I’ve never had a problem at all with mountain biking.It’s the bright colors, spandex, granola bars and hipsters that aggravate me. (I mean that in good fun, so relax, hipsters.) On the surface, it would seem that the mountain bike would be a natural fit for hunting and fishing use. It provides an almost silent means of travel, no fuel required, and it’s certainly faster than walking.

However, when I’ve tried to use a bicycle for consumptive pursuits, it usually ends up being more hassle than it’s worth. There is no real good way to carry a fishing rod or bow on a standard mountain bike. You can sling a gun across your shoulder, but that gets old fast when you’re also carrying a daypack or wearing a turkey vest. In my experience, a mountain bike is pretty difficult to balance when you slow to the speeds required to hear a turkey gobble or keep tabs on a bugling elk, especially when it comes time to navigate tough terrain—and tough terrain is usually where the critters live!

Cogburn CB4

Front and Rear Shifters- Shimano Deore 2×10 Speed
Front Derailleur- Shimano Deore 2×10 Speed
Rear Derailleur-Shimano Deore Shadow Plus 10 Speed
Crankset and Bottom-Bracket SRAM X5 GXP100, 175mm crank with sealed bearings, 22/36t gearing
Chain-KMC 10-speed
Derailleur Cable and Housing- Jagwire stainless shift cables and full-length housing
Cassette- Shimano Deore—10-speed, 11/36t gearing
Wheels- Formula sealed-bearing hubs front and rear, Surly 82mm-wide Rolling Darryl
rims, DT Swiss stainless steel spokes, Built and finished by hand in the USA
Tires and Tubes- Surly Nate 26×3.8” tires, Surly Light Fat inner tubes
Front and Rear Brakeset- Avid BB7 cable actuated disc brakes, 160mm stainless rotors, Avid FR5 levers
Brake Cable and Housing- Jagwire stainless brake cables and full length compressionless housing
Handlebar- 750mm width, 20mm rise, 11° sweepback
Grips- Knurled rubber, Black
Stem- Kalloy. +7° x 90 mm length, Bead-blasted finish, Black
Saddle- Velo, Foam padded with vinyl cover, Black
Seatpost- Kalloy, 31.6 diameter, 400mm length, Bead-blasted finish, Black
Seatclamp- Kalloy, 34.9mm I.D., Bead-blasted finish
Pedals- Wellgo platform type, Black

Modern Man’s Horse

With the above all off my chest, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the new Cogburn CB4, a pedal-powered machine designed for hunting. Take a look at this thing and a few characteristics immediately jump out. Its aluminum frame (which is lightweight enough to hoist into a pickup bed with one hand) is finished with Realtree camouflage, and it has massive 3.8-inch-wide tires that are best described as “monster truck-like.” What red-blooded backwoodsman wouldn’t want a monster truck bicycle? 

On The Trail

Those tires serve a more practical purpose than bad-arse-thetics, though. I’m told you can ride this bike up a flight of stairs fairly easily. I didn’t try that, but I did run it through several miles of faint trail on a late winter day in Kentucky, when 50-degree weather had a heavy snow and frozen topsoil melting away fast. If you’ve experienced such thaw-out conditions in the South or Midwest, you know there’s no adequate description for the mud; we’re talking a pound per boot sole every few steps. Riding a normal mountain bike through this stuff is exceedingly difficult (I know because I tried it that day) but the CB4 handled it without issue. There’s still leg fatigue, obviously, since it doesn’t have an engine, but keeping my balance on even a steep grade at slow speeds was no problem. That, more than any other aspect of the bike, makes it a potentially deadly hunting or trapline-running tool in my book. You can cruise a trail, take it slow, keep it quiet and focus on listening for turkeys or watching for deer sign, rather than constantly keeping the bike in balance.

The CB4 is available with numerous optional features as well. Gun and bow scabbards—good ones, that don’t break or stick out sideways to grab brush when you’re making a sharp turn—are available.  There are attachment points for gear racks, and up to three water bottles. You can even put a trailer hitch on the CB4—making an instant gasless two-wheeled “tractor” for small carting jobs around the homestead!

The CB4 is a 10-speed bike with Shimano Deore gears. It shifts effortlessly. Full disclosure: I was able to get the gears to fail once, but that was because I got a ball-bat-sized stick stuck in the chain. The same stick would have probably stopped a 30-horsepower diesel tractor.

Of course, with all this goodness comes the CB4’s big downside. Wait for it… At $2,200 for the bare bike, it ain’t cheap. I recoiled at that initially, and so did the numerous hunting buddies who tested it with me. But after trying it, no one had any complaints. On the bright side, you’ll never have to buy gasoline (think ATVs) or horse feed (if you’re thinking you’d be better off with a good hunting horse) to keep this two-wheeled beast running. If you’re serious at all about having a mountain bike for hunting, spending money on about anything else just doesn’t make sense (and no, they didn’t let me keep the bike for saying that). For more information, visit
cogburnoutdoors.com or call 855-922-2453. 

IMBA

Protect the places your able to hunt and ride. Join your local off-road cycling club and join the International Mountain Bicycling Association as well.

Safely Biking To Bucks

Hunting by bike is incredibly fun and effective. It does, however, have some safety considerations. Before hitting the trail, consider running down this safety checklist:

1) First, understand that you’re riding on a steed with many moving parts. Before any hunt, make sure your wheels are on tight, your chain is lubed and the rest of the bike is torqued and ready to roll.

2) Check tire pressure! The genius of the Cogburn CB4 is its massive tires. Rubber that wide means tire pressure can be adjusted for a range of conditions. Understand what level is right, and safe, for your specific hunting terrain. Make sure your tire pressure is not too high. By keeping tire pressure low (5-10 psi) you create a much smoother ride that can handle all sorts of surfaces. Note that low tire pressure is also more stealth!

3) Whatcha wearing? Loose clothing can snag your seat when you are hopping on and off the bike. Using a strap or rolling up your pant leg on the drive side of the bike helps avoid the chances of a dangerous snag on the bike’s moving chain.

4) Weapon carry. Racks for your bow or firearm will create a safer and more comfortable ride. Using racks can take a lot of the weight off of your body, which lets the bike do the heavy lifting. A rack also allows the rider to be more reactive while moving to and from hunting areas or “stalking” (check regulations) game. A special gun/bow rack is an available option on the Cogburn CB4. This rack allows safe transport of your rifle or bow and does it in a way that keeps it from snagging on brush. Note, it is legal in some states to ride with a loaded weapon (again, check your state’s hunting regs), however, it’s always smart for firearms to be stowed sans a round in the chamber with the gun on “safe.”

Protect the places your able to hunt and ride. Join your local off-road cycling club and join the International Mountain Bicycling Association as well. These groups are the advocates for off-road cycling and in many cases are working hard to keep trails open to outdoorsmen and their bikes to access great hunting grounds for you and for future generations. For more, visit imba.com or call 888-442-4622.—Hansi Johnson

This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN®  2014-#158 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN®  magazine are available here