Being pretty new to turkey hunting and with only YouTube as my mentor, I need all the help I can get to find gobblers.
As it turns out, the QuietKat Apex electric bike helped me out this past spring. Thanks to the Apex, I was able to cover a lot of ground way quicker than I could on foot, but without the noise of a combustion engine.
The QuietKat Apex is a high-end electric bike designed for utilitarian outdoor pursuits like hunting. It offers a smooth mid-drive motor and high-quality components that can be relied upon in the woods. While the range is not as expected, its value is on par or better than that of similar ebikes.
In this detailed review of the QuietKat Apex, I’ll tell you how it enhanced my turkey hunt as well.
- High-quality components
- Super smooth ride with air suspension
- Excellent control even over rough terrain
- Durable frame with a high weight and gear capacity
- Lots of customization options that appeal to hunters
- Battery range did not meet expectations
- Plastic parts will break
- High price may not be justifiable for everyone
Hands-on Review of the QuietKat Apex Hunting eBike
I spent a lot of time in the saddle of the QuietKat Apex this spring. Whether it was commuting to the office, running errands, or going for a joy ride I put a lot of miles on it during the two months it was in my garage.
I even rode it to my 20-year high school reunion as if it was some sort of status symbol.
Truth be told, the Apex is worth more than my daily driver Hyundai. Sigh.
Who cares about status?! I won’t think about or see those people for another decade anyway.
Of all the pedaling (and button pressing en lieu of pedaling) that I did on the Apex, the most enjoyable of all was a multi-day turkey hunt in North Idaho. It was during this trip that the actual usefulness of all the features, specs, bells, and whistles really manifested. And while the experience was a delight, I see some room for improvement.
Check out the video below for a real-time review of the QuietKat Apex while I was on that turkey hunt!
A Purpose-Built Design
Unlike a lot of less expensive fat tire electric bikes, the QuietKat Apex was not built simply to include a list of minimum specs at the lowest cost. The Apex was built with a purpose in mind, and that purpose was hunting.
This doesn’t mean it’s a one-trick pony, however. Au contraire! It does many things well as long as those things involve a variety of terrain, a desire for a smooth ride, and an occasional need to carry a heavy load.
The Apex arrived at my house in a single large box and was partially assembled. Before I realized QuietKat had a convenient YouTube tutorial on assembly, I put the whole kit together pretty easily. It would have been easier with a bike maintenance stand or a buddy, but I managed to do it myself on the garage floor.
Look and Feel
The Apex definitely has a tough look and feel to it. When I rode it through town, people would often stare and ask questions when they got the chance. It’s a looker.
The pretty face has a purpose too. The Veil Caza camouflage is an effective pattern and just so happened to match the exact print of the Pnuma camo gear I wear hunting. My whole ensemble was more coordinated on that turkey hunt than it has ever been in my life.
The meaty tires provide a smooth ride and excellent traction while the gnarly frame can carry a heavy load of man, gear, and, with any luck, game.
I really liked the comfortable upright riding position compared to a more downward, performance-focused mountain biking position. Sitting upright allowed me to constantly scan the clearcuts and treelines as I eased along logging roads looking for turkeys.
The Apex frame is a hardtail design made of aluminum with an incorporated gear rack. This is largely where the “purpose-built” factor plays in because you know you’ll be hauling extra gear in, and hopefully game out, on a hunt.
Plus, the geometry of the frame is what makes it so comfortable to ride all day long even if you’re not a regular cyclist. Even after a full day of hopping on and off the Apex while hunting I wasn’t sore at all.
While there are almost always higher-grade bicycle components, those used in the Apex are very respectable and suit the needs of the bike well.
There were a few plastic parts like the brush guards on the forks, the add-on fenders, and the throttle lever that felt cheap and prone to breakage compared to the rest of the kit. But apart from those, everything was sound.
The Apex features a mid-drive Bafang motor that comes in either a 750-watt or a 1000-watt configuration. Mine was the 1000-watt, which is great if you’re using it on roads, private land, or OHV trails where you are free to take advantage of a bit more power.
But if you’ll ride primarily on public land, especially federal lands like those managed by the US Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, you might be best off sticking to the 750-watt motor.
While there are very few fixed rules and regulations about eBikes on public lands in the US at this point, the trend appears to be moving toward a motor limit of 750 watts to be permitted on the widest range of trails. This is considered a classified electric bike and it is also more likely to be legal in cities and on bike paths where there is currently a lot of concern about ebikes cruising down bike lanes at speeds that match cars and motorcycles.
In fact, the first area I hunted for Mountain Merriams was on National Forest land. I wanted to take the Apex down a road that was closed seasonally to vehicles and OHVs. I called the Ranger District to see if it was ok to take my ebike since it was ok to take a mountain bike. But the answer was, no. At least in that National Forest, until there is an official rule created, electric bikes are considered motorcycles, not mountain bikes.
Besides that, the mid-drive motors are considered to be an upgrade from a hub-drive motor. Though they still have their downsides. They put more stress on the chain and if (or when) it breaks, you’re dead in the water. They can also put more wear and tear on your sprocket.
Finally, they require a bit more thinking when it comes to shifting the mechanical gears, especially when starting from a stop. I found that I had to be in middle or low gear to start off without hearing the chain jerk or pop with tension. Too much of that and the chain will surely break.
An inverted fork with air suspension looks like a dirt bike and feels like you’re riding on a cloud. The Apex’s front suspension combined with the cushy fat tires made it glide smoothly over rocks and ruts without issue.
I was extremely impressed by the stability on uneven terrain and when I got sucked into a 10-inch-deep muddy wheel track in the woods. I never fell on this bike and it was tons of fun cruising over curbs and stairs around town.
No rear suspension was no big deal since I think having it would compromise the load you could carry.
While not top-of-the-line, the QuietKat Apex uses a SRAM 9-speed drivetrain with a SRAM X5 trigger shifter and rear derailleur. The shifters shift smoothly and are made of aluminum which should hold up well to abuse. They held alignment and never required adjustment despite a lot of cajoling on my turkey hunt and elsewhere.
The Apex has hydraulic disk brakes that give you excellent stopping power and control. They are the Tektro Dorado E-23 series which is a component specifically designed for ebikes which are heavier and reach potentially higher speeds than normal mountain bikes.
Wheels and Tires
Kenda 26-inch diameter by 4.5-inch wide fatties make for a smooth and stable ride. The wheels roll over almost anything, even small downed trees on a trail. Having tubeless tires is awesome and I never had any trouble with punctures or flats over the course of a couple of months on all types of surfaces.
The bike computer and electric motor controller has a nice, bright, color LED display that is easy to see both day and night. While it’s not a touchscreen, it’s pretty intuitive with only a few buttons to control it and you can customize all kinds of settings. You can also set your time, trip meters, what shows up on the display, and your preferred units.
A strong suit of QuietKat is their range of accessories designed for hunters. From trailers to waterproof saddle bags, to heavy-duty bike racks QuietKat has its own line of utilitarian accessories. Besides that, there are endless third-party accessories like gun racks that you could use to deck out the Apex into something amazing.
Performance Was Good, Not Perfect
I had the chance to compare it head-to-head with QuietKat’s less-expensive Ranger and the pricetag of the Apex alone seemed more in line with a Suzuki trail bike than an electric bicycle.
Suffice it to say, my expectations were pretty high for the Apex’s overall performance. Sadly, it fell a bit short in a couple of aspects, especially range.
Battery Endurance and Range
The Apex has a 16 amp-hour, 48-volt battery that stores 768 watt hours of energy. QuietKat advertises a range of 24-48 miles on a single charge with the disclaimer that range will vary depending on conditions, rider weight, gear load, battery age, etc.
At 220 pounds, I’m not a small guy. But truthfully, I never came close to getting even 24 miles on a single charge under any conditions. That includes commuting between my house and my office which is all flat pavement, and doing that in eco mode while pedaling a whole lot.
On the low end, I only got about 10 miles of range. This happened when I cruised around town, never pedaled, only used the throttle, and kept the motor at max output.
A realistic average range for the QuietKat Apex, based on my own experience, is between 15-18 miles before you’re running on reserve power.
I have read a report or two online of users who got as much as 24 or even 30 miles on a single charge, so perhaps it can be done.
The Impact of Range on a Hunt
I had hoped to use the Apex all three days of my turkey hunt. Since I was camping I didn’t have any power to recharge overnight, so I only had one full battery. As it turned out, that wasn’t enough.
I got through day one which started around noon and was mostly scouting. Then I put in a full day on day two from dawn until dark. By the time I made it back to camp my power meter read 5% and I had traveled 16 miles on that charge.
Once the battery hits 10%, the output decreases dramatically to where the electric motor is basically useless, by the way.
That whole trip I kept the bike in eco mode and was on power level three or lower (of five) 95% of the time. I pedaled-assisted 90% of the time in middle gear, though I wasn’t working hard. That is sort of the sweet spot for a pleasant ride without burning too much battery or calories. The terrain was pretty typical for a hunt with a variety of ups, downs, and flats on gravel, dirt, grass, and mud trails.
I would caution you not to expect the advertised range unless you are doing most of the work, riding really slowly, and leaving the electric output on power level one or two. But with those constraints, you may as well ride a regular mountain bike.
Speed, Takeoff, and Power
The QuietKat Apex left me wanting when it came to speed, takeoff, and power, but I admit my expectations were rather lofty and unrealistic.
I was hoping that the torque would make the front wheel pop up when you laid on the throttle, but in reality, you have to ease into the throttle to avoid breaking a chain.
The 1000-watt version I had did reach speeds of 30 mph downhill and 25 mph on the flats, and that is pretty fast for an e-bike.
I guess my visions of popping a wheelie after dropping my son off at elementary school only to make all the other eight-year-old boys think I’m the coolest dad ever were a hair off the mark of reality. But that blame cannot be placed solely on the back of the Apex, I concede.
Sport vs Eco Mode
One feature the Apex has that some other QuietKats do not is Eco and Sport modes. I thought Sport mode would throw up gravel and dirt behind me, but not so.
The main difference is that Sport mode will give up to maximum battery output depending on how much throttle you give it while Eco mode limits the max output to 80% to conserve battery.
Honestly, I noticed little to no difference between the two modes, so I always left it in Eco mode.
Forget about sport mode or max output if you want to conserve battery.
Ride and Comfort
This is where the QuietKat Apex delivered handily. It rides so smooth and comfortable that you forget you’re on a bicycle going through potholes, puddles, and stobs on a skid trail. You can keep your head up gazing at the scenery without white-knuckling the handlebar for dear life.
The ride is smooth and I never felt sore after a day of riding.
Silence Makes Me Happy
As the brand name suggests, the QuietKat Apex is indeed quiet. This feature instantly became more valuable to me when I was out hunting and realized how non-intrusive it is as a vehicle.
Even though I’m a fan of ATVs, side-by-sides, and motorcycles myself, I get irritated when other OHV-riding hunters buzz by within a mile of me. It either scares game off or makes them shut up so you have to wait another half hour to locate them again. That simply doesn’t happen with an electric bike.
That’s not to say the Apex is completely silent. You still hear the tire-to-road noise, especially on gravel. And when not pedaling you hear the clicking of the drivetrain. But it is quiet enough that I once rolled up within shooting range of a bunch of turkeys foraging roadside and I only busted them because they saw me before I saw them. There were at least two shootable gobblers and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get ahead of them again.
From then on I slowed things down as I moved around the trails. And sure enough, I got that close more than once. One time I even flushed a nesting hen ten feet away.
The point is, you won’t annoy other hunters riding an ebike and you stand a better chance at spotting game from one than you do from an OHV.
Braking and Control
The big tires, air shocks, and wide handlebars make the Apex very easy to control on all surface types and terrain. It rolls over almost anything and even at 35 mph, downhill on a gravel road, I didn’t get the speed wobbles.
When you brake, you stop. The hydraulic brakes are highly responsive and don’t lock up unless you want them to.
The QuietKat Apex is as rugged as it is handsome. But beware that plastic parts are unlikely to withstand the abuse you’ll find yourself putting the Apex through.
Within a couple months I had busted the brush guard on the fork, a fender, and plastic parts on the pannier bags. I’m a little surprised that the throttle lever never broke.
Everything else takes a beating and pretty much everything is serviceable. The paint was wearing through a bit on the gear rack and had a few superficial scratches, but I wasn’t worried about rust since it’s an aluminum frame. Since very few of the main bicycle components are proprietary, you can replace them yourself or at a local bike shop.
Compared to other electric bikes, the QuietKat is noticeably more durable.
Is it Worth the Price Compared to the Competition?
While I think the Apex is competitively priced compared to the next closest alternative, I also think you can get better bang for your buck with a different electric bike. However, value is in the eyes of the beholder and your needs and wants may not be the same as mine.
For example, the QuietKat Ranger is a couple thousand dollars less than the Apex. While it features lower-end components and a hub-drive motor, I believe it would have afforded me the same turkey hunting experience. So I’m inclined to go for the less expensive alternative from the same brand.
Read more: QuietKat Apex vs Ranger Comparison
The Apex is very similar to the Bakcou Mule and the Rambo Rebel in build quality, specifications, and price. However, the Apex beats both in its weight capacity and has better suspension than the Mule. But both the Mule and the Rebel beat the Apex on battery performance. The Mule also has a smart motor that allows you to set a max speed so you can comply with regulations when you need to. But you can then turn on full power when you want. The Rebel has higher-end bike components than the Apex.
QuietKat offers one of the best electric bike warranties including lifetime coverage on the frame, one year on components, and a 30-day (10 mile) risk-free guarantee. If you don’t like it within the first month, you can send it back for a full refund, shipping included.
Rambo offers a nearly identical warranty and Bakcou is pretty close, minus the lifetime frame guarantee.
QuietKat Apex Bottom Line
The QuietKat Apex is for avid hunters or outdoor enthusiasts who don’t mind spending some extra cash for higher quality components and a little more flare. You’re not necessarily getting a big performance leap when going from a mid-level option to the Apex, it’s more about the tech upgrades.
The Apex is not really for downhill or technical trail riding. It’s a utility vehicle, not a rally car. If you want an ebike that rips down single track, look at the QuietKat Ibex instead.
But if you want to buy an electric hunting bike that will last for years to come and be serviceable when something wears out, the Apex is a good bet.
Despite the letdown on range and battery performance, I loved the QuietKat Apex. It’s an excellent hill climber and would serve anyone well who rides in steep or hilly terrain.
Chasing mountain turkeys around thick young forests and steep terrain in Idaho late in the season is no joke. It’s a major physical challenge. With the Apex I was able to cruise down a logging road while stopping to listen and glass every now and again. Every mile or so I’d hop off the bike and hike or sit on a pinch point for an hour. Then I’d get back on and do the same thing over and over again until dark.
While I may not have harvested a gobbler on that trip, I got into plenty of them and had a world of fun. The Apex made it so I could cover a whole lot more area in a day than I would have otherwise.
Be sure to check out our other articles about hunting ebikes: