The Widescape WS250 Is Not a Snowmobile
When we first saw the teaser for the Widescape WS250 which was released in late February 2022, we immediately thought: It’s a stand up snowmobile! That’s what the video calls it at least. But on second thought, is it though? What constitutes a snowmobile? The Widescape WS250 is making us reconsider what a snowmobile is, and what we expect it to do.
Widescape WS250 Stand Up Snowmobile
To understand the Widescape WS250, we need to first figure out how to classify the thing so we can form some expectations about what it should be capable of doing.
Widescape calls the WS250 a snowmobile, so that’s the obvious comparison. But let’s set that aside for a moment. To get a better handle on it, let’s first look at how it compares to other recreational vehicles that are similar in some ways.
The Widescape WS250 is a new concept that, from a visual standpoint at least, is surprisingly perhaps more closely related to the shape of a stand up personal watercraft (aka jet ski) than any other recreational vehicle type.
To be clear: we’re not talking about the sit down things you see tourists riding the world over. We’re talking about the radical stand up type of ‘jet ski’ we associate with professional racing, freestyle riding and people who take it their PWC seriously.
While this comparison also makes sense from a rider body positioning standpoint, it is by no means airtight. For one, the WS250 was designed more for fun factor than the high performance demands of current stand up PWC models. Think more ‘electric scooter’ than ‘150 horsepower rocket ship’. And two, let’s not overlook the obvious fact that the Widescape WS250 goes on snow, not water. Duh, moving on.
It’s definitely not close to a snow bike though…or is it? Snow bikes have one ski. So does the WS250. Snow bikes have a narrow track. Ditto for the WS250. These are defining characteristics that separate them and make a snow bike handle much differently than a snowmobile.
Like a snow bike, the WS250 single ski helps maximize the efficiency of the small engine by cutting a trail for the track to help get the vehicle up on top of the snow and moving forward. These same factors should also make it likewise nimble in tight terrain and easily balanced across a slope.
But most of the time, snow bike riders sit down. Widescape WS250 doesn’t have a seat at all. You stand on a platform directly over the tunnel, not on pegs. Also, the engine is in front of the rider, not below. And it uses a CVT, not a manual gearbox
But perhaps the biggest difference between a snow bike and the WS250 is that no manufacturer builds a dedicated snow bike; they all are powered by a donor dirt bike at the core of the vehicle. The WS250 is a dedicated on-snow vehicle.
Is this thing a snow scooter?? Well, the spec sheet tells us that it’s similarly powered to your average liquor cycle. Motorcycle scooters are built for zipping around (post DUI) at in-town speeds though, not highway cruising or carving up a track.
The WS250 uses a liquid-cooled, electric start four-stroke 242 cc displacement EFI engine. That sounds like a low maintenance, easy-to-use engine with not much output. Scooter-esque.
We haven’t thrown a leg over a WS250 yet, so we can’t tell you how powerful it feels. But let’s just stop for a second to acknowledge that that analogy doesn’t even make sense—you don’t throw a leg over the WS250 at all. You stand on it. Everything we know is out the window!
In some ways, the WS250 is more like a heavy, gas powered e-scooter for snow. You balance on a central platform, and steer with your hands and body input. But you can’t really compare it to a commuter tool for city slickers.
Are you as confused as we are by now?
Okay, we are finally getting to perhaps the most natural comparison—the manufacturer calls it a snowmobile after all.
So what do they have in common? Well, snowmobiles and the WS250 are both used to travel over snow, most obviously. They are both are propelled by a track. They feature combustion engines and burn fuel. Power is transferred by continuously variable transmissions in both cases.
But in the Mountain Sledder world, snowmobiles are badass. They are nearly unstoppable, arm-stretching freight trains that literally climb mountains. They chew through crazy deep snow. They are a machine that can go places and do things that no other overland vehicle can do.
Is the WS250 a badass? It doesn’t have badass power, that’s for sure.
Of course, not all snowmobiles are fire-breathing, mountain slaying vehicles. You’ve got high speed lake rippers, toboggan hauling wide tracks, compact youth sleds and everything in between.
But here’s another big difference. The WS250 weighs only 90 kg (200 lb). That makes it the lightest powered over-snow vehicle out there by a long shot, including snow bikes. Most snowmobiles weigh twice that at least.
But before we move on, here’s one more counterpoint. Sleds, aka snowmobiles, have two skis. The Widescape WS250 has one ski. This is a big difference, because if you look up the definition of a snowmobile, surely having two skis is a defining characteristic. This affects much more than just the appearance. The handling characteristic of the vehicle is to a large degree dictated by this one fundamental difference.
Widescape WS250 Hard to Define
So by now you’re seeing how difficult it is to define this new type of vehicle; it’s part snowmobile, part snow bike, part stand up PWC, part scooter.
Perhaps the best way to paint an overall picture of what the WS250 is and what it was designed to do is to look at how it came to be and the details of its build in production form.
Development of Widescape WS250
The Widescape WS250 started out as a homemade winter BMX contraption build by a father for his son. Together, Alain and his son, Frédérik Aubut, continued to refine their idea by adding a motor and other enhancements over several years.
At one point, the inventors met Félix Gauthier, the President and Founder of Devinci Cycles, who saw the potential for the idea, and decided to partner with Alain on the research and development of the product.
After a brief pause, in 2012 the team renewed their activities with the firm intention of introducing the product to market.
Frédérik, soon having grown up and completed a mechanical engineering degree, became the product development leader of the WS250. Alain is also still involved in the development of his invention as a technical advisor.
The dream of father and son was to build a motorized machine that has “less weight and more agility; [is] less passive and more active; less expensive and more immersive,” according to Widescape.
It was designed for adventure seekers and winter explorers, just like Alain and Frédérik.
Widescape WS250 Specifications
These are the WS250 specifications, as published by Widescape:
- Widescape’s custom-built 242 cc WS250 Compact, lightweight, fuel-efficient, and extremely durable for high reliability in all conditions
- Direct-drive CVT drivetrain made by CVTech, ensuring a smooth and responsive power output every time you press on the throttle
- Solid and lightweight aluminum chassis and frame for a super floatable and maneuverable ride
- Non-slip traction mat with snow-clearing grooves
- High-performance front and rear suspension for a smooth and agile driving experience
- Thumb-operated throttle for ease and comfort
- Custom designed scaled track, engineered and crafted by Soucy with 1.5 in. lugs for optimal traction and control
- Custom designed ski, manufactured by PPD. Equipped with a single central keel and dual-side runners to ensure optimal grip and precise handling
- Light and compact bodywork made with HDPE plastics that resist shocks and cold 4 in. digital display that give you all the info you need while you ride: low/high oil temperature, low battery voltage, check engine, odometer, tripmeter, clock
WS250 Engine Specs
- Liquid-cooled, 242 cc four-stroke EFI Engine
- 22 N*m (16 ft-lbs) torque
- 71 mm x 61 mm (2.79 in. x 2.40 in.) bore and stroke
- Electric starter
- Unleaded 86 octane recommended
- 8 L (2.11 US gal) fuel capacity
- Integrated dual power driving modes: Standard and Woods modes
- CVTECH CVT transmission clutches
- 326 Drive sprocket ratio
- Widescape design front suspension
- 140 mm (5.51 in.) front suspension travel
- Widescape design rear suspension
- 100 mm (3.93 in.) rear suspension travel
- 100 mm (4 in.) digital display
- Aluminum frame
- HDPE and LDPE bodywork, optimized integration with aluminum framing parts
- UHMW ski, optimized with track stand, single keel and dual-side metal lips
- Aluminum handlebar dimensions:
- 780 mm (30.70 in.) width
- 35 mm (1.37 in.) diameter
- 15 mm (0.59 in.) rise
- 30 mm (1.18 in.) riser block height adjustment
- Heated grips optional
- 2,200 mm (86.4 in.) overall vehicle length
- 800 mm (31.44 in.) overall vehicle width
- 1,300 mm (51.12 in.) overall vehicle height
- 305 mm (12 in.) ski width
- 2,667 mm x 305 mm x 38 mm (105 in. x 12 in. x 1.5 in.) track
The Widescape WS250 Is Not a Snowmobile, and Why That Doesn’t Matter
So, our opinion, is that technically the Widescape WS250 is not a snowmobile at all. But does that even matter?
It is an over-snow vehicle, that much is for certain. And that’s typically how snowmobiles are described in legal-ese, and by the people who work for the governments that regulate these sorts of things. So unfortunately, that’s maybe the best—albeit a dorky—way to describe what the WS250 is.
More important than what it’s called though, is what it does.
The Widescape WS250 is built for riding anywhere—on and off trail. It is relatively lightweight, and by all appearances is agile and manoeuvrable. We’re guessing it’s probably pretty easy to get unstuck—compared to digging out a sled at least, that task should be a breeze.
Naturally, because our masthead says Mountain Sledder, we can’t help but be curious how the WS250 performs in deep snow and on steep hills at elevation. But they’re not designed for that purpose and that’s not why we’re intrigued by the vehicle.
We’re curious, because we love being outside, exploring and having fun, and the Widescape WS250 strikes us as a completely new way to do that.
We want to try one and rip it around our backyard and neighbourhood (abiding laws of course). We want to take it to the tobogganing hill and do some shuttles! We want to start up a logging road and see how far we can go before we run out of gas. We want to put our kids on it, and time them on laps around the house. We want to build a jump and see how far we can launch it to flat. We want to find a wind drift and try some wheelie turnouts. And of course, we want to take it up the mountain just to see how far we can go before it reaches its limit.
Basically, we just want to have a good time cruising around on snow and see where it takes us.
Perhaps what’s so interesting about this hard-to-define vehicle is not what it should be called; but rather the potential it has to provide new and exciting possibilities for fun.