There is a saying among cyclists that the correct number of bicycles you need is the number you already possess plus one (n + 1). But not everyone really needs or wants a garage full of bikes! Why not then consider one electric bike that does it all?
An all-terrain e-bike will be a jack of all trades but a master of none. There are dozens of such electric bikes on the market, and these sit on a spectrum from crazy all-out overlanders that are capable on rugged terrain but perhaps slow on roads, to zippy pavement e-bikes also equipped for off-road diversions.
What to Look for in an All-terrain Electric Bike
What will you use your e-bike for? Are you mainly planning off-road adventures with occasional road use, or vice versa? Maybe splitting your ride time equally? A good all-terrain electric bike will have:
- A powerful motor for getting up steep inclines
- Fat, grippy tires
- Large battery capacity so you can travel miles into the backwoods
- A rack or racks to carry gear
- In some cases, dual suspension for the really rough stuff
At the other end of the scale, a road bike that can also tackle off-road terrain will have:
- Wide tires that won’t wear out on paved surfaces
- Decent range and power
- Cargo capacity
- Possibly lights and fenders
There are e-bikes that sit between these two ends of the spectrum. Let’s look at this spectrum, starting with an extreme off-roader with serious range.
Extreme Off-roader – Backou Scout
To get up a brutal hill you need a lot of torque, and with 160 Newton meters (Nm) of it from a Bafang mid-drive motor there are few things that will get in the way of the Backou Scout. Generally speaking, 80Nm makes for a very quick start at intersections for road riding, so the Scout has more than enough acceleration to navigate you safely through auto traffic.
Do you really need a big dual-suspension system for city riding? Hopefully, you won’t be going over other road users, but around them. With 120mm of front and rear suspension travel, the Scout will smooth out any bumps in the road and also be able to roll smoothly and in full control over rocks, roots, and other off-road terrains.
The Scout is no pure overlander – other e-bikes made by Backou are better suited as they have a trailer attachment, though for an upcharge you can get an axle for that purpose on this bike. With the right axle and trailer, you could do touring and even hunting with this machine, but it is designed more for blasting down trails like a pure e-MTB.
Affordable Off/On-road – Rad Power RadRover 6 Plus
As Rad Power Bikes proves with this electric bike, you don’t need the sort of money to buy a used car to have a great overlanding-capable machine. The highly acclaimed RadRover 6 Plus is a case in point – selling at as little as $1,495, it delivers a lot of bang for your buck.
Although it’s perhaps happier in the hills than on city streets, the RadRover 6 Plus is nonetheless an excellent all-terrain electric bike. It comes with a very torquey rear-hub motor that will enable you to climb tough, rocky, and muddy slopes and a battery that will get you a realistic 30 miles per charge.
The 4-inch-wide Kenda Juggernaut tires are grippy and well-suited to overlanding use, and are almost as comfortable on pavement. With puncture resistance baked in, the tires should also stand up well to sharp road debris.
Whether RVing or just using it in place of your second car, the RadRover 6 Plus is a very capable all-terrain electric bike – that jack of all trades you might be looking for.
A Folding All-Terrain E-Bike – Lectric XP 3.0
Not everyone wants a bike rack on their car or has a pickup to haul their electric bike in the truck bed. A large number of portable folding electric bikes claim to be all-terrain steeds, but among the best is the Lectric XP 3.0.
As a folding e-bike, it can be packed away for a camping trip among your other outdoor toys. If you live in a smaller accommodation where space is at a premium, this could well be your main commuter/utility e-bike too.
No lightweight as folding e-bikes go, its solid build lends it to a run from the road to a favored fishing spot or just to enjoy time away from the hustle and bustle. The 3-inch-wide all-terrain tires will grip dirt and gravel and take you to your chosen hideaway, and the 500-watt motor will handle some pretty gnarly climbs.
Toward the road end of the spectrum of all-terrain e-bikes we described at the outset, the Lectric XP 3.0 is most comfortable on mixed-use paths and paved road surfaces.
More Road Than Off – QuietKat Villager
A good example of a road/city e-bike that can do lighter overlanding routes is the Quietkat Villager urban e-bike. Made by a company that disrupted the hunting and fishing transportation market with its extreme overlanding e-bikes, the Villager is far more road-oriented than other models in QuietKat’s extensive product line.
Looking at the bike you can immediately see QuietKat’s overlanding DNA (even without the camouflage color scheme!) with its beefy frame, 3-inch-wide tires, and mountain bike wheels. Retailing for just under $3,000, this is definitely an all-terrain e-bike made for the urban jungle.
Thanks to the slick high-volume road tires, unlike some of the machines we look at above, there will be little wear from prolonged road use. They aren’t suited to the most rugged terrain but will handle occasional off-road sections of your daily commute.
An E-Bike for All Terrain?
The four e-bikes above are capable of taking anything from the hard city street to the backwoods to different degrees. In choosing the perfect all-terrain e-bike, be mindful of what you’re going to use it for, and you will soon find one that suits you perfectly.