2Moto Snow Bike Motorcycle Review

February 25, 2009
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
Off-Road Editor|Articles|Articles RSS|Blog |Blog Posts |Blog RSS

Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA's Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn't matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

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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