February 14, 2016
I awoke to minus 32C this morning, second day in a row of Arctic air at the cabin. On my second cup as the sun breaks through the trees, reading the comments, speculating on what would be our next big thing in snowmobiles.
Snow bikes seem to be getting a lot of traction in the rumour mill. Let’s think about that one for a moment. Here’s a couple of facts you should know. The total market today is approximately 10K units sold. This is the entire history of SB sales. Timbersled is by far the largest player in the kit game, holding several key patents on the conversion. Polaris recently acquired Timbersled in what some consider a block play and now possess those patents. SB don’t work worth a damn on hard pack (current technology and design). SB kits require a host motorcycle on which to install them. In addition there will be political hurdles to overcome as they become more mainstream, definitions, compliance, regulations etc..
Now all that said, many guys are choosing Yamaha YZ’s as the bike of choice. One could say we are already in the SB business by Ascension. But if we really wanted in I suppose it would be best to build a complete SB just like our friends at AC have proposed. Nice way to skirt around the patents and save the consumer the cost of wheels and rear suspension they don’t require. That would require significant investment and if based on a YZ would open a Pandoras Box of liability and risk exposure in breaking new ground or snow as is the case.
End of the day, the SB market is currently planted firmly in the Rockies. It’s cool, it’s growing but its niche. If I had to draw sales projections over three years for a new SB project, it would be a single K digit (note: I’ve been wrong before!). We could build the best SB ever considering our wealth of MC and SMB engineering, or we could sit back and enjoy a few extra sales in the already very healthy off-road motorcycle world…. March 1 will tell all. cr