Bad Boy Buggy Review
Many TV hunting superstars are often depicted using a unique vehicle called the Bad Boy Buggy on their hunts. Most of us will never be TV stars, but I now share the experience of evaluating a Buggy for my own hunting and riding purposes. The Buggy's appeal lies in it's quietness-the company motto is "They'll Never Hear You Coming" and the Bad Boy Buggy is very quiet indeed. Overall I was surprised at what this hunting rig has to offer when used under the right circumstances.
The Bad Boy Buggy's camouflage pattern, along with
the silent operation, make it a good vehicle for hunters.
Opt Out of the Gas Wars
Fuel prices are soaring so the appeal of owning an all-electric ride like the Buggy is undoubtedly growing stronger for many. It is a 100% plug-in electric vehicle, not a hybrid. There are a total of 8 6-volt lead-acid batteries that serve as energy storage for the vehicle. Consuming this electrical power is a full time four wheel drive system with two beefy 48-volt DC drive motors. Each motor is about 15 horsepower for a total of 30 horsepower, plenty of grunt for most riding requirements. One big advantage of using DC motors is that they operate at more or less full torque regardless of speed. In fact the Buggy has unbelievable pulling ability.
An Innovative Heritage
The Bad Boy Buggies are assembled in Natchez, Mississippi. The founders of Bad Boy Enterprises--Bubba Kaiser and Joe Palermo--wanted to enter and exit their hunting areas as silently as possible. With the help of local mechanic Tony Smith and Tony's Father, they modified an electric golf cart to enable four-wheel drive and added other features. This exercise proved to these men that they were on to something. They developed licensing agreements with Realtree and others for camouflage bodywork, added aggressive-tread Carlisle tires and lots of storage, ending up with a totally unique machine. The Buggy's low-key personality empowers a hunter to travel quickly through the natural world without upsetting any of the tasty horn-and-antler-laden beasts that lurk nearby.
Clean and Mean
The dual-motor system provides a nearly silent drivetrain. Golfers will be familiar with the quiet operation of the Buggy, but compared to the gas engines found on most quads, the stealthy ride is a real eye-opener. The Bad Boy Buggy is not fast-it's top speed is about 22 mph. But the drivetrain delivers loads of low-end torque. It can carry a rated payload of 1,000 Lbs, pulling it through sloppy trail conditions if necessary-as long as the batteries stay charged. A 48 volt battery charger is provided with each Buggy sold, and there is a convenient charging port located under the driver's side of the seat. The battery charger operates off of 120 volt AC power, so the vehicle needs to be operated near a "home base" with line power available, or there needs to be a 120 volt generator in camp. Either way, charging should be done after every ride. The lead-acid batteries will begin to sulfate if they are not topped off.
The dashboard is simple with (left-to-right) the headlight
switch, directional switch, battery charge indicator, and key
switch plus the most cup holders in the business.
Regenerative (Re-gen) braking is a unique feature that the Bad Boy has because it is powered by "separately excited" DC motors. Whenever the throttle pedal is released, the motor controllers make sure that the power in the motors is absorbed back into the batteries. This puts negative torque into the motors (picture "engine-braking" on gas-powered engines) and slows the vehicle down. Regen braking works very well, in fact when riding at low speeds the brake pedal often does not need to be touched. In addition to the powerful regenerative binder action, there is a foot pedal to actuate mechanical drum brakes inside both rear wheels.
This beefy DC motor and rear differential is one
of two that powers the Bad Boy Buggy.
The Bad Boy has a leaf-spring, solid-axle suspension front and rear. This is one area that could probably use an update, however with the low operating speeds the suspension is still sufficient. The Buggy is steady and impressive when climbing up steep hills or hauling loads, and the regen braking is equally impressive, making return trips down hill safe and easy. The Bad Boy can be crawled at very low speeds if desired such as when passing through a bottleneck in the trail. The rack and pinion steering turns easily and in fact the vehicle is highly maneuverable, especially for the weight.
Green in More Ways Than One
According to Bad Boy Enterprises' data, operating costs are less than 2 cents per mile for the Buggy compared to 9 cents per mile for gas-powered UTVs. The savings varies, though, according to road conditions, driving methods, and the weight of loads carried. Because of the lower cost of operation, business use of the Buggy is popular with professional guides and for pipeline inspection. Battery maintenance is the key to enjoying the low cost of ownership of the Bad Boy Buggy. If the batteries are topped off with distilled water and charged after every ride, a rider will spare themselves measurable expense over a year's time. There are other "green" benefits to the Buggy as well. The low noise level makes conversation with passengers possible, even in a whisper. Sometimes I switched back and forth from the Buggy to a leading brand UTV and after experiencing the silent ride on a Buggy the more I was annoyed by the loud noise and vibration of the other company's gas-powered model. Any land owner who wants to visit the far reaches of their property without disturbing the critter population will like one of the machines from Bad Boy Enterprises.
The full-time, true four-wheel-drive worked very well and compared favorably in mud runs vs. regular ATVs. The ground clearance is 8.25" to the bottom of the differentials, and if one can avoid snagging the differentials the chassis itself is close to 16" off the ground. Low gearing helps the rig to keep on pulling when the mud is deep. There are no air intakes. On gas-powered engines with a CVT transmission these intakes must be protected against water ingestion. The Buggy weighs 1,650 Lbs. Shifting one's weight while riding doesn't affect the handling much. You just stay put and steer, with the rack and pinion doing most of the work. I maneuvered the Buggy easily with just one hand on the wheel.
With an electronic accelerator pedal and rack and pinion
steering, the Bad Boy Buggy is a breeze to drive on wilderness trails.
The driving range varies tremendously depending on the kind of terrain and how healthy the batteries are. Ranges from 15 to 25 miles should be achievable on one charge. Once the batteries are fully discharged, it can take as long as eight hours to bring them back up again. It is well worth the small effort to re-charge the batteries, however. If the batteries aren't maintained all eight may need to be replaced, just as any other lead-acid batteries would. One note about transporting the Buggy: Although the Buggy will fit in a standard pickup box, it is highly recommended that a sturdy trailer be used to haul it instead. Sitting in a pickup, it will put substantial weight on top of the tailgate and this will stress the tail gate straps.
There are two 30-watt headlights and a storage basket on the front.
22" Carlisle Stryker tires are standard on the Buggy. Steel mesh cargo baskets are located on top and in front. There are two 30-watt headlights in front. The vehicle payload rating is 1000 Lbs including passengers. In the back, there is a flatbed that can also be folded up to carry passengers. The body plastic comes patterned with Realtree Hardwoods, Hunter Green, Red, or Black. A Warn 2,500 Lb. winch sold by Bad Boy Enterprises can be installed on the front end, with other aftermarket winches available as well. A soft-sided camouflage cab enclosure is offered that can convert the Buggy into a hunting blind. Bad Boy sells aluminum rims as a classy replacement for the stock steel rims. A gun holder is available from Bad Boy Enterprises, as is a "Hitch N Haul" that can be attached to the back end for carrying heavy loads or big game. The Power Loader from Great Day Inc. can also be bolted onto this machine.
In this photo the cargo bed is folded up showing the passenger seat.
The Last Word
ATV sales are decreasing nationwide, but Bad Boy Buggies sales are steadily increasing. The Bad Boy Buggy seems to be the right vehicle at the right time, with silent electric operation, plenty of seating and cargo room all generating great appeal among outdoors people everywhere. For a hunter or nature watcher, the Bad Boy Buggy has advantages that simply can't be found anywhere else. Visit www.badboybuggies.com or a dealer to find out more.
Gary Gustafson is President of G-Force Consulting Inc. www.g-forceconsulting.net. An avid hunter and outdoorsman, he lives with his wife and 5 kids in Northern Minnesota.