Can electric bikes go up hills?


Hi, there! As a cyclist, you are likely to encounter steep hills in your adventures so it’s pretty normal to ask, “can an electric bike go uphill?” Simply put, yes, eBikes can go up hills – but that is only the short answer. 

In this article, I’ll be taking you on a ride, while explaining how an e-bike can help you go uphill. I’ll also give useful tips on ways to climb steep hills and go downhill with your eBike. Finally, I’ve got some pointers on what features to look out for in an e-bike for uphill climbing. 

Stick with me and I’ll give you the deets. 

Can An Electric Bike Go Uphill? 

Certainly, an electric bike can go uphill! An e-bike can easily go up steep hills because of its electric motor that assists the rider to climb hilly terrain. So, as a cyclist, if using an e-bike to go uphill is one of your concerns, then rest assured that any electric bike will get the job done. 

How Does An eBike Help You Go Uphill?

Thankfully, going up hills with an electric bike is less of an uphill task. Using an e-bike limits the exhaustion that comes with furious and non stop pedaling which takes a great toll on your muscles. 

But how does it work? I’ll tell you! Unlike a traditional bicycle, an e-bike is built with an electric motor and battery that supplements your pedaling as you go uphill, making your climb faster and easier. 

So as you pedal up steep hills, the battery provides power to the motor, which in turn propels the electric bike to climb the terrain easily. The combination of the pedaling and the e-bike’s throttle is effective and will easily help you conquer most hills. Some eBikes even allow you to climb hills by using just the throttle alone with no pedaling. 

However, it’s advisable to pedal so that you don’t drain your electric bike’s battery. You’ll still need some juice to go downhill and get home.

Tips For Going Uphill With An eBike

Hills are the cyclist’s nemesis and it is hard work to battle gravity with every stroke of the pedal. Although pedal assist takes the bulk of the work off your feet, these tips will definitely help you conquer the hills with more confidence. They’ll also assist you to go farther on your rides while saving time between battery charges. 

  1. Keep your head up in order to focus on your trail. This will lift your chest and shoulders while helping you to breathe easily and deeply. 
  2. If you are using a mid-motor bike, it is important to maintain a high cadence which will help your pedal assist to supply the extra power needed to climb smoothly. 
  3. To conserve battery, alternate periodically from “pedal-only” to “pedal-assist” to “throttle-only“.
  4. Stick to using a lower gear when climbing because it is easier to push uphill with it as the torque enables more power. Note that higher gears are more suitable for flat roads or downhill rides. 

For more tips on how to go uphill with an e-bike, check out this youtube video:

Tips For Going Downhill With An Electric Bike 

After climbing, you must now descend. Going downhill can be exhilarating and as fun as that may be, it is also challenging to properly manage a clean descent. Here are a few tips to get you downhill gracefully and in style. 

  1. Lower your seat to help push your weight downwards onto the e-bike. Positioning yourself this way will help you stay balanced and in control. 
  2. As you descend a steep hill, it’s best to keep your weight low and behind the saddle. While keeping your heels pointed down towards the ground, ensure you bend your elbows and knees so you can move easily with your e-bike. This keeps your weight balanced and gives you more control. 
  3. Following another rider while you descend allows you to work on your riding skills without having to analyze and process your own line choices at speed. It’s best to follow a skilled rider at a moderate pace that lets you learn from their line choices and observe their riding technique. 
  4. Braking to reduce speed during descent as you roll through a corner or to avoid running into an obstacle is important as it gives you traction and control so you do not flip forward in motion. 
  5. Keep contact with the ground to maintain traction and control. We don’t want you flying down the hill now, do we? As you maintain tire contact with the ground, do not hold your handlebars too tightly and focus on the line ahead. 
  6. Relax! But maintain alertness incase of any obstacles ahead. Still, don’t let any fear or tension get to you. So when going downhill, put your mind at ease and enjoy the ride! 

Check out this video for more tips on how to descend from a hill on an e-bike:

Best Electric Bike Hill-Climbing Techniques

Electric bikes are designed to reduce the pressure of climbing on you. To enjoy the full benefits of using an e-bike to climb uphill, here are the best techniques that will help you go up steep hills with no stress: 

Body Positioning

Always remember to adjust your weight according to the steepness of the terrain so that your center of gravity is in the middle of the e-bike. When going uphill, shift your weight forward by lowering your chest towards the handlebars and bending your elbows. This is to ensure that the front wheel of your e-bike stays grounded as you maneuver the hill to maintain traction of your rear wheel. 

Pedaling Cadence

When using a mid drive motor, it is imperative to maintain the pedaling cadence and torque so you do not lose momentum. Let’s be honest, without enough momentum, how can e-bikes go up steep hills? 

Line Choice 

Line choice is related to keeping the right pedaling cadence. It’s advisable to look about 5 meters ahead so you can see what’s in front and choose the line that is smooth, free from obstacles, and easy to climb.

Tire Tread and Pressure 

Tires provide traction during your ride and the right amount of tread and pressure from the tires combined with pedal-assist will easily keep you going forward. The ideal tire pressure depends mostly on your tire preference. 

While the tires on electric mountain bikes require approximately 25 to 35 psi, hybrid tires require 40 to 70 psi.

Additionally, check the sidewall of the tire to see the manufacturer’s minimum and maximum psi recommendations to use as a guide. 

For hill climbing, a lower tire pressure gives you more grip and a lot of traction. Just make sure to stay within the manufacturer’s recommendations, always!

Proper Gear Selection 

When climbing uphill with an e-bike, you need the correct gears to put maximum amount of power to the ground. Ideally, you should use a lower gear that will produce the optimal amount of torque to keep the e-bike moving forward. If you combine the right gear with smooth pedaling cadence, you’ll be well on your way to a hassle-free uphill climb. 

Things To Consider When Choosing An Electric Bike For Uphill Climbing 

If you’re in the market for an e-bike for uphill climbing, it is important to consider one with all the necessary features that will make your climb easy. Here are some factors you should consider before making a choice: 

Woman on G-force electric bike
Woman on g-force electric bike

1. Electric Motor 

It is advisable to look out for an e-bike that has an electric motor with enough battery capacity, power output and efficient torque. 

The two most common types of motors used for e-bikes are hub motors and mid drive motors. 

Hub motors are attached to the hub of either the front or rear wheel of the bicycle.

Mid drive motors are attached to the bike through the bottom bracket of the cranks and connect to the primary drive train. 

Compared to hub motors, mid drive motors have the best torque for carrying heavy loads and riding uphill. However, they are more challenging to use than hub motors but this is a fair trade off considering it’s fantastic ability to help navigate hilly terrains. 

With the mid drive motor, you can change your gears: shift up for speed or gear down for torque. This is because the motor drives the crank instead of the wheel, which helps to multiply the power and take advantage of the bike’s gears. 

While e-bikes with hub motors are easier to operate, they offer less power and deliver limited torque compared to mid drive motor bikes which are more complicated but deliver enough power and torque. 

The mid drive motor is the best electric bike option for efficient uphill climbing. 

2. Battery

Since you will be going uphill with your e-bike, it is necessary for your bike to have a lot of power, especially for steep hills. You will need enough juice to get to the hill, climb uphill, descend downhill and potentially ride home. There’s no point getting a bike if it runs out of battery power midway through your adventure. 

3. Safety Features

If you are going to partake in some intense uphill climbing sessions, robust safety features are a must. Bikes with hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes that are placed in both the front and the rear are best for uphill climbs and descents. 

Best Electric Bike Features For Uphill Climbing

Woman atop hill on a white KBO electric bike
Woman atop hill on KBO electric bike

Motor Placement

This is important for the performance of the e-bike and a mid drive motor is the best for uphill climbing. The position of mid-drive motor in the middle of the electric bike also helps you maintain balance more easily. It keeps the bike’s center of gravity in the middle.

Mid-Drive Motors

Despite the fact that hub style and mid drive motors can deliver supplemental power to aid your pedaling, mid drive motors are still the preferred choice for their higher power, more impressive torque and efficient control. 

They are good for steep, aggressive hill riding (including mountains).

While using pedal assist, opt for at least 500-watt. To go full throttle up steep hills with no pedaling, a 750-watt motor is recommended.

Rear-Hub Motors

These are good for smaller hills and recreational riding. 250-watt is fine if you are looking to pedal and 500-watt will do the job if you are looking to go full throttle uphill.

Pedal assistance

When choosing an e-bike for uphill navigation, it’s better to choose one that is equipped with pedal assist. This way, you get some exercise in, the motor also assists you and keeps your battery drain to a minimum. 

Battery range

Battery plays a huge role in choosing an e-bike. Bikes with hub motors offer as low as 250w and mid drive motors offer as high as 1500w while delivering 160 newton meters of torque which offer an additional degree of control with a throttle cable. 

An e-bike’s battery typically lasts for 25 to 50 miles and you can still use the bike when the battery runs out, but it may be slightly harder because you have to do all the pedaling with all that extra weight

Depending on the battery, it can take from three to six hours to fully charge and manufacturers recommend a battery is charged to 90% before use. 

So if you’re going to need an e-bike for going uphill, it’s important to find one that can go the distance because climbing hills drains the battery faster as the e-bike does extra work unlike when it’s on flat terrain.

Electric Bike Weight

An electric bike weighs between 20kg and 35kg which is heavier than a conventional bike. The additional weight is associated with the battery, motor and control systems. 

It’s more advisable to avoid heavy bikes because of the difficulty of use when the battery runs out. Also, if you are above 275 lbs, 500-watt pedal-assist e-bike is recommended as a minimum. 

High Gears

If you are going uphill on your electric bike, make sure you have at least seven speeds (especially if you’re using pedal-assist).

7-speed gear on himiway electric bike
7-speed gear on Himiway eBike

Shift the bike into the lowest gear while pedaling uphill to make it easier for yourself.

What Electric Bike Should You Choose For Uphill Climbing?

Now that you know for sure that e-bikes are capable of going uphill, let’s check out the type of e-bikes that you should choose for uphill climbing. 

Manufacturers such as Haibike, Brompton, Rad Power, Gocycle and Addmotor make bikes that are built for uphill cycling. Don’t forget that no matter the brand or kind of bike you choose, make sure it is equipped with a durable frame, often made from aluminum alloy, and a full suspension system. 

Other safety features to look out for include bright LED headlights, horns, and assistance modes including pedal assist. 

For the best electric bikes for hills, check out this post from Gadgetreview.

In conclusion, climbing uphill or going downhill is fun when you use the right kind of e-bike that is equipped with an efficient motor system, long lasting battery, adequate safety features and is suited for your frame. Once, you’ve got that, go out there and conquer those hills! 

Ready to conquer those hills? Find out all the benefits of mountain biking.


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