My first bowhunting vehicle doubled as my work vehicle.
But it wasn’t a car or truck. I was too young for a driver’s license. It was a heavy-duty single-speed bicycle with a large rack/basket combo atop the rear wheel for carrying newspapers through mud, snow and backyard shortcuts when my customers weren’t watching.
That ol’ bike could haul just about anything, including buddies front and back when clowning around. Its newspaper baskets were also great for carrying my back-quiver and heavy jacket. What about my bow? I tied that Bear Grizzly recurve to the bike’s crossbar tube. Once secured, the bow’s upper limb jutted above the front wheel like a ship’s bowsprit.
Unlike the cars and trucks that have carried me to deer woods and elk mountains ever since, that much-abused bicycle also served as an all-terrain vehicle once I reached my hunting sites. Sometimes I pedaled it across the back nine of a golf course near town to reach a distant woods, but more often I followed old cattle trails that dairy cows blazed between pastures, milking barns and distant woodlots.
I fantasized that one day I’d arrow a buck and strap it across my bike’s oversized rear rack/dual baskets for a triumphant pedal back to town. That dream remains unfulfilled 40 years later.
Sigh. But never say never. The new CB4 fatbike from Cogburn Outdoors just might revive that dream. It’s truly a hardcore hunting bike, designed from the ground up for this specific service. It’s not just a newspaper carrier or “hard tail” mountain bike pressed into auxiliary service. The CB4 features “fat” low-pressure tires that are 3.8 inches wide to maintain solid traction while rolling smoothly over sand, snow, mud and uneven terrain. Such attributes help bowhunters reach distant deer stands, bear baits and elk wallows faster and more quietly than is possible by foot or ATV.
And just in case someone doesn’t understand its mission, the CB4’s frame is finished in RealTree Xtra’s camouflage pattern, and its components are anodized black and bead-blasted for a glare-free finish. Further, the CB4’s tag line says it’s designed for “people looking to hunt, fish and forage in remote places.” It also features a rack on its rear for securely toting a rifle, bow or fishing rod.
Cogburn Outdoors is a division of Quality Bicycle Products of Bloomington, Minn., which also owns the Surly and Salsa fat-bike brands that are popular with beach and snow-trail riders and racers. The company’s expertise in those fields provided the background for designing these U.S.-made and assembled hunting bikes.
The CB4 is equipped with cable-actuated disc brakes, stainless steel rotors and stainless steel brake cables that are protected with full-length compressionless housing for surer shifting and reliable braking no matter how wet, muddy or dusty the conditions. In addition to its gun/bow/rod rear rack, the CB4’s frame also has attachment points for up to three standard water- or fuel-bottle cages, depending on the size of the frame.
Its fork has two extra attachment points, one on each leg, for oversized cages that further expand the bike’s carrying capacity for water, stove fuel, sleeping pads and other gear. By carrying gear on your bike and not on your back, you’ll stay more agile and stable while maintaining more energy during longer rides into forests and back-country.
The CB4 also features a low-slung top tube – what we called the crossbar on boys’ bikes – that makes dismounting easy. You appreciate this most when trying to dismount with a gun or bow sticking up behind you in the mount. Swinging a leg up and over is far easier on this low tube than with standard tubes.
Hunters will also appreciate the functional shape of the CB4’s frame. Its rear tubes provide lots of heel clearance because this bike is designed for hunters wearing boots and hauling cargo. Further, the tube’s design and spacing for its rear hub provide plenty of clearance for fat tires at the chain. These features create an exceptionally strong wheel and an efficient, durable drivetrain. Such features are especially valuable when slowly pedal-packing heavy loads of meat back to the camp or trailhead.
Granted, you can’t ride any bike far without a trail to follow, but the CB4 can squeeze down hiking trails and horse paths that are impassable on ATVs. Plus, with the exception of designated wilderness areas that prohibit wheels of any sort, pedal bikes are allowed in most areas that prohibit engine-driven vehicles. Given that kind of flexibility, it’s possible to find public-hunting areas that are off limits to ATVs and motorized bikes, but with trails that go much farther than most hunters willingly hike.
Plus, if you pick up a trailer for your bike, you can even haul in a small campsite for overnight, weekend or three-day getaways. A low-cost possibility is picking up a used “kiddy” trailer after the kids outgrow it.
Brace yourself for sticker shock, however. Fatbikes aren’t cheap, and the CB4 is no exception. Its msrp is $2,199.