If you live in an area that has a lot of hills and you are looking to get an electric bike then you probably will want to know whether or not electric bikes can climb hills.
So, can electric bikes climb hills? Yes, electric bikes can climb hills. Electric bikes can be pedaled just like an ordinary bike except they also have an electric motor that gives you assistance as you pedal. Due to the extra power assistance, you will often find that electric bikes can tackle steeper hills than regular bikes.
The steepness of the hill that your electric bike will be capable of climbing will depend on how much power there is in the battery and the motor and on how fit you are yourself. There are actually a number of things that you can do to increase the gradient of the hill that you can tackle and to make doing so less difficult.
How to Climb a Hill on an Electric Bike
Even though electric bikes work just like ordinary bikes except with the assistance of an electric motor there are a number of things that you will have to keep in mind to make hill climbing with an e-bike easier.
- Drains the battery
Something that is important to consider when hill climbing with an electric bike is that it will drain the battery much more quickly.
This means that the range that you will be able to get out of the battery will not be as good as the range claimed by the manufacturer.
So, if you want to be able to cycle a long distance where there are a lot of hills then you are going to have to take measures to maximize the life of your battery.
The easiest thing that you can do to drastically increase the range would be simply to carry a second battery in your bag so that you will be able to swap batteries when the one on the bike loses power.
You could also try getting a long-range battery which most manufacturers of electric bikes offer for an additional cost.
Other than increasing the amount of battery capacity available to you there are still some measures that you can take to increase the distance that you can travel. These include cycling with a lower level of power assistance, cycling at a lower speed, reducing the amount of weight that you are carrying, pumping the tires up fully, using thinner tires and limiting the use of the throttle if you have one.
- Lower weight
Something that will make a big difference in how hard or easy it is to climb the hill will be how much weight you are carrying.
The more weight you are carrying the harder it will be to make the bike move for you and your motor this will cause you to not be able to move as fast and will cause the battery to lose power more quickly.
You can lower the weight that you are carrying by removing any unnecessary luggage in your bag, removing any unnecessary attachments you have on the bike and by cleaning the bike itself since mud can add a lot of weight to a bike.
- Use thinner tires
The width of the tires will have a large effect on how much friction they are creating with the road and will impact how fast you can go.
By switching from wider tires, such as those on a mountain bike, to thinner tires like on a road bike you will be able to make the hill climb much easier.
- Pump the tires
Having tires that are not fully pumped will increase the amount of drag being created by the tires and will cause you to find it harder to cycle up the hill.
By pumping the tires up to the recommended pressure you will be able to make the hill climb much easier. You can usually find the recommended tire pressure on the sides of the tires.
Be aware, however, that having the tires fully pumped will reduce their drag but it will also cause them to become less grippy this means that if your cycling in the rain of off-road then you should be extra cautious in this case.
- Use smoother tires
Another thing that will increase the amount of drag being created by the tires is the amount of knurling that they have.
On the tires designed for mountain bikes, they will typically have lots of rubber blocks on them that are designed to increase the grip of the tires. This is good for when you are cycling off-road but not so good for when you’re cycling on normal roads and do not need the extra grip.
With this being the case, if you want to be able to take on steep hills then you should try to use smooth tires so that you can reduce the amount of power needed to move the bike.
- Use a hybrid e-bike
There are two main types of electric bikes that you can buy, pedal assisted and throttle assisted.
Pedal assisted electric bikes work by providing you with extra power as you pedal. These types of electric bikes must be pedaled in order to make use of the electric motor, but they do come with a number of power assistance settings and the high settings can really provide you with a lot of power.
Throttle assisted electric bikes work by making use of a throttle that you push or twist to make the electric motor turn the wheels. These types of electric bikes do not require that you pedal but they do run out of battery faster and in many areas require you to have a license (and are banned in Europe).
There are also hybrid electric bikes available that are both pedal assisted and throttle assisted. Being able to make use of both the throttle and power assist when cycling up a hill can be very helpful since you will be able to maximize your power output. The catch here is that you will likely drain the battery very quickly.
- Limit use of the throttle
If your electric bike does make use of a throttle then it would be wise of you to limit the use of the throttle since it can drain the battery quickly when going up a hill since it will make maximum use of the electric motor.
Try to save the throttle on the slightly flatter parts of the hill so that you can use it to build up speed when you come up to areas of the hill that have a higher gradient.
- Use a lower gear
Using higher gears will be easier when cycling at higher speeds but requires more effort to get the bike moving at lower speeds. Using a lower gear is easier at lower speeds and harder at higher speeds.
If you were to use a higher gear when cycling up a hill then you would need to push down on the pedal harder to move the bike and would likely make use of anaerobic energy supplies which only lasts for 10 seconds. Cyclists generally try to cycle at a rate of 90 RPM, so that they use their aerobic energy supplies, to cycle at this rate going uphill it will be necessary to select a lower gear.
- Minimize air resistance
The force of the wind will have a large impact on how hard or easy it is to cycle up a hill. If you’re cycling into a strong headwind then it will be a lot harder to get up the hill but if the wind is hitting your back it will become easier.
There are a number of things that you can do to minimize the impact a headwind can have by reducing the amount of air resistance that you are creating. You can reduce your amount of air resistance by crouching forwards on the bike so that the wind has less of your body to hit, you can make use of a windshield for bikes that deflects the wind around you and you can remove any unneeded attachments that you have on the bike.
- Improve your leg strength and endurance
Since the amount of power your bike is capable of producing is ultimately down to how much power you can generate yourself, you could work on improving your own ability to improve how steep a hill you can climb.
To do that you will primarily want to focus on improving the strength of your legs and your fitness levels. You can increase your leg strength by using leg weights at the gym or by simply doing hill climbs more often.
When these tips are used by themselves then it might be that they won’t have a large impact but when you combine them all together they will greatly increase how easy hill climbing is for you.
How steep a hill can an e-bike climb? Since an electric bike can be pedaled just like an ordinary bike any hill that can be tackled by an ordinary bike should also be able to be done with an electric bike. With the addition of the electric motor that e-bikes make use of then, it should mean that you would be able to climb an even steeper hill. You can find examples of people climbing hills with an 18-degree gradient but ultimately the maximum steepness will come down to how hard and for how long you can pedal.