb the hill. A bike motor that cuts out at 20 mph leaves you downshifting much earlier on the hill and makes it harder to sustain your cadence. If you're going 28 instead of 20 before the hill slows you down, it helps.
 
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Mulezen

Well-Known Member
I moved to a Class 3 not so much for 28mph as to remove the 19mph wall I got with my class one Trek. My Allant lets me cruise at 22-24 on flats. I doubt there is much enforcement in NY state though Saratoga can speak to that
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
Greetings! I'm new to the forums and to the world of ebikes. I'm busily researching which bike to buy and I have a basic question. 28 MPH ebikes are technically illegal in NY State, which is where I live. I've been following other threads here that discuss how much of an issue/risk that is or isn't, so that question lurks in the background, but it's not my key concern. My basic question is this: Is the tradeoff between 20 MPH and 28 MPH bikes just speed, or is it also power/hill climbing capability? I don't have a compelling need to ride at upwards of 28 MPH...when I ride a standard pedal bike at around 20 MPH, that feels to me like a fast, satisfying speed that allows me to feel like I'm still in control. And I'm not buying the ebike for commuting purposes or to replace a car, just for around town riding and possibly longer tours. But hill climbing capability is absolutely key for me...I live at the top of a fairly long and steep hill (significant downhill of close to a mile in both directions), such that I really don't ride my pedal bike from my house (i.e., currently need to put the bike on my car rack and drive to flatter terrain). All of the surrounding areas here are very hilly, so truly enjoying riding around the region will require really good hill-climbing power. I'm interested in members' views on this. I should add I have a fairly healthy budget (would spend around $4K) and I've been looking at Trek and Specialized ebikes, but would welcome other suggestions.
Looking at Bosch ,if you get the CX motor it will climb anything you have the courage to attempt. If in future you decide you need more speed there are ways to achieve this with a de-limiter. I would think that that more important question is " Will I tire of riding on streets and want to explore trails ?" If the answer is maybe yes then the next question is" Will this bike be capable of doing that safely? " You can ride a trail bike on the street but it is not fun to ride a road bike on the trails for very long. You can add a second battery or speed up the motor but you cannot change the geometry of the bike itself and what it was designed for. Here is a bike that can do a bit of everything with a large battery. https://propelbikes.com/product/moustache-samedi-27-xroad-7/
 
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steve mercier

Well-Known Member
Class 3 bikes don't necessarily have more torque, but with rolling hills especially, they have a significant advantage. One hill climbing technique is to hit the hill going as fast as you can, maintaining the relatively high cadence while you downshift as you climb the hill. A bike motor that cuts out at 20 mph leaves you downshifting much earlier on the hill and makes it harder to sustain your cadence. If you're going 28 instead of 20 before the hill slows you down, it helps.
That only works on very small hills (-:
 

Chancelucky2

Active Member
I find that it helps with all hills, but it's best for rolling hills. With a bigger hill, there's obviously a point where the momentum isn't helping you, but with Class 3 it comes significantly later.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
"Hill" is a pretty relative/subjective term.

When I think "hill" (and maybe Steve's the same way) it's going to be relative to the area I ride in, where climbing a "hill" may be a several hundred yard run. The 8mph momentum advantage over the same bike doing 20, is going to be GONE in a hundred feet....

Better than nothing, granted. -Al
 

Chancelucky2

Active Member
I do find that climbing is as much mental as it is physical, so there's' that. I also live in an area where the nearby rides are more or less rolling hills and not steep mountain trails.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Greetings! I'm new to the forums and to the world of ebikes. I'm busily researching which bike to buy and I have a basic question. 28 MPH ebikes are technically illegal in NY State, which is where I live. I've been following other threads here that discuss how much of an issue/risk that is or isn't, so that question lurks in the background, but it's not my key concern. My basic question is this: Is the tradeoff between 20 MPH and 28 MPH bikes just speed, or is it also power/hill climbing capability? I don't have a compelling need to ride at upwards of 28 MPH...when I ride a standard pedal bike at around 20 MPH, that feels to me like a fast, satisfying speed that allows me to feel like I'm still in control. And I'm not buying the ebike for commuting purposes or to replace a car, just for around town riding and possibly longer tours. But hill climbing capability is absolutely key for me...I live at the top of a fairly long and steep hill (significant downhill of close to a mile in both directions), such that I really don't ride my pedal bike from my house (i.e., currently need to put the bike on my car rack and drive to flatter terrain). All of the surrounding areas here are very hilly, so truly enjoying riding around the region will require really good hill-climbing power. I'm interested in members' views on this. I should add I have a fairly healthy budget (would spend around $4K) and I've been looking at Trek and Specialized ebikes, but would welcome other suggestions.

Welcome to EBR!

A night a day difference between 20 and 28 mph for experienced cyclists who have been riding at 20+ mph cadence for years.

It's like hitting a wall at 20 mph if your pedal cadence supports higher speeds and you want smooth power delivery up to 28 mph.

BTW, A lot of folks on EBR have de-restricted the speed limiters on their bikes with a variety of aftermarket tuning devices... YMMV. 😉

 

mh12345

New Member
Thanks for all of the great input. We have a winner...I picked up my new Specialized Turbo Vado 5.0 last weekend. I also test-rode the Trek Allant+ 7 and the Turbo Vado SL. Also rode an iGo bike for comparison, but it was never really in the running for me. Both Specialized bikes advertise more torque than Trek (90 nm vs. 75 nm). I was tempted by the lighter weight Vado SL, but ultimately went with the most powerful of the lot in the Vado 5.0. In the end, that meant going with a 28 MPH bike over a 20 MPH one. Both dealers I spoke to really downplayed the fact that 28 MPH bikes are not technically legal in NY (I know...self-interest, but they were convincing), and, in retrospect, it's hard to imagine there would ever be an issue with this. Anyway, my first impression of the Vado is -- amazing. Eats up hills, makes biking from my house on the side of a mountain easy and exciting (and still leaves a bit of a workout getting home, even in turbo mode). What really strikes me is how much more terrain around here is accessible to me now, and how a 2 hour bike ride can easily cover 25-30 miles because of the ability (just in eco mode most of the time) to keep your average speed up over the whole course. This was truly my goal -- to use my bike to see more of this beautiful area, so mission accomplished on that score. Now I just need to plan routes that minimize time spent on the 2 major 55 MPH roads that crisscross near here, but that's a fun exercise.
 

mh12345

New Member
Congratulations! Welcome to the Specialized Vado/Como User Club!


Not sure if there is a misunderstanding but while the 5.0 indeed offers 90 Nm @ 520 W peak power, the SL sports neither that torque nor power.
Thanks. I may have been working with wrong number on the torque for the SL. Which explains the difference in performance. All the more reason I'm happy I chose the Vado 5.0.