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Old 04-20-12, 04:22 AM   #1
otyler
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e bike for short steep hills

Hi.
Looking for advice on buying an e-bike.
The area I plan to use the bike has short steep hills that are +20% grade in some spots (10-60 meters long).
I'd like to be able to carry a complete weight of 200lbs (150lb rider / 50lb cargo on racks or trailer).
Often times it'll be just me and no cargo.
I'm quite happy to provide partial power via pedaling and would actually prefer this.
As a comparison I can ascend the same hills on a regular 24 speed bike in the lowest gear but it's unpleasant and I have no interest in attempting extra cargo.

I like the idea of European Kalkhoffs and BH Emotions mid-drives but the motors are only 250-300 W - could they even do this?
I can get local hub driven e-bikes with 500W motors but from what I've read hubs aren't up to the task (have they gotten better?).

Test driving is kinda hard since hills like this don't exist near the bike retailers.

I'd prefer not to go the DIY (EcoSpeed/Cyclone) route but if that's my only option then so be it.

Any advice appreciated.
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Old 04-20-12, 07:21 PM   #2
dhiltonp
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The Kalkhoff will give you up to 130% of your torque. You will not be able to speed up this sort of grade as if it were flat, but if you could do it before, you will be able to do it faster.

I bought my Pro Connect Sport 250 last week, and it arrived last Thursday.

I have a 5% grade hill that's almost half a mile long on my way to work. Today, I didn't feel like slowing down so I kicked the assist on high and pedalled a little harder. I climbed it at about 20 mph. I can climb a 7% grade hill without effort at ~12 mph. I'm not sure where to find a road around here that's 20% grade, though. If you find a steeper hill within 10 miles of Provo/Orem, let me know and I'll give it a shot.

I compared my Kalkhoff to a Trek FX+ on that same 7% grade, and I found that the BionX did have more oomph (14 mph with no effort). This is because I had the BionX on 300% assist vs. the 130% assist.

I really like the torque-based pedal assist, and the only hub system that comes with it is BionX. I've not tried to max out the assist systems.

Panasonic-based systems like the Kalkhoff won't give you a free ride, but they will make it a whole lot easier. If you find a hill with a higher grade you want me to try within 10 miles of Orem or Provo, I'll let you know how it goes.

Kalkhoff does have the 7-day refund period after you get the bike, so you could demo it. I don't know if you would have to pay shipping for the return if it wasn't good enough.
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Old 04-20-12, 07:54 PM   #3
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Last week I took a Bionx Ohm Urban up a very, very steep street. With power-level 4 (300%) and lowest gear it pedaled smoothly to the top with me getting exercise, but not that much. The next hill was a little less steep and was great. I would never take that hill on a normal bicycle, even back in my hubris-filled youth!
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Old 04-20-12, 08:20 PM   #4
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Ok, so I just checked that 7% grade section I mentioned. mapmyride said that it was 7%, but toporoute says that it's 18%. It's a pretty short section of road, so who knows.
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Old 04-20-12, 08:31 PM   #5
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Ride with gps says it's 7.8%, so we'll ignore the toporoute data.
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Old 04-21-12, 09:26 AM   #6
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If you can handle the hill without a motor, you'll find that a motor is very useful. Add 50 pounds of weight AND then add a motor... no problem. The ride will be easier over-all.

If you are certain you want a pre-made bike, just be sure that it's a bike with very low gears (like the one you already have) and a lot of power. (500 to 750 watts or maybe more).

I don't recommend cyclone because my experience was that they were unreliable. I was able to resolve all the mechanical issues (and there were several) but the two electronic controllers i bought both died on me.

Last edited by cerewa; 04-21-12 at 09:34 AM. Reason: I read the original post more carefully
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Old 04-21-12, 10:49 AM   #7
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I tried the Kalkhoff Tasman and found it too heavy. I'm using the Focus Jarifa Speed now to get myself (140 lbs) up a big steep hill with short, very steep stretches and it works beautifully. Don't know how the extra 50 lbs would affect it though.
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Old 04-21-12, 04:03 PM   #8
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Ok, I found a .2 mile hill section with an average climb of 15% according to those 3 sites. Ridewithgps says that it hits a max of 33% grade, mapmyride says it goes up to 20% grade, but it doesn't go any higher at that resolution (the darkest color shown in map creation), and with the closer endpoints I fed toporoute, it says the grade is 20%.

Yeah, the hill was slow going. I was in the 2nd-lowest gear working fairly hard, and was going ~7 mph. I should point out that this is after a week of cycling; prior to getting the electric I'd not biked more than 5 miles in 3 years, and I've not run in 5 months or so.

Weight-wise, I had 150lbs (me), 47 lbs (bike) and 15 lbs of stuff (pannier with athletic equipment, water, and lock).
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Old 04-24-12, 12:00 AM   #9
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Cool. Thanks for all the input.
Did a few test rides and I think I know what I'll do now - I'll post a vid on youtube if it's a stunning success.
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Old 06-11-12, 02:37 AM   #10
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I live on what is a mountain in town its my oppinion that one must have gears for the motor as cylone does I've got 5 of them for the grandkids & myself but the hill is getting steeper (age) I recomend cyclone 1 chainwheel kit as realy reliable othe than the small air hole in controller on motor needs gunking up . I'm trying the 650w its no better than 500 next is the 48v or somthing but batteries the problem i make my own battery pack buying cells from Web BMS & the BMS cheaper battery & any shape u like.
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