May 24th, 2019

Arctic Cat Snow Bike Patent Application

Remember the big reveal of the prototype Arctic Cat SVX 450 snow bike back in March 2016?

Well, this isn’t that. But if you’re wondering why the Arctic Cat SVX 450 never went into production, the answer, in part at least, involves a discussion of EPA certification and how over-snow vehicles are classified and regulated. In any case, a new Arctic Cat snow bike patent application suggests the dream of building a production snow bike isn’t over for the snowmobile manufacturer.

The new application describes a purpose-built snow bike, rather than one built around a donor dirt bike as was the SVX 450. The application implies a product built by Arctic Cat from the ground up, which would allow several advantages over the requirement of adapting a donor bike from another manufacturer.

Advantages of a Purpose Built Snow Bike

Here is a list of some of the advantages offered by the production of a purpose-built snow bike as described:

  • The application shows the use of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which would be better suited for the application than the manual transmission used in donor dirt bikes
  • An engine air handling system positions the air intake above the engine, with a rearward facing intake port
  • By rotating the engine 180˚, the exhaust system is placed in a linear configuration within the chassis and tunnel of the vehicle, thereby preventing contact with the user (and melting those expensive snow bibs!)
  • A drop fork component reduces weight of the vehicle and allows better adjustment of the handlebars
  • The size and length of the fork can be reduced
  • Components, including the engine and gas tank, can be placed lower and farther forward in the purpose-built frame, allowing a lower center of gravity for better handling and balance
  • The drive shaft can be placed closer to the foot pegs than is possible with a snow bike kit
  • The vehicle can be made lighter overall than a typical snow bike kit

Some Interesting Points of Note

While the images show a twin-rail rear suspension system, the application does reference an earlier patent that we now know to be the ALPHA-ONE single-beam rear suspension. It’s interesting that the SVX 450 design also featured a single-beam skidframe.



No specific engine information is listed, however the application states that a single, two-stroke cylinder is shown. “Four-stroke engines and multi-cylinder two-stroke engines can also be used, but at the possible sacrifice of weight and size,” according to the document.

Arctic Cat Snow Bike Patent 04
The single-cylinder, two-stroke engine, along with a CVT transmission

The application shows that an optional two-ski configuration kit could be utilized.

A depiction of a two ski configuration suggests that the snow bike could potentially be adapted to exhibit ride characteristics closer to that of a snowmobile.


Excerpt from the Detailed Description of the Application

“Snow vehicles, such as snow bikes, are often created as modifications or kits of off-road motorcycles or dirt bikes. The front wheel is temporarily replaced by a ski and the rear wheel by a power track for gripping snow and ice. Such vehicles exceed noise and safety regulations and are therefore often restricted to use on closed courses. In snow vehicle applications, reducing the weight of individual components and overall vehicle weight, without sacrificing durability, function or utility, is an ongoing goal in product design. A lighter vehicle can increase performance and handling, among other characteristics. Embodiments of the present disclosure describe a purpose-built snow vehicle with numerous advantages over current snow vehicles and snow bike kits. Embodiments herein describe a snow vehicle utilizing a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with an air handling system. The snow vehicle includes an exhaust system positioned entirely within the chassis and tunnel of the vehicle, to prevent any contact with a user or their clothing. The snow vehicle further includes a lower center of gravity in the positioning of the vehicle components within the purpose-built frame. The engine is positioned lower and forward, and additional weight, such as one or more gas tanks are further positioned to create the optimal center of gravity for handling and balance.

“Embodiments herein describe a dropped fork com­ponent that creates a lower weight of the vehicle and additional adjustment of the handlebars. An engine air handling system provides a rear facing air intake for the engine. The purpose-built chassis or frame allows for greater space utilization and a lower center of gravity of the vehicle.”

Detractors will argue that a purpose-built snow bike lacks the utility of year-round use, and that is certainly true. However, the application suggests that there are many advantages that can be gained over a traditional snow bike kit by designing the vehicle exclusively for on-snow use. For the many snow bike riders who don’t bother to swap their ski and wheel out each season, that would be a boon.

It is interesting to see development on this front, even if the concept of a purpose-built single-ski over snow vehicle isn’t exactly new. We’re glad to see Arctic Cat putting effort into this idea, and hopefully someday we’ll get to ride a production model!


– MS