By now, most of us recognize the benefits that electric vehicles (EVs) bring to the table. Not only are they more eco-friendly than gas-powered machines, they often provide improved performance and efficiency too.
And in addition to near-instant torque and plenty of power, they’re also much quieter than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. All of these traits make driving — or riding — an EV a fundamentally different experience.
So it is with the MoonBike, an EV built specifically for riding on snow. This unique vehicle is smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable than a snowmobile, which makes it more approachable to a broader audience. But beneath its seemingly low-key appearance hides a surprisingly nuanced ride that is both thrilling and satisfying.
Recently, I had the chance to take the MoonBike for a spin up Jones Pass in Colorado. Riding on- and off-trail, I put the EV through its paces in a variety of snow conditions. I even took the snow bike above 13,000 feet amid high winds and blowing snow. In all instances, it performed admirably, exceeding my lofty exceptions.
Here’s what I learned during our test ride.
In short: The MoonBike is a fun, exhilarating electric snow bike that is a blast to ride in a variety of snow conditions. Veteran dirt bike riders and mountain bikers will feel right at home in the saddle, but its unassuming demeanor makes it easily accessible for first-timers. And while it doesn’t have the power and top-end speed of gas-powered competitors, it offers a smooth, refined, and very quiet ride.
192 lbs. with battery
1:45 minutes on a single battery
Easy to ride
Not as fast or powerful as gas-powered models
5-plus hour recharge time with standard charger
Handles a little awkwardly at slower speeds
What Is a MoonBike?
At first glance, the MoonBike somewhat resembles other snow bikes on the market. But because it is smaller and lighter than most other models, it doesn’t look nearly as aggressive as something like the Timbersled.
Quite the contrary, in fact. The EV feels more inviting to new riders, which makes it ideal for use at mountain resorts and with tour operators, both of which are primary customers of the brand.
Like gas-powered snow bikes, the MoonBike has a ski on the front and a tank-like tread on the back. The ski carves through snow much like a snowboard, often gliding on an edge as it zips along the mountain. The rear track propels the vehicle forward, maintaining a solid grip on fresh powder and hard pack alike.
That said, at higher speeds, the EV can bounce around on loose snow and ice, creating some chatter.
The MoonBike draws power from a 3-kilowatt motor producing 125 pound-feet of torque. It has a top speed of 26 mph and can run for up to 1.5 hours using a single removable battery.
The bike’s three ride modes — Eco, Standard, and Sport — impact performance and range. Eco mode offers less torque and more regenerative braking, while Sport accelerates faster and has a more free-ride feel.
A heated battery chamber keeps the power cells warm, ensuring the MoonBike continues to perform at a high level, even on very cold days. The bike ships with a single standard battery, but the chamber can accommodate two batteries at a time, effectively doubling the vehicle’s range.
A slightly larger “performance” battery is also available, but it mostly makes sense for the MoonBike’s commercial customers.
Lightweight and Approachable
One of the major advantages that the MoonBike has over most other snow bikes or a snowmobile is that it is very easy to transport. The EV itself weighs 163 pounds, with the battery adding 29 pounds.
And because it’s a stout 7 feet long, it fits neatly in the bed of a pick-up truck, van, or trailer. Even when powered off, it proved easy to move and reposition as needed, which made loading and unloading quick and easy.
Before hitting the trail, the MoonBike will require a bit of setup. That includes removing the seat to reach the battery compartment and sliding the power cells into place. After that, you simply connect a few cables, and you’re ready to go.
On my test ride, it actually took longer to get into our snow gear than it did to prep the bikes for the trail.
After a brief orientation on operating the MoonBike, we were off and running. The EV powers on and off using a switch on the handlebars, and a thumb throttle controls velocity and acceleration.
A single handbrake allows riders to control their speed while also using the bike’s regenerative braking system to send power back into the battery. An additional switch activates the headlight, and a series of LED lights indicate the current riding mode and remaining charge.
The MoonBike’s controls proved simple and approachable by design, making it easy to get on and get riding.
For those who have ridden a dirt bike or a mountain bike before, it will feel very familiar. But even complete newcomers will feel comfortable quickly.
A Quiet, Controlled Ride
As easy as the MoonBike is to ride, it still takes some time in the saddle to get fully accustomed to how it handles. For instance, the bike’s electric motor provides instant acceleration, which can initially feel slightly alarming.
Conversely, letting off the throttle also causes the EV to slow down abruptly, which can be equally jarring.
Learning the subtle nuances of the thumb throttle and maintaining a consistent speed takes a bit of practice, but it wasn’t long before we were zipping up the mountain pass at a speedy but controlled pace.
On the snow, the MoonBike handles somewhat like a gas-powered dirt bike. Leaning into turns helps maintain control and makes it easier to keep the vehicle heading in the right direction.
If necessary, the rider can even put a foot down for extra stability and balance. That wasn’t necessary during my test rides, as the EV never felt like it was about to topple over. That included a moment when I made the unfortunate decision to come to a complete stop on a very steep section of the trail.
Thankfully, I was able to scoot forward in the seat, hit the throttle, and resume climbing with minimal difficulty.
With the initial get-acquainted period over, I soon found myself getting increasingly relaxed and comfortable on the MoonBike. Then, I noticed just how quiet the vehicle was on the trail. Its electric motor does emit some noise, but compared to a gas-powered engine, it is nearly silent.
This makes for a much more pleasant riding experience, especially when exploring a pristine outdoor setting. It also means the snow bike is far less disruptive to wildlife or other outdoor enthusiasts enjoying a day out on the snow.
The EV is so quiet, in fact, that it is possible to hold a conversation while riding side-by-side with a fellow MoonBiker.
The MoonBike’s quiet motor and long, comfortable seat — combined with a highly-adjustable riding position — made it a joy to ride. The EV glided along groomed trails and off-piste powder with equal aplomb, its suspension system absorbing most of the bumps and undulations along the way.
When our ride ended after several hours in the saddle, I felt like I had finished a good workout without feeling completely beat up or exhausted.
MoonBike vs. Other Snow Bikes
The MoonBike offers a fun, refined riding experience that differs from other snow bikes in some significant ways.
For instance, the EV’s top speed of 26 mph is about half that of a gas-powered model, which, combined with a shorter overall length, means the MoonBike handles differently on the snow.
Whereas a Timbersled can usually power its way through tricky conditions on the trail, the MoonBike requires a bit more skillful handling. In the end, both models will get you where you want to go; they just approach the ride a little differently.
Using an electric motor gives the MoonBike some distinct advantages over a traditional snow bike. As mentioned, its near-instant torque and acceleration give it a unique feel unlike anything else currently on the market. And unlike an internal combustion engine that loses power at higher altitudes, an electric drivetrain performs well no matter where you are on the mountain.
But the MoonBike’s biggest advantage is its accessibility. The EV’s controls are simple to understand, there are no gears to mess with, and it is easy to ride even for a beginner. The bike’s size and weight are less intimidating than other snow bikes and snowmobiles, and its lower speed isn’t detrimental to its performance in any way.
This makes it an ideal option for veteran riders and newcomers alike and explains why resorts are adding them to their roster of activities for guests.
Price and Availability
Available in three colors — red, white, and black — the MoonBike stands competitively priced at $8,900. Optional upgrades include a fast charger and an extra battery, which help riders extend their time on the snow.
You can even add a luggage rack or a pulk to help bring your outdoor gear along into the backcountry. Currently, most MoonBike orders ship within 3-4 days, ensuring new owners can get out and ride as soon as possible.
For more information, visit the MoonBikes website. In addition to offering more photos, videos, and technical specs, you can even contact the company about taking one for a test drive.
Be warned, though. You may just find yourself with a new toy in the garage and a new winter activity to suck up all of your time.