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SWAY?BAR: IN?OR OUT?

Published online: Sep 06, 2006 Feature Ryan Harris
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Sway bars are trendy. Back in the mid 90s, they were a hot topic. Riders all across the West were drilling out rivets and pulling out the sway bars on their sleds. 
But the fad kind of faded away. New chassis and suspension designs made them more difficult to remove. The idea that removing them improves a sled's ability to roll into a sidehill never really diminished-it just lost its popularity. Then it started gaining steam again. A few years ago, Starting Line Products introduced the Quick Couple Stabilizer Bar. It allowed the rider to effectively unlock the sway bar at any time. You could run down the trail with the bar coupled, taking advantage of the sway bar's trail handling characteristics. When you hit the mountain, you uncouple the bar and float around with each side of the front suspension working independently. 
Now we're back into the trend. So we posed the question, "Sway bar: leave it in or take it out?" to a panel of industry experts. The answers we got proved only one thing-that it's still largely a matter of preference.

Chris Burandt
Professional freerider/racer
"I don't like sway bars because they affect sidehilling. I could really care less how the sled handles on the trail through the bumps without it. I think the maneuverability that you lose with the sway bar in, when riding through the trees and sidehilling and all the type of stuff that I like to do, a sway bar would definitely hinder that. On my Sno Pro that I use for jumping, I actually like to also run without the sway bar because when you're doing the off-camber runs, I feel like I have more control of the sled compared to trying to fight it with the sway bar in. I'm not a big sway bar fan. Plus, the biggest factor for me is that it weighs two pounds. On my M sleds that don't come with them anyway, I'm not going to add that weight. On the Sno Pro, I take it off for the weight savings. It's all about weight."

Jerry Mathews
Operations Manager,
Starting Line Products
"I'd leave it in, no question. And the reason is that for the four pounds you would save, the difference in handling with the sway bar in is so much better, that there's no question in my mind. When you're on the trail or in the holes getting up to the higher elevations, having the sway bar in there is very important. Once you're in deep snow, having a sway bar in doesn't really matter that much, as long as you have an aggressive ski on the front of the sled.
There are two reasons guys take them out that I see. The first is weight. They want to save those four pounds or so. The second reason is they're not a very good sidehiller and they want the sled to sidehill better. If they do nothing more than put an aggressive ski on the nose of the sled, all of a sudden, they become a better sidehiller without having to pull the sway bar. If your skis are always washing out, then you have to use a lot of muscle to pull the sled over. If you have an aggressive ski that will bite into the snow, you can use your bars to hold yourself into the sidehill rather than having to throw all of your weight into it. I always leave the sway bar in because I'm always riding on an aggressive ski. On the holes and on the hill, I know how the front end is going to react every time. It doesn't throw you cockeyed. It recovers a lot better. Definitely, I'd keep it in."
Clare Martin
Owner, Mountain Air
Power & Sports
In these new sleds (Ski-Doo Summits), they gave us a really small diameter sway bar. So it seems like it has less of an effect overall. So the last couple years, I've left mine on. Before that, especially on the older ZX platforms, it made it easier to flip up on one side if you took it off, but the Rev is so easy to do that on, that we've just been leaving them on. And on the '06 X-package Summit, it came with a really small diameter bar and I don't think it has much of an effect overall. If you do take them out, you have to increase the spring rate, though.

Brad Story
Pro Mountain Rider
I've done both ways. I took the bar out on my Apex. It did handle better, but only after I re-did the shocks. It allows you to sidehill a little easier. It all comes down to spring rate. If you don't change the springs, then you're better off leaving the bar in. I took one out on a Rev and it made the thing handle like crap. I increased the spring rate, then it worked. So it just comes down to spring rates. Most of my sleds have not had sway bars in them.