Can Electric Bikes Go Uphill? [The Real Answer]

Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Matt

person resting after climbing a hill on an electric bike

If you’re considering getting an electric bike but live in a hilly area, you may wonder if an electric bike is a good idea at all. After researching many ebikes and learning from my own experiences, I have just the answer you’re looking for. Let’s see if electric bikes can go uphill, and how well do they handle this challenge.

Can electric bikes go up hills?

Electric bikes are great for hilly commutes. Their pedal-assist feature makes it easier to climb hills compared to a conventional bike or electric scooter. Depending on the steepness of the hill and the features of ebikes, some are better at going uphill than others. 

If you have an electric bike with the right features and know the suitable techniques to make the climb easier, going up hills on your electric bike can be a very fun experience.

The factors of an electric bike that determine how easy your uphill climb will include the vehicle’s motor power, battery capacity, tire width, gear system, weight, etc.

If hills are a major part of your daily commute, read on to learn more about what type of ebike you should get and what tips you should follow for an easier climb. 

Can electric bikes go up steep hills?

Steep hills are harder to climb for electric bikes but can easily be conquered with the right motor power, battery, and weight. Even though many ebikes are designed to ride over steep hills, there are limits to how high of a slope electric bikes can climb.

How steep of a hill can you climb with an electric bike?

20 percent climb angle traffic sign

Most electric bikes can easily climb hills between 10% / 5.71 degrees to 15% / 8.53 degrees. Some advanced electric bikes can also handle 20% / 11.31 degrees. There are a few models that can also conquer much steeper hills (up to 57% / 30 degrees).

I recommend you always consult the specs of the electric bike, as well as reviews of the model for the maximum gradient it can handle.

How do you ride an ebike uphill?

In my experience, the best way to ride an electric bike uphill for commuting is to alter your bike settings at different positions on the hill. Nearing the base of a hill, put your electric bike on pedal assist and use the throttle for an initial boost to propel you uphill. Once you’re on top of the hill, on flatter ground, turn off the pedal assist completely.  

This technique lets you ride uphill without exerting yourself and conserves your battery for a longer ride.

Can you go uphill on an electric bike without pedaling?

An electric bike can only go uphill without pedaling if it has a throttle installed. If not, the motor will mainly assist your pedaling rather than replacing it. 

The throttle is used to increase acceleration as the motor propels you forward. Riding the electric bike at full throttle, you won’t even have to pedal to move forward.

Going full throttle can be a smart idea if you’re at the end of your ride, but if you still have some distance left, I don’t recommend this because it will drain your battery pretty fast.

What are the best electric bikes for going up hills?

The best electric bikes for going up hills have the most powerful motors. More power means your uphill ride will go smoothly for even the steepest hills. You’ll get a more consistent ride with minimal effort. 

Such bikes are of high quality, and their power can go up to thousands of watts. So, they’re understandably more expensive.

The RadRover 6 Plus, the Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X, and the Co-op Cycles CTY e2.2 are some of my favorite ebikes for climbing hills.

What to look for in an ebike for going uphill?

When deciding on the right electric bike for hilly areas, these are the most important features you should pay attention to.

A powerful motor for more assistance

When it comes to motors, more watts means more power. A 250 Watt ebike motor may be enough for medium hills but will require some pedaling effort. For steeper hills, your bike should at least have a motor of 500-700 watts. If you further want to minimize your effort, you can opt for a motor of an even higher power.

Electric bikes are commonly fitted with either a mid-drive or hub drive motor. The former is better for flat grounds, while a hub drive motor is ideal for hilly commutes.

When deciding on the motor power for your electric bike, you should consider your own weight and the weight of the load you plan to carry. The larger the load on an electric bike, the higher-powered motor you’ll need for a smooth ride over steep hills.

Multiple assistance level features for more control

Assistance level features are what make an electric bike ideal for hilly commutes. If you live in an area with different hill sizes, an electric bike with multiple assistance level features lets you customize your ride according to each hill.

Having control over different assistance level features means you can conserve your battery using a lower assistance level on flatter grounds and leave the higher assistance levels for more difficult hills.

With this feature, you can save your energy, apply less effort, and avoid overexerting yourself.

High battery capacity to provide sufficient energy

electric bike battery

Depending on the electric bike’s motor power, you’ll need a battery with enough capacity to power it. Note that a battery with higher capacity will require a longer time to charge and will add to the weight of the electric bike.

For uphill climbs, we recommend having a battery of at least 400 Watt-hours or more.

Good grip in the form of wide tires 

Having wide tires with aggressive tread patterns means more of the surface will be in contact with the ground leading to better weight distribution and improved comfort. The tread patterns will give your electric bike extra grip, enhancing its stability while riding uphill.

Lightweight frame to work the bike easily

The more weight your bike has to bear, the tougher the uphill climb. That includes the weight of the bike’s battery, accessories, additional load, and your weight as well. So getting a lightweight bike for a more efficient ride over the hills would be best.

Torque sensor for an intuitive ride

A torque sensor in an electric bike measures the force you apply on the pedals and signals the motor to provide power accordingly. This intuitive feature makes the ride uphill more efficient and conserves the battery because the motor only uses enough power to ride on a particular ground type.

Low gearing system to apply less effort

The pedals of an electric bike with a low-gearing system turn more easily, and the motor provides more power. This is a great feature for hilly commutes because you have to apply less effort and get a more consistent uphill ride.

How to improve the hill-climbing abilities of an electric bike?

If you already have an electric bike and want to make it more friendly for climbing hills, these tips can be a game changer:

  • Upgrade your electric bike’s battery and motor according to your uphill commute. This way, you get the needed assistance but don’t overdo the total bike weight.
  • Get rid of any heavy accessories you don’t need, like fenders, extra lights, racks, etc. If you carry a backpack, ensure it’s only filled with absolute necessities.
  • Ensure the battery is completely charged before every ride so you can use the higher pedal assist level when you need to without worrying that the battery will run out.
  • Use pedal assist to avoid exertion, but wisely so the battery doesn’t run out too soon. 

What are the risks of riding electric bikes up hills?

If you plan on using your electric bike mostly for hilly areas, there are some potential risks that you should always be prepared for. The chances of these risks are pretty slim if you have a high-powered bike designed to ride on all kinds of hills, but you should take precautions nonetheless.

Depending on the bike’s weight, your own weight, and any additional load it carries, the bike will slow down significantly when going uphill. Pedaling will require more effort, and it can become easy to over-exert yourself.

Riding your bike uphill on a narrow, crowded, or less visible road can cause accidents. 

If your bike is not designed for steep hills, it can potentially overheat, and using its pedal-assist feature can quickly drain your battery.

To avoid these risks, you should have a high-performing electric bike and always wear safety gear. Take breaks if you get tired, and don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you have health problems. Always be aware of your surroundings so you can customize the pedal assist and throttle features accordingly.

Can ebikes break down going uphill?

Lower-end electric bikes don’t have the power or battery capacity needed for steep hills. The bike may work fine if there are a few moderate hills of 5-7% gradients in your commute, but it will probably break down riding steeper hills.

On the other hand, high-end bikes are less likely to break down thanks to their larger battery capacities, high-powered motors, and high-quality components. 

That being said, using any electric bike to ride over hills steeper than it’s been designed for can lead to mechanical issues and breakdowns. The chance for this increases if the bike is carrying heavier loads than its ability.

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Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
My name is Matt Trajkovski. I love electric scooters, and electric vehicles in general. I like doing a lot of testing, reviewing, and research on various electric scooter models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience. All of the content published on this blog goes through a rigorous review and editorial process, and our product reviews not only include the hands-on experience of our own team members, but the experience of our audience members as well. My goal is to provide you with the best information about electric scooters possible. You can see all of my posts in my articles archive.

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