When we left for Idaho on our 2moto snow bike adventure I was really not sure what to expect. I have spent some time riding snowmobiles. I don’t at all consider myself an expert but I do really enjoy that kind of winter powersport. We met up with the crew from 2moto as well as Lynn Hodges from Pro Moto Billet who was sporting a new Honda CRF450 that had just received the snow bike conversion. I was beginning to think that they were going to really school me on how good they could ride, or in other words, how bad I would be at this new sport.
Dirt bikes and virgin snow, what could be better
Certainly for the first 15 minutes of riding I was feeling a little out of my element, but once we hit the first open snow field that changed very quickly. I was still being a little tentative so they told me to just go out in the field and carve a turn sharp enough to bury the handle bar in the snow. When I did that the whole concept just sprang to life, it was very much a “WOW” moment. Then it all started coming together very rapidly.
Suddenly the whole snow white world surrounding us looks like a giant playground. Every little snow covered log or rock is now a jump, every hill beckons to be climbed and trees become a slalom course. The learning curve is steep but not difficult and the fun factor is completely off the chart. It is challenging to come up with a good parallel to explain the sensation. It is only a little bit like snowmobiling, but probably more like a cross between riding sand dunes and water skiing, the sensation of being able to float over the surface yet carve fantastic turns and it is always still very much like riding a dirt bike.
A beautiful day overlooking McCall Idaho
After a day of riding I was left with two very strong impressions. First, I did not want the day to end. I would have been totally happy to just keep riding. As it was I actually ran out of gas and daylight. Third gear pinned in the snow eats the fuel up pretty quick and I found myself sitting on the trail with an empty tank. If I had my own snow bike it would have to have good lights and a big gas tank. Riding at night would be so cool. Second, at the end of the day the only part of me that hurt were my cheeks, from having a big silly grin inside my helmet so much.
If I lived in snow country I would have to own one of these. I would find a good used 450 mx’er and use it for the conversion. The whole package would be fairly economical, far less than the cost of a new high performance snowmobile. 2moto prepared a Suzuki RMZ450 and a GasGas 300 for us to ride during our test day, both bikes were unique and the two stroke is certainly a viable option. The basic traits of the bike carry over pretty well, the two stroke had a very distinct light weight feel but lacked some of the bottom end grunt of the four stokes. The only negative aspect that I experienced was that these things really crave powder and fresh snow, riding down a groomed trail is a bit of a challenge as the ski always wants to wander, sort of like riding in silt. We avoided the packed trails by riding along the sides and zigzagging around to pick up fresh bits of snow.
I have only just begun to explore the limits of these machines. Yet even feeling like a complete novice I was having a blast and I cannot wait for my next chance to ride a snow bike.