Post-SHTF transportation: The Mountain Bike

Do a search for “bug out vehicle” and you’ll find everything from a small economy car to a monster truck suggested. Certainly there are numerous vehicles that can work in different situations. I recently picked up five mountain bikes for the family – mainly for recreation and exercise.


After having rode mine on pavement and dirt trails, I have been looking at them a bit different. A bike would be a great method of transportation when either trying to conserve fuel for a car or truck, or for when that fuel is gone. Spending as little as $80 will get you a mountain bike brand new at your local Wally-World. You can do that – but invest in a bike and spend a little more money (or maybe a lot more money) and get a quality built bike. The more money you spend generally the lighter the bike will be and the better it will perform.



Craigslist is a good place to find used bikes at steep discounts. Two of the bike I purchased I paid $100 each. These bike were 10 years old but brand names with good components (shifter’s, gears, etc). So far they have done great.



Parts should be durable and a couple of spare tires, tubes, and brakes are inexpensive.  My bike has a small pouch under the seat which can hold a few supplies. I have road with a small backpack with no issue. I haven’t tried it but I am sure with a heavy pack riding will be more difficult from the perspective of being top heavy – especially for trail riding. Saddlebags are also available which would really come in handy for transporting supplies.


It’s an option. Good to have options.


 – Rourke

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18 thoughts on “Post-SHTF transportation: The Mountain Bike”

  1. I have also purchased a bike, at first it was for exercise, but I also started thinking of a possible bug out vehicle. I have a rack on the back and have strapped some weight to it along with a back pack, and it is clearly doable. There are other rack options that will help keep the center of gravity lower, I’ll be looking into those too.

    I have also been looking for a small, used trailer for a bike. The kind that yuppies strap their kids into 🙂 I figure I could beef one up enough to carry a fair amount of weight if need be.

  2. I have a few of these as well, the only difference is I have made a small trailer out of old bmx bike rims and tires and fabricated a pull behind trailer not unlike one of the pull behind trailers that parent have for small children. I have a seal-able tote mounted to it and it can haul an amazing amount of gear with little effort.

  3. Great point Rourke. We have both on road and off road bikes. Mostly for exercise and recreation but they also make for darn cheap transportation as you noted. I’d also recommend riding it regularly right now. When the bottom drops out is a bad time to try to get your fitness levels up to speed. Most of the bicycle related companies out there have a selection of panniers and other systems for carrying stuff, including a gun. Check out Montana Scabbards

  4. You are absolutely correct that more money will buy you a better mountain bike. But for those of you out there who may think more money means $160 instead of the $80 Walmart bike you are in for a rude awakening. We are talking $1600 for a “good” mountain bike and $5000 isn’t out of the qestion. So here is a better idea: Learn to fix a bike. Learn to take them apart and put them together right. You may have to do this under the eyes of a good bike mechanic but it can be learned with manuals and practice. Then carry a decent repair kit with you all the time. Not just a flat repair kit. What do you carry? Trust me onc you have taken your bike apart and put it back together 6-12 times you will know. If you prefer that someone provide you with a nice list then you are missing the point. A spare part is no good to you if you don’t know how to R&R it.

    • GoneWithTheWind –

      $500 will get you a great mountain bike. Even $350 will do much better than an $80 bike from K-Mart.



  5. That top Trek is greatly improved over the 17 y.o. Model I got my son then and ride on pavement occasionally. Looks like great suspension I don’t have.

    I still like my old Giant hybrid but envy the shocks on newer bikes like yours. That is a tough-looking machine.

  6. No, more money won’t necessarily get you a better bug out vehicle. More expensive bikes may have hydraulic brakes (more complicated system that may fail easier), won’t have pannier eyelets and some lightweight racing components that are not as durable (the price to replace them is not as much as concern as weight).
    An inexpensive bike shop bicycle (not the bike shaped objects you see at walmart) are better that high end bicycles.

    • gerardo –

      Totally agree. I have found a good $400-$500 bike is far better than a $100 bike at Wal-Mart. Those Wal-Mart bikes are much heavier which your legs feel in short order. Though, if that is all you can afford I would take a Wal-Mart bike over walking any day.

      Thanks – Rourke

  7. It seems like a lot of folk tend to overlook fuel even though it should be obvious. Just look at the long lines of people after Sandy, waiting for gas. Sure, many of them wanted it for generators, but how many of them wanted it for their car when a bike could have gotten them around just fine?

    Good article, good advice.

  8. A few years ago, I bought an quality bike for 20 bucks at a yard sale. I really wanted to get into riding, thinking that running was harder on my knees and ankles. Also, I figured that I could get the whole family into it. But, I found that bending over was too hard on my back, as I have multiple spinal conditions from parachute landings early in my military career. The bike is sitting in the back of the garage ever since.

  9. The comfort of the bike is important but if you don’t have spare tubes you’ve got nothing! Around here we have a weed called puncture vine/goats head. It pops all bike tires within a day no matter how careful you think you are riding! I purchased tire liners and also tubes with the goo sealant for all our bikes. Some people have looked at solid tires but they really don’t ride or wear well.

  10. And indeed that is what I said hat you can buy a better bike for more money. My point was that all bikes break down and anyone who thinks an $80 bike will break down but a $500 bike won’t is simply mistaken. They will all break down and every part on your bike can break. IF you know how to repair and maintain your bike and IF you cary some parts and tools you can repair any bike and suddenly your $80 becomes a true bargin. Not suggesting you buy the $80 bike and in fact not suggesting you buy the $350 or $500 bike. Do not forget that the expensive bikes are expensive primarily for two reasons: 1. they tend to use exotic materials and designs. 2. They tend to be hand made in a more expensive process. It would be wonderful if a bike that costs twice as much provided twice the reliability and quality but mostly the increased cost is indictive of increased profit for the manufacturer and increased pay levels for the workers.

  11. GWTW, I can’t argue with your comments about repair, maybe even owning dupes of plastic and rubber parts , but my old expensive bike ( $350 in 1985 semi-real dollars) and even the new cheap bikes are heavier than the new Treks and Giants, probably in the $300-500 range, haven’t priced them lately. My son’s Giant, bot 17 years ago for him for his thirteenth birthday and ridden only by me since then LOL is pretty heavy compared to contemporary ones, I think.

  12. You are correct and it goes back to the old rule that you get what you pay for. My problem is I am a cheap old bastard who hates paying more for something then it is worth. This often blinds me and in this case I am willing to agree I am not 100% correct on this point. BUT (there is always a but) if your bike is for racing and fun and you can afford the more expensive bike then why not? If on the other hand the bike is intended for bugging out and you might want to put some gear on it making weight of the bike irrelevant buy the best you can get for the money you have. Probably this is all made more difficult because of the huge number of options available to us. Perhaps it is much like the age old question “which gun is best”? In any event the ability to take apart and or repair a bike shift mechanism or the axle and bearings etc. is invaluable and not all that simple to do correctly. Never mind the much more difficult task of respoking a wheel. If you are serious about your bike being a part of your preps then learn how to repair them and carry parts and tools. This is true regardless of the quality or cost of your bike.


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