March 29, 2022
The country held some great mule deer, but access was tricky. Miles of pancake-flat prairie separated me from cedar-sprinkled hillsides and endless acres of steep, rocky canyons. Overnight camping wasn't allowed, and I knew I needed an edge — a way to cover the open ground quickly and be back in the muley money before dawn's first glow. I didn't find my edge that first year, but when I came back to the area for the second time, a powerful e-bike was latched down firmly in my truck's bed. Not only did the bike allow me to blaze across the open landscape and access the area quickly, but when I connected with a big buck, the add-on trailer I'd purchased was worth its weight in gold.
Here are five e-bikes built for off-pavement adventure.
Bakcou Carbon Alpha
An e-bike builder that leads by example and gives its customers throngs of models to choose from, Backcou has hit another home run with its Carbon Alpha. Engineered to be lightweight and tough as nails, this available in frames sizes of 16-, 18-, and 20-inch electric bike is fitted with a powerful Bafang M600 500W motor. The motor promises stealth, and when coupled with the 8x-more-robust-than-aluminum frame, this rut jumper is for those that prefer to wander ultra-far off the beaten path in search of big-game nirvana. Ushering in an appreciated sense of smoothness, even when tackling rugged terrain, are the Rockshox Lyrik Front Fork and Rockshox Monarch RL Rear Shock air spring, both of which are tunable to your liking via DebonAir. The Sram G2 RS Quad Piston Hydraulic brakes are silky smooth yet aggressive when a right-now stop is required. $8,297 | bakcou.com
Rambo has produced some great e-bike makes over the years, and the Ryder is a shining example of the manufacturer's constant strive for excellence. An e-bike that will work well when cruising your back 40 whitetail dirt, open grasslands, CRP, and prairie country, it features an 8-speed Shimano Derailleur showcasing a durable 750W mid-drive motor. Making flats a thing of the past, the bike comes with Kenda Kevlar anti-puncture tires, and dual-piston hydraulic disc brakes ensure ultimate control no matter the terrain or grade. Rambo set the 48v 14AH battery lower on the frame, which gives the bike a faster, more responsive ride. This 14-amp hour battery has a max distance rating of 35 miles, and the mid-drive has an integrated speed sensor. The 63-pound The Ryder is offered in Matte Black and Tan, and has a Medium frame size of 17.5 inches. $3,500 | rambobikes.com
A pioneer in the e-bike world, QuietKat continues to impress. The offered in sizes of Medium and Large Warrior fits an array of riders and was designed for all-season use when riding mild terrain. The bike is fitted with an integrated battery and motor system and an updated and upgraded frame geometry. The idea behind the frame is to ensure optimized weight distribution to give the rider a balanced, smooth ride. Proper weight distribution makes the bike easier to control and maneuver when riding in less-than-friendly terrain. The Warrior features adjustable dropouts, making wheelbase adjustments or running a single-speed drivetrain possible. Those that have logged miles on an e-bike know that simplicity is essential, and the Warrior delivers it in spades. A 750W/1000W mid-drive motor powers the e-bike, and the battery has a range of up to 48 miles. Adjustable Air Suspension Forks allow the bike to roll over rough terrain without beating up the body, and the brakes are Tektro Mechanical Disc brakes. $4,699-$5,199 | quietkat.com
Rogue Ridge RF750
New from the minds at Rogue Ridge and finished in super-sexy Mossy Oak Bottomland, the RF750 was explicitly made for the turkey fanatic. With a top speed of 20 miles per hour and a 25-mile range, you can cruise the turkey woods in comfort and quickly move from a roosted-wasn't-roasted locale to a mid-day strut zone. The bike has a fighting weight of 55 pounds, and with the 750-watt motor, power is never an issue. Sweetening the e-bike pot, the RF750 is a folding bike, making hauling it to and from extremely easy. The Kenda tires are fat, knobby, and grab the ground to ensure good traction even when navigating sandy creek bottoms or rocky ridges. As e-bikes go, the RF750 doesn't have tremendous sticker shock, and you get an all-terrain bike that will serve you well in the hunting woods. $3,799 | rogueridge.com
Rungu Rualie XR Rubicon Trail Edition
One of the most powerful e-bikes of 2022, and ever, for that matter, the XR Rubicon Trail Edition is an all-terrain roller fitted with a Bafang mid-drive motor that allows you to climb grades more significant than 45 percent without ever coming out of the saddle. The standout feature of the bike, though, has to be its dual front-wheel design. Double wheels in the bike's front boost balance and control and keep you from getting bogged down in snow, sand, and mud. Double front wheels also make tricky ascents and descents much more manageable. Another hat-tipper of this innovative bike is its dual batteries. Two, in most cases, is better than one, and while the second battery adds some weight, you can run more than 200 miles when using pedal assist. Other notable features of the bike include a rear rack, fenders, tire liners, skid plate, tool kit, and first aid kit. $8,459-$8,517 | riderungu.com