– The Inspiration –
One day during the winter of 2008 my older brother called to tell me to “keep my eyes open for a 70’s era 340 snowmobile.” You see he has 3 kids and the oldest at this time had out grown a 120 and the middle one was just starting to outgrow it, so he felt an old snowmobile as the only option to keep his kids riding. After that phone call, I decided to do something about this problem and at this time in my life I had a nice heated shop and some time on my hands.
– The Plan –
After some thinking about it (that evening after this phone call) my main goal was to keep everything as simple as possible. Maybe the transmission could be the same as a 120 which is just a centrifugal clutch. So without a CVT, I would need an engine with a large range of operating RPM and I also thought I would need around 50 hp to have something fun to ride. With those ideas in my head, I went to Craigslist to see want I could find. It was like it was meant to be because I found a KX450F motorcycle just a few miles away. Now with an engine secured the plan became to just use second gear and use the clutch only for starting and stopping. I figured second gear would give me around 40 mph, so that should be good fun for a kid that just out grew a 120.
– The Build –
With the bike home and the heat turned on in the shop, it was go time. I was able to remove the engine within an hour and then the “now what” set in. Just by coincidence, a few years prior, I purchased an old 1973 El’Tigre 400 that I wanted to fix up (it’s still unfinished today), but sitting in the corner was the skid frame and the front steering frame that the previous owner had done. The previous owner wanted the sled to have a wider ski stance and a rubber track and he got stalled out on the drive train. Therefore, I had some materials to work with to make this idea come to life quickly. With this knowledge of the previous owner being stalled out on the drive system, I put some thought into how to do it. I reaffirmed that I absolutely needed to keep this whole project simple. Therefore, I looked more at the motorcycle way of getting engine horsepower to the ground and that seemed much simpler. This led me to put the entire engine inside the track. My next step was to make a driver about the diameter of the motorcycle’s rear tire and to get proper engagement to the track lugs. Finally, I was able to make a chassis to tie all the components together. Six weeks later I was ready for a test ride.
– The First Ride –
The vehicle was a rough “snowmobile” as it had a track and two skis. I rolled it outside, started it up, put it into 2nd gear, released the clutch and away I went down my driveway. I turn around and my plan was to drive back to the shop. Of course, on the way back to the shop I needed to get into the throttle as anyone would do. It really accelerated and when I got close to the shop I pulled in the clutch and I noticed that I really didn’t slow down. I needed to turn out so I wouldn’t hit the shop and what hit me was this thought- I can coast!
– The Development –
How to refine this rough snowmobile was the next hurdle. Let’s just say it was a hard thing to do when you’re not an engine manufacturer. In my mind to do this correctly would require a new engine design to get the overall engine and adjoining components as low as possible. Throughout the years I have tried six different engines. One of these prototypes was used to file for a US patent. A few years later I was granted two US patents. I still have hope for an OEM to come into an agreement to utilize this design.
For a period of time, I zeroed in on a horizontal pit bike engine. However, the dependability just wasn’t there for anything meaningful. The nephews did have fun until engine issues started occurring.
– The Launch –
After two years of testing a snow bike kit for the YZ85 motorcycle the day is finally here to bring it to market. It’s amazing to think that it’s been an eight-year process and time will tell if it was worth it or not. I can say that I have enjoyed the ride and it is my hope that you will enjoy your very own HOOT85. I must write that during this time I meet a wonderful woman who agreed to marry me in 2013 and wouldn’t you know it-she is the one who started this business to make this all come to fruition.
(701) 732 0050