As a hunter, you understand the importance of knowing your gear inside and out. That’s evident in the routine tear-downs and cleanings of your firearms after every hunting trip.
Your knowledge of how systems work doesn’t end with firearms, though. Your truck and ATV have seen just as much attention from you over the years. You’ve learned how things work, how to maintain them, and how to repair them.
What about an eBike, though? The one you’ve been taking out hunting isn’t all that different from a regular bicycle. You can manage chains and tires, so you figure you’ll be fine.
What if something else breaks, though? That’s why we want to introduce you to the basics of how an eBike works. This might not be a how-to guide for trail repairs or maintenance, but it is an introductory piece that will help you better understand the newest piece of gear in your arsenal.
The good news is that there isn’t much that separates eBikes from ordinary bicycles. Only a few parts differentiate the two: the motor, battery, means to control the motor, and a system interface. We might be oversimplifying it a bit, but we’ll save deep dives for separate posts.
The battery is your lithium-ion power reserve, and the motor uses that power to provide motion. Your eBike may feature a throttle, pedal-assist, or both to activate the motor. With any setup, you will have the means to apply power at various rates to maintain optimal control of your eBike.
The interface is essentially your monitoring system. This might also be your means of controlling motor power settings, but at the very least, it will display information such as battery life, distance traveled, and a speedometer.
Throttle and pedal assist will appear together on many eBikes, but they are different. The throttle will look and function like the throttle on your ATV, as it will be either a thumb lever or twist type. Just as you expect, gradually twisting the handle or depressing the lever will increase power output from the motor.
Pedal-assist is a little more complex because it requires you to pedal the bike for power to be applied. As you pedal, torque sensors pick up on your input and send a signal to the motor.
There is no gradual control, though. In other words, pedaling harder won’t provide more power from the motor. Instead, you set the bike to an assist mode that gives you the level of assistance you need.
An electric road bike can feature one of two motor types. They’ll either come equipped with a mid-drive or hub motor. However, when it comes to models used for hunting, you’ll find most of the top models feature a mid-drive motor. Why?
On paper, either motor types appear to be equally as powerful and reliable. That isn’t the case, though. In almost all situations, mid-drive motors have a lot more torque output. You might find one of either listed as 750-watt motors but reading further reveals that mid-drives offer more torque.
On top of that, mid-drive motors are directly influenced by the gearing due to their mounting location. That mounting location also provides better balance and a more natural feeling ride.
Mid-drive motors are also a lot more durable but more complex and expensive to manufacture. That’s why you rarely find this motor type on more affordable eBikes.
The use of fat tires is another feature common among hunting eBikes. If you’ve been around off-road vehicles, you already have a good idea of why that is.
Fat tires do two things better than standard tires in the woods. The first relates to traction. The wider contact patch offers better contact with the ground, allowing you to maintain traction on uneven terrain better than you would with traditional tires. The aggressive tread patterns only further complement this aspect.
The other improvement fat tires bring to the table is ride comfort. The larger tires work like shock absorbers that help to reduce vibrations and blows felt by the rider.
Considering the harsh terrain found between hunting spots, this aspect alone makes them worth including.
Motors, batteries, throttle types, interfaces, and tires are all essential factors, but a few more details will define the function of your eBike.
A key detail to pay attention to is the frame type. As the industry advances, different frames are being added to the selection.
At the very least, an eBike frame needs to be robust enough to handle the weight and abuse it will encounter. Steel is an obvious choice because it’s durable, but stout aluminum frames are impressively strong and lightweight. You might also consider a folding frame if cargo and storage space is limited.
Of course, shock absorbers are equally as important to performance as anything else. The shocks on your eBike may not support as much weight as those on your ATV do, but they are smaller and articulate quite a bit.
Fluid in the shocks will break down, and performance will drop if the shocks aren’t built correctly, so it is worth investing in a model with better shocks than others — especially if you’re traversing through particularly rough terrain.
Are eBikes complicated? Yes and no. They are more complex than a traditional bicycle but are far simpler than your ATV or truck. Firearms are a different story altogether. If you can understand any of the systems on your other hunting gear, eBikes are almost elementary.
If you’re new to this and eager to get your first hunting eBike, we do encourage you to learn as much as possible before you buy, though.
We say that because there are some significant differences between models, making them better suited for specific situations. Knowing how things work and what makes one system better than another will ultimately guide you to the best eBike for your situation.
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