Brock: The biggest difference between dirt biking and snow biking is coolant temperatures, which is why we recommend installing accessories like the Timbersled thermostat kit to maintain coolant temp. The reason is that when water temperatures are low, the bike wants to over fuel, or run with the choke on. That will dilute the oil and you’ll need to change it more frequently.
Running in winter climates, there’s no dust in the air. The engine isn’t as likely to ingest dirt or dust as when you’re riding it as a dirt bike. Therefore, we typically remove the stock dirt filter and run a waterproof intake like the TSS air intake kit to keep snow and water out of the motor.
So, for the bike’s engine, as long as the coolant temperature stays where we need it, the longevity of the engine on a snowbike is the same or better than on a dirt bike because there’s no dust. With fresh oil, they hold up extremely well.
Brock: Chains are number 1. You need to keep the drive chain and chain case chain lubed and in proper adjustment. And we recommend that you replace the chains around every 75 hours. Plus, like a snowmobile, there are hi-fax on the slide rails, and you want to regularly check their condition. If you ride in hard-pack or icy conditions, we recommend that you use ice scratchers to lube the rails and extend the life of the hi-fax.
Dale: Yes, the bike needs to have the oil changed frequently. Running in winter temperatures, the engine runs so cold all the time, the bike never gets out of cold start mode, so they over fuel really bad and get fuel in the oil. So you do have to watch for that and you need to change the oil more frequently than in summer.
Brock: It’s always preferable to keep it inside, say, in a garage or shed. It will help the bike thaw out and will make inspection, maintenance, and starting easier. But it can be kept outside. I have been on multi-day trips and we have left them out overnight without issues. The weight of the engine oil is crucial for cold starting. It’s common that 10W-50 oil is the factory recommendation for many dirt bikes, but that’s thick oil in cold winter temperatures. So there’s a Timbersled 0W-40 oil that helps with cold starts. It lets the engine turn over faster in cold temps.
As long as you use the proper engine oil, you should do fine, whether you store your snowbike inside or not.
Brock: Snowbiking outerwear is a cross between snowmobiling and dirt biking gear. You need the protection – armor, knee guards, knee braces, chest protection, and stiff boot like a motocross boot – but you also need weatherproof and waterproof gear, especially on the exterior. Klim has snowbike-specific outerwear, including stiff boots that are insulated and waterproof. The Havoc series from Klim is designed specifically for snowbike riders. You’re on the seat when snowbiking more than when riding dirt bikes, and pants can really take a beating because of aggressive motocross seats. They are really hard on pants. Klim’s Havoc bibs, for one, have additional reinforcement in the seat to help combat that wear.
Dale: In the mountains, make sure you have proper avalanche safety gear – and carry it on your person, not your bike, so you always have it on your person if you get off to help dig someone out of an avalanche, or become separated from your bike. Try to find some free avalanche safety classes, which are offered by groups like the forest service. The worst thing is when people go up into the mountains to have a good time and have no avalanche experience or training.
Make sure you’re prepared. Everything has gotten so much better – snowmobiles and snowbike systems – that people are able to ride so much farther into the back country and so much higher. That increases the risk of avalanches, so you’ve got to be prepared. Carry your avalanche gear, and pack some basic tools to work on your bike because it’s a long walk out. Be prepared for the elements and the situation – and never ride alone in the mountains. Always get a buddy into the sport, too