In search of a smaller, less expensive, and lighter snowmobile, here is one personâ€™s vision of such a vehicle. Built by James Alexander of Niles, Michigan, this â€œprototypeâ€ snow bike is quite a departure from what you typically think of when you say “snowmobile”. It is still under development, and right now there is only minimal shrouding, but is said to be really exciting to ride and it only weighs 300 pounds! It is intended for an aggressive stand-up riding style, as the rider’s feet are only 11 inches apart. The twin tracks are independently suspended and their 44-inch stance makes the machine extremely stable in turns and jumps.
The front suspension travel is set at 13 inches now, but could be set for more or less travel, depending upon the sled’s height. Lower is obviously better for high speeds and fast cornering, higher for deeper snow and obstacle clearance. The manual shift transmission, combined centralized mass and extremely light weight give the machine “immediate response”. The rider has a greater sense of control and confidence in their riding.
Currently, the machine has a 6-speed, liquid-cooled 250cc 2-stroke engine, giving it about 40 HP. In a 300-pound sled, it gets around with plenty of zip and is pretty fast (7.5 pounds per horsepower). Ideally, a larger-displacement 4-stroke would be utilized, perhaps something like a newer motocross 450 engine. Alexander had an older 550 Yamaha 4-stroke in it originally, and although the throttle response and engine braking were wonderful, the engine was just too heavy.
Again, this is a rough prototype, and a more refined version is underway. Improvements include more protective shrouding, a super-precise steering system which absolutely eliminates “bump-steer”, and a steering-activated low-speed track biasing system for exceptional low-speed steering.
The US patent number is 6,708791, and the Canadian patent has also been filed.
Alexander believes there is new breed of riders wanting to enter the sport who want something different than what the industry currently offers.