San Francisco is a beautiful metropolis full of industrial and natural landscapes. Despite its beauty, any cyclists will tell the terrain can be challenging. The city is full of hills, tall and short, steep and shallow. While you might love your lavender beach cruiser, not all bikes can manage the hills of this great city. You might have some luck with an electric beach cruiser, but it depends on several other factors. In terms of the question, “are electric bikes good for hills,” it depends on the hill and the bike.
The first consideration when purchasing an electric bike for the San Francisco hills is the motor. Depending on the types of hills you plan on traversing, you might want a rear-hub or mid-drive motor, and the power will be somewhere between 250-watts and 750-watts.
Rear-hub motors are good for recreational riding and smaller inclines. If you want to get up the hill with some speed, you probably want a 500-watt model, but if you are OK with pedaling and taking it easy on your way up, consider a 250-watt motor.
Mid-drive models are better suited to mountain riding or steep hills because of the increased torque. If you want to rest your legs and let the bike do all the work, you most likely want a 750-watt motor. If you don’t mind the extra exercise, a 500-watt should be fine.
The demands of San Francisco hills and trails almost require derailleur; a single-speed bike just won’t cut it. You will need at least a seven-speed to make climbing hills bearable. When in pedal-assist mode, you want to use the lowest gear, making the uphill battle a little easier.
For most riders below 275 lbs., the motor specifications above will work fine. However, for riders over 275 lbs., a bike with a minimum of 500-watts and pedal-assist is recommended. For steep hill riding, the recommendation is to increase to a 500-watt full-throttle motor for steep hills.
Bodyweight will also play a role in the size battery needed to complete a ride. Most specifications are based on riders under 275 lbs. Therefore, people who weigh more will need to consider battery upgrades.
For recreational riding with smaller hills, an average battery is fine, but you might consider a larger battery for strenuous hills and trails. The more challenging the terrain, the more battery power you will require. Uphill rides use a lot of juice or energy, so it is crucial to understand how you plan on riding before purchasing your bike.
The most critical component of an electric bicycle is the motor size. When you understand your riding style and its requirements, you can make a well-educated decision about the right bike. In the meantime, if you would like some guidance about purchasing or choosing a new electric bike, consider heading down to your local bike shop to discuss the specifics of different e-bikes and how each might perform in a hilly environment. The sales representative can help you select the best option for your needs.