E-Bike Hunting, What Have I Been Thinking? Leave a reply
My good friend Joe Pyburn and I were able to secure some Black Max electric bikes for a couple of hunts this fall and after riding them I feel like a complete idiot. I should’ve gotten on the e-bike movement a long time ago!
These bikes are SWEET! They have Shimano components and Bafang electronic motors that you’ll find on quite a few other brands on the market. The camo model in the photos below is the Denali and its a mid drive while the black bike that Joe’s riding is a hub drive, or rear drive. Mid drives have twice the torque of a hub drive and are meant for off road use and hunting while hub drives are typically cruising-style bikes meant to cover a lot of miles on flatter ground.
I took the Denali on a blacktail hunting trip a couple weeks ago and covered a bunch of miles behind gates on relatively flat ground. I didn’t calculate the miles but I’m guessing it was around 10 to 15 miles. I used up around half the battery on that trip and there was plenty of juice left in the tank if I wanted to travel further.
On our recent Idaho hunt Joe and I put them to the test on much steeper ground. We left camp one afternoon and rode steadily uphill for six to 8 miles into a big basin to glass for mule deer. Some of the riding was on pretty steep terrain and it was uphill all the way to top.
When we returned to camp at dark the battery on my Denali was at around 30 percent and the battery indicator on Joes Rainier was at 50 percent. How much battery is used all depends on what gear ratio the bike is operated in and how much power is applied to the drive. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but once you get the hang of you can push farther than you ever thought you’d go…and with ease.
Power is applied to the hub or drive when the pedals are turned on these bikes. There’s a power setting of 1 to 5 and eight different gear settings on the Shimano controls. The Denali has a thumb throttle that applies a little power to the mid-drive if it’s needed for starting out. On the Rainier there’s an actual twist-throttle on the right handlebar that applies power to the rear hub for either starting out or cruising. It’s an outstanding feature on both bikes but it can draw the battery down quickly if used excessively.
If you’ve never ridden an e-bike before I promise that you’ll grin from ear-to-ear when you take off on one of these things. My wife rode the Rainier around our neighborhood one night and it was all I could do get her off the darn thing. They are fun and super handy for a guy like me that’s always looking for a new means to gain access to remote areas.
Fat Kenda tires make this bike a super stable platform. We rode them in mud, snow, rock, and on wash-boarded roads and these fat, knobby Kenda tires kept the bike glued to the road and trail. They also acted as a bit of a cushion rolling over potholes, rocks, etc..
If you plan on using a Black Max or any other e-bike on a remote hunting trip you’ll need to bring a generator along to charge up the bike or bikes. On our Idaho trip I brought along a Honda 2000 generator that quietly charged the bikes back to full charge in the evening at camp. Total charge time was around five hours and this Honda generator has an “Eco Mode” that makes it super quiet. The battery packs have an indicator light on them that shows when the bikes are fully charged.
On the last day of our recent Idaho hunt we had plans to take these bikes deep into the backcountry on a single track trail but Mother Nature thought otherwise. Temperatures dropped to six degrees overnight and the ground was covered with four inches of fresh snow in the morning at camp. With a steep climb up a ridge in the works we decided to leave the bikes at home. Joe and I were definitely bummed though, as Joe had seen another hunter on that ridge earlier in the week on an e-bike. It may have consumed all of the battery going up 9 (big ridge), but the trip downhill in the evening would have been a breeze. Next time!
Black Max also makes a model called the Cascade Cruiser that is perfect for drift boaters looking for a means of getting back to their rig at the end of the day. It folds in half and would stow perfectly in the back of a drift boat. I know some elk hunters that use this model and love them. They transport easily in the back of an SUV.
Black Max bikes are sold at Pilchuck Rentals in Marysville and Kitsap Tractor in Silverdale. Don’t be a fool like me and wait to try out an e-bike. They are more affordable than you think and I promise you’ll never ride a regular mountain bike again after riding one of these things.
Thanks for stopping by!
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle