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Why you need Mid drive electric bike in San Francisco ?

San Francisco is capital for Tech workers and artists and electric bikes become their most popular form of transportation. Electric bikes have several advantages both to your health, environment and to your budget.   

Unfortunately, San Francisco has its own challenges about cycling. To name few of them

  • Lack of Space especially if you live in a small apartment. Space is expensive in San Francisco
  • Terrain; San Francisco is famous for its hills and for most of us it is hard to climb them. If you choose the wrong electric bike it will be more and more challenging
  • Safety: Bicycle theft is popular in San Francisco so you need to be smart about what kind of electric bike you buy. 
  • Range: Average commuting distance in San Francisco for bicycle commuters is more than double the National Average. You need to be sure your e-bike is good for long commutes. 

Electric Bikes for Small Apartments

Except for some lucky few, most of us live in small apartments or condos in San Francisco. Space is very valuable and we don't want to waste it with a huge e-bike. Our electric bike needs to be small, lightweight and compact. But also has to have some cargo bike abilities so we can use it for our daily chores.  

Lightweight E-bike

If you live in a multi-storey building or your office is in such a building you may need to carry your electric bike. You need to choose an electric bike not only small in size but also small in weight. 

Lightweight Electric Bike for San Francisco

What to take into consideration when checking for a lightweight e-bike? 

  • The material of Frame: Carbon composite is the lightest material but due to the cost of it few e-bike companies offer it. Alloy and Steel are the most popular two materials in electric bike frames. Aluminium alloy will be a better choice as it is both strong material and very light compared to steel.
  • Battery: Battery is one of the heaviest parts of your electric bike. The only way to save from weight of battery without sacrificing range is, choosing a more efficient system. Mid-drive motors are known to be more efficient compared to hub motors. So you can choose a smaller - lighter battery pack on your mid-drive electric bike and still can make the same range. 
  • Size: Smaller electric bikes are generally lighter but folding electric bikes are an exception to it. Folding ebikes due to their folding mechanism much heavier than a non-folding e-bike with similar size. Also, those folding mechanism by time will break and replacing them will be very costly. 


You need to be sure that your electric bike can fit in regular size elevators or back of an SUV. Besides that also has a small electric bike has manoeuvre advantage. You can make a 180 degree turns at any place without any problem. 


San Francisco isn't the flattest city in the USA and no matter what you do, you will end up climbing some steep hills. 

You need to pay attention to three things to be able to climb steep hills without any effort.  Gears, Motor and Weight of your e-bike. 


Sometimes you will need to change your gear to a lower gear especially when you stopped at a red light when climbing hills. Changing gear at a stationary position is not possible in electric bikes with the derailleur. So you will end up pedalling very hard to start climbing. 

SoIf you've ever stopped at a red light on a normal bike and struggled to get going again because of your gear, you can appreciate this. As we discuss Internal Hub Gears here let's explain other advantages especially for bicycle commuting in places like San Francisco 

    • As there is no derailleur or chain tensioner, chain lasts longer. 
    • Low maintenance. As everything is in a closed sealed environment they aren't subject to exterior impacts. Your gears will need less maintenance. 
    • More difficult to break. Derailleurs hung down and they are vulnerable for impacts such as rock or when your bike falls down. In an internal hub gear, you won't need to worry about it. 
    • Chains won't stain your pants or skirt and you won't need to worry about the off-chain issue. 


Mid-drive motors are known to be superior compared to hub motors, especially in climbing hills.  

The reason for their superiority is internal gears in a mid-drive motor. Hub motors have a fixed gear ratio. A mid-drive motor has several speed reducing gears and gear ratios. So they use these gears to reduce speed and increase torque output. In this way, they will create more torque when needed and let you climb steep hills. 

You can think a wind turbine as a good example. Wind turbines have similar speed reducing gears in this way at low speeds they can still create very large power which produces electricity. 

No hub motor can have hill climbing skills of a mid-drive motor.  

Internal of mid-drive vs hub motor


We have one customer who purchased Ariel Rider electric bike to climb San Francisco Hills. 



The weight of your electric bike will surely affect your hill climbing skills. Try to choose a light electric bike which will make hill climbing easier for you. 


Bicycles and especially electric bikes are good targets for people who need some quick cash especially in San Francisco. There is no 100% guarantee way to prevent your e-bike to be stolen but there are certain things you can do to make it more difficult.  

  • Don't buy a flashy electric bike which says "I cost thousands of $$$". This is why we try to have a more simple look and design on M-Class so your e-bike won't stand out when you park it next to other electric bikes. 
  • You don't need good luck, you just need a good lock. On Ariel Rider, we have frame lock mount and you can buy a nice ABUS lock for it. In this way, you won't need to carry an extra lock with your self. 


People in San Francisco commute more than national average on their bicycles. So it is very normal to commute over 30 miles on your bike or electric bike in Bay Area. 

It means you will need an electric bike with a good range.  

A big battery will give you a good range but there are other things that will affect range of your electric bike too. 

Motor efficiency is most underrated part by people but it is equally important as battery capacity. A mid-drive will consume almost half energy of a hub motor system so it will have double the range of a hub motor electric bike. An electric bike with mid-drive system and 300wh battery pack will have a better range than a hub motor with 450wh battery pack. 

Besides that, your e-bike's gear ratio is important too especially if you are planning to use pedal assist more than throttle. 

Finally is the weight of your electric bike will affect the range of your e-bike. 

Questions and Answers

How Hard to Climb Hills on an Electric Bike? 

It depends on how steep is the hill. But if we are talking about a city like San Francisco or Salt Lake City then it will be a little challenging. 

This shall not let you down, because if you have a powerful mid-drive electric bike climbing hills will be very easy. 

Can a 500 watt electric bike climb hills? 

It can and can't. It isn't very difficult to guess what affects hill climbing conditions. 

  • How steep is Hills
  • How heavy is the rider? 
  • How powerful is the motor? 
  • How much your legs contribute 

500 watt motor don't show the power of the motor, rather it shows the most efficient wattage of your electric bike motor. That is why a 250-watt mid-drive motor can be more powerful than a 1000 watt direct drive motor. 

So a 500-watt mid-drive motor of Ariel Rider can climb hills very easily but an electric bike with a cheap Chinese 500-watt hub motor won't be able to climb moderate hills.  

What is Best Electric BIke for Climbing Steep Hills? 

It depends on what purpose you will use your electric bike for. If you are looking for an electric mountain bike then we can suggest a Haibike for you.  

If you are looking to ride it for commuting purposes then Ariel Rider M-Class will be a perfect fit for you. Many of our clients also commented our M-Class as best electric bike for hills. 

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