In Kansas City, KS, we barely get enough snow to ride once or twice a year, yet I own three sleds: a vintage Polaris TX, a 1995 Ski-Doo Formula III and a 2000 Blade by Fast. Both the F-III and Blade have been extensively modified for high-performance mountain sledding.
My favorite riding area is Snowy Range near Centennial, WY. It takes a lot of power to have a fun ride when I start at 9,000 feet and go up from there. My F-III with a Crank Shop engine at 150 hp and 15-1 compression handled the mountain snow just fine—until I got stuck. At 620 pounds, getting unstuck requires two or more people. Once unstuck, the F-III moves easily on deep snow for a few feet without its 185-pound driver.
In 1997 Fast announced a lightweight premium machine. It was only 395 pounds and after a quick calculation I confirmed I would be able to float the same as the F-III, but with a rider. I ordered a 1999 model, but they were sold out so I waited for a 2000 year model.
When I uncrated the Blade I was in awe. I looked in awe at all that shiny red carbon fiber. I looked in awe at that machined aluminum front end. It took me a minute to figure out the hood opens to the side, but when I did, I looked in awe at that reverse-mounted engine. Wow, a 133-inch sled at only 410 pounds.
My first ride, at Grand Lake, CO, I had to dodge spectators. Everyone wanted to stop and look it over. What a smooth ride. Long rides are a breeze and aggressive handling is not even tiring. I made several uphill stops at the hillclimb area to help others get unstuck. What a great feeling.
I noticed a lack of control when descending steep slopes because of the light back end so I added a 1_-inch lug track that solved the problem. Now I can climb higher than I need to.
I really like strong acceleration and the 130-hp Polaris 700 twin seemed a little weak at 10,000 feet. I called PSI Performance to discuss power versus fuel economy and decided to order their Genesis Power Valve 890 big bore kit at 180 hp. It bolted to the 700 case.
Now I have an adjustable compression head 12.5- to 15-1 ratio. At 9,000 feet I can run 91-octane fuel at the 15-1 ratio without detonation, which greatly improves throttle response.
I also installed Fast’s new high output single exhaust and new quiet silencer after a ceramic coating. Other performance items included Exhaust Gas Technology’s gauges that match the digital dash gauges of the Blade, a coolant temperature gauge from HPE, a mountain grab bar and Lefty’s LH Throttle for sidehilling. I also added an additional rear heat exchanger from Fast for the added heat of the larger engine.
I started out being able to float like a butterfly, now I’d be able to sting like a bee.
My last ride in March at the Snowy Range was between minus-5 and minus-26 degrees Fahrenheit and the engine and clutching performed perfectly, thanks to PSI’s expertise.
Several locals (most with 151-inch by 2-inch tracks) who were gathered at the bottom of Widowmaker Hill told me I wouldn’t be able to take my sled more than halfway up. I started up with the determination to get there and more. I easily flew by that spot and continued way up to just below the top. When I got back down, all the locals wanted a closer look.
I’m not done with the sled yet, though. I’m making stainless offset mounts for the dual runner Simmons Skis for even easier sidehilling. The center of gravity is so low on the Blade that holding a sidehill past 45 degrees is difficult. I’ll start with a 3-inch narrower ski stance and I expect the Blade to be more stable than most mountain sleds.
I might also add the Polaris electronic reverse for more versatility with no added weight, titanium springs and lightweight suspension components. I plan on keeping my mountain Blade for a long time.