Survival

Here’s Why Bikes Are Great Bug Out Vehicles

mountain bike

Obviously if you have to travel any kind of distance in a bug out situation, a car or truck would be the ideal bug out vehicle. But realistically there may come a time when taking a vehicle to bug out just isn’t feasible or doesn’t work out. In those circumstances, here’s why bikes are great bug out vehicles.

Flexible Routing

Let’s face it, one of the biggest obstacles to a successful bug out is your ability to get from point A to point B. Streets could be congested with traffic or even blocked by debris which can make getting through roads with a car virtually impossible.

The width and size of a car or truck means you are limited as to the routes you can take. With a bike, you can dodge in and out of congested traffic, go around fallen debris, detour down sidewalks and narrow alleyways, take bike paths, or even go off road through the woods if necessary.

Bikes are Quiet

Unless you choose to use a bike with an electric motor, a bike is much quieter than a car. You’ll get where you need to go without announcing to others where you are.

This can be important in a bug out situation where others are desperate for supplies as it can reduce the number of confrontations you’ll have to have along your route.

Faster than walking

One of the reasons bikes are great bug out vehicles is that they are faster than walking. The longer it takes you to travel to your bug out location, the more supplies you have to carry and the more likely it is that you will run out of something you need along the way.

Bugging out on foot will take you up to 5 times as long than if you were traveling by car, but on a bike you can lessen the time it takes you to get from point A to point B and boost your chance of survival.

Carrying Capacity

Another reason why bikes are great bug out vehicles is their carrying capacity. Bugging out on foot means you have to carry the weight of all your supplies on your back.

But if you bug out on a bike, you can boost your carrying capacity without breaking your back by using panniers or saddle bags along with front or rear racks, or even a bike trailer to carry your bug out supplies.

Bikes are also a great alternative for families with young children because you can modify your bike with seats or a passenger trailer.

Easy to Split Up if Being Pursued

If you bug out in a group or with your family by car and find that you are being pursued, there’s really no way to lead your pursuers away from the more vulnerable members of your group.

If each of your group is on a bike, there’s a chance the most able of the group could split off and lead pursuers one way while the more vulnerable of your group gets away to safety where you can rendezvous later.

Doesn’t Need Gasoline or Other Fuel

One of the big advantages of bugging out on a bike instead of in a vehicle is that you don’t need to worry about gasoline or fuel to keep going. The trade-off is you need to maintain your physical fitness so that you can pedal, but even those with lower fitness levels can bug out by bike using one with an electric motor that can be switched on to make pedaling and hills easier.

Spare Parts Will Be Plentiful

A huge reason bikes are great bug out vehicles is the fact that spare parts will likely be plentiful. Most people will rely on vehicles to get from point A to point B and that means there will be a lot bicycles left behind in garages or even laying in back yards.

If you need spare parts for your bike that you don’t have, chances are you can find a forgotten bike that has the parts you need. Just make sure you remember to bring along the tools you need to make the swap and learn the basics of bike repair and you’ll be good to go.

You Already Own One

Bikes make great bug out vehicles because chances are you already own a bike that is suitable for a bug out or can be modified to make a decent bug out vehicle. This means you may not have to spend money to buy a new bike and can instead focus on modifying your current bike to increase its carrying capacity with accessories such as panniers or a cargo trailer.

Easier to Learn to Fix

With a car or truck there are a lot of moving parts that can break or need repair along your bug out route. If you aren’t already familiar with how to fix a car, it will take significant time to learn to do reliable repairs.

With a bike, there are fewer mechanical things that can go wrong so it’s easier to learn how to make those repairs so you can keep on moving toward your destination. In most cases, bike repairs are quicker to do as long as you have or can find the parts, which means you won’t waste valuable time getting to your bug out location.

bugging out on bikes

EMP-Proof

When it comes to bugging out, a vehicle, especially one equipped with computerized parts, can leave you stranded in the event of an EMP which essentially can fry sensitive circuits.

Bikes are great bug out vehicles because they are not impacted by the effects of an EMP. This means when others are stuck bugging out on foot, you and your family will be pedaling your way to safety.

Okay, so for all the reasons above, bikes are great bug out vehicles but which bikes make the best bug out vehicles? This next section will detail what to look for when purchasing a bike as a bug out vehicle, and how to modify your existing bike so you have the best chance of getting to your bug out location.

Durable and Lightweight Frame

If you’re purchasing a bike to bug out, look for a mountain bike frame which is built to operate on rugged terrain and withstand heavy use. If you have a choice of frame material, choose a frame made of lightweight chrome molybdenum steel over heavier carbon steel.

Aluminum frames are another lightweight option. If your budget will allow it, titanium is a higher end bike frame material. It’s as strong as steel but lighter and it will absorb vibration better and be more responsive if you have to go off road. Carbon fiber frames are also strong and light, but can be a stiffer ride, more difficult to repair and more expensive than steel.

Upgraded Bike Components for Your Bug Out Vehicle

When it comes to durability, you want your bike to be able to handle the wear and tear you put on it during a bug out trip. The upgrades you make to your bug out bike should be based on what the terrain along your potential routes will be and how likely it is you will have to go off road. Consider upgrades to the following bike components to increase the durability of your bike:

  • Cables
  • Pedals
  • Brakes
  • Handlebars
  • Derailleurs
  • Tires

Bike Accessories

When it comes to a equipping your bike for a bug out trip, the accessories you add can significantly increase your ability to carry what you need and make it to your destination. Mix and match accessories from the list below to create a custom bug out bike that best meets your needs:

  • Panniers or saddlebags bolt to the frame and fork of the bike and have rigid sides
  • Frame mounted bags typically use velcro straps within the main bike triangle
  • Rigid rack that bolts beneath the bike seat
  • Lights powered by generator hubs that charge with the wheel movement.
  • Bike Trailers work perfect for additional hauling
  • Single wheel cargo trailer is best for rugged terrain or off road.
  • Front or Rear Racks

If you expect to be off road or traveling over rougher terrain, go with something like this freeparable T2 trailer with up to 13 watts power for charging lights or cell phone. It can carry up to 60 pounds and the bag is 100% waterproof which means it keeps your gear protected even in water.

Do you already have a bike you’ve modified into a great bug out vehicle? If not, have we convinced you to consider one, at least as a backup to your car or truck? Let us know in the comments below.

bikes bug out vehicles pinterest image

Megan Stewart

About Megan Stewart

A mother of four and grandmother of six, Megan is living the lifestyle any prepper would want. Gardening, homesteading and constantly planning for emergencies big and small, she's a beacon of knowledge in the prepping community.
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8 thoughts on “Here’s Why Bikes Are Great Bug Out Vehicles

  1. Megan
    Bikes are Quiet

    Unless you choose to use a bike with an electric motor, a bike is much quieter than a car. You’ll get where you need to go without announcing to others where you are.

    I’ve used those electric motors and at least the ones I tried were whisper quiet and since they use rare earth magnets and lithium power banks, have become highly efficient, long lasting and relatively inexpensive.

    Carrying Capacity

    But if you bug out on a bike, you can boost your carrying capacity without breaking your back by using panniers or saddle bags along with front or rear racks, or even a bike trailer to carry your bug out supplies.

    While I suspect this was before your time, this mode of moving people and material proved to be very effective during the Vietnam War. Bicycles were used to transport tons of personnel and supplies along the “Ho Chi Minh Trail” that was a military supply route running from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia to South Vietnam. The route sent weapons, manpower, ammunition and other supplies from communist-led North Vietnam to their allies in South Vietnam. It consisted of many trails, roads and foot paths that stretched for 9,940 miles along the Vietnam borders, and as I understand it, much of that transport was via pedestrian traffic, pushing / walking bicycles to carry the load.

    Easy to Split Up if Being Pursued

    If each of your group is on a bike, there’s a chance the most able of the group could split off and lead pursuers one way while the more vulnerable of your group gets away to safety where you can rendezvous later.

    From a tactical perspective, this may not be the best choice, since like the lion and the antelope, those who run and leave the vulnerable get away, while the vulnerable get eaten.
    If the more able bodied take flight, it will be easy to see that they are the most fit and perhaps the most threatening, so the best choice for an attacker is to let them go and stay behind to pillage the weak.

    Doesn’t Need Gasoline or Other Fuel
    True; but, you do need fuel and hydration for the user, so make sure you carry enough with you.

    Spare Parts Will Be Plentiful
    That’s true to a point with common parts like the chains or seats; but, parts for the derailleur can be very specific to a make and model of bicycle, so it would be best to have unique spares with you.

    You Already Own One
    Actually we don’t, since we live in our BOL / BIL and even the township roads in the area are too dangerous for bike riding, and loading a bike onto a rack on the vehicle to transport somewhere to ride, seems counterproductive.

    Easier to Learn to Fix
    That would be true and requires fewer tools and test equipment.

    EMP-Proof
    Yes; but, tests have indicated that the assertions of novels like “One Second After” , while making a neat scary story, are a bit overblown. Most vehicles when tested stopped running if they were running; but, after a short pause, started right back up again, and if you have older vehicles with older technology, they are essentially EMP proof.

    My perspective while already living full time on our rural combination BOL/BIL may be a bit different than others; but, all of those attributes you list for a bicycle, can be equally applied to a horse and the horse can also pull larger items like plows. They are one of the staple power sources of the local Amish.

    1. Thanks for reading. I agree horses are also a great bug out “vehicle” for experienced riders. The focus of this article was on why bikes are good bug out vehicles but yes horses would be one of my first choices for experienced riders with the means to keep them fed and watered.

      1. Megan,

        The focus of this article was on why bikes are good bug out vehicles but yes horses would be one of my first choices for experienced riders with the means to keep them fed and watered.

        I understand that; but, a bug out usually implies, at least to me, escaping from a city living situation, and there are quite a few of us in the preparedness community who already live in rural settings, where horses and other livestock are rather common. While we don’t keep all of the horses we once had, when we had quarter horses we found out that Ohio is actually the place to be for those animals, with the All American Quarter Horse Congress held in the state capital of Columbus each year.
        I agree that bikes are a good, inexpensive and reliable means of transport that should be at least considered in any plan.

        1. In my opinion quarter horses can be one of the most reliable breeds. Many of the ones I’ve had over my lifetime have been simply unflappable. Definitely a quality you want in a “bug out horse”. For experienced riders, horses make sense. But for someone with a horse that spooks easily or has limited trail exposure, or a person with little to no riding experience or even no “trail” riding experience–a horse would not be a safe option for a bug out.

    1. J,

      HAVE EXTRA TIRES. And know where to get more within a reasonable radius of where you’re starting out.

      It’s interesting how a simple statement like this can bring back long ago memories about spare tires and prepping.
      One of the first Post Apocalyptic genre books I read as a kid in the 1950’s was “Earth Abides” by the late George R. Stewart. In the story a pandemic disease has killed off much of the human race except for small pockets. The protagonist has a jeep and is traveling with his young son when they get a flat. They go to a dealership and are rummaging through the warehouse looking for a replacement that they find; but, then while trying to figure out how to remove and mount the new tire on the old rim, the boy points out the obvious. There is another jeep sitting in the showroom, mostly stripped; but, with a new spare tire bolted to the back of the vehicle. Pointing this out to his father, they take that already mounted tire and are soon on their way.
      The point here is to pay attention and don’t over think things, which as an engineer , I admit I often do.

      For those unfamiliar with the story (written in 1949) you can get a copy here: http://bamfordsworld.weebly.com/uploads/8/7/0/3/8703302/george_a._stewart_-_earth_abides.pdf

      It’s old; but, a good story.

      1. thanks for sharing this tip. It’s such a good point. We often get overly focused on the task and forget to take note of surroundings or consider other options that might in fact be easier or take less time.

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