Chinese motorcycle manufacturer Ice Bear is back with a new 2011 model trike. Snow Leopard is similar to many ways to a 150cc model that was previously offered, except for the addition of the larger Lifan motorcycle engine with a trick new dual exhaust system. But, the addition of the extra power does boost performance for this cool, but still somewhat underpowered brand of motorcycles. At some point, Ice Bear needs to learn that Americans would gladly pay more for their trikes with even larger engines that have true highway horsepower. But, for a city dweller trike, the new model still provides lots of entertainment for a price around $3500. And the gas mileage might even put those hybrid cars to shame, returning around 70 or more miles per gallon besides looking cool.
Snow Leopard features 13-inch 165/65 automobile type tires on the back, yet has a low seat height just under 24-inches. But, with a more conventional front forks than the springer front end of the larger $4500 Road Warrior model, the Snow Leopard model is more like most other motorcycles with the exception of a trike design. Ice Bear specializes in trike designs, making it unique among other Chinese motorcycle brands. The conventional forks should give this trike steering much more like any normal two-wheeled motorcycle. Yet, the springer model has a definite cool factor that can’t be matched by this more conventional trike.
Trikes have some advantages and some disadvantages. They are open like other motorcycles and offer a thrill better than an convertible auto can ever offer. Cornering can be interesting, though. But, with no having to put your legs out each time you stop, trikes can be easier to ride, especially for older bikers. In addition, trikes let you carry more gear as well. In the city, trikes offer you a lot more stability in emergency stops. Other bikes could leave all over the street if you to “lay it down”. With appropriate care and safety, trikes can be far safer to ride than two wheelers.
Like it’s big brother, the Road Warrior, the slightly smaller Snow Leopard model has a 5 speed manual wet clutch gearbox system. However, there is no reverse gear shifter like the larger Road Warrior model has. The Road Warrior still remains the top of the line Harley-styled trike that Ice Bear builds. Both feature a Harley-inspired gas tank with inset mph gauge. Both feature only this very basic instrumentation.
While Ice Bear continues to build these interesting trike frames, it looks like they might be using the Lifan motorcycle engines for some time. Lifan is one of the big three motorcycle manufacturers in China and has established a reputation for good quality engines that offer reliability if properly maintained such as oil changes every 1,000 miles.
The decent quality of the Lifan engines make a purchase of an Ice Bear motorcycle a safe choice among the many Chinese brands sold in the U.S. In addition, the Chinese government has been urging better and better quality control standards, where at some point in the near future Chinese motorcycles should be comparable with many other world brands.
Overall, most Chinese motorcycles still have a ways to go with quality. But, Ice Bear continues to offer some very interesting offerings with higher quality and reliable engines. Now, all they need is some big boy horsepower to go with all those cool trike frames they build.