a Cross Country Rider
from Ontario, Canada
Date Reviewed: November 10, 2009
Strengths: A cool concept, reasonable build quality and not overly expensive.
Weaknesses: It is only of use in extremely limited conditions for trail riding.
OK, I really wanted to support some bike enthusiasts trying to come up with a creative biking product. Having played around with similiar designs, I was skeptical, but it appeared to be the best effort to date. I preordered this for special pricing which turned out to be more than standard cost (guess they adjusted). When it arrived, it went together easily and shifting was fine to set up (aren't 8 and 9 speed different spacing though...). This thing looked really cool on my full suspension bike though I was a little leary of running the fork/shock in cold weather (for good reason). It didn't coast very well on the stand but that could have been expected. I took it out in a few inches of new snow and was a little disappointed when a friend could follow me just about everywhere on a normal bike and was faster on packed sections. I figured that it was just the conditions. Then the bolts began to fall out. With freezing fingers I searched for parts and tried to reassemble. Once home I put loctite on every one of them and informed the company (first occurance they claimed). So, reassembled and adjusted, I took it out for what promised to be a great test run along a nearly flat and groomed railroad section of about 10 miles. The snow was well packed and I experimented with various tension adjustments on the track (allows tuning of traction and stability). Holy power requirement! I'm a >200lbs rider that produces a lot of power and is pretty fit (completed multiple endurance mtb stage events). The effort that it took to churn this thing along the flat was substantial, keeping me working pretty hard to sustain a pace of around 7 km/hr! Every so often I'd have to stop and dig the snow out of the mechanism which seemed to build up and then freeze. As I slowed to cross roads, the track came off multiple times, despite the track having maxed tension. You do have to walk accross roads due to the ski. Still, a few stones must have been on the ski trail and the bottom of the ski got gouged in several places. Fearful that skiers might get PO'ed by me being on the trail, but the freak factor had everybody asking questions (what is that, is that ever cool, how much did it cost, where did you get it, is it harder than spinning??) I wore a helmet cam and tracked the ride on my garmin to review it after. A week later, I returned to do a similiar ride with the same results. Reviewing the video was like watching paint dry and you could really hear the loud mechanism. So... a nice concept and not bad for the occassional alternative training ride (getting off the stationary), but still a gadget. I've also tried just the ski or a tire with the track, to try to suit conditions. While I believe that it would be better on the DH, I doubt that the design would hold up to any wear and tear. Saw the company on "Dragon's Den" - a canadian show of investors for inventors - they actually made an offer but KTrak refused. The Dragons got off easy. I wish the company well, the design probably can't improve much, but the human body just doesn't produce enough steady power to run a snow-bike. It would take some cleaver editting to ride any Xc like the videos on their site and I'm also doubtful of some of the reviewers.
Similar Products Used: SkiKing snowbike, various studded tire and ski configurations.
Bike Setup: Used on Stumpjumper FS 120
a Cross Country Rider
from South Wilmington Il. U.S.
Date Reviewed: January 22, 2009
Strengths: It's a great workout!
Weaknesses: Very heavy
When I first got it I went 3 miles and a bolt fell out of the main frame that holds the idler wheels in line with the track. I ended up walking the rest of the way. To avoid this get a couple extra 8MMx5/8 allen head bolts and lock washers. I checked all the bolts before I left for my ride and they were tight. (no lock washers) The vibration without the lock washers caused the bolts to back out, so bring extras with you just in case. The bike is VERY heavy and hard to ride. I ride the mountain bike year round and really could use this in the winter. I wanted a work out and this is a total workout. When I'm done I'm totally burned out, but I feel great, it will make me that much stronger when the summer racing season begins, it sure beats riding a trainer in the house. I think I'll keep it.... Tim
from Anchorage, AK, USA
Date Reviewed: November 27, 2008
Strengths: Easy installation. Components can be installed and removed quickly. It will handle any snow condition from deep powder to compact snow and ice. You can ride in conditions that would bury a fat tired bike. With eight inches of snow on the sidewalks I can still ride the five mile commute to work.
Weaknesses: Pant loads of resistance. You'll feel like a weakling trying to pedal one of these around town. KTRAK only makes snow biking possible, not easy. After that five mile ride to work, I'm spent.
I use this as a daily commuter bike and for recreation around Anchorage. KTRAK allows me to ride when tires just won't work, however the pedal effort required will be prohibitive to most fun seekers.
Similar Products Used: Pugsly fat tire bike, 60mm tires. Effective to about four inches of snow.
Bike Setup: 2001 Giant Rainier hard tail model with Deore LX drivetrain.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 25, 2008
Strengths: Looks cool.
Weaknesses: HEAVY! This kit weighs 27 lbs, WAY more than the claimed weight. Your 26 lb cross country rig will become a boat anchor. Loose hub/ freewheel that requires complete disassembly to adjust. HEAVY! Ridiculous Rolling Resistance.
I ordered the Ktrak kit in November, It sat for two months waiting for snow. I finally got it out. My first trip was a disaster as the rear cassette was not enough to go up a paved road with moderate grade. The ktrak rear track sunk in so much that I had to push. This was on a groomed snowmobile trail. So I installed a modified 12-34 cassette and this helped, but the rolling resistance was just like riding in sand, uphill. What really tore it for me was having to pedal DOWN the same hill I had pushed my bike up. On the way down the front ski works decent. On my last run I lost the rear track and just used a rear tire that was inflated to about 30 psi. It worked way better on the way up, It was way faster going down. I just didn't have any fun on this thing. I don't think its worth it to shlep this thing to a ski hill, pay 60$ for a lift ticket, and then field questions from people all day about "what the hell is that? Hows it work? How much does it cost?" Buy a pair of snowshoes and a snowboard instead!! think that some of these positive reviews are written by ktrak employeees!
I have nothing but good to say about Ktrak. Before I had ordered my Ktrak I had assumed it would have some rolling resistance but I was surprised at how little it actually has. I'm not much of an XC rider but I did have it out on a few trails. I found it did everything and more than I expected. On some of the trails I tried Ktrak. I also tried my normal tires with studs and couldn't even move. Having said that I also had a chance to take it onto some S Track and downhill (my fav) and that is where I had a blast. It's extremely stable and has great braking considering you are on snow but then again who cares about braking. I have snowboarded for years but I DH MTB in the summer. I personally think this will eventually be as big if not bigger than snowboarding and I prefer it over snowboarding. I can run faster and in more control than any snowboarder I know.
a Cross Country Rider
from Northampton, MA, USA
Date Reviewed: January 6, 2008
Strengths: Front ski is excellent on downhills.
Weaknesses: Front ski is squirrily on climbs.
I am reviewing the front ski portion of the Ktrak. I recently reviewed the Ktrak rear wheel, and as I discussed in that review I prefer my Snowcat (44mm rims from All Weather Sports) along with 2.3" Nokian Freddie's Revenz at 5-10 PSI. Today I had a 2 hour ride on soft hilly snowmobile trails using my Snowcat in the rear and Ktrak ski in front; awesome combination. The ski was an absolute blast. Definitely a little squirrely on climbs but an absolute scream on downhills. The control and bite of that ski at high speed is incredible. The squirrely climbing quality will help develop my climbing stability/technique. The only downside with the ski is you are commited to snowy trails; if there is a section of pavment on your ride you'll have to walk the bike.
Bike Setup: Santa Cruz Blur LT with Snowcat rim/Freddie's Revenz tire in back, and Ktrak ski in front.
a Weekend Warrior
from Quebec, QC ,Canada
Date Reviewed: January 1, 2008
Strengths: Downhill, Easy to install. Easy to learn. Boldly go where no bikes as gone before.
Weaknesses: Drag , Weight, flotablity on thick soft snow
My Schwinn bike was originally made by Yeti and I figure it out that Yeti bike should be good on snow! Right? Well it is really easy to install and setup. I just replace my clip less pedals with old plateau pedals to be used by normal boots. From there its go and play.
The bike shop already ditch for me (I am the second customer to buy it) the plastic spacer plate (kind of old style plate between wheel and the biggest plateau) with $2.00 metallic shim spacers of same thickness so that the cassete will be at the right position and the chain will clear the wheel without interference. They add drag problem in their first unit because the tiny plastic spacer compress over time by the load of the cassette lock ring. This cause the plastic plate to eventually drag and stop rotating. I sugest you do the same and my guess is that Ktrak will do it too very soon.
It came with a custom 6 gear (12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 28 teeth (the 28 gear plateau is labeled 29!?!)) compatible with 9 gear pitch. This comes because there is no space for all the 9 plateau on this wheel with an other set of bearings holding the back tread trak structure. Since my bike had 8 gear shifter, I replaced it with a reduced set of my 8 speed XT cassette ( top 5 big gears plus the locking 11 tooth and same metallic spacers) I then adjusted the limit screws on the derailleur (very important) and this gave me perfectly working 8 speed shifters with only 6 gears. Anyway most of the time you use only the biggest plateau.
I first try it with a front wheel with spikes to try it on the icy streets with some snow spots. Front wheel help a lot for equilibrium on hard surface at first. (but a normal bikes will follow you there anyway) but as soon as you go on deeper and softer snow , the front wheel becomes the problem quickly. This is where the front ski get really useful. The ski surface is flat with parabolic side shape with metallic edges. You must have half a inch of snow to work correctly. On hard flat snow on a parking space you will have difficulty maintaining the equilibrium at first but once you are on some soft snow this become natural again. I really recommend the ski since it will enable you to go on place where normal bike dont.
On newly fresh snow up to 1 or 2 inch a bike with wheel will keep up with you but once you go into more than 3 inch of soft snow, they would even dare to follow you! This is where the enormous traction of the Ktrak gets impressive. On 22 (front) 32(back) gear setting I manage to generate enough power to travel on 8 inch thick of cross country soft snow (but watching my heart beat! ) This is really impressive since It was already difficult to even walk on this field. The weakness here was the front ski with not enough surface to float on top of really soft snow. I would prefer to have a little bit larger ski here. This was designed by some western Canadians that are used to play on wind packed snow that you dig no more than few mm deep when you walk on it with your shoes. Here in eastern Canada we sometime drown up to our earlobes in the snow when we do not pay to much attention.
Well the truth is that you can go on crosscountry easily on some snowmobile tracks but it gets difficult if you are on too thick soft snow. In that case, I recommend to have really breathable clothes like having a good expensive GoreTek suit over real wool T shirts but just get rid of the GoreTek suit... For a few inch of soft snow over a packed snow surface like you see often on a snowmobile track this gets really easy and fun. You are traveling easily with the ski on this surface and equilibrium is not difficult to maintain and you are traveling a lot faster than walking although not as fast as you would go on a summer mountain bike. There is a lot of drag and most of the time I am running on normal pedaling pace on only the 22F-32B gear ratio. So having only 6 gear on the back is more than enough unless yo go downhill.
Where the biggest fun really is with this Ktrak is on ski downhill slopes. If you are lucky enough to find a place with a suitable lift cabin system where you can hang your bike to get uphill. Also if the security people does not want to kill you with a rifle as soon as they saw you, then the fun really begins. There you can go really fast and gravity helps you. This is where the Ktrak flies although I relearn what the words 'gravity' and 'ground' means many times. It feels like the times when the first snowboards appear on the ski slopes and everyone was afraid of the world end coming.
Disk brake work well on the back wheel. From time to time snow generates some ice on the disk pads but holding it few seconds and it melts and you get all braking again. V-brake may work because there is some compatible hard surface on the wheel but sometime if form ice on the pads and you lose brake completely until you find a helpful tree !
Only problem I had with the setup was one of the two M8 screws holding the three small wheels assembly got loose. When the first screw get off, the system still works but the back get loose a little bit and had then more tendency to derail. The bad thing is if the screw fall off you will quickly loose a very special stainless steel bushing holding the back wheel assembly. Luckily recover the bushing but the screw was gone. I replaced it but now I watch everything from times to times. Take care to inspect often ALL your bike and keep Alen key handy. I would recommend Ktrak to put some Lock-tight adhesive in there.
Although all publicity is shown with full suspension bike. I will recommend to use a light reliable hardtail to save weight and dont forget that you MUST spray WD-40 on your bike chain an gears at the end of the day if you want to have something rotating the next day.
Similar Products Used: Horse chariot on ski , snowmobile without gaz ...
Bike Setup: Schwinn carbon homegrown full sus with Fox float and Avid mechanic disk brake
a Cross Country Rider
from Bangor, ME USA
Date Reviewed: December 28, 2007
Strengths: Fits almost any bike made without any modification. If you read all the FAQ's on it on the companies website (ktrakcycles.com) before purchasing you won't be disapointed, as it does exactly what the website says it will.
Weaknesses: Rear cassette is a little on the cheap side for the price(but it has worked just fine for me so far). Ski seems to have a mind of its own.
I took it out for its first spin, about a 3 hour ride. I will update this further once I have a chance to really check it out. However so far it has exceeded my expectations. I rode today in about 3 inches of fresh snow on top of an icy snowmobile trail for the first 2 miles. It did take some effort on the uphills, but worked pretty good. Then I got to a section of trail that had seen some snowmobile traffic, and was packed pretty good. On this surface I was able to really move along at a good pace. My only complaint at this time is the front ski tends to dart around quite a bit. At certain speeds it seemed to do better than at other speeds. However, the old alpine snowmobiles with one ski used to have the same issue. I am thinking of trying to rig a runner/carbide of some sort like a snowmobile has to the bottom of the ski to get rid of this. I purchased my KTRAK at the local bike shop (Ski Rack Sports in Bangor) instead of ordering it from Ktrak directly. The cassette was loose on the hub as well. However, buying it through them was awesome, as they completely set it up for me. It's really not that difficult, but they were able to tighten the cassette better than I would have been able to, and adjusted the shifting on my derailleur to work perfectly with the 6 speed. I did not have the issue with the derailleur guard like the other reviewer had either.
a Cross Country Rider
from Northampton, MA, USA
Date Reviewed: December 26, 2007
Strengths: Clever design, mostly solid workmanship, works well on packed snow
Weaknesses: Ineffective in snow deeper than 4-6" (unless groomed/packed)---guess you can't overcome physics; wrong gearing; plastic derailleur guard at rubs wheel; arrived with loose hub and freehub bearings
I purchased this product with the hope of being able to ride unpacked snow more than 3" deep. My current snow wheels (Snowcats with Freddie's Revenge Light) are great in shallow snow, ice, and packed snowmobile trails. I thought the Ktrak would open opportunities to ride deeper snow. The traction with the Ktrak is great, but it doesn't float at all on unpacked snow, so it bogs down in deeper snow. This is not a defect of the unit, simply a law of physics. I imagine that's why snowmobiles have such powerful engines. If I didn't have the Snowcats already I would probably love the Ktrak for snowmobile trails and light snow, but I prefer the Snowcats as they are much lighter and faster. There may be a narrow band of snow depth (? 4-5") where the Ktrak is superior to the snowcats. Also, I agree with the above review: the gearing is wrong (needs a 34t), the plastic derailleur guard rubs against the wheel when freewheeling and should be replaced by spacers, and my unit arrived with loose hub and freehub bearings. I spoke with the people at Ktrak about these problems and they were very receptive and stated the plastic disc would be corrected, but this should have been done before release of the product.
Similar Products Used: Snowcat rims (44mm wide) from All Weather Sports in Anchorage with Nokian Freddie's Revenge Light tires at 10 PSI
Bike Setup: Santa Cruz Blur LT, GT Zaskar
from victor, ID
Date Reviewed: December 18, 2007
Strengths: The Ktrak is a beast on the trail when set up correctly.
Weaknesses: It comes set up with a 25t rear cassette and a platic cassette chaingaurd that is garbage.
As soon as you get you Ktrak, do yourself a favor; purchase or dig through your parts bin four cassette spacers. Remove the original cassette and plastic chaingaurd. Place the four cassette spacers on the inside of cassette then find a six speed 34t cassette body (XT works great)on the freehub. fasten tightly with lockring. Now you have a mean winter beast that will eat up the untracked snow. The Rans Dynamik is the best bike for the ktrak (no wait it's the best bike period) due to the weight distribution over the rear wheel. Although there isn't a clamp wide enough for the crankforward so I had to fashion one out of another plastic clamp. I am still in the early stages of testing, but since there isn't much available online I decided to get the informaaion out.