Snow bikes are so much fun, says Glen Monaghan of Slave Lake, you can spend two days riding one and feel like you’ve had a week’s-worth of enjoyment.
“In 40 years of playing on stuff (machines), I don’t think I’ve seen anything as exciting,” says the owner of Grizzly Ridge Honda in Slave Lake.
Sales talk, you might say. Fair comment, but Monaghan sells regular snowmobiles too, so the vested interest at least balances out. The snow bikes are smaller, less powerful and haven’t really caught on locally, but word is getting out.
“We sold more last weekend than we did all of last year,” he says.
At places where people congregate with their snow machines, Monaghan says he’s seen snow bikes climb from maybe one in 100 to 20 per cent in the past three years.
The term ‘snow bike’ is a good one. It’s a track package attached to a motorcycle, with a ski on the front. It kind of looks like a dirt bike and in many ways feels like one.
It’s maneuverable, light, and can go easily through all kinds of tight spaces where a sled can’t go – or not without getting out the chainsaw. Snowmobiles generally are low-impact machines; snow bikes even more so, Monaghan says. Not only that, you don’t have to go nearly as far to find country you haven’t seen before.
And, “it’s a lot safer,” he says. “When you make a mistake, you fall over. You’re not chasing it down the mountain.”
Adam Gongos of Whitecap Rec confirms most of the advantages his competitor talks about. He says, though, that one thing holding back sales is probably price. What Whitecap Rec sells are Timbersled conversion kits for regular bikes, and those run around $9,000, plus whatever you’ve already spent for the bike. Convenient, though, because you can run it as a snow bike in winter and a dirt bike in summer.
The people he’s sold them to “really enjoy them,” he says. “You can go through the trees where there’s no trail. They’re just a joy to ride.”
Snowmobiling can take a lot of energy, Gongos says. For guys getting up there, the snow bike is a lot easier to maneuver, and just as much fun, if not more.
Joey Mouallem is a recent convert to snow biking. He’s been riding his YetiMX all over the country in the Slave Lake region and can’t say enough good things about it.
“I’m like a school kid!” he says. “You get to go where you want to go. You go places you wouldn’t even consider going with a Ski-doo.”
A Timbersled snow bike traversing a side hill in the mountains.
Hunter Mouallem with a pair of snow bikes in the Marten Hills.
Photo courtesy Joey Mouallem
Glen Monaghan having fun on a Yeti snow bike in the B.C. mountains