You've got snow bike questions, we've got answers. Hear what our experts have to say about snow bike safety, proper gear, and more.

Where are you located?

Snowmoto NZ is located in Picturesque Kingston, near Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand. We pickup from New World Frankton (near Queenstown) and ride near Kingston Travel time from Frankton to the riding area is a bit over an hour depending on conditions

Where do you ride?

We operate near Kingston, The 3000ha riding area offers stunning views of the Central Otago mountains, Southern Alps and lakes, and you’ll be on Epic Snowmoto Bikes to see some pristine backcountry!

Can anyone ride a snow bike or do you need experience?

We recommend having some motorcycle experience, either on the road, dirt, or snow. You need to be comfortable using the clutch and gears, as well as the throttle and brake. Snowmoto Bikes are different than a motorcycle or snowmobile and have handling characteristics unique to themselves. Any rider will find some of their biggest challenges on Icy Snow or deep powder. Turning and starting can be challenging until you get the hang of it.

Can we ride a snow bike with a passenger?

No, we only allow one rider per bike. Snowmoto Bikes are designed for single user operation.

I have some friends with snow bikes, can they join the ride?

Our permits allow us to offer guiding for snowmoto bikes only, and combining our group with snow mobiles would violate our terms. We can certainly meet up with your friends at certain points throughout the day. Our tour will be based on snowmoto bike routes, which differ significantly than snow mobile routes. We’ve found combining snowmobiles and snowmoto bikes on the same ride presents travel challenges which deters from an optimal snow bike experience.

What gear does Snowmoto NZ provide?

We provide a backpack with the necessary backcountry avalanche gear. The backpack includes a shovel, probe, and avalanche beacon that we are required to ride with. The rider wears the beacon on their body, and fills the backpack with whatever other supplies they may need for the day. On the bikes we include extra fuel.

The guide carries some basic tools, small first aid kit, and spare snack bars. The goal is to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Show up dressed warm, with some food and water (generally stop on route to riding area) and the rest should be all covered. We have Rental Gear available: Alpine Star Drystar Boots $40 Alpine Star Helmets $40 100% Goggles $15 Jackets $30 Snowboard pants $30 Gloves - polar blast $15 yours to keep or 100% moto Alpine Star Neck Warmers to buy $40 Please let us know after your ride if there is anything else we could include to make the experience smoother.

Do we need to bring a helmet?

If you have a helmet already, great. If not, we do have some available you can hire on the day for $40.00 NZD. Helmets must meet current NZ Safety standards and be full face Motor Cycle/ Motocross spec Ski and Snowboard Helmets are NOT allowed.

What type of footwear do we ride in?

We recommend snowboarding boots, or waterproof moto boots, with wool socks. Try to find some waterproof socks if you are going to wear standard moto boots. Klim released the Havoc GTX snowbike specific boot in 2018, Goretex outerwear is the best as it will keep you the most comfortable on those cold stormy days. Tip from the team Two pairs of goggles is standard protocol as you can switch them out for a dry pair. Bring at least two pairs of warm winter gloves to switch between as the day goes on, moto gloves won’t cut it. In our bags we typically carry an extra layer to put on under our Jacket in case the temps are cold for the tour.

What gear do we need to bring on the day?

When you book a Snowmoto Tour, we will send you a confirmation email that details what you will need to bring to make your day successful. We have a good range of Rental Gear! Gear you need to bring includes:

  • Helmet, Moto style, no snowboarding/ski helmets.
  • Winter Boots (Snowmobile Boots, Snowboard Boots, or Goretex Moto boots with waterproof socks)
  • Goggles - 2 pairs (Low Light Lenses, and Sunny lens)
  • Gloves - 2 pairs (thinner pair for riding in, thick/warm pair for when you need them most)
  • Warm under-layers / wool socks
  • Waterproof jacket / Ski jacket
  • Waterproof pants / ski pants
  • Water Bottle
  • Lunch/Snacks
We inspect each clients gear upon arrival. You can rent gloves and goggles and any other gear if we feel what you bring is not adequate. Our goal is for you to have a enjoyable experience which is why we offer key pieces of gear to make your day warm and amazing.

How many people can we have in our tour group?

Our tours cater for groups of 2 - 6 Riders For Larger parties please contact us and we will customise your tour. Minimum 2 people per tour

What happens if I damage the bike or break something?

We understand that accidents happen and sometimes things don't go as planned. Here we outline some of the parts repair costs in case of an accident. Please note: We do not currently offer insurance options. Some of the parts you could break if you have an accident: Brake Lever – $30 Plastics (Fenders, Radiator Shrouds, Sidepanels) $45 -$95 Torn Seat – $150 Ski Spindle – $450 Ski – $350 Hand guards $125 Radiator – $450 per side Handlebars – $180 Heated Grips – $180 Headlight – $195 Exhaust Header – $590 Track Rails – $490ea Snowbike track – $1500 Broken front forks – $1500 ea Shovel or probe $140ea Beacon $650 Muffler $650 Track bent frame or broken frame/chassis $2600 Track Side Panel $550ea Damage costs and repair labour will be determined on a case by case basis. Repair labour is based on $92.00 NZD/hour shop rate. We are fair and honest, and expect you to be as well.

What are the requirements to ride a Snowmoto snow bike?

The requirements to participate in a tour and ride are as follows:

  • Some prior motorcycle experience is required (Clutch, Gears and Brakes)
  • A reasonable level of riding fitness
  • 16 years of age minimum
  • Any person 18 years and under can only ride with Parental Consent
  • The bikes are all 450cc so you will need confidence
  • Ability to use the throttle, clutch, gear lever, and brakes on a motorcycle
  • Experience consectutive hours in cold weather, the weather can change within minutes
  • Able to follow complex directions (Avalanche awareness, starting and stopping procedures, stay with your guide, tips on control)
  • You must inform us of any pre-existing medical injuries or conditions prior

What is your policy in regards to weather & Covid 19?

Weather Policy In the Event of bad weather and not being able to ride at all, we will contact you to reschedule your ride day. If this is not possible, you will have booking credit in the form of a Gift Voucher. If we are riding and part way through the day we have to abort the ride due to bad weather we will give you a credit on a pro rata system: $100 refund per hour not ridden Covid 19 If you are unable to travel due to Covid 19 restrictions you will recieve a full credit of your deposit in the form of a gift certificate. The gift certificate will never expire.

First Timers Guide for riding a Snow Bike

You’ve seen the machines out there, they look like a cross between a dirtbike, and a snowmobile. Often they will be referred to as a snow bike, timbersled, snowmoto, or snow mx bike. These conversion motorcycles with a track appeal to folks for many reason. A rider may be interested in having a dual purpose summer / winter riding machine, increased handling performance over snowmobiles, or trying something new.

While a snowbike retains some dirtbike handling characteristics there are a few things to be acquainted with before riding these machines. Snow conditions are an important factor that play into how the bike will handle terrain, and affect any learning curve you may experience.

To begin, a snowbike sits a few inches higher than a motorcycle with wheels. What this means, is you typically start with both feet on the pegs as it is further to reach the ground. Compared to a motorcycle where you leave one foot down to balance the bike so you don’t tip over, a snowbike balances itself fairly well when just sitting in place. This allows you to put both feet on the pegs for starting.

The next step is taking off, and this may be the most challenging one until you get some practice. On a wheeled motorcycle, you can leave one foot down and ‘walk’ the bike until you get enough momentum to get your balance. However, this technique doesn’t translate so well to the snow bike, as you may barely be able to reach the snow with your tippy toes. So how do you do take off on a snowbike, and not tip over?

Many times a slow speed start is too slow to reach the balance point and the rider will tip over.

Trust, confidence, and a smooth burst of throttle! You must trust in your throttle control and clutching ability to smoothly and quickly get the machine moving to reach it’s balance point where you feel confident in it’s handling. A new rider will often try to feather the clutch and gain their initial speed slowly as they get a feel for the machine. Many times a slow speed start is too slow to reach the balance point and the rider will tip over. If the machine is moving too slowly, it will be more difficult to balance. The track creates more drag on the system than a typical rear wheel, so using slightly more throttle than you would on a dirtbike will compensate for this difference. The quicker you can get the snowbike moving, the more balance you will have.

OK! you’re off and cruising over the snow, nice work! Now comes time for some handling technique. Similar to taking off, the snow bike handles significantly better with some forward inertia. At a slower speed, steering & balance is more difficult, so using your body weight to lean the bike will help keep your balance. As your speed increases, you can steer with the handlebars more, but you will still lean towards the direction you want to travel. Practice with the hand brake to see how much force is needed to slow the bike. Shift through some gears, and let off the throttle to see how much speed is lost through engine braking, snow conditions, and track drag while free coasting.

Remember to plan your stopping areas where it will be easy to start up again

Now comes time to stop, and you go to jam down the rear brake with your foot, and you frantically step down again because it feels like you missed! Well you didn’t, your brake is on your right handlebar. Snow Bikes, only have one brake, compared to two on motorcycles, so you must train yourself to use the handbrake in all stopping situations. While it may be tempting to follow your guide or riding partner and stop in their tracks, choose to stop beside your riding partners, rather than directly behind them. As you are rolling to a stop, right before you loose all momentum, grab the hand brake firmly to ‘seat’ the track into the snow. Minor steering inputs, keeping your core centered over the machine, and keeping both feet on the pegs will help you maintain your stop and keep you upright.

Stopping: Right before you loose all momentum, grab the hand brake firmly to ‘seat’ the track into the snow.

Once you nail the rolling stop with feet on the pegs, you’re doing pretty good. Practice your snow bike start and stop technique as much as possible. Remember to plan your stopping areas where it will be easy to start up again. Learning this fundamental is very important, and will make your entire day of backcountry riding more enjoyable.

Key riding take aways:

  • Start with feet on pegs
  • Quick acceleration to find balance point
  • Lean and steer in combination to navigate
  • Plan your stop where it will be easy to start up again
  • Brake is located on right handlebar, NO foot brake!
  • Slow to a stop with both feet on foot pegs
  • Stop next to riding partners, never directly behind

Learning and practicing these fundamentals will shorten your learning curve, and will enable you to navigate more technical terrain with more ease and less fatigue. We hope these riding tips are helpful and help you have an enjoyable snow bike tour.