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SPINNING YOUR WHEELS FOR ACCESS S TA F F A R T I C L E JERROD LILE PROFESSIONAL HUNT ADVISOR HUNTIN’ FOOL CEO PHOTO BY WILL SCHOTT PACKING OUT AN ELK IN MONTANA USING AN E-BIKE I n 1993, I pushed my first mountain bike up a steep gated road to hunt an area that was more than six miles from the nearest motorized access. I figured it would be worth the push to be able to coast back out quickly, and I was right. Since that trip, wheeled devices have been a key part of my arsenal for access and pack jobs. To say I’m a wheeled junkie is an understatement as I’ve owned nearly every style and brand of game cart known to man. Additionally, I’ve continued to upgrade my mountain bikes, and most recently, I’ve begun using e-bikes where they are legal. In short, I’m a fan! With that being said, there has been a steep learning curve. Flat tires, broken frames, and bent rims and axles have all contributed to my PhD in wheeled hunting travel. I’ll share this education with you here so that hopefully you won’t find yourself nine miles behind a gate pushing a wobbly-rimmed, flat- tired bike back to the truck like I have. 12 E- BIKES AN D FAT B IKES Any discussion surrounding hunting bikes would be incomplete without an in-depth look at the newest player in this space – e-bikes. These game-changing bikes utilize battery-operated pedaling assistance that turns the average biker into a Tour de France competitor. The e-bikes that are designed for hunting are built on “fat bike” frames that look a bit more like a motorcycle than a bicycle. The fat bike design is ideal for hunting because the bigger tires provide better traction and the beefier frames allow racks and accessories to be attached firmly to the bike. I used my first e-bike in the spring of 2015, and I was blown away by the technology. Since that time, I have had the privilege of watching numerous people take their first ride on one of these bikes. The facial expression is always the same when they feel the electric assist kick in and they come pedaling back, giddy with disbelief and wearing a silly grin. I have extensive riding experience on three different brands of e-bikes, including my current Rogue Ridge bike (www.rogueridge.com). At 65 pounds, this bike is heavier than the other bikes I’ve used, but it is my top pick among e-bike options. This is primarily due to the fact that as a consumer direct brand, their bikes offer more features and upgrades at any given price point than those that are being sold with additional retail markup. These upgrades include battery life, derailleurs, suspension, and overall construction. I rode this bike in some very nasty weather this year, including snow, freezing rain, and mud, and the battery blew me away with how long it lasted in icy-cold weather. Even with a heavy pack on all of my rides, the bike regularly exceeded 25 miles of range on a single charge. Additionally, I never experienced