Factory Test: QuietKat Debuts Apex HD and XD Model E-Bikes

posted on May 15, 2024
Apex HD And Apex XD Lede

QuietKat has debuted two new Apex series e-bikes for 2024, termed the Apex HD and Apex XD. While the bikes are nominally extensions of the existing Apex line, they boast enough upgrades to essentially constitute a whole new generation of electronic bicycles, guaranteed to take hunters father, faster and in even more rugged terrain. I had the opportunity to take a sneak peak at these new motorized monsters on a recent visit to the company’s Eagle, Colorado offices and warehouse, and was able to feel their whopping 500 additional watts of power firsthand. These larger motors are powered by a larger battery that boosts the bike's potential range to a mind-boggling 100 miles. Let’s take a look at some of the brand-new design features packed into these new Apexes.

Apex HD Left side

The first thing to note is frame sizes are gone. In pace of the old S/M/L frames are just two, which better suit the gamut of users. While this may sound counterintuitive, QuietKat has accomplished this by making the Apex XD a traditional, leg-over frame, while the Apex HD is a step-through, and thus more comfortable for smaller uses. It also has the added benefit of being a potentially more comfortable choice for folks who ride laden with a pack, vest and the like, as it’s a less acrobatic procedure to mount the bike. Far from a simple marketing pitch, the bike’s design was actually hashed out on the company’s Military/LE side of the house, as guys wearing body armor and war belts find it significantly easier to mount a step through. Further, the new bikes sport dropper posts on the seats, to further ease adjustment between different sizes of riders, and of course for seamless transition between technical and road riding.

Of course, the natural next question is, “if step-through frames are so ergonomic, why didn’t they do this before?” That was my question anyway. As it turns out, this is where the upgrades get really, really fun.

Apex HD and Apex XD

E-bike motors have always been mounted on the middle of the frame, right near the pedals. A sturdy part of the bike directly adjacent to the manual power input, this placement has always been a no-brainer. To have a step-through, however, the motor has to be … well … somewhere else, which proves a conundrum all its own. In response to this sticky problem, QuietKat developed an all new hub-drive motor for the Apex HD, that is actually more powerful than the mid drive found on the old Apex Pro models. Mounted directly on the rear axle, this motor boasts the same 1500 watts as the new mid-drive Apex XD, and those extra 500 watts make a noticeable difference. One guy I talked to at the factory has climbed a 60-degee scope with his test model, which is an absolutely insane achievement for an e-bike. This isn’t all down to the wattage however, and brings us to the next fun upgrade for these new Apexes.

Apex HD Hub Drive

One complaint QuietKat constantly received was hunters knocking off their derailleurs when navigating through brush and tight single track deep in the backcountry. Of course, there’s no fix for this—bikes with speeds have derailleurs, its just a natural fact of life … right? Apparently not. For 2024, QuietKat has introduced an all new automatic transmission that shifts when it hits predesignated levels of input—no more derailleur, all internal gearing. Before you blow past this as some esoteric bit of engineering, I should note how absolutely insane it is to feel your bike shift and the pedal harden without manual input. Maybe its just me, but a lifetime shifting bikes the old-fashioned way made the experience just about as weird as it was cool. Even beyond ditching the derailleur, however, this new gearing setup has allowed QuietKat to equip the bikes with extra stout motorcycle chains, for even better durability off trail. Finally, and to circle back to where this digression began, comes the settings the new transmission enables.

It’s no secret in the engine world that with more power comes more noise (at least in the days before more efficient high-flow mufflers). It’s why a built-out Chevelle sounded a little better than your grandmother’s Edsel. Electric motors are—proportionally speaking—no different, and that extra wattage came with a discernable increase in noise; thus the next question became how to keep the bikes catlike quiet when needed, while still allowing riders access to the new bikes' incredible power. The answer came in the form of tailored power settings, made possible by the revolutionary new transmission system. Stealth mode keeps the bike in first and second gears, capping the decibel level of the bike far below what it would achieve at higher speeds if allowed free reign through the gear set. Climb mode keeps the bike in first gear only, maximizing torque for those tough climbs (apparently even to a whopping 60 degrees). Finally, unlimited mode allows access to the full power of the bike (as the name implies), while Class 1, 2 and 3 modes allow for compliance with various levels of e-bike regulation.

Finally, lets get to some of the smaller yet still useful features on the bike that I think hunters will love. The seat is full suspension, taking quite a few bumps and jolts out of the equation, particularly considering the bike's hard-tail design. An ITO theft prevention system—essentially equivalent to LoJack—can track the bike if stolen, which is always a welcome addition to this expensive an investment. An interchangeable rack system on the rear means hunters can have multiple setups—say one for elk, one for turkey and one for fishing—and just swap them on and off the bike when need be. A front basket is an option from the factory, as are studded tired for ice fisherman and other extreme terrain junkies. Lastly, the throttle is no longer managed by a thumb switch, but utilizes the familiar, featherable twist throttle found on everything from dirtbikes to motorcycles.

Interchangeable side rack

For more information on this next iteration of e-bike from QuietKat, which come in Gull Grey, Moss, Relic Camo, Charcoal, Red Clay and Wideland Camo, visit quietkat.com.

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