Over a Beer: You Don’t Need an Ebike for Uphill Flow

Uphill flow. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Nathan W.
Uphill flow. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Nathan W.

Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

I just had my first experience with uphill flow.

And it wasn’t on an ebike.

I was riding in Bentonville, Arkansas recently, and they’ve dug some absolutely unreal machine built flow trails all over the hills around town! To see these types of flow trails built in city parks and spread all over the region is impressive.

The interesting thing, the thing I hadn’t really experienced before, is that lots of these bermed flow lines allow two-way traffic. Oftentimes you’ll be riding a loop in one direction, and both sets of downhills–whether you’re going clockwise, counter clockwise, east, west, north, or south–are going to flow great. Which means, if you’re going the other direction, you’re going to encounter uphill berms.

Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Nathan W.
Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Nathan W.

I found that if I carried a little bit of speed into the corners, putting on a little bit of gas right before the turn, I could oftentimes still rail the berm while going uphill. And many times, this is exactly what you have to do if you want to stay on your bike. Some of the corners have a flat climbing line in the center but in others, some of the tighter berms, there’s no easy climbing line available. The banked berm simply ends in a gully at the bottom that is almost impossible to pedal up. So on many sections, the rider really has to accelerate into the berm and ride it high like he would on a descent.

Which is, in fact, uphill flow.

Now “uphill flow” is a term that Bosch and Trek are using to market their ebikes, saying that you need a motor to get some flow going uphill. But now I disagree. Now I think whether you get uphill flow depends on the flow and design of the trail, as always.

Would you experience more uphill flow with a motor? Sure. That makes total sense.

But just because you have a motor doesn’t mean you’ll get to experience uphill flow, either. If you’re grinding up a steep, straight climb, are you going to get your uphill flow on, even with the pedal assist cranked up to 10? No way! Maybe you’ll make it up the hill faster, but flow? Not so much.

Flow isn’t a function of the bike you’re riding. Rather, it’s a function of the trail design and the aptitude of the rider to make the most of it.

Even if you’re pedaling uphill.

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