Ski Biking

Snow bikes, photo courtesy of Vail Resorts.
Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts.

Especially with older kids and teens, it's fun to try a new activity or sport on a family trip. White water rafting, scuba, zip-lining... these are all great activities for family trips. Stand Up Paddleboarding started as a novelty a few years ago but has quickly become familiar to many. Ski biking, on the other hand, still has the cachet of something very new... So new, people need to ask: "What the heck is that?"

Ski bikes come in various types; the words "Ski Bike", "Snow Bike" and Skibob" can all refer to a type of bicycle frame attached to skis. ("Snow Bikes", however, should not be confused with snowbiking, which refers to bicycling on snow, typically using a bike with very fat tires.) Most ski bikes make use of bike skis plus foot skis, providing greater stability and control.

The photo above shows the type of ski bikes used at Vail Resorts ski resorts in Colorado. Visitors at Vail and Keystone can take a two-hour lesson and learn a new sport.

A few points to note:

  • Ski biking is reportedly easier to learn than skiing. Riders wear ski boots that attach to short skis, side by side, that control speed. Meanwhile the bike also has a front and rear ski, and steering is mainly accomplished by shifting weight. A novice friend taking a lesson at Keystone reported that she soon felt confident enough to follow her instructor into wooded terrain.
  • How does the ski bike get back up the slopes? On the lift, of course. The equipment is actually very light. According to the SkiBike website, "depending on the chair and bike design, you ride with the bike off to the side of the chair, held vertically between your legs or resting on your lap." Sounds difficult but reportedly it's no big deal and the lift chair supports the weight of the bike.
  • Check to see if ski boots are provided as part of your lesson -- you'll definitely need them! Helmets are recommended, so check if they're provided or bring your own.
  • Minimum age for taking a ski bike lesson may vary: at Keystone, for instance, (where the bikes are called "Snowbikes") minimum age is 13 years old; at Vail, riders should be age 14 and up and minimum height is 54 inches tall.
  • After a lesson, guests can receive a certificate and rent Snowbikes by the day. ($25/day is a sample price.)

Different ski resorts may use different types of ski bikes, and difficulty and minimum age may vary. What will probably be consistent, however, is that the ski bike will be easy to ride and provide a fun and safe experience.

*Always check websites for updates!