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|March 12-18, 2008
• Main Elevation story—Winter green
• Upcoming Events
• Gear guide
• Web Adventure
• Skiing with a motor?
• Go green with athletic apparel
Skiing with a motor?
Kit turns dirt bikes into snow bikes
by Roger Phillips
Vernal DeLloy Forbes of Boise, Idaho, never dreamed he would see Mike Metzger, the motorcycle back-flipping X Games champion, zipping around on a motorcycle converted into a snow bike with a kit Forbes invented.
But that’s what happened recently in McCall, Idaho, when some of the top riders in the country competed in the first-ever race of dirt bikes that were converted into snow machines with Forbes’ 2Moto kit.
Forbes said his goals were different, but no less lofty.
“The dream was to ride in Idaho’s mountains during winter and have it feel like a dirt bike,” he said.
He’s accomplished it, and in the process could change motorized snow sports the way snowboards changed skiing and mountain bikes changed cycling.
It’s too early to tell, but judging from the reaction of pro riders, most of whom had never ridden a snow bike, but were racing them a day later, the machine shows a lot of promise.
What is it?
The snow bike in question is the 2Moto conversion kit that started in Forbes’ garage. The former Hewlett-Packard engineer and lifelong inventor and tinkerer wasn’t satisfied with snowmobiles.
He’s cautious not to knock snowmobiling, a sport he says he enjoys. But he prefers the nimbleness of his dirt bike to large and powerful — but bulky and at times cumbersome — snowmobiles.
He also wanted to emulate the feeling of carving down a slope like he could experience when downhill skiing.
“I felt like there’s got to be a better way,” he said. “I wanted something that would honestly be like skiing with a motor.”
From the garage to the slopes
He started experimenting in 1996 with help from fellow engineers Vard Williams and Bill King of Boise. By 1998, they came up with a prototype and took it to the snowy forests around Idaho City.
“After two hours of riding it, I came back and said, ‘I think we’ve got something here,’” Forbes said.
But it wasn’t quite there.
Forbes said he considered how far snowmobiles and motorcycles have evolved, particularly in the last 10 years as they’ve become lighter, more powerful and more dependable.
He kept refining his conversion kit to match new technology, particularly the large four-stroke motorcycles that have mostly replaced the high-revving and notoriously fickle two-stroke engines.
After combining new motorcycle technology with the third generation of the snow bike kit, not to mention hundreds of hours of testing on snow, the 2Moto was ready to go to market by fall 2006.
The company has sold about 300 of the kits so far but is expecting to sell more than a thousand this year.
Idaho meets X Games
Metzger is a three-time X Games champion in freestyle motocross and big-air contests.
He also back-flipped a motorcycle over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and, unlike Evel Knievel’s notorious jump, Metzger stuck the landing. So it’s safe to say Metzger is comfortable on a dirt bike.
But he admitted he was a little leery of the 2Moto snow bike when he took off on a hard-packed snowy road near McCall.
“When I first got on it, I felt out of control, and I thought, ‘What have I got myself into?’” he said.
But that feeling quickly evaporated.
“Once you get in powder, it’s just like a dirt bike, only you can go more places,” Metzger said.
You don’t have to be a pro
Ben Grant of McCall saw his first 2Moto snow bike last winter and decided he had to have one. He bought the kit last February, in time to enjoy a winter that was epic even by McCall standards.
Grant said he can take his snow bike more places than he could take a snowmobile because the bike excels in tight trees and has
no problem sidehilling the steep slopes of McCall’s mountainsides.
“It’s like the ultimate woods bike,” he said.
It’s also a powder-loving machine, which matched Grant’s tastes.
“I really like powder; that’s my favorite,” he said. “A good base with about two feet of powder is about perfect.”
Grant said he’s now a convert and favors his snow bike over a snowmobile. In fact, he even prefers the track and ski over wheels on his motorcycle.
“It’s depressing when you put your tires back on because snow biking is so much fun,” Grant said.
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Go green with athletic apparel
by Emilie Le Beau
Many athletes take their training sessions outdoors because they appreciate nature. They are careful to not pollute — toting reusable water bottles and using rechargeable batteries to power music players.
But athletic apparel is often made from toxic materials that do not biodegrade. There is a new alternative, a fabric called Tencel. This material contains no toxic substances and is made from natural cellulose, found in wood pulp.
The wood pulp used to make Tencel comes from tree farms that practice sustainability. The result is a material that is fully biodegradable, natural and flattering.
The Twisted Back Tank (with built-in bra) from Fila is an example of athletic apparel made with Tencel. The top has thin stylish straps that twist in the back to create a unique look.
The Twisted Back Tank has a built-in sports bra and can be worn alone without additional support for light activities such as walking, golf or yoga. For more intense movement, a sports bra can be worn underneath.
The top is long and moves with the body. It is made with 95 percent Tencel which means it naturally wicks away moisture and reduces bacteria and odor.
Machine washable, lie flat to dry. Available in three colors, $58.
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