Some of the terminology in this review have you scratching your head? Check out our E-bike guide.
I don’t recall where I was on February 2, 2020, but I know, like nearly 100 million other people around the world, I was watching the Super Bowl. It was on that night I first got a glimpse of the Jeep E-Bike. It was easy to miss, only on screen for maybe two seconds as Bill Murray took a ride on it, along with a helmeted groundhog in a front basket. After all, the commercial wasn’t for the bike, but for the Gladiator Rubicon.
Then came the Covid pandemic. Flights were canceled. Countries shut down. Toilet paper was hoarded. Entire cities became ghost towns. But something else happened: the popularity of biking sky-rocketed. The arrival of the Jeep E-Bike, a bike made by electric bike company QuietKat and licensed by the automaker, was perfectly timed.
QuietKat Jeep E-Bike Specs:
Motor(s) - 1000/750-watt Ultra-Drive
Battery - 14.5AH/48V | 696Wh | 12 lbs
Range - 22-44 Miles
Brakes - TEKTRO 4-Piston Hydraulic Disc
Fork - 140mm QK Inverted Air-Suspension
Suspension - 150mm RockShox Monarch RL
Wheel/Tire - CST Roly Poly 26” x 4.8”
Drivetrain - SRAM 1x9
Weight (without battery) - 69 lbs
Load Capacity - 300 lbs
Sizes - 15.5”, 17”, 19”
Colors - Charcoal, Red
The first time I got on the QuietKat Jeep E-Bike, a 1000-watt, full-suspension, fat tire behemoth I was skeptical, yet excited. In bold letters on the QuietKat website it is touted as “The Most-Capable E-Bike On The Planet” and it looks like it. With 150mm front suspension travel, almost 5-inch-wide fat tires and a frame that looks like it could be run over by a Wrangler and look no worse for wear, the Jeep E-Bike is an intimidating two-wheeled machine.
The first thing I had to do with the bike once it arrived at my house was get it out of the box, a task that sounds easier than it was. With a weight of 69 pounds not including the battery, lifting the Jeep is definitely a two-man job, though as I proved it can be done by one stubborn person if you don’t mind risking the back pain. Putting the bike together was a relatively simple task, thanks to very descriptive videos on the QuietKat website and all of the tools to do so included with the bike. 45 minutes later I was covered in sweat and some grease, (okay, a lot of grease) but I had a functioning bike before me.
Three hours and a full charge later (it takes 3-6 hours to charge the bike from completely dead using the pathfinder rapid charger, 6-8 hours using the solar charger) I was flying down trails near my house, thanks to the 1000-watt Ultra Drive motor. Shifting was smooth too, thanks to a SRAM nine-speed one-by drivetrain.
The front fork is a GT MRK inverted air suspension fork that allows for 150mm of travel, while the rear shock is a RockShox Monarch RL. In times when you’d rather the bike perform like a hardtail, which I have to admit, never happened to me once in the month I was testing this, the Monarch RL does offer a lockout, albeit one with a blowoff valve. On my human-powered mountain bike I tend to use these lockouts, which effectively "turn off" the shock, when I’m heading up a particularly steep hill so I don't lose any momentum. With the assistance of the motor, I found this use case unnecessary, though I could see a situation where the battery is drained and this feature would come in handy.
Speaking of a drained battery, let’s talk about range. Range on an electric-bike varies quite a bit, even more than the range of an electric vehicle, depending on what mode you are riding in, how much you’re pedaling and the terrain you’re riding on. The Jeep can be ridden in 10 different modes, Eco mode level one through five and Sport Mode level one through five. Almost all of my testing was in Sport mode, because, let’s be honest, more speed = more fun. On uphill rides on Sport mode level 5, especially when using the throttle, the battery drains quickly. Luckily you can purchase an extra battery from QuietKat. The almost-$800 price tag may seem steep, but in my opinion it is worth it if long days are in your plans.
A 70+ pound bike, once moving, isn’t easy to stop, at least it wouldn’t be without the Tektro 730 four-piston hydraulic disc brakes QuietKat put on the Jeep. To test these I ventured to the top of a hill near my home. I have hit speeds of 48 miles per hour on my road bike on this downhill, a terrifying speed to be going when you’re riding on tires thinner than a kielbasa, but that bike weighs in the neighborhood of 22 pounds. The Jeep is over three times that.
I didn’t break my personal speed record on that downhill on the Jeep, the fat tires cause too much friction for that to happen, but when I hit the brakes, I felt more confident than I have on any bike I’ve ever ridden. Brakes are the one thing between you and disaster on a bike, and QuietKat knows this, especially on an off-road focused electric bike. The brakes stop you quickly and easily, which is exactly what I’m looking for.
Starting at $7,499 (from $660/mo if you choose to finance) the Jeep E-Bike is at the higher end of the electric bike price range; the Jeep E-Bike and Jeep Rubicon E-Bike are currently the two highest priced bikes that QuietKat sells. Prices like that do scare away a lot of buyers who usually do their shopping for bikes at big box stores or Amazon, but to say they’re overpriced would be inaccurate, considering human-powered full-suspension fat bikes, of which there are few examples on the market, tend to cost in the mid-to high four figures range. Add a battery and motor to that and the Jeep sits right where it should.
Even if that price point is palatable to you, one problem overshadows the positives of the Jeep E-Bike: electric bike regulations. In thirty-seven states, including my incredibly-bike-friendly home state of Colorado, a three-class system has been adopted that most electric bikes fit into.
In a lot of parks, including a few parks with mountain bike-specific trails near my home, Class 2 electric bikes like the 750-watt QuietKat Jeep are prohibited on all non-paved trails. Riding pavement isn’t why I would buy any kind of mountain bike, let alone a fat tire, full-suspension electric bike, so to say finding out that some of my favorite nearby trails were prohibited was a bummer would be an understatement.
Biking is supposed to be easy, but due to this system some of the Jeep electric bikes, including the one I tested, aren’t allowed on trails near my home. In fact, with the throttle installed, none of the Jeep electric bikes are legal in the open spaces surrounding my house, unless you’re on a paved trail. And even then, only Class 2 bikes are allowed on those. Nothing like having a $9,000 Jeep branded electric bike and only being able to ride it on pavement.
Now, regulatory issues aren’t QuietKat’s fault, and thankfully they thought of a solution and made the thumb throttle removable on the Jeep, which immediately puts you in the Class 1 category, assuming you bought the 750-watt version of the bike. But that also limits you on which version of the bike you can buy. The tester that I had doesn’t fall into any of the three categories, since it featured a throttle and the motor was more powerful than the state considers legal for an electric bike.
The lack of classification makes it difficult to figure out just where you’re allowed to ride this bike. These electric bike classifications are relatively new and the laws around them aren’t always clear. A quick search on the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website only muddied the waters:
“Regulations and classifications vary between different land management agencies. Users should contact individual land agencies - including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and United States Forest Service (USFS), counties, and local municipalities - to determine where they are permitted to ride e-bikes on public lands.”
A few emails to the state trails program later and I had my answer: “Basically, anything over 750 watts and a top speed of 20 mph is no longer considered an e-bike but is an OHV/ low-powered scooter, dirt bike, etc. Those vehicles are limited to motorized trails.” Not ideal, but doable, since there are plenty of dirt bike trails around. Thankfully there are tools being created to help out with this problem.
“The best place we have for finding trails is People for Bikes, and our partners at OnX,” says Ryan Spinks, Director of Brand Development at QuietKat. “OnX is working on a layer for ebike legal trails; and currently I use OnX to find ATV and Moto trails, which do not exclude the unclassified, high-power ebikes. When I am riding a class 2 or class 1 version I typically check People For Bikes, or the local trail agencies.”
The Jeep E-Bike is an incredible piece of machinery, but is it the bike for everyone? Definitely not. QuietKat markets it, and the rest of their lineup, as a bike that is focused on utility, for those who use their bike for hunting, fishing, camping and exploring, rather than those who just want to get some miles in on their local trails. The company sells a whole host of accessories including a “Hunter’s Kit” that includes a trailer that can carry an elk, an “Angler’s Kit” with a 50-liter cooler and an “Overlander’s Kit” that includes a portable solar charging station, should the 44 miles of range not be enough to get you where you need to go.
That being said, even if these outdoor pursuits make up the bulk of your riding endeavors, the Jeep E-Bike, like its 4-wheeled cousins, still feels at home on trails. It’s big, but much like off-roading in a Power Wagon, it rolls over almost anything. I put triple digit miles on this bike and there were only a handful of times I ran into turns a bit too tight to handle gracefully and one gate I didn’t have enough clearance for the handlebars to fit through. Other than that it was smooth riding.
If the National Parks are considered America’s best idea, surely the mountain bike is in the top five. It allows you to glide along trails at the speed of a deer, experiencing more of nature in a given time, but also doing it differently. E-bikes allow for all of this and more. They democratize the trails. No longer are quads of steel required for big climbs, not when you have 750-watts assisting you.
Some argue that this is bad for biking, that you no longer have to put in the hours of training necessary for big climbs and bold ascents. Others, even avid cyclists, celebrate the bikes as what they are, tools that allow you to hit trails and go places you might otherwise never have been able to reach. This has always been the focus of Jeep, specifically with the company's motto of “Go Anywhere. Do Anything.” In that, the QuiteKat Jeep E-Bike surely lives up to its name.