Using mountain bikes for hunting has been a growing trend in western United States and especially in Oregon where miles of logging roads criss cross the state. When purchasing a mountain bike for hunting, certain designs offer advantages over others. What kind of mountain bike is ideal for hunting?
The ideal mountain bike for hunting is strong, moderately light, traditional in design, and stable. It is a work horse, not a race horse. It must be a quality bike that will not let the rider down when he is miles from his vehicle. Typically, the mountain bike hunter will not be pounding his bike over logs and jumps. It is a simple tool to get from point “A” to “B” on dirt or gravel roads. It will also allow all the options available for load-bearing attachments such as rear carriers (racks) or trailers.
The mountain bike that best fits this description is called a “hard tail”. It is a class of bike that incorporates front suspension by using shock absorbing forks, but lacks rear suspension. A bike that utilizes a rear suspension does not permit a rear bike rack as they are currently designed. Rear suspension also compresses while biking uphill thus absorbing energy the rider expends. Rear suspension also compresses under a heavy load, such as meat quarters lashed to the bike. However, the undesired compression issues can be overcome by locking the rear suspension “off”.
There are other features that are desirable. Disc brakes are perfect for a hunting bike yielding the braking power needed when loaded with meat. Thorn proof inner tubes can be added for a small price to insure dependability of the tires under heavy loads. Mud fenders, foot stir-ups, water bottle holder, and a bicycle tire pump are good features to include on the bike. Remember to have a repair kit on hand in case field repairs are required.
The rear bike rack carrier should be good quality with at least a 50 pound rating. Most carriers have a factory rating less then what they can actually carry. By experience, some better racks can successfully transport 140 pounds. Going very slow is the key as jarring the carrier under extreme weight could cause failure.
While other classes of mountain bikes will work for hunting, a “hard tail” clearly offers the most advantages. Avoid paying for features, such as full suspension, which limits attachment options, and has limited use in a hunting scenario. A mid-range priced mountain bike will provide all the quality and reliability a hunter needs.