This has to be the most fun you can have on snow | Top Gear
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Electric

This has to be the most fun you can have on snow

Proper snow-carving in complete silence. Where. Do. We. Sign?

Published: 27 Sep 2021
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Skiing and snowboarding are such peaceful, quiet activities – just the crunch of the snow, the whistle of the wind and the intermittent blood-curdling scream when someone irreparably tears their ACL.

So you can imagine that the buzzing, droning sounds of snowmobiles are something of an unwelcome shattering of that peace and quiet. Also, the whole ‘burning fossil fuels is shortening the ski season’ thing, but it seems a touch unfair to malign the humble Ski-doo for the damage wreaked by hundreds of millions of cars.

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Besides, snowmobiles are fun. It’s really that age-old (well, a hundred years or so) equation: activity + engine = a more better activity. It’s really the only math we’ve ever enjoyed, to be honest, even if the English leaves a bit to be desired.

So wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get our motor-motivated jollies without disturbing the peaceful snowscape or any of the imminently injured skiers thereupon? Well, obviously.

And that, we feel, is the basic origin story of the Moonbike, an all-electric, tracked snowmobile. Or rather, snowbike. Yes, as the eagle-eyed among you might have already spotted, there’s just the one ski out the front, which means that you literally carve through the snow like it’s one big alpine motocross course.  

It’ll be an easier time carving a Moonbike, too – it’s about two-thirds the size of your average snowmobile and about a third of the weight. Really, you’re only shifting an average human’s heft around in the snow, as opposed to the 250kg of your average snow-going mammoth. The Moonbike’s also about half the price, which feels important.  

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Of course, it’s not going to be the all-out arctic assault vehicle that your average snowmobile is – with five horsepower and a top speed of 25mph or so, the Moonbike’s very much of the ‘as much as you need to have fun and no more’ school of thought. Y’know, the Mazda MX-5 recipe. And that seems to have panned out.

For any electric sceptics, battery engineers or people who’ve read an article on how lithium ion cells behave at low temperatures, you might now be wondering how... well, how a lithium-ion battery behaves at the low temperatures one tends to encounter on a snowfield.

Well, the Moonbike’s rated to -25ºC, and the dual-battery version offers 30 miles in sport mode and more than 40 miles in eco mode. We’re tipping there’s a fair bit of insulation and thermal management going on, using some pretty clever engineering to get the whole Moonbike to weigh about 70kg without the battery and 80kg with it. But that wouldn’t be too far outside its creator’s wheelhouse – Nicolas Muron is an aeronautical engineer, and we hear that aeroplanes are fairly complicated pieces of kit.

In all, we’re actually pretty optimistic about this. No, really – we’re looking forward to a time when battery-powered snow machines of all sorts are the norm. We’re looking forward to snowmobiling in almost complete silence, without disturbing the stark serenity of our environs and without polluting said environs with petrol fumes. We’re looking forward to a time when the Sisyphean slinging match over the ethics, viability and cleanliness of batteries is over, when people who don’t have any skin in the game – or even know the rules – still think they should take the ball and head home because they don’t like who’s winning.

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