Lost in a sea of options - looking for good bike for hills

ammonite

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 24, 2019
5
2
Exeter
Sorry, another thread but there are so many electric bikes around I feel totally lost!

I want to buy an ebike primarily to get some assistance on the many hills where I live (Exeter). I am perfectly capable of cycling up them but just find them too annoying so I end up taking the car for journeys that I would cycle if it were flatter. I don't need to be able to zoom off quickly at lights etc. My wish list is:
  • Good for getting up hills that are 10% and shorter stretches of 15%, on roads/cycle paths
  • Established company that is hopefully going to be around for a while for parts etc
  • Suitable for a tall woman - inside leg length 33", but arms not as long as the equivalent man!
  • I prefer a more upright cycling position so looking at city/hybrid frames
  • Kitted out with lights, pannier rack, mudguards
  • Battery easy to remove for charging (it's awkward to get the bike up to my house)
  • Ok in the rain, just in case this isn't a given!
  • Ideally able to purchase from a shop in Exeter
  • Budget up to about £2500

So far the only bike I have tried is a Ridgeback Electron which I borrowed from work. I liked it and has definitely persuaded me that I want an e-bike, but I did feel it wasn't quite up to the steep hill by my house which is at least 15%, though it might be that I hadn't found the optimal gear combination. I also found that the hooks on my rack mounted basket seemed to be putting some sideways pressure on the battery, so I'm wondering if a seat-post mounted one is more sensible?

Looking at what is available at local shops, Kalkhoff look interesting (avoiding the ones with Impulse motor) but there is a baffling number of slightly different models. I also liked the look of Gazelle or Cube, but am put off by the hydraulic brakes which sound like they are a pain? I'm not particularly handy with such things.

I'd be grateful for any thoughts or recommendations
 

RobF

Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 22, 2012
4,468
2,156
Most legal ebikes offer about the same amount of grunt.

What you may have discovered is using one on the hill at home will require more effort than you thought.

The Ridgeback you tried has a Shimano Steps motor.

A bike with a Bosch CX motor would offer a little more power.

Bosch make several motors now, but the CX is the only one with the small front chainring.

Mostly fitted to mountain bikes, but you may find one on a hybrid style.

Gearing is another consideration.

The bike you tried has a hub gear, nothing wrong with that, but the range is usually not as wide as a derailer.
 

Eagle

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 31, 2012
380
132
ammonite,
Like you, I have plenty of local steep hills.

I recently changed from an Oxygen rear hub drive to a Haibike crank drive and I find hillclimbing much easier and faster now:
https://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/threads/haibike-sduro-fullseven-3-0-initial-reaction-and-recommendations.34087/#post-490036

I definitely recommend hydraulic brakes for their efficiency, stopping power and reliablity. There is virtually no maintenance, except changing pads once in a while.

I recommend that you get a bike with a 500Wh battery for increased range (hills will obviously sap the battery more quickly than when riding on the flat).

Cube ebikes have a good reputation on these forums.

This Cube Easy Access Touring Hybrid Pro 500 (£2399) has front and rear lights, plus the rack and mudguards you require:

https://www.cube.eu/en/2019/e-bikes/trekking/tour/touring/cube-touring-hybrid-pro-500-blacknwhite-2019-easy-entry/

It has a Bosch Active Line Plus motor with a 500Wh battery.

Try some test rides up a local hill.

Bike Shed (Exeter):
https://www.bikesheduk.com/

As RobF has mentioned, derailleur gears give you several more gear options which is important on hills.

EDIT:
Alternatively, have a look at Haibikes.
Review of Haibike Trekking on Bath’s hills:
https://www.t3.com/reviews/haibike-sduro-trekking-review

Haibike SDURO HardSeven Life 2.5 Street 2019 Ladies Electric Bike:
https://www.e-bikesdirect.co.uk/brands/haibike/haibike-sduro-hardseven-life-25-2019-street-ladies-electric-bike

https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Haibike-SDURO-HardSeven-Life-2-5-Street-Womens-27-5-2019-Electric-Mountain-Bike_204940.htm

You may be able to upgrade to a 500Wh battery from the supplied 400Wh one on the above Haibikes. It is well worth paying the difference to have an increased range capability.

The Yamaha PW-SE motor has more torque (70Nm) than the Bosch Active Line Plus (ALP) (50Nm) and this equates to more pulling power, which is especially useful on your 15% hills.
I noticed the Ridgeback Electron motor had 50Nm torque and that was not really powerful enough for your local hills. Then again, the Ridgeback's gearing might not have been suitable.

Yamaha PW-SE:
https://global.yamaha-motor.com/business/e-bike-systems/products/pw-se/index.html

Bosch ALP:
https://www.bosch-ebike.com/en/products/active-line-plus/

I suspect that the Bosch ALP will find it harder going than than the Yamaha PW-SE, but other ALP users who ride steep hills regularly can advise you.
This thread may help:
https://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/threads/first-ebike-cube-touring-hybrid-one-hybrid-or-reaction-hybrid-one-or-something-else.34013/
 
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sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
348
128
Also worth looking at Raleigh Motus. Similar to the Cube touring mentioned above. There might just be something about the one or the other that suits you better. Several variations such as low step or crossbar, hub or derailleur ... (similar variations on the Cube range as well).

Depending what sort of riding you want to do you may want a bigger battery as Eagle suggested (500wh or so); lots of hills get you through the battery much faster.

Look at the Woosh range for something quite a bit cheaper and still good quality. eg http://wooshbikes.co.uk/?santana-2018 with options for 540wh or 610wh batteries, and some others too.
You will get good service, but it won't be the local service you would get from the local shop.
 

Eagle

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 31, 2012
380
132
sjpt,
I had totally forgotten the Woosh Santana which, even with the biggest 17ah battery (610Wh), is only £1249. That is a major saving.
I think the Raleigh Motus Grand Tour is only available with a 400Wh battery.
 

Sausages

Finding my (electric) wheels
Dec 3, 2018
9
1
I’ve got a cube touring hybrid (active line plus motor) and have no problem with hills. For big ones like you have, you still have to put some effort in, but are not hot and sweaty and out of breath at the top. I tried mine on a steep hill (maybe 10%+) and went up at around 10mph which I’d never be able to do on a standard bike (this pretty much sold me the bike!)
The hydraulic brakes are fantastic and extremely effective.
Position of the bike is fairly upright (more so than my hybrid) so should be good for what you want. The Raleigh motus was too upright for my liking.
 
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Poolepete

Pedelecer
Aug 14, 2018
41
22
49
Poole
I have the Raleigh Motus Grand Tour which is a super comfortable and well built bike. The handlebars are easily adjusted to change your riding position to more or less upright. The Activeline Plus motor does indeed provide plenty of grunt for the hills and it comes with a myriad of standard features such as a decent pannier rack, mudguards, kickstand, good lights, a lovely Selle Scientia saddle and a very good bell!

Mine is the derailleur 10 gear version, the gears are Shimano Deore and have been giving me trouble free and smooth shifting. The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are both powerful and proportionate to input.

With your long legs, I would think you will find this a lovely bike to ride.

As you may have guessed, I love my bike. I use it for my daily commute and have thoroughly enjoyed the 1100 miles I have put on it since July.

The most important advice I can give however is to ride a few bikes to see what you like and judge the service of the dealer. Like with all things expensive, it's great to have a supplier who shows interest in you both before, and after the sale.
 
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Eagle

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 31, 2012
380
132
The most important advice I can give however is to ride a few bikes to see what you like and judge the service of the dealer. Like with all things expensive, it's great to have a supplier who shows interest in you both before, and after the sale.
I was wondering when you were going to turn up and tell ammonite about your experiences with a Motus Grand Tour (Bosch ALP). Will it cope with her 15% hill okay do you think?
I completely agree with your comment about the supplying dealer.
 
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Poolepete

Pedelecer
Aug 14, 2018
41
22
49
Poole
LOL...but hopefully I only advise the bike where it is appropriate for the OP :)

I don't know the inclines of most of the hills I ride, Strava says 10% which seems about right for most of them and not enough for one particularly nasty little hill on my commute. The bike certainly has no issues with those and I have never dropped below 3rd gear (I would hazard to say that I have done them all in 4th or 5th), so I have a few gears to go for a 15%.

I think the OP just has to take a ride up her hill. Certainly my bike dealer took me to the long steep hills in my area on my test ride.
 

ammonite

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 24, 2019
5
2
Exeter
Thanks for all your thoughts, definitely some good options to look at :) I'm going to see if I can do some test rides at the weekend
 

Poolepete

Pedelecer
Aug 14, 2018
41
22
49
Poole
Wrong diddly wrong wrong! And I have the step through...:D:D:D:D

...he rode his own bike to accompany me on a five mile route full of hills.
 

Eagle

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 31, 2012
380
132
Thank goodness for that!
But seriously, you appear to have found a dealer that many potential ebike owners can only dream about.
I see that you already added your dealer, the Raleigh Centre in Poole, (Specialised Motor Components Ltd (Poole)) to this list:
https://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/threads/good-ebike-shops-a-guide.34156/#post-491466

Russ (rsscott) the Administrator has said:
"I'm currently testing another 'dealer search' software product at the moment which has the ability to store a lot more information about a dealer and also includes the ability to leave reviews.
I'll make a demo available soon if anyone would be happy to provide feedback".
 
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M. Tartiflette

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 3, 2019
22
11
I was in a similar position to you a few weeks back - it's up and down all around here (Haute Savoie, France). Ended up getting a bike recommended above - a Cube Touring Hybrid Pro. This has the Bosch Active Line+ motor. I was concerned that it might not be enough to get me up hills in comfort. A test ride put any qualms to rest. Since I've got the bike I've been up many inclines, including off road and in heavy wind, and it's been a breeze (no pun intended). Barely broken a sweat. I had considered more powerful motors such as the Bosch CX Performance, however, I think these are for more extreme conditions such as when mountain biking. For roads (+) I find the Active line more than ample and importantly it not only has greater range but also the bike is easier to use with the motor off (which it is when I'm not going uphill).
 

E-Zee Riders

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 12, 2019
9
1
We have tested quite a few bikes for our Land’s End to John O’Groats tour - with lots of hills.

And the winner with the Bosch Performance CX motor - higher torque for hills - was the Haibike Sduro Trekking 3.0 - 2019 model. You will probably need a 48cm or possibly a 52cm frame. This shop in Exeter supplies them https://takechargebikes.co.uk/product/haibike-trekking-3-0/ Ask them if you can test ride it for a day on Sunday when they are closed.
 

Tawse57

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 28, 2019
13
3
I am in a similar position to ammonite - looking for an e-bike that can cope with the numerous hills of Swansea plus able to help ride into the often frequent headwinds on the Swansea foreshore cycle path.

I also want a rack of some sort so that I am able to carry my pannier bags / shopping. I would prefer some form of trapeze or step-through frame as, despite being a 33.5 inside leg anf 6 foot tall, I find it easier to step through the bike when mounting and dismounting. I currently use a Specialized ladies non e-bike as a shopping bike and, ahem, not having to get my leg over the rear rack and pannier bags is a joy.

The hills around Swansea are numerous and varied - long and steep, short and steep, long gradual climbs, etc. I noticed that Tredz uploaded a video on youtube a few weeks ago of one of their staff riding a Raleigh Motus up Constitution Hill in Swansea - I have seen pro racers collapse on that hill. Talking with the staff they loved the Motus but it seems expensive compared to some of the Cube e-bikes which appear - to my inexperienced eyes - to have better kit for the same money.

I see more and more e-mtbs in Swansea and wonder whether people are opting for them because of the power they give for the local hills. But none have racks and panniers on them so they are not suitable for me. I am not a fan of seatpost mounted racks.

Rant over.