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Roots

Discover mountain sled lineage

Published online: Sep 07, 2006 Feature, Snow Tests
It's almost comical to look back at the early days of snowmobiling and think about the sleds we used to ride.
More than once when we're out riding these days, we pass a sledder or two on one of those early machines and think (most of the time fondly) back and say something to this effect: "I had some great times on that old machine." And then, and just about the same time, we would wince thinking, "It hurts my back to even think about riding on that suspension these days."
Or, "I used to get that snowmobile stuck all the time just trying to climb small hills." Or, "We used to pound a hillside half a day just to try and get over it. Man, that was fun."
Those were the days-the days when we would ride trail sleds (somewhat) modified for deep snow and mountainous terrain. Days when we thought a 121-inch track could get the job done . and then when the 136-inch tracks came out, we were in heaven and thought we would be able to climb anything.
As the years rolled on, sled engines got bigger-400cc to 470cc to 500cc to 600cc to 700cc to 800cc to 900cc and 1000cc-and better (altitude and temperature compensators became commonplace), tracks got longer, 136 to 144 to 151 to 159 to 166 and from less than a one-inch deep (can you call that deep?) lug to 1-inch to 1.25 to 1.5 to 1.75 to 2 inch (now we could really climb-and dig ourselves out of insanely deep holes) to 2.25 inches to better suspensions (no need to see a chiropractor after every ride) to better riding ergonomics and the list goes on and on.
Yes, snowmobiling has come a long way and evolved into a sport where mountain sleds ring up the cash register to the tune of $10,000 plus. We're going farther back into the mountains, we're climbing higher than ever before and, for the most part, we're making it back out safely and with a grin on our faces.

100 Years
With more than 100 years (talk about old) of riding experience between the members of the SnoWest SnowTest staff, we've ridden our fair share of snowmobiles over the years. Some of us go back to the late 1960s.
So we remember well how excited we were when tracks finally came with 1-inch deep lugs. And the bigger engines. And the days when you had to carry a chest full of tools and jets to make it into (and back out again) the places we like to ride. When a good day of riding meant you didn't have to see a dentist afterwards to have your molars replanted in your mouth.
We've watched snowmobile progress into a multi-million dollar industry with sleds so technologically  advanced that we only dreamed of 10 years ago.
That's why we decided to trace each major manufacturer's mountain sled lineage forward from its beginnings years ago when we had to settle for trail sleds disguised as mountain machines. It's most always fun to reminisce.
And we imagine that, as you go through the years with us, you'll find yourself thinking, "Oh yea, I remember that sled." It's almost comical to look back at the early days of snowmobiling and think about the sleds we used to ride.
More than once when we're out riding these days, we pass a sledder or two on one of those early machines and think (most of the time fondly) back and say something to this effect: "I had some great times on that old machine." And then, and just about the same time, we would wince thinking, "It hurts my back to even think about riding on that suspension these days."
Or, "I used to get that snowmobile stuck all the time just trying to climb small hills." Or, "We used to pound a hillside half a day just to try and get over it. Man, that was fun."
Those were the days-the days when we would ride trail sleds (somewhat) modified for deep snow and mountainous terrain. Days when we thought a 121-inch track could get the job done . and then when the 136-inch tracks came out, we were in heaven and thought we would be able to climb anything.
As the years rolled on, sled engines got bigger-400cc to 470cc to 500cc to 600cc to 700cc to 800cc to 900cc and 1000cc-and better (altitude and temperature compensators became commonplace), tracks got longer, 136 to 144 to 151 to 159 to 166 and from less than a one-inch deep (can you call that deep?) lug to 1-inch to 1.25 to 1.5 to 1.75 to 2 inch (now we could really climb-and dig ourselves out of insanely deep holes) to 2.25 inches to better suspensions (no need to see a chiropractor after every ride) to better riding ergonomics and the list goes on and on.
Yes, snowmobiling has come a long way and evolved into a sport where mountain sleds ring up the cash register to the tune of $10,000 plus. We're going farther back into the mountains, we're climbing higher than ever before and, for the most part, we're making it back out safely and with a grin on our faces.

100 Years
With more than 100 years (talk about old) of riding experience between the members of the SnoWest SnowTest staff, we've ridden our fair share of snowmobiles over the years. Some of us go back to the late 1960s.
So we remember well how excited we were when tracks finally came with 1-inch deep lugs. And the bigger engines. And the days when you had to carry a chest full of tools and jets to make it into (and back out again) the places we like to ride. When a good day of riding meant you didn't have to see a dentist afterwards to have your molars replanted in your mouth.
We've watched snowmobile progress into a multi-million dollar industry with sleds so technologically  advanced that we only dreamed of 10 years ago.
That's why we decided to trace each major manufacturer's mountain sled lineage forward from its beginnings years ago when we had to settle for trail sleds disguised as mountain machines. It's most always fun to reminisce.
And we imagine that, as you go through the years with us, you'll find yourself thinking, "Oh yea, I remember that sled."