If you like bombing down trails on a mountain bike or tearing it up on a motorcycle, you must try a KOSKI snowbike. These bikes are the only snowbikes we've seen that are aggressive enough to dedicate a two page article on. There's no clutch, no gears, no worries. Plus, the crashes are a lot more fun and forgiving than many we've all experienced.
There are only a few resorts here in the region that allow people to enjoy the snow while holding a pair of handle bars. We did some research and found Sierra-At-Tahoe to gladly support the use of bikes on their entire mountain. Plus, the Koski guys were usuals there, so we went with the familiar terrain.
The following is written as a guide to get you up, your first time, on a snowbike.
The bikes are basically one-size-fits-all, don't worry size, the rentals pros will make sure you are all set up. You are pretty much on your own now that you are headed up to the lift. But don't worry, the best moment is the first few minutes while waiting in line. While others piss, moan and step on each-others equipment, you will calmly be sitting on an enormous cushy seat. Now if that doesn't convince you to try em' out, just wait 'till the people in the line realize your comfort...sometimes making people jealous just feels good.
Now, getting on the lift. We recommend one person on a two seater, two on a three and four seater. Ok, breath, approach the lift...you're gonna have to hold on to the bike good. There are two effective ways to hold the bike....we found. You can either hold it across your lap, or, (with the Koski bikes) you can put the seat on top of the side rail and it carries some of the weight. Sitting on the chair means you're committed, so don't drop the bike. It doesn't weight much, just get a good grip and hold on.
Sit back and enjoy the calm before the storm. Getting off the lift has a bit of an unnatural feel to it, but once you perfect the -"take two steps and jump on" technique, you'll be on your way to your next challenge....slowing down.
Power-sliding is one of the key elements to mastering these bikes. There are no brakes. You can try to stop with your feet, but this will only work at very slow speeds. It's like getting on the pipe on packed dirt if you ride dirt bikes. Basically, the front ski steers, so you aim it the direction you want to turn, lift your uphill foot off the peg, slide your rear ski horizontally to the hill direction and balance the slide. It'll take some practice to master the slide, but keep your speed slow to medium and you'll catch on quick.
If you get to the bottom of the hill and still don't have the turns down, give it another try.C'mon for the love of not being at your 9 to 5, give it another shot. Believe us, once you get it down, you'll be hucking tables and rippin' up the boarder-x in no time.
For those like us, by this point your head hurts from laughing so hard, and you just want to find the kickers to give this thing a suspension test. Sierra-At-Tahoe offers a wide selection of terrain in their parks to ease into the jumping. We found the box rail to offer a little fun, but nothing compared to throwing down some tricks while hitting the kickers.
Finding some fast groomers offered serious powerslides and some definitely sketchy moments trying to slow these things down. You wouldn't believe how stable they are, almost too stable - you end up going super fast and then thinking about how on earth to slow down. The more you ride it, the more confident you get on the slides. By the end of the day we could powerslide as we haul right up to the lift.
Riding with the Koski guys, we were pushed to our limits and strived to prove ourselves by hitting the kickers and trying to keep up with the riding masters.
We from the mag did our best to set standards for the first day on the bike. The fun we had was non-stop, many thanks to Big Hits Distribution....especially Matt and Jeff. If you're gonna ride one, we absolutely recommend the Koski over the typical K2 rentals. Put it this way, we have ridden the K2's before, and wouldn't ever do an article in this magazine on them.....they're not aggressive enough.