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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
SNOW VEHICLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/079503
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A snow vehicle is disclosed comprising a vehicle frame, a propulsion unit coupled to the frame, and a front ski steered by a steering mechanism. The front of the vehicle includes a first front suspension and a second front suspension coupled to the ski. The rear suspension includes a bumper assembly preventing bottoming out of the rear suspension. The rear suspension is coupled to the vehicle frame such that the longitudinal spacing between the vehicle frame and rear suspension is adjustably controllable.

Inventors:
MANGUM ALLEN M (US)
YORK JUSTIN R (US)
Application Number:
US2016/060441
Publication Date:
May 11, 2017
Filing Date:
November 04, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
POLARIS INC (US)
International Classes:
B62M27/02; B62K13/00
Foreign References:
US8910738B22014-12-16
US4613006A1986-09-23
JPS61222877A1986-10-03
EP0391282A21990-10-10
US5474146A1995-12-12
US6095275A2000-08-01
DE202006017459U12007-06-28
US20030159868A12003-08-28
US4131292A1978-12-26
US5203424A1993-04-20
US20150251727A12015-09-10
US20090321167A12009-12-31
US20040089193A12004-05-13
JP2001153168A2001-06-08
US8910738B22014-12-16
US8381857B12013-02-26
US6328124B12001-12-11
US8919477B22014-12-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GROEN, Eric J. (300 North Meridian StreetSuite 270, Indianapolis Indiana, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A snow vehicle comprising a frame; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a first front suspension coupled to the frame; a rear suspension coupled to the frame, the rear suspension comprising:

at least one slide rail;

at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame;

at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and

at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail; and

a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit, characterized in that a second front suspension is positioned intermediate the first front suspension and the at least one ski.

2. The snow vehicle of claim 1, characterized in that the frame is comprised of a front frame portion and a rear frame portion.

3. The snow vehicle of claim 2, characterized in that the front frame portion is a motorcycle frame and the rear frame portion is coupled to the motorcycle frame and the rear suspension is coupled to the rear frame portion.

4. The snow vehicle of claim 3, characterized in that the first front suspension is a linear force element on a front fork of the motorcycle frame.

5. The snow vehicle of claim 4, characterized in that the second front suspension is coupled to an end of the front fork of the motorcycle frame.

6. The snow vehicle of claim 5, characterized in that the second front suspension comprises a spindle body and at least one control arm coupled to the at least one ski.

7. The snow vehicle of claim 6, characterized in that the second front suspension further comprises a knuckle coupled to the ski, and the at least one control arm comprises two control arms coupled between the knuckle and the spindle, and a linear force element coupled between the knuckle and the spindle.

8. The snow vehicle of claim 7, characterized in that the knuckle is coupled to one of the control arms.

9. The snow vehicle of claim 7 or 8, characterized in that the two control arms extend from the spindle in a generally rearward direction, and characterized in that the two control arms upon collapse, move the ski rearwardly and upwardly.

10. The snow vehicle of any one of claims 1-9, characterized in that the seat front suspension comprises a spindle body and at least two control arms and the at least one ski comprises two skis, with each control arm coupling a ski to the spindle body, and with each ski being independently movable relative to the other ski.

11. The snow vehicle of claim 10, further comprising a linear force element coupled between the control arm and the spindle.

12. The snow vehicle of claim 10 or 11, characterized in that the spindle body includes two control arms per ski, a front control arm and a rear control arm.

13. The snow vehicle of claim 12, characterized in that the front and rear control arms for each ski are coupled to a knuckle, where the knuckle is coupled to the ski.

14. The snow vehicle of claim 13, characterized in that a lower end of the linear force element is coupled to the rear control arm.

15. The snow vehicle of any one of claims 2-14, characterized in that the front frame portion is a bulkhead and the rear frame portion is a tunnel and the rear suspension is coupled to the tunnel.

16. The snow vehicle of claim 15, characterized in that the first front suspension comprises right upper and lower control arms, left upper and lower control arms and right and left linear force elements coupled between the bulkhead and one of the right and left upper and lower control arms.

17. The snow vehicle of claim 16, characterized in that the second front suspension comprises a spindle body and at least one control arm coupled to the ski.

18. The snow vehicle of claim 17, characterized in that the second front suspension further comprises a knuckle coupled to the ski, and the at least one control arm comprises two control arms coupled between the knuckle and the spindle, and a linear force element coupled between the knuckle and the spindle.

19. The snow vehicle of claim 18, characterized in that the two control arms extend from the spindle in a generally rearward direction, and wherein the two control arms upon collapse, move the ski rearwardly and upwardly.

20. The snow vehicle of any one of claims 1-19, characterized in that the steering mechanism is coupled to the first suspension.

21. The snow vehicle of claim 20, characterized in that the first suspension is a linear force element.

22. The snow vehicle of any one of claims 1-21, characterized in that the steering mechanism is coupled to the second suspension.

23. The snow vehicle of claim 22, characterized in that the second suspension comprises two control arms coupled to the frame and a linear force element coupled between the frame and at least one of the control arms.

24. The snow vehicle of claim 1, characterized in that the second suspension comprises a trailing arm suspension.

25. A front suspension for a snow vehicle comprising a spindle body characterized in that at least one control arm is coupled intermediate the spindle body and a knuckle and the knuckle is profiled to couple a ski to the snow vehicle.

26. The front suspension for a snow vehicle according to claim 25, characterized in that the at least one control arm comprises two control arms coupled between the knuckle and the spindle body.

27. The front suspension for a snow vehicle according to claim 25 or 26, characterized in that a linear force element is coupled between the knuckle and the spindle body.

28. The front suspension for a snow vehicle according to any one of claims 25-27, characterized in that the two control arms extend from the spindle body in a generally rearward direction, and in that the two control arms upon collapse, move the ski rearwardly and upwardly.

29. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of any one of claims 25-28, characterized in that the front suspension comprises at least two control arms for coupling two skis, with each control arm coupling a ski to the spindle body.

30. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 29, characterized in that the front suspension comprises at least two control arms per ski, with two control arms coupling each ski to the spindle body.

31. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 29 or 30, characterized in that the front suspension further comprises a knuckle coupled to each ski, and a linear force element coupled between the knuckle and the spindle body.

32. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 31, characterized in that the linear force element is coupled to one of the control arms on each ski.

33. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of any one of claims 25-32, characterized in that the spindle body includes at least two control arms and the at least one ski comprises two skis, with each control arm coupling a ski to the spindle body, and with each ski being independently movable relative to the other ski.

34. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 33, further comprising a linear force element coupled between each control arm and the spindle.

35. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 34, characterized in that a lower end of the linear force element is coupled to the rear control arm.

36. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of any one of claims 33-35, characterized in that the spindle body includes two control arms per ski, a front control arm and a rear control arm.

37. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 36, characterized in that the front and rear control arms for each ski are coupled to the knuckle, where the knuckle is coupled to the ski.

38. A front suspension for a snow vehicle having two front skis and comprising a spindle body; characterized by at least two control arms coupled to the spindle body; and a linear force element coupled between each control arm and the spindle, whereby each control arm is attachable to one of the skis, and each control arm is movable independently of the other. 39. The front suspension for a snow vehicle according to claim 38, characterized in that the at least one control arm comprises two control arms for coupling to each ski.

40. The front suspension for a snow vehicle according to claim 39, characterized in that the two control arms are each connected to a knuckle, and each knuckle for coupling to one of the two skis. 41. The front suspension for a snow vehicle according to claim 40, characterized in that a linear force element is coupled between each knuckle and the spindle.

42. The front suspension for a snow vehicle according to any one of claims 39-41, characterized in that each pair of the two control arms extend from the spindle in a generally rearward direction, and in that the two control arms upon collapse, move the ski rearwardly and upwardly.

43. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of any one of claims 38-42, characterized in that the spindle body includes two control arms per ski, a front control arm and a rear control arm.

44. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 43, characterized in that the front and rear control arms for each ski are coupled to a knuckle, where the knuckle is coupled to the ski. 45. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 44, characterized in that a lower end of the linear force element is coupled to the rear control arm.

46. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of any one of claims 38-45, characterized in that the linear force elements are shocks.

47. The front suspension for a snow vehicle of claim 46, further comprising a crossover tube coupled between the shocks, whereby the skis actuate oppositely.

48. A snow vehicle comprising a vehicle frame; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a first front suspension coupled to the frame; a rear suspension coupled to the frame, the rear suspension comprising:

at least one slide rail;

at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame;

at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and

at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail and the frame;

a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit characterized by a bumper assembly preventing bottoming out of the rear suspension.

49. The snow vehicle of claim 48, characterized in that the rear suspension comprises a suspension frame.

50. The snow vehicle of claim 49, characterized in that the vehicle frame is a motorcycle frame and the suspension frame is coupled to the motorcycle frame.

51. The snow vehicle of any one of claims 48-50, characterized in that the bumper assembly is coupled to the rear suspension and positioned to prevent contact of the at least control arm and a remaining portion of the rear suspension.

52. The rear suspension of any one of claims 48-51, characterized in that the bumper assembly is mounted intermediate the at least at least control arm and the at least one slide rail, and the bumper assembly resiliently contracts during jounce.

53. The rear suspension of any one of claims 48-52, characterized in that the bumper assembly comprises a spring grommet and a carrier mount.

54. The rear suspension of claim 53, characterized in that the bumper assembly further comprises a plunger extending through the spring grommet.

55. The rear suspension of claim 54, characterized in that the plunger comprises a head portion and a shank portion.

56. The rear suspension of claim 54 or 55, characterized in that the spring grommet includes an aperture extending downwardly therethrough and profiled to receive the plunger.

57. The rear suspension of any one of claims 53-56, characterized in that the spring grommet includes a pair of resilient bellows coupled to a base portion.

58. The rear suspension of claim 57, characterized in that the carrier mount includes flanges which flank a base portion of the carrier mount.

59. The rear suspension of any one of claims 52-58, characterized in that the bumper assembly is mounted on the at least one slide rail and the at least control arm contacts the bumper assembly during jounce.

60. The rear suspension of claim 59, further characterized by two slide rails and two control arms wherein the bumper assembly is mounted on the slide rails and the control arms contact the bumper assembly during jounce.

61. The rear suspension of claim 59, characterized in that the at least one slide rail is slotted at a top edge thereof, and the bumper assembly is mounted over the slot.

62. The rear suspension of claim 61, characterized in that the bumper assembly comprises a plunger which aligns with the slotted slide rail, and the plunger moves into the slot during jounce.

63. The rear suspension of any one of claims 52-62, characterized in that the bumper assembly is mounted on the at least control arm and the bumper assembly contacts the at least one slide rail during jounce.

64. The rear suspension of claim 63, characterized in that the at least control arm comprises a bracket which mounts the bumper assembly thereto.

65. A snow vehicle comprising a vehicle frame; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a first front suspension coupled to the frame; a second front suspension coupled to the at least one ski; a rear suspension coupled to the frame, the rear suspension comprising: at least one slide rail;

at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame;

at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and

at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail and the frame; and a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit; characterized in that the longitudinal spacing between the vehicle frame and rear suspension is adjustably controllable.

66. The snow vehicle of claim 65, characterized in that the rear suspension comprises a suspension frame. 67. The snow vehicle of claim 66, characterized in that the vehicle frame is a motorcycle frame and the suspension frame is coupled to the motorcycle frame.

68. The snow vehicle of any one of claims 65-67, characterized in that drive system comprises an input drive shaft and an endless drive mechanism coupling the propulsion unit to the drive shaft. 69. The snow vehicle of claim 68, characterized in that the endless drive mechanism is a chain coupling a sprocket of the propulsion unit to the drive shaft.

70. The snow vehicle of claim 69, characterized in that the longitudinal spacing is adjustably controllable by way of a chain tensioner coupled to the suspension frame at a forward end thereof and to the vehicle frame. 71. The snow vehicle of claim 70, characterized in that the chain tensioner comprises at least one first portion, at least one second portion, and a mounting portion coupled to the at least one second portion, and in that the at least one second portion is movable relative to the at least one first portion to vary a distance between the mounting portion and the remainder of the frame.

72. The snow vehicle of claim 71, characterized in that the first portion is a first elongate portion, and the second portion is a second elongate portion, and fasteners coupling the at least one first elongate portion and at least one second elongate portion together.

73. The snow vehicle of claim 72, characterized in that the at least one first elongate portion is a first elongate bar having mounting apertures, and the at least one second elongate portion is a second elongate bar having mounting apertures.

74. The snow vehicle of claim 73, characterized in that one of the elongate bars is slidably received over the other of the elongate bars.

75. The snow vehicle of any one of claims 72-74, characterized in that the at least one first elongate portion is a first elongate bar having mounting apertures, and the mounting apertures on one of the elongate bars are slotted in the elongate direction.

76. A kit for converting a motorcycle into a snow vehicle comprising at least one front ski; a rear suspension for coupling to the frame of the motorcycle, the rear suspension comprising: at least one slide rail;

at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame;

at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and

at least one carrier roller coupled to one of the slide rail and the frame; and

a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to a propulsion unit of the motorcycle characterized by a front suspension for dampened coupling between a frame of the motorcycle and the at least one ski, the front suspension comprising a coupler for coupling the front suspension to the ski.

77. The kit of claim 76, characterized in that the front suspension comprises a spindle body and at least one control arm coupled to the ski.

78. The kit of claim 77, characterized in that the front suspension coupler comprises a knuckle coupled to the ski, and the at least one control arm comprises two control arms coupled between the knuckle and the spindle, and a linear force element is coupled between the knuckle and the spindle. 79. The kit of claim 78, characterized in that the two control arms extend from the spindle in a generally rearward direction, and in that the two control arms upon collapse, move the ski rearwardly and upwardly.

80. A rear suspension for a snow vehicle, comprising at least one slide rail; a frame; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least one carrier roller coupled to one of the slide rail and the frame; a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit characterized by a bumper assembly coupled to the rear suspension and positioned to prevent contact of the at least control arm and a remaining portion of the rear suspension.

81. The rear suspension of claim 80, characterized in that the bumper assembly is mounted intermediate the at least at least control arm and the at least one slide rail, and the bumper assembly resiliently contracts during j ounce.

82. The rear suspension of claim 80 or 81, characterized in that the bumper assembly is mounted on the at least one slide rail and the at least control arm contacts the bumper assembly during jounce.

83. The rear suspension of any one of claims 80-82, comprising two slide rails and two control arms characterized in that the bumper assembly is mounted on the at least one slide rail and the control arms contact the bumper assembly during jounce.

84. The rear suspension of claim 82 or 83, characterized in that the at least one slide rail is slotted at a top edge thereof, and the bumper assembly is mounted over the slot.

85. The rear suspension of claim 84, characterized in that the bumper assembly comprises a plunger which aligns with the slotted slide rail, and the plunger moves into the slot during jounce.

86. The rear suspension of claim 81, characterized in that the bumper assembly is mounted on the at least at least control arm and the bumper assembly contacts the at least one slide rail during jounce. 87. A rear suspension for a snow vehicle comprising at least one slide rail; a frame; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least one carrier roller coupled to one of the slide rail and the frame; a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit characterized by a chain tensioner coupled to the frame at a forward end thereof, the chain tensioner comprising at least one first elongate portion, at least one second elongate portion, a mounting portion coupled to the at least one second elongate portion, and fasteners coupling the at least one first elongate portion and at least one second elongate portion together, wherein the at least one second elongate portion is movable relative to the at least one first elongate portion to vary a distance between the mounting portion and the remainder of the frame.

88. The rear suspension of claim 87, characterized in that the at least one first elongate portion is a first elongate bar having mounting apertures, and the at least one second elongate portion is a second elongate bar having mounting apertures, and in that one of the elongate bars is slidably received over the other of the elongate bars.

89. The rear suspension of claim 87, characterized in that the at least one first elongate portion is a first elongate bar having mounting apertures, and the mounting apertures on one of the elongate bars are slotted in the elongate direction.

90. A snow vehicle comprising a vehicle frame; a foot peg positioned on the vehicle frame for a rider's foot; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a front suspension coupled to the frame; a rear suspension coupled to the vehicle frame, the rear suspension comprising:

a suspension frame;

at least one slide rail;

at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame;

at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and

at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail and the frame;

a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled at a drive axis (Ai) to the propulsion unit; characterized in that a vertical distance (Y) between a top of the foot peg to the drive axis (Ai) is less than 5 inches (12.7 cm), and a horizontal distance (X) between the drive axis (Ai) and a bottom of the drive track is less than 9 inches (22.86 cm).

91. The snow vehicle of claim 90, characterized in that the dimension X is in the range of 6.222"-7.922".

92. The snow vehicle of claim 91, characterized in that the dimension X is in the range of 7.000-7.500 inches (17.78-19.05 cm). 93. The snow vehicle of claim 92, characterized in that the dimension X is approximately 7.4 inches (18.80).

94. The snow vehicle of claim 90, characterized in that the dimension Y is in the range of 3.400-5.400 inches (8.64-13.72 cm).

95. The snow vehicle of claim 94, characterized in that the dimension Y is in the range of 3.750-4.500 inches (9.5-11.43 cm).

96. The snow vehicle of claim 95, characterized in that the dimension Y is approximately 3.9 inches (9.9 cm).

Description:
SNOW VEHICLE

[0001] The present disclosure relates to snow vehicles including snowmobiles and or snow bikes.

[0002] Many types of vehicles are configured with tracks to drive in the snow.

Regardless of whether the vehicle is a snowmobile or a wheeled vehicle converted to a tracked vehicle, tracked vehicles typically include a drive shaft mounted to a suspension system that supports the endless track. The drive shaft typically includes drive sprockets that engage the endless track. Irregularities in the snow and ice covered terrain cause the suspension system to move. Shock absorbers are typically used to absorb the movement of the suspension system. Common suspension systems are configured to collapse towards the tracked vehicle when absorbing the movement. However, in some situations, the irregularities in the terrain cause movement in the suspension away from the tracked vehicle that is not accommodated by the suspension system.

[0003] In the case of snow bikes, the front suspension comprises the suspension of the motorbike or dirt bike, that is, a front shock absorber. In the case of snowmobiles, the front suspension is typically includes two control arms, also known as double A-arms. However the front snowmobile suspension can also be a trailing arm suspension. The suspension described herein would typically supplement any of the front suspensions discussed above, although it could also be the primary suspension. [0004] One such snow vehicle is shown in our US Patent 8,910,738, the subject matter of which is incorporated herein by reference. This patent discloses a conversion of a motorbike into a snow vehicle where the motorbike powertrain is utilized to power the track of the converted snow vehicle.

[0005] In a first embodiment, a snow vehicle comprises a frame; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a first front suspension coupled to the frame; a second front suspension positioned intermediate the first front suspension and the at least one ski; a rear suspension coupled to the frame, the rear suspension comprising at least one slide rail; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail; and a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit. [0006] In another embodiment a front suspension for a snow vehicle comprises a spindle body; a knuckle for coupling to a ski of the snow vehicle; and at least one control arm coupled intermediate the spindle body and the knuckle.

[0007] In another embodiment, a front suspension for a snow vehicle having two front skis, comprising a spindle body; at least two control arms coupled to the spindle body; and a linear force element coupled between each control arm and the spindle, whereby each control arm is attachable to one of the skis, and each control arm is movable independently of the other.

[0008] In another embodiment, a snow vehicle comprises a vehicle frame; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a first front suspension coupled to the frame; a second front suspension coupled to the at least one ski; a rear suspension coupled to the frame, the rear suspension comprising: at least one slide rail; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail and the frame; a bumper assembly preventing bottoming out of the rear suspension; and a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit.

[0009] In another embodiment, a snow vehicle comprises a vehicle frame; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a first front suspension coupled to the frame; a second front suspension coupled to the at least one ski; a rear suspension coupled to the frame, the rear suspension comprising: at least one slide rail; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail and the frame; and a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit; wherein the longitudinal spacing between the vehicle frame and rear suspension is adjustably controllable. [0010] In another embodiment, a kit for converting a motorcycle into a snow vehicle comprises at least one front ski; a front suspension for dampened coupling between a frame of the motorcycle and the at least one ski, the front suspension comprising a coupler for coupling the front suspension to the ski; a rear suspension for coupled to the frame of the motorcycle, the rear suspension comprising: at least one slide rail; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and at least one carrier roller coupled to one of the slide rail and the frame; and a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to a propulsion unit of the motorcycle. [0011] In another embodiment, a rear suspension for a snow vehicle, comprises at least one slide rail; a frame; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least one carrier roller coupled to one of the slide rail and the frame; a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit; and a bumper assembly coupled to the rear suspension and positioned to prevent contact of the at least control arm and a remaining portion of the rear suspension.

[0012] In another embodiment, a rear suspension for a snow vehicle comprises at least one slide rail; a frame; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least one carrier roller coupled to one of the slide rail and the frame; a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled to the propulsion unit; and a chain tensioner coupled to the frame at a forward end thereof, the chain tensioner comprising at least one first elongate portion, at least one second elongate portion, a mounting portion coupled to the at least one second elongate portion, and fasteners coupling the at least one first elongate portion and at least one second elongate portion together, wherein the at least one second elongate portion is movable relative to the at least one first elongate portion to vary a distance between the mounting portion and the remainder of the frame.

[0013] In another embodiment, a snow vehicle comprises a vehicle frame; a foot peg positioned on the vehicle frame for a rider's foot; a propulsion unit coupled to the frame; at least one front ski; a steering mechanism coupled to the frame; a front suspension coupled to the frame; a rear suspension coupled to the vehicle frame, the rear suspension comprising: a suspension frame; at least one slide rail; at least one control arm coupled between the slide rail and the frame; at least linear force element coupled between the slide rail and the frame; and at least one carrier roller coupled to the at least one slide rail and the frame; a drive system comprising a drive track slidably guided by the at least one slide rail and drivably coupled at a drive axis (Ai) to the propulsion unit; wherein a vertical distance (Yi) between a top of the foot peg to the drive axis (Ai) is less than 5" (inches), and a vertical distance (Y 2 ) between the drive axis (Ai) and a bottom of the drive track is greater than 11" (inches).

[0014] The invention will now be described in relation to the drawing figures where: [0015] Figure 1 is a side view of one of the embodiments of snow vehicle as disclosed in the present disclosure;

[0016] Figure 2A shows a left front perspective view of the front suspension coupled to the snow vehicle;

[0017] Figure 2B is a front suspension similar to that of Figure 2A showing the front suspension coupled to a conventional snowmobile;

[0018] Figure 3 is a front left perspective view of the suspension assembly;

[0019] Figure 4 is a rear right perspective view of the suspension assembly of Figure 3;

[0020] Figure 5 is a view similar to that of Figure 3 showing the suspension in an exploded manner; [0021] Figure 5A is an enlarged portion of the linkage assembly shown in Figure 5;

[0022] Figure 5B is an enlarged portion of the shock absorber mounting as shown in

Figure 5;

[0023] Figure 6A shows a side view of the front suspension coupled to a ski in the fully extended position;

[0024] Figure 6B shows the front suspension of Figure 6a in a full trounce position; [0025] Figure 7 shows a front left perspective view of the rear suspension shown in

Figure 1;

[0026] Figure 8 shows a rear right perspective view of the rear suspension shown in

Figure 7;

[0027] Figure 9 shows a left side plan view of the suspension shown in Figure 7;

respectively;

[0028] Figure 10 shows a left side plan view of the suspension shown in Figure 7;

[0029] Figure 11 shows a front left perspective view of the rear suspension of Figure 7 in an exploded manner;

[0030] Figure 12 shows a front left perspective view of an upper frame portion of the rear suspension assembly;

[0031] Figure 13 shows a rear right perspective view of the upper frame portion shown in

Figure 12;

[0032] Figure 14 shows a rear suspension coupler coupled to the slide rails;

[0033] Figure 15 shows an enlarged perspective view of the bumper assembly;

[0034] Figure 16 is an exploded view of the bumper assembly of Figure 15;

[0035] Figure 17 is a cross-sectional view of the bumper assembly shown through lines

17-17 of Figure 15;

[0036] Figure 18 shows a side view of the bumper assembly in full extension (dotted lines) and in full trounce (solid lines);

[0037] Figure 19 shows a front left perspective view of a second embodiment of the rear suspension;

[0038] Figure 20 shows an enlarged portion of the front of the suspension shown in

Figure 19; [0039] Figure 21 shows an enlarged view of the chain tensioner located at the front of the rear suspension assembly of Figure 19;

[0040] Figure 22 shows an exploded view of the chain tensioner shown in Figure 21;

[0041] Figures 23 and 24 show opposite views of the chain tensioner bar;

[0042] Figures 25 A and 25B show extreme positions of the chain tensioner in use;

[0043] Figure 26 shows a front perspective view of the bumper assembly of the rear suspension of Figure 19;

[0044] Figure 27 shows an enlarged view of the mounting of the bumper assembly to the rear control arm;

[0045] Figure 28 shows an exploded view of the bumper assembly of Figure 27;

[0046] Figure 29 shows an underside perspective view of the rear control arm;

[0047] Figure 30 shows a side view of the bumper assembly in contact with the slide rail in a trounce position (solid lines) and prior to contact (dotted lines);

[0048] Figure 31 shows a front perspective view of a third embodiment of rear suspension;

[0049] Figure 32 is an exploded view of the rear suspension of Figure 31;

[0050] Figure 33 shows an enlarged view of main frame portion of the third rear suspension;

[0051] Figure 34 shows a rear perspective view of the main frame portion of Figure 33;

[0052] Figure 35 shows a rear perspective view of the suspension assembly coupled to the rear control arm;

[0053] Figure 36 shows a front perspective view of the suspension assembly shown in

Figure 35; [0054] Figure 36A shows an alternate embodiment of the rear suspension assembly of Figure 36;

[0055] Figure 37 shows a rear perspective view of the suspension assembly shown in Figure 36;

[0056] Figure 38 shows an exploded view of the suspension assembly shown in Figures 36 and 37;

[0057] Figure 39 shows the suspension assembly of Figures 37 and 38 when in an extended position;

[0058] Figure 40 shows the suspension assembly of Figure 39 when in the trounce position;

[0059] Figure 41 shows an enlarged front left perspective view of a front end of Figure

31;

[0060] Figure 42 shows a partially exploded view of Figure 41; and

[0061] Figure 43 shows an enlarged front right perspective view of a front end of Figure 31.

[0062] Figure 44 shows a right front perspective view of an alternate front suspension with two skis and an independent suspension for each ski;

[0063] Figure 45 shows a right rear perspective view of the front suspension of Figure 44;

[0064] Figure 46 shows a side perspective view of the front suspension of Figure 44;

[0065] Figure 47 shows an exploded view of the front suspension of Figure 44;

[0066] Figure 47A is an enlarged portion of the spindle assembly shown in Figure 47;

[0067] Figure 47B is an enlarged portion of the linkage assembly shown in Figure 47; [0068] Figure 47C is an enlarged portion of the shock absorber mounting as shown in

Figure 47;

[0069] Figure 48 shows a right front perspective view similar to that of Figure 44 with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski; [0070] Figure 49 shows a right rear perspective view with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski;

[0071] Figure 50 shows a right side perspective view with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski;

[0072] Figure 51 shows a left side view with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski; [0073] Figure 52 shows a right side view with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski;

[0074] Figure 53 shows a rear view with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski to clear an obstacle;

[0075] Figure 54 shows a front view with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski to clear an obstacle; and [0076] Figure 55 shows a front view with the left ski lifted relative to the right ski to ride on a slope.

[0077] With reference first to Figure 1, a snow vehicle is shown generally at 2 as comprised of a motorcycle portion 4 having a propulsion unit 5, which is shown as a two- cylinder motorcycle engine, a frame 6, an operators seat 8, and a steering assembly 10 which includes a front fork 12. A first suspension member is shown at 14 as a shock absorber assembly axially coupled with the forks 12. A second front suspension assembly is shown at 16 which couples the steering assembly 10 directly to a ski 18. A rear suspension assembly 20 is shown having an upper frame portion 22, slide rails 24, side panels 26, control arms 28, 30, linear force elements 32 and 34 (shown as shock absorbers) and an endless belt or drive track 36. With reference still to Figure 1, the snow vehicle 2 includes a foot peg 38 for the rider to position their foot thereon during a ride. [0078] With reference now to Figures 2A and 3-5, the front suspension assembly 16 will be described in greater detail. As shown best in Figures 3 and 4, front suspension assembly 16 generally includes a spindle body 40, a lower linkage portion 42, and a mounting portion 44. As shown best in Figure 5, spindle portion 40 is generally comprised of two plates 50 and 52 where each plate includes a plurality of apertures. Namely, plate 50 includes apertures 50a-50g together with an enlarged aperture at 50h. Likewise, plate 52 includes apertures 52a-52g and an enlarged aperture at 52h. Spindle portion 40 also includes a plurality of spacers to space the plates 50 and 52 apart, namely spacers 54a, 54b, 54c, and 54g. An enlarged spacer is provided at 54h. It should be noted each of the spacers 54a, 54b, 54c, and 54g are somewhat spool-shaped having an enlarged head portion 56 at each end as well as threaded openings 58 at each end. Enlarged spacer 54h is embossed at each end to define a reduced diameter section 60 defining shoulders 62.

[0079] Thus, the spindle portion may be preassembled by placing the reduced diameter portion 60 of spacer 54h into respective apertures 50h and 52h. This positions the reduced diameter portion 60 through the corresponding apertures 50h and 52h as shown in Figures 3 and 4. Spacers 54c and 54g may then be aligned with corresponding apertures 50c, 52c; and 50g, 52g. Fasteners and washers may then be positioned against plates 50 and 52 to retain the two plates together and coupled to the spacers. Namely, fastener 70c and washer 72c may be aligned with aperture 52c and brought into threaded engagement with threaded aperture 58 of spacer 54c. Likewise, fasteners 70g and washers 72g may be received through apertures 50g and 52g to be received into the threaded ends 58 of spacer 54g. The fasteners should be brought into engagement with the threaded apertures of their corresponding spacers but not fully torqued down at this position as other spacers and assembly is required within the spindle assembly.

[0080] With reference still to Figure 5, mounting portion 44 is shown including clamp halves 80, 82; 84, 86. Each of the pairs of clamp halves includes semi-cylindrical openings which may encompass the front forks of the motorcycle frame as described above with reference to Figure 1. Thus, spacers 54a and 54b are now aligned with respective pairs of apertures 50a, 50b; 52a and 52b; and fasteners 70a and 70b are received through their respective apertures as shown in Figure 5. This brings fasteners into engagement with the threaded ends 58 of the corresponding spacers 54a and 54b to a position where the clamp may be closed. [0081] With reference now to Figure 5A, the link assembly 42 is shown and will be described in greater detail. As shown best in Figure 5 A, link assembly 42 includes front links or control arms 100 and rear links or control arms 102. Each control arm 100 includes an upper coupling 100a and a lower coupling at 100b. Likewise, control arms 102 include upper couplings at 102a and lower couplings at 102b. Each of the upper couplings 100a and 102a receive sleeves 104 which are profiled to be received in the couplings 100a, 102a. Spacers 106 and 108 respectively, are then inserted through corresponding couplings 100a, 102a and into sleeves 104. Likewise, spacer 108 is received into couplings 102a, and into sleeves 104. Thus, control arms 100 and 102 may be aligned with respective apertures 50e, 52e, and 50f, 52f (Figure 5) and fastened to the spindle assembly by way of fasteners and washers 70e, 72e and 70f, 72f.

[0082] With reference again to Figure 5 A, linkage assembly 42 further includes a knuckle 110 having a front pivot coupling 110a having an aperture at 110b and a rear pivot coupling 110c having an aperture 1 lOd. Sleeves 112 may be received in lower couplings 100b of control arms 100 (in the orientation shown in Figure 5 A) and then couplings 100b may be received in alignment with apertures 110b whereupon fasteners 114a and washers 1 14b may be aligned with threaded apertures 110b to couple control arms 100 with the knuckle 110. In a like manner, sleeves 116 may be received in lower couplings 102b (in the orientation shown in Figure 5 A) whereby couplings 102b and sleeves 116 are received over rear pivot coupling 110c and in alignment with threaded apertures 1 lOd. Thereafter, fasteners 120a and washers 120b may be aligned with sleeves 116 to couple alignment arms 102 with knuckle 110.

[0083] Finally, with reference to Figure 5B, linkage 42 further includes a shock absorber

124 having a lower coupling at aperture 124a and an upper coupling at aperture 124b. Split sleeves 126 include reduced diameter portions 126a and threaded apertures at 126b. Split sleeves 126 may be positioned with reduced diameter portions 126a in apertures 124b and the shock may be coupled to the spindle assembly by way of fasteners 70d and washers 70e positioned through apertures 50d (Figure 5) and into threaded engagement with threaded apertures 126b. The lower aperture 124a of shock 124 may then be coupled to bracket arms 102c as shown in Figure 5B. Sleeves 130 are positioned with reduced diameter portions 130a within the shock aperture 124a. The sleeves 130 and the shock aperture 124a are then aligned with apertures 102d whereupon fastener 140 may be received through sleeves 130, apertures 102d and receive a fastener 142 and lock washer 144. Thus, the entire assembled second suspension system 16 is shown in Figures 3 and 4 where knuckle 110 is shown as providing an aperture 1 lOe for coupling to ski 18 as shown above in Figure 2A. That is, ski 18 includes ski rails 18a whereby a pin 18b may be received through the rails and into aperture 1 lOe for retaining ski 18 to the second suspension system 16. Ski 18 could be similar to that shown in US Patent 8,381,857, the subject matter of which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0084] Thus, in operation and with reference to Figures 6A and 6B, ski 18 is shown in a fully extended position in Figure 6 A and in a full trounce position in Figure 6B. As shown in Figure 6B, control arms 100 and 102 are shown collapsed with the shock absorber 124 in a stroked position. Advantageously, the ski is lifted up and rearwardly relative to spindle assembly 40. It is lifted upwardly in the sense that it rotated (in the clockwise sense as viewed in Figure 6B). It is rotated in the range of 1-5°. It also moves rearwardly, for example, the position of the pin 18b which couples the ski to knuckle 110 moves rearwardly from the positions shown in Figure 6A to the position shown in Figure 6B. That is, the distance in Figure 6A between the upper pivot point of front control arm 100 (about fastener 70e) is shown as Xi, whereas in Figure 6b the distance is shown as X 2 , where X 2 is greater than Xi. This provides an enhanced suspension system in that the ski is lifted up and rearward; for example, if the snow bike is going over a rock or log, the ski is lifted up and over the log rather than pushing the ski into the log. This movement also reduces the friction between the ski and the snow due to the lifting of the ski.

[0085] It should be understood that the spindle assembly may also be usable on a conventional snow mobile, and as shown in Figure 2B, spindle 16' is shown coupled to upper and lower alignment arms or control arms 150, 152, where upper control arm 150 is coupled to spindle assembly 16' by way of a ball joint at 154. Although not shown in Figure 2B, lower control arm 152 would also be coupled by way of a ball joint to spindle assembly 16' . It should be further understood that spindle assembly 16 or 16' could be adapted for use with a trailing arm type snowmobile suspension of the type shown in US Patent 6,328, 124, the subject matter of which is incorporated herein by reference. [0086] With reference now to Figures 7-19, rear suspension 20 will be described in greater detail. As shown, and in particular with reference to Figures 9-11, rear suspension 20 includes an upper portion 154, an intermediate suspension portion 156 and a lower portion 158. As shown, intermediate suspension portion 156 is coupled to the upper and lower portions 154, 158 in a four bar linkage fashion allowing the upper and lower portions 154, 158 to move relative to each other in dampened fashion. In addition to the items already described on rear suspension 20, rear suspension 20 includes a drive system 160 which is input from the propulsion unit 6 by way of a chain; a belt drive system 162 driven by drive system 160 through gear casing or chain case 164 and a chain tensioner 166 (Figure 7) which is moveable into the drive chain for taking up slack. As shown best in Figure 8, a disc brake 168 is shown on the backside of drive system 160 for braking the snow bike. Furthermore, a bumper system 170 is shown which as described herein, prevents a crash between upper and lower portions 154, 158 of the rear suspension 20.

[0087] With reference now to Figures 12 and 13, upper frame member 22 will be described in greater detail. As shown, upper frame 22 includes two longitudinal frame members 180 extending lengthwise the entire length of the frame member 22. Frame member 180 is interrupted at a front end thereof by way of front cross bar 182 which couples to a front end portion 180a of frame member 180. Frame portions 180b extend forwardly from cross-bar 182 and include front coupling members 184 which couple to a rear section of motorcycle portion 4 (Figure 1). Frame members 186 reinforce frame members 180b and cross tube 182 in a triangular manner, and while shown as frame tubes, gussets could also be used such as a triangular plate portion welded in place between frame members 180b and cross tube 182. As shown best in Figure 13, cross tube 190 couples together frame members 180, where an end of cross tube 190 includes a threaded aperture at 190a. As shown best in Figure 12 a cross tube portion 192 is positioned above frame member 180 and includes a threaded aperture at 192a. As shown in both Figures 12 and 13 a cross tube 196 is positioned rearwardly of cross tube 190 and also couples together frame members 180. Cross tube 196 includes a threaded aperture at 196a. Finally, a cross tube 198 is positioned at a rear of frame member 22 and includes threaded apertures 198a. Brackets 200 are positioned intermediate cross tubes 182 and 190 to retain chain tensioner 166 and bracket 202 is attached to frame member 180 to attach drive member 160. Upper frame members 210 extend from cross tube 182 rearwardly to cross tube 198 and include reinforcing frame members 212a, 212b, and 212c.

[0088] Upper frame portion 154 (Figures 9-11) further includes the side panels 26 and more particular left side panel 26a and right side panel 26b coupled to the upper frame member 22. As shown best in Figures 9 and 11, side panel 26a is formed of a panel, such as an aluminum or stainless steel panel and is configured to couple to the left side of upper frame member 22. In particular, panel 26 includes apertures to receive fasteners 222a which couples to threaded aperture 192a (Figure 12), fastener 222b to couple threaded fastener 196a (Figure 12) and fastener 222c to fasten to threaded aperture 198a (Figure 12). As shown in Figure 11, left side panel 26a further includes apertures 230a and 230b for coupling to the intermediate suspension portion 156 as will be described herein. As shown in Figure 11, side panel 26a further includes apertures 230c and 230d for receipt therethrough of a driveshaft for drive member 160 and an aperture for receipt of drive shaft for belt drive 162.

[0089] With reference now to Figure 10, right hand side panel 26b includes apertures for receipt of fasteners 240a (for coupling with aperture 190a); fastener 240b (for coupling with threaded aperture 196a) and fastener 240c (for coupling with threaded aperture 198a). Side panel 26b also includes apertures for receipt of fasteners 242a and 242b which couple with intermediate suspension portion 156 as described herein. Side panel 26b also includes a mounting area 244 for coupling belt drive 162 (Figure 7). [0090] With reference again to Figure 11, intermediate suspension 156 is comprised of a front control arm 250, a front shock absorber at 252, a rear control arm 254, and a rear shock absorber at 256. As shown, front control arm 250 has an upper axle at 260 and a lower axle at 262. Upper axle 260 includes threaded apertures 260a and lower axle 262 includes threaded apertures 262a. Shock absorber 252 is coupled to upper axle 260 at 266 and includes a lower axle at 268 having a threaded aperture 268a. Rear control arm 254 includes an upper axle 270 having a threaded aperture at 270a and a lower axle 272 and mounted between slide rails 24, as described herein.

[0091] With reference now to Figure 14, lower axle assembly 272 includes a spacer 274 having threaded apertures at 274a and axle 276 is slidably receivable over spacer 274 and sleeves 278 which are received in open ends 280 of axle member 276. As shown, when spacer 274 is received through sleeves 278 and axle member 276, fasteners 282a and 282b may be received through washers 284, through apertures 286 of slide rails 24 such that axle member is rotatable about spacer 274. It should be appreciated that the spacer 274 is slightly longer than the axle 276, allowing the axle 276 to rotate about spacer 274. Axle member 276 includes link arms 288 having apertures at 288a for coupling to rear control arm 254. With reference again to Figure 11 rear control arm 254 includes threaded apertures 254a at a lower end thereof that may be coupled to apertures 288a (Figure 14) with fasteners (not shown). With respect still to Figure 11, rear shock absorber 256 includes a lower axle 290 having a threaded aperture at 290a. [0092] In addition to apertures 286 (Figure 14) slide rails 24 also include apertures 300,

302, and 304 (Figure 11). Thus, and with reference to Figure 11, intermediate suspension portion 156 may be coupled to slide rails 24 by way of fasteners through apertures 302 into threaded apertures 268, by fasteners extending through apertures 304 into threaded apertures 262a and fasteners through apertures 300 and into threaded aperture 290a. [0093] With reference now to Figures 15-18, bumper assembly 170 will be described in greater detail. As shown in Figure 15, bumper assembly 170 is shown mounted to slide rail 24 above a slot 310 of slide rail 24. Bumper assembly 170 generally includes a plunger at 312, a spring grommet 314 and a carrier mount at 316. With reference now to Figure 16, the bumper assembly 170 is shown exploded away from slide rail 24. As shown, plunger 312 includes a head portion 312a, a shank portion 312b and a threaded aperture at 312c (see Figure 17). Spring grommet 314 includes a pair of resilient bellows 314a and 314b coupled to a base portion 314c with an aperture 314d extending downwardly through spring grommet 314 and profiled to receive plunger 312. Carrier mount 316 includes flanges 316a which flank a base portion 318 which includes an aperture 320 profiled to receive shank portion 312b of plunger 312 as described herein.

[0094] To assemble the bumper assembly, plunger 312 is installed through aperture 314d of spring grommet 314 with base portion 314c positioned on base 318 of carrier mount 316. If desired, a thrust washer could be positioned under the head portion 312a and above the spring grommet 314. Fastener 322 may then be positioned through washer 324 and threadably received into threaded aperture 312c of plunger 312. Fasteners 326 are then positioned through apertures A cross-sectional view of Figure 17 shows the bumper assembly as applied to the side of slide rail 24. As should be appreciated from Figure 17, flanges 316a are offset asymmetrically with base 318 of mount 316 such that the plunger is centered with the slot 310. Thus, as shown in Figure 18, during a jounce, rear control arm 254 collapses and is aligned with bumper assembly 170, and in particular with the head portion 312 of plunger 312, causing spring grommet 314 to compress causing the shank portion 312b to extend into slot 310.

[0095] With reference now to Figures 19-30, a second embodiment of a rear suspension will be described. With reference to Figure 19 a second rear suspension is shown at 420 having a frame 422 with a single slide rail 424 where carrier rollers 425 flank single side rail 424. Rear suspension 420 further includes side panels 426, a front control arm 428, rear control arm 430, front shock absorber 432 and rear shock absorber 434. As in the first embodiment, rear suspension 420 includes an input drive 460, belt drive 462 coupled together by way of chain case 464, a chain tensioner 466 and a braking system 468. Rear suspension 420 further includes a rear bumper assembly 470 as described herein. With reference now to Figures 20-25, chain tensioner 466 will be described in greater detail.

[0096] As shown first in Figures 20 and 21, frame 422 includes a front cross bar at 482 with elongate extension bars 488 coupled to cross bar 482 and extending generally forward. Sliding mounts 490 are coupled to elongate extension bars 488 and are slidable relative thereto. Chain tensioner 466 further includes a locking mechanism at 492 and a chain guide at 494.

[0097] As shown best in Figure 22, elongate extension bars 488 include an inner end at

500 which is coupled to the cross bar 482, an inner surface 502 which is substantially flat, and an outer surface at 504 having triangulated edges at 506. Each of the bars 488 includes apertures at 510. As shown in Figures 23 and 24, sliding mounts 490 are shown, where in Figure 23 an inner surface 514 is shown having an integrated channel at 516. The channel 516 includes upper and lower surfaces 516a, an inner flat surface at 516b, and triangulated surfaces 516c, which as should be appreciated, align with and cooperate with triangulated surfaces 506 on bars 488. Apertures 520 extend through inner surface 516b and are slotted in a longitudinal direction. [0098] As shown in Figure 24, sliding mounts 490 include an outside flattened surface at

522. A front end 524 of the sliding mount 490 includes a coupler at 526 which is substantially similar to coupler 184 (Figure 12) to couple the rear suspension 420 to the motorcycle frame. However, in this embodiment, the chain is tightened by providing longitudinal flexibility in the position of the rear suspension relative to the motorcycle frame. In that regard, fasteners 528 (Figure 22) are provided which are receivable through slotted apertures 520 and into threaded engagement with threaded apertures 510. The triangulated surfaces 506, 516c allows vertical alignment of the sliding mounts relative to the bars 488 and positioning fasteners 528 into threaded engagement with threaded apertures 510 allows sliding mounts 490 to be moveable longitudinally to the extent of the slotted apertures 520, as described further herein.

[0099] With reference now to Figure 22, locking mechanism 492 will be described. As shown in Figure 22, cross bar 482 includes an aperture at 482a and has an undercut portion at 482b. The locking mechanism is comprised of O-rings 530, a rod 532, a locking cam 534 and fasteners 536, 538. Rod 532 has an aperture at 532a and a flattened surface at 532b. Locking cam has an eccentric lobe at 534a and an aperture at 534b having flattened inner surfaces at 534c. Fastener 536 has flattened surfaces at 536a.

[00100] Thus, once the rear suspension 420 is positioned on the motorcycle frame, the rear suspension can be moved rearwardly to tighten the chain whereupon the threaded fasteners 528 can be tightened to the position to retain sliding mounts 490 relative to bars 488. At this point, the O-rings 530 can be received over each end of the cross bar 482 and be received in the undercut portion 482b. Rod 532 is then received into aperture 482a and locking cams 534 are positioned over the ends of rod 532 aligning the flattened surfaces 532b, 534c. Fasteners 536 may be received in aperture 534b and fasteners 538 may be brought into threaded engagement with threaded apertures 532a of rod 532. Two wrenches may now be used to bring the locking mechanism into a full locking condition, for example, a box wrench or adjustable wrench may be used with fastener 536 whereby a torque may be applied to the locking cam 534 to position it against the sliding mount 490. At the same time, a second wrench such as an alien wrench may be used to tighten the fasteners 538 to bring the locking mechanism in a fully locked position.

[00101] This is shown in diagrammatic form in Figures 25A and 25B where in the position of Figure 25A sliding lock 490 is moved to the full left position into the direction of arrow A and locking cam 534 is rotated in the counter-clockwise direction until it abuts the end of sliding 490. In this position, a distance between the center of the mounting member 526 and the fastener 538 is a distance Di . With reference now to Figure 25b, the sliding mount 490 is moved to the fully right hand position in the direction of arrow B and locking cam 534 is rotated in a clockwise position to accommodate the lateral movement of the locking mount 490. The corresponding distance in this position is D 2 , where Di is greater than D 2 .

[00102] With reference now to Figures 26-39, bumper assembly 470 will be described in greater detail. As opposed to the first embodiment of rear suspension 20 where the bumper assembly 170 was provided on the slide rail, and the control arm rotated into the bumper assembly, this embodiment is exactly the opposite; that is, the bumper assembly 470 is mounted to the control arm 430 and the movement of the control arm downwardly provides contact between the slide rail 424 and the bumper assembly 470.

[00103] As shown best in Figures 27-29, the control arm 430 includes two arm members

550 (Figure 29) with a lower coupler 552 which mounts to a link assembly 554 (Figure 26) and an upper coupler at 560 which couples to side panels 426 (Figure 26). Rear control arm 430 further includes a mount or bracket at 562 having a base portion 564 with an aperture 566 extending therethrough. Bumper assembly 470 is substantially similar to bumper assembly 170 including a plunger 582, spring grommet 584, fastener 592 and washer 594. The fully assembled position of the bumper assembly 470 is shown in Figure 27 where plunger 582 is positioned through spring grommet 584 with fastener and washer positioned against base portion 564 and fastener 592 threaded into threaded engagement with threaded aperture 590 (Figure 28).

[00104] As shown in Figure 30, in this embodiment, when rear control arm 430 rotates in the direction downwardly in the direction of arrow C, plunger 528 contacts an upper edge 424a of slide rail 424. The extent of travel upwardly of plunger 528 is shown by the difference between the plunger 528 in solid lines versus plunger 528 in phantom lines.

[00105] With reference now to Figures 31-40, a third embodiment of a rear suspension will be described. With reference to Figure 31 a third rear suspension is shown at 620 having a frame 622, slide rails 624, top tunnel portion 625, side panels 626, a front control arm 628, rear control arm 630, front shock absorber 632 and rear shock absorber 634. A progressive rate linkage 635 is coupled between the rear control arm and the frame as described herein. As in the first embodiment, rear suspension 620 includes an input drive 660, belt drive 662 coupled together by way of chain case 664, and a chain tensioner 666. With reference now to Figures 32- 34, frame 622, side panels 624 and top tunnel 625 will be described in greater detail. [00106] With reference first to Figures 33 and 34, frame 622 is shown as a unibody construction having an elongate frame member or spine 700 with a generally rectangular cross- section. Spine 700 has side walls 702 with a front-end at 704, a rear end at 706, a lower wall 708 and a top wall 710. Frame member 700 could be manufactured from one or multiple sheets of rigid material such as aluminum or steel where portions of the sheet are stamped and formed into the box-shaped configuration shown in Figures 33 and 34 and bonded together such as by welding or industrial adhesives and the like. Frame member 700 could also be manufactured from a casting, such as an aluminum casting.

[00107] Side walls 702 include an enlarged aperture 720 extending therethrough encircled by apertures 722. Apertures 720 is profiled to receive input drive 660 (Figure 31) and attached thereto by way of fasteners through apertures 722. Frame 622 further includes four cross bars; a first cross bar 726, a second cross bar 728, a third cross bar 730, and a fourth cross bar 732. Each of the cross bars 728-732 include threaded apertures 728a, 730a, and 732a respectively.

[00108] As shown best in Figure 33, a portion of chain tensioner 666 (Figure 31) is defined by a unitary member 740 which may be a casting or forging of metal or aluminum which includes a body portion at 742 having two coupling members 744 and 746 encircling the cross bars 726 and 728. As shown, a portion of cross bar 728 protrudes beyond the coupler 744 whereas coupler 746 encapsulates an end portion of cross bar 726. Couplers 744 and 746 may be coupled to their corresponding cross bars 728, 726 by such means as industrial adhesives, fasteners or welding. Extension bars 750 extend forwardly from couplers 746 and include elongated apertures at 752. Chain tensioner 666 further includes slide mounts 756 (Figure 31) having apertures at 758. Chain tensioner 666 operates in substantially the same way as chain tensioner 466 with the only difference being in the location of the slotted apertures 752.

[00109] With reference again to Figure 32, right side panel 626 include apertures 626a,

626b and 626c which align with corresponding apertures 728a, 730a and 732a (Figure 34). Left side panel 626 includes a large aperture 762 to receive the chaincase 664, and apertures 730a and 732a. Right side panel 626 includes an aperture 764 for receiving an opposite end of belt drive 662 (Figure 31). Each of the side panels 626 also include pairs of apertures 770a, 770b and 772a, 772b for coupling of the suspension as provided herein. Side panels 626 also include a plurality of apertures 774 for coupling of the top panel or tunnel portion 625.

[00110] As shown in Figure 32, top panel 625 includes a stamped and formed piece of material such as aluminum or steel with a generally flat portion at 780 having folded flaps 782 at the marginal edges thereof. Inclined portions at 784 lead into top panel portions 786 having a slot 788 extending therebetween. The marginal edges 782 includes a plurality of apertures at 782a for coupling with the plurality of apertures 774 in side panels 626 to retain the top panel 625 to the side panels 626. At the same time the slot 788 allows the top panel portions 786 to flank the frame portion 622 as best shown in Figure 31.

[00111] With reference now to Figures 35- 38, progressive rate linkage 635 will be described in greater detail. With reference first to Figure 38, rear control arm 630 will be described having a lower coupler 790 having openings at 792 with frame members 794 extending upwardly and forwardly terminating in couplers at 796 having openings at 798.

Midway up frame members 794 are two bracket members 800 having a portion 802 mounted to the frame member 794 and a portion 804 depending downwardly therefrom having a front aperture at 806 and a rear aperture at 808. [00112] The mounting of rear control arm 630 to slide rails 624 is done by way of a link assembly 810 having a tubular portion 812 having threaded apertures at 812a and an upstanding bracket at 812b having apertures at 812c. An axle 816 is provided having threaded apertures at 816a. Thus, coupler 790 is coupled to brackets 812b by positioning axle 816 through coupler 790, and by aligning apertures 816a and 812c together, whereupon fasteners 818 and washers 820 can couple control arm 630 to link assembly 810. That combination may be coupled to the slide rails 624 by positioning a fastener (not shown) through apertures 822a (Figure 35) and threadably engaging threaded apertures 812a.

[00113] A triangular link assembly 830 is shown in Figure 35 coupled to bracket 800. As shown in Figure 38, triangular link assembly 830 includes a triangular link 832, an adjustable link 834 and an axle at 836. As shown best in Figure 38, triangular link 832 has three pivotal points at 832a, 832b and at enlarged opening 832c. Adjustable link 834 includes a shank portion at 834a and a coupler at 834b. Shank portion 834a includes a threaded aperture at 834c and coupler 834b includes an opening at 834d. Adjustable link 834 also includes a ball joint portion 834e having a ball joint with an aperture at 834f. Adjustable link is assembled by threading nut 834g onto threaded portion 834e and then threading threaded portion 834e into threaded aperture 834c. It should be appreciated that the linear length of the adjustable link 834 may be adjusted by the location of the lock nut 834g relative to the shank portion 834a. Adjustable link 834 is now positioned over axle 836 with bushings 838 positioned in apertures 834d. Couplers 840 may now be slidably received over axle member 836 and against coupler 834b and locked in place.

[00114] Axle 836 may be coupled to slide rails 624 by inserting a fastener (not shown) through apertures 822b (Figure 35) and aligning them with the apertures 836a (Figure 38). It should be appreciated that ball joint opening 834f is coupled to triangular link aperture 832a by way of a fastener 832d. It should also be appreciated that aperture 832c of triangular link 832 is coupled to aperture 808 of bracket 800. To that end, aperture 832c receives bearings 850a, spacer 852a, grommets 854a and washers 856a. That assembly is then positioned relative to aperture 808 of bracket 800, whereby fasteners 858a may be received through apertures 808 and threaded into spacer 852a. [00115] Linkage 635 further includes a link 870 having a coupler 872 and 874. Coupler

872 may be coupled to aperture 832b of triangular link 832 by positioning bearings 850b in each of the couplers 872 and 874 followed by spacers 852b and washers 856b. A fastener 858b may then be positioned into aperture 832b through the spacer 852b and coupler 872 and into a threaded aperture on the opposite side of the triangular link 832. [00116] Linkage 635 further includes a link 880 having a lower coupler at 882 having an aperture at 882a and two link arms 884 having apertures at 886 and 888. Link 870 is coupled to link 880 by way of a fastener 858b extending through aperture 888 of link 880 and through bearing 850b, spacer 852b, washers 856b and coupling opening 874 of link 870. Meanwhile, link 880 is coupled to bracket 800 by positioning bearings 850c, spacer 852c, grommet 854c and washer 856c in aperture 882a ,whereupon a fastener 858c may be received through opening 882a of link 880 and through aperture 806 of bracket 800. This couples both the triangular link 832 and the link 880 to the bracket 800, with the link 870 coupled between the triangular link 830 and link 880.

[00117] Finally, shock absorber 634 may be installed in the assembly. Shock absorber 634 includes a coupling at 634a which couples to aperture 886 of link 880. Upper end of shock 634 includes a coupling 634b coupled to an axle member 900 (Figure 36) which is shown in Figure 35 as coupled to an inside of side panels 626. Namely axle 900 includes brackets 902 having apertures at 902a which may receive fasteners therethrough and into side panel 626.

[00118] In operation, and with reference to Figures 36 and 37, when the control arm 630 begins to rotate in a downward sense, triangular link 832 will rotate about bracket 800 causing link 870 to push the link 880 forward. As link 870 is coupled to a midpoint of link 880, the shock is compressed or stroked at a greater rate than it would with a direct connection. This is also shown diagrammatically in Figures 39 and 40 where control arm is moved from the position shown in Figure 39 to a collapsed position shown in Figure 40. This movement causes triangular link 832 to rotate in the clockwise sense (as viewed in Figures 39 and 40) which causes link 870 to push link 880 forward and due to the connection of the shock 634 to the upper end of link 880, the shock is stroked at a greater rate and at a progressive rate.

[00119] Alternatively, and with respect to Figure 36A, adjustable link 834 could be coupled directly to the tubular portion 812 of link assembly 810. [00120] With reference now to Figures 41-43, the application of the chain case 664 to the belt drive 662 will be described in greater detail. As shown best in Figure 41, chain case 664 includes a drive portion 920 and a cover 922. Drive portion 920 includes housing 924 having an outer flange 926 that overlaps opening 762 and a reduced profile portion 930 (Figure 43) which protrudes through opening 762. [00121] As shown best in Figure 42, input drive 660 includes a sprocket 934 having an output coupler 936 for coupling to input driveshaft 938 of chain case 922. A drive sprocket is shown as coupling to a sprocket 940 which is driven by a belt or chain. A driven sprocket 942 is coupled to the drive sprocket 940 which in turn drives belt drive 662 by way of a drive shaft 944 to sprockets 946. An idler roller 950 is shown having a tensioner 952 for tensioning the chain or belt. Drive shaft has a shaft coupling 954 which couples to a bearing 956 mounted on an inside of side panel 626.

[00122] Due to the compactness of the suspension frame 622, the volume of space beneath the frame 622 is open, which allows the belt drive 662 as assembled to the drive portion 920 (as shown in Figure 42) to be installed through the opening 762 and under the frame 622, to a position where shaft coupling 954 couples to the bearing 956. Drive portion 920 may be coupled to side panel 626, by way of a fastener 960 positioned through aperture 962 and threadably engaged with threaded aperture 728a; as well as with fasteners 964 (such as rivets) positioned through aperture 968 and engaged with aperture 762a.

[00123] With reference now to Figure 1, the location of the drive axis of the belt drive is shown as Ai, where a vertical distance from the top of the foot peg 38 to drive axis distance Ai is shown as Y, and a horizontal distance from the center of the foot peg 38 to drive axis Ai is shown as X. An attempt has been made in the embodiments herein to move the drive axis Ai up out of the snow of the snow as much as possible for deep snow applications. Thus for the embodiments of Figures 7 and 31, the dimension X is in the range of 6.222" to 7.922" and more specifically in the range of 7.000"-7.500". In the embodiment shown X = 7.422". For the embodiments of Figures 7 and 31, the dimension Y is in the range of 3.400"-5.400" and more specifically in the range of 3.750" -4.500". In the embodiment shown Y = 3.900".

[00124] Thus, as the foot peg 38 locates the rider, an attempt has been made to keep the distance Y to a minimum. As the foot peg 38 tends to dictate the location of the rider, the distance X was selected to center the driver's mass with the mass of the vehicle.

[00125] Although a chain case is shown in the embodiments of Figures 7, 19 and 31, a belt drive could be used such as that shown in US Patent 8,919,477, the subject matter of which is disclosed herein by reference. This belt drive is designed to not require a tensioning device, such that the belt drive of US Patent 8,919,477 could replace any of the aforementioned chain cases 164, 464, and/or 664.

[00126] With reference now to Figures 44-47C, a second embodiment of the front suspension assembly will be described. As shown best in Figures 44-46, front suspension assembly 1216 is shown, but in this embodiment, the suspension 1216 is coupled to two skis 1218 (Left ski 1218L and right ski 1218R). Front suspension assembly 1216 generally includes a spindle body 1240, and a lower linkage portion 1242. The front suspension 1216 would also include a mounting portion similar to that as shown at 44 in Figure 3, for connection to the forks 12. In this embodiment, front suspension assembly 1216 includes an independent suspension for each one of the skis 1218, as discussed herein.

[00127] As shown best in Figures 47-47C, spindle body 1240 is generally comprised of two plates 1250 and 1252 where each plate includes a plurality of apertures. Namely, plate 1250 includes apertures 1250a-1250c together with enlarged apertures at 1250d-1250f. Likewise, plate 1252 includes apertures 1252a- 1252c and enlarged apertures at 1252d-1252f. Spindle body 1240 also includes a plurality of spacers to space the plates 1250 and 1252 apart, namely spacers 1254a, 1254b, 1254c, 1254e and 1254f. An enlarged spacer is provided at 1254d. It should be noted that each of the spacers 1254e and 1254f are somewhat spool-shaped having an enlarged head portion 1256 (Figure 47A) at each end as well as threaded openings 1258 at each end (Figure 47A). Enlarged head portion 1256 defines reduced diameter portion 1256a and shoulder 1256b (Figure 47A). Enlarged spacer 1254d is embossed at each end to define a reduced diameter section 1260 defining shoulders 1262 (Figure 47A).

[00128] Thus, the spindle body 1240 may be preassembled by placing the spacers 1254d, 1254e and 1254f between the plates 1250 and 1252. This is done by placing the reduced diameter portions 1260 of spacer 1254d into respective apertures 1250d and 1252d; by placing the reduced diameter portions 1256a of spacer 1254e into respective apertures 1250e and 1252e; and by placing the reduced diameter portions 1256a of spacer 1254f into respective apertures 1250f and 1252f (Figures 47 and 47A). This positions the reduced diameter portions 1260 through their corresponding apertures as shown in Figure 44. This also positions the reduced diameter portions 1256a through their corresponding apertures (1250e, 1250f; 1252f, 1252f) as the shoulders 1256b abut the plates 1250, 1252.

[00129] Spacers 1254a and 1254c are also installed by aligning them with corresponding apertures 1250a, 1252a and 1250c, 1252c. Fasteners may then be positioned against plates 1250 and 1252 to retain the two plates together and coupled to the spacers. Namely, fastener 1270a (Figure 47A) may be aligned with aperture 1250a of plate 1250 and brought into threaded engagement with threaded aperture of spacer 1254a. Likewise, fastener 1270a may be aligned with aperture 1252a of plate 1252 (Figure 47) and received into the threaded aperture of spacer 1254a. Also fastener 1270c (Figure 47A) may be aligned with aperture 1250c of plate 1250 and brought into threaded engagement with threaded aperture of spacer 1254c. Likewise, fastener 1270c may be aligned with aperture 1252c of plate 1252 (Figure 47) and received into the threaded aperture of spacer 1254c.

[00130] With reference still to Figures 47-47C, the link assembly 1242 will be described in greater detail. As shown best in Figure 47, link assembly 1242 includes two independent suspensions, namely a right suspension 1264 and a left suspension 1266. Right suspension 1264 includes a front link or control arm 1300 and a rear link or control arm 1302. As shown best in Figure 47 A, control arm 1300 includes an upper coupling 1300a and a lower coupling at 1300b. Likewise, control arm 1302 includes an upper coupling at 1302a and a lower coupling at 1302b. Left suspension 1266 includes a front link or control arm 1304 and a rear link or control arm 1306. Control arm 1304 (Figure 47) includes an upper coupling 1304a and a lower coupling at 1304b (Figure 47B). Likewise, control arm 1306 includes an upper coupling at 1306a and a lower coupling at 1306b (Figure 47B).

[00131] Each of the upper couplings 1300a and 1302a receive sleeves 1305 (Figure 47A) which are profiled to be received in the couplings 1300a, 1302a. Couplings 1300a and 1302a of control arms 1300 and 1302 are then positioned over the reduced diameter portions 1256a of spacers 1254e and 1254f which protrude through apertures 1250e, 1250f. Thus, control arms 1300 and 1302 of right suspension 1264 may be aligned with respective apertures 1250e and 1250f, (Figure 47A) and fastened to the spindle assembly by way of fasteners and washers 1270e, 1272e and 1270f, 1272f. In a like manner, control arms 1304 and 1306 of left suspension 1266 also receive sleeves 1305 (Figure 47) and are then positioned over the reduced diameter portions 1256a of spacers 1254e and 1254f which protrude through apertures 1252e, 1252f of plate 1252 (Figure 47). Thus, control arms 1304 and 1306 of left suspension 1266 may be aligned with respective apertures 1252e and 1252f, (Figure 47) and fastened to the spindle assembly by way of fasteners and washers 1270e, 1272e and 1270f, 1272f.

[00132] With reference again to Figure 47A, linkage assembly 1242 further includes a knuckle 1310 having a front pivot coupling 1310a having a threaded aperture at 1310b and a rear pivot coupling 1310c having a threaded aperture 13 lOd. Spacer 1311 and sleeves 1312 may be received in lower couplings 1300b, 1302b of control arms 1300, 1302 whereupon lower couplings 1300b, 1302b may be received in front and rear pivot coupling 1310a, 1310c and fasteners 1314 may be received in alignment with threaded apertures 1310b, 13 lOd to couple control arms 1300, 1302 with the knuckle 1310.

[00133] Finally, with reference to Figure 47C, linkage 1242 further includes shock absorbers 1324, 1325 having lower couplings at aperture 1324a, 1325a and upper couplings at 1324b, 1325b. Split sleeves 1326, 1327 include reduced diameter portions 1326a, 1327a. Split sleeves 1326 may be positioned with reduced diameter portions 1326a in apertures 1324b of shock absorber 1324. Likewise, split sleeves 1327 may be positioned with reduced diameter portions 1327a in apertures 1325b of shock absorber 1325. The shock absorbers 1324, 1325 may then be coupled to the spindle assembly by way of spacer 1254b. That is, spacer 1254b is positioned through sleeves 1326, 1327 with spacer 1254b aligned with apertures 1250b, 1252b. Fasteners 1272b are then inserted through apertures 1250b, 1252b and into threaded apertures of spacer 1254b. This pivotally couples the two shock absorbers 1324 and 1325 to the spindle 1240.

[00134] The lower apertures 1324a, 1325a of shocks 1324, 1325 may then be coupled to control arms 1302, 1306 as shown in Figure 47C. A first sleeve 1330 is positioned with a reduced diameter portion 1330a within aperture 1324a of shock 1324. The sleeve 1330 and the shock aperture 1324a are then aligned with aperture 1302d on boss 1302e whereupon fastener 1340 may be received through sleeve 1330 and into aperture 1302d. Likewise, a second sleeve 1332 is positioned with a reduced diameter portion 1332a within aperture 1325a. The sleeve 1332 and the shock aperture 1325a are then aligned with an aperture (not seen in Figure 47C) on boss 1306e whereupon fastener 1342 may be received through sleeve 1332 and into the aperture. [00135] Thus, the entire assembled second suspension system 1216 is shown in Figures

44-46 where knuckle 1310 is shown as providing an aperture 13 lOe (Figure 47B) for coupling to ski 1218 as shown. That is, ski 1218 includes ski rails 1218a whereby a pin 1218b may be received through the rails and into aperture 1310e for retaining ski 1218 to the second suspension system 1216. [00136] Thus, in operation and with reference to Figures 44-47, skis 1218R and 1218L are shown in a fully down position as the right and left suspensions are shown in their respective extended positions. However, as the suspensions 1264, 1266 are independent, either ski 1218R or 1218L may move relative to the other. For example, as shown Figures 48-52, the left suspension 1266 is shown in a collapsed position, whereas the right suspension 1264 is shown in a fully extended position. This can be seen in Figure 49 where the shock absorber 1324 is shown in its original and fully extended position, whereas shock absorber 1325 is shown fully collapsed. This can also be seen in the comparison of Figures 51 and 52, where in Figure 51, the control arms 1304 and 1306 are shown in their collapsed position, whereas in Figure 52, the control arms 1300 and 1302 are shown in their fully extended position. As in the previous embodiment, and as best shown in Figure 51, when control arms control arms 1304 and 1306 are collapsed with the shock absorber 1324 in a stroked position, the left ski 1218L is lifted up relative to right ski 1218R. It also moves rearwardly, as in the previous embodiment, having the advantages as previously enumerated. In addition ski 1218L is rotated slightly in the clockwise direction, as viewed in Figure 51.

[00137] In the second embodiment, the independent movement of the skis relative to each other has its advantages. First, as there are two skis 1218, the skis may provide a wider base than a single ski providing better stability and steering capability. Second, as the skis 1218 may move relative to each other, one of the skis (for example left ski 1218L in Figures 53-54) may be lifted to pass over an object 1400, which provides greater stability to the snow bike as the right ski 1218R maintains contact with the ground. This provides the ability for one of the skis to be lifted up and over the object without losing control of the snow bike or without a large jolt to the front end of the snow bike. Third, and with reference to Figure 55, when the snow bike is traversing a side slope, the skis can track with the slope to provide two levels of ski contact with the slope for better stability. Finally, due to the four bar linkage design the amount of ski trail may be adjusted versus the suspension ravel, where ski trail equals the length of the skag or the runner is behind the ski pivot bolt. Thus the ski trail can be adjusted throughout the stroke of the suspension and that can all be dependent of the four bar linkage.

[00138] In another embodiment, the two shocks can be adjusted to act differently from each other. For example, a crossover tube 1420 (Figure 49) between the shocks causes the skis to actuate oppositely. That is, when one shock is stroked, it pushes the other down, as the dampening medium is pushed from the stroked shock to the extending shock. This also helps in steering. The crossover tube 1420 connects the air flow shocks such that when you lean left, the inside ski lifts up easier and then applies pressure to the outside ski because it's equalizing pressure between the two shocks so it's less rising rate on the inside ski and more of a rising rate on the outside ski which helps it maneuver the corner better than if the two shocks weren't connected between each other.

[00139] In another embodiment, a connecting rod or sway bar could be coupled between the skis to couple the two shock absorbers together. [00140] While this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains.