The advantages of eBikes for hunters are numerous, but, it’s not just their practicality and usefulness in all stages of the hunt that is making people stand up and take note. It is also their superiority over the existing tools and equipment, like ATVs.
You might not have thought that eBikes could be successful in the remote areas where you find your chosen quarry, but great improvements in both design and technology have allowed for the creation of eBikes that are rugged and highly capable hunting tools.
To illustrate the benefits of using an eBike for hunting we’re going to first go through the direct benefits of using an eBike for hunting, and then detail why an eBike are superior to ATVs when you're out hunting. Finally, we’ll discuss what to look for when shopping for an eBike to use for hunting and some of the accessories available to you. By the end you should be well informed of what an eBike can bring to your hunting experience and know what to look for when you’re looking to buy an eBike for hunting season.
The Benefits of Hunting with an eBike
Stealthy, scent-free travel is a good way of summing up the best benefits of an eBike for hunting, but it doesn’t really do justice to the full scope of the benefits that arise from using an eBike for hunting. Here are all the direct benefits of using an eBike when hunting.
Stealthy - Using an eBike can be a surreal experience the first time around, a bit like your first time in any electric vehicle. The effortless speed and power comes with an, initially, eerie silence that quickly becomes ordinary. The only noise an eBikes makes is that of its chain turning, and the footprint it leaves behind is minimal at best.
This all allows you to get to your blind or to get yourself in a great position to stalk an animal with minimal disruption to the world around you.
Scent Free - An eBike assists you in traveling and carrying your gear. This can reduce the amount that you sweat, meaning that you’re shedding less human odor, and bring a lower level of odor with you to your chosen spot. Also, because you’re traveling without really sweating on a mode of transport that has no emissions, you are very likely to leave little to no olfactory trace of your travel in your wake.
Travel Faster - In addition to the above travel benefits an eBike can get you out into the field faster than you ever could get there on foot, meaning that it can also get you back to camp quicker. The ultimate result of this is more time spent on the hunt rather than traveling to it.
It also allows you to track the game you spot from further off much quicker, and to reach the location from where to take your shot much faster, but still stealthily.
Travel Further - Having silent, scent free, nimble, and rapid transport out in the backcountry means that you can travel further than you may do on any other form of transport.
An eBike can be used to take you to those harder to reach places where the animals you’re seeking may receive far less hunting pressure than they do in other areas.
Hauling - Using an eBike for hunting gives you the perfect tool for hauling out your game, whether that be a trophy buck or a flock of turkeys. The eBikes that suit hunting have a carrying and hauling capacity that allows you to transport weight with ease, often requiring just one trip to take everything with you.
Not only does this help you to get your prize out of the field but eBikes also help you to get your gear into the field with ease, often in a single trip.
Are eBikes Better than ATVs for Hunting?
When anything new comes into the market we always hold it up next to its closest competitor to see if it can compare. In this case, the eBike’s competitor is the established mode of hunter transport, the ATV. So what makes an eBike better for hunting than an ATV?
Quieter - ATVs have noisy engines and a much larger footprint than eBikes. Simply, eBikes are quietly stealthier.
Scentless - Those noisy, petroleum product powered engines spew smelly exhaust fumes that are very pungent and familiar to your quarry. They also stick around the environment you pass through and hang around with you long after the engine is off. There are none of these fumes with an eBike.
Cheaper to own and fuel - ATVs are an expensive investment that drink expensive gasoline or diesel. The vast majority of great hunting eBikes are cheaper than even the most basic ATV and, comparatively speaking, they’re almost free to power. The literal cost of electricity to charge an eBike battery is measured in pennies, not dollars.
Cheaper to Maintain - An ATV has many moving parts and requires mechanical knowledge and many different tools to maintain, unless you’re going to pay someone else to do it for you. Comparatively, eBikes are cheap to maintain, and can be kept-up at home with a relatively small tool kit.
No Registration or Insurance - State laws do vary but many states require either registering an ATV or registration plus insurance. You'll typically need a license plate and/or registration sticker to operate an ATV, while for eBike owners there are none of these, sometimes costly requirements,
Street Legal - While it can be hard to convert many ATVs to be street legal, many eBikes are already street legal, meaning that you have greater, year-round utility from your transportation. A key benefit of eBikes is their dual use capability; in many cases they can be ridden on the street as well as on off-road trails once you reach your destination.
Easy to Store - An ATV is a mid-sized vehicle and takes up quite a bit of storage space. On the other hand an eBike can quite easily slip down the side of your garage, onto a porch, into a shed, or into one of numerous other convenient locations around your home or yard.
Portable - Taking an ATV with you requires having some way of hauling it around, be that a trailer or toy hauler (some may fit in the bed of some trucks). In contrast, an eBike can be put on a bike rack that can be hitched onto pretty much any and every car you could possibly own.
What to Look For in a Hunting eBike
If you’re looking for the best hunting eBike you’ll find many out there fighting for that crown. What’s important is that you get an eBike built for the trail that has the capabilities to fulfill your specific needs.
Here we’re going to go through the features your hunting eBike needs to have, to whom some these attributes may be more applicable than others, and we’re going to mention some optional extras that are good “luxury” features.
Fat Tires - Fat tires (4" wide is common) provide excellent stability when out on the trail and extra grip in sandy, muddy, and snowy conditions. An eBike with a 4" wide tire is double the width of common all-terrain "mountain bike" tires. Wider tires provide floatation and grip, even on challenging terrain and when carrying a heavy load.
Suspension - Your hunting eBike should have front suspension, a necessity in an eBike that you take out on the trail. Some riders may want rear suspension, which can improve comfort and handling on the roughest trails, but adds significant cost and complexity.
Having a "hardtail" eBike, (one with just front suspension) means that you are a bit more efficient when laying your power down, meaning that you’ll get a slightly greater range from your battery. They are also often cheaper than their full suspension cousins.
A Powerful Motor - A good motor is required to power you around the rough and varying terrain and to haul your gear and your trophies back with you. A 500W motor is adequate, however a 750W motor may be preferred, especially by bigger, heavier riders. It's nice to have power in reserve for hauling, if your trip is successful.
Motor position is also an important factor to consider, especially for those of us living in hilly areas. Most eBikes have rear hub motors and these are excellent for hunting on a wide variety of terrain. But, if you hunt in an area that has some steep hill climbs in it you may want to consider going for an eBike with a mid-drive motor. These motors sit between the pedals and are known for providing better torque and being able to better lay down the power on steep climbs; these eBikes are, however, often more expensive than their rear hub cousins. Throttles are also uncommon on mid-drive eBikes, so think carefully about whether you're willing and able to pedal 100% of the time. If not, a throttle-equipped eBike with a hub motor
could be a better fit.
A Big Battery - The size of your battery helps to determine the range of your eBike. The larger your battery the more fuel you have to power your adventures further. Because you’re probably also planning on using your eBike to haul your gear and your trophy home it is good to remember that the extra weight is going to take extra power to move around, meaning that you’ll want a bigger battery. It is always a good idea to carry an extra battery with you on extended trips.
Torque Sensor - There are two types of sensors that eBike manufacturers use to gauge how much assistance your eBike should give you. These are torque sensors and cadence sensors.
Cadence sensors use pedal speed to decide how much assistance to give you, while torque sensors use the amount of power you’re inputting to decide how much assistance to give you.
The assistance provided by a torque sensor is more finely tuned to the amount of effort you’re exerting, meaning that it gives you more power (up to the level of the pedal assist) when you’re working harder and less when you’re not. This makes torque sensors more suited to working over variable terrain, and this more acute application of power means that they’re more fuel efficient than their cadence sensor sisters. Although they are more expensive, generally torque sensors are superior and preferred for bikes ridden off-road.
Pedal Assist and Throttle -
It is rare that an eBike for hunting will not have both of these features, however, they are two things that you will want in your hunting eBike. Pedal assist allows the motor to help you along, sharing the power input needs and extending your battery’s range. Having throttle functionality
allows you to lay down power when you need it most. Both are very valuable when you’re hauling gear and game in and out of the backcountry.
Integrated Lights - If you’re going to be leaving your blind after dark then you’re going to want to be able to see your way back to camp. Many eBikes have integrated lights that will help to light the way for you. It's convenient to have a head light that runs off your eBike battery, so you never have to charge it separately.
USB Port - It is a luxury item that shouldn’t be the deciding factor between two eBikes but it is a nice extra to have with you so that you are always able to charge your device, like a GPS or mobile phone. Meaning you can always find your way home and can always take photos with your trophy out in the woods.
Road Legal - This, again, is only a luxury that you may or may not want from your eBike. However, having a road legal eBike means that you can utilize your eBike on the road and outside of hunting season, providing you with greater utility and allowing you to get maximum use out of your eBike. If you purchase an eBike that isn't legal to ride on the road (typically because they exceed the maximum allowable speed or power limits for eBikes) you've severely limited the usefulness of your eBike. A road-legal Class I, II, or III eBike can be be ridden to and from the trailhead.
Hunting Accessories for eBikes
With the growth of eBike use for hunting there has been a growth of hunting specific accessories. There are also some more generic accessories that hunters can take advantage of.
Extra Battery - Carrying a spare battery so that you have extra juice is a must for anyone traveling in the backcountry, especially in more remote spots with little access and no cell service. If you're traveling with a group and the members ride the same eBike model, spare batteries can be shared between riders.
Trailers - Trailers can be fitted to eBikes in a variety of ways and allow for an increase in carrying capacity that doesn’t impact the eBike’s cargo weight. For the purpose of hunting, eBike trailers are excellent tools that help hunters to carry big trophies out of the backcountry and camping and hunting gear both in and out.
Pulling a trailer does, however, impact your range because of the extra power needed to do so, hence the extra battery being on the top of the list of accessories.
Bags and Racks -
Custom made bags and racks
help you to arrange and carry all your gear on your eBike whilst keeping your center of gravity lower. For example, while deer hunting you might typically carry:
- Rifle or bow
- Blaze orange apparel
- Camo apparel
- Scent control
- Food and drink
A load like this can quickly add up, but with the extra power of an eBike, you can haul it with ease. For hunters who need even more carrying capacity, it's possible to tow a trailer with an eBike as well.
Phone Holder - A phone holder allows you to put your mobile phone with GPS, maps, and messaging applications right in front of you and hands free. This is helpful for navigating to predetermined spots that you scouted out and marked on previous occasions. It is then also helpful for getting back out of the backcountry when night falls and the world around you looks very different.
Gun or Bow Rack - With the growth of hunting with eBikes some manufacturers have made specialty racks for securing the most important parts of your hunting equipment to your eBike.
Fenders - You’re almost certain to be riding through all sorts of conditions, stop yourself from getting covered in mud, water, snow, and who knows what else by fitting your eBike with fenders.