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  1. #1
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    Snow Bike's and touring

    Anyone doing it? There are conversion kits that turn your motorcycle into a snow bike for about $5k. They work best with enduro and dirt bikes (KTM, Husqvarna, etc). This may be the way to go in 2021.

    “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
    ― Milton Friedman

  2. #2
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    Haven’t done it personally, but logged some hours on the timbersled a few seasons back. Holy shit, they’re fun!!
    I know a few forecasters that are using them exclusively in Central ID and UT for ski/split access. If you’re not on whooped out roads much I think they would be sweet. I’ll be waiting a few more seasons until I jump on the T sled bandwagon though. More quiver than quiver of one.


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  3. #3
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    I was deep into researching those last year, looking to swap one on to my Beta 390 RR-S. Whiel certainly possible, I ran into the same issue I do when I think of snowbikes or sleds; partners/groups with which to ride, and that I prefer to ski more when the snow flies.

    Most people I know that ride these things, don't ski. So I'm on my own for such an endeavor that sounds less than favorable for backcountry of any kind. But damn doesn't it look fun.

    The other thing I kept coming back to is the bike type. Seemingly, based on all the dude-bros riding these things, the preferred bike(s) are 450 MX bikes for their close-ratio gear boxes and 'hit' with the MX-cammed engine. The downside there is no e-start; kick-start only. The 450 enduro bikes, if still out there, are decent. I also see a lot of dudes riding their 500/501s.

    Timbersled did post a few videos of guys riding their 250 and 300 two-strokes, so I guess that's an option, as well?

    I remain interested if cautious... and hopelessly wed to skiing the old-fashioned way.

  4. #4
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    my understanding is

    you need the big engine with lotsa grunt and what you gona do will be hard on that engine, if you can ride a dirt bike a snowbike is sposed to be easier to ride than a snow mobile
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    my understanding is

    you need the big engine with lotsa grunt and what you gona do will be hard on that engine, if you can ride a dirt bike a snowbike is sposed to be easier to ride than a snow mobile
    Somewhat, yes. The early snowbike kits were essentially one, long-ass chain to drive the track. The new Timbersleds and Camso setups have more sprockets and their own, inboard drive system, stessing the bike's engine far less than the early setups.

    According to a good friend with a KTM 450 EXC-F with a 120(?)" Timberseld, he's never higher than mid-revs in 3rd gear on his bike.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat Sig View Post
    I ran into the same issue I do when I think of snowbikes or sleds; partners/groups with which to ride, and that I prefer to ski more when the snow flies.
    I think this is the crux of it. Having owned a sled for several years, the main thing needed for actually using it is having other friends with sleds. Because sleds suck with more than one person and going out with one sled is just asking to get stranded many miles deep in the backcountry. You need other people with sleds to go with.

    Snowbikes I'm sure offer a lot of advantages over sleds in terms of the places you can access with it, but the thing is, most skiers own sleds, not bikes. If you're going out with a crew on snowmobiles, then your ability to use the bike to get through places sleds can't go is meaningless. And the sled is more versatile - you can tandem on it, or load it up with shit for a hut or camping trip.

    Bikes look fun for sure, but I don't think I'd buy one as a ski access tool.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    I think this is the crux of it. Having owned a sled for several years, the main thing needed for actually using it is having other friends with sleds. Because sleds suck with more than one person and going out with one sled is just asking to get stranded many miles deep in the backcountry. You need other people with sleds to go with.

    Snowbikes I'm sure offer a lot of advantages over sleds in terms of the places you can access with it, but the thing is, most skiers own sleds, not bikes. If you're going out with a crew on snowmobiles, then your ability to use the bike to get through places sleds can't go is meaningless. And the sled is more versatile - you can tandem on it, or load it up with shit for a hut or camping trip.

    Bikes look fun for sure, but I don't think I'd buy one as a ski access tool.
    I hear you.

    But then I get back to one of my fundamental problems; space and cost. A snowbike conversation, in relation to a sled, is seemingly less expensive. And takes up a lot less space. Then again, I'm in the PNWet without close-in access. If I were still living in Montana or BC or similar area, it would be in consideration. It was in play before I pulled the ripcord on nearly twenty years in Bozeman. Well that, and I had a group of skiers with sleds... #firstworldskierproblems

  8. #8
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    is a snowbike easier to ride than a sled?
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    is a snowbike easier to ride than a sled?
    If you're a beater like me, own seven motorcycles, ride constantly, and only ridden a sled once; yes?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    is a snowbike easier to ride than a sled?
    My understanding is it depends. In trees and sidehilling... yes, snowbike is way easier.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  11. #11
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    My office is next to Western Power Sports/Fly Racing's test track here in Boise. Last week, they were testing a MX bike w/rear track and standard wheel on the front. It was interesting how the extended rear track really leveraged slamming the front end down after clearing table tops and various other hits. It didn't look too fun on dirt, snow might be more forgiving though. It appears that the rear track really does suck horse power compared to standard rear wheel. He couldn't get the typical amplitude off big kickers that wheeled bikes normally get.
    More cowbell!!!

  12. #12
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    My buddy is way into them and became a Timbersled ambassador. We've talked about them a bit and they sound awesome. He started on dirt bikes, got into sleds, then found snow bikes. He's a skier but not a backcountry skier...he said he'd rather ride a snowbike than anything so why would he ski in the backcountry. I have nothing to really add to the thread other than watching good riders do it is pretty badass.

    My buddy...


  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by spudbumkin View Post
    My office is next to Western Power Sports/Fly Racing's test track here in Boise. Last week, they were testing a MX bike w/rear track and standard wheel on the front. It was interesting how the extended rear track really leveraged slamming the front end down after clearing table tops and various other hits. It didn't look too fun on dirt, snow might be more forgiving though. It appears that the rear track really does suck horse power compared to standard rear wheel. He couldn't get the typical amplitude off big kickers that wheeled bikes normally get.
    Makes sense. That track also adds weight, so... physics. However, nearly all snowbikes run a front skid instead of wheel. Interesting that they got all sendy with a track on dirt.

  14. #14
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    I've been riding sleds for a little while now. The learning curve is tricky, especially in technical terrain. I'll admit that I rarely tour from the sled and rarely snowboard from the sled either. Most of the time when I take the sled out I just ride the sled.

    The reason that I went for a sled over a snowbike was the ability to double someone else with the idea that I'd shuttle snowboard runs. The reality is that I rarely do that because it beats up the shoulders way worse that just going touring.

  15. #15
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    I've heard, not confirmed, maybe a rumor, that the bike engines don't handle the snow hitting them constantly and it creates longevity and power reduction issues.

  16. #16
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    buy a sled

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by turnfarmer View Post
    I've heard, not confirmed, maybe a rumor, that the bike engines don't handle the snow hitting them constantly and it creates longevity and power reduction issues.
    It's not longevity or a power reduction issue; it's engine temp. If you dive deep enough into the snowbike rabbit hole, you'll find a handful of engine jacket manufacturers. This helps keep the snow off the radiator and engine and allows it to come up to temp. Basically, they are covers of various materials that sit along side the engine and over the radiators.

  18. #18
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    That ^^ makes sense, even if the engine is not getting blasted with snow the ambient temps are going to be below zero, I doubt motorcycles were designed with such cold temps in mind ?
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    That ^^ makes sense, even if the engine is not getting blasted with snow the ambient temps are going to be below zero, I doubt motorcycles were designed with such cold temps in mind ?
    Well again, if that's cold, you would have the engine jackets buttoned up, along with the radiators, insulating the thermal bits. That, in theory, keeps the bike closer to the temps where it needs to operate.

    Then again, this of my own fevered research from last year and I have to buy a snow bike. I doubled down on skiing instead and bought a slide-in camper...

  20. #20
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    I had a skier friend tell me once he got a snowbike, he stopped bothering with skiing. Beware.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Artist Formerly Known as Leavenworth Skier View Post
    I had a skier friend tell me once he got a snowbike, he stopped bothering with skiing. Beware.
    I've heard the same story from skier friends who bought snow mobiles...

  22. #22
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    Snow bike is not better than a sled for "sled access" touring (double up is not possible on the bikes, so forget about that) for a bunch of reasons (harder for a beginner to ride, terrible on the groomed access roads, not cheaper, no reverse, etc.). But it does work just fine once you've made the investment and learned to ride it. I predict that there will be an electric version snow bike that works well enough in the near-ish future that will become the game changer for motorized access for touring. Until then, I'm sticking with sleds.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Artist Formerly Known as Leavenworth Skier View Post
    I had a skier friend tell me once he got a snowbike, he stopped bothering with skiing. Beware.
    He never was good or really loved skiing.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wapow View Post
    Snow bike is not better than a sled for "sled access" touring (double up is not possible on the bikes, so forget about that) for a bunch of reasons (harder for a beginner to ride, terrible on the groomed access roads, not cheaper, no reverse, etc.). But it does work just fine once you've made the investment and learned to ride it. I predict that there will be an electric version snow bike that works well enough in the near-ish future that will become the game changer for motorized access for touring. Until then, I'm sticking with sleds.
    As a beginner that tried to ride a sled a while back, I did not find it easy to ride. So... YMMV?

  25. #25
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    Snow bikes have their advantages in certain types of terrain and snow conditions .... and as a gross generalization, the areas snow bikes shine in are areas that the sleds have a harder time (and visa versa).

    As far as the cost argument goes, thats a challenging equation. You could you pick up a 2014 Summit for around the same price as your conversion. and depending on how many other mods you need to do, maybe even a newer machine.

    I have ridden a sled forever, but often in the spring or in areas with tight trees I wish I had a snowbike in my quiver. I think if you are using them for access, its a 6 to one, half dozen to other kinda thing.... I cant see tandeming or shutteling being that easy on a bike.. but with that said the local snowbike pros tell me its no big deal.

    the rate the tech is advancing, bikes are getting way better and sleds are starting to become more like bikes.... its the ski vs snowboard argument / pins vs frame bindings all over again.
    "Its not the arrow, its the Indian" - M.Pinto

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