Overlanding & E-Bikes – Should You Add One?

Rattan Sequoia Class 3 E-Bike & 5th Gen 4Runner Overland Build

Are E-Bikes Valuable For Overlanding? We Take A Closer Look!

E-bikes have become more popular and accessible in recent years. There’s been a flood of new options to the market. But the real question is…

Are e-bikes a valuable piece of gear to add to your overlanding adventures?

In this article, we’ll educate you and explain why (or why not) you may want to get one.

Plenty of us wish we had extra transportation when camping, overlanding, or simply trailing for the day. I know because I’ve thought of them, and I’m here to tell you that the answer is more challenging than I thought it would be out of the gate. Additionally, I hope to give our readers more to think about than simply the product, as this is only one piece of the ‘consideration puzzle.’

Furthermore, I see this as a carbonless transportation option, not only a desirable option for future gear but one that could come in as handy as your recovery tools for which most of us would be caught dead without, even if we were just getting groceries. Yeah, we’re wired differently.

Overlanding & Camping

E-Bike For Camping & Overlanding

Let’s start with the [loose] definitions —

Overlanding or “4WD Touring” involves self-sufficient travel across remote areas where the primary purpose is the journey itself. Usually achieved using off-road capable vehicles, ranging from bicycles to trucks, this type of adventure primarily involves camping as the main form of accommodation. Often, these trips can last from days to several months to years (and naturally, you have enough money and time to take off a few years) and often cross international borders.

Conversely, camping is an activity that involves staying outdoors overnight with basic temporary shelters like tents. This activity can also incorporate stays in recreational vehicles, cabins, tents, or even minimal shelters like hammocks, tarps, that oh-so-random cave that Rambo found in “First Blood,” or sometimes no shelter at all. Or a yurt because “yurt” is fun to say, and no one has the means to drag one around.

While there are definitive similarities between the two, if you need to pay your check and end a conversation, just say, “Think of overlanding as the physical journey to destinations, and camping as the (usually non-permanent) ‘lodging’ at said destinations.”

E-Bikes Overview

Rattan Sequoia E-Bike

So remember those definitions as they’re somewhat germane to the rest of the article. An “E-Bike” is, I know you guessed it Carnac the Magnificent, an electric bicycle. And unless you just thawed out from a glacier or were reanimated by dino DNA trapped in tree sap, you’d know about the unstoppable phenomena.

  • Their battery-powered – if you’re a “leave no trace” kinda’ outdoors persona, like me, this appeals to your greater sense of purpose on your outdoor excursions.
  • These are ninja quiet compared to dirt bikes and ATVs.
  • They function as a human-powered bike and self-powered bike.
  • Many (including the make and model I outline) can overcome standard hiking trails and explore vast areas in a jiff.

E-bikes use different sensor types to assist riders in various ways:

  • Torque Sensor: This sensor measures the force you apply to the pedals. The harder you pedal, the more assistance you receive from the motor. It’s great for a natural, bike-like feel as the bike responds to your effort. This will become important to understand when you begin learning how to ride the Sequioa.
  • Cadence Sensor: Cadence sensors focus on the speed at which you’re pedaling. They provide a consistent level of assistance regardless of how hard you pedal. This is useful for riders who prefer a more consistent and predictable riding experience.

I’ll tee this up to say this was my first foray into e-bikes. I’ve ridden all manner of road, mountain, and incumbent bikes but was eager to introduce myself to a new layer of two-wheeled transportation. So there’s a bit of learning in a few spots, mainly lexicon (tech terms, meaning, and so on) and riding, as it’s not just get-n-go.

Travel & Transport

Alternative Hitched Mounted Transportation For E-Bike

If there was one unexpected challenge I encountered, it was figuring out how to transport the bike itself. With my RIGd UltraSwing (that I totally love) firmly in place, removing it is not something I am willing to do. I know I’m going to be lost in BFE, and I want all the goodies with me!

The next step was to utilize my trusty yet bulkier Thule Apex XT, which only resulted in a precarious situation that felt like it could snap off at any moment, especially during what felt like a Herculean deadlift in my own driveway. Dude, it was awesome; you should have seen me.

That’s when I turned to Harbor Freight for a solution: the Haul-Master 400 Lb. (I can hear the nods of approval) receiver-mount Aluminum Motorcycle Carrier. At just $150, it was a lifesaver, allowing me to hit the road with confidence and ease. It even has a little ramp! Bingo bongo, I’m back in action!

The Sequoia

Rattan E-Bike - Silver Sequoia

First things first, let’s get to know Rattan E-Bikes a bit better. Rattan has 10 years of bicycle manufacturing technology and experience, which is key to making them more than just a glorified drop-shipper. They [seem] all about providing an affordable lineup without compromising on quality. The list of companies making these has all but code-red nuclear over the past few years, and it’s hard to know if something will fit your needs, so I did roll some dice as it is my first one.

Why Rattan? Affordable Awesomeness!

Rattan offers a bang for your buck like no other. It’s strange because a lot of online reviews for the model I picked referred to it as more on the “pricey” side, but when you pull this monster out of the box and see the size and build quality — I felt like I stole it. No joke, these rascals are going from $500 counterfeit knockoff to $15,000. And I still have to pedal???

What model did I get? The SEQUOIA: Summon the Dark Lord of their lineup!

Now, let’s talk about the star of the show! Do you wonder why I chose this particular model? Well, my fellow thrill-seekers, it’s simple. The SEQUOIA doesn’t just look badass; it’s like the dirt bike’s cooler, electric cousin. Hang tight as we take you on an electrifying journey through all the perks, ups, and downs of this beast and what you need to know.

Find It Online

Rattan sent over a discount code for $150 off as well, should you want to get one. Use code – trail4runner.

Trail Riding

Overlanding E-Bike Review

Overall, I’m absolutely loving it. If you’re comfortable handling a good mountain bike and understand shifting gears, you’ll feel right at home. The learning curve is minimal, mainly revolving around getting accustomed to the pedal assist system. MEANING – Since the bike is based on torque sensing, as you go up the PAS (there are 5 levels), you will be going faster and will need to adjust your gears accordingly to keep a logical cadence with that given speed.

Have you seen that guy on the second ring of his cassette (bike gears) peddling like a coked-up lab hamster? Well, don’t do that. This is where it takes ten to fifteen minutes to figure out the gears matching the PAS, and then you get the thrill of just saying, “screw it!” and flicking the throttle.

Starting off effortlessly from a standstill with Pedal Assist 1 is a game-changer. It’s like having a gentle push off of grass, sand, or a hill to get you going without breaking a sweat. Once you’re on the move, the Sequoia feels unstoppable on various types of terrain. Whether tackling inclines or cruising on flat ground, its performance remains impressive.

Navigating inclines is where it truly shines. With its powerful motor and efficient pedal assist, conquering uphill climbs becomes a breeze, allowing you to maintain momentum with ease. Additionally, braking is responsive and reliable, giving you the confidence to tackle any descent without hesitation. Moreover, you will get going WAY faster than you think, and those disc brakes will make all the difference. Please note a little noise during the first few rides during the initial brake-in-the-brake period.

As for speed, the Sequoia doesn’t disappoint. It offers a dynamic and exciting riding experience that will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Just remember safety first, get a good-fitting helmet, and spend some quality time with initial 1-3 peddle assist levels before you insist on seeing if you can make it go 30 MPH. And yes, you can — and it can be unsettling if you’ve never done motorcycle, motocross, or BMX riding before.

Last thought, If you must ride this in the outback, please know your trails. While the adjustable front suspension is excellent and easy to adjust on the fly, if you hit a dry creek bed or an errant tree, you likely project out of your body before a helicopter evacuation. Just saying.

Tested Bike Pros & Cons

Rattan E-Bike Review

PROS

  • Price
  • Step-Through Frame
  • Shimano Components
  • Samsung Batteries
  • Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • Built like a brutalist concrete bunker
  • Upgraded Charger With Purchase
  • USB Port On Top Display To Charge Ancillary Tech
  • Kenda Tires With Reflective Tire Wall Stripping
  • Derailer And Chain Guard
  • Size/Weight (good and bad)
  • “Sport Mode”

CONS

  • Not Full Waterproof
  • 12v DC Portable Vehicle Charger Accessory
  • No Rear Seat Accessories
  • No Fenders Included
  • Size/Weight (good and bad)
  • Wiring Seals
  • Heavy at 77 Lbs.

Additional Recommendations

Final Thoughts

E-Bikes For Camping

Look, for me, it’s all about versatility and convenience. Imagine having a fun and practical activity for everyone in your group, whether exploring a campground, venturing into surrounding areas, or even running errands to a nearby store (aka “Beer Run”). E-bikes offers a fantastic way to make the most out of your outdoor adventures without relying solely on your main rig.

Now, picture this: you’ve set up your base camp with all the bells and whistles, complete with roll-out awnings, strapped-on tents, and a tarp maze creating additional rooms. But once everything is in place, relocating your rig becomes a monumental task. That’s where the e-bike comes in handy. It allows you and your companions to scout trails, discover new hiking spots, or quickly dash out for provisions, all without the hassle of moving your entire setup.

And let’s remember peace of mind – AKA: I’m a paranoid dad who does a fair amount of camping with my daughter and other friends. With an optional extra battery, the Rattan Sequoia boasts an impressive range of up to 80 miles. That’s 80 miles of reassurance that you’ll always have a reliable mode of transportation, even if your main rig isn’t readily accessible. Having such a dependable backup plan can make all the difference in a community where the unexpected is always a concern.

Resources

E-Bike Resources

Rattan Links:

Quick Reference Buyers Guide:

Laws And The Likes:

*Be mindful that not all trails allow e-bikes and or e-motorcycles; ensure you’ve done your research before you get kicked out of your favorite destination simply due to improper oversight.

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cal
cal
23 days ago

It would be cool to have one for cruising around at camp, cruising around at expos, or events like King of the Hammers. That specific model looks heavy though. Only time I would justify the weight would be for a 3-4 day event with a ton of vendors or something. For now, I’ll stick to my full suspension MTB.

Greg
Greg
23 days ago

Lots to think about, thanks for the information.

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