Explorer snow track – Test Ride

Chances are that most Canadians are only just coming out of a very long and very white winter. For the motorcyclist especially, winter is a tough slog without a break for their two-wheel fix.


Chances are that most Canadians are only just coming out of a very long and very white winter. For the motorcyclist especially, winter is a tough slog without a break for their two-wheel fix.

But fear thee not the gloom of winters yet to come, as a Quebec company, AD Boivin, has just the product to keep the winter blahs at bay – their new ‘Explorer Smart All Terrain System’, essentially a snowmobile kit made to fit on a motorcycle.

In March, CMG was invited to try out the Explorer system at a very snowy motocross track just outside Joliette, Quebec.


KTM enduro fitted with the Explorer SAT system.

The Explorer kit consists of a snowmobile-like rear track and a single ski. The track bolts onto the rear of a motorcycle – replacing the wheel and tire, but keeping the original brake assembly – inserting into place with the rear axle and two tie-bars that attach around the footpegs.

Drive is via the motorcycle’s chain that spins a sprocket on the track assembly, which in turn drives a large notched wheel, which spins the track. There are quick release pins that allow the track part to be removed and moved closer or further from the front wheel to alter handling pending different conditions.

At the front, the wheel and complete braking assembly are removed and replaced with a single ski which bolts to the axle holder and braking mount of the front forks and is adjustable to raise or lower the front by up to 4 inches. The ski is mounted on rubber do-dads that allow it to pivot from side to side somewhat, for better contact with the snow.


Front ski is attached via front spindle and caliper mount.

Each kit is adapted to a specific bike, but these adaptations are minor, mainly to account for the different front brake mounts and to accept the rear disc mount.


It seemed like the perfect conditions. Yet again Quebec had been coated in another thick layer of snow though it had tipped over the freezing point for a couple of days, making the snow a little heavy. AD Boivin’s Max Rancourt was there to greet me and once kitted up (dirt gear plus thermal underwear!) I was let lose on an Explorer-equipped Aprilia SXV550.

Initially it’s a very odd ride and takes some getting used to. You learn quickly not to chop the throttle, which has the same effect as hitting the rear brake – that is, immediate sinking of the front ski into the snow and rapid loss of velocity. As a result, you learn quickly to ease the throttle and bypass the clutch for quick gear changes.

It’s one of those experiences where you have to jump into it. You pin the throttle and then work out how the thing behaves.  Luckily for me, the initial part of the test was in a large field, which gave me a good straight line distance before I had to try and get the beast to turn around and shoot back. With a ski carving into wet snow, the steering effort is considerable and the feedback … well … unfamiliar.


Rear track mass may explain inability to pull higher gears.

In more of a series of short straights than a majestic curve, I managed to turn her around and blast back down field. First … (clutchless) second …. third … rarrrrhhhhhh …. okay, she’s not happy trying to pull third. I’m guessing that that’s thanks to the large amount of reciprocating mass that the Aprilia’s trying to spin, but to be honest, I wasn’t particularly keen to go any faster.

My second attempt at a curve was a bit more curve-like, my mind trying to find the comfortable spot between a low-side and a high-side as the Aprilia’s front alternated between digging in and sliding out.  But this is a matter of getting to know you and after about half an hour of ripping around, I was feeling somewhat bonded with my beast and ready for test # 2 – the motocross track.

Earlier that day another pair of journalists had been doing laps of said track, along with a snowmobile, which meant that a distinct course of flattened snow could be followed. This made the Explorer much happier than on the thick wet snow of the field before.

Turning effort was much reduced and tracking more to where you actually wanted to go rather than where you hoped you might. This was handy as within seconds I was plunging down what felt like vertical drops and then revving the bastard to redline to get up the cliff that followed – cresting with ski skyward to add to the fun.


Happy place in winter (this is not ‘arris BTW).

Had I not been so focused to not mess up I would have probably filled my pants.

But this was a lot more fun than riding around a big field. With no need to get above second and steering that actually worked, the Explorer was in its happy place. Sadly, I was only allotted two laps of the course, and my day was done just as I felt like I had found my own happy place.


The relatively short time that I had on the Explorer was a blast. There’s an initial steep learning curve as you adapt from the way a bike handled with wheels to its characteristics with a track and ski. I’d like to get to the point when I could spin the rear out to help get around corners (very doable according to Rancourt) and trust the front a little more, but that’s something that should come with time.

Although the suspension seemed to do its job, there were so many variables that my head was trying to process, I can’t testify that it’s 100%. The front with a single ski to absorb seemed fine but I wouldn’t be surprised if the rear needed some tweaking to better cope with the mass of the track. Total claimed weight for the kit is 38 ½ kg (85 lbs) though I’d expect most of that to be carried at the rear.


Rear track assembly bolts right on.

I also expected to have some issues with only having a rear brake, but the relatively slow speeds and retardation action of just letting off the throttle meant that even the rear brake saw little to no use.

I’m not sure how much of an issue not being able to get into third gear would prove and there was a tendency for the rear track to fling snow over the rider and into their face, though this apparently only occurs in the wet type of snow conditions that we had in the open field.

According to Rancourt, the Explorer excels in powdery and packed snow, the latter of which I can attest to.

The kit can (in theory) be fitted to any bike. A Hayabusa Explorer? It’s theoretically possible, but the company is setting somewhat more realistic targets of off-road and dual-sport machines with a minimum capacity of 250 cc for two-strokes and 400cc for four-strokes.

explorer_insnow.jpgAt a little under $3K for the kit, it’s not expensive, is well thought out and engineered, and … yes, an ingenious adaptation. If you live in a rural locale and have taken to just looking forlornly at the motocrosser in the back of the shed for 6 months of the year, then this could be the thing for you.

If you fancy one, then you should get your order in by June 1st  to ensure delivery before next winter. Cost is $1,999.00 for the track kit and $949.00 for the front ski.

More info (including a video of the Explorer system in action) can be found at the company’s website at www.adboivin.com.


  1. Funny. Today, I was telling my work partner about an RG500 Gamma that appeared in an issue of Cycle Canada sometime in 1986/7. It was kitted out just like the Explorer.
    Anyone remember it (it was merely a short blurb)?

  2. Can you lower the gearing by changing the rear sprocket (more teeth) so as to give you the chance of shifting to 3rd & higher?

  3. I’ve been saving my pennies for a Snow Hawk since I first saw one, but this Explorer may have actually changed my mind…


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