2018 Timbersleds

It's new and it's addicting!
Timbersled ARO kit on Husqvarna 4-stroke
Snowbikes have evolved. You can take them pretty much everywhere your sled goes, but with less effort.
As I get older I really appreciate an “easy” ride. Years of carrying a heavy camera pack all over the backcountry have taken a serious toll on my shoulders, so I like a ride that doesn’t fatigue me. When I first saw a snowbikes, I’m sure my initial thoughts were similar to those of most: I wouldn’t trade in my sled for one in a million years. Fast-forward several years and my thinking has changed.

Why it is easier

With a snowbike there is less effort; straining to do side-hilling does not exist. It’s just a straight-line across the hill, no counter steering or throwing your sled on its side. At the end of the day you still have energy. Instead of feeling like you just finished a marathon, you feel like you took a nice walk around the block.

What is my point? Snowbikes have evolved, you can take them pretty much everywhere your sled goes, but with less effort. Yes there is always that long chute or long straight pull that a stock snowbike is not going to make it up, but give it enough wiggle room to move back and forth and it will go up more than you think.

So now, when I’m given the choice to ride a sled or a snowbike, I honestly often lean slightly to the snowbike. It’s easier on my body, and absolutely addicting to ride! Obviously, conditions make a huge difference in how these bikes handle while pushing a single ski down the trail in front of you. If the conditions are icy or hard packed, turning can be more difficult. With a snowbike you do not simply turn the handlebars to change direction, you turn the handlebars in conjunction with leaning the direction you want to turn. Similar to bringing a mountain sled up on its edge to make a turn in powder, you also need to bring a snowbike on edge to turn. But once you get used to this (which took me about an hour), you are well on your way to competing in the X Games - kidding Brock Hoyer; you are safe… for now.
Timbersled ARO kit on Husqvarna 4-stroke
Timbersled ARO kit on Husqvarna 4-stroke
The 2018 kits are easier to install, easier to handle, and on a 4-stroke, they will take you places you never thought possible.
New Timbersleds
This past March we rode the new 2018 lineup from Timbersled, which has been completely redesigned from the ground up, with some obvious input from its RMK cousin. We were impressed with how well they handled everything we threw at them. We rode in about 14 inches of fresh snow and they never missed a beat. The terrain varied from tight trees, steep climbs, wide-open meadows, to cornices and drifts. In fact, my confidence level soared a little too high as I rode it along a cornice only to nose dive into a tree well after finding neutral instead of first gear. Luckily, the snowbikes are lighter than a snowmobile, and while pulling it out and standing it up was not fun, it was easier than I expected.

One thing to keep in mind with a snowbike is you want a bike that will be able to handle the extra rotating mass. With bikes having about half the horsepower of a sled, a longer track does not translate into a snowbike that will go more places. You rarely get out of first or second gear on a snowbike because it needs lower gears to turn the track effectively.

My favorite track length on a Timbersled is the 120. In March we rode the ST 120 Raw (basically unchanged from 2017), ARO 120 and the ARO 137. All of these different length kits were mounted on 501 Husqvarnas. While the Husqvarna had the torque to turn the longer track, the shorter track was noticeably easier to handle and maneuver and went everywhere the longer track did. I am not saying there is not a place for the longer track, but on a deep snow day you do notice the difference. We long-term tested the 2017 Timbersled 137 TSS on a 2014 KTM 300 bike and were impressed with how well it ran and the places we were able to go on a 2-stroke with a longer track. However, if you are planning on the longer track you really should consider a 4-stroke. You will be happier with the additional torque.

I was impressed with how much narrower the overall bike felt. The new design and longer shock travel coupled with the new ARO rear suspension made this bike ride like a giant shock absorber. Bumps, drops, and hard pack were eaten alive by the increased durability and travel of the ARO. Floatation in the deep powder felt effortless with the new wider ski, and coming up on top of the snow when taking off was very quick, similar to its Axys cousin. The balance felt better overall than previous models and it didn’t feel like you were trying to turn a tree.

Everything on the 2018 setup worked in unison with nothing fighting against you, except yourself. You really just have to relax and go with it when you are riding a snowbike, and I found myself fighting it way too much in the beginning and getting arm pump. Once you get used to it, you feel like you can conquer any hill, meadow, tree line, or deep ravine.
Timbersled TSS kit on KTM 300 2-stroke
Timbersled TSS kit on KTM 300 2-stroke
The new TSS kit plowed through everything we threw at it, even on our 2014 KTM 300 2-stroke.
Why are the new 2018 Timbersleds better?
The new ARO chassis is narrower and 11 pounds lighter than previous versions. Compared to previous models that have a wider footprint, there is a difference in how agile the bike feels. In addition, the track is narrower (the same width as the 11.5” ski) making it a 1:1 ski to track ratio. This allows the track to fall in line exactly with the ski and gives it better handling and floatation, since it is not fighting the leftovers from a narrower ski. However, the best feature was how these changes made the bike feel more balanced.

The new Traverse Ski with the aggressive tri-keel shape and new skags gave better grip, especially when leaning on hard pack, you don’t get the wash-out of the ski. However, when crossing pavement make sure you are set on a straight line because you will wash-out if you try to turn. We’ve experienced this first hand crossing roads.

Suspension is a huge factor for how your bike rides down the road or through the meadow. The new ARO rear suspension delivers 30% more front track shock travel and 2” more overall suspension travel. In addition to the suspension with the FOX Zero Pro shocks, the raised driveshaft lets the rider move more freely from transitioning the bike from summer use with wheels on it, to winter, by making the snowbike feel like their summer ride. And, the shielded brake system protects your stopping power from the elements so you don’t have to worry about snow and ice build-up. It’s the little things that add up to a better overall experience.

While the process of installing a kit seems like a pain, it has gotten easier. Timbersled have worked hard to make the installation process less difficult. The new ARO system for 2018 is built around a true bolt-on design and Timbersled boast an install-time of less than three hours.

More for the future!

Snowbike technology is evolving quickly and the new 2018 ARO Timbersleds are proving that the partnership between Polaris and Timbersled is making a difference. Now they have more resources and it makes it easier to R&D products that are easy and fun to ride.

Also, the small new youth-focused 2018 ST 90 Ripper installs in less than an hour. This setup is ideal for those that want to get their whole family on snowbikes. It works perfect with a 110cc dirt bike. And best of all, it works on any surface: snow or dirt. So what are you waiting for? Get that little guy or gal out there with you and start ripping! Snowbikes are a whole new level of fun!
Rider Impressions

Lonnie Thompson
Snowbikes are definitely a blast out in the powder and boondocking through the trees. They will go anywhere except straight up, unless you zig-zag or are running a turbo. A Timbersled is not something I would buy if I only rode trails. In the west, a snowbike is something that is more enjoyable to ride if your buddies are also riding them. If you go out with a group of snowmobiles it leaves you “jonesing” for horsepower, but only if HP matters to you.

Kevin Thompson

The Timbersled was a new experience. At first, I was constantly fighting the steering, but the longer I rode, the more natural it felt. As I went from the open meadows with no obstacles, to the wide open trees, and then into the tighter trees I was amazed how quickly my confidence level shot up. A Timbersled will go almost anywhere and it’s scary how fast you can actually go through the trees! The side hills are incredible! Unlike a snowmobile, you don’t have to hold it up, you just drive across. There are a lot of oil changes that go with owning a Timbersled though, and it is recommended you change the oil abut every third ride. All in all, if you can afford to have one in your snow-fleet, I believe it is a must. These things are a riot to ride!
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