Did Honda ever make a snowmobile? We get this question a lot, and the answer is yes!
It’s a lesser-known fact that Honda made snowmobiles even if they were little odd machines. The first Honda snowmobile was the ‘go-kart like’ 1972 White Fox UL 175. Another iconic vintage snowmobile from Honda was the Motosled, which appeared on the market in the mid ‘90s. This unique machine looked like a mix of a snow bike and a jet ski! Finally, Honda also designed a “snow kit,” which could transform a scooter into a tiny snowmobile.
If you want to find out more about these legendary Honda snowmobiles, you are in the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know into this post!
Honda Snowmobile History
The First Honda Snowmobile Prototype
Until the early ‘70s, Honda wasn’t interested in entering the snowmobile market.
But to take advantage of the “snowmobile boom,” the Japanese manufacturer started to study the market and work on some prototypes at the beginning of that decade.
The very first Honda snowmobile was labeled a White Fox UL 175, even if it featured a red body. It was introduced in 1972 and was sold through certain Honda dealerships in the U.S.
The design of this machine shocked the market as it was radically different from any other sleds on the market. At first glance, it looked like a go-kart or a Sea-Doo jet kart rather than a regular snowmobile!
One of the main drawbacks of this Honda sled was its small dimensions and capacity. It was so small that it could only accommodate a small rider of no more than 150 pounds!
But why was this machine so small? This is because it was designed to fit in a station car! Therefore, engineers wanted to keep the dimensions and the weight of this sled low.
That’s why the weight of this Honda snowmobile was as low as 229 pounds. In contrast, today’s sleds weigh about 400-650 pounds depending on the make and model!
The Honda UL 175 was powered with a 180cc, air-cooled, 2-stroke engine, which offered a top speed of 40 MPH.
The body of the machine was a fiberglass shell mounted on a steel tube frame. But unlike any other powersport vehicle, the White Fox lacked a regular saddle.
Instead, the rider had to sit on the bottom of a “seating pan.” Because of this pan, the entire machine looked like a plastic toboggan placed on a pair of skis and a track!
Regarding riding position, the White Fox was quite uncomfortable, especially for an adult. The chassis was pretty small, so the footrests were too close to the seat.
The machine could be steered with an aircraft-style yoke steering, which was placed between the rider’s legs.
Only 180 White Fox snowmobiles were sold, most of them in Wisconsin and Michigan. The price of this Honda snowmobile was no less than $625.
But before these machines actually had any chance of becoming popular, the entire model had been canceled.
Surprisingly, all the dealer stocks were recalled and destroyed. Honda also tried to recall all the units that had already been sold to customers.
Only a couple of these machines survived this recall, which typically landed in private collections.
According to Snowmobile.com, one of the main reasons for the downfall of Honda snowmobiles was bad timing.
Let’s face it, this model was revealed just before the energy crisis in the ‘70s, which finally led to poor sales figures in the snowmobile industry. As a consequence, many reputable powersport manufacturers canceled their snowmobile line, so Honda found it wise to step back.
There are also rumors that the Japanese company eventually found this design to be too dangerous and was afraid of lawsuits.
Finally, all of these reasons led Honda to steer away from this industry, at least for a while.
1997 Honda Motosled
More than two decades later, in 1997 a new Honda snowmobile appeared on the horizon.
It was referred to as the “Motosled” and just like the manufacturer’s earlier attempt, this model also featured a unique design.
Unlike regular snowmobiles, the Honda Motosled actually looked like a stand-up jet ski!
It had a wider single front ski and a 12×94-inch rubber track. The machine was powered by a 246cc, 2-stroke Honda engine, and featured oil injection, CDI ignition, and a thumb throttle.
Its dry weight was only 284 pounds but filled up with gas and oil it still weighed about 304 pounds.
Similar to its waterjet-powered brothers, the Motosled was equipped with moveable pole-mounted handlebars. Instead of a saddle, there was a tray installed on top of the tunnel.
It’s safe to say that the design and riding experience of this Honda snowmobile prototype was like a mix of a stand-up jet ski and a snow bike!
Due to its features, the Motosled could only be ridden in a standing position. As you might assume, it was quite demanding and required some athletic skills!
Riding on groomed trails this machine didn’t hold many challenges. This was no surprise as this machine was designed to ride in powder!
It offered a ton of fun, but riding it was not as easy as a regular sled.
Going straight with a Motosled wasn’t too difficult, but cornering was much trickier. This is because unlike on a regular snowmobile, leaning into the turns on this machine wasn’t a good idea!
Instead, to balance and control the sled you had to press your legs against the side of the tray.
On top of that, you had to expect a lot more falls, and digging the sled out from deep snow wasn’t easy either!
To the greatest regret of many Honda fans, the Motosled was available only in Japan.
Although in 1997 some of these machines were taken to the U.S. for market testing, but this amazing Honda snowmobile stayed only a dream for North American customers.
1992 Honda EZ-Snow
This would not be a complete Honda snowmobile review without mentioning the EZ-Snow!
The Honda EZ-Snow was a concept vehicle introduced in 1992. This machine was actually a modified Honda Cub EZ 90 scooter in which the wheels were replaced with a tiny rubber track and a steerable front ski.
This conversion kit was sold separately and was referred to as the Honda EZ-Snow kit. Surprisingly, there were only 250 of these kits sold exclusively in Japan.
Installing this kit could turn any 2-wheeled Cub into a real “snow-scooter”!
The machine was unique and eye-catching, but it was quite underpowered in the snow. It was powered by a 90cc 2-stroke engine that offered a very moderate performance.
So, the machine was fun to ride on a flat hard-packed surface, but it was definitely not recommended for slopes or in deep snow.
Honda Snowmobile for Sale
If you are looking for a Honda snowmobile for sale, keep in mind that these models are extremely rare.
Only a couple of Honda White Fox snowmobiles survived, and they typically landed in museums and private collections meaning that purchasing one is nearly impossible!
But if you are persistent and lucky, you may find a vintage Honda snowmobile for sale on Craigslist, eBay, or other snowmobile classified websites.
Honda EZ-Snows are probably easier to find, even if they are extremely rare on the used market.
But even if you manage to find one be prepared for a very hefty price tag. These sleds are already most-wanted collector items rather than sleds for everyday use.
Conclusion – Did Honda Ever Make a Snowmobile?
The first Honda snowmobile prototype was called White Fox UL 175 and it was introduced in 1972.
Although this model reached mass production, the manufacturer canceled the model at the last minute.
The dealer stocks were recalled along with the 180 units that had already been sold. Fortunately, a few of them survived and landed in collections.
In 1997 another Honda snowmobile appeared on the market. The Motosled looked like a stand-up jet ski as it had a narrow body and a single ski on its front.
It was also equipped with a movable handlebar and a tray instead of a regular saddle. Therefore, this machine could be ridden only in a standing position!
The Motosled was offered only in Japan but in 1997 Honda brought a few of them into the U.S. for market testing. Unfortunately, this model didn’t reach the North American market.
The little brother of the Motosled was definitely the Honda EZ-Snow. This machine was a Honda Cub EZ 90 scooter equipped with a track and a front ski.
What are the prospects for the future?
There are some rumors that Honda snowmobiles may make a comeback, but so far we haven’t seen any concrete signs of this!