Snow Bikes Don’t Have to Be Lame

I have a long history with snow bikes. I built my first one when I was 15 by bolting a pair of skis to an old bike frame in my parents’ garage. My best friend and I would ride it, pretty unsuccessfully, down the hills near my house. When I first moved to Santa Fe three years ago, I tried a professionally built bike, but it wasn’t really for me—when you’re used to carving fast alpine turns, teetering down a groomer on a snow bike feels pretty underwhelming.

This winter, Utah-based snow-bike upstart Sno-Go sent me their Team Red model ($ 1,399) to test. After using it for two days at Ski Santa Fe, I’m hooked.

My main complaint about other snow bikes I’ve tried is the lack of control they provide. Much like learning to ski, crashing seems to be the only way to slow down. After two days on the Sno-Go, I had nearly just as much control as I do on a normal pair of skis or my mountain bike. A lot of that is due to the unique tricycle design. Three 90-centimeter, metal-edged skis provide a stable base and slide and carve on snow. Instead of dragging your feet on the snow, like with many other bikes I’ve used, your feet are planted securely in bindings. Much like mountain-bike pedals, friction and small rubber pegs keep your feet in place and help you feel connected to the bike.

The most unique part of the Sno-Go is the patented pivoting rear triangle. When you shift your weight, the rear skis move laterally, mimicking the feeling of carving. The suspension fork (a RockShox Judy) turns too, but similar to normal skiing (or more advanced mountain biking), much of the turning movement comes from how you position your weight. This takes a little practice, but figuring it out lends an entirely new feeling to biking. Check out this video of experienced Sno-Go riders to see what I mean. 

Snow bikes certainly aren’t for everyone. But if they’ve piqued your interest, in my experience, the Sno-Go is the best you can buy. And while it will never replace the rush of charging through powder or dragging my hip on a perfect groomer, it’s without a doubt a very fun toy.

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