One of the first things people want to know about an electric bike is how it feels on a hill. What is the assistance like? Will I be able to get up any climb? How easy will it make the ups?
At our Nailsworth showroom, we’re lucky to have a beast of a hill on our doorstep, so when people demo our e-bikes, they quickly find out how satisfying going up big hills can be on these machines.
E-bikes are popular for commutes because they eat up the hills, so you can arrive at your workplace fresher, full of endorphins and significantly less sweaty!
Encouragingly, The number of cyclist commuters in our home city of Bristol has grown enormously in the past few years, and it’s a city with no shortage of hills.
With that in mind, we decided to take 2 of our most popular urban e-bikes and tackle five of Bristol’s biggest climbs. Who better to do this than Dan and Rufus?!
What bikes did they ride?
Dan rode the Riese and Muller UBN Five, which comes with the Fazua Ride 60 drive system, provides 60Nm of torque (torque the power you need for significant inclines) and is equipped with a 430 Wh battery. Dan’s bike was the Silent specification with a Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub gear.
Rufus rode the Riese and Muller Roadster, equipped with the Bosch Performance Line CX motor that provides 85Nm of torque and is powered by a 625 Wh battery. The version in the video is the Roadster Touring which has an 11-speed derailleur gear.
Which hills did they tackle?
- Whiteladies Road
- Park Street
- Constitution Hill
- St. Michael’s Hill
- Vale Street
They started gently with the 6%(ish) Whiteladies road heading up to Downs. Dan rode the UBN Five without motor aid for much of the climb, only turning on the lowest level of assistance with the Fazua (Breeze) for the steeper end to the ascent, but he did get into the lowest gear on the Shimano Alfine 8-Speed hub. The ‘Silent’ specification with the Alfine Hub gives a beautifully quiet and smooth ride. The Fazua motor is certainly less noticeable in appearance than the more bulky (and more powerful) Bosch motor on the Roaster. If you’re looking for quiet and inconspicuous, the UBN wins but at a performance cost.
One of the more well know hills in Bristol, Park Street starts at College Green and ascends, peaking at roughly 10% gradient. Dan kept the UBN in Breeze (or equivalent Eco on the Roadster with the Bosch motor) for the ascent and made it to the top with quite a lot of effort. He could have upped the assistance if he wasn’t holding the GoPro the whole way up! Meanwhile, Rufus cruised in the second level of assistance (Touring) on the Roadster and arrived in good shape.
A much more threatening-looking hill at a 16% gradient, Constitution Hill provided more of a challenge and highlighted some differences between the two bikes. Dan rode up the lowest gear and in Rocket mode, and although he comfortably made it to the summit, he was definitely out of breath. At this point, Dan became suspicious, noticing Rufus was barely exerting himself, so they agreed to do the same climb but switch bikes, so Dan was now riding the Riese and Muller Roadster with the Bosch motor. Dan isn’t as unfit as he thought; he and Rufus noticed the extra power that the Bosch motor in the Roadster provided and found Constitution Hill considerably easier. The Roadster also has an 11-speed cassette versus the Shimano Elfine 8-speed hub giving a bit more oomph on the steeper hills.
St. Michaels Hill
Back on the UBN, this hill provided little challenge to Dan, although he did find that more gears and more torque enabled Rufus to power away a little; overall, the Fazua motor ate up this sort of gradient. The next hill, Vale Street, was a different matter.
At 25% gradient, this was a good challenge but perfectly achievable on either bike and multiple times, as Dan did in the name of proper testing. Using the Fazua motor’s boost mode (on the UBN) gives a few seconds of full torque to get up the steepest part. However, Dan’s preferred ride on hills like this was the Roadster with the Bosch motor and 11-speed derailleur. There’s a gentle whirring sound, but he found the extra power made a big difference and enabled him to enjoy the hill much more.
Bosch performance line cx vs Fazua Ride 60
If you are looking for a bike that can eat up the biggest urban hills then the Roadster’s higher torque Bosch motor will provide a more enjoyable climb. Furthermore, if the range is a concern, the larger 625Wh battery on the Roadster will also be a strong plus. However, the quieter and sleeker UBN is a fantastic bike if you commute with moderate or minimal hills.
The UBN Silent uses a Gates Carbon drive with the Shimano Alfine hub, an excellent setup for low/no maintenance commuting. There’s no messing around with oiling your chain and then getting oil on your work trousers! Furthermore, you won’t need to spend time indexing your gears and maintaining the derailleur. If this appeals, but a higher power motor and a larger battery are desired, it’s worth considering the Roadster specified with the Vario hub.
Upgrade Your Commute: Come and give one a try.
We can’t extol the virtues of an e-bike for commutes enough. Those mornings when you’re unsure if it’d be easier to get in the car become a thing of the past, and that feeling like it’s a few miles too far to do twice a day – is gone.
Book a test ride at our showroom in Nailsworth or Bristol and upgrade come and see how you can upgrade your commute.