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Affordable, Reliable hill climber?

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Affordable, Reliable hill climber?

Old 09-13-22, 05:31 AM
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George Mann
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Affordable, Reliable hill climber?

Are there reliable E-Bikes under 2K that can climb hills without struggling? Are any of these bikes made worth a darn? Good brakes are mandatory.

Are there any standouts below $1500? How about 1K?

Last edited by George Mann; 09-13-22 at 05:36 AM.
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Old 09-13-22, 07:46 AM
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Depending on rider/cargo weight, surface type & wind direction; electric can perform vastly different with different conditions.
You gotta specify your needs & conditions to be able to receive decent replies.
I'd imagine that Denver, Mile High City would have some steep hills & windy conditions.
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Old 09-13-22, 08:45 AM
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I suggest that you test ride different bikes. IMO, the best option for anybody who has ever ridden anything steeper than a mild driveway is a mid-drive, and the best (maybe only) option under $2K is Lectric Cycles XP Premium. There are some relatively high power behemoths under $2K that may be marginally satisfactory (Check electricbikereport for reviews).
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Old 09-14-22, 05:59 AM
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Test riding seems like a good idea - I have been mulling my first e-bike for awhile, and don't want to spend too much - less than $2,500 anyway. I see that while most moderately priced e-bikes are direct to consumer, Aventon also sells through brick-and-mortar dealers, and REI has several brands in their shops, including their own CO-OP brand, which also looks like a good value. I was thinking that it's one thing to understand the basic mechanics - which by this time I think I do, but to gauge better how *I* will feel about e.g. hub drive vs mid-drive, cadence sensor vs speed sensor, 500W vs 750W motor - how desirable they are to me - especially when it comes to justifying increased price points, I can get a better feel by trying before buying.

As 2old notes, the mid-drive motor configuration has the motor assistance running through the conventional chain and gears - that allows the electric motor to take advantage of you downshifting, along with your leg-motor, providing best hill climbing abilities. Most mid-drive bikes also come with torque sensors, which are said to better replicate the conventional riding feel, and be more intuitive. Some people say though that a good hub drive setup together with decent gearing for your legs will climb well enough, and a speed sensor is good enough.

Fall and winter is when bike shops usually offer deals to clear out existing inventory for the new models coming in spring. Some of the better moderate cost e-bikes, from my impressions, are - in order of increasing price:
Ride1Up Core-5
Aventon Pace 500 Next-Gen
Radio Flyer M880
Aventon Aventure
Rad Power Bikes Rad City 5
REI Co-op Cycles CTY e2.2 Electric Bike (on sale)

The Electric Bike Report site does e-bike reviews, and they include a standard hill climb test as part of it - the hill is ~ 1/3 mile long and a remarkable 12+% grade. They go up that hill (or at least attempt it) with throttle only and with light pedal-assist as well. Some hub-drive models do fine. Notable is the Aventon Aventure - the motor is rated at 750 Watts continuous with 1130 Watts peak output, and it went up the EBR "Hell Hole" hill at 13mph on throttle only.

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Old 09-14-22, 10:18 AM
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The places I ride off road have slopes which have been surveyed (by a conservancy that manages the land) up to 38%, so only a mid-drive has a chance on them (with low gears and maximum effort - for me anyway). When I was younger I could ascend them on an MTB, but not now.
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Old 09-14-22, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by cat0020 View Post
Depending on rider/cargo weight, surface type & wind direction; electric can perform vastly different with different conditions.
You gotta specify your needs & conditions to be able to receive decent replies.
I'd imagine that Denver, Mile High City would have some steep hills & windy conditions.
I will be using it as a year round local commuter.

One thing I have noticed is none seem to offer tubeless tires (I hate tubes).

I have been looking at the Rads, but some say they are no good.

However, I am limited to bikes sold by Denver dealerships due to the cities rebate rules.
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Old 09-14-22, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by George Mann View Post
I will be using it as a year round local commuter.

One thing I have noticed is none seem to offer tubeless tires (I hate tubes).

I have been looking at the Rads, but some say they are no good.

However, I am limited to bikes sold by Denver dealerships due to the cities rebate rules.
I am not trying to make a case for Rad Power Bikes here, but they seem to have good customer satisfaction overall from online reviews; someone rode past me on one of their bikes the other day while I was walking, and they expressed pleasure when I asked them how they liked it. I think also that different riders have different budgets, and someone who spends $5,000 on their bike (or more) is bound to say that moderate priced bikes aren't good enough, but you like me, are on a budget, and I think in this case one needs to think about what's good enough, rather than what's ideal, what's really necessary, versus nice-to-have, etc.
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Old 09-14-22, 11:47 AM
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The Ariel Rider Kepler is a little over your budget, but it's everything you need to kill hills and not worry about buying a crap bike.
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Old 09-16-22, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by George Mann View Post
Are there reliable E-Bikes under 2K that can climb hills without struggling? Are any of these bikes made worth a darn? Good brakes are mandatory.

Are there any standouts below $1500? How about 1K?
You’re kind of asking for a cheap high performance off road vehicke. Without knowing your weight it could also be like asking for a cheap high performance truck pulling 10,000 lbs. And new. “Without struggling” for about $1500 get a Bafang bbshd kit and install it on a suitable bike you already have. Otherwise up your budget another $2k-$4k.
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Old 09-19-22, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
You’re kind of asking for a cheap high performance off road vehicke.
No. I am asking for an affordable and reliable (repairable) commuter that doesn't struggle to climb hills, and has reliable brakes (plus fenders and rack). My spending limit is $2K, not including the cost of tubeless conversion.

BTW, I am 5'11", and weight 145lbs. I also have a permanently damaged groin, so I need an ebike with a throttle.
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Old 09-19-22, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by George Mann View Post
No. I am asking for an affordable and reliable (repairable) commuter that doesn't struggle to climb hills, and has reliable brakes (plus fenders and rack). My spending limit is $2K, not including the cost of tubeless conversion.

BTW, I am 5'11", and weight 145lbs. I also have a permanently damaged groin, so I need an ebike with a throttle.
I shared a link to a reputable, excellent bike above. If you'd check the video out, and head to the Ariel Rider website you would see that.
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Old 09-20-22, 08:47 AM
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Another option (other than the one above or the Lectric XP Premium) is DIY. If you already have a bike, it'll cost about $1K; if not, add the cost of the bike.
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Old 09-20-22, 09:13 AM
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RAD mini with 20 inch wheels!! we love ours and repeatedly climp long steep hills. Both the 20 inch wheels improve torque value over our 26 inch and drive hard up the hills. I am 510 and 220 lbs and carry both racks and have full compliment of tools!
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Old 09-20-22, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Sempervee View Post
RAD mini with 20 inch wheels!! we love ours and repeatedly climp long steep hills. Both the 20 inch wheels improve torque value over our 26 inch and drive hard up the hills. I am 510 and 220 lbs and carry both racks and have full compliment of tools!
I see people riding Rad and Lectric bikes all around my neighborhood. Very solid bikes. Enjoy!!!
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Old 09-26-22, 11:24 AM
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Many decent e-bike models will handle hills. The question is how far do you need to go between charges when riding hills? Pick two of these three:

Steep hills
Long range
Low cost

A few footnotes:
Long range is defined here as anything over 30 miles.
Low cost is about $2000 or less.
Even if low cost is not one of your choices, you'll still be somewhat limited in range, and more so if you're climbing a lot.

What you should really do is look at the gradient of your hills and then choose gearing that is appropriate, same as you would do with a conventional bike. If the bike's largest cog is fewer than 32 teeth and that's difficult or impossible to change, this is not a bike for steep hills. A really wide range cassette (40, 46, or 50+ teeth on the large cog) will let you climb almost anything, just don't expect to do so for miles and miles.

There's a range estimator here: e-bike range. It gives estimates that are probably pretty close. Just be honest when you fill in the parameters.

If you have hills of 5% or steeper grade and 10 miles long, or you want to do multiple short climbs greater than 10% grade, what you should look for is called a "motorcycle."

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Old 10-01-22, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by George Mann View Post
No. I am asking for an affordable and reliable (repairable) commuter that doesn't struggle to climb hills, and has reliable brakes (plus fenders and rack). My spending limit is $2K, not including the cost of tubeless conversion.

BTW, I am 5'11", and weight 145lbs. I also have a permanently damaged groin, so I need an ebike with a throttle.
Apologies for my characterization. My experience is limited to one Bafang BBSHD kit on a Clem Smith in very hilly off road terrain. 190 lbs on 20% offroad inclines with the BBSHD making the bike a low speed motorcycle w thumb throttle control.

There is a significant difference in power requirements between 5% on paved roads w 150 lbs and 200lbs on 10% paved inclines and 190lbs on 20% dirt incline. The difference for some affordable hub drive motors could be between doable to burning out. When you say “without struggling” it’s not clear whether you mean having an excess of available power to go up briskly or having to dial it down to save the motor/controller from overheating. Some people interpret “struggling” to mean the motor has hit obvious power limits and they can only go up an incline at 10mph when they’re able to go 20mph on the level w max throttle. W my Bafang I wouldn’t say it struggles to go up hills under throttle but it obviously slows down on the steep sections then shoots off like a rocket as it levels out. It’s max power is too much for the drivetrain so I have to be careful shifting and remember to drop the power setting when coming to a stop.

Human power output and throttle controlled power expresses itself differently as one eases up after the steep section to recover at a less effort but w throttle one can crank it up to the limit of the controllor and motor 100% of the time.
For the money and your weight the lower power Bafang BBSO2 will give you twice the power for throttle control than most complete hub drive bikes. Again my experience is limited. I went for the midrive as my torque/power requirements are steep hills and farm work.
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Old 10-02-22, 03:23 PM
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Watts is not important but rather the power from the motor which is measured and stated in Nm or Newton meters. Mountain bikes often can provide higher power as with the Trek Powerfly e-bike rated at 85 Nm. Many bikes can be modified to have a larger rear cog or smaller front chainring to provide lower gearing for step hills.
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