Snowmobile Trail Conditions: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

snowmobiling on great trail conditions

Be Aware of Unsafe Snowmobile Trail Conditions So You Can Ride Safe

 

You probably don’t need a doctor to tell you that snowmobiling isn’t the safest sport. Just about everyone who’s been riding for a few years could tell you a story or two about getting hurt or getting close to it. Other people aren’t lucky enough to tell the tale. Snowmobiling is all about having fun, but part of having fun is staying safe. And part of staying safe is knowing how much of a risk is too much when it comes to determining whether or not your snowmobile trail conditions are safe or unsafe.

So what makes a trail unsafe? And how can you be sure that a trail is safe? It’s not just being a snow-covered trail system. There are all sorts of hidden aspects that can make your ride more dangerous than it needs to be. And being a responsible rider is knowing when to turn around. So let’s talk about some of those things that make snowmobile trail conditions unsafe.

 

snowmobiling on ungroomed trail conditions can be fun but possibly unsafe

 

The Rider and Snowmobiling Trail Conditions

 

First and foremost, we need to talk about the person on top of the snowmobile. Whether it’s you or someone you love, being safe means being prepared. The two biggest contributing factors to snowmobiling accidents are speed and alcohol consumption. You might be thinking “that sounds like the ingredients for fun”. Sure, until you end up wrapped around a tree.

Remember to never drink and ride. Don’t even drink beforehand. The alcohol is fine once you’re safely back home, but drinking during or before is going to cause your senses to be dulled, making you an unsafe rider. It’s no different than driving a car while intoxicated… and it’s equally as illegal and unsafe.

Also, think about how fast you’re going. I know, I’m starting to sound like that uncool teacher in high school now. But at the end of the day, you can never know the true conditions under the snow. Never barrel down a straightaway or take a corner at speed you know you couldn’t pull out of if things get hairy.

 

a beautiful scene of a gorgeous snowmobile trail in great condition

 

The Culprits Involved with Possibly Unsafe Snowmobiling Trail Conditions

 

There are a few things that are going to generally be what make your trails unsafe. Ice, water and ungroomed trails. But remember what G.I. Joe said, “knowing is half the battle”. Do your research before you head out and check your local trail reports. Your local trail report will have all of the information you need to determine where you need to go to ride safely.

 

ice can cause a snowmobile trail's conditions to be potentially very dangerous and unsafe

 

How Ice Affects Snowmobiling Trail Conditions

 

Snowmobilers fall through the ice every year. For some, it is fatal. This is why New Hampshire’s Fish and Game always advises that all ice-covered bodies of water should be considered potentially dangerous. We all know that you should check to see how thick ice is before you even consider riding on it. Follow NH’s lead; save yourself AND your snowmobile from the potential of falling through the ice.

But the problem with ice is that it is not completely uniform. Ice forms unevenly over the surface of the water. The thickness determined in one area of a lake or other body of water should not be taken to be completely indicative of the entire body of water. It could become paper thin at some points, and it’s going to spell disaster if you ride over it.

 

snowmobilers should be careful when riding near or on bodies of water, as they could be unsafe snowmobiling trail conditions

 

Water and Snowmobiling Trail Conditions

 

Water and ice seem to go hand in hand, and they do. But they can also be two completely different monsters. Water generally does not completely freeze in the winter as long as the body is large enough. When it’s covered in fresh snow and invisible to the naked eye, it can be extremely dangerous.

It is important to generally stick to snowmobile trails you know for this reason. Perhaps more importantly, its key to use trails that you know without snow, so take more hikes or rides on your favorite trails during the warmer season as well. It’s fun to go out into the wilderness and brace the elements. But that’s how you end up with your snowmobile in a ditch filled with water up to your waist that you didn’t know about.

Hypothermia is a very real danger that exists for snowmobile riders, so keep yourself safe, and know the signs. If you think you or someone else in your party might be suffering from hypothermia, it’s very important that you get that person to medical attention as quickly as possible.

 

ungroomed snowmobile trails can be fun, but if you are unfamiliar with an area, the trail condition could be bad

 

Ungroomed Snowmobile Trails

 

This is one that can apply even to trails that you know like the back of your hand. Trails of any kind, and especially snowmobiling trails, require grooming to keep them passable. If you’re from a region of extreme weather, you know how much this can affect the conditions of your favorite snowmobile trail.

Grooming can be as simple as flattening down a trail that people can easily identify. However, after rough weather, you might be dealing with a downed tree, dead animals, or anything else obstructing your path. This is why your speed is something you should always consider. We want to feel that rush when we’re going fast, but you can never know exactly what the condition coming down the trail and around the next turn will be.

When you keep your speed reasonable, you’re going to give yourself that extra time you need to react to the unexpected. So again, go ahead and check out those local trail reports before you get out there, but always keep your wits about you!

 

this rider is having a blast while snowmobiling on great trail conditions

 

The Risks and the Rewards of Various Snowmobile Trail Conditions

 

So there are some of the things that can make your snowmobile trail conditions dangerous, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. We don’t want to scare you away from your snowmobile forever (as if we could)… but keep these tips in mind to stay safe when you’re out on the trails.

The best ride is always going to be the one that gets you back home safely at the end of the day. If you want to discover some new snowmobile trails, check out our blog that features 25 of our favorites in the USA!

 

snowmobilers love the great outdoors and safe snowmobiling trail conditions


Snowmobile Repair Work You Can Do Yourself

snowmobile repair work that you can DIY makes you feel like this guy

Snowmobile Repair: Keep Your Sled in Good Condition Without the Mechanic Bills

 

Not every tiny setback with your snowmobile should have you running for the phone to call your local repair shop. In fact, in the middle of winter, you have to expect that your local shop is going to have a sizable backlog of snowmobile repair work on deck. So don’t let those long wait times deter you from taking care of your sled. In the long run, maintaining your snowmobile is going to take much less time, money and effort than repairing it will.

So before you let your sled break down, take a look at this list of snowmobile repair work that you can do for yourself at home.

 

Snowmobile repair work shouldn't keep you off the trails

 

Be Prepared to Take on Snowmobile Repair Work at Home

 

Before you get the toolbox out and have to deal with a pool of oil seeping across the garage, make sure you have the right knowledge for the job! Don’t start the work without your snowmobile’s correct repair manual. It’s going to tell you everything you need to know about making adjustments and handling regular maintenance or full-on repairs.

Also, when in doubt, check out YouTube! It’s a guarantee that you’re not the first person to experience whatever problem your sled has. It’s also a pretty safe bet that someone has taken the time to record themselves making that same snowmobile repair, or adjustment, and has uploaded their tutorial to YouTube. No matter how handy a person you are, it’s always good to have some reassurance that you’re making the right moves.

 

Before embarking on snowmobile repair work, so you can hit the trails like this guy, read through your manual.

 

Fluid Levels are Important

 

One of the most obvious things to do at home is the same thing you do with your car. Maintain those fluid levels. Regularly change your snowmobile’s oil according to the manufacturer guidelines. This is going to keep your sled happy and running healthy all season long. It will also minimize any snowmobile repair work you will need to tackle down the line.

You need to think about your chaincase oil, too. This also needs to be changed in with certain frequency and is every bit as important as your engine oil. Keep your drive train happy and healthy for a long time by following those helpful manufacturer guidelines.

Again, don’t go in blind if you don’t know what you’re doing! Check out trusted resources like this great tutorial on oil changes from snowmobile.com.

 

Keep on the trails like this guy and make sure your snowmobile repair work is minimized through regular maintenance

 

Adjust the Chain Tension

 

If you’re thinking about your chaincase oil, it’s probably a good idea to think about your chain tension as well. A loose chain is going to skip and possibly even grind on your sprockets. This can cause damage which is going to leave you in need of those professional snowmobile repairs.

Get Greasy!

 

Grease is the lifeblood of your snowmobile. Get some fresh grease in all the spots that need it: rear and front suspension, the steering components, and the drivetrain are all going to need it at certain intervals. Make sure to take a look around to see what it needs.

 

Snowmobile repair work can be done with basic tools like these wrenches.

 

Perform Regular Snowmobile Maintenance

 

Certain parts of your sled are going to wear down over time, like your bolts and fasteners. You also need to think about your clutches. Make sure to take regular looks at all of these components. Your clutches need to be cleaned periodically, and sometimes even rebuilt, but you’ll never know if you’re not keeping with a schedule. This might sound like a lot of work, but you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief when you don’t have to face those bills from the snowmobile repair shop.

 

Keep it Clean!

 

This might sound like a no-brainer, but we’ve all got that friend. The person with a sled that’s always covered in salt and mud and whatever else they’re picking up. While they might be going for that “battle-scarred” look, it’s not going to look as cool when their sled turns into a pile of corroded rust. You wouldn’t let your car go all winter without a trip to the car wash, so don’t submit your sled to that kind of torture!

 

Make an Inspection Schedule for Your Snowmobile

 

Some things don’t have specific end dates. Your hyfax and carbides are vital to the performance of your sled, but you can’t just say they need to be replaced every X amount of miles. Make a schedule for yourself to routinely check out the health of your hyfax and carbides.

Inspect your lights as well. Headlights and tail lights might not be something we typically think of as needing repairs, but it’s something your snowmobile needs in order to be safe. You don’t want to be riding home at sunset and find out that one or both of your headlights are out.

 

Is your snowmobile in need of repairs or are you taking care of things at home so you can ride like this guy?

 

Lots of Snowmobile Repair Work Can Be Done By You

 

With the right knowledge, there’s no need to take your snowmobile into the shop for professional hands (and professional bills) for every little thing. Not to mention the season is only so long, and you want your sled to spend as much time on the trails, and at as many snowmobiling events, as possible.

Some repairs and maintenance are easy enough to do at home. Save yourself some cash this season and take matters into your own hands!

Purchasing a Used Snowmobile: A Buyer’s Guide

The best used snowmobile is out there for you. You just need to find it!

Looking to Invest in the Best Used Snowmobile?

 

There are so many reasons to buy a used sled over a new one. Maybe you’re getting your kids their first ride. Maybe you’re looking for a beater when you want to go on those rough rides, or maybe you’re just on a budget.

No matter what the reason is for buying your snowmobile used, there are some important things to keep in mind before you write that check. Just like buying a pre-owned car, buying a pre-owned sled isn’t something you do without a little know how. And of course, you want to land the best used snowmobile possible.

 

Know Your Used Snowmobile Budget Ahead of Time

 

Obviously, you want to know how much money you have to throw around for this investment. Sleds aren’t cheap, especially if they’re some of the best used snowmobiles on the market. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the price of the sled isn’t the only thing to consider. Beyond what you’re shelling out for the snowmobile, you also need to think about what other costs might come up.

Think oil changes, spare parts, tune-ups. There are lots of little factors like this that can really add up if you’re not careful, even when it comes to landing the best used snowmobile for the price. Maybe you’re buying your used snowmobile as a project. In that case, you’re probably already thinking about these factors. But if you’re buying it to start riding this season, make sure you take some time to mull over those extra expenses. When you go to see your potential new, pre-owned snowmobile, try to get an idea of what those additional expenses are going to be and factor that into your budget.

 

The best used snowmobile depends on a lot of factors. Make sure you understand them all.

 

Unfortunately, there’s no real rule of thumb with these additional figures, but use your common sense with what you already know about snowmobiles and what it costs to repair them. If this is your first snowmobile, take a buddy with you who has an idea of what it might cost to get your sled in riding condition.

Consider becoming part of a snowmobile club to gain some additional knowledge (or even a buddy) on these costs. Not every snowmobile is the same, and widening your pool of knowledge will only be a good thing.

Explore Your Options When Searching for the Best Used Snowmobile for Your Style

 

How can you ensure you're buying the best used snowmobile for your needs?

 

Whether you want a Ski-Doo, Polaris, Arctic Cat, or any other kind of sled, just make sure you truly know what you want. Ask your friends what brands they like best, and more importantly, what brands they like least. Also, what do you want to use it for? Is this a mountain sled or a trail sled? Again, know what you want!

When you figure out what brand and/or what model you’re looking for, do some research on which one is considered the best used snowmobile and why. Read up on the brand’s website. Perhaps more importantly, check out a forum.

Online forums for snowmobiles are full of unsolicited opinions from people who just want to talk about what they like and what they don’t like. You should also consider making your own post, listing your budget and what you’re looking for in an ideal, used snowmobile.

Snowmobilers are a great group of people (and their snowmobiling memes prove it) who want to make sure you’re out there having fun. They don’t want you getting hosed by a snake oil salesman.

 

Take a Look at the Exterior of the Used Snowmobile

 

The best used snowmobile will make you feel like you received a huge value for your hard earned dollars.

 

What’s on the outside is usually pretty indicative of what’s on the inside. Take a look at the tunnel and the body for any bending or warping. Check out the skis. Are they worn or missing any carbides? Inspect the spindles for any looseness. Also, test that suspension. Don’t be afraid to get on top and shake it around a little bit. If it’s supposed to be the best used snowmobile out there, it can take it.

Lift the skid and rotate the track. Look out for worn lugs or clips and make sure the sliders are in good shape. Any of this can be fixed, but it’s all going to add to your budget, so the fewer problems the better.

If you don’t feel particularly confident in your ability to know where to look and what to look for, watch this quick video to get some ideas of where to start and what to do.

What’s Under That Hood?

 

The two people riding this used snowmobile made sure to do their due diligence before purchasing it.

 

Now comes the moment of truth. The way the engine and mechanics work should be your telltale sign of whether or not this sled is worth investing your time and money into. Give the engine and clutches a look for leaks. Also, check to see if they’re clean. If the engine looks dirty and not very well taken care of, this is a clue as to how well it was taken care of.

A great test is to just start her up. Let the engine run for 10 minutes or so and listen to how it sounds. It should rev evenly while it’s on. Peaks and valleys in the sounds are an indicator that the engine is going to need some work.

Look at the oil and keep your eye out for sludge. This is a sign that it’s been sitting a while, and again, a sign that it needs work. Also, inspect the rest of what you can see easily on the outside for mechanics and electric. Check that the gauges work and that the brakes are responsive and function properly. This is how you’re going to get a good idea of how much extra money you need in your budget, especially if you love the brand but the one you’re considering isn’t the best used snowmobile you’ve ever come across. Sometimes inventory can be tight when it comes to preowned sleds.

Most importantly, run a compression test and see for yourself how healthy that engine is.

Ask Questions!

 

You can bet this guy didn't buy his pre-owned snowmobile without asking a bunch of questions first.

 

This is the most crucial part of the process! You’re going to get vital information by asking questions from your seller.

 

Keep these questions in mind:

  • How many owners has this sled had?
  • Has it ever been in a wreck?
  • Where do you ride?
  • How many miles are on it?
  • When was the last oil change?
  • Was it transported on an open or closed trailer?
  • How has it been stored?
  • Are there any current problems with it?

 

While they don’t have carfax for snowmobiles, one thing you can do is to google the VIN number. It might not be able to tell you every detail, but you should be able to find out where it came from. If sleds are ever totaled, a lot of times they end up in an auction house, and a little bit of research should be able to tell you that much.

 

Shop Smarter When on the Hunt for the Best Used Snowmobile

 

No matter what your riding destinations or track lengths, the best used snowmobile is out there for you!

But don’t pay out every dime you own just to save yourself on the sticker price. There are used sleds out there that are more trouble than they’re worth. So keep these tips in mind when you’re out there looking for a new ride.

Funny Snowmobile Memes That You Have to Check Out

funny snowmobile memes you have to check out

Funny Snowmobile Memes Are The Best!

No one is funnier than a snowmobiler. Come on, it’s safe, you can admit it!

But if you don’t believe us, check out these super funny snowmobile memes and let us prove that nothing makes you more hilarious than riding a snowmobile until you turn into a popsicle.

Summer Sucks

Save this one to send to your buddy this summer when he starts saying he can’t wait for it to be winter. We get it. We feel the same way, bud.

 

funny snowmobile memes - summer sucks

 

Complain About Winter

I don’t get how anyone could hate winter. If you don’t like the cold, maybe you should consider a change of scenery. Because while you’re complaining about the cold, I’m thinking about carving through the fresh powder until my face turns red.

 

funny snowmobile memes - complain about winter

 

Follow Your Heart, Bring Your Brain

Here’s another good one to send your sledding buddy. Maybe not anybody, but that one special friend you’ve got. You know, the one who likes to leave the house with his brain still sitting in the jar on the mantle.

 

funny snowmobile memes - follow your heart, take your brain

 

Hokey Pokey

Bet you didn’t think you’d be practicing your dance moves when you left the house this morning, did ya?

Well, it’s time to show the kids how you got mom to say yes, by showing her your funky dance moves. Who could deny this?

 

funny snowmobile memes - hokey pokey

 

Memories Aren’t Made Playing Video Games

Speaking of the kids, here’s a snowmobile meme about them!

They might have access to every sled and fancy rider in the world on their video game, but it’s never going to beat getting on your Arctic Cat or Ski-Doo and making some real-life memories with mom or dad.

When you get out there this year, don’t forget to bring the kids along with you!

 

funny snowmobile memes - memories are made

 

Love is a Snowmobile

Matt Groening, the creator of everybody’s favorite yellow family, The Simpson’s, has some… er… unique ideas about love and snowmobiles.

Maybe I don’t understand this one because I’m not married. By the way, if you ask your wife if this is true and she says yes, I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

 

funny snowmobile memes - love is a snowmobile

 

Let’s Have Some Snow

Those October and February feelings… Almost time to get out there, but not quite. But you’re done waiting! We understand. When we’re talking about a lack of snow, that’s a serious problem.

 

funny snowmobile memes - let's have some snow

 

I Fear Nothing… Except for Hidden Fences

Even a person with nothing to fear has an Achille’s Heal. Remember to stay on the marked trails and stay out of trouble!

There, now we can officially say that we tried to warn you. What you do from here is on you.

 

funny snowmobile memes - hidden fences

 

Addictive

Clearly, a person on drugs doesn’t have a snowmobile. No, because if they had a snowmobile they wouldn’t need drugs. And if they had a snowmobile, they wouldn’t have money for drugs. Either way, Just Say No to drugs.

Anyway, have you seen the new models this year? I feel like the one I got last year isn’t good enough anymore. Maaaaaybe it’s time to get another.

 

funny snowmobile memes - addictive like drugs but much healthier

 

Rather Be Lost In the Woods

Your house is your home base, but where’s the fun in life without a little exploration? Besides, worst case scenario, that’s what they have search parties for, right?

 

funny snowmobile memes - lost in the woods

 

My Horsey

You probably know someone on social media who is always talking about how much they love their dogs or their horse, or their kids. Who says snowmobile riders aren’t caring, empathic, individuals?

We’ve got plenty of love and affection to give. Our animal just makes a slightly different noise than yours does.

 

funny snowmobile memes - my horsey

 

Just Proof of What We Already Know About Snowmobilers

See, I don’t need to tell you that snowmobilers are the funniest people out there. You already knew that.

But if you’ve got a motocross or motorcycle rider in your life who can’t stop complaining about not being able to ride, show them these funny snowmobile memes. Maybe you can finally get out for a ride with you.

And maybe they’ll find a sense of humor in the whole experience. But listen, we can’t guarantee anything. It’s just a phenomenal idea.

Prescription Snowmobile Goggles: the Pros and Cons

Should you invest in prescription snowmobile goggles or not?

Should You Invest in a New Pair of Prescription Snowmobile Goggles, or Stick with Your Traditional Pair?

When you’re out riding your snowmobile, or even skiing or snowboarding this season, part of doing it safely is making sure your vision correction game is still on point.

If you don’t already know, prescription snowmobile goggles are available to help the vision impaired riders out there who want an all in one solution on the trails. Now if you haven’t used prescription goggles in the past, you’ve probably got some questions and concerns. So before you go out to buy a set of prescription goggles, let’s talk about some of the benefits and also the drawbacks.

 

snowboarder using prescription goggles while shredding powder

 

Reasons to Stick to Your Non-Prescription Snowmobile Goggles

We won’t pretend that prescription snowmobile goggle lenses or goggle inserts are for everybody. First off, let’s talk about some of the reasons people don’t like prescription goggles.

 

snowmobile rider wearing a pair of prescription snowmobile goggles on a trail

 

Prescription Snowmobile Goggles Can Be Costly

 

Cost is by far the most obvious barrier to buying a set of prescription snowmobile goggles. There’s already such a high cost associated with riding –  from maintaining your snowmobile to getting the right gear to travel expenses to snowmobiling events – that you might not want to deal with something that could be considered superfluous.

Not everybody has the extra cash to buy a new pair of prescription snowmobile goggles in addition to all of the other expenses that come with the sport. In fact, this especially rings true when you’ve already got a pair of glasses or contact lenses that you use every day to correct your vision.

It might not be something you can fit into your budget. It also might not be something you want to fit into your budget. That is totally legitimate!

 

Prescription Snowmobile Goggles Don’t Fit Your Style

 

This might sound like a silly reason to some people, but at the end of the day, we get it. Some people just don’t like how prescription goggles look. Or maybe you just like the look of the goggles you already have. Perhaps you have some sentimental attachment to them. All of these are valid reasons to stick with the ones you have that work for your needs.

When it’s you and your wits out there in the elements, battling the cold and the tough terrain, you might end up feeling like you’ve got a lucky pair of goggles.

Whatever the reason may be, it’s yours. Check out one man’s solution to not wanting to buy a set of prescription goggles.

 

Prescription Snowmobile Goggles Create More Headaches Than They’re Worth

 

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution. Just wear your contacts and don’t worry about investing in prescription snowmobile goggles. When you’re wearing your contacts you don’t need to worry about being uncomfortable. You’re used to them and happy with how your current goggles fit and protect your eyes.

When people ask the question, “Should I get prescription glasses?”, more often than not you’re going to see a lot of people advocating for just wearing a pair of contacts.

 

Two snowmobile riders using regular goggles as opposed to prescription snowmobile goggles

 

Reasons to Make the Switch to Prescription Snowmobile Goggles

For as many people as there are out there who think contacts are the best solution, there are just as many people who find using contact lenses irritating. Some people have naturally dry eyes, and some people just don’t like touching their eyes! These are also valid reasons to want to try out prescription snowmobile lenses, so let’s see what people have to say in favor of making the switch.

 

Prescription Snowmobile Goggles Offer Comfort

 

One of the biggest reasons people invest in prescription snowmobile goggles is that regular goggles simply are not designed to have your glasses fit under them comfortably.

If you saw the youtube video we linked above, you know that you can customize your goggles. That being said, if you have a really nice pair of goggles, you probably don’t want to go cutting into them.

You might not do it right, and in the end, your glasses are still prone to moving and slipping around inside your goggles. This can just be more trouble than it’s worth.

 

snowmobile rider who isn't using prescription snowmobile goggles

 

Prescription Snowmobile Goggles are Designed for Riders

 

In addition to being made to fit perfectly, prescription snowmobile goggles are also designed specifically for the conditions you’re going to be riding in. We all know that going from our cozy spot by the fire out into the elements is going to make your glasses fog up.

This happens because of the difference in temperature from your warm skin and the cold lenses. The closer your glasses are to your face, the more they’re going to fog up. And if your glasses are pressed tightly to your face by your goggles, it’s going to happen more frequently. And we don’t need to tell you why riding blind, or impaired, is a bad idea!

 

snowboarded kneeling at the top of a lift

 

Save the Wear and Tear on your Every Day Goggles

 

We all know that spills and accidents happen to even the most experienced rider. But if you’re twenty miles from home and you break your glasses, you’re going to be up a creek with a paddle. You wouldn’t wear your good glasses to play basketball, so why risk them when you’re out riding the trails?

Prescription snowmobile lenses are made to withstand the rough and tough winter rides. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has broken a pair of glasses doing far less than going out for an all-day run with friends and family. Don’t be that person with the duct tape on your glasses bc you took a spill and they broke under your goggles.

 

guy riding a snowmobile wearing prescription snowmobile goggles

So What’s The Verdict on Prescription Snowmobile Goggles?

 

Well, there are plenty of reasons to sway you one way or the other on this debate. Cost, comfort, and style are just the tip of the iceberg. But if you have the means, it’s probably worth checking out if prescription snowmobile goggles are right for you. For plenty of people who have made the switch, it’s been a revolution in the way they ride!

Motorcycle Ice Racing is Not Just A Fad

excited guys participating in motorcycle ice racing

The Need for Speed Doesn’t End in Winter – Enter Motorcycle Ice Racing

 

When we think about motorcycles, we tend to think about cruising down the highway in the summertime. The weather is hot, the sunlight hours are long, and the wind whipping by doesn’t hurt your face yet.

But any real gearhead knows that the need for speed doesn’t end when the snow starts falling and the wind is more punishing than forgiving. Wintertime is great for motorcycle ice racing and it’s not just a fad.

The cold weather is almost egging you on, don’t you want to take a ride? Better yet, don’t you want to race? Every rider knows that feeling of the itch you can’t scratch, and this is nothing new.

That’s why when Jack Frost comes to visit you can still see those dedicated racers hitting the frozen tracks with studded tires, kicking up the ice and having a great time. Motorcycle ice racing is one of the most exhilarating ways to feed the speed demon that lives inside of all of us.

 

tracks on the lake from motorcycle ice racing

 

So you know a little about motorcycle ice racing, but you’re curious and want to know more. Great! We’re here to share more about the sport’s long history in Europe, the racers in America, and why it’s definitely NOT a passing fad.

Motorcycle Ice Racing in Europe and the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme

 

The FIM is the global sanctioning body for motorcycle racing, governing races and organizations in six continents and over 100 countries. They were founded in Paris, France all the way back on December 21st, 1904 (happy belated 114th birthday!). The headquarters have moved several times and currently reside in Mies, Switzerland.

The first records of putting bikes on the ice happened in 1924 in Switzerland. Racetracks were made on frozen lakes with many of the same rules and regulations as Speedway racing. The bikes used studded tires to grip into the ice just like they would on a dirt track.

The first official motorcycle ice racing competition put on by the FIM was held in 1939 in Moscow. After the second world war, ice racing started to gain traction all across Eastern Europe. The first international competitions began to be held in the late 1950s.

The races used 500cc Speedway bikes, but eventually, new classes were added to the competition: 125cc, 350cc, and sidecar (because everybody has that friend who needs to be close to the action). The first FIM Ice Racing Cup was held in 1963. A Russian rider took the championship, and the Soviets dominated the sport for many years.

 

motorcycle ice racer holding a cup filled with snow

 

While the Europeans may have led the way in sanctioning these events, the North Americans weren’t far behind. And of course, they had to put their own spin on it.

 

Motorcycle Ice Racing in America

 

The American Motorcyclist Association is the governing body for American races, and it’s very similar to its European counterpart. The real difference in AMA racing is the type of bikes.

FIM races use Speedway bikes, which tend to have two-speed gearboxes and do not have front brakes. AMA races, on the other hand, feature motocross, or dirt bikes, but use the same studded tires to grip into the ice.

AMA races run on counter-clockwise oval tracks, as well as GP-style road courses that have both left and right turns. Turning can be pretty difficult in these environments, which is why spikes in the tires fan all the way out to the side. Riders can lean into turns, nearly scraping the surface of the ice. Check out this YouTube video to see just how incredibly low these racers can go.

The AMA holds yearly events called the Ice Race National Championship. There is a huge variety of events and races that happen. The motorcycle ice racing competitions are for riders as young as four years old and up. Vehicles in the competition range from lightly modified bikes and ATV’s to fully custom-built ice racers.

In 2019, the Championship Race will be held in Wisconson on January, 20th. There will be a 3-hour endurance race, as well as shorter 30-minute circuits for younger competitors.

Also, motorcycle ice racing has even become part of the yearly X-Games competition. Check out these Harley riders talking about riding and competing!

 

sun setting over a lake that is perfect for motorcycle ice racing

 

Motorcycle Ice Racing is Not Just a Passing Craze

 

It seems like almost as quickly as humans invented the motorcycle, we started racing them. We look for the thrills of death-defying speeds and being crowned the fastest seems as natural as the sky being blue and the grass being green.

As motorcycle riders, we’re always going to be a little on the fringe of the mainstream. We might not have the numbers that NASCAR does, but don’t let anyone tell you that all of this is going to just blow over. Racing bikes, on land or on the ice, is here to stay!

Finally, it’s important to realize that motorcycle ice racing is just about as safe as riding in the summer on the road, and twice as fun! So look out for those kooky riders hauling their bikes to the lake this winter, because there’s no reason the fun has to stop when the roads aren’t safe.

10 Important Motorcycle Tips for Winter Riders

winter riders like this gentleman need to understand the safest ways to enjoy their bike

Top 10 Safety Tips for Winter Riders

Sometimes, your motorcycle is too much to ignore. We’re looking at you winter riders!

For some people, no matter the season, sunny or not, you just have to jump on that bike and ride! But riding in the winter is a bit trickier from the other seasons.

Suddenly, winter hits. Slow speeds, heavy set mud, and deep snow can make the motor work much harder than it might during the summer. There is also the threat of cold, slushy water crashing around your bike components and corrosive salts that can spread rust quicker than you can blink.

This winter, let us supply you with the tools and helpful tips to keep you, winter rider, and your bike in top shape.

 

a snowy road like this one might be great for a snowmobile, but not a winter rider on a bike

 

10 Ways to Keep Winter Riders Safe on the Roads

 

1 – Make Sure You Can Ride this Winter

 

Before you even begin to start swinging on your winter gear, ask yourself one question. Is riding during the winter even legal where you live or where you want to ride?

Check with local authorities about any and all laws that could keep you off the road this winter. Some states require winter traction tires that are installed within a specific set of dates. Some won’t allow you on the road at all during winter, and some won’t have any specified winter riding regulations at all. It’s best to check before you make travel plans.

 

2 – Wear the Right Motorcycle Gear for Winter

 

Riding comfortably is a smart move for any winter rider. However, wearing layers (i.e. full leg and full sleeve) is key. While riding, we sweat, even in the winter time, and having base layers can help save you from having an uncomfortable ride.

Base layers allow the skin to breathe, even with other layers over them. These pieces of gear allow the sweat to evaporate instead of turning to cold perspiration on the body. When it comes to outerwear, you’re going to want something that’s breathable and waterproof. Pair it with gloves that give you the proper grip, strong control, and safer mobility for steering.

And along with layering, it’s incredibly important that you add heated motorcycle gear and grips to your riding wardrobe to avoid frostbite when the temperature drops. There are warmer winter days, depending on where you live, but if you are in a classic winter climate – snow or no snow – you really need to invest in heated gear. Frostbite is not worth the risk.

 

3 – The Winter Rider’s Right Type of Helmet

 

We all know the drill. To ride safely, you need a helmet.

For the winter season, you want to consider helmets specifically made to combat colder elements. You want to look for a tightly-sealed helmet with a fog-free face shield to keep your vision clear from the outside temperatures. A bright reflector is another smart investment in your winter gear. This prevents any mist or condensation from collecting under your visor. Anything blocking your vision needs to be changed to be able to see clearly on some icy roads.

 

4 – Your Motorcycle is Properly Prepped and Prepared

 

Here’s the thing: motorcycles aren’t necessarily made for the winter months. This means you need to continuously make sure it’s running in tip-top shape.

Start by checking on the coolant that’s running in your radiator. Is there a proper amount of coolant? Is there enough Antifreeze to keep the bike going? What the lowest temperature the engine on your bike can stand? Can the electrical system of your bike handle the cold?

These are all things you need to ask yourself before you adventure out into the chill.

 

winter riders bikes can become covered in snow during a pit stop like these bikes are

 

5 – Keep an Eye on Your Tires

 

Remember, cold weather = cold tires. Now that should be obvious. In the winter, it’s vital to keep this in mind. When your tires get cold, it gives the bike limited traction. Riding does help increase heat in the tires, but every stop you make can quickly have them cooling down as well. When they start to cool down, remember to take it slow. Make sure you have adequate tread on your tires for winter riding, that way when are forced to slow down on the bike you still have all the control.

Another helpful tip; check your tire pressure before every ride. Extreme drops in temperature affect the tire pressure.

And we have a helpful blog you should read that talks about when to replace your motorcycle tires.

 

6 – Keep Your Eyes on the Road

 

Snow means salt, plow trucks, and black ice on the roads, so keep your eyes peeled! Salt that’s laid down for the ice can destroy the metal on your bike and ruin the traction. Avoid any crystalized appearances on the road. Motorcycles aren’t designed for winter riding, so they can quickly succumb to rust if you don’t keep your bike clean. Plow trucks can destroy roads, creating new cracks and potholes. And as for black ice? Always avoid it at all cost.

 

7 – Know when it’s Time to Go Home

 

The worst thing you can possibly do is to drive your bike through a snowstorm.

A few flurries are one thing, but being caught in a snowstorm is another. When the snow starts coming down harder, visibility reduces drastically to almost nothing. It will be harder to see the road in front of you and even harder for others to see you down the lane.

When you see that the snow has started coming down, it’s time to turn your bike around and head back home and save your ride for another day.

 

8 – Winter Riders Need to See and be Seen

 

Speaking of visibility, whether the weather gets a little rougher or the sun starts to set, make sure you’re still seen. Having on a reflector vest can help make sure that cars see you coming. Sometimes it’s not the road you have to watch out for, it’s the people around you driving that you need to keep an eye on.

 

winter riders enjoy scenery that you won't find in the summer months, but riding in the snow is something you shouldn't do

 

9 – Slow it Down

 

Part of the fun of a motorcycle is the speed; we get that. But when you’re handling ice, it’s a bit of a different story and not a combo worth trying.

Take it easy on the road.

Speed and black ice don’t mix; regardless of the road conditions, it’s crucial that you drive safely to avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else. That is something we want to avoid at all costs.

 

10 – Check the Weather Before you Travel

 

The easiest, safest thing you can do for yourself is to check that weather before you head out the door. Keep an eye on the weather patterns before you even step outside. It will save yourself a headache and also the chance of ruining your plans.

By keeping ahead of the weather and being smart about it, that guarantees a great ride.

 

a motorcycle outside in the snow, like this one, can strand a winter rider

 

Bring on Winter Riders!

 

Sometimes you can’t avoid the call of your machine, and we get you, winter rider.

Winter doesn’t stop that drive and why should it? We want you to enjoy that beast whenever and wherever you want to travel. Snow won’t stop you and neither will we.

Just be safe, be smart, and go for it!