Thanks for that Copyrider. I'd read with interest your San Francisco hills account & the SL, very very helpful. So that was in my head when I started riding. But it's one thing knowing the theory, another when I turn a corner and see the potholed wall ahead... I've now done a few more (hilly) rides and am getting the hang. I had to stop on one where I misjudged the steepness and length on a very twisty climb. But it's a road I've never ridden up (never dared attempt it) on my ordinary bike and tried it on a whim and ran out of gears, assist and breathing(!) so had to stop. But other then that one I've been able to get up the rest of the hills I attempt. And that is a real victory. Makes me feel lightheaded. As you say it's keeping a comfortable cadence. On the really steep parts where I'm already in granny gear and with only turbo left as an option I occasionally misjudge it and am totally out of breath by the top. But climbs I did on my first ride in turbo I now do on the middle setting, so with time, and increased aerobic fitness I should be able to judge assist and speed better & keep it comfortable.There's definitely a learning curve involved in climbing hills with these "properly assisted" bikes. Anyone who's ridden an unassisted bike will likely have the inclination to muscle over the hill by torque. Conversely, an ebike like a regular Vado (with gobs of assist) begs you to crank it to the highest mid-level gear you can muster and let the bike do most of the work.
The Vado SL is in-between. As you note, you still have to work on the steepest hills. But there's a bit more cycling technique involved in the SL. You'll get a feel for your climbing configuration in pretty short order, and be able to find your gear in advance of the hill and pedal more effectively. In (admittedly overly) simple terms, as I've stated before, cadence seems to be the dominant force in an SL's climbing performance, rather than torque.
So, resist the urge to push harder on the pedals and instead, gear to a comfortable setting where you can keep a steady, even cadence and keep your butt in the saddle. That will yield the most efficient assist response in climbing... at least that has been my finding in hilly San Francisco.
The bike still feels stiff and a bit clunky but I'm getting used to it and pushing it more. It's great. The one aspect I haven't got to try is straight, level road speed in turbo, because I haven't gone on any straight level roads yet. As there aren't any within my local 6 -8 mile loops! The only flat ground in my town is the cricket pitch which, I guess was bulldozed flat when built long ago! Next weekend I have time to do a longer spin and will hit the cycle trails beyond my local hills. One thought on that- I never considered speed when I got interested in e bikes. Mostly because of the hills. Even downhill you have to guard the brakes as they are so technical, narrow and blind, cars or worse, amazon delivery vans with the drivers on bare minimum wage and paid per delivery can suddenly appear on bends and the lanes are only car width, often with granite walls or sunken lanes and nowhere to escape. I didn't know about the 15mph limitations versus 28mph? in US until I saw the Court video of him trying out a yellow vado on a Specialised Demo day in California, and the speeds he was getting on the main roads. Wow. That looks a lot of fun. I'd never felt in my lifetime on ordinary bikes that I needed to go faster, or rather, needed an assist but that e bike speed looks interesting and it was a lightbulb moment as to why for commuting, powerful e bikes make a lot of sense.
It also shows that arguments about e bike or natural bike, or between which types of e bikes is just pointless. It's completely horses for courses, with terrain, age, fitness, weight and type of riding all factors. Ride what you like. Personally I'd now love to try the powerful Vado's or Treks or those cool looking Moustache bikes, but will also still ride on my steel framed Croix De Fer some days too. It's all fun.