Help choosing an ebike good for HILLS

kbagel

New Member
Hi, my husband and I want to purchase ebikes. Looking to ride on roads, bike paths, maybe a gravel or dirt road but definitely not "off-road" technical mountain biking, so looking more at cruising/tour type models. Definitely want fenders, and I'm more of an upright/relaxed rider, though a bit forward is okay...but not aggressively forward. We're frequent casual bikers, but not into racing or crazy distance, just want something that can help us explore beautiful areas with our legs and not a car. Class 1 or Class 3 pedal-assist, not interested in Class 2 throttle bikes.

Here's what has me stuck: we want to use the bikes at our home in Southern VT and the hills there can be quite long & steep...eg a 1 mile ride up @ 10% grade followed by another mile @ 6% to get to our house from the main road. I'm told that I need a mid-drive motor for most climbing efficiency. Lots of models fit that bill...but what else do I need to look for in a motor (& battery) that will get me up such hills but also be a comfortable ride on more rolling/calm terrain in between? Can anyone with experience recommend specific ebike models that you know can handle this? I've done a ton of research but unforch I'm actually making purchase from Illinois -- where it's too flat for a test ride to really give me a good sense of climbing performance -- and of course, given the pandemic, I'm not crazy about scheduling tons of test rides, would rather narrow down the list first.

Advice is greatly, greatly appreciated. Thank you!
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Hi, my husband and I want to purchase ebikes. Looking to ride on roads, bike paths, maybe a gravel or dirt road but definitely not "off-road" technical mountain biking, so looking more at cruising/tour type models. Definitely want fenders, and I'm more of an upright/relaxed rider, though a bit forward is okay...but not aggressively forward. We're frequent casual bikers, but not into racing or crazy distance, just want something that can help us explore beautiful areas with our legs and not a car. Class 1 or Class 3 pedal-assist, not interested in Class 2 throttle bikes.

Here's what has me stuck: we want to use the bikes at our home in Southern VT and the hills there can be quite long & steep...eg a 1 mile ride up @ 10% grade followed by another mile @ 6% to get to our house from the main road. I'm told that I need a mid-drive motor for most climbing efficiency. Lots of models fit that bill...but what else do I need to look for in a motor (& battery) that will get me up such hills but also be a comfortable ride on more rolling/calm terrain in between? Can anyone with experience recommend specific ebike models that you know can handle this? I've done a ton of research but unforch I'm actually making purchase from Illinois -- where it's too flat for a test ride to really give me a good sense of climbing performance -- and of course, given the pandemic, I'm not crazy about scheduling tons of test rides, would rather narrow down the list first.

Advice is greatly, greatly appreciated. Thank you!
I think you could do very well with bikes offered by the big three, Specialized, Trek and Giant. Trek also owns Electra bikes and they have some nice beach cruiser ebikes.

Vermont doesn't really recognize ebikes as legal bikes. Maybe you know the laws already. I'd hate to see you commit to bikes from Illinois before knowing the laws. Maybe it's a non issue where you ride. Good luck!


 
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kbagel

New Member
Thanks for the heads-up on VT trails, J.R.! Good to know and I will certainly double check the area we're looking to explore.

My concern with the general cruiser category is that I've been told unless I've a motor w/500 watts power, I'll have trouble getting up the kind of hills we'll see in VT (even on the roads)? But most of the models I look at have 250, maybe 350 watt motors listed and then they talk about "nominal" versus "peak" power and the importance of "torque" and I quickly get in over my head re: understanding what I really need.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the heads-up on VT trails, J.R.! Good to know and I will certainly double check the area we're looking to explore.

My concern with the general cruiser category is that I've been told unless I've a motor w/500 watts power, I'll have trouble getting up the kind of hills we'll see in VT (even on the roads)? But most of the models I look at have 250, maybe 350 watt motors listed and then they talk about "nominal" versus "peak" power and the importance of "torque" and I quickly get in over my head re: understanding what I really need.
The mid drives from the big 3 all have a peak power capable of riding your hills. I'm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mtns of PA and the mid drives handle the hills fine. Even a hub drive will handle the hills. I've ridden 18 to 22% grades on 350w drives with no problem. The hill I live on is like you describe, 2 mile hill culminating in 18% grade for the last 1/4 mile. A mid drive will be the most efficient with battery capacity.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
When people are spouting about watts and torque, they are usually talking about rear hub motors. As @J.R. said the major brands middrives are mostly 250 watt rated for legal reasons. But you really need to ride a couple on terrain like you want to ride to see what works for you, because there are major differences in hill climbing ability even with the same 250 watt rating ... higher peak power, different gearing, etc.
 

jkvt

Member
I have an NCM Moscow+, which is a 500w hub drive and it does well around here in the Burlington area but it does struggle up steeper hills. Nothing you cant peddle through with a lot of help from the motor, so I am happy with the bike. But... With the bigger hills out your way I'd definitely consider mid-drive if you are planning on spending a lot of time out of the valleys.
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
A good example of a comfortable, upright riding ebike, with plenty of zip up the hills would be a Specialized Como 4.0 or 5.0. Also, any ebike with the new Bosch Generation 4 motor would have plenty of power for the hills.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
The mid drives from the big 3 all have a peak power capable of riding your hills. I'm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mtns of PA and the mid drives handle the hills fine. Even a hub drive will handle the hills. I've ridden 18 to 22% grades on 350w drives with no problem. The hill I live on is like you describe, 2 mile hill culminating in 18% grade for the last 1/4 mile. A mid drive will be the most efficient with battery capacity.
Okay so which one of these is not in the Big 3 club?

Yamaha, Brose, Shimano, Bosch..
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
When people are spouting about watts and torque, they are usually talking about rear hub motors. As @J.R. said the major brands middrives are mostly 250 watt rated for legal reasons. But you really need to ride a couple on terrain like you want to ride to see what works for you, because there are major differences in hill climbing ability even with the same 250 watt rating ... higher peak power, different gearing, etc.
Not necessarily hub motors.

Bosch 250W mid drive for example, puts out well over 800W at peak.

It was tested by one of the biggest ebike tuners, Grin Technologies in Canada.

They have this testing equipment (similar to multimeter?) and Bosch 250W is actually 800+W at peak.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Hi, my husband and I want to purchase ebikes. Looking to ride on roads, bike paths, maybe a gravel or dirt road but definitely not "off-road" technical mountain biking, so looking more at cruising/tour type models. Definitely want fenders, and I'm more of an upright/relaxed rider, though a bit forward is okay...but not aggressively forward. We're frequent casual bikers, but not into racing or crazy distance, just want something that can help us explore beautiful areas with our legs and not a car. Class 1 or Class 3 pedal-assist, not interested in Class 2 throttle bikes.

Here's what has me stuck: we want to use the bikes at our home in Southern VT and the hills there can be quite long & steep...eg a 1 mile ride up @ 10% grade followed by another mile @ 6% to get to our house from the main road. I'm told that I need a mid-drive motor for most climbing efficiency. Lots of models fit that bill...but what else do I need to look for in a motor (& battery) that will get me up such hills but also be a comfortable ride on more rolling/calm terrain in between? Can anyone with experience recommend specific ebike models that you know can handle this? I've done a ton of research but unforch I'm actually making purchase from Illinois -- where it's too flat for a test ride to really give me a good sense of climbing performance -- and of course, given the pandemic, I'm not crazy about scheduling tons of test rides, would rather narrow down the list first.

Advice is greatly, greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Welcome to EBR. ;)

Based on your needs, I would recommend looking at bikes with mid-drive motors to take advantage of the gearing.
As an experienced cyclist, you will also appreciate the natural feel and balance of a mid-drive while riding.

All of the 4 major mid-drive motors will have plenty of torque to climb long, steep hills easily and efficiently.
Take a look at the EBR list of Best Bikes of 2020 and choose the eBike category that best suits your type of riding.


Best Electric Bikes of 2020
Looking for the best electric bikes of 2020? As of today, we have reviewed 1061 electric bicycles. EBR conducts the industry’s most complete and objective reviews.
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Table of Contents:

 
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RandallS

Well-Known Member
Of the big 3, Giant often offers the best bang for your buck. They use Yamaha motors which are often touted as being some of the more reliable in the industry. Also, they have a women's line called Liv, which has slightly different geometry which is targeted for women.
What's somewhat infuriating is that they are extremely inconsistent in which bikes they offer in each market.

For example, the 2020 Explore line, in the US, is poorly spec'ed out compared to Canada or UK. Rumours are indicating a 2021 with the PRO motor, fenders, lights etc...which sounds like what you are interested in. I have the PRO motor in my Hardtail mountain bike and climbing is no problem. I live in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. I probably would have bought an Explore E+2 if I'd been able to find one, but am extremely happy with my Giant Fathom E+ Pro.

I love the Specialized Vado and Como as well, but am rather ambivalent towards Trek for some reason and I really don't know why.

Find a couple of LBSs that you like and get them competing for your purchase. There seem to be some new bikes trickling into the market so hopefully so good options will present themselves to you. If Giant releases an Explore Pro into your market, I'd highly recommend looking at it.

Final note, when buying "his and hers", try to get bikes that allow you to share batteries. It opens up all kinds of options, especially if one of you is a stronger rider than the other.

Good luck
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Lots of choices available but what dealers are near you that you know and trust? My main reasons for picking my Trek Allant+7 were my belief in Trek (and their progression as an ebike company), a great test ride and having a local dealer I trust. Its been a fantastic ebike overall but especially for pulling up hills with its Gen 4 Bosch CX motor. Just bought the Lowstep version for my wife.
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Good luck with your decision!
 

rdowns

Well-Known Member
I ride the Trek Allant+ 7s and I live in a very hilly area and it climbs them all. don't misunderstand me, i have to pedal and sometimes i pedal hard but the bike makes it possible for me to climb some long and steep hills. I also test rode a Specialized Vado 4.0 and it had no problem climbing anything either. Both bikes are highly regarded, if you can ride them both. Fit is important. You will most likely ride more if the bike fits you well.
 

Art Deco

Well-Known Member
You sound like you are ready to test ride a few bikes. If so most Trek dealers offer rentals of both middrive and rear hub through Electra, also owned by Trek, I ride the entry level Specialized and would go up to a 4 or 5 series Como or Vado in your case.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Lots of choices available but what dealers are near you that you know and trust? My main reasons for picking my Trek Allant+7 were my belief in Trek (and their progression as an ebike company), a great test ride and having a local dealer I trust. Its been a fantastic ebike overall but especially for pulling up hills with its Gen 4 Bosch CX motor. Just bought the Lowstep version for my wife. View attachment 65998View attachment 65997View attachment 65996Good luck with your decision!
sorry I know it's a little off topic but why would you put your bar ends like that?
I'm actually curious..
 

kbagel

New Member
Just checking in after some time away from the internet...wow, what a helpful community, thank you to everyone who has offered advice and shared your experience! Though it's clear that those recommending test rides for hill climbing have never lived in Chicago...no hills to be found!

Fortunately headed to VT now for the month so will find an LBS and report back!
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
sorry I know it's a little off topic but why would you put your bar ends like that?
I'm actually curious..
They give me a more upright position and I use them about one third of the time or more. I’ve got a wonky back and changing position helps that. I even have one hand up (left) and one hand down at time so I can use the rear brake. I’ve had bar ends on my last two bikes and LBS gives me crap about them every time I see him. It’s weird but its an option that works well for me.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
They give me a more upright position and I use them about one third of the time or more. I’ve got a wonky back and changing position helps that. I even have one hand up (left) and one hand down at time so I can use the rear brake. I’ve had bar ends on my last two bikes and LBS gives me crap about them every time I see him. It’s weird but its an option that works well for me.
ohh okay! I thought bar ends are for hill clumbing so I was just curious why it was set up like that