Winter wheelies: bolt-on kit turns your dirtbike into a powder-carving snowbike
By Loz Blain
February 5, 2009
February 5, 2009 This looks like serious winter fun. What if you could ride your high-performance, lightweight dirtbike in the snow? Imagine throwing huge snowy rooster tails, wheelying across snow-covered fields, carving corners through the powder and cranking your bike down to elbow-dragging lean angles - all the while knowing that if you overcook it, you'll fall into a nice soft pile of the white fluffy stuff... The US$4250 2moto snowbike kit is a bolt-on mod that takes about 2 hours to fit to a range of common dirtbikes. In place of the front wheel, you get a tough, flexible ski on the end of your forks. At the rear end, you swap your swingarm, wheel and suspension out for a thin paddle track drive unit - and voila! You've got half a snowmobile, except it leans over in the turns and looks like a helluva lot more fun.
In the depths of this year's long northern hemisphere winter, there's surely thousands of beloved dirtbikes sitting in garages waiting for springtime and riding season. But when you start looking at your bike as a snow toy, suddenly you're in a position where you can enjoy your steed all year round. And when you see how much fun a snow-kitted bike can be to ride, with zero learning curve, the US$4 grand price tag on 2moto's snowbike kits starts looking like a bargain.
The 2moto product is a fairly uncomplicated do-it-yourself bolt-on kit for anyone who knows their way around a set of spanners. It can be fitted to a broad range of dirtbikes from all the major Japanese companies, Husaberg and KTM, among others. It makes no permanent alterations to the bike, so when snow season ends you can swap back over to your wheels for regular dirt-squirting.
To install the 2moto kit, first you remove the front wheel of your motorcycle. In its place goes a strong fork extension leg, and on the end of the leg goes a Simmons FlexiSki with sides specifically shaped to enhance turning and handling. The front ski's trail is adjustable so you can choose whether you want to go for high-speed stability or super-quick steering, and your forks are left otherwise untouched.
The rear unit is a bit more involved, and requires the removal of your stock bike's wheel, swingarm and shock. The swingarm is replaced with a special unit that incorporates a long-travel Ohlins shock, a scooped belt track, an additional suspension linkage for the track, and a drive train system to get drive from the rear sprocket down to the track.
The track itself is curved - in a sense like the rear tire of a bike, which helps give better drive coming out of turns on a lean. It also means that there's a thinner contact patch on hard packed snow, making the bike handle more responsively under these conditions. The paddles are 2.1 inches deep, and the tracks are supported right out to the edge by a slide rail, so there's no deformation of the tracks at high lean angles, but a solid edge to bite against the snow. The wide slide rail also means that the bike can stand up by itself when stopped on a flat surface, with enough stability to let you kick start it.
The entire assembly is the lightest on the market, and the whole bike ends up weighing around 300lbs without fuel. 2moto claim it's also the most efficient snowbike conversion kit available, robbing only about 10% of the stock bike's power.
Riding it looks like a gas. It doesn't countersteer like a motorcycle anymore, so you turn the bars INTO the corners. Beyond that, there's virtually no learning curve when stepping up from a bike, and it seems to be able to achieve some pretty impressive lean angles in the 2moto demo videos. Top speed is around the same speed as when the bike has wheels on - although the fastest the 2moto guys have had it is 92mph. It'll jump with no dramas, and both ends are built to handle big hits all day long.
In 2 days' time, 2moto will be sponsoring the world's first snowbike race event at the 44th annual McCall Winter Carnival. It should be a blast.
These kits are a fantastic idea, they seem to be truly well designed and tough gear. Better still, they open up a whole winter world of powder carving and mountain exploration to dirtbike owners. Awesome stuff, can we get a ride?