Last winter was pretty mild and those of us used to seeing many feet of the white stuff were looking at bare roads, not a bad thing, in my mind, but if you have a snowmobile, you start to wonder if there's any use for it when the temperature rises. Some owners get into drag racing on grass and others, who care less for their sleds, run them across short stretches of open water, hoping to carry enough speed to keep their sled above the water line, but there have been quite a few folks who have either converted the sled itself or used the engine for another vehicle altogether, and some of those alternatives are pretty slick.
I started thinking about this when I got a note from Mike C., the other day, bringing my attention to a company called Street Legal Sleds. They've come up with a conversion kit that replaces the skis with wheels and replaces the track with a swingarm, turning the snowmobile into something resembling a Can Am Spyder.
While the idea of adding wheels to a sled isn't new, I'm not sure how many, if any, other attempts, actually saw the light of day. This one looks like it works OK, but from the dates on the web site, it doesn't appear they've been doing much for the past couple of years. Are they still in business? The kit is listed at $8499 and includes everything you need, though whether that price on top of the sled is cost effective will depend on your own situation. Pretty neat.
One of the best snowmobile engine applications ever covered on The Kneeslider was our story about Kawasaki's Factory Auto Racing project. In 1972, Harvey Aschenbrenner was tasked with building the car and adapting the 440cc Kawasaki snowmobile engine. He made quite a bit of progress, but the project ended too soon and the effort was never developed to its full potential. Very interesting story, though.
Along those same lines, but evidently preceding the Kawasaki project by a few years, was the "Star Car," developed by Polaris Industries to use a snowmobile engine during the summer months. It was a neat single seat racer, however, as the story goes, when some owners took delivery, instead of installing the engine from their sled, they installed much larger engines yielding much more performance than intended by the factory. Under the guise of "suspension updates" the cars were recalled and when they were returned to Polaris, the legal department had the cars destroyed. I have absolutely no way of confirming that bit of trivia so, believe what you will.
There was one for sale on eBay some years ago and estimates vary about how many are left, varying from as few as 10 to as many as 100. It's doubtful anyone really knows, but it is another fine example of snowmobile engines finding summertime use.
The Tul-aris, was a sweet little racer built by Rob Tuluie who used a Polaris 700cc 2 stroke snowmobile engine, that eventually grew to something over 800cc and ended up with 140hp in a 273 pound bike. Nice!
Dan Hanebrink built the Monotrack Experimental back in the early 1970s. The monocoque chassis was made from magnesium plate and a three-cylinder, rubber-mounted, two-stroke Kohler snowmobile engine provided power to the belt-driven torque converter. Drive to the rear wheel was also by belt. Very cool.
No matter what you think of snowmobiles, the engines certainly have a lot of potential and sometimes, guys with a wrench find better things to do with that little 2 stroke than running around in the snow or letting it sit all summer long. I thought you might find these options interesting in case you have one gathering dust in your garage.