U of A "Snowmobike" takes sixth

University of Alberta engineers have realized the ultimate toy for the adult technocrat.

The love-child of a snowmobile and a sports-bike was unveiled last week to an audience of peers from across North America. Competing in the Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, U of A engineers reworked an existing snowmobile’s design. Categories included emissions testing, fuel economy/range and overall feasibility of design.

Engineers from the U of A joined 13 other universities and colleges to compete for thousands of dollars in prize money and the chance to show off their new toys. U of A project co-ordinator Ryan Bailey said his team was focused on "the competition’s main objectives: reduce exhaust emissions by 50 per cent and reduce noise levels to below 74 decibels at 50 feet." All of this was to be done, said Bailey, "while maintaining the stock two-stroke performance."

To better achieve these requirements, the U of A team chose a 1998 Polaris XCR 440 Chassis and replaced the standard two-stroke engine with a 600cc 1997 Suzuki GSX R engine. To increase the performance of the Suzuki engine, they added fuel injection, producing an estimated 80hp at 9200 rpm. In addition to many other adjustments made to accommodate the union of bike and snow beast, students removed the stock drivers of the chassis and replaced them with an internal driver/track assembly. These adjustments allowed for a looser track, which increased the vehicle’s torque.

The U of A placed sixth in the competition, but Bailey seemed pleased with how well Alberta’s university engineers fared against other institutions.

"We were one of only four teams that passed both the emissions and noise events."

The University of Waterloo placed first overall, winning in fuel economy, hill climb and presentation.

Prospective engineering student Rob McSchmidt thought the project was intriguing.

"I am curious to the possibility of using a 750cc GSX R engine for the same project, since I own that motorbike and I am aware of the horsepower capabilities," he said. "I hope that when I am in engineering I can work on projects such as this."

When asked if he would like to ride future project snowmobiles, McSchmidt responded, "damn straight."

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