December 16, 2021
I’ve thought about for years, but the spot I traditionally antelope hunt in southern Montana would be ideal to hunt off a mountain bike. Rolling hills, with a decent two-track road system that intersects it. While it is open to motor vehicles, few do as the roads are really rough and the antelope have been too educated by rolling .300 Win. Mags to stand around if a vehicle creeps by. But an e-bike would be silent, comfortable, and non-invasive. It would position the rider high enough to see over the mature sage brush, but low enough to not draw the attention of spooky antelope.
After doing some research, I ordered a new Quiet Kat Apex 1500. I have used, tested, and owned various Quiet Kat bikes over the years, and like anything technology-based, every year they get more advanced and refined. The Apex, as the name implies, is at the top of this heap. Available in three mid-drive motor options: 1,500, 1,000 and 750 watt. I selected the 1,500-watt model in midnight green. (For camo lovers it is also available in Veil Caza.)
Unboxing the bike, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the frame design and build. With a low-swept top bar for mounting and dismounting while wearing bulky hunting clothes and a seamlessly integrated down bar battery compartment—it had the looks of a normal high-quality mountain bike, not a traditional e-bike.
The Apex, like most Quiet Kat bikes are designed around “fat tires”—in this case Kenda Juggernaughts measuring 26” x 4.5”. I like fat tires as they navigate rough, muddy, or snowy terrain with stability as well as comfort. When combined with the 150mm inverted air-suspension fork the ride is soft and smooth. As an additional bonus, the Apex can be swapped over to traditional 29” mountain bike tires if one desires for higher speed and potentially longer range. It might be a good advantage if lots of hard-packed gravel mountain roads and long distances is indicative of your hunting terrain and style.
Speaking of range – the Apex delivers an estimated range of 29-71 miles per charge. Of course, it is hard to put an estimated range on an e-bike as terrain, weight of load and user input varies so much. The Apex has four drive modes, Eco-Assist, Sport-Assist, Throttle and Walk-Assist. In my experience, over rough mountain terrain using Sport Assist or Throttle, even the lowest rating of 29 miles is more than enough. Think about it—most hunting is done within several miles of a base camp. As long as you have power to charge up every couple of days (generator, 110V outlet in a vehicle or solar panels, etc.), you have more than enough range for any hunt.
On the bars, a digital readout displays mode, speed, battery life, range, etc. Also there were two rechargeable LED lights affixed on either side for night exploration.
Two more great options for the hunter also provided by Quiet Kat are worth mentioning. The first is their single-track all-terrain trailer. If you want to haul gear in or an animal out this trailer works perfectly. With a weight rating of 100 pounds and a single, shock-absorbed tire it tracks perfectly behind a bike, even on tight trail conditions. Mine is a couple of years old and while it still works great, Quiet Kat’s newest model is even better, incorporating a kick stand as well as a secondary pannier mount over the tire.
The second item is Quiet Kat’s bike carrier made by 1Up. I have used hitch-mounted bike carriers in the past and honestly, most are extruded tubular aluminum and plastic junk. Bikes wobble back and forth rubbing against each other and the unit itself is generally broken before the season is over. Not the 1Up. The solid aluminum construction with a unique hitch mount system allows the unit to be tightened into the receiver eliminating all wobble. It is built durable enough to haul heavy e-bikes. It can be bought in a one bike configuration and a second bike tray can be added on later if needed. It also has multiple positions so you can open the tailgate or fold up and stow the carrier when not in use.
This past pronghorn season I put the whole set-up to the test. As expected, it worked excellently. Knowing the hunting unit well after several prior seasons, it didn’t take long to have a buck on the ground. Now the work began. I prefer to quarter antelope in the field. One: it makes pack outs easier, and two: it helps get them cooled off quickly. Antelope are some of the best eating animals in the West, but due to poor meat management, they are often maligned. Getting the hide off and cooling them quickly is the first step to delicious table fare.
The trailer worked great and not only just to haul the animal out. It also served as the perfect place out of the dust and dirt to lay quarters allowing air to flow completely around them. Once cool, it was easy to bag up the quarters, load them inside the trailer and get the antelope back to the truck.
The Apex worked was the ideal rig on this antelope hunt, but I also see future opportunities for mule deer on the plains and elk off mountain logging roads; silently covering miles, getting away from the crowds and having the ability to easily bring out game once the tag is punched.
Quiet Kat Apex Features
- Range:29-71 miles
- Suspension: QK 150mm inverted air-suspension fork
- Modes: Eco-Assist, Sport-Assist, Throttle, Walk Assist
- Gearing: SRAM 9-speed drivetrain
- Braking: Tektro 4 pistol hydraulic brakes
- Payload Capacity: 325 pounds
- Frame Size: 15, 17 and 19-inch frames
- Weight: 71 Pounds
- Tires: Kenda Juggernaut 26” x 4.5” can be swapped to 29” Tires
- Colors: Midnight Green, Veil Caza Camo