If you have a big bore dirt bike or motocross bike, you’ve likely got it winterized and safely tucked away for the winter. Timbersled offers a conversion kit that gives “winterizing” your dirt bike a whole new meaning. Their Mountain Horse Snow Bike conversion kits add a track, rear suspension and ski that converts your dirt bike into a potent and extremely capable snowmobile. Timbersled has been marketing these kits since 2011.

The $6000-plus price tag may be steep, but the result is very impressive. We got a close-up look at a Yamaha YZ450F conversion a few weeks ago and this rig is quite stunning to behold. The Mountain Horse kit is available in three configurations:

  • ST is a short-track kit designed for trail and general snow riding. It has a 120-inch-long track that is 12.5-inches wide with 2-inch lugs.
  • LT is a long-track version for serious mountain and deep powder riding. This version offers a 137-inch track length which is also 12.5-inches wide with 2-inch lugs.
  • SX is a 10.5-inch-wide version designed to deliver tight handling for snow-cross racing, rough hard-pack and serious ditch-banging.

Timbersled Snow Bike vs. A Regular Snowmobile

While these kits add around 60 pounds to a dirt bike, the total package is still lighter and more maneuverable than a regular snowmobile. A snowmobile has more shear horsepower and stability, but the Mountain Horse allows for tighter maneuvers and superior handling in off-camber situations. It also gives the rider the ability to slalom down mountain sides and navigate through very tight trails. A snow bike is not going to beat most snowmobiles in deep powder or compete in terms of all-day riding comfort, but it certainly does look like an adrenaline rush and a unique thrill. If you already have suitable dirt bike kicking around, it would be hard not to envision one of these kits on your ride.

How The Snow Bike Kit Installed?

To install the Timbersled kit, both wheels, both brake calipers, swing arm, shock and suspension linkage are removed and set aside until spring. A ski assembly is bolted onto the front fork and the rear track assembly is bolted to the frame. The rider has the option of connecting the track brake to either the rear brake pedal or front brake lever.

How Long Does It Take To Install The Timbersled Snow Bike Kit?

Timbersled tells us that the initial installation and set-up takes about 3 hours. Subsequent installations will take about 90 minutes.

Which Dirt Bikes Are Suitable?

Timbersled offers kits for most big bore (450 to 500cc) two-stroke and four-stroke dirt bikes from Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, KTM, Husaberg and Husqvarna. They also make kits for a few 250cc, 300cc and 350cc bikes.

Will A Snow Bike Kit Cause Engine and Clutch Wear?

One would think that cranking over that beefy track in deep powder all day would be hell on clutches and engines. Timbersled claims that bike wear is no different than in summer and that the dirt-free operation of winter actually makes summer vs. winter wear a veritable wash.

Availability for This Winter?

As we head into the 2014-15 winter season, apparently the ST and SX models are already sold out and a few LT kits are available. This concept is quickly gaining popularity and Timbersled is working hard to keep up with demand.

Judging by the looks of these snow bikes, it’s not hard to see why.

In our latest installment of “My First Sled”, we hear from Bertrand. His first snowmobile was a 1972 Ski-Doo Olympique 335. Bertrand recalls, “It’s a good thing I didn’t have fillings!” We think Bertrand is referring to the choppy ride delivered by the bogie-wheel rear suspension and leaf-spring front skis. Many of us are an inch shorter today thanks to the archaic suspension systems found on the sleds of yesteryear.

The Olympique line was Ski-Doo’s most popular family snowmobile series in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It helped solidify Bombardier’s position as an industry leader at a time when there were over two hundred snowmobile brands on the market. The Olympique machines were more peppy and stable than the pedestrian Elan and cheaper and mellower than the T’NT series. The Olympique series was introduced in 1965 and phased out in 1979. During that period, over a quarter of a million Olympiques were sold.

In 1972, the 335 Olympique retailed for $850 at Ski-Doo dealerships. The 335 model was equipped with a single-cylinder Rotax engine that generated about 20 horsepower. The top speed was right around 40 miles per hour.

Here are some pertinent specifications for the 1972 Ski-Doo Olympique 335.

  • Engine: Rotax single cylinder, two-stroke
  • Displacement: 335cc
  • Bore: 78mm
  • Stroke: 70mm
  • Compression Ratio: 9:1
  • Carburetor: Tillotson HR-75A
  • Horsepower: 20
  • Top Speed: 40 mph
  • Overall Length: 100”
  • Overall Width: 30 5/8”
  • Height: 34 3/4” (without windshield)
  • Weight: 333lbs.
  • Track Width: 15”
  • Fuel Capacity: 5 Imperial Gallons
  • Gasoline/Oil Mix Ratio: 20:1
  • Brake Type: Drum

Here is a video “walk-around” of a 1972 Ski-Doo Olympique 335e. The “e” signified that this model was equipped with electric start.

We would love to hear about your first snowmobile. Tell us the year, make and model and feel free to offer stories or special memories about the experience. Contact us at info “at” oildepot.ca and tell us about your first sled.

In the first of our series on “My First Sled”, we received a submission from Andre who had a 1969 Boa-Ski. When we put together our Slideshow of the Lost Snowmobile Brands of the 1970s, we were remiss in omitting Boa-Ski. Let’s take this opportunity to look explore this old snowmobile brand.

Boa-Ski was started in1967 by a group lead by Joseph-Aime Morin in the small town of La Guadeloupe, Quebec. Mr. Morin operated a machine shop that manufactured components for Sno-Jet which was located in nearby Thetford Mines. Other companies in La Guadeloupe were making parts for Sno-Jet and Mr-Morin brought this group together to start their own snowmobile company and thus Boa-Ski was born. As much of the tooling was used for previous Sno-Jet parts, the first Boa-Ski models were all but identical to Sno-Jets, save for the colors and decals.

Boa-Ski closed their doors in late 1977. It must have been a very viable operation in the mid-70s as they survived the snowmobile industry purge of 1973-1974 when the OPEC oil crisis and poor snow conditions were the death of dozens upon dozens of sled brands.

In 1969, Boa-Ski offered 7 models. All models used Hirth 2-stroke engines which were equipped with Tillotson carburetors. For that year, Boa-Ski recommended a gasoline/oil mix ratio of 20:1 in all of their snowmobiles. Here are horsepower numbers for 1969 Boa-Ski models:

  • Standard 15– Engine: Hirth 300cc, Horsepower: 15
  • Standard 19– Engine: Hirth 300cc, Horsepower: 19
  • Deluxe 15– Engine: Hirth 300cc, Horsepower: 15
  • Deluxe 19– Engine: Hirth 300cc, Horsepower: 19
  • Standard 23– Engine: Hirth 372cc, Horsepower: 23
  • Standard 28– Engine: Hirth 493cc, Horsepower: 28
  • Standard 36– Engine: Hirth 634cc, Horsepower: 35

We would love to hear about your first snowmobile. Tell us the year, make and model and feel free to offer stories or special memories about the experience. Contact us at info “at” oildepot.ca and tell us about your first sled.

In a previous article, we covered the process of changing power steering fluid with the help of a simple turkey baster. When preparing for a brake fluid flush last summer, we considered purchasing a fancy evacuation pump designed to pump out the old brake fluid. As we pondered the process a little further, we elected to use a handy turkey baster to remove the old brake fluid and then conducted a standard brake bleeding procedure.

Why Change Brake Fluid?

Like any other automotive fluid, brake fluid degrades and deteriorates over time. But what is even worse is that brake fluid attracts moisture and this happens even in a sealed system. As brake fluid absorbs moisture, it loses its high temperature resistance and also starts to promote rust and corrosion. Brake fluid should be changed every two years, even if you don’t put big miles on your vehicle. If you haven’t changed your fluid for several years (or ever), you will note the old fluid comes out looking like Coca-Cola, while the new fluid will have a clear or light amber appearance.

Items Needed for a Brake Fluid Change

  • The correct grade of brake fluid (DOT3, DOT4 or DOT5) as prescribed by your owners manual or the cap on your brake reservoir.
  • Turkey baster for drawing out old fluid from the brake reservoir.
  • About 4 feet of clear plastic or rubber tubing with a ¼” inner diameter.
  • An empty plastic soda pop bottle with a hole drilled in the cap, allowing the hose to fit tightly through cap.
  • A jack with sufficient capacity to raise your vehicle, along with jack-stands and blocks.
  • An assistant to manage the brake pedal.
  • The correct box-end wrench to open and close bleeder screws.

Before Starting

  • Be sure that you have jacks, jack-stands and blocks that are capable of safely raising and holding your car or truck.
  • Brake fluid is corrosive to painted surfaces. Be sure to protect any areas that could be exposed to accidental contact.
  • During the bleeding process, never let the brake reservoir empty out as the system can draw air.

Raise All Four Wheels or One At a Time?

If you are not comfortable with having all four wheels off the ground, you certainly can bleed the brakes of each wheel separately. It is better to have one wheel elevated safely, then to have all four wheels up in a precarious fashion.

How To Change Brake Fluid

Step 1. Raise and remove at least one wheel. When bleeding brakes, work your way from the wheel farthest from the fluid reservoir and end with the brake-set closest. Generally the furthest wheel from the reservoir is the rear passenger side wheel.

Step 2. Using the turkey baster, remove old brake fluid from the reservoir until it is as empty as possible. Note that the filler neck on some reservoirs is offset, making it impossible for the baster to reach the fluid. In these cases, all of the old fluid will have to be removed through the bleeding process. This can be more time consuming, but it is certainly doable.

Step 3. Fill reservoir with fresh fluid to the “Full” marker and leave the cap loose on top of the fill hole.

Step 4. Lubricate the threads of the bleeder valve on the brake caliper. Fill the pop bottle with a few inches of fresh brake fluid. Attach cap and feed the hose through the hole in the cap into the bottle so that the end of the hose is submerged in the fluid. This prevents air from draining back into the system during the process. Place the appropriate box-end wrench on the valve and attach the other end of the hose to the bleeder valve.

Step 5. With your assistant operating the brake pedal, open the valve and have them slowly press the brake pedal. As they reach the bottom of the stroke, close the bleeder valve. The assistant can then release the brake pedal once the bleeder is closed. You will note the old fluid and air bubbles in the hose as the brake pedal is pressed.

Communication is important during this process. Make sure that your assistant is not releasing the pedal while the bleeder valve is open.

Step 6. Repeat step five until fresh fluid and no air bubbles are visible in the hose.

Important: As mentioned, regularly monitor the fluid level in the reservoir and top-up as necessary.

Step 7. Perform this process on each brake assembly, top-up the reservoir one final time and you are done.

A brake fluid flush can be performed with no special tools or pumps. Do this every couple of years and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that you’ve done your part to optimize the performance and reliability of your braking system.

Old Ski-Doo Picture

This young fellow enjoys an afternoon on a vintage Ski-Doo (photo credit: crexmeadows.com)

Most everyone has fond memories of their first solo snowmobile rides. Even if those rides were confined to the yard or the field behind the house, the feeling of freedom that those rides brought was possibly some of the most exciting moments of your life. Whether you moved away from snowmobiling or owned dozens of machines afterwards, that first machine likely has a very special place in your heart.

Let’s share these stories! Tell us about your first sled and we’ll highlight it here and bring back those warm fuzzies for others that owned the same machine. Tell us about the year, make and model and we’ll do a brief profile. Also feel free to share your likes (or dislikes) about the machine, along with any special memories. If you happen to have a photograph, that’s even better!

Feel free to contact us at “info (at) oildepot.ca” or on Facebook. We look forward to featuring your first sled!

Turkey Baster for Car RepairTo perform tasks like power steering fluid changes or brake fluid flushes, did you think you needed a specialized vacuum pump or evacuation device? Not at all! There is a $4 item that is available at almost any store that is invaluable for these tasks. The lowly turkey baster is ideal for either of these jobs and is asset to any toolbox.

Why Change Power Steering Fluid?

Few car owners ever think of changing their power steering fluid. But like any other oil, it deteriorates with time and its depletion can cause excessive wear and deposit formation. Changing to a good synthetic power steering fluid is an upgrade for any car or truck and can offer the following benefits:

  • Reduced friction for optimized efficiency
  • Lower wear, longer steering pump life
  • Fast oil flow in cold weather
  • Improved resistance to extreme heat
  • Makes pump seals more pliable for leak prevention

Items Needed To Change Power Steering Fluid

  • Turkey baster
  • 2 bottles of power steering fluid (450 to 473ml each, or so)
  • Used oil container such as an old margarine container
  • Paper towels or rags

Before Starting

Clean top of power steering fluid reservoir. Important: there is likely an accessory belt adjacent to the fluid reservoir. At each step of this process, prevent oil drips from defiling this belt by covering it with rags or paper towel. A small amount of oil can leak from the baster during the evacuation process.

How to Change Power Steering Fluid

  1. With the engine turned off, use the turkey baster to draw out old fluid until the reservoir is as empty as possible.
  2. Refill the reservoir with new fluid, replace reservoir cap and remove any rags or paper towels from engine area.
  3. Start engine and turn steering wheel back and forth to full stop several times. As an alternative, take the car for a good drive to make sure that the power steering fluid has circulated completely.
  4.  Stop engine and use baster to remove fluid again. Remember to cover accessory belt to protect from oil contamination.
  5. Repeat these steps until the reservoir has been emptied and refilled at least 3 to 4 times.

The reason that new oil is added, circulated in the power steering system and then removed is that this is the only practical way to remove most all of the old fluid. By the time the reservoir has been re-filled 4 times, there is mostly brand new fluid in the system. One can certainly perform this task a few more times for good measure, but be sure to have enough power steering fluid on hand.

In our next post, we will discuss the process for flushing brake fluid.

 

Today’s snowmobiles are truly technological marvels. Design advancements have made for snowmobiles that are faster, more comfortable and better handling than machines made just a few years ago. But in our view, the current state of the sport pales in comparison to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. In those days, it seemed like virtually everyone had a snow machine in their back yard. People that you would have never expected to be involved in a motorsport owned a snowmobile. Thousands of families discovered the freedom and exhilaration that snowmobiling brought and embraced this exciting new sport. It was truly the golden age of snowmobiling.

Consider that global snowmobile sales for 2012 were just shy of 130,000 units. In 1971, Bombardier (they built Ski-Doo and Moto-Ski brands) had sales of over 250,000 units by themselves! To give you an example of how the sport exploded in that era, there were roughly twelve snowmobile manufacturers in 1964 and by the early 70s, there were over two hundred snowmobile makers!

But those good times were very short-lived. Poor snow conditions in 1972 and 1973, followed by the OPEC oil crisis decimated the industry. Tens of thousands of snowmobiles went unsold and consequently the vast majority of these brands vanished as quickly as they came onto the scene.

A few brands held on into the early 80’s, but for the last 30 years we have been left with 4 brands being Ski-Doo, Polaris, Arctic Cat and Yamaha. Today’s machines may be remarkable, but we don’t believe that the sport is anywhere near as interesting or as fun as it was 40 years ago.

So let’s take a ride down memory lane and explore some of the lost snowmobile brands of the 1970’s.