PHOTOS: 2017 Timbersled Snow Bike Launch

We test Polaris’ latest snow bike conversion kits

Winter is still in full force, and that means that it’s not hard to find reasons to get out and play in the snow. Sure, snowmobiles are fun, but what we (and all other off-roaders) really get excited about is snowbikes—you know, converted two-wheeled machines that have a track on the back, a ski on the front, and a smiling rider behind the handlebar. Recently, Polaris—parent company of Timbersled—invited us up to Northern Utah to give the new 2017 Timbersled models a go. The powder was fresh, the weather was cold, and the converted Husqvarnas were running great. Here’s a quick recap and an inside look at what went down:

Gary Hymes Snowbike Wheelie
Dirt Rider test rider Gary Hymes got his first taste of snowbiking at the Polaris press launch, and the lifelong off-road racer was floored at how good of a time he had: “I had absolutely no idea that these bikes would be as much fun as they are!” Gary beamed after the ride. “It takes a little getting used to the added weight, but within minutes I felt incredibly comfortable aboard the Timbersled. You kind of have to ignore your traditional riding instincts and get rid of your “two-wheeled” way of looking at the trail, because the impossible truly becomes possible aboard a snowbike. I never thought I’d be able to navigate some of the side hills that I made it across, and on my very first day.”Photo By Todd Williams
Chris Denison Snowbike Cross-Up
Editor-In-Chief Chris Denison had experienced snowbikes before, but that was several years ago and the track technology—which has advanced tons in the last half of a decade—really blew him away. With curved shoulder tracks and a main contact patch in the center, the Convex 2.5 track has made these bikes light-years easier to ride on packed, groomed trails (where you’re only riding on the center paddle) than the old, flat track designs.Photo By Todd Williams
Snowbike Tandem Lines
Compared to a standard snowmobile, Timbersleds have a number of advantages: for one thing, they are much lighter (the Timbersled track setup adds just 115 pounds to a bike) and also nimbler, easier to get unstuck, and generally much more fun to ride for the average motorcycle guy. As far as wear and tear goes, consider this: you’re not getting ANY dirt into the engine (or even on the bike, for that matter), the operating temps are also extremely low, and crash damage is often non-existent.Photo By Todd Williams
Snowbike Berm Gary Hymes
The steering effort on Timbersled’s new skis is very light and easy, much like how a normal dirt bike feels (older generation flat skis had a very vague feel to them). The center keel is also taller so that when riding on hard packed snow, you’re just riding on the center and aren’t fighting the entire width of the ski (in powder, all three keels engage). Even in ice, the front ski hooks up because each keel has a biting, metal edge on each side, so you essentially have six sharp edges available to you to help grab traction.Photo By Todd Williams
Snowbike Trail Riding
No matter what flavor of bike you pick, the ability to chase a buddy through the snow on a motorcycle is something that is hard to describe—you really have to experience it to appreciate the capabilities of these machines. The test fleet available to us was primarily made up of converted Husqvarnas; Denison (right, blue jacket) ended up on a converted FC 450 with Timbersled’s ST 120 LE kit, that comes equipped with a yellow frame and fully adjustable Fox Zero QS3R shocks. Hymes (left, black jacket) found himself on an FE 501 with the ST 120 kit (with Fox Zero Pro shocks).Photo By Todd Williams
Snowbike Sidehill
In this shot, the boys are side-hilling on an incredibly steep hill, and yet the snowbikes remain hooked up and tracking straight. A big part of this is due to the fact that the tracks are big, strong, and specially designed to feel “normal” to a bike guy. 120 inches in length and 12.5 inches wide, the track’s paddles have multiple rubber densities built in. Once on the snow, this translates to feel and performance that mimics that of a normal motorcycle tire.Photo By Todd Williams
Snowbike drop
Freeriding through the woods on a Timbersled is a great feeling. Not only is this extremely low impact (once the snow melts, you can’t even tell that the bikes were there), but you can also find and conquer some obstacles that you’d never dream of doing in the summertime. Here, Denison drops of a mild rock ledge that was spotted by Timbersled’s top freerider, Canadian Reagan Sieg. If you want to get a taste of what Reagan is capable of, just look him up online—this guy can absolutely shred on a snowbike!Todd Williams
Snowbike berm
Handlebar-dragging turns are one of the most fun things to do aboard a snowbike. You have to remember to stay on the throttle, as shutting off can stand you up in corners. But my leaning in, trusting the ski, and using the big track to your advantage, it’s not too hard to shred the Timbersled in a manner that will have you grinning from ear to ear and praying that the snow doesn’t melt!Photo By Todd Williams
Timbersled Jump
Jumping the Timbersled takes left effort than you would imagine. So long as you stay on the throttle, the extra length of the bike does not interfere with how it takes off from jumps—you can even seat bounce, just as you would on a normal dirt bike! The track weight is significant, so you have to be mindful of how and where you are landing. A stiffer fork definitely helps the bike to maintain its footing when you really come down from a jump or drop.Photo By Todd Williams