Timbersled 2020: ARO 3 vs RIOT Experience | Mountain Sledder
Josh Stack
April 16th, 2019

Timbersled 2020: ARO 3 vs RIOT Experience

This spring, Timbersled sent prototype MY2020 bikes to dealers across North America to support demo rides of the new ARO 3 and RIOT systems.

I was lucky enough to be involved in the program with Innerspace Watersports, a Timbersled dealer with locations in Vernon and Kelowna, BC.

The journey started as I drove to Revelstoke to meet Corrie Brewster, of Brewster West Motorsports, to pick up the ARO 3. When I asked Corrie about his experience riding the kit, he told me, “The ARO 3 fully exceeded my expectations. We went to Area 51 and there was not a single line this thing could not touch.”

A week later, I returned to collect the RIOT kit from Brock Hoyer, who had been filming with FXR on the system.

The RIOT is the most playful snowbike I have rode yet. I like how you can make it climb like an ARO platform, and then with a click of the switch on the Fox shocks, it is nimble just like a dirt bike. Plus, it is sweet to wheelie.
– Brock Hoyer


But it wasn’t until the following weekend, when I embarked on a journey to the Monashee Mountains for three days of riding that I would get the chance to form my own opinion on the difference between the 2020 ARO 3 vs RIOT systems from Timbersled.

Timbersled ARO 3 vs RIOT Comparison

Heading to the Monashees was a great way to test the bikes in versatile terrain. We rode trails and meadows, tight trees and steep backcountry areas. It was the perfect place to compare the kits and push them to the limits.

Timbersled ARO 3 vs RIOT-3
Innerspace Watersports
The Monashee Mountains are the perfect testing grounds for the author, Brooke Astells, to try out the 2020 Timbersled ARO 3 and RIOT systems.

Initial Thoughts on the 2020 Timbersled RIOT

When I tried to envision how the Timbersled RIOT would be to ride, I imagined that it would be playful, nimble and responsive. I was excited to ride it, but I was also a little nervous of the possibility that it may be too rowdy for my personal riding style.

With characteristics of maneuverability and nimbleness at the forefront, the RIOT is built with an experienced dirt biker in mind. Being a small female, I was concerned that the RIOT might be too responsive and want to wheelie without me asking it to. I was also curious how it would climb in the backcountry compared to the new ARO 3.


Timbersled RIOT

The Timbersled RIOT was designed to be nimble and playful. Photo: Innerspace Watersports

After Riding RIOT

I loved riding the RIOT. The RIOT feels very responsive on the trail where it handles remarkably similar to a dirt bike—just like Timbersled claims it should. But the adjustability of the shocks also makes it really easy to adapt to different terrain types. Where I was the most surprised by the RIOT was in the steeper, more challenging terrain.

During the course of our ride, I jumped into an area with more experienced riders to challenge myself and the kit. I switched the shocks to the stiffest setting and chose my line just as if I were on my own ARO system. Much to my surprise, the RIOT pulled me up and was super playful. We rode through the trees and up steep, sidehill areas and through some halfpipe-style bowls.

The RIOT definitely favours less gnarly terrain, but it is impressive to see that it can handle the tougher stuff too. As far as wheelies, well, like Hoyer says, the RIOT is made for it!

Timbersled ARO 3 vs RIOT-6
Brooke Astells
Rider: Cody Davies

Initial Thoughts on the 2020 Timbersled ARO 3

I was most excited about the ARO 3 when I first saw it at the Timbersled reveal back in March. The ARO system complements the terrain we have in British Columbia perfectly, and I knew immediately that it would open up new riding areas with the 3” track. I had concerns about how it would handle on the trail with such large, square paddles, but I was really excited to find out firsthand.


Timbersled 3" paddles

The ARO 3 track, with 3″ paddles. Photo: Innerspace Watersports

After Riding ARO 3

The ARO 3 is AMAZING!!! Riding this kit built my confidence as a rider significantly. Any line I wanted to do, any hill I wanted to climb and any jump I wanted to take I was able to do with ease. We tested the ARO 3 next to the ARO 137 LE side by side and the ARO 3 made every hillclimb and sidehill look easy by comparison.

Timbersled ARO 3 vs RIOT-7
Brooke Astells
Rider: Josh Stack
Timbersled ARO 3 vs RIOT-8
Brooke Astells
Rider: Josh Stack

The ARO 3 feels stable and just as nimble as the kit I am used to riding. I can say without a doubt that the ARO 3 is perfectly designed for big mountain riding.

Rowdy RIOT & the King of the Backcountry: Timbersled ARO 3 vs RIOT

The RIOT and ARO 3 systems are different from anything else Timbersled or any other snowbike manufacturer has produced in the past.

The name of the RIOT sums it up perfectly. It is a rowdy, nimble, responsive kit built with the dirt biker in mind.

On the other hand, the ARO 3 is the king of the backcountry. It feels like it will climb any hill in any condition. I am confident that it is a trailbreaker, and it can cut lines that other kits wouldn’t dream of touching.


– Brooke