FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What type of footwear do we ride in?
What gear do we need to bring on the day?
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
How many people can we have in our tour group?
What happens if I damage the bike or break something?
What are the requirements to ride a Snowmoto snow bike?
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?
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.