Cyclists now have a new activity they can do during the winter months. Canadian company Envo has created a conversion kit that replaces a mountain bike's rear wheel with a rubber snowmobile track that passes over a 1.2-kilowatt hub motor. The front wheel, meanwhile, gets swapped out for a snowboard, and there's a battery pack to help you up those steep, snow-covered inclines.
Year-round fun — The electric snow bike sees the bike's chain run through the rear assembly and detects the rider's pedaling to apply power from the battery and assist through snow. There's also a handlebar-mounted throttle included that will engage the motor if you don't feel like pedaling at all. Because snow can be challenging on a motor, the 17.5 Ah battery will only get you about six miles of riding. You, of course, have to bring your own frame.
Envo says that the converted snow bike is capable of handling hard ice, deep powder, and slushy or groomed snow terrain. It's selling this as being just as lightweight and transportable as an electric bicycle — and much more affordable than a full-on snowmobile. It's also supposed to be easy to assemble and disassemble so you can quickly switch your bike into a snowmobile and tear up some powder.
Unfortunately, the snow bike can only reach a top speed of 11 mph and drive up inclines with a gradient of about 15 percent, so at a price of approximately $2,145, the conversion kit is a tall ask. A standard electric snowmobile can hit speeds of over 60 mph and cover far greater distances — though for prices closer to $15,000.
A brief history of snow bikes — This isn't the first time we've seen a company try and make the "snow bike" a thing. Back in the 1970s, Chrysler found itself in a dire financial situation and thought a cross between a bike and a snowmobile might turn its fortunes around. For $699 (roughly $2,400 today), the Chrysler Sno-Runner, as it was called, used gasoline and a motorcycle-style twist-grip throttle on the handlebar.
That bike had slightly better performance than the Envo with a range of three hours on a tank and a top speed of 25 mph. The production version of the vehicle had insufficient horsepower, however, and was discontinued after two years. Envo's kit is at least more attractive in that it's much more versatile, if not super powerful either. But at least Envo's solution will help you work off some of the glühwein.