This is the Ubco 2×2 from New Zealand. Its an electric mountain bike, and its helping our land trust staff and volunteers by hauling the equipment that we normally carry on our backs up and down mountains and over long distances every day we do trail work.
In late 2018, after a particularly exhausting season of building 3 new miles and maintaining 12 miles of current trails, our land steward, Tim Hunter, proposed the purchase of a stewardship vehicle. He has been working in the field with volunteers of all ages from 14 to 72, for last three years. During that time, one major concern stood out. Some volunteers and staff haul an average load of 40 pounds up and down mountains during projects, and it was taking a toll. And hiking in to a work site, sometimes up to 4 miles there and 4 back, each day, was exhausting even our most dedicated helpers.
Over the course of the next 5 months, the land trust researched vehicles that would work for our land trust. We considered an ATV and side-by-sides, but ruled them out. Their wide wheelbase restricted their travel to only parts of our trails, and rebuilding our trails to accommodate them was unacceptable. Their noise and pollution ran counter to our philosophy. Transporting and storing them would have required equipment almost as costly as they were. But a few months of research soon turned up a small company in New Zealand making electric farm bikes that looked promising, and we reached out to their US distributor for more information.
The vehicle was born from a need for farmers to easily travel with equipment in rugged and remote rural areas. Its mountain bike frame, battery, front and rear 1 kilowatt electric motors allow it to travel up to 75 miles. It can climb up to 30 percent slopes and haul up to 330 pounds of rider and cargo. While its maximum speed is 30 miles an hour, it is limited to 10 for off-road rider safety; still over five times faster than our normal hiking pace. And its built to survive and thrive in very harsh conditions. It is being used by land trusts and conservation organizations around the world for trail work and other stewardship activities.
The land trust realized the potential of this environmentally friendly, silent and powerful tool, and we have been testing it on our trails over the last month. It has done well, and the land trust has acquired it. It will be used to haul that heavy equipment, and with safety procedures in place, allow safe transport of a rider throughout the land trusts many trails. In the future, with a season of trail work under its belt, the land trust will consider purchasing another bike for volunteers. But in the meantime, please come meet us on our trails and take a look at this fascinating new stewardship tool. Each year we spend hundreds of person hours with volunteers, helping to make our trails safe and enjoyable for the public so that they can enjoy our amazingly beautiful land trust preserves. If you have some time and energy, please consider helping us. Visit sharonlandtrust.org or call us today at 860-364-5137. If you can’t donate your time, please consider becoming a member or donating. Every penny goes into protecting our local lands.