Ronnie Renner rides a snowbike in Idaho
© Drew Stoecklein

The complete guide to snowbiking and how you can get involved

From conversion kits to picking powder lines, here’s our full guide the craziest new sport to enter the world of action sports – snowbiking!
Written by Adam Simpson
9 min readPublished on
The sport of snowbiking is growing fast and is starting to attract serious attention from action sports athletes and fans alike. Often seen as the younger, more hyperactive cousin of the snowmobile, snowbikes bring with them a whole new breath of creativity and almost limitless potential, leaving everyone waiting with bated breath to see just how far this exciting new sport can be pushed in the coming years.
From epic backcountry freeriding to fast moto-style racing and insane freestyle contests, snowbiking has quickly developed various disciplines that attract a range of talented athletes from across the world of action sports. Each of these disciplines is progressing fast, with riders constantly pushing the limits as they figure out the full potential of what is possible on a snowbike.
MTB legend Darren Berrecloth is a big fan of snowbikes

MTB legend Darren Berrecloth is a big fan of snowbikes

© Red Bull

After a slightly rocky start with some very home-made equipment, big developments in snowbike technology have opened the floodgates for progression in recent years, allowing riders to truly master these mysterious machines and develop a level of control on the snow never thought possible.
Born in the Idaho backcountry, but now with riders from Europe, Japan, USA, Canada and more getting involved in snowbiking, it is only a matter of time before we see this sport take its next big steps into the unknown.
Here’s our 411 guide to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about the crazy world of snowbiking.

What is a snowbike?

Alvaro Dal Farra's Kawasaki Magnet

Alvaro Dal Farra's Kawasaki Magnet

© Davide Dal Mas

A snowbike is essentially a cross between a snowmobile and a motocross bike. Comprising of a standard dirt bike frame, engine and suspension, snowbikes simply have the wheels removed and replaced with a single ski on the front and a specially designed snowmobile-style track on the rear, making them ready for anything the mountain can throw at them.

How can I acquire a snowbike?

Snowbikes are not yet something that you can walk into a store and buy like you can with snowmobiles or dirt bikes. The good news for anyone who wants their own snowbike however, is that snowbike conversion kits are now available to purchase from companies such as Timbersled or MotoTrax, allowing you to turn your dirt bike into a snowbike in your own garage in a matter of hours. You can of course convert the bike back to wheels and hit the dirt as soon as the snow melts too!
Darren Berrecloth rides a snowbike

Darren Berrecloth powering through the powder

© Red Bull

When it comes to deciding what type of track system you have on your snowbike you have two main options: long track or short track. Long tracks work better for racing and backcountry freeriding, whereas the new-school short track systems are better for freestyle, as they make going up-side down and performing backflip tricks much easier.

What does a snowbike offer that a snowmobile doesn’t?

The two main attributes that differentiate a snowbike from a snowmobile are weight and manoeuvrability. Unlike snowmobiles, snowbikes are lightweight and nimble, making them much easier to weave through tight tree lines, scale steep terrain and handle more technical jumps. It also means that in the bike is way easier to throw around in the air than the big snowmobiles and slightly less devastating should it land on you in the unfortunate event of a crash.
Reagan Seig tearing it up on the snowbike

Reagan Seig tearing it up on the snowbike

© Will Wissman / Red Bull Content Pool

The ability to lean the bike over also makes a big difference to the way they ride, as this offers riders way more control of the machine and improves your cornering ability no end.
A narrower body has also made it a lot easier for freestyle motocross riders to transfer their tricks to the snowbike and will make it much better for more technical tricks in the future.

Who’s leading snowbike progression?

As you might expect, snowbiking has drawn in athletes from both the snowmobile and motocross worlds, as well as those from further afield.
With perfect crossover in terms of rider skills and mechanical compatibility, motocross riders seem to be perfectly suited to lead the way in all disciplines of snowbiking. From moto legends like Robbie ‘Maddo’ Maddison, Ronnie Faisst and Reigan Seig, through to the new kids on the block like Axell Hodges and top level competitors like Rob Adelberg and Jackson strong, many FMX and motocross riders have found their way to the forefront of this wild new winter sport.
Robbie Maddison on a snowbike

Robbie Maddison on a snowbike

© Wyatt Caldwell / Red Bull Content Pool

With the likes of Robbie Maddison, Ronnie Renner and snowbike legend Reigan Seig exploring the mountains and pushing the limits in the webisode series Powder Hounds, the freeride side of snowbiking has been thrust into the limelight, showing viewers just how far the backcountry aspect of the sport has come and what the future may hold.
“It’s cool to be able to push these bikes to their limit and see what they’re capable of.” says Maddo whilst riding snowbikes for the first time in Idaho, “ We’re all progressing this sport and this concept and we want to inspire other people to come out and try this. It’s the best fun I’ve had on my bike.”

8 min

Powder Hounds: Episode 1

The history of snow bikes and progressing the sport into new locations.

Another ex-FMXer to join the snowbike party is Italy’s Alvaro Dal Farra. The Daboot FMX Team owner and former Red Bull X-Fighters rider & judge converted his notorious Kawasaki 450 Magnet bike for the winter of 2017 and got some dream access to the parks, the pistes and the powder in the Dolomite mountains.
“Riding these snow bikes reminded me of riding dirt bikes in sand. Out in the dunes you have to keep your weight back and not let off – it’s definitely the same principle on the snow bikes” Alvaro explains. “I’m sure that if anyone ever has a go on one of these they’ll be thrilled. It will instantly make you will want to expand your moto passion to the snow.”
Having fallen in love with his new snowbike, Alvaro has been getting more and more of his Daboot FMX Team riders to cross over for the winter months and join him in the Dolomite mountains on their dirt bikes.
But it’s not just moto riders that are getting into Snowbikes. It turns out MTB team rider Darren Berrecloth, a long-time avid snowmobile rider, has recently made the switch to snowbikes as part of his new winter MTB training program!
“The relationship from the mountain bike to the snowbike is straight across” says Berrecloth, “Body reaction, timing, hand-eye coordination – it’s all so similar.”
The Red Bull Rampage rider discovered the similarities in hitting drops on the snowbikes to hitting drops on his mountain bike, and the Canadian has been in his element ever since. “I’m just blowing my mind daily when I’m out there on the snowbike, learning how much you can do on these things. It’s so much fun!”

1 min

Darren Berrecloth vs Levi LaVallee

Watch as snowmobile icon Levi LaVallee and mountain bike legend Darren Berrecloth square off on race day.

But the man who is currently leading the way in the world of snowbikes is undisputedly Brock Hoyer. The ex-professional motocross, arenacross and snowmobile rider has all the ingredients necessary to become a world-class snowbike rider and that is exactly what he’s doing. Having won multiple events around the world, when it comes to racing, Hoyer is currently the man to beat.

What Snowbike Contests / Events are there?

Although still in their infancy, snowbike events and contests are becoming more and more commonplace. In 2017 snowbiking was introduced into the X Games for the first time with Snow BikeCross and Snow Bike Best Trick events. This was obviously a huge deal for snowbiking. It brought a lot of attention to the sport and had a lot of big name athletes getting involved in both the racing and freestyle disciplines.
Rob Adelberg wins Best Trick Gold at X Games:
Along with X Games, Canada now has its own sanctioned national Snow Bike MX Championship, and independent events such as the Snow Bike King of the Hill at the Jackson Hole Hill Climb World Championships are popping up all over the place too.

Where can I go snowbiking?

Snowbiking is best suited to vast, untouched backcountry terrain with the deepest snow possible. Unless your name is Alvaro Dal Farra, most ski resorts are unlikely to let you anywhere near their pistes on a snowbike, so wilderness locations far away from the crowds in places like B.C Canada, Russia, Japan, Sweden and of course Idaho are always going to work best.
Commercial trips and tours are available in Europe, USA and Japan and there is even a company in Whistler that offers Heli - Snowbike tours for the ultimate experience!

What do you wear for snowbiking?

Reagen Sieg, Robbie Maddison, Darren Berrecloth, and Brock Buttars

Reagen Sieg, Robbie Maddison, Darren Berrecloth, and Brock Buttars

© Wyatt Caldwell / Red Bull Content Pool

Just like the athletes riding snowbikes, the gear worn is made up of a mixture of snowmobile and motocross influences. Most snowbike riders go for the following combo:
  • A motocross helmet
  • Snowmobile goggles
  • Specific snowmobile outerwear
  • Motocross Boots
Brands such as Scott Sports and FXR have been developing outerwear specifically for snowmobile riding for some years now, and offer riders a range of products that work perfectly for snowbiking. Although snowmobile specific boots are available, snowbike riders will still opt for motocross boots, as the size and shape make it much easier to operate the gears and rear brake.

How big will people be able to go on snowbikes?

This is the big question. Thanks to the developments in the track and ski systems, along with riders becoming more and more familiar with how snowbikes handle in the air, the size of the jumps that snowbike riders are landing are getting bigger and bigger everyday day. At present, they are however still a long way off the size of the jumps that people do on regular motocross bikes in the hills, deserts or on race tracks.
Reagen Sieg snowbikes in McCall, British Columbia

Reagen Sieg snowbikes in McCall, British Columbia

© Wyatt Caldwell / Red Bull Content Pool

As snowbiking progresses, I think it’s fair to say we can expect to see more and more guys working their way up to huge snowboard size gaps and cliff drops in the backcountry, with bigger jumps appearing on snowbike race circuits too. To me, the idea of riders being able to turn around after cliff drops and power their way back up the hill to turn drops into big step-up’s is definitely an exciting one. We are still yet to see snowbike riders take on big 70 foot ski and snowboard style park kickers, hips and other jumps, but hopefully this is something that will develop in the very near future. As the air time increases, more and more tricks are sure to develop as well. The possibilities are endless so watch this space!

Do snowbike films exist and where can I see the latest one?

Yes they do and you can watch it right here: