A Trumpeting Elephant
This letter is in regards to the article in the September, 2007 issue of SnoWest by Arne Rantanen, Jr., entitled, "Are Loud Pipes Ruining Our Sport?" [page 62]. This article dealt with the effects that loud aftermarket pipes are having on the snowmobiling industry and also the potential for quieter and cleaner alternatives. This article, in my opinion, addressed some serious concerns about the reliability and viability of loud pipes in snowmobiling. It is true that pipes do make a difference in a snowmobile's performance; however, due to the reaction by the public and the disturbance that pipes can cause, I believe that there should be significant restrictions in place regarding the amount of noise a snowmobile should emit.
As an avid snowmobiler most of my life, I have the utmost respect for the sport; in fact, there is nothing that I enjoy more than snowmobiling. That being said, I can also relate to the article's reference to loud pipes ruining our sport. On several occasions when I have been out in the mountains enjoying the delight of boondocking and hillclimbing, when I have come upon sleds with modified pipes some sound all right, even tolerable. Others are simply obnoxious, releasing more decibels than a trumpeting elephant. These sleds, in my experience, do not perform any better than stock sleds, or if they do it is not enough to write home about. All they serve, for the most part, is to get attention and to disrupt the experience of others.
The most common reason that I have come across when talking to people with modified pipes is that they want performance to be enhanced, they want the sled to be lighter and more responsive. But, as stated in the article, the research behind pipes is coming out with conclusions that there isn't as much difference as once thought. The weight issue is a common concern, but that is not a concrete decision to outfit the sled with such loud pipes. As far as performance goes, the ways to improve performance are numerous, with some being changes in the suspension and modifications to the air box.
To solve this problem, there needs to be two things done, in my mind. One, we need to educate people on the ways to improve performance and weight by other means than extreme pipe modifications. I'm sure that many inexperienced snowmobilers out there are suckered in by the promise of great horsepower add-ons and drastic weight reductions. If they were told about the other possibilities that did not involve upping the noise level, then the bystanders and their ears would thank us. If they simply must have pipe mods, then they need to pick a reputable company that makes all of its pipes to specs, such as the example in the article of Black Magic Powersports. This way the pipes are ensured to be reasonable in noise and at the same time adequate in horsepower.
However, information only goes so far. Snowmobilers who simply must have the loudest sled on the mountain, reaching across the snow-laden slopes to ears on the other side, need to be reined in. The fact is that the mountains are public lands and just as loud sonic booms are not allowed in residential areas, so should over-the-top pipes be outlawed in the mountains. While it may sound cruel to take away their pride and joy, it would merely cause some thoughts to form about how else to gain performance without hurting the ears of other sledders who just want to enjoy their trip.
There is nothing I like more than snowmobiling and I myself have made modifications to my sled in order to maximize performance and the nasty weight issue. But as long as we have people who are too set in their ways to realize that their booming pipes are really only causing mayhem and not making the machine zoom up the hill five times faster, then our fun is limited to their discretion. We, as responsible snowmobilers, need to step up and educate people about the joys of snowmobile modifications that are beneficial to all and have great value before our wonderful sport is completely stereotyped and dismissed as just another disruptive, unnecessary pastime.
I just received the Volume 35, No. 2 edition of SnoWest and on page 8 ["Lane Has Some Sort of `Condition,'" March, 2008] Lane commented on his condition.
I am a resident of Star Valley, WY; however, I am in the military and have not ridden since April, 2003. In 2005, while on vacation, I flew over the Alps mountain range. When my wife asked me what I was looking at, I told her, "Look at all that untouched country, image the fun I could have down there" and she did mention to me something about a mental condition. I wonder what she was talking about.
Star Valley, WY
I Have Answers
I really enjoyed the November, 2007, article about the problems still to be found in the women's snowmobile clothing industry ["Men vs. Women," SnoWest, page 84]. Monica [Cassidy] made some very poignant points.
I have actually found some answers in the women's snowboarding industry, however. It has made some really big steps forward. Though I know there are differences in the gear, a good amount of it can be successfully crossed over into snowmobiling. Though I have yet to find a glove that will keep my hands as warm as I would like them to be, I have found gloves that fit all five of my fingers. I currently have a pair of DaKine women's gloves, though I've had good success with Burton women's gloves in the past as well. My hands get positively hot in my women's mittens actually, but mittens aren't always the most practical, especially for more aggressive riders (though I'll bring them along to slide my hands into when I just can't stand the cold any longer).
I use women's snowboard goggles just fine with my open face helmet (my husband uses snowboarding goggles as well). The helmet industry has really taken off in the snowboarding world, thanks to riders such as Shaun White, and I can't think of a decent snowboard goggle out there that is not helmet compatible these days. Smith and Roxy both make absolutely incredible ladies goggles, with all the fog control, technology and color choices a girl could ever want.
And boots. Boots have always been a problem for me. Not only do I have narrow feet (even for a woman) but I also have hyper-flexible feet, which means my feet bend in ways that would make a world class ballerina jealous. (I've actually had doctors beg me to allow them to take x-rays of my feet in various poses.) I can cram my feet into a boot two sizes too small, lace it up as tight as it goes and still manage to pull my foot out without difficulty. I currently ride both my snowboard and snowmobile in a pair of Vans Boa Omnis. Though I wouldn't recommend that particular model for snowmobiling as they are really stiff and have a ton of forward lean (I only use them because it is the ONLY boot that seems to work for me). There are many snowboard boots that would crossover well. And the best part, the snowboarding industry has narrow women's feet figured out. Vans make excellent boots for the narrow foot and the Boa system (wire laces that you tighten with the turn of a knob ... incredible) means that there are no metal hooks just waiting to rip up the seat of your snowmobile.
If looking for a snowboard boot to use for snowmobiling, I would suggest a few things. First, look for a "freestyle" or "park" model. These will be softer, which means a less aggressive forward lean and more flexibility than the average snowboard boot, allowing for more blood circulation (warmth) and more aggressive snowmobiling. Second, stay away from metal hooks. They really will rip your seat apart. And third, look for creative lacing techniques. Many boots today have the ability to separately tighten around the foot (to keep your foot securely in its place) and around the ankle and calves (to give you as much or as little flexibility as you want).
Well, I hope this helps out. I know there are differences in snowmobile vs. snowboarding gear, but at least the snowboarding industry has given women a place to turn to if we just can't find what we need from the snowmobile companies.
Plus, perhaps the snowmobile industry will take some cues from the snowboarding industry and finally put some true R&D into women's gear, cause if they don't offer it, how can we buy it?
Yes. Finally, a woman who knows what she is talking about. ["Men vs. Women," SnoWest, November, 2007, page 84.]
I, too, have snowmobiled for more than 15 years and it's stupid what I have to put up with to be comfortable for day-long rides. I could go on and on with the things I do to make myself comfortable and warm but you don't have enough room for it. But really, why is it necessary that I can't be comfortable or warm without making concessions or modifying men's clothing?
I ride an $11,000 machine, my husband's and kid's machines are all very nice and expensive machines, I pay my dues every year, I spend oodles of money on clothing, gas, motor home, trailers, etc., and I ride aggressively (I'm rarely left on the trail) and I should be just as comfortable as the boys are.
It ain't just the boys who spend the money, Mr. Manufacturer. Get some real women in your R&D departments and I bet you'll find a truly untapped market that is begging for comfortable, warm clothing that doesn't make a woman feel like the abominable snowman. Tell Monica Cassidy she's a hero for all female snowmobilers.
Why No Online Edition?
Why don't you have an electronic version of the magazine I can subscribe to? The print version is great but I'd prefer an online version accessible while at work.
If you build it they will come.
(ED-One reason is because not many-not any that we know of-have computers or laptops in their bathroom. And shouldn't you be working while you're at work? I should be the only one who gets paid to read snowmobile magazines while at work.)
Your Secret Spot
I was noticing on page 22 of Volume 34, No. 4 that your SnoWest test staff seems to share our "secret spot."
My name is Manette Norville. My husband and I own and operate a bed and breakfast less than two miles from Hancock Pass, CO. This is our first season open for business and our website (www.rarusbandb.com) is currently under construction. However, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our lodging includes a 2 bedroom, 2 bath log cabin with fireplace, hot tub and heated garage for working on your sleds. All meals, snacks, housekeeping and laundry are included.
This is truly a first class B&B and is the only cabin in the Hancock area so you will be able to be the first to ride the fresh powder. We are geared for those individuals who do not want to do anything but ride and relax.
The cabin sits at an elevation of 10,800 feet.
Hancock Pass, CO
Wouldn't it be great to see more kids on the mountain?
I and my dad have been riding sleds since I was 5 years old. I am now 14 and I ride a 2002 Ski-Doo Highmark Extreme. I started out riding a Polaris 440. You would be surprised where that thing can go but let's get back to the point. I mean, do you see kids snowmobiling every time you go? I know I don't. That bothers me because once everybody gets old, no one is there to ride. So all you dads who go snowmobiling don't forget your kids, even if you start them out on a small sled.