Over the years, numerous tinkerers and companies have tried to transfer the fun of bicycling to the snow. While the fatbike has gained some recent traction, literally and figuratively, other designers still feel that replacing tires with skis is the only way to go. We've seen this trend in BikeBoards, the Skki and now the Snogo. The new ski bike uses an articulated steering system and front suspension to connect the rider to the powder or hard pack below.
Ski bikes are a classic example of gear that looks super-fun on paper or in a YouTube video, but isn't all that tempting in real life. In my 20 years of experience visiting ski resorts across the US Northeast and Rocky Mountains, I've found ski bikes to be only slightly more common than bartending polar bears. Such bikes look like fun, but because they're heavier, equally or more expensive and way less widely available than skis or snowboards, they just aren't that compelling. And I'd much rather take a tumble on skis than than on a heavy metal bike frame.
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Salt Lake City's Snogo believes it has the recipe to make ski biking more fun. Its bike immediately reveals itself as quite different from the typical seated, dual-ski bike. Its triple-ski design is meant to be ridden standing up, with no seat to rest your mass on.
The Snogo's defining feature is the multilink steering system called responsive lateral torsion-assist geometry (RLTAG). This multi-hinged design allows each rear ski to move individually. The rider can actually lift each individual foot and lift the front ski off the ground.
The articulated RLTAG design provides more freedom of movement and looks like it will result in improved control and a better connection to the snow below when compared to simpler, less maneuverable snow bike designs. The articulation is also adjustable, allowing the rider (or rental shop) to tune steering and stopping for beginners, intermediates and advanced riders. Snogo says the bike is designed to ride any marked terrain a skier or snowboarder would tackle, including groomed trails, powder, trees and moguls.
I'm still not convinced that the ski bike has the same potential as skis or snowboards, especially with the Snogo's four-figure price tag in mind, but the design makes me curious enough to want to try – not something I'd say about simpler, dual-ski bikes. That super-maneuverable frame looks fun for both general downhill carving and pulling tricks, though I'm not sure how well all those joints will hold up to the latter.
The skis themselves are a versatile all-mountain, twin-tip design measuring 90 cm in back and 75 cm in front. They feature full wood cores, full steel edges and tip protection. The rear skis are equipped with open bindings that the rider can quickly slide his feet in and out of, and grippy stomp pads. Snogo recommends wearing snowboarding boots for stability and weather protection.
Much like a regular bike, Snogo components are interchangeable, allowing you to fine-tune performance and feel by swapping out the handlebar, stem, headset and fork. The safety leash can also be switched out.
The bike weighs 32 lb (14.5 kg) and features a welded 6061 aluminum alloy frame. It's available with both a standard 100-mm (3.9-in) suspension fork with remote lockout and a RockShox Sektor with rebound adjustment, twist lockout, and between 130 and 150 mm (5.1 and 5.9 in) of travel.
Snogo is offering complete bikes starting at Kickstarter pledge levels of US$1,299 (estimated retail: $1,599). Utah residents that want to give it a go can pledge $55 on a full-day rental voucher. Given that Utah is a popular ski destination, we'd think the designers could attract some interest from renters outside the state, but maybe they're worried their fleet is too small. With about $21K of their $32K goal raised in just a few days, it looks like they have a strong shot at a successful campaign without extending the rental perk to Kickstarters outside state borders.
You can see Snogo's full pitch on the Kickstarter campaign. The video below provides a nice look at a few Snogo bikes in action on the slopes.