Back inCharles Fehn introduced the world to his two-wheel-drive motorcycle, aptly named the Trailmaker. Fehn designed it as a utility vehicle with serious, if slow, off-road capabilities, and his bikes became popular with hunters and farmers as something of a mule.
Same basic front-wheel-drive system, function and overall look of the original, this ride provides true off-road capability and can perform a utility role in an agricultural or campground setting.
This ride is low and wide, and it follows a pragmatic approach that completely ignores aesthetic concerns. The frame layout and suspension links allow the structural members to serve as their own brushguards, and prevent terrain from contacting the running gear.
Rider footpegs swing off a pivot on the frame, and will fold up completely to accommodate extreme terrain. Rokon provides a number of accessories to customize the bike to your purpose. Need to take a passenger? No problem. Prefer to have a cargo rack, or even an extended cargo rack? Gotcha covered. Find yourself with a 2,pound trailer and load to pull? Today is your lucky day. Need a sidecar?
Disc harrow? Log skidder? Well, you get the picture. The tale of the tape gives us an overall length of 79 inches, with a inch wheelbase. The tires are big and gnarly — inches wide and built to tackle the wilderness, and they allow the bike to ford water up to 24 inches deep. If you need to cross deep water, the tires and hollow drum wheels float the bike. You lay the bike on its left side so the intake is out of the water and swim across next to it like the old boys used to do crossing deep water alongside their horses.
Hydraulic disc brakes provide the meager stopping power needed to control this ride. Since the footpegs are collapsible, the rear brake had to move up to the handlebars. Plenty of room up there since there is no clutch. Off-road bikes need ample clearance, and the Trail-Breaker comes with 15 inches, ground to frame. This is neither a race bike nor a showoff ride, and the engine selection reflects the utilitarian nature of the Trail-Breaker.In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of groomed fat bike trails.
During this trend, we have seen a huge variety of different grooming solutions from homemade contraptions to companies selling finished products.
Rollers were sort of the first wave of successful fat bike grooming implements because they could be pulled easily with a lower power vehicle and gave the ability to get a lot of ground pressure and therefore good snow compaction.
The two groomers we have to test expand on what a roller can do. Snowgroomers is a good example of a company with a successful ski grooming history that has ported their experience over to fat biking but has also included some plow technology.
Snowgroomers was started in Northern Michigan in by Rick Byer. Rick, like a lot of winter enthusiasts, started from a love of snow and wanted to make it better to play in. Over time this spawned Snowgroomers:. I developed three low-resistance sleds that float on top of the snow, pulled right behind my own snowmobile at MPH. Fresh powder can be compacted quickly, without the need for a separate roller implement. Hard packed snow and even slush is easily leveled and molded into corduroy or tracks.
One of the key takeaways from this is that the groomers are built to be low resistance so they are easy to pull. We have been using these out at the Big M near Manistee, MI and have been pulling them with our Yamaha long track snowmobile. The Path-Master can come with the Sno-Razor or just on its own. The Sno-Razor part is the telescoping toothed blade near the front of the groomer.
The Path-Master is basically the same thing as their classic ski groomer without the two blocks on the bottom which cut the classic track. Stealing a design from years of cross country ski grooming makes a lot of sense because it has been refined over many years. The bottom is all high-density plastic which slides on snow very easily except. The wings are flexible so if you tag a tree or there is a ton of snow they can flex out of the way. There are other widths available if you are looking for something a wider.
There are a few different options for the hitch. Shown above is a standard pintle style ring but they also have a pin style that works with the stock hitch on a lot of snowmobiles.
A feature that I really like and that shows this design has been used for many years is the shear pin that connects the hitch to the groomer. It is just a regular nail that will shear off instead of allowing damage to the groomer, coupler or vehicle pulling it.
Little details like this are what allow you to use a groomer like this for years and years while avoiding preventable and costly repairs to your grooming equipment. The Snow-Razor consists of two parts that bolt to the Path-Master: A plastic shield and a telescoping serrated knife.
The serrated knife can be raised and lowered to cut off a specified amount of snow from the trail.The history of the Trail-Breaker two-wheel-drive motorcycle can be traced back to around when Charles Fehn of San Bernardino, California began work on his invention, a "Motorcycle for slow cross-country travel over obstructions and in mountainous regions, and over snow and soft ground".
Long-winded, yes, but it was the birth of the Trail-Breaker. Charlie Fehn applied for his first patent for this beast on April 13, His second application, abandoned like the first, came on August 31, It wasn't until his third patent attempt, now titled "Motorcycle having two driven wheels"filed August 20,that Charlie would finally get his patent.
By the date of the third filing, the bike was in full-fledged production and it would be August 23, before the patent would be granted. By that time the bike would be in production by an entirely different company in Vermont, but that's getting ahead of ourselves. Mythical stories have been told of a Vermont gas station attendant who solved the steering problem inherent in a two-wheel-drive motorcycle by developing a driveline over-ride mechanism.
In fact, there was no such incident and complete credit goes to Charlie Fehn who developed the over-ride clutch and incorporated it into the original patent. The early mechanism used a complex ball-bearing-on-ramp system, which was simplified in to a one-way spring-on-collar device, which is basically the same over-ride spring assembly still in production today.
This one-way clutch allows the front wheel to travel faster than the back wheel, but not vice-versa. This is what allows you to turn corners without having bike and body driven to the ground, the result of having both wheels turning the same speed when the front wheel needs to travel farther in a corner. Another of the original ideas patented by Mr.Shoreline Cycling Club Rokon fat bike grooming Ludington School Forest
Fehn was the hollow aluminum wheel, each of which holds 4. Conversely, with the wheels empty, the bike can be pitched into a body of water and will float just fine. Two ingenious ideas, one great motorcycle, the Trail-Breaker. For more information on Trail-Breaker inventor Charlie Fehn, take a look at this enjoyable and informative profile written by Robert Galbraith.
The Charlie Fehn Story. Early on J. Nethercutt, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics, became interested in producing these unusual motorcycles. Another half-baked story, similar in myth to the gas station attendant story, is that the Nethercutts aquired the machines for hunting in Africa. In fact, there were no hunters in the Nethercutt family and the Nethercutts had never been to Africa. The Nethercutts became involved with the Trail-Breaker as an entriprenual venture.
If there is a story to be told, it may be that the Nethercutt boys, Jack and Robert, were approaching draft age and the Trail-Breaker could be their ticket to staying civilian. The Trail-Breaker underwent testing by the Army, which kept the dutyful Army contractors at Nethercutt out of uniform. The Marlin Perkins, Jim Fowler story is not a complete fabrication however.With the Fat-bike Birkie right around the corner, and racers expected to attend, we are highlighting the Hayward, WI area.
In this report local fat-biker, Jerry Wright, looks at trail grooming and the new Rokon prowling the woods. Take it away, Jerry! Located in the Cable and Hayward area in northern Wisconsin, we tend to get a fair amount of snow at times. We get enough snow that many trails become unrideable for most of the winter, so a few determined people started thinking about ways to groom them for fat-bikes.
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As a result of those efforts, we are now in our second year grooming CAMBA single track trails for winter fat-bike riding.
Last year, we had two grooming operations going: the Esker Trail and the Seeley Trail. Snow conditions made grooming very difficult last year. The snow was so dry, with little moisture content, that the trails did not set up well after the grooming. This year is different, and the trails have been setting up well, becoming quite firm overnight. The Esker Trail proved to be too hilly and susceptible to drifting in, so it was abandoned this year. In order to get the Elan snowmobiles around those tight turns, the guys had to plant a foot in the snow as a pivot point, and pull the front of the machine up into a sort of wheelie to point it in the right direction.
It was very strenuous, demanding work. Probably a bit dangerous, too! This year, the old Elans were all but abandoned in favor of a Rokon Scout, a two wheel drive motorcycle. The Rokon is long and low, with short, wide tires. Grooming with it is much easier than it was with the old Elans, which means a single groomer can do more miles at a time. It was developed as an all terrain vehicle for military use and for hunting.
It has become popular with land use managers as a means of getting around rugged back country. One of our groomers, Jeff Schmid, became infatuated with them as a youth. When we started brainstorming about ways to groom single track, he kept bringing up the Rokon idea and ultimately bought one. He intends to use it for hunting and summer trail maintenance as well as winter grooming. An Elan is still used for part of the Pass, but the Rokon does most of the trail.
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The preferred implement to pull behind the Rokon is a 28 inch wide roller with a weighted drag pan attached behind it. With more than six inches, depending on the density of the snow, he suspects he might have to do a pass or two without any implements attached before making the final grooming run. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy these groomed CAMBA trails are very grateful to Jeff and the other guys who have made groomed single track a reality here.
If you want to come see their handiwork first hand, head for beautiful downtown Seeley. It is a loop about 9. Plan on spending over 3 hours to ride the whole thing. Maps and other local information can be found at either of the two local bike shops in Hayward: New Moon and Riverbrook. Very cool set-up.So, Ken, Take us away….
This seems like such an obvious question but in reality there is a lot more to it than just compacting fresh snow. How wide is optimal? How firm does the trail need to be?
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How much fresh powder is too much? What are the different things groomers are doing out there to the trail? There is a lot of debate out there about what is the perfect width for trail grooming.
There are a ton of factors that go into this but the width of the trail corridor distance between the trees or other features that border the trail and how tight corners are greatly determines what type of vehicle can be used to groom. The width of the groomed trail is largely going to be determined by the vehicle pulling the grooming implement. Regardless of if you are pulling a groomer under your own power or using a motorized vehicle, you typically want to mostly cover up the tracks made by the vehicle, leaving a consistent tread behind.
Even though the snow is compacted across its full width, the snow will start to collapse when you get near the edge of the groomed trail, spitting you off into the powder. Having some trail width to select a line can be nice. Groom wider than you think is necessary and a line will develop with fatty traffic.
Another big factor in good grooming is how firm the trail is. Firm is fast and fun. For a lot of snow conditions, getting a firm trail takes a lot more than just compacting the snow. Well groomed trail will be both densely compacted and the snow will hold together enough for good traction.
Typically fresh snow consists of a bunch of crystals that are fairly sharp and large.
It is similar to a container of rocks with a bunch of space in between the rocks. Big snow crystals will still have a large amount of air in them. Beyond just breaking down snow crystals, another way to improve the firmness of snow is to mix fresh big crystals and old snow broken up crystals.
Going back to the container of rocks analogy, this is like mixing sand in with the bigger rocks thereby filling some of the airspace. Having a mixture of big and small snow crystals not only increases density, but also is a great environment for snow crystals to bond. There are a variety of ways to knock air out of snow.
Just compacting snow will break down snow crystals somewhat but most grooming implements also try to move the snow around and thereby break up the crystals before compacting it. This is a drag used on the Traverse City trails. Note the surfaces to move snow outboard, then inboard before compaction.
If you have snow that bonds easily aka good snowball conditionsit may pack up on these working surfaces and gunk up the groomer instead of getting laid down on the trail tread. This is part of the reason why a lot of groomers use different grooming implements based upon snow conditions.Not only does the narrow width of the machine allow access to the most remote sections of the winding trail systems, but its ability to tow heavy rollers or grooming sleds makes ROKON the perfect tool for the job.
Riders worldwide eagerly await that big winter snow storm so they can get out and sling some powder! Having two drive wheels means you can conquer snow covered terrain with ease, but the narrow and lightweight design means you can also go where no other snow machines can. The aluminum drum wheels found on the Trail-Breaker and Ranger are ideal for deep snow riding. Unlike spoked wheels, drum wheels have no open space for snow to collect and surround your hubs with ice.
This prevents chain derailment and uncomfortable imbalance at higher speeds. And should you accidentally find yourself on a patch of thin ice, the buoyancy provided by the hollow drum wheels could save your life! There are diffent types of show and ice conditions and ROKON offers a variety of traction aides to help get you through all of them.
For light coverings of snow on road surfaces or sheer ice, the Tire Stud Kit is ideal. These unique V shaped studs cut deep into the surface of ice or penetrate through snow cover to a road surface. The result is superior traction and controllability over hard snow pack or frozen water bodies. The drawback of the Tire Stud Kit is that its installation is irreversible, meaning they will either need to be used year round or should be installed on a dedicated set of snow tires.
For riders looking for a less permanent solution for winter traction, the Tire Chains can be quickly installed or removed to adapt to changing terrain conditions.
In addition to handling hard snow pack and ice with ease, the Tire Chains also help get you through deep snow drifts. Deep or heavy wet snow is best tackled with the aggressive Grim Reaper radial tire. Serious winter riders combine the snow throwing paws of the GrimReaper with the razor sharp teeth of the Tire Stud Kit for an unstoppable combination that will take you through a wide variety of winter conditions.
Tags MotorWeek. Rokon Across America. Rokon Scout. Trail Breaker. All rights reserved. Dealers Dealer List Dealer Login. FAQ Newsletter. Connect with Rokon.Engineering and manufacturing snowmobile trail groomers since Learn more. Used in early season snowfalls to create a solid base for longer lasting trails. Doug Olson, owner and manufacturer, has been building snow groomers since Each groomer is built to meet the needs of snowmobile trails across the Midwest.
These trails demand the design and engineering that each SnoBoss Groomer is built to handle. Efficient grooming starts with the central key component of the five blade system. Snowmobile clubs across Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota are using SnoBoss Groomers to effectively improve trail conditions and provide the smoothest trail possible for all snowmobile enthusiasts. We now have three SnoBoss groomers ranging from 1 to 13 years old and the oldest one works as well as the newest one.
It pulls easier, cuts moguls aggressively and leaves an excellent trail compared to our old drag. LeviRock County, WI. KarlPresque Isle, WI. The SnoBoss groomer is built strong enough to take the punishment when operating in our low snow conditions and frozen fields. The groomer makes a good trail whether it is working on wind-blown chisel plowed fields or cutting through drifted fence lines.
Mark H. One of the first things we noticed was the hitch. It works very well because it is so adjustable. The five blade design works excellent, you cut the full width of the drag. We liked it so much we bought a second one a year later in MikeOtter County Trail Assoc. The SnoBoss Roller has proved to be the ideal early season trail conditioning tool. The ability to compact early snow, accelerate trail compaction and enhance deep frost penetration has allowed our trails to be accessed sooner and hold snow longer.
SnoBoss Groomers Engineering and manufacturing snowmobile trail groomers since Trail Roller Used in early season snowfalls to create a solid base for longer lasting trails. Each groomer is designed for outstanding performance. Snow Groomer Custom built to meet the unique needs of snowmobile trails across the midwest. About SnoBoss Groomers Doug Olson, owner and manufacturer, has been building snow groomers since Compare, drive, attend seminars, ask questions.
Germain, WI Ride and drive new grooming equipment.