Snowbike Q&A

20 Answers to a Sledder's Snowbike Questions

Published in the January 2019 Issue July 2019 Feature

@caseyjpedersen, via Instagram

Are they any more complicated to haul than a sled? Like the way to tie them down, fit in a trailer, sled bed, etc?

Honestly, yes. Snowbikes are more complicated. They don’t move across concrete or asphalt like a snowmobile, and without a good set of shop wheels, you’re constantly worrying about it tipping over. But all that is easily solved with wheels and experience. We can load and unload our snowbikes from the trailer about as quick as our snowmobiles. We use either two tie downs per bike, from the floor going straight up to the frame or foot pegs on both sides, middle of the bike. Or, even better, we use Bike Binderz when possible. You don’t need to tie forward from the handlebars plus a strap pulling backwards. Two straps on the center sides will hold it securely. Same goes for a sled deck. It takes a bit of getting used to running a snowbike up a sled deck ramp, but it’s doable. 

@nateranmenz, via Instagram

Is it hard to land a jump?

For Reagan Sieg, Brock Hoyer, Cody Matechuk and guys like that, no. Looks totally easy. For the rest of us? Yeah, seems a little harder than it looks. Really though, getting 10-15 feet out of a wind drift is simple. Just drive off in a gear taller than you think you should, use throttle and brake to control the nose in the air, and pin the throttle and dump the clutch the moment before you touch down and you’ll land like a champ. 

@funburninggasoline, via Instagram

Has anyone put a big high-output streetbike motors in a newer 450 frame yet? I have seen it done on the hill climb bikes… just not in snowbike form. I have seen the vids of 1000cc streetbikes with kits on them… seems like it just needs to be packaged in a dirt bike chassis/suspension.

No. There have been some one-off adaptations to street bikes, adventure bikes, Harleys and quads, but most snowbikers are too busy riding the bikes they have to worry about that. Things brings up a common misconception: Many sledders think snowbikes are too low on power to be any fun. Not true. They have more than enough power to have fun. Would more power make them more fun? Sure. But all that would do is make them go straight up steep slopes better than they do. Right now, they go straight across steep slopes like nothing else, and that’s where the fun is. 

@sledheer8, via Instagram

What are the essential mods that need to be done to make it perform properly?

Here’s our list of “essential” mods, in no particular order:

Some type of engine management control, such as an ECU tuned for snow, or at best a thermostat. Dirt bike ECU maps tell the injection system to over-fuel until the engine reaches a fairly hot engine water temperature. It’s basically in a choke position until that temp is achieved. In snow, it’s hard for the engine to reach that temp with the cases and cylinder constantly being cooled from the outside by snow, so the engine gets more fuel than it should for most of the time. That extra fuel winds up blowing by the piston rings and gets into your oil. A good snowbike ECU corrects that issue. And a thermostat controls that engine temperature, much like a snowmobile cooling system. 

Next, we’d address the dirt bike’s front suspension. You have a huge, heavy track sticking way out past where the rear wheel used to be. It pushes the front end of the bike down over terrain. You need to stiffen the front forks up to achieve a balanced chassis again. And the best way is through spring rates and valving—not just springs alone. You can also slide the forks up in the triple clamps to find a good balance. 

You’ll need to address the air intake. There are several options, from the most basic of just running a dry air filter in the stock airbox, to removing the airbox and installing an intake boot with a filter screen. Or, run the stock filter/airbox but cut out the bottom of the airbox so snow doesn’t build up and block off your air intake. Yamaha’s are another story, with the air intake up where the gas cap is on other bikes. The best solution there is an intake tube that sticks up out of the airbox and stays free from snow buildup.

From there, what’s essential is subjective. We run an aftermarket exhaust for added performance, oversized foot pegs, heated handlebars, a composite skid plate, tunnel bag and auxiliary fuel can. 

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