If you have ever tried to ride a dirtbike in the snow you know that it doesn’t work very well, for multiple reasons. The front tire struggles to maintain traction in small amounts of snow and if you were dumb enough to try and ride it in deep snow, like I once did, you know that front tire cuts through the snow like a knife with zero flotation and you come to a rather abrupt stop that usually ends up with you flying over the handlebars. That is what makes the snowmobile so effective, it’s flotation combined with the tracks ability to claw though the snow with high horsepower and the proven method of skis guiding you where you want to go. Really there is only one problem with snowmobiling, you need snow to enjoy it how it was meant to be enjoyed. When that snow melts you have to put that sled away and it sits unused all summer. The only option you would have if you wanted a machine that you could ride all year long in almost any conditions is maybe an ATV, but only if you shell out some serious cash to get the set of 4 tracks. But even then you really are stuck with a trail riding machine. If you tried to take that into deep snow you would be screwed.
Well now there’s a new option and that’s a snow conversion for your standard dirtbike. They have been referred to as TimberSleds, or the obvious SnowBike, and they are not exactly cheap, but they damn sure seem to be effective. Most commonly you will see the snow conversion kit put onto a 450cc 4-stroke like the YZF450 that’s used in motocross, but sometimes you will come across a 500cc 2-stroke like you see here for even more power. First they remove the front tire and install a very wide single ski that helps the bike float up on top of the snow. Then they remove the back wheel and install what appears to be a mini version of the track from a PRO-RMK that comes in a few different lengths ranging from 120in, that is referred to as the short track, all the way up to 137 inches for the long track that’s designed for deeper snow and better climbing. There was a brief showing of something like this years ago but nothing as spectacular as what the guys at Timbersled are doing now and with a fairly reasonable price of around $6,000 for the full kit this thing is starting to make more sense.
Timbersled is actually the company name that manufactures these crazy snow conversions, and they had such a good idea that Polaris actually acquired the Timbersled company and then started using its own technology which took the Timbersled to a whole other level. No wonder they are catching my eyes now. When I said it looked like a mini PRO-RMK track, I didn’t know that in theory that is exactly what it might be. Either way these things look awesome.
As an avid snowmobilier, I first thought, no way! You want me to trade in my sled for a dirtbike with a snow conversion? My Favorite thing to do is deep powder boondocking through the trees, climbing some serious hills, and throwing the sled up on its side to either make a sharp turn or fly up the side of a mountain. Even when I started hearing about these bikes and seeing them in a few snowmobile videos I still thought to myself, there is no way that thing is going to be able to handle deep snow, or side hill, and it definitely wont be able to climb as well as a snowmobile. But as I did more research on them and watched more videos, I am starting to realize that the very things that I love to do on a snowmobile is exactly what these Snowbikes specialties are. With so much engineering going into the track and how its connected to the bike, and that huge ski on the front, these bikes are able to just carve through the deep snow and because the bike is so thin and agile these guys are able to hit lines that I could only dream of hitting on a sled. Now I am still fairly certain that the snowmobile will still out perform the bikes in most categories, especially hillclimbing. These TimberSleds are a hell of a lot closer then they have ever been before. They could probably be argued as being better then a sled when it comes to boondocking in the trees. Which is a tough thing for me to say, I’ll be honest.
Klim is another company that manufactures some of the best Snowmobile Gear and apparel that money can buy. I’ve always wanted to have a full Klim setup but it can be costly. The old phrase you pay for what you get absolutely applies here because their stuff is amazing. To show off their new line of gear they let their Product Line Manager, Evan Hoge, go crazy on a what looks to be a very well built CR500 Timbersled Beast. As you will see he is riding in some really deep snow and appears to not have any problems thrashing around