With Canada firmly in winter’s grasp from coast to coast, IM decided to how our long-term Yamaha WR450F project bike fairs as snowbike.
There is no doubt that the WR450F is probably the perfect bike for a snowbike conversion. With its strong torquey high-displacement engine, wider transmission, softer fork valving and larger fuel tank, it seems an even better candidate than its YZ450F sibling.
The big Yamaha mates with the CAMSO snow track and ski kit seamlessly with very good directions in terms of installation and tuning. The track definitely takes more power to rotate than an 18-inch knobby and chain, so the 450 is not overkill in terms of power. The Yamaha fuel injection system welcomes winter as seamlessly as your car does and starts easily, idles smoothly, and drives perfectly without changing main jets, needle jets and pilot jets. I was able to open my Power Tuner phone app and easily add some ignition timing for a bit more grunt with the large counter shaft sprocket I was using. Just awesome!
Installation was approximately four hours the first time, being slowed down by returned trips to the supplied installation manual from CAMSO, but luckily it was very clear with images to confirm the print. Second time would likely be two-and-a-half hours tops. Basically, the shock, swingarm and rear tire assembly gets removed and the track kit bolts into place. The most intricate part of the installation is routing the already bled brake master cylinder up through the bodywork, behind the number plate and onto the handlebar. Up front, the front wheel, caliper and brake assembly get removed and CAMSO's ski gets installed with the stock axle and pinch bolt system.
Riding the CAMSO/Yamaha WR was seamless for all the experienced motorcyclists that hopped on. Our Yamaha project WR has a Rekluse automatic clutch system, which made operation of the bike even easier and just a bit more like a snowmobile if you have any experience with a modern CVT clutch system on current snowmobiles from Yamaha or the competition. In deep powder, the 129-inch CAMSO track with its 2.5-inch paddle track is amazing! The deeper the better! You can drag your handlebar if you stay on the gas and it will squat and just drive out of the powder. I really don't think you could get this thing stuck east of the Rockies.
One issue with the ski design and the square lug nature of the track is that it does not like a hard-packed trail, at all. Imagine a bike with flat hard tires over uneven terrain – it hunts around pretty dramatically. Fortunately, when you head off the trail, it’s back to pure magic.
If you live within striking distance of two to three feet of snow each winter, definitely put one of these on your must-have list. The amount of fun is amazing! Why winterize your bike for five to six months, when you can reach out to CAMSO and get one of these kits. They can be a bit pricey, but compared with purchasing a snowmobile, it’s a steal. If you are a hard-core motorcyclist at heart, you only live once, so give snowbiking a try!
Interested in a CAMSO snowbike conversion kit? Contact your local Yamaha dealer for availability and pricing.