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2Moto Snow Bike Motorcycle Review

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
What’s the most intense modification you can do to your dirt bike? The market is full of nifty electronics, high-tech two-wheel drive systems, slick automatic clutches and potent internal motor upgrades, but can the most radical aftermarket item really be a bolt-on? We have just sampled what might be the baddest aftermarket goody available, and it actually makes your bike worse in the dirt - the 2Moto RadiX snow bike.

2Moto Snow Bike
2Moto has created a product that plays off the dirt bike theme, but snow bikes are actually a completely new form of powersport.
Just how sophisticated is this product? Consider that it took a rocket scientist to take the final conversion from a neat, fun concept into a fourth-generation, fully righteous, powder-slaying motorsport. The possibilities presented by a motorcycle chassis in a snow environment create such a different focus from snowmobiling that it really doesn’t suit the same clientele. That’s fine with the crew from Nampa, Idaho. They won’t beg to be included like a playground reject. Instead, this odd man out rallies its small band of misfits and starts its own, better game. 2Moto doesn’t just expand motorcycling, it has created an entirely new sport.

“We’re not out there to put snowmobiles out of business,” assures V.P. of Sales and Marketing, Brett Blaser. And after a day of riding alongside our talented guides in the Box Lake area outside of McCall, Idaho, we can see why. These are way more fun than any sled!

The company is based two hours south of our test location in Nampa, a western suburb of Boise. The growing business occupies roughly 5000 square feet inside the Boise State University Technology and Entrepreneurial Center. Bare cinderblock walls, exposed electrical conduits and minimal, but solid, wooden framing surround hard-working employees. Our first impression of the company is proven over the next few days it’s apparent that the naked walls reflect a general theme throughout the company. For true enthusiasts, comforts and vanity are insignificant compared to a need for efficiency and performance. The RadiX model is the culmination of 10 years and four generations of prototype development. 2Moto tells us it has 252 patent claims on the wild-looking kit, but instead of counting them we went riding.
2Moto Snow Bike
Bill King is the engineer behind the RadiX. Before snow bikes he was building rockets.

Bill King, V.P. of Research and Development and engineer of the final pre-production prototype, explains the naming origins. “Radix is the basis of a number system. We consider it the basis of the snow bike world.”

Order a 2Moto kit for your bike (MSRP $4249 carbureted, $4449 EFI) and you’ll receive three boxes of hardware. Inside the boxes are suspension components, RadiX swingarm, track and ski which are semi-universal. The only time you can’t swap to another bike is if the drive system is on the opposite side. Otherwise, each bike requires a fit kit which contains the proper hardware and spacers specific to that model. Swapping bikes simply requires ordering the proper fit kit for the new machine for $199. Assembly from start to finish is in the two-hour realm. Blaser says the fastest change to date by a customer was a blazing 58 minutes.

The front end isn’t nearly as complex or as technical as the rear, but there are a few features that make the Simmons Flexi-Ski perform as well as it does. The ski itself is six inches wide, sourced directly from the snowmobile market and designed to be flexible and therefore durable. Dual carbides help keep the ski from falling into pre-made paths and grooves in the snow as does the parabolic arch. This is especially beneficial for a mono-ski application like the 2Moto. A 10-inch-wide powder ski is also available which increases floatation, but we found the extra effort required at the handlebars take away some of the razor-sharp handling of the smaller ski. However, in deep powder it helps pre-pack the snow because it is nearly the same width as the 11-inch track which helps provide extra traction. It’s also much more predictable and forgiving on jump landings.

2Moto Snow Bike
JC finally knows how it feels to drag a bar. Hallelujah.
Blaser and King were both gushing about the bikes’ ability to carve extreme turns. We put that to the test in the first meadow where it didn’t take long for both our riders to dip the Fastway Performance handguards into the snow. This kind of lean has only been a dream on dirt, so the first bar-dragging experience was more emotional than watching Heath Ledger get an Oscar for The Dark Knight.

The fork extension assembly provides a solid interface with the bike. The stock brake caliper, line, lever and reservoir are removed. Dual mounting points allows for the dispersion of force equally so that sharp, violent impacts have less chance of bending or damaging either side of the fork. It’s designed so that the clicker adjuster on the fork bottom is still immediately accessible. An Adjustable Trail System attaches to the ski mount bracket and where a single adjustment option can be performed to adjust the trail of the ski. Simply loosen two bolts to allow for 15mm of movement. Placing the ski in the rear position increases trail, which slows the handling and can make the front end less active on hardpack.

2Moto Snow Bike
Radical cornering ability is the most notable characteristic, and 2Moto's Brett Blaser wasn't about to let Hilde have the glory. He obviously trusts that the front ski will stick.
2Moto’s track chassis uses a pair of aluminum side plates which support the outside of the track. These are covered with UHMW (a super low-friction polyethylene) sliders which wear slowly and are one of the very few parts that require maintenance. They’re there for the same reason that snowboards have a metal outer edge, to create a stiff rim that bites into the snow for more precise handling and impressive sidehilling. The 2Moto definitely sticks to a sidehill, and carving corners is as simple as tossing it in, smacking the throttle and believe like you’ve just been snow-baptized.

By designing the point of pressure at the same location as the traditional axle, the center point is the same which means so is the effective wheelbase, even though the entire machine is longer. This is the heart and soul of the entire design and functionality. This is what makes it behave like your regular dirt bike. Chassis and suspension geometry are kept as close as possible to the original machine which allows bikes to retain their normal handling characteristics. The 93-inch long track uses paddles that are two inches deep in the center and 0.5 inches tall along the edges which create a rounded profile for a nimble, natural motorcycle feeling. Track lugs are designed to accept studs for icy conditions. We didn’t get to sample this setup, but one of the bikes on our ride was equipped and it looked gnarly.

2Moto Snow Bike
Pro Moto Billet/Fastway Performance is located in Idaho as well, and owner, Lynn Hodges, has discovered the benefits of knowing his neighbors. Flat landings are manageable with all the available suspension.
The RadiX swingarm is powder-coated 6061 T-6 aluminum. The beefy structure has been engineered to handle enormous loads generated from flat landings. Due to a lack of gyro effect on the front (fixed ski versus spinning wheel), 2Moto machines almost always land rear-end first. King uses special meters which attach to the chassis at different points and record stress and torsional flex levels. He was quick to point out that while there has yet to be a failure with the RadiX, pioneering a sport means that there are no guidelines or known values to start from. The company continually gathers data as in-house test riders gain experience and skill. It also means that when nutcases like Mike Metzger, Derek Mahoney, John Dowd and Steve Hatch, who all rip the hell out of dirt bikes, visit for a test ride, King is eager to see what kind of stresses they can generate.

The swingarm attaches to the jackhub which is the center of the drive system and contains the primary drive sprocket which is 19- or 20-tooth depending on bike model. A fixed-length RK 520 O-ring chain circles the countershaft sprocket and primary drive. Because it is fixed length, gearing changes are limited to one tooth on either side. A longer chain transfers down along the swingarm to the secondary drive sprocket on the rear drive axle. Gearing changes can be performed here also. Since snow riding provides an environment that is clean and cool, chain life is extremely long and maintenance is as simple as some WD-40 between rides to keep from rusting.

Machined from billet aluminum, the jackhub utilizes six pins and four oversized bearings to handle as much power as a dirt bike can produce. Because traditional motorcycle airboxes can fill with snow and restrict air flow, the entire assembly is removed with the 2Moto and a battery tray is provided for electric-start machines. The airbox/filter is replaced with an open-cell foam filter with Outerwears Pre-Filter cover. The external cover uses a hydrophobic manufacturing process which allows it to repel water – perfect for snow applications. The extra space created by the airbox absence is a popular spot for turbo systems and 2Moto has been testing a Husaberg 650 which uses turbo to generate over 100 HP.

2Moto Snow Bike
Power loss is dependent on track speed with roughly one pony for every 10 mph.
All told, the entire drivetrain requires a claimed one horsepower for every 10 mph of track speed. To put that in perspective, a 50 HP motorcycle traveling with 50 mph track speed will lose five horsepower, which means it is operating at 90% efficiency. A bike with lower power output will be less efficient when carrying the same speed. 2Moto claims the systems work fine on 250F machines which are regularly in the 35 HP range as well as 250cc and larger 2-strokes. We spent a little time on a 300cc GasGas with plenty of succes and would believe that 250Fs are realistic. However, the little motors would definitely take some serious abuse. Our 450cc test bikes were ridden almost exclusively in the bottom three gears, usually second, and our right wrists were pretty tired at the end of the day. More hardpack conditions will allow for higher gears to be utilized.

One of the features that make the 2Moto design so special is the dual rear suspension arrangement. A primary Ohlins shock, specifically valved for this application, mounts to a billet aluminum bell crank which distributes force to the front and rear of the track. The Ohlin’s piece controls movement at the back of the track and swingarm. This is more similar to your bike’s standard shock. However, due to the geometry, the rear end can move up to 14.5 inches. The upper shock mount is one of the two mounting points for the entire system along with the swingarm pivot bolt.

A secondary shock, designed by 2Moto, rests inside the patented LevelLink chassis which uses a slot of specific length to determine the shock travel. This secondary shock controls the damping and rebound movement at the front of the track. Changing the adjustment on the secondary unit via a tool-less clicker knob helps tailor the ride characteristics. Increase the damping force and the track doesn’t rebound as quickly up front. This helps place more weight on the front ski which aids in hillclimbing and also sharpens handling characteristics. Loosen up the movement and the track will react to impacts and rebound quickly to provide a lighter front end. This is advantageous in deep powder to help the machine plane on top of the snow. Depending on the model of bike and LevelLink slot length, the front of the track can offer up to 10.5 inches of travel.

2Moto Snow Bike
Hitting the backwoods with your buddies is about as much fun as you can have in the snow. From full-blown cat-and-mouse to scenic leisure trips, the 2Moto brings out the spirit of dirt bikes in the winter.
It only takes about 15 minutes to get accustomed to the snow bike, especially if you can get off the groomed stuff right away. Once the trust level starts to rise, it’s amazing how quickly you catch on. Confidence and throttle are everything. We found the fuel can accessory to be very useful during our single-day outing. 2Moto also offers a hand-operated rear brake lever as an option and even sells a complete bike and conversion called the Rogue 650. This Husaberg-based machine is one of the staff’s favorite all-around setups. Aside from the ‘Berg, kits are available for Honda, Yamaha, KawasakiKTM and Suzuki. They were also testing the first GasGas application during our ride, so there’s more in the works.

Everyone we’ve spoken with who has ridden the 2Moto, even the racers from the Ground Zero event, acknowledge that the adventure of wide-open boondocking is the bee’s knees with this contraption. Honestly, pictures and video hardly do it justice. We spent plenty of time prior to our experience analyzing the media content on 2Moto.com. After riding them for ourselves, it’s easier to understand exactly what’s going on in the images – and to appreciate them. We rode the competition and came away with a mild interest, but our time in Idaho completely dissolved any doubts or hesitation we had about the prospects of ownership and the viability of snow biking as a new powersport. If you’re a dirt bike fanatic, someone whose fix can only come from a motocross or enduro machine and has to give up riding for the winter, you need a 2Moto. Period.
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2Moto Snow Bike Riding Impressions
Chilly White

When we left for Idaho on our 2Moto snow bike adventure I was really not sure what to expect. I have spent some time riding snowmobiles. I don’t at all consider myself an expert but I do really enjoy that kind of winter powersport. We met up with the crew from 2Moto as well as Lynn Hodges from Pro Moto Billet who was sporting a new Honda CRF450R that had just received the snow bike conversion. I was beginning to think that they were going to really school me on how good they could ride, or in other words, how bad I would be at this new sport.

Certainly for the first 15 minutes of riding I was feeling a little out of my element, but once we hit the first open snow field that changed very quickly. I was still being a little tentative so they told me to just go out in the field and carve a turn sharp enough to bury the handlebar in the snow. When I did that the whole concept just sprang to life, it was very much a “WOW” moment. Then it all started coming together very rapidly.

Suddenly the snowy world surrounding us looks like a giant playground. Every log or rock is now a jump, every hill beckons to be climbed and trees become a slalom course. The learning curve is steep but not difficult and the fun factor is completely off the chart. It is challenging to come up with a good parallel to explain the sensation. It is only a little bit like snowmobiling, but probably more like a cross between riding sand dunes and water skiing, the sensation of being able to float over the surface yet carve fantastic turns and it always remains very much like riding a dirt bike.

After a day of riding I was left with two very strong impressions. First, I did not want the day to end. I would have been totally happy to just keep riding. As it was I actually ran out of gas and daylight. Third gear pinned in the snow eats the fuel up pretty quick and I found myself sitting on the trail with an empty tank. If I had my own snow bike it would have to have good lights and a big gas tank. Riding at night would be so cool. Second, at the end of the day the only part of me that hurt were my cheeks, from having a big, silly grin inside my helmet.

If I lived in snow country I would have to own one of these. I would find a good used 450 MXer and use it for the conversion. The whole package would be fairly economical, far less than the cost of a new high-performance snowmobile. 2Moto prepared a Suzuki RM-Z450 and a GasGas 300 for us to ride during our test day. Both bikes were unique and the 2-stroke is certainly a viable option. The basic traits of the bikes carry over pretty well; the 2-stroke had a distinctly lightweight feel but lacked some of the bottom-end grunt of the 4-strokes. The only negative aspect that I experienced was that these things really crave powder and fresh snow, riding down a groomed trail is a bit of a challenge as the ski always wants to wander, sort of like riding in silt. We avoided the packed trails by riding along the sides and zigzagging around to pick up fresh bits of snow.

I have only just begun to explore the limits of these machines. Yet even feeling like a complete novice I was having a blast and I cannot wait for my next chance to ride a snow bike.

JC Hilderbrand

It doesn’t seem like there’s much the 2Moto can’t do. I couldn’t believe how versatile and competent my RM-Z450 conversion was. One of the biggest problems I had was the fact that I had already ridden the EXPLORER conversion and my brain was primed for that level of performance. These two creations aren’t on the same page, chapter or even book. They belong in different volumes.

As with most snow outings or generally dirt bike rides of any kind, there is usually a transfer ride necessary to reach the good stuff. It was no different for us as we spent a couple miles on groomed snowmobile trails before entering the awesome powder opportunities. I’m not much of a snowmobiler, none at all, really, but to me it seems like staying on these “groomed” trails would be a complete waste of time. Hammering through hacked out whoops on a prescribed route is just as bad in my mind as a lot of desert riding, only replace the miserable dust with shocking cold. I have a need to get into the finer trails, areas that beat my handlebars, not my kidneys. Basically, if I were a snowmobile guy, I’d be a boondocker, and the 2Moto speaks my language. Just pick a point and weave your way to it.

We didn’t waste time, and at the first opportunity bailed off the packed snow and headed into the wilderness. On hardpack there’s a ton of feedback from the front end and it’s unnerving. I think that greater experience and skill would ease my death grip and lessen the few natural terrain features that need to be avoided. As it was, in the powder I tried bopping over a few short, steep rises or cutting across gullies which buried my rear track or tossed me to the ground. In all circumstances, getting unstuck and back underway was a one-man job. We did have one guide who did a miraculous job sinking his bike, but compared to a snowmobile, digging out was a breeze. Massive, straight-up hillclimbs in deep powder were the only obstacle that stopped us.

Options for packing extra fuel are clever and useful and the entire package is an engineering wonder. The best part is that it’s even more fun to use as it is to stare at and brag about to your pals. Southern Oregon gets just enough snow to create a small window of winter motorsports, and I never had a reason to take part. My excuses just ran out.

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Comments
Z -ok i guess  December 12, 2010 09:28 AM
how much does the good kit cost
Joe -Joe  April 5, 2010 04:56 PM
Explorer kit is good if you are a wimp. Broke mine first time out. The 2 moto kit can take a beating. $1000 difference, but the explorer kit is pretty much a waist of $3000. I for one don't like being stuck out in the mountains because of a cheap kit.
Jimmie -I need one of these  March 18, 2009 05:09 PM
That looks like fun
the ben -2 moto ski during the race  February 28, 2009 08:33 PM
the ski's we were running in the race(ground zero) are the stock ski that came with my kit...we were all runing the same ski..all racers...except the explorer kit(wich I beat). the only ski change made is when I am out in five feet of powder I put the 2moto modified simmons genII. I have never been in a hard pack wooped out condition that has made me question the ski and its perfomance. long live the
KXFman -Saw the race  February 27, 2009 06:55 PM
I couldn't believe the crowds at the 2Moto race. Looked like all their bikes were running stock simmons skis. Man could they rip up that track! Sounded like 4th gear pinned down the straight stretch to me. Great article, great race!
Tim in Phoenix -2moto/explorer  February 26, 2009 12:16 PM
Sounds like it's time for a shootout!!!
Bravo -Thank God for VIDEO  February 26, 2009 11:39 AM
Great article JC! The video sure does bring it home! That looks like a blast!!
fetti -COOL!  February 26, 2009 11:28 AM
I completely enjoyed this article. A completely different take on two "wheels".
x2468 -ground zero front ski  February 26, 2009 11:00 AM
They must have been running a different front ski for the Ground Zero race eh JC? because the track was pretty much like hard packed trail and they seemed to be handling it fine.
x2468 -sick  February 26, 2009 10:32 AM
awesome write up and great pics!
Jim -fitment  February 26, 2009 10:22 AM
glad you like the explorer, but the 2moto will fit any bike. the list they have on their website is just bikes they've fit before so they have the measurements. they'll custom one for your bike if they've never made one for that model yet for the same price.
Doc Shawn Nesbo Team Thunderstruck -%#^%&@#&*! snowmobiles  February 26, 2009 07:33 AM
3XZH Recently on a snowmobile outing we dropped in to a canyon of no return with some rather novice riders on good mountain sleds. With the sun going down we had the typical turn of events people were all of a sudden exhausted,stuck or up side down. It turned dark so it was time to set up camp. Nobody was hurt and all the sleds still ran. After a long nite of cutting down dead trees for our gigantic fire pit old SOL rose and it was time for the great escape. The bulbous mountains were to tall to get all the sleds over with the morning crust so out the bottom. The whole time fighting the thicket I would on occasion abruptly blurt out," if I only had my 2 MOTO SNOW BIKE I would be out of here". We were getting within a 1/3 mile of the bowls we usually ride , the timber would thicken, creeks would deepen so we ended up riding down and out about a 10 mile loop. The Radix snow bike would have graciously rode right through the thick rolling timber to the trail. They are so nimble and tree friendly. I could have slept in a warm comfortable bed for the nite. Even though I would have stayed with the group for moral and saftey reasons. SO the Moral of the story is " EVERYONE SHOULD BE RIDING A RADIX SNOW BIKE" Just a short adventure story for thought, Doc Shawn Nesbo Team THunderstruck
jim from idaho -i agree  February 25, 2009 11:07 PM
well there is 3 of us that were going to buy a 2moto but they only fit 2 of our bikes, so we went with the explorer and could not be happier, we go anywhere we want up here in north idaho.I am glad there is excitement over snowbikes. I also am glad we saved over 3700bucks on just 3 kits. Just watch out for me in the steep and deep, i will be the one on top! Chow.
1ski4me -Good review  February 25, 2009 08:25 PM
Well you heard it here...2moto for deep snow! I've seen 2motos in action and they do a great job in deep snow. Scary on a trail though. I found that the deep lugs of the 2moto just helped me get stuck quicker because it dug a hole faster! Thank goodness another manuf. (Explorer Kits) offers an all around kit that does handle great on trails, boondocking, hillclimbs, and yes the occasional watercross! Where I live there are limited "off-trail boondocking" areas so for me I will have to stick with the sure handling Explorer Kits. In my experience visiting Idaho I did find that the Explorer will go anywhere a 2moto would go, and even better on sidehills when it had the sidehill upgrade kit. I've found it will go anywhere a 2moto will go and often floats better on top. The consistancy of the snow I'm sure makes a difference for each kit. Great to see in depth reviews of these products. Kudos!