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I've spent a fair amount of time this winter trying to get the ultimate snow machine out of my RIP9. I've got the widest tires and rims (I've got 38mm rims, but a 50mm rim just came out) that I could find on it. It's a marginal ride on most days around here. I wanted to get a Pugsley with Endomorphs. My wife decided she wanted to go on a biking tour in Italy this summer so my purchasing privileges have been curtailed. I could no longer afford the $2k build on the Pugs. I could, however, embezzle $350 for the Ktrak and hide that from the wife. I originally wanted to put the Ktrak on the RIP9, but I didn't have a spare disk for the rear brake. My 575 had a spare...and was longing to be used. Since the snow began, I haven't touched it. I looked at the Yeti and it seemed to say "Strap some wacky track to me and let's do some riding...I don't care if I look silly". So, here's my ongoing review of my RIP and Ktrak-575 as I put them through the paces.

My 29er is a Niner RIP9 with 38mm Kris Holm rims and 2.55" WTB weirwolves. My 26er is a Yeti 575 with Ktrak on rear and Maxxis Minion 2.35s on the front. Wheel Bicycle tire Mode of transport Bicycle wheel rim Transport
I didn't use the ski because I wanted to use a front brake. Plus, I need to haul the sucker around. The Ktrak with a front tire will fit my Thule rack provided I pull the rear plastic stop off the rail. Mode of transport Automotive exterior Automotive tail & brake light Vehicle Land vehicle

First off, the Ktrak is a wee smidge on the tubby side. How tubby? 28 lbs. Parallel Material property Advertising Paper Number
But what's 28lbs for your average bike rider? Unless you're a weight weinie, you shouldn't notice strapping 28lbs onto a 25 lb bike. Ktrak says that the extra weight is roughly equivalent to a 6-pack of beer. Maybe they meant a 6-pack of Warsteiner mini-kegs? My Echo chainsaw that I sometimes strap to my bike comes in at 12 pounds. If I put on a wider chain on the saw and duct taped it to my frame, it would give me the motorized equivalent of a Ktrak at...eh...roughly half the weight.

So, if you can ignore the enormous pink elephant that is the Ktrak weight, read on. As it turns out, I used to take my 30 lb daughter trailriding in a kid seat on the back of my bike. We had a crash (it wasn't my fault!) and now she refuses to ride with me anymore. But...I do have experience hauling 30 pounds of deadweight. At least the Ktrak doesn't scream "Daddy I'm scared of crashing" at me.

I hauled both the RIP9 and 575 up to the ski hill (Pajarito) to do the cross country trails. I pulled the RIP9 off first...it doesn't give me a hernia pulling it off the car. I rode down to the cross country trail and sank 4-5 inches into the 'packed' snow. Doh! So...the RIP9 didn't work today...unless I wanted to make 4" deep ruts in the track. I went back and grabbed the Yeti and managed to blow right past the section the RIP sank in. Yep, the float on the Ktrak does work...sorta. More on that later. But...for today I couldn't ride the RIP, but could ride the Yeti/Ktrak...so I guess that's a nod to the Ktrak....sorta. One didn't work, and one sucked @$$...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I took off on the Ktrak and could only go 10-20 feet before someone would stop me and ask me what I was riding. A guy in his 70's stopped me for 10 minutes, asked me what that 'contraption' was and then proceeded to tell me about delivering papers in Chicago on ice 'before the war'. The thing does get attention...too bad the trail isn't littered with bikini-clad playboy models. If chatting with middle-aged folk with dogs is your bag, then the Ktrak will provide that in spades.

I proceeded to ride uphill up to the open meadow called Canada Bonita. Even with a full suspension bike, I can feel the treads transmitted up through the bike to my butt. It's like sitting on one of those coin-operated beds they used to have in cheap motels. The bike also sounds like a friggin' tank. The treads make the same kind of clatter on the snow that you hear if you watch old war documentaries showing the real thing. I guess if you wanna scare the crap out of a cross country skiier (Whoa...WTF....I hear a tank coming at me) then it might be worthwhile.

The Ktrak will go uphill. Oddly, it's specced with a 29t rear cassette being the largest of the bunch. So you have to be in great shape to power 200 pounds of lard, the added rolling resistance of the Ktrak, and the snow resistance, up a steep hill. I'd love to say I'm in stellar shape...but 4 months of drinking beer, egg nog and occasionally riding haven't put me in tour-de-france conditioning. The uphill riding was an unpleasant grind. Traction was good on the Ktrak, but if it was steep enough and I stomped hard enough, I could spin the rear wheel. This would dig a trench which I couldn't ride out of...so I'd have to push it. Starting uphill generally resulted in me spinning and digging into the snow. I think that's the reason for the 29t rear cassette. A typical 34t cassette may result in plowing a furrow for seeds instead of any significant forward motion.

I finally made it to the meadow...a climb of maybe 500' over 2 miles. I rode most of the way, but did push some when I could feel my heart beat in my head. Temps were lower up there and so the packed snow had never crusted over. Trying to ride on that resulted in the rear sinking even in the packed trail. As you can see, the front tire is floating, but the rear is dropping into the snow. Bicycle tire Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel Wheel Tire
I hoped to ride downhill cross country across fresh powder. Both me and the bike sank 40" in snow. Ok...that wasn't gonna work. So I hauled it back to the packed track and started downhill.

At some point along that downhill run, the front tire cut through the upper pack. The forward motion of the bike punched the tire all the way down to the solid ground (similar to photo). Bicycle tire Bicycle frame Winter Bicycle wheel Bicycle fork
The bike came to a sudden halt. My feet, however, skiied across the packed trail until my shins (painfully) whacked into the handlebars. My upper body kept going, my feet hooked the handlebars and ripped the bike out of the snow. I landed head first, luckily breaking my fall with my nose. The bike slingshot out of the snow and landed on top of me. Together, we tumbled, legs intertwined with wheels, arms jumbled with bike frames, for another 30-40 yards. Great...the snow wasn't firm enough to support my 200lb body on the bike, but it was firm enough to support me wrapped up in a bike as we slid for an eternity. I got up...snow packed in my earhole and looked around for giggling gawkers. There wasn't a soul around for miles, but I still felt people laughing at me. I spent the next 15 minutes filling in the 3' deep, 4' diameter hole that my front tire made when ripped out of the packed trail. If I had the front ski on, I don't think I'd go OTB, but the rear would still have sunk. So...float over the 29er is better...but it's not perfect. Be careful on these things if the snow is deeper than 6"...even if it is packed.

Overall, it was fun on the downhill and flat parts. Uphill was unpleasant (as most uphill tends to be) but did work. Traction was better than a tire, but flotation was crappier than I hoped.

I'm going to go hit some single track in the next few days to compare the 29er with the Ktrak 575...if I can find some trails with only 6" or so of snow. I'm curious how the Ktrak handles the non-uniformity of a typical trail. Rocks, logs, etc. are going to be there that isn't on a cross country track.

Fight!
 

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bi-winning
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Nice ride report. You certainly have no shortage of snow!
 

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is buachail foighneach me
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great report! can't wait to read more. i wonder what would happen if you put a 29er fork/wheel on the front of the yeti... or the ktrak on the back of your rip9.
 

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Great (and only) Ktrak report

But with all my sympathy I'd like to point out the thing doesn't work. Living here in Maine I know about riding snow and there is no substitute for 50mm+ rims and 3.0 or 4.0 tires. A Fatbike or Pugsley will really float on the semi packed stuff like the groomed trails pictured. And when you want to sell a real snow bike there are plenty of buyers; I think you'll own the Ktrak forever. Proof once again that wifely constraints can force distorted economic decisions, i.e., go for the good stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
sean salach said:
great report! can't wait to read more. i wonder what would happen if you put a 29er fork/wheel on the front of the yeti... or the ktrak on the back of your rip9.
I plan on putting it on the back of the RIP9 at some point if I get another disk. That would keep the front wheel from diving into the snow (maybe), but the rear is still gonna sink even if it's on the 29er.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
mtnbikerx said:
there is no substitute for 50mm+ rims and 3.0 or 4.0 tires. A Fatbike or Pugsley will really float on the semi packed stuff like the groomed trails pictured.
I plan on building up a Pugsley after I get back from Italy...wife be damned! It's not the first time that my wife ended up causing me more hassle than had she let me do what I wanted in the first place. "Snow bike...why do you need a snow bike?". Umm...because I don't need a bike with a wacky tank track as well as a snow bike!

The Ktrak did managed to get me places that my normally equipped bike couldn't get me...and it's cheap. Well...cheaper than the Pugsley. I plan on using the Ktrak until I can get the pugs built up. So...not really a loss.
 

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Vaginatarian
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mtnbikerx said:
But with all my sympathy I'd like to point out the thing doesn't work. Living here in Maine I know about riding snow and there is no substitute for 50mm+ rims and 3.0 or 4.0 tires. A Fatbike or Pugsley will really float on the semi packed stuff like the groomed trails pictured. And when you want to sell a real snow bike there are plenty of buyers; I think you'll own the Ktrak forever. Proof once again that wifely constraints can force distorted economic decisions, i.e., go for the good stuff.
Ive got a question for the Pug owner
Here in NH, we've gotten maybe 1-2' of snow on the ground this year, Now with Nokians I can ride ice, packed trails (snowmobile) fairly well, but any single track trails, and most are untouched or maybe xx skied or snowshoed on are pretty much off limits. is the Pugsley able to navigate those type trails or does it have to be pretty packed?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
sean salach said:
ahem, ahem. any more?
The warmer 'la nina' has been hindering my snow rides as of late. We've gotten several rounds of rain over the last 7-10 days instead of new layers of fluff. :eekster: I actually put my dirt wheels back on and went for a ride at lower elevations on *gasp* dirt.

They're calling for some storms over the weekend, so maybe I can test it in fresh stuff soon....
 

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dan0 said:
Ive got a question for the Pug owner
Here in NH, we've gotten maybe 1-2' of snow on the ground this year, Now with Nokians I can ride ice, packed trails (snowmobile) fairly well, but any single track trails, and most are untouched or maybe xx skied or snowshoed on are pretty much off limits. is the Pugsley able to navigate those type trails or does it have to be pretty packed?
The Pugsley will not ride through 2' of fresh pow. You could ride 1' of pow, but not for long probably. I mean like 10 feet depending on the weight of the snow. Not all snow is the same as you know, and my legs are feeling the snow we got last night... wind blown and turned slightly hard throughout... several feet in spots... blown to crust in others. I did a lot of walking, and I did a lot of riding. I NEEDED the pugs today.

The Pugsley works. No doubt about that. I wouldn't have been riding any other bike today. Couldn't have. It is good for me. I live in the mountains. It does not get wasted. It is also a very fun bike to ride. Snow rides on the Pugs are brand new, great, excellent.

The best way I can describe it to a snow rider, is that it is more. It offers more. It does it all better. Slush, pow, ice, crust... it does it all better, and it does it a lot better. I have NO issues with the weight. NEVER think about it. Never weighed it. It is not like I could be riding anything else anyway so it is all relative. That said, it will never be a ski or a board. It is a bike on the snow.

It is the Velo Tractor.
 

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29Colossus said:
The Paisley will not ride through 2' of fresh pow. You could ride 1' of pow, but not for long probably. I mean like 10 feet depending on the weight of the snow. Not all snow is the same as you know, and my legs are feeling the snow we got last night... wind blown and turned slightly hard throughout... several feet in spots... blown to crust in others. I did a lot of walking, and I did a lot of riding. I NEEDED the pugs today.

The Pugsley works. No doubt about that. I wouldn't have been riding any other bike today. Couldn't have. It is good for me. I live in the mountains. It does not get wasted. It is also a very fun bike to ride. Snow rides on the Pugs are brand new, great, excellent.

The best way I can describe it to a snow rider, is that it is more. It offers more. It does it all better. Slush, pow, ice, crust... it does it all better, and it does it a lot better. I have NO issues with the weight. NEVER think about it. Never weighed it. It is not like I could be riding anything else anyway so it is all relative. That said, it will never be a ski or a board. It is a bike on the snow.

It is the Velo Tractor.
have you ever ridden with studded tires on a mtn bike?, comparable? I can ride in maybe 2-3" snow now, just wondering if it was better enough to justify the purchase
 

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@adelorenzo
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KTrak is the worst waste of $400 in my life. Mine is on eBay right now after riding it less than 2000 m. Traction is great, sure, but the rolling resistance is off the chart. I'm 6'6", 250+ and used to pushing singlespeeds and fixies. I can barely turn the pedals on this thing even with a granny ring. The resistance is so high you can't even turn your cranks at all when the bike is on the stand.

Fortunately, what I get off eBay will likely give me a good chunk o' the change towards a smokin' deal I just got on a Pugsley frame, LM rims and Endo tires.

That's my take on those things. Junk.
 

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dan0 said:
have you ever ridden with studded tires on a mtn bike?, comparable? I can ride in maybe 2-3" snow now, just wondering if it was better enough to justify the purchase
Yes, and no. Studded tires are good for ice. To me they are very specific use tires. If it is icey all the time, bring on the studs. The more the better. I have used Nokians, Inovas, and homemade studded tires.

But to compare the Endomorph to a studded tire is tough. They don't do the same thing. The Endomorph gives more of everything. The studded tire gives more ice traction. The studded tire has more traction on ice than the Endomorph, but the Endomorph has quite a bit already. It has a lot more than a standard 2.1 or a 2.3 tire. The Endomorph's float aspect is what really makes it what it is. Even when you think you are sinking to the bottom and the ride is impossible, you aren't sinking all the way, and the ride may not be impossible, but at the same time it will slide some, and it will let go completely on glare ice just like anything else.

I would make some studded tires, AND get a Pugsley... hehe, but don't let anyone talk you into it. It is about snow and ice. If you have it all the time, then they are both great tools to have. If it is just a fancy that is hard to justify, then it needs to be thought through. There are many buyers if you get one and just don't use it.

I can't imagine not using mine. It is the difference in a GREAT ride and no ride.

:thumbsup:
 

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I will preface by saying I am not trying to flame anyone, or "start something." But please don't ride your bikes on cross country ski trails. Bike tracks absolutely destroy the ski tracks, making the trail all but unskiiable. I am both a skier and a biker, and I would not think of riding on set ski tracks. If you have enough snow to ski on, put the bike away and get some skiis! Or at least avoid ski trails an ride hiking, snowshoeing, or snomobile trails. A bike track won't hurt those trails.

OK, off my soapbox now.
 

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Polk said:
Bike tracks absolutely destroy the ski tracks, making the trail all but unskiiable.
Umm...

Huh.

But...

Huh.

I don't get it. How does one 'destroy' snow? Does a bike tire somehow 'melt' the snow?

:confused:

I've heard this suggestion locally as well. And I just can't get my head around it. Damaged snow? Destroyed snow?

Please esplain senor.

MC
 

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@adelorenzo
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mikesee said:
I've heard this suggestion locally as well. And I just can't get my head around it. Damaged snow? Destroyed snow?
Next time you get up at 5:45 a.m., when the temperature is -25 C and the sun won't rise until you get home, and then spend 2.5 unpaid hours on a snow machine grooming trails, coming home cold and tired and smelling like gas, taking quick shower and then off to work, and then someone goes and messes it all up... Then maybe you might get your head around it.
 

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anthony.delorenzo said:
Next time you get up at 5:45 a.m., when the temperature is -25 C and the sun won't rise until you get home, and then spend 2.5 unpaid hours on a snow machine grooming trails, coming home cold and tired and smelling like gas, taking quick shower and then off to work, and then someone goes and messes it all up... Then maybe you might get your head around it.
Does it really matter that you choose to martyr yourself in this fashion? No one's living or dying if the trails get groomed or not, right? *You* don't have to be out there, right?

Besides--define 'messes it all up"?

You mean leaves evidence of their passing? Like snowmachines do? Or their exhaust? Or the exhaust from the vehicle used to drive to where the snowmachine is parked? Or the puddle of gas and two-cycle oil spilled onto the ground when refueling said snowmachine?

Or do you mean like moose, elk, deer, wolf, coyote, and fox tracks on "your" trails?

What if the wind comes up and 'messes up' your manicured trails? Ban the wind?

What if a coyote kills a rabbit and eats it in the 'skate lane'? Bad coyote!

And (Gah!) what if *more* snow falls? Then what? Act of congress? Declare war on weather?

There are many different perspectives here, and none of them are 'right'. Perspectives in this case are merely convenient.

If we're talking about trails on your private land, say no more. But if we're discussing public lands, that's a whole 'nother ballgame.

My local ski club have become some of the most outrageous nimby's WRT anyone other than skiers on 'their' trails. On general principal alone I think it's ridiculous that they can't share--after all they're grooming trails on public (forest circus) lands.

BTW, I *do* donate to the trail grooming fund. And I don't ride up there when the snow is soft--it's simply not fun to ride if you're leaving any mark on the trail. I'd rather ride roads instead.

Soooo-care to define 'messes it all up'?

MC
 

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mikesee said:
Umm...

Huh.

But...

Huh.

I don't get it. How does one 'destroy' snow? Does a bike tire somehow 'melt' the snow?

:confused:
Umm...

Huh.

But...

Huh.

I get it. Seems clear to me... of course, I read his post addressing damage to ski tracks/trails, not damage to the snow. :confused:
 

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mikesee said:
Umm...

Huh.

But...

Huh.

I don't get it. How does one 'destroy' snow? Does a bike tire somehow 'melt' the snow?

:confused:

I've heard this suggestion locally as well. And I just can't get my head around it. Damaged snow? Destroyed snow?

Please esplain senor.

MC
I had the SAME idea as you, MIke. I thought... wow... this will be great... I will ride the Pugs on the XC ski trails. They are super wide. I won't get close to the track set. I don't care what anyone says. I am me! I am 29C! I know when something is right and when it is wrong, and if I think it is right and fine, then I will do whatever I want. Hehe. Not saying that is your attitude, but it is mine most of the time. I can do whatever I want because I usually don't make a bad judgement call and end up doing the wrong thing.

Well... I went out and tried one time. Our XC trails in Aspen are SO pristine. I can see them from the kitchen window. The track set is as perfect as it can get. The area to the side where they do their, "climbing"... well.. after I rode the Pugs on it, I felt genuinely bad. It looked horrible. It would not have been the best of conditions to XC ski on after I was done with it. I didn't even ride very much of it. The tire only sank in about an inch at the most, but it just wasn't really working out, so I left and have not had the desire to do it again. They don't even let people walk on it... miles of incredible ski trails. I could see it ruining someone's experience I guess. If I skied around in mostly flat circles, in the winter, in Aspen, with all the ski mountains surrounding me, I suppose I would be pretty anal about my perfect ski surface.

I have found MUCH better Pugs riding anyway. Up to the Maroon Bells. Sweet as you know. Up Indy Pass? Ohh yes. Thank you. Ashcroft... OMG. Damn good therapy! I will be in decent enough shape come spring time. Now if the arm would just get a wee bit better....

:thumbsup:
 

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29Colossus said:
I have found MUCH better Pugs riding anyway. Up to the Maroon Bells. Sweet as you know. Up Indy Pass? Ohh yes. Thank you. Ashcroft... OMG.
Hey Mike-

Valid point for sure, and one that I covered in some other post in this thread. I don't have interest in riding the XC trails when they are soft--it isn't remotely fun. Lots of other options on those days--tele, road bike, hike, skibike, etc...

But what about when the trails are hardpacked and bulletproof? Should there be a hard and fast rule that says "No bikes" when their passing is virtually undetectable? Of course not. Should someone that ruts up an xc ski trail get caned by people in brightly colored and funny looking lycra suits? Of course. Same as if someone had shat on the trail. It's about respect and judgement, not a blanket decree that "all ____ are bad".

I'm basically tired of a group of mental midgets that can't handle a blip on their radar, even if the blip is 100% benign and has the same mindset (human powered outdoor recreation) as they do.

Hope the overall recovery is movin' right along.

MC
 
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