We asked our snowmobile audience on social media for questions they have about snowbikes—unique from the sledder perspective. Our staff also publish Snowbike World, a digital magazine and website, and have been riding snowbikes for over 10 years now. We dish out as much info as possible. If you want more snowbike knowledge, follow Snowbike World on Instagram and Facebook.
@snowmobilemineral, via Instagram
What’s a better bike to start with, mx or enduro-style? How long do motors go in a snowbike vs. dirtbike use? Do you need to change the suspension? How does the snow and colder temps affect the bikes? Do i need to block the radiators, carb, or air box from snow dust? Whats the typical mileage range for a stock 2-gallon fuel tank?
Good questions. First, we’d suggest starting with an enduro or offroad version of a motocross bike. You typically get a large fuel tank, headlight and battery.
Second question: We’ve had long conversations with industry experts and had our own experience with engine longevity. The general opinion says that running a dirt bike in the snow with a track kit isn’t any harder on the internals than running it in dirt and dust with a tire. Obviously, the variables lie in the setup (whether you run a thermostat, ECU, engine blanket) and maintenance (do you change your oil every ride?). But the short answer is that running your dirt bike as a snowbike doesn’t shorten engine life.
Third question: Do you need to change the suspension? No. But if you have the option to, then do it. We rode a WR450F for a season on stock forks with a Timbersled. It got us around just fine. The nose would dive on any holes in the snow or drops off snowdrifts, but it wasn’t unridable. We much prefer a snowbike with a stiffer fork setup, though. It keeps the bike balanced and keeps the front end up.
Fourth question: Blocking the radiators is not necessary. You can bolt a track kit to a bike and go ride without touching anything on the bike if you want. However, you can improve the bike’s performance and your experience with every little thing you do to maintain a consistent engine operating temperature. If you have a carbureted bike, you’ll be better off with a carburetor heater. And the airbox on any snowbike will fill with snow eventually during your ride. You can simple take the cover off and scoop away any snow periodically, or you can cut out the bottom of the airbox so the snow can’t accumulate around the air filter.
Last question: Nothing is typical because we don’t know if you ride like Brock Hoyer (wide-open throttle in third gear everywhere) or grandpa Bernie (first-gear timid pace). Two gallons will last Hoyer about 90 minutes. Two gallons will last Bernie about four hours. Everybody packs fuel in this sport.