One of the great pleasures of e-biking is navigating hills. Although some e-bike conversion kits may struggle to assist bikes on hills, most pre-built e-bikes should not have any problem propelling bikers on inclines.
Testing the Capabilities of E-bikes in Hilly Terrain
To test your e-bike's capability of handling hills, we have designed a 6.7-mile trail in Rock Creek Park with inclines of up to 7.2%. The track follows asphalt roads, of which some are closed to motorized traffic. Rock Creek Park's route makes this "e-hill bike circuit" ideal for testing the capabilities of your e-bike.
Mid-Drive vs. Hub Motors: Which is Best for Hilly Terrain?
Mid-drive motors are better equipped for the mountains and steep slopes as they are more energy-efficient and utilize a biker's power input while pedaling.
Hub motors, those in the wheel of the e-bike, do not use gearing. They propel a bike directly and do not use the chain to drive the bike. They are heavier and less efficient. Nevertheless, an e-bike with a hub motor should be perfectly fine if you are not e-mountain biking Mount Everest.
Wattage and Torque of the Motor
The torque of the motor is a crucial factor for the e-bike's handling of hills. Torque is measured in Newton-meters (Nm) and indicates how fast you can accelerate.
The wattage of the motor determines the speed. A class 1 e-bike with a 250 w mid-drive motor with a maximum torque rating of 40 – 50 Nm is sufficient for most riders to enjoy “e-hill biking.”
As biking in hills consumes more battery power, the route is also an excellent opportunity to test the range of your e-bike. If you have a class 2 e-bike with a throttle, you will consume more power affecting the bike's range.
Factors Affecting E-bike Performance in Hills
Additional factors that affect your e-bike's capability in hills are the bike and biker's combined weight, the biker's power input while pedaling, whether the breaks are not fully disengaged (extra resistance), the quality of the surface of the path, quality of the derailleur, or electronic shifting hub (Rohloff for example), weather conditions, etc.
E-biking in the hills of Rock Creek Park indicates your e-bike's capabilities.
If you run out of juice in the hills of Rock Creek Park, relax and roll downhill to the parking lot with a greater understanding of the e-bike's capabilities and hopefully less e-bike range anxiety. Knowledge is power. E-biking in hills is fun and provides an excellent work-out if you want to.
Give it a try and enjoy the views over the Rock Creek Valley. Before you go, test your brakes. Going downhill without any stopping power is never much fun.
E-bike Lovers organizes E-mountain bike trips in the DMV- area
Check out our special e-mountain bike Meetup events for more details. Non-assisted mountain bikers are welcome.
How To Ebike. (2018). Best Electric Bike For Hills: Steep Means Nothing! - How To Ebike. [online] Available at: https://howtoebike.com/best-electric-bike-for-hills/ [Accessed 9 Mar. 2021].
Gregory discovered e-biking after 20 years of overseas work as project manager for the World Bank and USAID. He writes about e-mobility and e-biking in the DMV area, and loves the outdoors (white water kayaking, hiking and biking). He lives with his wife, Janet and Queenie the cat, in Washington DC. He recently e-biked 4,685+ miles across America and raised $180,000 for a charity.
Favorite e-bike: Riese & Muller Super Charger Class 3 touring e-bike.
Dr. Gregory F. Maassen
FOUNDER E-BIKE LOVERS