Getting up long steep hills

Footie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 16, 2007
549
10
Cornwall. PL27
This may be relevant for other ebikers or it may not be. But I had a thought that when faced with a steep hills what guidance is there for getting up them. Living in a steep hilled area I suppose I have a bit of experience on that front, on both ordinary bicycles and now electric bicycles (hub motor). I differentiate and say “hub motor” as I’ve never rode a drive through the gears bike so can’t comment on them.

My own preferred method is as follows:
Approach the hill at a fast optimum speed (not all out, otherwise I’m too knacked to get up it).
As the hill starts to rise try to maintain the speed as high as possible and start changing down gears to help keep the speed up.
Eventually there comes a point where if you go to low things get silly (feet going like the clappers).
When I had my SLA battery I had to go down to first gear. I also couldn’t maintain a rhythm because the bike was so heavy. However since I fitted the Ping battery I can stay in second, maintain a rhythm and rarely go down into first.
The next part (cycling up the hill) is something I have perfected over my 20 years of cycling up steep hills.
It’s important to get into a rhythm. If it’s the right rhythm it’s possible to over come most long steep hill and still maintain dignity. I personally count in my head.
As the right foot gets to the max power point I count “one”, as the left foot gets to the power point I count “and”. When the right foot again gets to the power point I count “two” and so on. The time between the numbers should be about one second. I can easily maintain this rhythm up most steep long hills. I also find this a relaxing rhythm and it avoids over exertion because the rhythm keeps you in check. I usually arrive at the top of the hill able to cycle on and not have to spend ten minutes getting my breath back.
Using this system I have been cycling the hills of Cornwall for years and am still going, be it now with a little help from my electric bike :)

PS: Interestingly, this same rhythm shows up when I’m cycling on the flat, in top gear (6th) at around 16.2 mph (power just nudging in and out). Again it’s a comfortable rhythm and one I’ve found I can easily maintain for miles.
.
 
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prState

Pedelecer
Jun 14, 2007
244
0
Las Vegas, Nevada
One thing I test on my panasonic, on particular hills, is how high a gear it will take before stalling, then I work from that point down for the best option in speed and pedaling. Unless, I 'm not in a hurry, then it doesn't matter.

On a hub, you probably want to maintain where the maximum torque point would be, if you happen to know.
 

dazzie

Pedelecer
Jul 16, 2008
129
0
Sounds like a good plan footie. I've been experimenting too, with flat out nutter effort the whole way up to keep maximum speed up or to take it more gently and keep changing down until in 1st and try to let the bike do as much of the work as possible. I can't decide yet which is most beneficial for me -

When I keep the bike in 4th or 5th and stonk up the hill I get to the top quickly but am generally very out of breath for a little while after - but I can let the bike carry me along with only a little effort while I recuperate. This means my average speed stays high and I recover soon enough anyway.

If I let the bike do as much as possible I end up doing a good fraction of the hill in 1st or 2nd doing between 8 and 10mph. I'm not quite as out of breath at the top as with the max effort approach but it takes so much longer to get up the hill that I think the amount of energy expended by me can't really be that much less - I could work it out but I'm just going by how I feel. Add to that the extra time taken and I'm not sure if it's worth waiting for the bike? And.... if this is true then maybe I don't need an electric bike? Eek.
 

Danny-K

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 25, 2008
281
0
South West
"And.... if this is true then maybe I don't need an electric bike? Eek."
Hee hee. Okay then Dazzie, here's one to test yourself on -





And here's one for you Cornwall riders, Footie. Come on now, one-and-two-and . . . :)

 

Mussels

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 17, 2008
3,208
8
Crowborough
Sounds like a "Who rides the steepest hill" competition, I won't win but I'll have a good go. :D
I meant to bring my camera in today as well. :(
 

dazzie

Pedelecer
Jul 16, 2008
129
0
My dear Lord, that Pub looks like it's on an almost 1:1 hill?! What the heck!

It's so hard to take photos that convey just how steep hills are. I might 'mapmyride' ...

MapMyRide.com | View Home To Bath Spa in Bristol, United Kingdom (10.68 seems too short but oh well)

total ascent 397ft
total descent -233ft

The last bit is the killer, and the section I was referring to above is from miles 2 - 4 (click on the Show Elevation tick box in the top right corner to see elevation)

Daz
 
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Footie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 16, 2007
549
10
Cornwall. PL27
.... My dear Lord, that Pub looks like it's on an almost 1:1 hill?! ....
Not far from the truth.
If you keep to the main roads in Cornwall it's hilly - like a roller coaster - that was one good description I read recently.
Get on to the B roads and unclassified roads and unridable hills are everywhere :eek:

Makes a mockery of most ebike manufactures maximum range claims :(

Example
The main road between Wadebridge and Winnards Perch roundabout (distance 7.5 miles)
Rise in feet = 450ft

Winnards Perch on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

A friends Range Rover has a 3-mpg difference (to and from) on this stretch of road.
.
 
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Mussels

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 17, 2008
3,208
8
Crowborough
Here's my alternative routes:
Top one is the most effort, I can smooth out the steepest part by adding a fair bit of distance.
Middle one is the quickest route as it doesn't involve the ferry but there is lots of fighting with traffic on major roads.
Bottom one looks lovely but takes me ages as it mainly off road with several miles of unsurfaced road.
 

Attachments

Phil the drill

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 14, 2008
395
6
TR9
Not far from the truth.
If you keep to the main roads in Cornwall it's hilly - like a roller coaster - that was one good description I read recently.
Get on to the B roads and unclassified roads and unridable hills are everywhere :eek:

Makes a mockery of most ebike manufactures maximum range claims :(

Example
The main road between Wadebridge and Winnards Perch roundabout (distance 7.5 miles)
Rise in feet = 450ft

Winnards Perch on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

A friends Range Rover has a 3-mpg difference (to and from) on this stretch of road.
.
Hi Footie

That rollercoaster effect is what makes it soooo much fun :D . The route from Wadebridge up to the windfarm rises 650ft in 3.5.miles and my 8 mile commute rises over 1100ft in total (using the back roads). The same route also has 800ft of descent though so there's scope for some fun...(Better the other way round though :) ).

Cheers, Phil

PS That 1100ft figure is the amount of climbing, NOT the the actual height of a hill, we don't go that high in most parts round here!
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,272
23,028
I mostly use the Footie method, but on the fairly short down and up switchbacks that often occur in the North Downs I sometimes use the flat out approach to top the other side as fast as possible. That can mean topping the short climb at over 20 mph when enough speed is made on the downhill, great fun and impresses car drivers and cyclists coming the other way. For anyone in my area who knows it, the big dipper in Skid Hill Lane is my favourite for this antic.
.
 

Footie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 16, 2007
549
10
Cornwall. PL27
Phil the drill posted:
.... That rollercoaster effect is what makes it soooo much fun :D ....


Agreed ;)
I had a grin like a Cheshire Cat coming back when I did that ride :D
.
 

tenderbehind

Pedelecer
Oct 31, 2008
159
0
Last week I went down to Beer in East Devon and rode the bike from there to Branscome, I think it's spelled, very easy going down the long hill to the village but not so easy getting back up, I put the Wisper in low gear almost immediately at the start of the ascent and did my best to pedal up with full throttle assistance, I was achieving about 6 miles per hour, but that hill is possibly about half a mile long and very steep, I had to stop half way and rest, I was puffing like a locomotive, I had another go and did another couple of hundred yards ao so, and got off once again and pushed the bike the rest of the way, still at least the motor helped me do this. No reflection on my Wisper at all but just a bit too much for me and it, until we were at the top of the hill, on the level and then zooming back to Beer and to the nearest pub for a beer.