Recommendation for "commuter" bike for mountainous area

LowDoc

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Posting this in general as I don't have a specific type of bike in mind. I've been doing a lot of research, but have yet to find a bike that seems targeted towards what I want to do. Here's the situation:

The ride to town is 5 miles (8 km) on dirt roads with 1500' (~450m) of elevation gain and a 2000' (~600m) descent. The slopes are sustained 10-15% with the steepest sections around 25%, so round trip I'm looking at 10 miles (16 km) with about 3500' (~1000m) of elevation gain. I'm looking for something that can:

1. Handle the hills easily so the ride doesn't take forever and I don't arrive a sweaty mess. I'm not looking to just throttle up the hills, but I would like to go much faster than pedaling alone would get me. I don't need a top end above 20mph on the flats, but I need solid brakes given the long descents.​

2. Be able to handle dirt roads that can get quite muddy, but I'm not looking to ride trails with it and don't necessarily need suspension.​

3. Have enough cargo capacity for some basic errands, although not a full-on long-tail cargo bike. I weigh about 200lbs and would want to be able to comfortably take another 50lbs or so. I'll be adding fenders and a rack to whatever I get.​
4. Have enough range to go another 10-15 mi (16 - 24 km) in addition to the 10 mi round trip. Basically, I need to get to the valley floor and then go other places in the valley. The additional range I am looking for would be on much flatter terrain.​

Any recommendations? I've been looking at mountain bikes, fat bikes and smaller cargo bikes, but none seems to really tick all the boxes.

So far, the I like the Jones https://www.jonesmotorbikes.com/electric-bicycles/, but I certainly wouldn't mind a cheaper option and I don't love that the Jones just takes a bottom bracket Bafang motor considering the cost.

Thanks for any input!
 
I don't want to sound like "that guy", but are you -sure- about those grade numbers? I have a relatively short 16% grade that requires all my power plus the hub motor to climb and I can tell you for a fact that I couldn't get up a 25% grade.

I'd love to see the actual numbers pulled from this page; https://www.mapometer.com/
 
Here's the profile with the grade in % and profile. Looks like the max is only 20%. Keep in mind that is percent grade, not slope in degrees. I'm definitely looking at doing a mid-drive given all the climbing. I've looked at the route with a 1m DEM on QGIS.

I suppose sweaty mess is relative, but I can do about 100w of effort without it being too big a deal.


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Seems like based on this https://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html I'm going to want at least 750w and probably 1000w would be better. I don't know if others have experience with tools like this and their accuracy. If I'm going to pedal with 100w on these hills and want to maintain any kind of speed, the motor is the vast majority of the work. I was looking at bikes with motors like the Bosch CX, but it seems like that just isn't going to be enough.

Aside from the Jones, the Sondors LX looks interesting other than not being able to mount fenders or a rack from what I can see. The Rize RX looks interesting too, although not in stock. The only thing holding me back on the Jones is it having a BBS motor vs an M620.

Anyways, just curious if there is anyone out there regularly doing climbs like this.
 
I would get something like this bike from REI


The motor provides 60 Nm of torque which is about the minimum to be useful on steep hills. For steep terrain I would get the shop to put a larger rear cog and if need be to change the derailler to one with more range. As it is not a race, having a single very low get to get up the grade is all that is needed. The bike has a very sturdy rack and so adding panniers is not a problem.

Any bike with hydraulic disc brakes can handle the downhill sections in terms of controlling your speed and no worries about heating the rims and thus the tubes. The 27.5 x 1.95" tires are the the most common size for mountain bikes so lots of choices if you want to change them. Add front and rear fenders, like the very inexpensive ones used on mountain bikes, and mud or wet oily pavement will not be a problem.
 
I would think 1000w + and 21ah battery or better. 250lbs is a lot of weight to go up a hill, you will definitely need 90 nm motor or better i would think. My wife's 750w with 80nm of torque and she is 150 and struggles with any grade over 15% and no motor battery combo likes to be max out wattage wise for any sustained period of time. Just my input, maybe a hunting bike would be better since you live in such a hilly area, trail riding would be nice i think. https://huntinggiant.com/collections/hunting-electric-bikes

I cant vouch for the website but maybe more durable bike meant to climb hills
 
I recently bought an Addmotor Wildtan with a 1000W mid drive. It is a very large ebike but I am 6'6" and 300 pounds. I can go up hills that steep in the lower gears. The bike is a beast.

But I am not really familiar with pedal assist and managed to mis-shift while under considerable load on oneof these hills. This mistake damaged the chainring, the chain, the cassette and the freehub. That said, I am buying spares and expect to be more careful in the future. You need to set your gears before hitting the steep parts of the hill.
 
I would go with a mid drive bike for your situation. Mid Drives are great hill climbers, not to say that hub driven bikes cannot do the job. If you can find a mobile bicycle repair service in your area you can talk to them about what others ride in the area and how they're doing, what bike they would recommend and order whatever you want. Good Luck
 
Mid drive is the way to go. Spend the extra $$. You won't be sorry. Rear hub not good at hill climbing. If you don't mind not having throttle look at the ride 1 up Prodigy. Great bang for the buck. Don't know why they didn't include throttle it's a deal breaker for some
 
I'm not sure I understand the thinking here. I myself ride a 750 watt hub motor bicycle with 20" fat tires, and a 65 yo geezer that climbs steep hills everyday and I have zero problems with this system. Never been on a mid drive. Thought about building one, because it seems like there the way to go for hills according to people that have them. I'm not buying it. My hub motor works. I know it works. In fact I like hub motors, and I know now that's what I'm sticking with. I've even had this little bike on mtb trails that were technical and it performs well for a 70lb bike. I could replace a burned out hub motor in no time, and there very reasonable in price. Not so with a mid-drive. No real maintenance on a hub mtr. JMHO YMMV
Cheers!
 
I recently bought an Addmotor Wildtan with a 1000W mid drive. It is a very large ebike but I am 6'6" and 300 pounds. I can go up hills that steep in the lower gears. The bike is a beast.

But I am not really familiar with pedal assist and managed to mis-shift while under considerable load on oneof these hills. This mistake damaged the chainring, the chain, the cassette and the freehub. That said, I am buying spares and expect to be more careful in the future. You need to set your gears before hitting the steep parts of the hill.
You need to set your gears before hitting the steep parts of the hill.
YES you do!
 
I'm not sure I understand the thinking here. I myself ride a 750 watt hub motor bicycle with 20" fat tires, and a 65 yo geezer that climbs steep hills everyday and I have zero problems with this system. Never been on a mid drive. Thought about building one, because it seems like there the way to go for hills according to people that have them. I'm not buying it. My hub motor works. I know it works. In fact I like hub motors, and I know now that's what I'm sticking with. I've even had this little bike on mtb trails that were technical and it performs well for a 70lb bike. I could replace a burned out hub motor in no time, and there very reasonable in price. Not so with a mid-drive. No real maintenance on a hub mtr. JMHO YMMV
Cheers!
If you love your hub motor and it does what you need it to do then that's great. No need for mid drive. I was like you. I bought my Aventon pace 500 in 2020 and was blown away by the performance. Back then the least expensive mid drive was 4k. Now you can get one for 2300. But reality is that the Pace 500 struggles on steep hills. Yes it's only 500 watts and yours is 750. I'll bet you're bike with fat tires is also a lot heavier than my pace. but if you ever try out a mid drive on a steep hill it just eats it up providing youre in the low gear. It's a total game changer. I rode my friends 10k specialized levo SL up a steep hill and it literally went up the hill with no problem. Biggest mistake I did was ride that bike. Now I want a mid drive!!! Enjoy your bike and the Holidays!!
 
If you love your hub motor and it does what you need it to do then that's great. No need for mid drive. I was like you. I bought my Aventon pace 500 in 2020 and was blown away by the performance. Back then the least expensive mid drive was 4k. Now you can get one for 2300. But reality is that the Pace 500 struggles on steep hills. Yes it's only 500 watts and yours is 750. I'll bet you're bike with fat tires is also a lot heavier than my pace. but if you ever try out a mid drive on a steep hill it just eats it up providing youre in the low gear. It's a total game changer. I rode my friends 10k specialized levo SL up a steep hill and it literally went up the hill with no problem. Biggest mistake I did was ride that bike. Now I want a mid drive!!! Enjoy your bike and the Holidays!!
Watch this.
 
I read my post and I come off sounding like my hub drive is best. I've never tried a mid drive, so I can't say anything about them. I'd like to try a mid drive. Until then my hub powered bike makes me smile, gets done what needs to get done, and is a pleasure to ride.
 
Here's the profile with the grade in % and profile. Looks like the max is only 20%. Keep in mind that is percent grade, not slope in degrees. I'm definitely looking at doing a mid-drive given all the climbing. I've looked at the route with a 1m DEM on QGIS.

I suppose sweaty mess is relative, but I can do about 100w of effort without it being too big a deal.


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Maybe this? https://arielrider.com/products/grizzly I don't know your price range but this may be able to handle those grades
 
I have pedaled mid-drive & hub motor ebikes up the same hills in my area,
I emphasize the word "pedaled" because I rarely use the throttle-only operation on my ebikes;
except to start off from a dead stop to get the bike moving so I can pedal in a decent cadence.
Throttle-only operation for me usually last less than 5-10 seconds, even on hills.

PAS mode is what I depend on my ebikes when I encounter hills, with a decent cadence of 75-80 rpm, I can usually get myself up a hill (on or off pavement) over a distance of 1/4 to 1/2 mile long without involving heavy breathing or breaking much of a sweat.
With my usage of ebikes, I don't feel spending the extra money for mid-drive provide any advantage over hub motor.
Advantage for hub motor is significant when you consider entry budget.

If you're not doing performance type riding, like in a race, training for high level of fitness, riding black diamond trails at high speeds.. the advantages of hub motor become even more obvious.

No one is even going to admit that a $5k high end mid-drive ebikes works just as well as a $2K ebike for regular folks commuting from day-to-day at moderate pace.

The honest reason to choose one over the other always come down to how you plan to use the ebike & how much do you want to spend?
 
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