Hanebrink Electric All-Terrain Bike (Roy M. Wallack, For the Los…)
It hasn't exactly been a winter wonderland for most of the country this season, but when the snow inevitably arrives, fitness fanatics must be ready. If you want to ride, run, hike and slide in ice and snow, these items will help.
The anywhere bike
Hanebrink Electric All-Terrain Bike: Specialty 14-speed bike with pedals and 750-watt, mid-frame electric motor designed for soft surfaces like snow and sand. Includes super-wide 20-by-8-inch tires, an 8-inch travel suspension fork and a lithium ion battery that runs for an hour with no pedaling (and longer if you do).
Likes: A fun and crazy challenge. As we discovered at the 8,600-foot Onyx summit near Big Bear, a motorized pedaling assist is essential for steep off-trail adventures, snow or not. The short and squat tires (like those on some golf carts) float well on snow and sand. The bike can accommodate up to four additional batteries (at 6 pounds and $550 apiece), extending riding time by up to four hours. An optional low-range gearing that allows you to continue pedaling up a very steep climb is $350 more; we found it necessary. (A non-motorized, 21-speed version, the venerable Hanebrink Extreme Fat Bike, is $3,500 and weighs 40 pounds.)
Dislikes: Although it rides smoothly on smooth surfaces, the small-diameter wheels can be jarring on the rough stuff. Weighing in at 80 pounds with just one battery, the bike requires a truck for transport or a heavy-duty car rack ($250).
Price: $5,500. (310) 755-5954; http://www.fortunehanebrink.com.
Walk and run on ice
Stabilicer Sport and Lite: Stretch-on rubber soles studded with ice-grabbing bolts (nine for the 6-ounce Sport, 24 for the 5-ounce Lite).
Likes: Handy and effective, especially for covering roads or paths with a mix of frozen and unfrozen surfaces. Both fit over your shoe in seconds, grip well on icy surfaces and are small enough (when folded) to fit in your glove compartment or fanny pack for quick access. The lighter, cheaper Lite held slick ice a bit better than the Sport despite having a flimsier, lighter rubber webbing that the manufacturer recommends only for walking. Both models were much better than the popular YakTrax Pro ($30), which uses a coiled metal spring to grip the ground and tended to slide sideways on ice. But rougher, snowier conditions that don't yet call for snowshoes may be better served by the YakTrax XTR Extreme ($60), which wraps car-like chains around your foot and combines them with deep spikes and a snow-repelling plate.
Dislikes: Stabilicer models lack YakTrax-like small nylon carry bags.
Price: $39.95 and $21.95. (800) 782-2423; http://www.32north.com.
TSL 325 Step-In Alpine snowshoes and boots: A rare "step-in" snowshoe system in which two spring-loaded rods on a plastic, 2-foot snowshoe frame snap into holes on a coordinating hiking boot (sold separately).
Likes: Clean look, good grip and fast speeds. Six half-inch metal spikes and a 3-inch row of teeth under the forefoot grip well on moderate grades and traverses. The boots, made custom for TSL, are very comfy. A nice feature is a 12-degree heel elevation that keeps your foot in a flatter position as you climb steep hills, putting less strain on your Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
Dislikes: We had trouble cleanly stepping into the snowshoe. The system requires a precise mating of the "male" snowshoe rods with the "female" tunnel on the outside of the boot, which is not easy to do, especially with snow in the way. It's also difficult to lock the inside of the boot in place without manually pulling the rod outward. The company says it just takes a little practice, but we never mastered it. Other negatives include having to buy expensive dedicated boots (rather than using your own) and an inability to lend your snowshoes to anyone with a different-sized foot.
Price: $139 for the snowshoes and $179 for the boots. (800) 222-9316; http://www.tslsnowshoes.com.
Coop Turbo Rocket Sled: Two-person sled made of molded plastic with four built-in grab handles, tow rope and dual-rail hydrofoil bottom.
Likes: Fast, fun fitness. The low-friction elevated hydrofoil design, which keeps most of the bottom off the snow, instantly picks up speed. The dual rails carve well when you lean and leverage with the handles. Dragging the 24-pounder back up a steep hill for another run tricks you into a heart-pounding workout. The 4.5-foot length handles two kids or adults.
Dislikes: A little pricey for a sled.
Price: $89.99. (800) 889-7946; http://www.coop-sports.com.
Wallack is the co-author of Barefoot Running Step by Step and Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100. email@example.com