Electric bikes, Electric Hunting Bikes or e-bikes have been growing in popularity for the last several years and for good reason. Ebikes are now lighter, easier than ever to use and more powerful with longer lasting batteries to give you the range you need to get further on your hunts and adventures. Electric bikes do not require the same level of physical fitness in order to go the distance and these bikes are an absolute blast to ride with top speeds over 20mph.
What is an Electric Hunting Bike?
Electric bikes are very similar to regular mountain bikes that come with a battery, motor and a controller allowing you to be able to control the speed and the various modes you are running your bike in. Most ebikes also come with a screen to allow you to see your speed, the distance travelled, the mode you are currently using and the amount of battery that you have left over as you travel. These bikes allow you pedal on your own, use pedal assist and use the motor without pedaling when need be.
Electric bikes specifically for hunting offer tremendous options for hunters including the ability to use accessories like bags, racks and cargo trailers to haul your gear in and come out heavy with game. Ebikes today can now offer a range of up to 60 miles round trip and can now be camouflaged and built to withstand the rigors of hunting in the mountains, forests, deserts and prairies of our country. Electric bikes designed for hunting are flat out different than the ebikes that we see tooling around the city, they are built tougher with heavy-duty suspension systems and sturdy frames and fat tires for stability allowing you to comfortably travel across varied levels of gravel, dirt, snow and mud.
The first time I hunted with an electric hunting bike was during a December muzzleloader hunt in Nebraska. I was hunting a canyon edge and corner of the property. I had a place all picked out right on the corner where I knew that I would be in a position to shoot a doe to fill the freezer. It was muddy and we had snow on the ground so there was no way that I would hunt that corner without a plan to be able to get the deer out of that corner. I dropped the bike out of the back of the truck and loaded up the trailer with the blind and headed out to the corner with my pack on my back and some extra straps in my pack.
I pulled up to my spot which was wide open with the exception of a couple of Yucca plants. I laid the bike on its side and set up my blind and tucked in. About an hour in the does started popping out and I took one at 12 yards from the blind with the muzzleloader and she dropped on the spot. It was a great day. I folded up the blind, gutted the deer and then figured out that I could lay the doe on the cart, I took off the feet and then strapped the blind to the cargo rack and drove the bike through the mud and snow and had the entire truck packed up before my buddies even got back to the truck. It was an epic moment of realization that this was the way it should always be.
Are Fat Tire Bikes the BEST Electric Hunting Bikes?
If you have ever done any 4 wheeling you know that bigger softer tires give you more options and better performance off-road. Without question, this is absolutely true of Electric Hunting Bikes especially in off-road situations The extra-wide tires allow you to keep on moving over rocks, sand, mud, snow and sticks and you can adjust the tire pressure to give you the best ride possible for the conditions you have. The assist of the electric motor will allow you to power up steep inclines and get in to areas that were hard to reach on foot.
Having a fat wide tire allows you cushion the impact of rough terrain and maintain better control without the jarring feeling on your hands and body. The tire gives you better grip and allows more traction when you absolutely need it. We have found that fat tire bikes really feel more stable and allow bigger wide tires to get you up off the ground and giving you clearance when you need it on roads and trails and when off-road. Fat tires can also be fitted with thorn proof foam and different tubes allowing you to protect your bike tires from thorns and should thorns get past the foam these inserts can allow you to run flat and get back to your vehicle.
Electric Bikes come in various forms and without question the fat tire bikes are the best for hunting. You do have options in regards to the kind of fat tire bike you get. Hardtail electric bikes are a little bit less expensive but offer little to no suspension and can be a jarring ride off-road. Full suspension electric mountain bikes offer the best of both worlds with fat tires and shocks in the front and back giving you grip, a comfortable ride and the ability to enjoy being off-road. The last option is a folding electric bike which are great when you just don’t have the room to store or travel with a full size bike. Folding bikes will not take you to the off-road locations that you can get to with a full size suspension bike that is built out specifically for hunting.
What Features are Important to Consider when Looking for an Electric Bike?
Electric Bike Motor Power and Torque
Electric bikes come with both mid-motors and hub-motors and for hunting and off-road applications you want to seriously look at e-bikes that are focused on mid-drive motors and the reason is that mid-hub motors give you the ability to use lower gears with massive torque to power your bike up steep hills without overheating. Increased torque allows you to get farther with more power and pull heavier loads with less battery usage.
E-Bike Battery Life
When looking at battery life it is important to have enough battery to be able to get you out there and then back to your vehicle, cabin or home. Long lasting and quality batteries that are easy to charge and maintain are an important part of your purchase when looking to buy an electric bike.
Weight capacity for electric hunting bikes is a vital part of what you should look for when buying an electric bike. When you are thinking about weight capacity you want to think about your own weight as well as the weight of all of your gear that you are going to carry in to the woods. My pack generally weighs in at around 30lbs, my rifle weighs in at 8lbs with optics and I am going to plan on bringing out quarters of deer on my back unless I am using a trailer. All of this contributes to the total weight capacity of what you are going to need on the bike you select.
In the city, you can get away with having an electric bike without any kind of suspension but if you are going to be going off-road you are going to want to make sure that you have suspension on your bike. What most people do not realize is that suspension helps you to have control over you bike. Suspension helps in cornering and braking to help handle the load of the bike and keep the handlebars in your hands . Attacking rough terrain with heavy loads requires suspension so when looking for a hunting ebike, look for something with full-suspension.
Overall Weight of the Bike
Electric bikes are fun to use and depending upon where you are using them you are going to need to be able to maneuver your bike in and out of your vehicle or trailer and sometimes pick them up and move them around. Hunting on some properties will require you to be able to pick up your bike and lift it up and over fences, so look for a bike that is easy to maneuver and at an overall weight that you can manipulate easily to lift onto the bike rack or the back of your truck.
Electric Bike Range
Electric Bikes come with a wide variety of battery sizes as well as motors and each bike within each brand is going to be different. As well, every electric bike that is going up and down mountains is going to eat up more battery than one that is travelling on the prairie or on flat farm ground running from your truck to a deer stand a mile off the road. All e-bikes are going to increase battery range when you are actively peddling. When looking at today’s electric hunting bikes look at the listed range an take that into consideration when making your purchase. Our suggestion is to get the most amount of range you can for your dollar but don’t let that be your only factor. If you are going to be hunting for a week in the backcountry, it might be a smart idea to get a second battery and have the ability to charge that spare battery in camp.
One of the key factors of owning an electric bike is how amazingly quiet they are which allows you to get into location quietly without spooking game. As well a hunting e-bike allows you get into location without a lot of scent on the ground. The vast majority of electric hunting bikes today are going to fit the bill for being quiet but it’s a great idea to listen to the motor of the bike you are considering and do everything you can to make sure that your gear does not rattle when you are riding your bike or you will spook game on the way in. Light should also be a consideration as you are going to need to see when you go in under the cover of darkness so consider getting lights or headlamps with red or green lenses to help you decrease your chances of spooking game.
The vast majority of fat tire electric hunting bikes today will top out on speed anywhere between 20 to 28 MPH. While speed is important and going fast can be fun, you also want to be safe. Maxing out on speed while you are riding on forest trails, two tracks or at night on the farm isn’t going to be your major concern. By all means take a look at the max speed on the bike you are interested in and file that away for when you are not hunting with your electric bike and you can really enjoy it.
Durability, Brand and Warranty
Your electric bike is a tool that allows you to get from one location to another quickly, quietly and efficiently. When making a purchase like this you are going to want to consider the durability, the brand and the warranty. It is also good to consider looking at reviews. The last thing you are going to want is to have your electric bike in the shop all the time. Durability of your bike is incredibly important and you as an owner of the bike have a part to play in increasing the durability of your bike by making sure that you or your shop perform all of the regular maintenance on your new tool.
Electric bikes are going to range in prices from budget models to full blown models that are best in class with available accessories pushing between five thousand to eight thousand dollars fully kitted out with all the features and a trailer to boot. High quality electric hunting bikes are not going to be cheap and you are going to get you where you need to be and back again. If you are lucky you are going in light and coming out heavy. In time, you are going to be relying upon your e-bike more and more as a tool so invest the most you can to get a tool that is going to last well into your future.
Accessories for electric hunting bikes make all of the difference. Some of the accessories we feel are important are comfortable saddles, Rhino Grips to hold your rifle or bow, lights for early morning or late night trips out from the stand, trailers, saddle bags and more. One of the most important features we have found is puncture protection foam inserts to protect against thorns and cactus puncturing your tires. This one accessory has saved us from fixing countless flat tires and even when a tire does get punctured you can limp back to your vehicle or cabin to make necessary fixes to your tires. The last accessory that we truly love is a well-built trailer to haul out big game and tools like stands and blinds, so look for a bike that has the ability to mount a trailer on to the bike from the beginning.
How is an electric hunting bike better for hunting than hiking, ATVs, Side-By-Sides or horses?
In all of our years of hunting we have used it all and done it all. Cars, ATV’s(we started on 3 wheelers), Side-by-Sides, Horses, Mules and now electric bikes. In wilderness areas, you are going to be stuck with hiking, horses or mules and honestly all three of these options are fantastic. We even have a friend who has a herd of goats that he uses to pack in and out all of his gear. Most wilderness areas are not going to have the trails necessary or legally allow bikes and any wheeled vehicle in those areas. In most cases on National Forest and public BLM lands it is going to be up to the specific managers on those land so stop in and check.
As a hunter, the responsibility lands squarely on your shoulders to check with the agency in charge of the area you hunt whether that is the state lands, the USFS(United States Forest Service), BLM(Bureau of Land Management), The game and fish department of that state or even if you are hunting on private land or wildlife refuge land it is up to you to gain permission to hunt on those lands and to know what is and what is not legal to use in regards to electric bikes, vehicles, etc.
Without question we believe that hunting with an electric bike can help to make your hunt more successful but we also caution that it is up to you to know when to use your electric bike to the best of you ability. We recommend using an electric bike to get into an area then we recommend laying it down, locking it up and hunting from that position whether that is a stand, spot and stalk, a hunting blind or glassing on the side of a mountain. Use the ebike as a tool to get into position ahead of other hunters and before game can realize you are in the area.
What are some safety concerns about using e-bikes in regards to terrain and speed?
Electric bikes can range from a top speed of 25 to 28 mph which is ripping fast when you are on a bike and it will seem even faster when headed down hill, in a forest or on a tight trail. It can even be more dangerous when loaded down heavy and packing out game. With any vehicle including an e-bike navigating within the range and conditions to what is right in front of you at any given time. If it is wet and muddy, slow down it’s going to be slippery. If it is icy, slow down you are going to slide around some. On a very tight trail, keep it in check as you move in and around trees. Owning a helmet can keep you safe and it is a very small investment to keep from getting a head injury and it is money well spent. A good pair of riding gloves
What are the environmental impacts of using electric bikes for hunting?
I am going to focus on the actual environmental impacts of using an electric bike versus the carbon footprint and the impact of batteries on the world. The reality is that electric bikes are far less impactful on the environment versus ATV’s and Side-by-sides and vehicles on the environment. Electric bikes are going to be slightly more impactful than walking on the earth but only slightly. Basically you are adding a bike with some torque that can move a little bit of dirt and that is about it. The fat tire of the bike is less impactful than standard bike tires. As a hunter, we all have a responsibility to do the best we can to minimize the effects of our equipment on the environment.
What are the maintenance requirements for electric hunting bikes when used in off-road environments?
We recommend keeping your electric hunting bike on a regular maintenance schedule like you would any other bike. Keep the chain clean, the bike clean and take it in for regular service. Battery maintenance on an electric bike is pretty easy and if you want your batteries to last, let them run down on a regular basis through actual use and then charge them up. Never leave your bike charged for longer than it takes and don’t leave the bike plugged in for no reason as power surges can harm your battery.
Cleaning and washing your bike is pretty easy and every bike is a little different however regular washing is encouraged because a clean bike is a well running bike. Light soap and a washcloth with soft gentle water spray showered over the bike and a quick towel try keeps the bike clean and you know it is ready for your next adventure.
Whether you work with a local bike mechanic or you choose to do basic service on your own these bikes are easy to care for and require just a little bit of fore thought and effort to keep them running. Most e-bikes come to you shipped in a box and they are very easy to put together without the help of a mechanic. Most bikes out of the box and unwrapped will take less than 10 minutes to put together and a bit of time to charge the battery and you are up and running.
What are the legal considerations for hunting with electric bikes?
All states have different laws in regards to utilizing electric bikes for hunting and federal public land and state public lands have rules in place. It is the responsibility of you the hunter to make sure that you are following the laws and rules of the area in which you are hunting. The United States Forest Service is very easy to contact at the local ranger station for the area in which you are hunting. The Bureau of Land Management has different rules for each region and those rules are easy to obtain. We recommend printing out the rules and having a copy with you when hunting just to be on the safe side. We also suggest keeping a copy of the game laws in your pack on every hunt as well just in case you might have a question.
Electric hunting bikes are built specifically for off road capability and they will provide you the ability to get into the back country quicker and with less effort than you would have by hiking in or using an ATV or side-by-side. E-bikes do not cost as much as horses and they allow you to get into position faster and with less scent on the ground so you can cross game trails quickly and efficiently to get to your stand or glassing area. Electric bikes are an investment and need to be taken care of but the overall maintenance is far below what we see with gasoline powered vehicles and they are far cheaper to utilize, store and transport to your hunting area. Electric bikes are tools to use when needed, they are not for everyone but for those who understand the value, these tools can get you into places where game live quickly and efficiently allowing you to spend more time hunting and less time walking. We think that is pretty cool.