Editor’s note: This report by Dirt Rag’s special operations team, known only as “The Committee,” appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #78, published in April 2000.
Status: For your eyes only.
Target: Mono Trac (ski bike)
Source: Koski Snow Sports, Mill Valley, California
Creator: Don Koski
Suggested Retail: $1,500
Description: Dual-suspension ski bike, with 8 inches of coil-over-oil travel front and rear. Lightweight 6061 T6 aluminum alloy frame, made in Taiwan by major bicycle contractor. Elan “junior skis” front and rear. Cool “minibike” seat.
Weight: 25 pounds, dry.
Assignment: Acquire and evaluate (only two pre-production prototype models known to exist).
Assigned to: Dirt Rag’s special operations team known only as “The Committee.”
The Committee’s report
2/1/00 Target Acquired: Arrived Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, via special courier. Hastily assembled skis to frame and hauled target to local woods (under cover of darkness) for trial runs. Powder conditions proved suitable. Serious downhill with abrupt transition was well within suspension capability. Inherent stability and “bicycle-like” handling was impressive. Watch out for roots buried under snow—ouch! (Shin guards recommended for “backyard” use).
2/2/00 Skis Tuned: The roots and rocks of the local woods, combined with the reckless abandon of a few subsequently-removed Committee members, led to considerable damage to the skis. At this time the skis are not the final production models, alternatives are being fully investigated. There is a delicate balance between flexibility and durability. The flexibility of the ski and the increased sidecut radius are the largest factors of edge grip. Soft skis conform to the snow’s surface, but lack durability. On groomed trails, soft skis are plenty durabLe. If planning on adventuring into uncharted territories, a back-up set is highly recommended. P-Tex detox was successful for the Committee’s Technical Advisor.
2/5/00 Winter X-Games—Mt. Snow, Vermont: Lift access denied by lift operator. Used “media representative” cover story, requested management intervention. Discussed with ski patrol, to no avail—nervous about 50,000 spectators on the mountain. Time for Plan B.
2/9/00 Plan B: Contacted operative (inside connection) at Laurel Mountain Ski Resort, Laughlintown, Pennsylvania. The resort offered a great variety of terrain, limited crowd, nice halfpipe and very reasonable lift ticket price. Got needed clearance for unique evaluation. Proceeded to put target through its paces, while dodging a few onlookers. Rider impressions follow.
Turning: Lean hard, moto-flat-track style. Keep outside elbow up, inside leg up and forward (just in case). Great upper body workout: Saw that handlebar as you feel for edge control on the front ski.
Jumping: Scout the jump first (mid-jump peeking may shift weight forward, producing head auger). If you place your feet on the pegs, bend your knees and shift your butt rearward—no problem. Three foot drops: like buttah! Felt neutral in the air. However, the front ski’s airborne attitude was slightly “nose down,” which made us leery of getting too aggressive (a stronger control spring is in the works to fix this).
Suspension: Started with a lot of preload and heavy damping, had some edge-control difficulty (hardpack conditions). Backing off both preload and damping produced excellent edge control in the turns: The rear shock stayed compressed longer and didn’t kick back prematurely in the middle of the turn (a slightly stiffer rear spring is planned for production models). Front end parallelogram linkage suspension, combined with junior shaped ski, provided very predictable edge control.
Half Pipe: The Koski Mono Trac railed the pipe. The snowboardest Committee member linked six or eight turns utilizing most of the 10-foot walls. Low center of gravity provided stability, making it easy to carve swoopy, smooth turns on the wall. Trying to attack the wall at too right of an angle proved difficult, but this was our first time. The faster you went, the smoother it got. Leaving the lip was not attempted. No damage to pipe walls.
Ergonomics: Looks and feels cramped while sitting still, but pretty comfy on the slopes. Foot pegs could be moved forward or down a bit to give taller riders more leg room (knee met stem a few times). Plans are in action for alternative peg locations.
Components: Koski Engineering bar/stem and WTB headset. Nice!
On the Lift: Put the Mono Trac in front of you; pick it up and hold it as the chair scoops you up. Best to get a chair with one less person than capacity, to make room for the bike. Holding the bike for the duration was not too difficult.
Off the Lift: Hold bike in front of you and walk briskly off the chair. The operator was also willing to stop the chair for a moment—another option.
Overall: Plenty of smiles per hour. Once you got a few runs under your belt and felt comfortable, you could bomb straight down, then slide her into a turn to slow down.
2/11/00 Target Lost: Disappeared from DRHQ.
2/25/00 Intelligence: Reported sightings of Koski Mono Trac at Sierra Tahoe ski resort and other NorCal locations. Evidence suggests multiple resorts are considering Koski rental fleets. Production models apparently arrived state-side since initial prototype was acquired. General public may soon be able to experience extreme snow shredding, Koski Mono Track style. End. ␄
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