The Coolest Things You Can Do on a Track and Two Skis
Snowmobilers are a special breed of daredevils. Is taking your snowmobile out into the wilderness in zero-degree weather dangerous enough? Definitely. Do snowmobilers like to take it farther than that? Also definitely. Much farther than that! If you’ve been mountain riding or seen the Winter X-Games, you already know it: snowmobilers are some of the craziest riders out there. But if you need to have the point proven, or you just want to see some amazing videos, check out these 7awesome snowmobile tricks!
Awesome Snowmobile Tricks: The Basics
Before you learn to run, you have to learn how to walk, right? Well before you can get to the X-Games, you probably have to learn how to carve like the pros.
Not every trick is about showing off your finesse. Sometimes it’s just about finessing your way out of a sticky situation, like a row of trees you don’t imagine are going to get up and move any time soon.
The Heavy Hitters
Okay, so we’ve covered some of the basics, and you can probably do at least a couple of these. How about some stuff we’re only going to see the pros do? Take a look at some of these amazing snowmobile tricks!
4. Daniel Bodin’s Seat Grab Indy Backflip
There are few legends in the world of snowmobiling like Daniel Bodin. He is an athlete in the truest sense of the word. One of his greatest moments was this seat-grab Indy backflip by at the 2017 Winter X games. He went on to win the Gold in 2019… don’t worry, we’ll get to it in a bit!
3. Caleb Moore Winning the Silver at the Winter X Games
In the world of snowmobiling, folks are always pushing themselves to the limit. For the incredible folks competing in the Winter X-Games, this is maybe truer than ever. We see constant leaps forward in what folks are capable of like the world’s first-ever front flip on a snowmobile performed by Heath Frisby in 2012.
1. Daniel Bodin Winning the Gold in the Freestyle Competition, 2019
So, sure we might have already talked about Bodin’s legendary skills, but we had to give it up for him a second time with this run. Bodin won his first gold in the freestyle competition back in 2011. Almost a decade later, Bodin came back fired up more than ever and performed these mind-boggling backflip combos! When they say no rest for the wicked, they must be talking about Bodin!
The Coolest Way to Have Fun in the Snow
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that there’s no better way to have fun in the winter than by riding a snowmobile. Learning tricks can make it even more fun, but just make sure you’re always practicing with a buddy and doing it safely! We don’t all land the front-flip on the first try!
Do you love snowmobiling? Do you eat, breathe, and live snowmobiling? If this sounds like you and you haven’t heard of the Iron Dog Snowmachine Race then you are in for the thrill of a lifetime. Do you like the idea of racers covering thousands of miles through Alaska’s toughest wilderness during some if it’s toughest winter weather? Then you need to keep reading to find out everything about the Iron Dog Race.
What is the Iron Dog Race?
The Iron Dog race is the ultimate endurance test for snowmobilers. The race currently runs over 2,400 miles of the Alaskan wilderness where the only thing racers can rely on is themselves. Survival skills are equally as important as your riding skills in this race which has the potential to be literally life or death.
The origin of the Iron Dog race begins in Big Lake, Alaska. The race followed the northern portion of the historic Iditarod Trail. Yes, that’s the same Iditarod Trail from the dog race!
The first race was held in 1984 under the name Iron Dog Iditarod. It covered 1,000 miles and racers crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska.
The Current Course
Of course, since 1984 the Iron Dog race has gone through many changes. The route has more than doubled, now sitting at a staggering 2,400 miles across Alaska. The race typically begins in Mid-February when snow conditions in Alaska can be at their worst. Sub-zero temperatures, white-out conditions, and no reprieve for riders.
The current Iron Dog race course begins as it originally did in Big Lake, Alaska, following the Iditarod trail until racers reach the Yukon River in Ruby, Alaska. From there the course follows the river until it reaches Kaltag, Alaska. Then racers head towards the Norton Sound peninsula in the Bearing Sea and follow the coast north to Nome. From there, racers backtrack to Ruby and diverge from their original path towards the finish line in Fairbanks.
Racers attempt to cover hundreds or even thousands of miles in a day. Currently, the shortest time to completion was set in 2016 at just over 35 hours! That means traveling almost 70 miles every hour!
Racers are facing Alaska’s toughest terrain during its toughest time of the year. Many Alaskan native racers will tell you that racers from the lower 48 rarely have what it takes to keep up. Even beyond simply making the journey, racers also need to worry about making food, finding time to sleep, and using the bathroom.
Of course, all of this is happening in the Alaskan tundra during the middle of winter when temperatures can reach 60 below zero. This race takes much more than just the ability to ride your snowmobile. It takes the ability to survive the toughest conditions that Alaska can throw at you all while trying to make the best time.
One of the greatest prizes of the Iron Dog race is the glory of winning. Over the 30+ years of this race, there have been 28 different winners. There have been 15 racers with multiple titles and 12 racers with only a single title. We also have just recently seen the second generation of riders from the same family winning titles that their parents had won.
Apart from the victory of joining the echelon of legendary riders who have defeated this race, there is also the prize money. While prize purses have differed from year to year, the purse for last year’s prize was $100,000!
The Iron Dog Race: The Ride of Your Life
The Iron Dog Race is the world’s longest snowmobile race, and it’s absolutely the most intense. Riders tread thousands of miles across the harshest conditions Alaska has to offer. They battle the clock, they battle the elements, and they battle their own will power. It’s undoubtedly one of the most dangerous and rewarding ways to race your snowmobile. For serious sledders like us, it doesn’t get any cooler!
Interested in learning about the history of snowmobiles? Check out our recent blog about it! After all, without snowmobiles, there wouldn’t be a race like this.
Keeping Yourself Safe and Comfortable when Riding in the Winter
Just because your neck of the woods got hit with cold temperatures and deep snow doesn’t mean the motorcycle fun has to end. With a little effort, it’s not too difficult to stay warm and dry while you’re riding. But it’s more than just wearing a neck warmer and hitting the throttle. There are a few subtle ways to keep your body heat up and keep the cold out. So if you want to keep revving your engines until spring rolls around, check out these tips for riding your motorcycle in winter.
Our Tips for Cold Weather Riding
You’ve got your earmuffs and your winter gloves, are you ready? Well, not quite. Just having your regular winter gear won’t really cut it for riding your motorcycle in the winter. There are some different tips and pieces of special riding gear you want to have. Let’s talk about how you can keep warm and keep riding.
Getting the Right Gear for Riding a Motorcycle in Winter
Dressing in Layers
You can spend hundreds of dollars on all sorts of fancy gear, but the very first thing you need to know is this: Always dress in layers. But it’s not as simple as throwing on a sweatshirt under your jacket. There is an art to layering correctly. Doing it right means riding in style and staying warm. Doing it wrong is going to mean a pretty uncomfortable experience.
You always want to dress in at least three layers. Each layer should be comprised of specific kinds of material and performs a specific function.
Here are the layers you should keep in mind when dressing for winter motorcycle riding:
Base Layer: Your base layer has one basic function: to provide warmth. This is our insulating layer. The best base layer provides warmth and is also made with a moisture-wicking material. This will keep your sweat off your body and keep you warm and dry.
Mid Layer: The mid-layer is where the majority of our warmth comes from. Choose a bulky but comfortable sweater, jacket, or another piece of clothing.
Outer Layer: Our outer most layer needs to be our strongest. This is your layer that will block the wind from penetrating your layers and making you incredibly cold.
One of the most important pieces of gear you need is a good pair of gloves. Your hands are the first thing catching that icy wind off the highway. If you’re not wearing good, insulated gloves, you’re going to be feeling it.
One piece of gear to give some good thought to is a pair of insulated gloves. There are plenty out there made from all sorts of materials with different features. The best gloves, however, are made from sturdy, windproof material. Any rider who has been out in winter without good gloves can tell you: cold hands are going to send you packing.
Another thing you can think about is getting some heated motorcycle gear. We’re all familiar with the wind chill making temperatures even colder. When you’re out riding the highway doing 60 mph, you’re adding an additional wind chill factor that you need to compensate for.
Dressing in layers is essential but if your layers are comprised of heated gear, you’re going to be doing even better. In addition to heated gear for your body, you can also get heated gear for your bike. Heated grips and heated seat pads can be just as instrumental to keeping your body heat as your layers.
Cold-Weather Gear For Your Bike
Check Your Tires
You buy winter tires for your car, so why not for your bike? Well, one reason is that folks might not know they exist. But if you’re serious about winter riding, this is an investment that can save your life.
Beyond having better tread designs for snow riding, winter tires are actually made differently. The rubber used to make winter tires is made from a special compound. It keeps the tires from getting too cold in winter weather. This allows them to maintain their grip when your summer tires would be sliding over the surface.
Reduce Your Wind Chill
Just like with your hands catching the brunt of the windchill, your face catches a lot, too. One really important purchase is a windshield for your motorcycle. It won’t completely negate any of the windchill coming from the front of your bike, but it will greatly reduce it.
You can’t stay out in the cold riding forever, but with a good windshield, you can increase the clock!
Things to Look Out For When Riding a Motorcycle in Winter
Salt and Black Ice
Salt on the road is a good thing when you’re in your car. When you’re on your bike, salt and sand can be just as deadly as the icy road. The loose grains on the road create a surface that is incredibly difficult for your tires to grip on to. It can spell a mean spill quickly.
Of course, black ice isn’t your friend, either. If you notice ice on the road, turn around and head back.
Winter Riding Safety – Increase Following Distance and Visibility
Riding in winter can be difficult for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is the same no matter what season it is: you can’t control other drivers on the road. In the winter when stopping can be especially difficult you need to make sure that you increase your following distance.
It also helps immensely to increase your visibility. Black might be your color of choice, but make sure your winter gear is bright and easy to see. It could save your life.
If you See Snow, Head Home
This one is extremely simple. When you see the first flake, head home. There’s no reason to put yourself or others in danger by riding when it’s currently snowing. If you see the flakes start falling, it’s time to call it quits.
Adjusting to Riding in Cold Weather
Winter riding is a bit like its own sport. It requires its own gear and its own equipment. Winter riding can also be especially rewarding, though. It gives us some peace and solitude on the road and we get to enjoy the beautiful winter landscape. For those of us who just can’t bear to put away the bike for the winter, it’s a necessity. No matter what reason you want to ride this winter, just make sure you do it safely!
The Best Groomed Snowmobile Trails on the West Side of the Country
When you think of California you’re probably thinking of sandy beaches, surfing, and the Hollywood Hills. California is a gigantic state, though, and this is just a small piece of what it has to offer. In addition to great hiking in their lovely national forests and amazing weather year-round, they also have some amazing snowmobile trails. While you might not think of snow in California first when you think of the state, it gets plenty! If you’re looking for a new place to ride, or you want to learn something new about the state, here are the best snowmobile trails in California!
The Best Trails To Ride In California
California isn’t all palm trees and beaches! For the local riders, you already know there are plenty of great places to get into the wilderness and ride. If you’re a little skeptical, check out our list of the best trails to ride in California. While there are dozens of trails in California, and these obviously aren’t all of them, they are some of the most popular and beloved!
If you’re thinking about checking out any of these awesome trails, make sure you’re prepared! Take a look at our favorite snowmobiling apps to help you ride safely!
China Wall / Foresthill Divide Winter Trails
We begin our journey in Sacramento, California with the China Wall/Forest Hill Divide trails. In the summer, this beautiful national park is great for hiking, camping, and enjoying the beautiful California wildlife. However, in the winter, when the OHV trails are closed for use by dirt bikers, the real fun begins!
In the winter, snowmobile riders can enjoy 15 miles of groomed trails through the California forest. While the area is great for camping in the summer, it’s even better for riding in the winter. The trail is also accessed by snowshoers and cross-country skiers, so it’s important to be mindful when you’re on the trail.
Mammoth Lakes, located in Mammoth, California, is another exceptional snowmobiling destination in the Golden State. It’s an incredibly popular destination at all times of the year, and for good reason. The summer offers camping and hiking, there is great foliage viewing in the fall, and of course, winter brings snow sports!
Mammoth Lakes has hundreds of miles of roads and trails to discover. It’s a great place to go over and over again and always get a unique experience. They even have some fan-favorite rides like the trail from Shady Rest to Bald Mountain. It provides great views of the mountain range along with a beautiful system of trails and open-country riding.
Little Truckee Summit Winter Trails
Located in Tahoe, California, the Little Truckee Summit Winter Trails is a great destination for serious riders. In the winter, there are more than 100 miles of groomed trails for snowmobilers. Trails range from easy to more difficult terrains depending on the length of the ride you want to take. It’s the best kind of “choose-your-own-adventure” story!
This area is heavily trafficked by snowmobilers. While skiing is not prohibited, it is not recommended. While this is bad news for skiers, it’s great news for riders! For the daring folks, there is also free camping available at the Little Truckee Summit parking area, however, not year-round. Camping is permitted for 7 or fewer days between mid-February and mid-April
Sherman Pass / Kern Plateau Area
Sherman Pass in Sequoia National Forest isn’t one of the most fearsome trails in California, but it’s one of the most popular. While the Sherman Pass trail is only 25 miles by itself, riding the pass will give you great access to other trails in the Kern Plateau area. The Sherman Pass trail is well-groomed, and it’s great for beginning riders.
The greater Kern Plateau area offers more than 100 miles of additional trails to explore with a range of riding difficulties. The trail will take you along rolling hills, beautiful ridgelines, and perfectly groomed trails. There is plenty to explore for the more seasoned riders in your group. However, for any beginners, there are few trails that offer such easy riding with such great rewards.
The Yuba Pass in Tahoe, California might just take the whole cake for great trails in California. The Yuba Pass is home to more than 150 miles of trails that are groomed and maintained by the California/Nevada Snowmobile Association. The pass offers fantastic views of the Sierra mountains and valley. It’s accessible for snowmobilers, snowshoers, and hikers.
This park is heavily trafficked by both snowmobilers and other snow-enthusiasts. It’s a popular destination for skiing, snowshoeing and of course, snowmobiling. There is a very short shared-trail for snowmobilers and skiers, but the paths quickly diverge. There is a lot to explore in the Yuba Pass with easy access for snowmobilers to other highways and trail systems.
California is a beautiful state. This isn’t a secret. What might be a secret is just how much fun you can have on a sled in the Californian winters. So don’t think that California is only good for a summer vacation destination. Any local rider can tell you, there are some really amazing trails to ride in California. So if you’re looking for a new, great place to ride, check out these awesome snowmobile trails in California!
From Oversnow Vehicle to Motor Toboggan to the Modern Snowmobile
Modern snowmobiles appeared fairly recently in history, but the development of over-snow vehicles goes back many years. In the United States and Canada, the “snowmobile” went through decades of patenting and perfecting before it became anything like the vehicle it is today. In this blog, we’ll explore the timeline of snowmobiling: how it began, how it stuck, and where it’s come to today. Read on to learn about the complete history of snowmobiling.
It’s no secret that snowmobiles have increased the popularity of outdoor winter recreation. According to this snowmobile education course study guide, “more than three million people in the United States and Canada snowmobile each winter, enjoying more than 230,000 miles of groomed public trails.” Let’s see how we got from there to here!
Carving the Way to the Modern Snowmobile
In places where the winters bring long months of heavy snowfall, traveling over and through snow is a must. In the United States during the early 1900s, this was a problem for many people. As different solutions to this problem began developing, so began the origins of the snowmobile. However, snow vehicles for single riders (snowmobiles) were not the first vehicles built to travel through snow.
In fact, it was the logging industry that carved the way for the modern snowmobile to appear. In 1908, a man by the name of Alvin Lombard built the first over-snow vehicle. He came from Waterville, Maine, and his 20-ton machine was used only for log-hauling. This machine was huge, resembling a steam locomotive but with a half-track design and front skis. A beast this big could haul through snow, sure, but it certainly wasn’t built for individual travel.
Imagine living somewhere in the deep, wintery woods of North America in 1908, and a member of your family falls ill. Unless you live close to town, finding your way to a doctor (or for that matter, a doctor finding their way to you) is going to be incredibly difficult if there’s any sense of urgency. Thus, the impact of the snowmobile was going to be massive.
Ultimately, recreational use became the real money-winner, though. But it took quite a while (and many designs) before we got to the snowmobile industry we know today!
The First Snowmobile
It all began when a Ford dealer in New Hampshire invented a track and ski conversion system for the Model T Ford. The man’s name was Virgil White, and the year was 1913. About 10 years later, a young man from Canada would begin his journey of patenting and perfecting features of the Model T to travel over snow.
It was the winter of 1922 when Armand Bombardier designed a wind-driven sleigh using a Model T engine. It was only the first of many snowmobile designs, but not the first patent. Bombardier is now known as the man who first invented the “modern snowmobile”. He is the same man behind the iconic Ski-Doo Snowmobile brand.
The Motorized Toboggan
Meanwhile, in Sayner, Wisconsin, a man named Carl Eliason was working hard on a similar project of his own. In 1927, the first snowmobile patent was issued. His patent defined the first workable, single-track, one-passenger snowmobile.
Eliason called it a motor toboggan, which essentially described just what it was. It was a wooden, motorized toboggan “fitted with two skis, which were steered with ropes, powered by a 2 ½ horsepower Johnson outboard motor, and pushed by an endless steel cleated track.”
What was particularly neat about his machine was that it had “a front-mounted, liquid-cooled engine that used a jackshaft.” His version groomed the path toward what we recognize as the modern snowmobile.
A Timeline of the History of Snowmobiles
In the years between 1927 and 1962, thirteen patents were granted for snow vehicles. Eliason’s snow vehicles went into production through Sayner for fifteen years. During this time, other companies spent decades patenting the many versions of snowmobiles.
Let’s break down a basic timeline of the history of snowmobiles:
Carl Eliason patented the feature of his motorized toboggan, defining the first workable, single-track, one-passenger snowmobile.
Armand Bombardier patented a tracked vehicle for traveling over snow.
An “iron dog” machine went into production. Larger, slower, and clumsier than modern snowmobiles, it was primarily used by hunters, trappers, and power company service crews.
By 1947, Bombardier began manufacturing snow machines capable of carrying up to 12 people. The military used these machines for the most part. However, the Canadian police, mining and oil companies, and ski resorts adopted it.
Polaris Industries made a commitment to the development, testing, and manufacturing of the definitive single-track snowmobile.
Bombardier finally pulled the trigger and launched the Ski-Doo snowmobile. The lighter, more maneuverable machine was a huge success with the public. Numerous other companies soon rushed their versions into production, giving rise to the sport of snowmobiling.
Yamaha manufactured its first snowmobile. They were the most successful of their time, yet with only 350 manufactured in total.
Snowmobile racing was now very popular. Yamaha’s SRX440 model was at the top of the charts of the racing scene.
At this point, technology began to allow for special additional advancements. Heated handlebar warmers were one of these new features. Around this time, a man named Gerard Karpik introduced the M-10 suspension. This allowed for harder riding over rough terrain, a necessary improvement for cross-country riders.
Polaris launched a new revolution in the history of snowmobiles with electronic fuel injection. It created a better fuel economy, smoother riding, and better performance in general.
By the late 50s, Bombardier had finally created the lightweight, speedy snow machine that set the stage for how the industry would continue to grow. It was a point of no return! “The modern engines had become small enough and light enough to make this design possible. [His] design revolutionized the snowmobile industry with its tunnel mounted engine, combined chassis/hood, and an endless rubber track affixed via sprung bogie wheels.”
By 1962, he patented his track design in both Canada and the United States. It was approved for mass production in 1964. From there, the competitors really began to trickle in. Brands like Arctic Cat, for example, wanted to change things up, helping to drive the ever-evolving history of snowmobiles forward to the next step.
The Arctic Cat
In 1965, Arctic Cat made some crucial alterations to Bombardier’s suspension design. “They replaced the bogie wheels that were being used in Bombardier’s design, to keep the machine on the track, with a pair of slide rails running on the cleats of the track. This design allowed for shock absorbers to be added, which would aid in smoothing the ride of the snowmobile.”
“The very next year, Arctic Cat redesigned yet another feature of their snowmobile. The new design moved the engine from on top of the drive unit, located behind the driver, and placed it in the front of the track tunnel, in the belly pan of the front of the machine. By moving the engine they were able to lower the center of gravity of the snowmobile, which balanced it with the rider’s body weight. This proved for substantially better handling and performance.”
To this day, the four major manufacturers use this basic design concept. It took only two years for Arctic Cat to bring the snowmobile into the “unexplored territory of sport riding and performance vehicles.”
A Long History of Snowmobiles
It’s crazy to think snowmobiles started from a log-hauling, 20-ton machine, isn’t it? The long history of snowmobiles will continue changing year after year. Thanks to the genius of Bombardier from 1922 to the 1960s, snowmobiling became what it is today. As the popularity of snowmobile riding continues to grow, so will the technological advances, making for a bright, innovative future ahead!
We hope you enjoyed this as much as we did; maybe you even learned a thing or two. At TMS Parts, y’all know we have a special place in our hearts for all things snowmobile. Take a peek at another recent blog we did featuring a handful of really cool vintage snowmobiles!
Beyond Paper Maps: The Best Snowmobile Apps for your Smart Phone
The tech-savvy snowmobiler knows that the days of paper maps are long gone. But there are plenty of more ways that your smartphone can make your riding life much easier. The Maps app on your phone can already give you an idea of where you can ride. However, these apps will give you an idea of so much more! If you want to see your trails in real-time and navigate your snowmobile through places you’ve never seen before, keep reading! We’re going to talk about all of the best snowmobile apps out there in 2019.
Our Favorite Snowmobile Apps of the Year!
Whether you’ve got an iPhone, Android device, or otherwise, you’re going to love these fantastic snowmobile apps. Each one offers something slightly different and has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the best snowmobile apps of the year.
OFSC Interactive Trail Guide
This app is a little more niche than the rest on our list, but if you’re looking for the best snowmobile trail map for Ontario, you’ve found it! The OFSC Interactive Trail Guide app is absolutely the best source for trails in Ontario, Canada. The app downloads several maps daily to keep you and your ride group constantly informed of all the opened and closed trails in the region.
There are more than 18,000 miles of trails in the province of Ontario. If you’re a Canadian citizen or an American visiting for the snowmobile vacation of a lifetime, the OFSC app is just what you needed. View real-time trail conditions, fuel stops close to your location, and plenty more!
Maybe you’re not an Ontario native, though. What are you going to use when you get back home? Sure, you’ve got your GPS app, but you can do even better. Well, luckily for our Canadian readers and our American readers, the Backcountry Navigator app covers 5 Canadian provinces and 27 U.S. states!
The Backcountry Navigator app has nearly 200,000 miles of trails in its database. There are thousands of numbered intersections and trails, and you can even search for the specific trail you’re looking for. Another great feature is that the app doesn’t require a WiFi or data connection that drains your battery. Backcountry Navigator works offline to save your battery life. You can even view previously downloaded maps while you’re offline. Conserve your battery life without ever getting lost!
Having an accurate weather app on your phone is important for day to day life. You want to know when you’re going to need that umbrella or pair of gloves before you leave the house. But if you’re out camping and riding, the 7-day forecast doesn’t mean so much. You need to know what weather is happening today, and where it’s happening.
One great way to keep up to date on the weather while you’re in the middle of it is with the RadarScope app. RadarScope shows you the weather radar in real-time. Watch how storms are moving around your camping area so you can know what to avoid and where to plan your rides during the day. If you love to get out into the wilderness and really experience it, RadarScope is an essential part of your tool kit.
Polaris Ride Command App
We’ve talked about a few really great apps, but perhaps our very favorite one is the Polaris Ride Command app for the iPhone and Android. Ride Command gives you the ultimate eagle’s eye view of your ride group. You can designate one of your riders as the leader, and every member will be able to see their exact GPS position. You’ll also be able to see the trail, and how you can go about getting back to them. The app even acts as a convenient portal for calling or texting the other members of your crew, and a way to invite even more members!
The Ride Command app will ask you to choose whether you’re looking for a snowmobile or ATV trail, and the rest is easy! You can record your trips and add waypoints so you never lose track of that awesome trail you didn’t plan on finding. The app also shows you points of interest and rest stops on your journey.
We already talked about a weather app, but if you like the minimalist approach to your phone, the Ride Command app has a weather function in it. It also allows you to register your ride group’s vehicles to see warranty information, keep maintenance records, and see the closest dealers to perform services on your snowmobiles.
We love all of these apps, but the Ride Command app really does it all!
Get Ready to Ride with Confidence with the Best Snowmobile Apps
You don’t have to ride blind into a storm when you go out for the afternoon. You don’t have to spend your week researching trails to have a safe ride, either. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your riding experience this season, you’ve found the right article! Take a look at each app’s website and find the perfect snowmobile app to make 2020 the best riding season ever!
The popularity of Snocross racing is on the rise, yet many people outside of the snowmobiling community still have yet to hear of it. Snocross has been around in an official capacity at least since the early 90s. However, it still hasn’t seen the same popularity as other extreme sports. Of course, people have been racing snowmobiles since they were first invented. Snocross goes beyond a simple contest of speed between sleds, though. If you’re looking for a new extreme winter sport to become obsessed with, let’s talk about what snocross racing really is.
How Does Snocross Racing Work?
First of all, what exactly is snocross racing? Snocross (a combination of motocross and snowmobiling) is competitive snowmobile racing. But it doesn’t involve typical snowmobiles or your average trail or racetrack. The main thing separating it from other traditional snowmobile racing events is the added complications of the track.
Racers push their way to the front at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. However, the race becomes even more intense as riders navigate the obstacles coming at them. These obstacles include jumps up to 30 feet tall.
The winner is generally the racer with the best holeshot. Check out this GoPro video of a racer in the world’s premier snocross series.
The Snocross Racing Sleds
Another defining feature of the sport is the sleds. Snocross racing involves high-performance racing snowmobiles which tend to be stock-class 600 sleds at the highest competitive levels. These snowmobiles are lightweight and handle exceedingly well. Most importantly, however, racers rely on a powerful engine and lightweight suspension system. This makes the machines able to carry riders through extreme conditions at top speed.
Taken to the Extreme
Chances are, even if you haven’t heard of snocross racing, you’ve heard of the X Games. The first annual event was held in 1995, announcing the arrival of an official extreme sports competition.
The X Games brought world-class athletes together to face off and compete for medals in front of a national audience. In 1998, snocross was established as an event in the games. From that point on, its audience only grew larger. In 2002, ESPN began providing live coverage of the Winter X Games, and the phenomenon was officially up and running.
Amsoil Championship Snocross
However, there are other snocross racing events, such as Amsoil Championship Snocross. Amsoil has been around longer and is currently “the premier snowmobiling racing organization in the world”. The X Games televised the sport and brought it into homes across the country. However, Amsoil Championship Snocross is the true center of the sport’s community and culture.
They host events and hold races at national and regional levels in classes for men and women. Levels range from a pro, pro lite, all the way down to the Stock 200 category for kids aged 6-12. If you want to find out more about watching or getting involved, take a look at their official rulebook regarding races.
Make Winter as Fun as Possible with Snocross Racing!
Do you love snowmobiling and want to take that experience to the next level? Maybe you’re an aficionado of dirt bikes and motocross and find yourself waiting for winter to end? No matter where you fall on the winter sports spectrum, it may be time to look into snocross racing.
Whether you’re watching a race on TV, or at a live event, or even participating, snocross could be the key to making this winter the most fun yet.
Around the holiday season, it’s easy to get worked up about the new snowmobiles on the block. They’ve got new electric starts, BlueTooth sound systems, and digital displays. They’ve got all the new gear to really turn heads. But nothing really turns heads like a classic, right? There’s just something about those old race sleds that takes you back. The shape, the sound of the motor – it all makes you think of the glory riding days of yesteryear. Let’s take a minute to walk down memory lane and look at 7 awesome vintage snowmobiles!
The 7 Best Vintage Snowmobiles Through the Ages
People like to say, “They don’t make them like they used to.” While we’re pretty big fans of all the innovations in making more efficient engines and safer sleds, seeing these old models definitely brings you back. How many of these classic sleds do you remember from the glory days?
1966 Arctic Cat Panther
The early Arctic Cat Panthers were legendary in many respects. The first reason for this being on our list is that this is one of the sleds that secured Arctic Cat’s place as a major snowmobile name. In the mid and late 1960s, Ski-Doo was the major name in the snowmobiling world. However, with the Panther, Arctic Cat began to break out from the pack.
Not only did we get a beautiful body from the Panther, but it also had a beautiful design. Fiberglass replaced heavy iron on the hood, shedding a lot of weight off the sled. It also featured slide rails instead of rollers inside the track. This snowmobile also had the engine placed in the front rather than the middle or back of the sled, giving riders weight where they needed it to help with traction. It was an innovative machine, and if you can believe it, beautiful, too.
1975 Ski-Doo TNT
Speaking of the big boys on the block, how about the 1975 Ski-Doo TNT? That’s not “TNT” as in “this sled is the bomb” (although it is), but actually Track n’ Trail. This sled was truly ready for it all. The first model of TNT was released in 1969, and this model persisted for over a decade.
Most notable about this snowmobile was the sleek, trimmed-down design. You can see a definite progression in design between the comparatively clunky Panther and the slimmer TNT, especially in regard to aerodynamics. This Ski-Doo really put its focus on great handling and performance.
1976 Yamaha SRX 340
At its inception, the SRX was meant for a single purpose: speed. This model was designed to go fast, make tight turns, and keep cruising until the 2.6-gallon gas tank ran dry. The sled had aluminum skis, a tachometer because the speedometer was optional, and no windshield. We’re talking bare-bones speed.
Something really special about the ‘76 edition, the SRX 340, was that this was the first Yamaha to use a liquid-cooled engine. While earlier models were released as great options for normal trail riding, the SRX 340 was only meant as a race sled. It did the job well.
1980 Polaris TXL Indy
In the earlier days of snowmobile riding, sleds were made for just that purpose – riding. Racing wasn’t as hot a spot as it is these days. We didn’t see many designs specifically for speed, but if you’re paying attention, you can see that those are some of our favorites. The Polaris TXL Indy was another one of these race sleds built to absolutely smoke the competition.
The Polaris TXL Indy featured great handling, sleek design, and really great suspension that made it easy to ride. You might often see in those days that factory racers could really only win on the sled they knew best. The TXL Indy was so well-rounded that just about anyone could hop on and start competing – and do it well.
1980 Yamaha Enticer
Okay, so we’ve talked about some race sleds, but those aren’t the only ones that matter to us. All snowmobiles are beautiful! So how about we take a look at one of the most well-rounded factory vintage snowmobiles from the glory days, the Yamaha Enticer!
It didn’t have the sharp angles of the race sleds or the intimidating front end. That’s because the Enticer didn’t need them. What the Enticer offered was a great entry-level sled that any Tom, Dick, or Harry could hop on and have a great time. It was designed for easy use, with an oil-injection engine and disc brakes, but it retailed for only $1,000 dollars when it first came out in 1977.
If you were a newer rider looking for something that you could enjoy without getting in too far over your head with mechanics, this was a perfect choice.
1982 Arctic Cat Jag
Around the early ‘80s, we start to see snowmobiles taking a much more familiar shape. One of our favorite sleds from this time is the Arctic Cat Jag. Its design was much closer to our contemporary ideas of how a sled looks, unlike its more boxy predecessors. The Jag had a windshield, speedometer, great rear suspension, and looked pretty, to boot.
While this wasn’t one of the top-tier sleds giving onlookers whiplash, it was a beautiful and solid machine. It was another great design from Arctic Cat that helped to keep them at the forefront of snowmobile design at the time.
1984 Yamaha Phazer
While they can’t all be winning race sleds, the Yamaha Phazer was definitely one of the winners. The Phazer’s cousin, the Enticer, was a great entry-level snowmobile. The Phazer, on the other hand, was what you would upgrade to once you got a taste for Yamaha engineering.
So what made the Phazer so slick? It’s all in that aerodynamic design. A pivoting headlight aided in safely making it through the course. The excellent IFS and long-travel rear suspension gave it incredible handling. The combination of the sled’s lightweight and the tapered body and running boards made it hard to keep up with on the snow.
Our Picks for the Best Vintage Snowmobiles
We’ve come a long way in the snowmobiling world. Personally, we’re pretty glad that a speedometer comes stock on your sled now. How else can you know if you’re feeding the need for speed?
But, ignoring our technological advancements, there’s just something about those old sleds. The clunky bodies, the work, and dedication we put into vintage snowmobiles… the falls and scrapes we took along the way. It was all part of the learning curve. Looking back on it now, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
In 1894 German inventors Heinrich and Wilhelm Hildebrand and Alois Wolfmüller invented the world’s first motorcycle in Munich. This first iteration of a motor bicycle was meant for ease of travel, and it performed the job well. Soon, though, riders began to have more and more fun with these motorcycles. They made different variations of street bikes, and eventually, offroad bikes. These early single-cylinder motorcycles quickly gained popularity and the world’s first motocross event was held Surrey, England in 1924. The rest is, as they say, history! But if you’re unfamiliar, here is the history of dirt bikes and motocross.
The History of Dirt Bikes
Motorcycles and the dirt bikes that evolved from them have been around for more than 100 years. Their history involves a rich tapestry of daring riders and innovative inventors.
Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach
Even before the Hildebrand brothers and Wolfmüller created the first motorcycle, another German inventing team created the Reitwagen. The Reitwagen, German for “riding car”, was actually much closer to what we would think of as a moped.
However, Daimler and Maybach were the first folks to create a gasoline-powered bike. Their original invention, created in 1885, set the stage for what would eventually evolve into the dirt bikes we know today.
The invention of the dirt bike that we love today is often attributed to German-born Siegried Bettmann. Bettmann founded a company who you may have heard of, the Triumph Motorcycle Company. Bettmann is also attributed as the first person to modify the road bikes invented by Daimer and Maybach in 1914.
Bettman modified his dirt bikes only slightly from the original design of the Reitwagen. It had a lowered frame to facilitate a lower riding position and had a semi-automatic lubricator. This did make the bikes a little better at handling rougher terrain than the first motorcycles. However, it would take a few more decades before we see the kinds of motocross bikes we know today.
Post World War II, motorcycles were seen as something only for the rougher crowd. There was no real popularity of motorcycles (or dirt bikes for that matter) among the civilian population. A young Japanese man by the name of Soichiro Honda wanted to change that.
Honda could easily envision a world where motorcycles were no longer just for thugs and troublemakers. That’s why he established Honda Motor Co., Ltd in 1948. Throughout the 1950s, the popularity of motorcycles surged in Japan, and soon abroad.
The bikes were incredibly popular. So much so that people didn’t want to just ride them on the streets anymore. They wanted a motorcycle they could take to the lake, down unpaved roads, and generally explore with.
Honda met this demand by making motorcycles with stronger suspensions to handle uneven roads. Additionally equipped with much larger tires with better tread patterns to grip the dirt and keep the bike steady. Honda was building off of the ideas of Bettmann. However, it was his motorcycle that was popular enough to warrant further innovation into off-road motorcycles.
Yamaha and the Dirt Bike Gold Standard
Honda did a lot to popularize the use of motorcycles by civilians who eventually took them off the streets. The Yamaha Motor Corporation took this rising popularity and solidified its presence in the public consciousness by perfecting its offroad use.
Yamaha released the DT-1 trail bike in 1968 and flew through its initial production of 12,000 models. It was the first motocross bike to truly fit into the frame of how we know them today. Yamaha improved upon Honda’s innovations by providing more ground clearance, block-pattern tires and more forgiving suspension.
The DT-1 would forever change the world of motorcycle racing by giving riders the real advantages they needed off-road. But where did motocross racing come from? Let’s take another step back.
The History of Motocross Racing
The term motocross is a portmanteau of the French word for motorcycle, motocyclette, and cross country. By its official definition, motocross is a form of racing for off-road motorcycles on enclosed, off-road circuits. Of course, just like the dirt bike itself, it took us a little while to get there.
The Early Years of Motocross Racing
The earliest forms of motocross racing weren’t actual races at all. The Auto-Cycle Union, the governing body of motorcycle sports in the U.K., was founded in 1901. In 1906, they began holding time trials where motorcycle riders would compete for the best times completing off-road obstacle courses. Racers would travel over various types of terrains for dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of miles. Of course, they were using the earliest motorcycles, which simply couldn’t cut it.
They were the first folks to begin trying to make these modifications to their bikes. Modifications that led to Bettmann’s innovative designs just a few years later! The early years of motocross racing is an important piece of the history of dirt bikes.
Competing for the best time and bragging rights wouldn’t be enough for these racers forever. Soon they were itching to take the next logical step: racing. This led to the first dirt bike races, referred to as “scrambles”, in Camberley, Surrey, England in 1924.
For the very first time, folks were using their motorcycles specifically designed to be taken off-road and racing them. Riders instantly realized this is what they were looking for. The sport remained very popular in England throughout the early 20th century. Motorcycle clubs continued to spawn and the sport was gaining a lot of popularity.
FIM Championships and the United States Introduction
The world motorcycle governing organization, the FIM, introduced the European Championship in 1952. This race featured 500cc bikes racing across varied terrains, and it became a yearly event. In 1962, the FIM’s World Championship featured 250cc dirt bikes which were much lighter and easier to ride. European motorcyclists began touring the United States in the mid-1960s, introducing the sport to enthusiastic Americans. They instantly fell in love.
Americans loved it so much they were quick to begin organizing their own events. The United States did not truly begin adopting the dirt bike until over half a century after it’s creation. However, we were the folks to hold the world’s very first motocross event at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972.
Dirt Bikes and Motocross Racing Today
That was all it took to get America hooked! Since this introduction and first motocross event, the popularity has never died down. Dirt bike racing was not an American invention, but now you can’t find a bigger fan base.
We are a nation that loves to push the envelope and stretch the imagination of what’s possible. The history of dirt bikes and motocross racing almost exclusively comes from a place of innovation. It’s no wonder we took to it so heavily and never looked back!
It’s officially the saddest time of the year: time to think about putting your bike into storage. For some of us in the sunniest states, it’s not something you need to worry about. For the rest of us living in a winter wonderland, storing your bike for the winter months is essential. There are a few schools of thought as to the best methods for winterizing a motorcycle. However, not all of these methods work equally well, and we want to dispel the myths. So if you’ve never done it before, or you want to see if you’ve been doing it right, here’s everything you need to know about how to winterize a motorcycle.
Simple Steps for Winterizing Your Motorcycle
Here are a few simple steps for winterizing your motorcycle. Follow along to give your bike the best protection until those temperatures start to rise again.
Keep Exposed Metal Safe – Take it Inside
The best advice will always be to keep your bike inside a temperature-controlled environment like a garage. The main reason for doing so is to protect against condensation. Condensation can cause corrosion and rust that will ruin the integrity of your motorcycle.
Of course, not all of us have access to a temperature-controlled garage. One great alternative is to rent a storage unit for your bike. Many are temperature-controlled. Even if it’s not, your bike is far better off sitting inside a storage unit than parked on the street with a tarp over it.
It’s going to save you from damage caused by condensation and one other thing. One of the biggest enemies to your stored motorcycle is going to be animals like field mice, rats, and more that are looking for a warm place to sleep. Keeping your bike inside doesn’t just keep the cold out, it keeps the critters out, too.
Using a motorcycle-specific soap, wash down your bike. Get off all the dirt, bugs, and other debris it’s been collecting this season. This is going to protect the paint while it’s sitting for a while. Make sure you put a fresh layer of wax over the painted surfaces for extra protection.
Likewise, you want to treat any exposed metal surfaces with polish for the same reason. You also want to treat any moving parts with lubricant. If your bike is going to be sitting for a few months, this will help it wake up and get rolling in the spring.
If you’ve got a chain-driven bike, don’t forget about that chain! Take your bike out for one last good ride and get the chain warm. Then when you’re ready to winterize your motorcycle, hit the chain with a fresh layer of lubricant. Doing this while your chain is still warm will help to move the lubricant throughout all of the pieces of the chain. Of course, this results in better protection from rust.
Winterize Your Fuel System
There are two methods for protecting your fuel system. The first is to simply empty your tank entirely. Left sitting for a long time, gasoline can turn into a dense sludge that your bike won’t be able to ignite. It can ruin your fuel tank and potentially your bike.
The second method is to fill your fuel tank and add some fuel stabilizer to the tank. You want to put your motorcycle into storage with the gas tank at about 90% full if you choose this method. This is going to prevent condensation from forming in your tank. Adding a fuel stabilizer and letting it run through your bike’s fuel system will keep your fuel fresh and healthy.
Fresh Oil and Filters
Nothing fancy here. You just want to be prepared for that first spring ride. Along with your fuel, you don’t want your old oil to get stale sitting around for a few months. You can prevent that from happening by changing your oil and filters. This is going to keep the inside of your engine happy and healthy.
Check Your Levels
To give your bike the full treatment, you really want to change your brake fluid, clutch fluid, and transmission fluid if your bike uses them. At the very least, you want to top off those levels to make sure your bike is ready for the first spring ride.
Remove the Battery
This is another simple one. You just want to remove your battery and make sure you store it in a cool, dry place. If you have an older battery, you might want to think about picking up a battery tender. That way you can make sure your battery keeps its charge over winter.
Keep Your Tires Protected From Flat Spots
When you finally winterize your motorcycle, it’s going to be in one place for a long time. During that time you want to take the stress off of your tires. Use a center stand (not your kickstand) to elevate your bike. Getting your tires off the ground will keep them from forming flat spots where it’s been sitting.
If you don’t have a center stand, put a rug or piece of plywood under your tires. This will help prevent those flat spots and will also keep your tires from absorbing moisture from the ground.
Winterizing Your Motorcycle For a Better Spring Ride
Winterizing your motorcycle can take some work. However, don’t focus on the work. Focus on how much easier it’s going to be getting back on the road in spring. If you properly winterize your motorcycle, getting it running when the weather gets warmer will be a snap. If you’re planning on doing a little early riding, make sure you check out our tips for winter riding and stay safe out there!