Ever tried riding your dirt-bike in the snow? It’s good fun. Doing donuts, falling off, laughing at your friends. It may be fun but generally - you wont get far. It’s hardly going to catch on as the next big thing in snow sport.
Riding my motorcycle is becoming increasingly miserable as winter arrives here in Canada. I needed to try a more appropriate sport to take on the winter in style. With my only skiing holiday ending in a desire never to repeat the experience, what could I do?
What if you could combine the two? What if you could put your bike on a snowboard and go where no snow-lift has gone before? What if you could ride up AND down the gnarliest of ranges where even a snowmobile would struggle?
Enter the Yeti MX!
Snow bikes are fairly new, with Timbersled bringing the first dirt-bike conversion kits to the market in 2011. Yeti MX quickly followed and several design generations later, they have come up with the ultimate in snow machines. Their original bulkier designs was quickly superseded by a lighter, and apparently more versatile model that promised the ultimate in snow riding experiences. Equipped with the Syncrodrive belt drive system, the Maxtrax lightweight track and delivering almost ALL of your MX bikes horsepower to the snow, I needed to try one for myself.
I met Kevin Forsyth, Co-founder and Yeti MX designer, and a couple of his riding buddies at a gas station near Salmon Arm. His truck packed with bikes loaned to us by pro-rider and owner of Monashee Adventure Group - Cori Derpak.
After some quick introductions, we were on our way. Kevin expertly controlled the heavily laden truck as it slid around on the increasingly slippery tracks leading into Hunters Ridge in the Monashee mountains. I grew nervous as we neared the snow-line at 1700 meters. From here it was going to be a steep climb and a steeper learning curve.
The converted 450cc Husqvarna, with its additional 25lbs of mean-looking track and single front ski was slightly intimidating I must admit, but I was keen to show these Canadians that this Welsh girl had what it takes! Packing an avalanche beacon, radio, and lunchbox into my rucksack, I confidently swung a leg over, lost my footing on the ice and promptly landed on the floor with the bike on top of me. This became a familiar position as the day went on.
Blasting through this sensational scenery was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The nearest comparable experience being dune riding perhaps. A similar feel and just as exhausting, but somehow easier - the bike driving through anything with surprising stability. Steering was all about weighting your body in one direction and leaning the bike in the other. Manoeuvring was smooth, consistent, and fun. The carbon fibre chassis soaks up the bumps with ease as you keep your weight back and allow the front end to find it’s own way.
We travelled up trails, off trails, across meadows, and were kept on our toes by the occasional snow hole or creek that had been invisible until a split second before we hit! Face-planting was surprisingly forgiving MOST of the time but getting upright again was not so easy! The powder was so soft and enveloping, but on a bluebird day like today - who cared? These machines might not be as light as a dirt bike, but they were certainly easier to dig out than a snowmobile.
Necessity is the mother of invention and this is exactly how the Yeti MX came in to fruition. Back in 2012, Jamie Hodgson approached Kevin, who then ran C3 Power Sports, and challenged him to build a lighter, more efficient version of the kit that he was using. Kevin, never one to shy away from a challenge, agreed and by 2013 the first kit was on the market. Forsyth and Hodgson became partners in crime, and now, on their 9th generation kit, they are lighter and faster than ever.
Kevin was a great guide and chief bike picker-upper and showed the patience of a saint as I struggled to get my stopping down! The bikes get heavier as the day goes on and I was glad to have a bit of muscle on hand (what girl isn't?)!
The snow ghosts gave the landscape a wonderfully mythical look and we played like children as we carved our way through this beautiful dreamworld. This was the most fun I have ever had in the snow.
Stopping for lunch at a pretty little rustic cabin, we warmed our hands, and bums, on the fire. I was ready for some fuel and a recharge! Being new to the sport, my arms had quickly tired despite shouting at myself to relax! As a first timer though, I found the bikes surprisingly easy to get the basic techniques - with the exception of stopping, which has to be the hardest part of the learning curve.
As I stood outside sharing my sandwich with a couple of hungry whisky jacks, I heard the unmistakable angry sound of approaching snowmobiles. Kevin - quick to spot an opportunity - was soon introducing the intrigued riders to his Yeti’s. They were keen to try them out, and Kevin knew only too well that all it took was a quick blast on his brainchild, and they’d be hooked! He was right!
With the Yeti MX being lighter and more agile than any snowmobile - or any other snow bike on the market for that matter - these bikes are FAR from abominable!
It’s a whole new level of fun.
To find out more about the latest Yeti MX visit www.yetisnowmx.ca or for an unforgettable experience day and test ride - visit www.monasheeadventuregroup.ca
An extra big thanks to Scott Johnson of imworks.ca for hooking us all up and to Grant Robinson of grantrobinson.com for the wonderful photographs.