Photo Courtesy of Rogue Ridge
It’s safe to say that Mark Garcia knows a thing or two about the hunting market. After all, he’s been in the archery accessory market for 20 years, most recently as the owner of Archer Xtreme. What you may not know is that Garcia also knows quite a bit about mountain bikes, having spent some time hunting with mountain bikes.
The archery accessory market has, in recent years, become fairly crowded, and Garcia noticed that the electric bike industry was a rapidly growing market with far fewer players. So he partnered with Rock Bordelon from the TV show On the Road with Rock & Aaron to blend his knowledge and experience in the archery market with his interest in bringing bikes into the field. The end result? The new Rogue Ridge, an electric bike manufacturer that focuses on developing high-quality e-bikes truly designed for the outdoors.
Recently, Garcia, who designs the Rogue Ridge bikes, agreed to sit down with Archery Business to give us the lowdown on this hot new category.
AB: What advantage does an electric bike give a bowhunter?
MG: The biggest advantage it gives the bowhunter is ease of use and accessibility. It’s ideal for a whitetail hunter accessing his farm in stealthy, silent mode, checking game cameras, getting to the treestand undetected. The last couple of seasons I’ve used electric bikes on several hunts, from whitetail hunting in Kansas to elk hunting in Montana. And a lot of bowhunters will walk three-quarters of a mile into their farm to get to their treestand. Carrying a pack and a lot of gear, a hunter can get sweaty, and scent’s always an issue. Our bikes really lend themselves to accessing a hunting area scent-free, sound-free and in a quick fashion. I’ve got places that I’ve hunted in the West where it would be a 45-minute hike into a certain canyon. With the bike, I can cover the same distance in about a third of the time. Speed of access and accessibility are the primary benefits for the bowhunter.
What’s also nice about it is there’s no fuel use. I hunt on a couple of private ranches out West. My ranchers are super excited that these bikes have no fire danger. There’s no combustible engine for fire danger. For the consumer, a good benefit is it’s only about 2.7 cents per mile recharge rate. So the cost of operating these bikes is very, very low.
AB: What sets Rogue Ridge bikes apart from other electric bikes on the market?
MG: We’re utilizing a 6061 T6 aluminum frame for our system. We’ve designed our frames to handle loads up to 300 pounds. A lot of electric bikes on the market today are designed with a 250-pound load capacity. So we’ve beefed up our frames in order to handle extra capacity. If a 190-pound guy is on an elk hunt and he’s putting an elk quarter on his back, he’s adding 100 pounds. And then of course we have a lot of guys who are carrying in 55- to 75-pound base camps on their backs into the backcountry. So obviously you have to build a frame that will handle the load. The frame is the primary focus of how we’ve set ourselves apart in regards to how we’re building the system.
When it comes to bike componentry, we’re using upper-level Shimano componentry on all of our units, and on our top-end unit we’re using Tektro downhill racing brakes. Our full line is fully front fork suspension — aluminum suspension to keep the weight down. Front fork suspension allows the rider to lock out the front forks if they’re riding on pavement and gravel roads and then unlock it for a full-suspension ride if they’re doing trail riding.
So the bikes are designed to handle the aggressive riding you would see off-street. A lot of electric bikes are built for street use and not necessarily off-road use. We’re going the extra step and using the top-end brake systems, gears and component systems. We’re using a Bafang G06-10 series motor system, which is the latest series motor in that class. It enables us to build a better system.
When it comes to e-bikes, consumers can get fooled into thinking that all e-bikes are the same. They’re not. It basically boils down to the componentry, the level of quality of the motor and the level of quality of the battery. Those are the two top components, and we don’t skimp on either one of those. We’re using Panasonic battery systems, 17-amp hour systems. We call it a 900 series system, which is 900 cycles. It’s kind of like your cellphone. A cheaper cellphone has 300, 400 cycles in it and then the battery starts going bad. Same thing with electric bike batteries. There are more inexpensive bikes on the market that are using less expensive batteries and motors, and that’s really the key component in our design. We’re using top-end batteries and top-end componentry. The consumer gets a lot when it comes to what they’re paying for.
AB: What is Rogue Ridge’s marketing strategy?
MG: We did a soft launch this summer to get our branding and first-generation bikes out. We have a lot of marketing avenues that we’re going to be utilizing for next year: social media, print, video and TV. 2018 is our premiere launch of the brand. We’re adding some features and functions to the 2018 line. We’ve upgraded our tires, our rim systems, our braking systems for 2018.
We’re targeting not only the bowhunter, but also the outdoor enthusiast/recreationalist. We’ve had people contact us that span from 68 years old all the way down to 18. The bikes are not just for hunting. I have guys who want to take these to the beach and camping. An older gentleman wanted to be able to leave his farm and ride it into town instead of firing his truck up. And unlike with a 4-wheeler, the consumer doesn’t need a trailer to pull behind their truck to get this apparatus to the woods. Simply detach the front tire and put it in the back of your truck or the backseat of your car. We have some unique models that are coming out in the spring that are going to make that even more acceptable to do.
AB: What should retailers and consumers know about Rogue Ridge?
MG: My business partner, Rock Bordelon, and I sat down and decided to build a unique program on the retail side. Retailers will have low overhead. A lot of times manufacturers will expect the retailer to bring in a lot of units to establish a good price. We have a new model where we have floor inventory bikes that will be at a lower cost to the dealer. Then the dealer can use those bikes as display/sale models. The retailer doesn’t have to go deep in inventory. They can buy a couple display/floor models and sell using those models. Then we can ship directly to the consumer. That allows the need for heavy overhead to go by the wayside. I think the retailers will be very impressed with the ability to get into this category of e-bikes without a large capital investment, and they’re going to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the products and also ease of being able to get the product into consumer hands.
For consumers, I’ve been in the hunting industry for 20 years. I’ve hunted off of standard mountain bikes and off of e-bikes. Our line is designed for off-road use, hence the name Rogue Ridge. We’re not a manufacturer that’s trying to take a city bike and have it perform off-road. That’s the Achilles heel of most e-bikes. Guys think you can take the bikes from the street to the field. Not necessarily so. At Rogue Ridge, we’re designed the bikes with the right componentry and the right parts so that you can take it to street to field and feel confident.
AB: Will can we expect to see in the future from Rogue Ridge?
MG: In 2018, all three of these models will have new upgraded tires. There will be a better all-terrain tire and wheel system on all those models. Something new that we’re going to be releasing at ATA is our Ridge Sherpa. It’s a single-wheeled cart system that attaches to the bike and allows you to take load capacity into the field with you. We looked at the category. There are a lot of bicycle trailers out in the marketplace, but the trend is to utilize them in the off-road category when they’re not designed for that. Most bike trailers have a carrying capacity of 65 to 75 pounds. So the Ridge Sherpa design has a load capacity of 250 pounds.
We have a new bike that’s going to be released in 2018 called the Ridge Tech. The Ridge Tech is a smaller version of our RB series in. It’s a smaller frame and it opens itself to smaller-stature riders—kids, women, the elderly.
My co-partner on Rogue Ridge, Rock, is an avid outdoor sportsman and enthusiast. He hunts all over the world with guns, bows, everything. His enthusiasm drives the development of this brand as much as mine. And between the two of us, we wanted to build a superior brand. I think people are going to be pretty excited in what they see from Rogue Ridge in 2018 and beyond. We have a lot of great ideas for different bikes and different systems for the bikes that are going to be rolling out. What’s really nice about the bike industry is the scaleability. We can really develop something and bring it out a lot more rapidly than just waiting the typical seasonal launches. That’s why we launched our brand in August. We had some great success in selling our first-generation bikes this year. We plan to continue that in 2018 and beyond.
Rogue Ridge LLC
P.O. Box 425
Belgrade, MT 59714
(844) GOROGUE (844-467-743)
Rogue Ridge currently offers three e-bike models. All three models come with free mudguards and a 50 lumen hand-activated headlight on the handlebar set.
The entry-level option is the RR750. In this case, RR stands for Rogue Rear Hub Design Model due to the fact that motor system is in the rear hub of the bike. It boasts a 750-watt system, front fork suspension, a Shimano gear system, a Shimano brake system and three levels of power assist.
“Seeing as it’s a rear hub motor design, that particular bike is really geared toward medium to average use,” Garcia said. “Meaning level terrain to intermediate terrain, it will do fine. You have lots of low-end torque because of the motor being to the rear. So it’s really a great bike for carrying a load.
“This particular bike has throttle hand pedal assist. The throttle option on it allows the rider to ride at 20 mph without pedaling with a range of about 27-30 miles, depending on the level of the terrain. Then pedal assist should be 35-45 miles. And it’s a chain-driven model system. That’s great for the whitetail guy who’s got a 500-acre farm or some guy who’s going to take it to the beach or around town. It retails at $2,800.”
Next in the line is the RM750, which offers a mid-motor hub design. This bike offers five levels of power assist and is capable of increased distance.
“That particular bike is going to take you further in the fact that it’s going to be able to handle more aggressive trail riding, and the battery life will carry the rider farther,” Garcia said. “It’s still a chain system. But on the 750 Mid, it’s seven Shimano gears with five levels of power assist. So depending on the grade or the hill the person is climbing, it’ll have more adequate power to be used on logging roads. We have these bikes up at a ski resort using the resort access roads without a problem. You have those five different levels, so if the rider feels that he needs more power, he can go from one to five, five being the highest power level, in assisting him up the hill. And again, you also have throttle capability as well. Carrying capacity on that is 35-45 miles. You just get more power. That one retails at $3,400.”
Finally, there’s what Garcia calls the Cadillac of the line: the RB1000, which features a gates carbon belt drive system. It’s a 1000-watt motor system with lithium-ion battery capability. The gates carbon belt drive makes for immensely improved longevity. (A standard bike chain is good for 500-600 miles; a standard e-bike chain is good for 2,500-3,500 miles. The gates carbon fiber belt system will last 10,000-12,000 miles.) This eliminates the derailer, making it easier to tune the bike and eliminating the risk of foliage getting snagged in the derailer when you riding off-road.
“A lot of these guys expect these bikes to be a motorcycle,” Garcia explained. “They’re bikes. So accessibility on trails and roads is great, but when you’re trying to get off-road that’s when this drive system is so much better. When you’re driving through a wheat field, a hayfield, CRP, that sort of thing, it’s going to be more bulletproof.
“The RB1000 has a carrying capacity of 50-60 miles on level ground on pedal-assist mode. It’s going to give you a longer, more sustained ride.
“Our Juggernaut tires are tubeless tires, but we include tubes inside to be more puncture-resistant. And because the speeds you can achieve on the RB1000 are increased over the 750, we added Tektro downhill racing brakes to this system so it has increased stopping capabilities. All of our bikes have hydraulic brake systems. With all three models, we used the best braking systems we can find, the best gear systems, motor systems and battery.”