Is there an electric bicycle in your outdoor future?
The very idea of getting on a bicycle may seem strange to most of us who haven’t traveled on two wheels since we were old enough for a driver’s license. While commuter fitness enthusiasts can ride 10 speeds, for most of us bikes are just a distant memory, unless our kids or grandchildren are riding them.
They shouldn’t be. The new electric-assisted models not only make bicycles much more practical for many more of us, they open up new uses particularly suited to transport on two wheels.
Among the most obvious, for those of us who live in Alabama, crazy about the outdoors, is the potential use of electric all-terrain bikes for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and camping.
E-bikes allow you to travel miles in difficult terrain on trails too narrow for large vehicles, and in silence, with almost no impact on habitat or wildlife. This gives them a huge advantage over noisy four-wheeled ATVs, a favorite of many hunters during deer and turkey seasons.
Scouting for turkeys becomes much easier as it is possible to ride at a steady pace, perhaps double or triple your walking speed, all while calling with a diaphragm-in-mouth call and listening for a response.
And getting to a remote deer stand without alerting all nearby deer also becomes much easier when you can roam the woods on a silent electric bike rather than a truck or ATV. Add a single wheel bike cart and you also have an easy way to haul your deer, without the long return to the truck many of us have been through.
When it comes to fishing, add a rod holder and the bikes allow you to travel long distances along creek-side trails to distant honey holes, or roam the woods to your remote pond quickly. and easily, even on some impassable four-wheeled vehicle roads.
The bikes are simple to use and easy to ride. The model I currently have, the QuietKat Apex, took me about five minutes to familiarize myself with – and I haven’t ridden a bike in decades. It’s a nine-speed with a 48-volt lithium battery hidden in the frame, enough horsepower to go 30 to 60 miles, more or less, depending on the terrain and how much you pedal to help the electric motor.
And you can pedal as much or as little as you want with the QuietKat. If you want, you can start with the throttle alone and ride at a constant speed of 5 mph. The power level is adjusted with the push of a button and is displayed on a screen the size of a cell phone. Level 1 or 2 is the easiest to manage for those new to e-bikes.
Much like riding a standard bike, you’ll likely start off at low speeds, via the mechanical shift levers on the right handlebars. Lower gears make it easier for you or the motor to push the bike. You shift to higher gears when riding on a flat, smooth road and want to go faster, lower gears on climbs or in rough or muddy terrain when you need to go slower.
In most cases, you can ride the bike for several days between charges, and it charges in a matter of hours when plugged into the included charger. The company claims the battery will last around 1,000 cycles, or 20,000 to 24,000 miles for most users, which is way more than most of us will ever ride an electric bicycle.
QuietKat’s bikes range from the $ 2,400 Ranger model to the $ 6,700 Jeep model, and financing is available on their website. The Voyager folding model, around $ 3,000, is designed for transport on ships and in smaller cars. One advantage with this company is that they allow a 30 day trial, if you are not sure you want an electric bike ride it within 10 miles and you can return it for just the shipping cost.
Cabela’s in Huntsville is a dealer, as are the Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, Prattville and Spanish Fort. They can also be purchased online: see details at www.quietkat.com.