it! And since we had survived the extreme weather
conditions of Wisconsin, our confidence was through
the roof. Wisconsin? Idaho? Snow? Ice? What could the
difference be? For one, Wisconsin ice racing is done on
a pancake-flat lake with studded tires on a conventional
motocross bike. Idaho Mountain Horse riding is done at
12,500 feet in deep powder, and the rear wheel of the
bike is replaced by a tank-style track.
What is a Timbersled Mountain Horse snow bike?
Imagine a bike with no wheels, no swingarm, no
linkage and no front brake. Now, replace the front wheel
with a ski, the rear shock with a metal bar and the rear
wheel with a tank track. The track’s length varies from
120 to 137 inches and replaces the complete swingarm
and rear wheel. Included on the rear track are two Fox
shocks located inside the track. A small disc brake is also
mounted on the carriage of the track for braking power.
Our initial thoughts? We were in for a rough ride. Why?
The frame was rigid and the track remains stationary
without a pivoting swingarm.
If you are wondering if the Mountain Horse kit will fit
on your bike, chances are it will. There is a simple conversion kit for the most popular motocross bikes, so you can
turn any bike into a Mountain Horse in a few hours—and
back into a dirt bike in the same amount of time.
Let’s be frank. Once in Sandpoint, our first impression
was that the Timbersled Mountain Horse looked like
some sort of Frankenstein machine. It had that Rube
Goldberg aura and resembled a tank. It was big and it
was heavy. Fresh from the beaches of SoCal, with no
snow bike experience, we were fairly positive that it
would sink into the fluffy powder of the mountain peaks
of Idaho and never be seen again. I admit to judging the
book by its cover. Shame on me.
It was Thursday evening when John Basher and I
arrived at the Timbersled facility in Sandpoint. Brett
Blaser greeted us and gave us the grand tour. It was a
homey atmosphere. All the employees had nicknames.
A few of them even had their dogs by their sides. The
workshop was meticulously clean. Each workstation
had its own iPad to assist the workers in tracking the
progress of jobs. And, just about every part was built
and assembled in-house.
Brett then introduced us to our machines: two
Husaberg 501 four-strokes. One with the short-track kit
( 120 by 12. 5 inches) and the other with the long-track
kit ( 137 by 12. 5 inches). This was the first time we saw
the snow bikes in person, and we circled the bikes like
vultures stalking prey. We had two questions for Brett:
What is that? And, how does it work? We asked the
same two questions a zillion times—and then it was time
to go riding.
WAS IT US? BRETT WAS
RUNNING CIRCLES AROUND US,
SO THAT WAS THE FIRST
CLUE THAT IT WASN’T
THE BIKE. WE HAD SOME
LEARNING TO DO.
Brett was our guide for day one. Our destination was
only a 20-minute drive through the mountains. We got a
quick crash course on what to do, and then off we went.
We took a packed snow road up the mountain for five
miles, and John and I felt like fish out of water. It felt
nothing like riding a dirt bike. We firmly gripped the bars
Unloading the Mountain Horse was a
cinch. Just pull back on the handle until
the treads touch the ground.