Let’s get this out of the way first – everybody knows that riding uphill while seated on an e-bike is so much easier than pedaling your little heart out. However, this doesn’t mean that you can just hop on the e-bike and let it do all the work for you. Well, you can with some e-bikes. It just won’t be all that fun, and your battery probably won’t last too long either.
On this page, we figured we’d share a few tips for making that uphill biking experience that much more pleasurable. Follow these tips, and not only will you have an enjoyable bike riding session, but you won’t have to worry about your e-bike’s battery giving up halfway through an epic uphill cycle, only to see yourself needing to kick your legs into gear otherwise it will be a long, rather fast, roll to the bottom.
Set Your Bike Up Properly
Before you even so much as think about tackling a hill, it is important that you set up your bike properly. 99% of the effort (maybe a slight over-exaggeration) on an e-bike can be reduced by actually being comfortable on it.
First and foremost, ensure that your seat is at a proper height. There are plenty of guides online about how to set things up well here. However, generally speaking, when the pedal is at the lowest position, your knee should be bent 30-40 degrees. Some people think that your leg should be fully extended, but those people are wrong. If your leg is fully extended, it’ll be painful.
We also suggest that you take a bit of time to adjust the handlebars. You should also work on your hand position. Basically, get yourself into a comfortable position.
Stiffen the Suspension On Your E-Bike
If you can stiffen the suspension on your e-bike, do so. You want it to be nice and firm. It will make the pedaling uphill a whole lot easier. Soft and squishy suspensions are great for leveling out off-road trails and the like. They aren’t great for cycling on roads or uphill at all.
If you’re going uphill on an off-road trail, then you may want to experiment with a medium setting on your e-bike’s suspension instead. It will make your ride a little bit smoother while also allowing you to get the right amount of pressure behind those wheels.
Get The Right Tire Pressure
We’ll let you in on a little secret here – when your tires have started to deflate, they are harder to cycle with. This is because they provide much more resistance. Even if you cycled on a flat surface, you’re making your life a whole lot more difficult. It’s just making things worse for you when you are cycling uphill.
Now, you would think that you can just start pumping your tires and you’ll be good to go. You aren’t. You have to get the right amount of air pressure (known as PSI) in those tires.
Now, the exact PSI that you need will vary depending on the bike and the tires that you have. So, have a flick through the manual for your e-bike (or hunt down some information online for your specific model), then pump your tires up to the recommended PSI. Always aim for a much firmer tire if you are doing a lot of uphill pedaling. It’ll help you master the art.
Don’t Go Full Throttle Controls
If your e-bike has full throttle controls (i.e. you don’t have to pedal but your bike will keep moving forward), don’t use them. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, it just isn’t fun to be carried up the hill by your e-bike. Sure, you won’t have to put any effort in, but you’re riding a bike to have fun. Make it fun. Even if you just switch to a light pedal assist (more on that soon), try to pedal a little bit. It is enjoyable. We promise.
Secondly, and this is probably more important, getting up a hill takes a whole lot of effort. You probably know that already. It is far, far harder than pedaling on a flat surface or going downhill. It isn’t just you who will complain about that either. Your e-bike’s battery won’t be a massive fan of those uphill climbs either. Your e-bike needs to expend a lot of energy traversing those hills. So, a lot of uphill cycling at full throttle will drain that battery insanely quickly. In fact, you’ll be back home to charge before you know it!
Oh, and you should also remember that cycling is about having a decent workout. Sure, it is a mode of transport, but there is probably a reason why you’re cycling and not hopping on public transport or in a car – you want to get fitter. Hills are probably going to provide the best workout for your body, so at least attempt to cycle up them. The more you do it, the easier everything will become.
Experiment With Different Pedal Assist Modes
Your e-bike has pedal assist (which you probably know), but this doesn’t mean that you need to crank that pedal assist right up to the maximum setting when you are cycling uphill. In fact, we recommend that you don’t.
Obviously, the higher the pedal assist, the easier it will be to cycle up the hill. However, you already know by now that it is going to have an impact on your battery life.
There is no one right pedal assist option for everybody. The steepness of the incline will have a major impact on how much pedal assistance you need. This means one thing – experiment. Play about with the various pedal assist modes on your e-bike. Your goal is to have the right amount of assist to ensure that you can maintain a decent speed while going uphill, while also not putting too much strain on the battery.
As you become better at cycling uphill, you’ll find that you can switch the pedal-assist to a lower number. This is because your body has become stronger.
Switch to a Low Gear
Your e-bike has multiple gears. If you want to learn how to cycle properly, you really do need to experiment with the gearing and learn how to do things properly. We’ll make life easy for you here, though. If you are pedaling uphill, you want your bike to be in a low gear.
When your bike is in low gear, you’ll find it easier to move the pedals. While you won’t be able to maintain a high speed traveling uphill, cycling will be much more comfortable, and it will be easier to maintain your cadence (more on that in a very short while)
While we are on the subject of a low gear, it is important that you switch to the low gear before you hit the hill. It’ll make it easier to get the hill transition right, ensuring that your momentum doesn’t slow down.
Mastering Your Cycling Technique
Now that we’ve given you a few tips that should make your uphill e-bike experience a breeze, let’s wrap up with a few techniques that you can use to master your cycling technique. This information should apply whether you are using an e-bike or just a traditional bike.
Get the Right Cadence
Without going too deep into things here – cadence is the speed and regularity with which you move the pedals. When people discuss cadence, they are talking about the amount of times you move the pedals around in a minute. So, if somebody had a cadence of 90 RPM, it means that they are rotating the pedals around 90 times in a minute.
The key to cycling uphill with ease is maintaining an even cadence. Your legs should never stop moving. You want to ensure that the speed your legs are moving is the same from one minute to the next. So, you don’t want to be going all out and cycling at 120 RPM one minute, and 60 RPM the next. You’re making your life a lot more difficult.
Ideally, you want to have around 70 to 90 RPM when you are cycling uphill. Newbies can probably drop down to 60 RPM, but you’re making your life a lot harder like that.
So, the key now is to adjust your pedal assist settings (remember those from earlier?) to ensure that you can maintain a consistent cadence. If you’re going faster than 90 RPM, turn the pedal assist down. If you’re going too slow, then turn the pedal assist up.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to count your RPM. Life is difficult enough. Most e-bikes have an in-built computer that can measure your cadence. If your e-bike doesn’t have one, then you can easily buy a cycling computer. They don’t cost much.
Rock Your Bike From Side to Side Using Your Arms
If you watch pro cyclists cycling uphill, you’ll notice that they swing the bike lightly from side to side when they do so. This movement may be a bit more pronounced with the smaller riders. They aren’t just doing this for fun. It helps with power transference.
When you rock your bike from side to side, it will make it ever so slightly easier to tackle the hill. Yes, this applies even with an e-bike.
Sit Down or Stand Up?
The age-old question, but we’ll answer now – it depends on the climb.
If the gradient is less than 10 degrees, then sit down. Standing up will increase drag, and this will slow you down.
Steeper hills? It doesn’t matter too much. Cycle however you feel comfortable. Some argue that it is easier to get power into the pedals when you stand, but you’ll also tire yourself out quicker.
Practice, Practice, and More Practice
This guide to climbing hills with ease using your e-bike will only get you so far. If you want to get better at tackling hills, you need to cycle uphill more. The more you do it, the more you’ll discover about your cycling technique. You’ll also learn how your e-bike works when tackling hills.
After a few weeks of daily hills (sorry, it does take that long), you’ll be tackling the hills like a pro.
So, there you have it. Tons of tips for mastering uphill rides with your e-bike. However, once again, they pretty much all boil down to practice. Uphill cycling is a challenge. However, it is a challenge that gets easier with time. While you are making your life a whole lot easier being on an e-bike, it is still difficult. The more you cycle, the easier things will be. Start by getting to know your e-bike, refine your technique, and then tackle progressively tougher hills. We promise you that the effort that you put in will be worth it.