Roosting In A Winter Wonderland - Dirt Rider Magazine

The idea in itself doesn't sound that crazy: Take a motorcycle, remove the wheels, install a ski on the front and a track assembly on the rear then go romp through the snow like one of Santa's long lost adrenaline-junkie reindeer. Nothing to it, right? Actually, this wild winter pastime has evolved into a full-on frenzy among horsepower enthusiasts, and as a result the sport of snow bike riding is becoming a legitimate segment of the two-wheeled market. Except that it doesn't involve any wheels at all.We recently got a chance to shred some of the last remaining powder of the season on the four major snow bike systems that are currently in production. While the technology isn't flawless and there is still a lot of improving to come before the bikes are perfect from a performance standpoint, these puppies sure are a ton of fun to play on. From boon-docking across the backwoods to blowing up piles of snow and going up double-black diamond slopes, you would be surprised at what these machines can do. You'll see more on these wild creations in a future issue of Dirt Rider-probably in the Fall-but for now here's a sneak peak at what snow bikes are all about:Stay tuned to a future issue of Dirt Rider for full tests on all four of these machines!

One of the most interesting things about snow bikes is that they can be built out of just about any platform you desire. Most enthusiasts of this young sport are starting with 450cc four-stroke motocross machines, but we're starting to see these kits on everything from small-bore vintage bikes to massive adventure bikes. With a little creativity, anything is possible!
The rear track has a ton of influence on how the snowbike performs, and among the four major manufacturers-2Moto, SnoXCycle, Explorer and Timbersled (pictured)-there are huge variations and engineering differences. For example, the 2Moto setup uses a proprietary curved track design, while the Timbersled's track is flatter and more reminiscent of something you'd see on a snowmobile.
Due to the absence of a front brake, the track handles all of the slowing-down duties for a snow bike. The popular design is a basic rotor fitted to a component of the drive mechanism. Much like on a standard motorcycle setup, the gears that drive the track can be swapped out in order to tune performance and change the characteristics of the machine.
Surprisingly, the bottom contour of the front ski is incredibly influential in the handling and stability of a snow bike. For the most part, these things feel really sketchy on packed, hard snow surfaces, and they are a nightmare to ride on ice. Thanks to recent innovations, though, the handling is improving with each new season.
Please keep your hands, feet and face inside of the vehicle and away from the spinning meat grinder on the back of the bike. Trust us, you'll be thankful that you did.
With a few spare gallons of gasoline and some warm, dry riding gear, Dirt Rider Associate Editor Chris Denison takes to the woods and throws some snow on the Timbersled. With a little body English and some careful throttle delivery, these machines will flick, wheelie and jump much like a normal dirt bike, but without the mess to clean up afterward.
Snow bike legend Brett Blaser has more time on these contraptions than anyone in the world, and it shows. Here, Blaser drags a little handguard for the camera while his track digs in like it's planning to spend the night.
Obviously, fuel injection and electric starters are excellent perks for snow bikes, and we even tried a few automatic clutches with excellent success. You can essentially set these motorcycles up just as you would for off-road, with a couple of creature comforts (headlights, heated grips and handguards) thrown in for good measure.
The weight of the rear track on a snow bike is substantial, and you have to be careful not to let it throw you off in the air. Test rider Jesse Ziegler manhandles the 2Moto off a snow bank somewhere in Idaho.
Pro Moto Billet president Lynn Hodges rockets out of the woods aboard his pristine 2Moto-converted Honda CRF450R. With plenty of time aboard snow bikes, Hodges is one of the innovators driving the technology of these machines, and he has several modifications in the works that will greatly improve their performance.
With a narrower track and a rail beneath the ski, the SnoXCycle had a nimble character punctuated by great front-end feel and an uncanny ability to get stuck in really, really deep powder. We spent a while digging this bike out, but we still had an absolute blast on it.
The fourth major snow bike kit manufacturer, Explorer, is still finding its legs in the market, but they have great ideas and their product works pretty darn well. None of these manufacturers offer their conversion kits on the cheap, but compared to buying a brand new snowmobile they aren't a bad deal.