What is a Snow Bike? How do Snow Bikes Work? [Video]


A snow bike is a dirt bike snowmobile conversion. They are basically regular dirt bikes that are converted into small and nimble snowmobiles by replacing their wheels with a ski and a track. Because of this, snow bikes work in pretty much the same way as regular snowmobiles! Their engine rotates the track, which propels the machine forward, while you steer them with the ski on the front.

If you want to learn more about these amazing machines, this post is for you. From the best snow bike conversion kits to basic riding tips we have it all covered for you!

What is a Snow Bike?

Snow bikes are conventional dirt bikes converted into snowmobiles with a special conversion kit. The kits typically contain a rear chassis that features the track, the skid with the idler wheels, the rear suspension, and a ski with spindles. Converting your dirt bike into a snowmobile won’t take more than a few hours. What’s more, you can easily install this kit in your garage!

Many people say that snow bikes are better than snowmobiles, as they have many advantages over sleds, such as:

  • A lot cheaper than a snowmobile and a motorcycle together
  • Much lighter than a snowmobile (better flotation in powder, and easier to dig out)
  • Offer better maneuverability as they are more nimble and agile
  • Can go where snowmobiles cannot
  • Can run year around
  • Easier to store and transport on trailers and trucks
  • Offer a lot of fun, even for beginners

Who invented the snow bike?

Snow bikes were invented during World War II by military engineers. Both Germany and France were working on a motorcycle that could be used on snow in the Alps. It’s safe to say that one of the first snow bikes was the 1936 BMW Schneekrad.

Surprisingly, this snow bike featured a huge track running around the whole machine itself! The main drawback of this odd-looking snow bike was that it was probably nearly impossible to steer. Thus, its development was canceled.

The first commercially sold snow bike was released by the J.E. Love company. In 1965, the Hansen Brothers and John Love introduced the “Shrew,” the world’s first snow bike with front shocks. They sold nearly 1000 of these snow bike kits before its production was discontinued.

Another snow bike conversion kit also appeared in California in 1937. It was developed by the A.R.E.C. (Advanced Recreation Equipment Corporation) and was called a “SnowJob.”

Finally, the first commercially successful snow bike was invented by Allen Mangum in 2009. It’s the amazing Timbersled, which we will discuss later in this post!

How do Snow Bikes Work?

Simply put, snow bikes work in the same way as conventional snowmobiles. The engine drives a track that moves the machine forward. You can steer a snow bike with the handlebar, which controls the ski attached to the front shock.

As snow bikes are still not available off the shelf, if you want to own one, your only chance is to invest in a snow bike conversion kit.

This kit consists of the ski, the braking system, and a big rear assembly. The latter looks like the complete rear end of a snowmobile, as it contains the track, a whole skid with a small tunnel, and a rear bumper. What’s more, they usually come with a pre-bled brake system.

The skis of snow bikes are surprisingly big, some of them are as wide as the track! The advantage of this design is that the track can follow the ski’s line, which results in precise carving and side hilling.

How much does a snow bike weigh?

The weight of snow bike kits ranges from 110 up to 130 pounds. As the average weight of a dirt bike is about 220-300 pounds, this means a complete snow bike weighs around 330-430 pounds! The final weight depends on many factors like the engine of the dirt bike and the size of the kit.

Are you wondering how much a snow bike costs? Keep reading!

Average Kit Prices

The price of snow bike kits range from $2,000 up to $8,000 (USD). The cheapest snow bike kits cost around $2,000, and they fit on youth-sized 110cc bikes. In contrast, the most expensive kits can usually reach the $5,000-$8,000 range. They typically feature longer tracks and fit on many full-sized dirt bikes.

As you can see, a snow bike kit isn’t cheap, especially since you have to purchase the bike separately.

Finally, the total price of a complete snow bike can reach the $12,000-$18,000 (USD) range! It’s safe to say that for this price you could purchase a high-end snowmobile. Then what makes snow bikes so consistently popular?

The answer is simple, since snow bikes can be used year-round, they are a much more cost-effective investment than a snowmobile!

Unfortunately, there is less and less snow in each season, which means that snowmobiles can run a shorter period of time each year.

But if you have a snow bike, it only means that you have to replace the skis on your machine earlier!

Are you wondering where you can buy these kits? Let’s look at the best snow bike kit manufacturers!

Who Makes Snow Bikes?

Currently, there are seven manufacturers on the market who make snow bike kits, which are as follows:

  • Camso
  • Christini AWD 
  • CMX- Crazy Mountain Motorsports
  • MotoTrax
  • SnoXcycle
  • Timbersled (owned by Polaris)
  • Yeti SnowMX (owned by Camso)

Which are the best snow bike kits?

The best snow bike kits are arguably made by Timbersled. The manufacturer offers several high-quality kits that are compatible with many dirt bike brands like Beta, Honda, Husaberg, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha.

Would you like to read more about Timbersled kits? Let’s move on and take a closer look at this highly reputable company!

Timbersled Snow Bikes

What is a Timbersled?

Timbersled is the brand name of snow bikes manufactured by Polaris. This brand is so popular that its name has already been generalized on some level. This means the term Timbersled is often used to refer to any type of snow bike. You can see the same issue with the term “jet ski,” which is often used generally for any brand of personal watercraft.

Timbersled was invented in 2009, when Allen Mangum built the first prototype of this unique kit system. The first Timbersled kits hit the market in 2010, and five years later Polaris acquired the company.

In recent years, Timbersled went through an amazing growth and development period and now offers the widest range of snow bike kits in the industry.

Where is Timbersled located?

Timbersled is headquartered and manufactured in Sandpoint, Idaho.

How much is a Timbersled?

Timbersled snow bike kits cost about $2,000-$7,500 depending on the model. The cheapest Timbersled kit is called “Ripper” and is available for $2,000. It features a 92” track, a small ski, and a RydeFX® shock. If you are looking for a Timbersled kit for a full-sized dirt bike, be prepared to pay around $4,500-$6,000. The most expensive Timbersleds are the racing kits, which can hit $7,500! (Prices in USD)

If you want to purchase a Timbersled front ski with spindle separately, it may cost you $500.

Which is the best bike for Timbersled?

Owners say that the best bikes for Timbersled kits are dirt bikes with 250-500cc engines. (The manufacturer recommends at least 250cc for their full-sized kits.) If you want to ride your snow bike in the mountains, you can’t go wrong with a fuel-injected dirt bike, as the injectors eliminate the issues caused by changes in elevation.

Another great feature on any snow bike is an electric start, as kick starts can be difficult in deep snow!

Regarding the evergreen 4-stroke vs. 2-stroke snow bike debate, it seems that many riders prefer the 250cc-300cc 2-stroke bikes, as long as they are equipped with an electric start.

On the other hand, the most popular 4-stroke snow bikes are built on 450cc 4-stroke machines.

Although they offer decent torque out of the box, some owners modify them by installing big-bore kits or turbos to boost their performance.

It’s a fun fact that you can find some custom snow bikes that are built on Harley Davidsons or Suzuki GSX-R1000s. Although they are eye-catching machines, let’s face it, these bikes are not the best platforms for snow bikes!

Can you put a Timbersled on a 250cc?

Yes, you can definitely put a Timbersled on a 250cc dirt bike! According to the manufacturer, 250cc bikes work very well in deep snow, thanks to their low weight.

How do you turn a dirt bike into a snow bike?

You can turn your dirt bike into a snow bike by following these 13 simple steps:

  1. Place the bike on a stand
  2. Take off the chain
  3. Disconnect the brake line
  4. Take out the swing arm pivot shaft (bolt)
  5. Take out the linkage bolt and the upper shock bolt
  6. Remove the shock, the rear wheel, and the swing arm as a complete assembly
  7. Install the whole rear chassis to the motorcycle with the swing arm pivot shaft
  8. Install the new rear shock
  9. Run the break line through the bike frame 
  10. Install the brake lever on the handlebar
  11. Install the chain
  12. Remove the front wheel and the front brake
  13. Install the front ski with the spindles

The whole conversion takes only a couple of hours. You can see the whole process in this video:

Before installing a snow bike kit, always refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions!

How to Ride a Snow Bike

To ride a snow bike be prepared to apply plenty of throttle. Unlike wheels on the ground, the track needs much more power to spin. Don’t worry, a wheelie on a snow bike is much harder than on a regular dirt bike! This is because the track goes far behind the machine, making it more stable. Beyond these, the controls work the same way as on the original bike.

The lack of a front brake may be uncomfortable for the first few miles, but you can get used to it quickly.

If you are a beginner it’s recommended that you take your first rides on flat and open terrain. Steep slopes and woods are definitely not for beginners!

The other key point of snow bike rides is that you have to keep your momentum up at all times. It’s very important especially in deep snow! More snow means more fun, but it also means more trouble that you can get into.

When you ride the machine, you can control the front ski with the handlebar. Be prepared to lean into the turns just like on a regular motorcycle.

Beware that compared to snowmobiles, riding a snow bike is much more exhausting. This is because you have to shift your weight all the time. You can’t take a rest by sitting comfortably on the saddle!

Are snow bikes hard to ride?

It’s safe to say that snow bikes are easy to ride, especially if you have some experience on dirt. Snow biking is so easy that these machines are available at more and more rental companies. And as you can assume, the majority of renters are complete beginner snow bike riders!

That’s why these bikes are so popular, they offer a lot of fun even for first-time riders.

Are snow bikes legal on snowmobile trails?

If you want to ride your snow bike legally always check and obey local laws. Keep in mind that snow bikes are not legal on many snowmobile trails! On the other hand, certain trails permit snow bikes as long as you register them as snowmobiles. Finally, it always depends on local regulations.

How do you register a snow bike? As the chassis of the conversation kit features a VIN number, you can easily register them in many cases.

What is snow BikeCross?

Snow BikeCross is a competition for snow bikes. It’s like a motocross championship on the snow! Fortunately, it seems snow bike contests are gaining in popularity. In 2017, Snow Bike Best Trick events and Snow BikeCross appeared on the X Games!

Conclusion

Snow bikes are the smaller brothers of snowmobiles. They are basically conventional dirt bikes that are converted into snow bikes with a special kit.

These kits typically include a rear chassis that features the track with the skid, a front ski with spindles, and a braking system.

Virtually, any full-size dirt bike can be converted into a snow bike, as long as it has at least a 250cc engine.

Snow bikes do a really good job on deep snow as they are much lighter compared to snowmobiles. What’s more, you can carve with them on steep slopes like on a snowboard!

This new and exciting sport is growing fast and more and more snowmobile owners are considering purchasing a snow bike over a snowmobile.

They are cheaper to maintain, easier to handle, and can be used year-round.

All of these are very good points!

References:

https://amsnow.com/reviews/snowmobile-reviews/2015/12/snow-bikes

https://www.popularmechanics.com/adventure/outdoors/a13974686/the-snow-bikes-are-coming/

https://eatsleepride.com/c/227712/the_best_7_conversion_kits_from_motorcycle_to_snow_bike

https://snoriderswest.com/article/gearboxx/2017_year_of_the_snow_bikes

https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/snowbiking-explained-guide

https://www.timbersled.com/

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