Friday, April 28, 2023

What is the Price You Pay to Get to the Backcountry?

 I read an interesting article from John M. at e-Bike Generation yesterday, so much so that it prompted me to write back to him with my thoughts. Here is what John said, and what I replied to him. Food for thought. (Reposted with permission.)

Top Hunting eBikes Cost More For A Reason… You Get An eBike That Won’t Let You Down In The Field!


We’re often asked why hunting eBikes costs more money than your typical electronic bike… or even a non-electric mountain bike.

When comparing hunting eBikes to non-electric bikes, the obvious answer is in the motor and battery system.

However, hunting eBikes are designed to take a beating.

They need to be tough, durable, well sealed up against water and able to last for many years.

Even if you hunt on flat ground, there will be rocks and tree roots across the ground. If a flimsy bicycle were to hit a rock while going fast, there’s a good chance the skinny tire will blow and the frame will bend out of shape.

Hunting eBikes will shrug off these types of impacts.

The fat, durable tires will not pop and leave you doing field repairs every time you hit the trails.

And, when you’re tired from a long (often cold) day of hunting, the powerful motor will do most of the heavy lifting for you… even if you’ve got a big buck on the back of your attached trailer.

When asked about pricing, we always say that you can get cheaper models if you want… even grab cheap bicycles from the local police auction!

The question is simple. Do you want the best gear (at affordable prices) or do you simply want the cheapest stuff you can find?

You can get a cheap pair of hiking boots (or even wear sandals while hunting…), but do you really want your feet to suffer?

Do you want to spend an amazing day out in the forest and/or mountains hunting, not cursing the junk that just broke down?

At the end of the day, it’s like anything in life.

You get what you pay for.

Sometimes you might luck out and buy something great for cheap… but most of the time, you are simply purchasing junk.

If you want top-quality hunting eBikes, then you’re in the right place.

Here at eBike Generation, we want our customers to be well-taken care of (and safe) while out on the trails… so we only carry great hunting eBike brands that meet and exceed your needs.

Here is my reply:

When I look at the prices of hunting (or in my case, backcountry angling) e-bikes, I remember that I ride a Cogburn CB4 fat-bike, a bike that was built specifically for sportsmen and women, which cost $2500 new, eight years ago. And I still ride it, because I am a backcountry fisherman, and my backcountry is specifically the Chequamegon-Nicolet and Superior National Forests in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Backcountry for me frequently means using trails that parallel or intersect the streams I want to fish. Non-motorized trails, and since the US Forest Service classifies e-bikes as "motorized," I can't legally use one to get where I'm going. Someday, when the Forest Service updates its rules to allow e-bikes I'll probably get one, maybe before. 

Pedal-powered fat-bikes like the Cogburn, and its short-lived replacement, the Salsa Blackborow (which had an MSRP of $3300) have pretty much gone the way of the Dodo, some of which was hastened by heavy competition from e-bike distributors. I believe there is place, if not a need for both in today's backcountry. I have to say, my Cogburn is my very favorite of the ten bikes I have owned since I started riding as an adult back in 1993. I have a custom mountain bike that I would never have ordered if the Cogburn had been available in 2012. I'll keep riding my CB4 as long as I'm able, and until the trails I ride are open to all bikes.

John is correct in that you do get what you pay for, although all bicycle prices have become very flexible with the vast majority of bike frames coming from overseas. Riders need to consider their needs when looking at bikes, whether they are e-bikes or pedal powered. If you're going to ride where e-bikes aren't allowed, then you need to get a non-electric bike. It's as simple as that. But, if you really want an e-bike, don't break the rules when you ride it! Become an advocate for the sport, with legislators, land managers, rule-makers. Forty years ago, mountain bikes were in much the same position as e-bikes are today. Today, to stop the use of e-bikes the very same folks who fought for the inclusion of mountain bikes are using the very same arguments and allying themselves with the same groups they fought against back in the day. We all need to be better ambassadors for accessibility.

One closing thought. The better the bike, the better the bike. You will have less problems if you buy the best bike you can afford, and you'll have the support or a reputable manufacturer and dealer. You won't find that in a discount or "big box" store.

Ride safe!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

We're Back! Get Ready for Stream Trout Season With New Maps from Namebini!

 Minnesota Stream Trout Season opens this Saturday, April 15th. It's been a LONG winter and I'm sure you are as anxious as we are to get out on the water. I've already highlighted Carl and Jade's "Fly Fishing Minnesota" book as an indispensable aid to chasing rainbows. (And Browns, Brookies and Steelhead) Just before the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo this year they published a companion volume, "Minnesota Fly Fishing Maps." It's an exceptional collection of maps you can use to get you where the trout are. Check it out and order from or your local fly fishing shop.