SNOWMOBILE BLOG

June 13, 2011

Snowmobile Community Enjoys Growing Season

Snowmobile Community Enjoys Growing Season

Haslett, MI – The snowmobile manufacturers are pleased to join the snowmobile community in announcing the 2010-2011 sales results and more. Worldwide Sales: Worldwide snowmobile sales increased 10 percent to 123,063 new snowmobiles sold in North America, Europe and Russia. The sales breakdown is as follows: US Sales: New snowmobile sales in the United States showed a 5 percent increase with 51,796 snowmobiles being sold. The average price of a new snowmobile was $8,397, a slight decrease in price due to continuing efforts by the manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and provide quality products at the best possible price. Canadian Sales: New snowmobile sales in Canada also showed an increase of approximately 8 percent to 40,878 new units sold. The average price of a new snowmobile in Canada was $9,361 per unit, a slight decrease in price from the previous year.

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Views 87
December 16, 2010

Klymit Kinetic Paregoria Stretch

Klymit
www.klymit.com

stretchThe Klymit Kinetic Paregoria (Greek for comfort) Stretch is a soft-shell jacket featuring four-way stretch. This jacket provides the comfort of a softshell in a truly moveable and flexible jacket.

The Paregoria Stretch jacket is part of Klymit’s new Kinetic shell line of outerwear.

The Paregoria Stretch is made from breathable bamboo carbon and double-knitted polyester.

Each shell in the line is equipped with a Kontrol Dial access point, allowing the user access to the Klymit Kinetic Vest release dial, as well as a Klymitizer Access Port, providing unmatched adjustable warmth on demand. Klymit NobleTek insulation is the only technology on the market giving users the power to “Kontrol the Elements” and adjust their level of warmth via flexible, gastight yet breathable chambers filled with gas instead of down or fabric. This cutting-edge technology provides insulation that is not only adjustable, but warmer, thinner and lighterweight than other insulators.

The Paregoria Stretch retails for $184.95.


Views 75
December 06, 2010

Snowmobile Sales

Very little to cheer about in 2010

No matter how you slice or look at the numbers, new snowmobile sales for the 2010 model year were dismal.

The snowmobile sales numbers reflect a struggling economy as well as skimpy snowfall in certain parts of North America.

When officially presenting the 2010 model year sales figures to snowmobile leaders from across North America at the annual International Snowmobile Congress in Iowa earlier this summer, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association president Ed Klim didn’t sugarcoat anything.

He said, “People want to snowmobile right now, but there is a lack of confidence to buy right now.”

It doesn’t matter where you look at snowmobile sales across the globe, sales in 2010 dropped anywhere from 20 to nearly 30 percent, depending on location. Sled sales in the western United States dropped 30 percent, the largest decline since we here at SnoWest have been tracking sales.

The “lowest” drop in new snowmobile sales was in the United States, where 2010 sales were 21 percent lower than a season ago. And it’s not much consolation to anyone to say that U.S. sales weren’t as bad as say, Europe and Russia, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. market makes up the largest percentage of sales in the world.

Speaking of worldwide sales, those were down 24 percent compared to the 2009 model year.

If we were to search far and wide for some sort of silver lining, we might suggest that perhaps the snowmobile sales numbers aren’t as bad as they seem. Certainly new snowmobile sales figures aren’t rosy, but those numbers don’t take into account used sleds sales, which we’ve heard weren’t too bad. It’s just that no one tracks those numbers so we don’t know what they really are.

ISMA’s Klim said he wishes they could figure out a way to track used sled sales, just to give a better barometer of the industry.

For now, however, we focus just on new sled sales.

So here are the latest snowmobile sales figures for 2010 in the exclusive SnoWest Magazine annual snowmobile sales report.

Graphs 1-4Graphs 4-5


Views 36
November 19, 2010

New Products

Surviva-Vest

MotorFist

(877) FIST-411 - www.motorfist.com

This vest has NobleTek insulation and was designed specifically for the needs of snowmobile enthusiasts. Surviva-Vest is the most thermally efficient and effective survival vest available.

It provides instant warmth by simply pulling a cord and the vest auto-inflates in less than a second, capturing your body’s heat in an efficient way. It has a dynamic channel design so when the vest is inflated it contours to your body and doesn’t allow the air to escape.

NobleTek insulation also keeps you warm regardless of moisture, even if you fall into a creek. Another feature includes pressurized bladders of Argon for wind proofing. Argon also makes it thinner, warmer and more compact emergency gear.

 

Avi Vest

Avi Vest

(877) 428-4432 - www.avivest.com.

One of the newest products on the market aimed at helping snowmobilers survive an avalanche is the Avi Vest.

The vest features an inflatable red safety airbag that you can inflate by pulling a rip cord if you’re caught in an avalanche. The airbag inflates and rises to the surface of a slide, taking the person wearing the vest with it. After two minutes, the airbag slowly begins to deflate, discharging breathable air while creating a cavity behind the person’s head.

The compressed air cylinder used to inflate the Avi Vest is rechargeable. The Impact version of the Avi Vest also offers impact protection.

 

2011 Dennis Kirk Snow Catalog

Dennis Kirk

(800) 970-2308

www.denniskirk.com

Now is the time to tune-up and upgrade your snowmobile, not to mention replace that tattered coat, bibs and helmet. We all know great winter days are few enough. Don’t waste a single day of fresh snow, trails covered in powder and smooth icy lakes to a broken belt or cracked windshield. The folks over at Dennis Kirk have all the goodies you need to get stocked and ready to go, including brands like Arctiva, HJC, Woody’s and more. Orders placed by 8 p.m. CST will be shipped out the same day and if your order is $100 or more, the shipping is free. You can place orders everyday from 6 a.m. to midnight CST.

 

HMK Outlaw Jacket

HMK

www.hmkusa.com

The HMK Outlaw snowmobiling jacket is designed for performance and comfort for when you’re on the run. It has a highly sought-after distinct appearance, versatility and was “built to withstand anything that gets in the way.”

It has a removable shell with a full featured Tech Jacket Liner. It is a waterproof/windproof/breathable heavy-duty Cordura three-in-one-jacket that can be worn with the Tech Jacket Liner zipped in for maximum warmth as a shell or you can use the liner as a stand-alone jacket.

It has a removable hood with internal draw cord, embroidered logo on sleeves, back and chest and reflective piping along the chest, back and sleeves. It comes in black and is available in men’s sizes XS-3XL for $349.95.

 

Klim Impulse Parka

Klim

(208) 552-7433 - www.KLIM.com.

Klim’s insulated Impulse Parka has a clean, streamlined style and advanced all-condition design and function. Featuring Gore-Tex Performance Shell fabrics and 100 gram Thinsulate Insulation, the Impulse Parka instantly becomes the cross-over king, tearing up western vertical assaults just as easily as it torches down the most intense high-speed trails.

Top-end features include an integrated, optional-use powder skirt, dual-pull pit zippers with internal storm flaps for controlled ventilation and adjustable, insulated waterproof hood.

The Impulse also comes in kids’ sizes and there are pockets galore. All cargo areas have brushed tricot lining to aid in warmth and offer a soft protective layer for delicates. Headphone-securing loops and an audio port come standard. It is available in adult XS-3XL sizes and in kids 4T-12 and comes in black, blue, red or tan.

Retail price is adult XS-2XL $249.99, 3XL $279.99 and $189.99 for kids sizes.

 

XXX Mod Rods Cat Skull Hood/Vents

XXX Mod Rods

(509) 370-1457

XXXModRods.com

Keep your cat cool with Mod Rods’ new Cat Skull Hood and Side Vents. 

These vents come in many different colors and options. Mod Rods also has a full line 

of vents for all makes and models of snowmobiles.

 

Ski-Doo Helium Series Clothing

BRP

www.brp.com

The new Ski-Doo Helium Clothing series from BRP is designed with a combination of high-tech materials for active mountain riders. At the heart of this system is a membrane new to the North American market known as Sympatex, which establishes new levels of breathability, durability, elasticity and is more environmentally-friendly compared to PTFE-membranes.

Helium gear has a breathable membrane with Sympatex that adapts as the rider’s effort level increases. The non-porous membrane is waterproof, windproof and the PTFE-free Sympatex membrane is a copolymer consisting of polyester and polyether—production of which produces no toxic materials—and is 100 percent recyclable.

Helium jackets and pants are offered in two versions, the Helium 50 series featuring a heavier Cordura outer shell with XS through 3XL sizing and the Advanced TEC Helium 30 series using a nylon outer shell and offering tall sizing in addition. Both series are available with black or red jackets.

Retail price is $399.99/$479.99 Canadian.

 

RAM Suction Mount, POV Camera Clamp

V.I.O.

(888) 579-2267 - www.vio-pov.com

This POV Camera head mounting solution includes the RAM Suction Mount and POV Tri-Pod Mount.

The two complementing pieces are joined by a secure ¼-20 Tri-Pod thread. The RAM Suction Mount is designed to have an extra strong hold on any smooth, non-porous surface. For best results, mount the suction cup on a glass or non-porous plastic surface.

The unit retails for $49.95.


SnoWest Staff Launches Dirt Toys Magazine

Side-by-sides are one of the hottest segments in the powersports industry and the SnoWest staff is right on top of it. The magazine that brings you the most comprehensive coverage of the mountain snowmobile segment, along with project sled builds, special shootouts like out Deep Powder Challenge and features on where to ride in the West, introduces Dirt Toys Magazine.

Dirt Toys is a fresh look at summer motorsports activities. Consider it a snowmobiler’s summer survival guide. We’ll cover all the latest new models in both ATV and side-by-side markets, as well as bring you the latest information on new products, aftermarket performance, events, rallies and worthy road trips, as well as riding tips.

And the best part? Dirt Toys is a free bonus to SnoWest subscribers. That’s right, free. Watch for the first consumer issue of Dirt Toys to hit the market next spring.

Or if you happen to go to either the Intermountain Snowmobile Show in Salt Lake City, UT, or the Idaho Snowmobile Show in Boise, ID, you can pick up a trial issue of the magazine at the SnoWest booth.


Views 77
November 13, 2010

My Personal Ride


Bret Rasmussen

It’s mid-August and I am starting to think about the sleds I’ll be preparing for my personal use in the months ahead.

I like the Arctic Cat M8 for its ability to perform in the steep and deep backcountry. The thing is, Arctic Cat builds it for the masses—to be affordable and dependable. I like to personalize my ride to work with my ride style. My sled needs to be an extension of my mind and body. I need to be able to predict how the sled is going to react to the terrain.

I spend enough time on a sled that I can notice its subtle intricacies. Every aspect of the machine has to function properly and without question. If I think it, my sled should do it. If a shock has failed or if an A-arm is tweaked because of an incident with some obstacle, the sled will feel different to me and an adjustment in balance or aggression will be needed in technique to make up for the lack of ability of the sled.

Style is secondary to a good backcountry sled. Functionality should be first. So does function drive style? In the world of motorsports, styling is primarily achieved from a functional characteristic of the design of the vehicle. In fact, many times the characteristic will be exaggerated in a street vehicle to make it look more like a competition vehicle. In the ‘70s we jacked up the rear of the cars to make them look more like drag cars. Now we see lift kits and big tires on four wheel drive trucks to imitate monster trucks.

So how does this relate to mountain sleds? First of all, mountain sleds don’t have to imitate anything. They are purely derived from their own evolution. Mountain sleds are driven by their ability to get on top of the snow (snowmobility) and how they react to rider input. Believe me when I say this, there are many misconceptions out there and I will try to clear some of this up.

A nimble sled responds quickly to rider input, even subtle input. It moves well with the rider. This is a key characteristic. So your reflexes are slow and you get behind your sled—is it forgiving enough to let you catch up? I go to great lengths to lighten my sleds any way I can. This is what makes a sled nimble—an ounce here and an ounce there add up to pounds eventually. A mountain sled can’t be too light, but not at the sacrifice of durability. Exotic metals can be expensive, but also can substantially reduce weight without any structural sacrifice. Black Diamond Extreme provides most of my lightweight parts. From A-arms to vent kits Black Diamond has well thought out and durability-tested components.

However, just because a sled is light doesn’t mean it will be the ultimate. There are other characteristics that come into play.

Good sled balance comes from centralized mass and low center of gravity. It is determined by how the sled responds to rider input. So this is relatively fixed by the manufacturer. Balance can be adjusted with suspension upgrades and shock and spring changes. I use an EZ Ryde rear skid to enhance balance and with the shock and spring packages that I use from Renton Coil Spring, the front of the sled will stay down in a climb, yet allow me to easily tip it up on one ski and balance for as long as is needed.

Predictability is a quality derived from a well-balanced chassis and creates a condition of trust between rider and sled. If you can trust your sled and know what to expect from it in any given situation, you will be able to carry out insane maneuvers. Predictability comes from an engine package, even with a turbo, which is always the same. It never misses, no matter if the snow is over the hood and chest deep or if it’s spring snow conditions. Predictability is a suspension package that never kicks, bucks or bottoms out. Predictability comes from properly used vent kits and skis that actually turn.

With the application of more aggressive tracks we have had to go to more aggressive skis. A lot of technology has gone into ski development. I use the SLP Powder Pros. These skis can actually be too aggressive at times and a good compromise is the HCR Ski from Arctic Cat. A predictable sled allows the rider to anticipate his next move, however gnarly the situation may be.

The industry trend is going with higher and higher seats, based on the fact that the less you bend your knees the easier it is to move up and down. I can buy into this for a trail application. Oh yea, I don’t ride trails—I almost forgot. So for backcountry riding I want to be able to be all over my sled instantly. Therefore I prefer a shorter seat design, which allows quicker transfer from one side of the sled to the other. I rarely sit anyway. Boss Industries builds my seats for me and we market a backcountry edition seat based on my preferences. The seat is also a part of the suspension package and I’ll get more into that subject in another column.

Of course, one of the key elements to my ride is the engine package. In the technical situations that I find myself in I have to have a lot of power and I need it instantly and without hesitation. I have worked with Boondocker Performance for a number of years to enhance the turbocharger system for backcountry riding. Among other things, with the electronics that have been developed and the tunnel dump exhaust outlet, we have completely changed the way we look at turbocharged engines. They work all the time. They make more power and are more dependable than the big bores I used years ago with never a hiccup, never a hesitation—just put in gas and ride.

There are the little things that make my sled mine, like small diameter handlebar grips. This allows me to hang on with less grip and I don’t fatigue as soon. My running board treads are composite so that snow and ice are less likely to build up.

Now I better stop before I give out all my secrets.

The functionality of my sled has evolved to the point that I look at terrain completely different than I did just a few years ago. Stuff that was never even considered before is attacked without hesitation. I marvel at the places my ride will take me. Often I pause to look at a line and just shake my head. How is it that a sled and rider just drove through there, seemingly without effort?. 


Views 42
November 13, 2010

Product Review: Arctiva and HMK

Arctiva Comp 4

If staying warm was the only requirement for snowmobilers, then we would all be wearing insulated coveralls. You know, those brown ones the ranchers wear when they’re out feeding the stock at night.

But just as we expect more from a snowmobile than merely trudging through the deep mountain snow, we expect more from our snowmobile suit. Being warm is important … but so is being dry, comfortable and not feeling like the Michelin Man.

The Arctiva Comp 4 bib and jacket offers the best of all worlds.

The trouble with most snowmobile suits is that they are either designed to be warm and bulky or lightweight. And too often we start our rides in the morning when the air is heavy and cold … but by midday the temperature rises. Also, the first part of any ride starts on the trail where you are less active. Once you hit the good part of the mountain where the snow is deep, you start working harder and generating more heat from within.

Arctiva designed a suit that combines a 120 gram Holofil insulation package with durable waterproof nylon shell that keeps you warm and dry while providing maximum comfort and multiple vents for temperature regulation.

Arctiva uses top quality materials and construction, coupled with innovative design to offer the most technical snowmobiling gear you can buy. The suit may be just a tad more bulky that some of the more popular western style suits like Klim, HMK or Motorfist, but the soft fabric gives it a feel of being lightweight. And it doesn’t restrict rider movement, even when jumping from side to side in unpredictable terrain.

So if you’re looking for something that will keep you warm but won’t turn a ride into a steam bath, you may want to look again at Arctiva. Arctiva offers a wide range of products in men’s, women’s and youth styles and sizes.

For more information contact www.arctiva.com.

 

HMK Outlaw Jacket/Highmark Boots

The trouble with winter is that sometimes it’s cold … and sometimes it’s really cold. Although most snowmobile suits are designed for warmth, sometimes you actually need one designed for cold.

The HMK Outlaw Jacket maximizes the layering system to provide comfort in extreme cold while allowing you to shed layers when the cold winter morning turns into a nice winter day.

Breathable heavy-duty Codura stops wind and water from penetrating its layer. A lighter Tech Jacket provides comfort and warmth as an inner liner. When the weather improves, you can either remove the liner or remove the outer shell. It’s a perfect system for any type of weather.

The Outlaw Jacket also features a removable hood for those occasions when you are just standing out in the cold and want something to protect your head. There are also plenty of pockets for storage.

We also found the HMK Highmark Pro Boots were an excellent choice of footwear. Simple, affordable and functional, the Highmark boots feature an ergonomic comfort cuff to relieve pressure on the calf. They also have a high grip rubber outsole for excellent traction and are comfort rated at minus 50 degrees C (perfect for walking on Mars).

For more information contact www.HMKUSA.com. 


Views 73
November 13, 2010

Polaris Asks: Did You Go Snowmobiling in August

Polaris Snowmobile Test Team Returns From Trip to South America

While most snowmobilers are enjoying a late summer BBQ on the deck or a boat ride, six members of the Polaris Snowmobile Test Team returned from a 14-day trip to the rugged Andes mountains in South America.

Eight off-the-line production sleds of the 800 Rush Pro-R and 800 Pro-RMK were air freighted to South America for final confirmation in real world conditions. The team was able to experience true “winter” riding conditions—the same temperatures and riding conditions its customers ride in all season long. What an amazing experience it must have been to ride deep powder in August.

The test team commented, “We’ve ridden in places all over the world and what we found in the Andes Mountains of South America were areas where no snowmobile has ever been before. We put the eight sleds through their paces over thousands of miles during the trip.”

Upon their return, the test riders declared both models winners and confirmed they are ready to ship. Scott Swenson, general manager of the Polaris Snowmobile Division, joined the test riders for a few days of riding during the trip and said, “The sleds worked great and consumers are absolutely going to love them.”

During last winter’s Demo Tour across the U.S. and Canada, consumers asked Polaris time and time again to build the production sleds exactly the same as what they rode on the Demo Tour. Polaris made a commitment to do that and went all the way to South America to prove it. 


Views 45
November 13, 2010

Gear Box

Avi Vest

One of the newest products on the market aimed at helping snowmobilers survive an avalanche is the Avi Vest.

The vest features an inflatable red safety airbag that you can inflate by pulling a rip cord if you’re caught in an avalanche. The airbag inflates and rises to the surface of a slide, taking the person wearing the vest with it. After two minutes, the airbag slowly begins to deflate, discharging breathable air while creating a cavity behind the person’s head.

The compressed air cylinder used to inflate the Avi Vest is rechargeable. The Impact version of the Avi Vest also offers impact protection.

Contact Avi Vest (877) 428-4432 or www.avivest.com.

 

2011 Dennis Kirk Snow Catalog

Now is the time to tune-up and upgrade your snowmobile, not to mention replace that tattered coat, bibs and helmet. We all know great winter days are few enough. Don’t waste a single day of fresh snow, trails covered in powder and smooth icy lakes to a broken belt or cracked windshield. The folks over at Dennis Kirk have all the goodies you need to get stocked and ready to go, including brands like Arctiva, HJC, Woody’s and more. Orders placed by 8 p.m. CST will be shipped out the same day and if your order is $100 or more, the shipping is free. You can place orders everyday from 6 a.m. to midnight CST.

Contact Dennis Kirk (800) 970-2308 or www.denniskirk.com.

 

HMK Outlaw Jacket

The HMK Outlaw snowmobiling jacket is designed for performance and comfort for when you’re on the run. It has a highly sought-after distinct appearance, versatility and was “built to withstand anything that gets in the way.”

It has a removable shell with a full featured Tech Jacket Liner. It is a waterproof/windproof/breathable heavy-duty Cordura three-in-one-jacket that can be worn with the Tech Jacket Liner zipped in for maximum warmth as a shell or you can use the liner as a stand-alone jacket.

It has a removable hood with internal draw cord, embroidered logo on sleeves, back and chest and reflective piping along the chest, back and sleeves. It comes in black and is available in men’s sizes XS-3XL for $349.95.

Contact HMK www.hmkusa.com.

 

XXX Mod Rods Cat Skull Hood/Vents

Keep your cat cool with Mod Rods’ new Cat Skull Hood and Side Vents. 

These vents come in many different colors and options. Mod Rods also has a full line 

of vents for all makes and models of snowmobiles.

Contact XXX Mod Rods (509) 370-1457 or XXXModRods.com.

 

Surviva-Vest

This vest has NobleTek insulation and was designed specifically for the needs of snowmobile enthusiasts. Surviva-Vest is the most thermally efficient and effective survival vest available.

It provides instant warmth by simply pulling a cord and the vest auto-inflates in less than a second, capturing your body’s heat in an efficient way. It has a dynamic channel design so when the vest is inflated it contours to your body and doesn’t allow the air to escape.

NobleTek insulation also keeps you warm regardless of moisture, even if you fall into a creek. Another feature includes pressurized bladders of Argon for wind proofing. Argon also makes it thinner, warmer and more compact emergency gear.

Contact MotorFist (877) FIST-411 or www.motorfist.com.

 

RAM Suction Mount, POV Camera Clamp

This POV Camera head mounting solution includes the RAM Suction Mount and POV Tri-Pod Mount.

The two complementing pieces are joined by a secure ¼-20 Tri-Pod thread. The RAM Suction Mount is designed to have an extra strong hold on any smooth, non-porous surface. For best results, mount the suction cup on a glass or non-porous plastic surface.

The unit retails for $ 49.95.

Contact V.I.O. (888) 579-2267 or www.vio-pov.com.

 

Klim Impulse Parka

Klim’s insulated Impulse Parka has a clean, streamlined style and advanced all-condition design and function. Featuring Gore-Tex Performance Shell fabrics and 100 gram Thinsulate Insulation, the Impulse Parka instantly becomes the cross-over king, tearing up western vertical assaults just as easily as it torches down the most intense high-speed trails.

Top-end features include an integrated, optional-use powder skirt, dual-pull pit zippers with internal storm flaps for controlled ventilation and adjustable, insulated waterproof hood.

The Impulse also comes in kids’ sizes and there are pockets galore. All cargo areas have brushed tricot lining to aid in warmth and offer a soft protective layer for delicates. Headphone-securing loops and an audio port come standard. It is available in adult XS-3XL sizes and in kids 4T-12 and comes in black, blue, red or tan.

Retail price is adult XS-2XL $249.99, 3XL $279.99 and $189.99 for kids sizes.

Contact Klim (208) 552-7433 or www.KLIM.com.

 

Ski-Doo Helium Series Clothing

The new Ski-Doo Helium Clothing series from BRP is designed with a combination of high-tech materials for active mountain riders. At the heart of this system is a membrane new to the North American market known as Sympatex, which establishes new levels of breathability, durability, elasticity and is more environmentally-friendly compared to PTFE-membranes.

Helium gear has a breathable membrane with Sympatex that adapts as the rider’s effort level increases. The non-porous membrane is waterproof, windproof and the PTFE-free Sympatex membrane is a copolymer consisting of polyester and polyether—production of which produces no toxic materials—and is 100 percent recyclable.

Helium jackets and pants are offered in two versions, the Helium 50 series featuring a heavier Cordura outer shell with XS through 3XL sizing and the Advanced TEC Helium 30 series using a nylon outer shell and offering tall sizing in addition. Both series are available with black or red jackets.

Retail price is $399.99/$479.99 Canadian.

Contact BRP www.brp.com. 

 


Views 58
November 13, 2010

Ride Free Hard to Follow

"The Assault has been redesigned for 2011, which includes a big weight loss and new chassis.
"Of all the freeride sleds, the Arctic Cat HCR probably most resembles its mountain counterpart, the M8 SnoPro, when it comes to the ride and handling.
"The Summit Freeride brings a lot of features to the freeride segment, including the silky-smooth E-Tec 800R powerplant.
"One of the reasons you can wail on the Polaris Assault is its shock package, which uses a combination of two different kinds of Walker Evans shocks.
"The design and pattern of the track on the HCR is the same as Cat’s M8 but it is stiffer, which means it will hook up a little better in certain conditions.
"The Summit Freeride gets Ski-Doo’s newest ski, the Pilot DS.
"The Polaris Assault was one of the first sleds to appeal to the freeride segment and experienced wild success with the younger crowd.
"Cat’s HCR has made a name for itself on the hillclimb circuit and in the backcountry as a sled that is easy to handle and great power.
"Ski-Doo is definitely going after the freeride/backcountry crowd with its own Freeride, a segment that is one of the few still growing in snowmobiling.

There are trail sleds for trail riders. There are mountain sleds for mountain riders. There are even in-between sleds for trail riders who want to be able to ride off-trail. But what about those snowmobilers who ride mountain terrain with the same aggressiveness as those who attack the trails?

Welcome to the “freeride” class.

Here you have a snowmobile that has been designed to be light and nimble to handle deep western powder, yet packing plenty of suspension capable of launching off cornices and soaking up the landing.

This has become a class of sled that is capable of highmarking the steep mountain slope at one moment, then pounding through the hardpack tracks on mogul-ridden mountain trails the next. This sled has to perform at the highest level, regardless of the terrain and snow depth, due to the rider expectation. And the battle for class supremacy has become competitive, with Polaris, Arctic Cat and Ski-Doo taking great interest in their respective 800cc lineups.

We’re talking about the Polaris Assault, Arctic Cat HCR and Ski-Doo Freeride—the same three sleds you see fighting it out in the 800 class on the hillclimb circuit.

Officially, these sleds are not “race” sleds, even though they dominate in hillclimb and hillcross events. But unofficially, the suspension packages tucked into the mountain chassis of these 800s are the best in the business.

So, since these sleds represent the best of the best in the mountains, which one is the best of the best?

 

Conventional Wisdom

The measure used to be simple—whatever handled best on the trails and through the powder was definitely the leader of the class. If that were still the case, Ski-Doo’s Freeride would reign supreme.

However, things change. Riding styles have changed. And the measure of supremacy has also changed. There are two other factors that have emerged with extreme riders—trees and terrain.

You just can’t go through the powder. You have to go through the powder on ever-changing slopes littered with trees. You have to be able to turn up and down against any degree of camber without losing momentum. This is where counter-steering has been perfected and if you’re not hanging off your sled with a foot dangling in the air, you’re not going to be able to make the turn. And of the three models, the Freeride falls from the top of the list to the bottom.

So who is on the top?

For the SnoWest SnowTest crew, it’s either the Assault followed by the HCR or the HCR followed by the Assault, depending on who you ask.

The Assault has shown the most significant changes for 2011. By shedding more than 40 lbs. from 2010, it has become more nimble and much more responsive. Crack the throttle and the sled reacts … perhaps maybe too responsive for some riders. And the Assault’s suspension package makes it a close second on the trails.

However, with all the changes made from 2010 to 2011, the Assault is virtually an all-new sled and will still need to prove itself to the masses.

The HCR, however, is in its second year with this present design and has already won the hearts of its owners. Although it didn’t feel as quick as the Assault in the turns, and it definitely falls behind the competition in the bumps, it still handles the flat turns better than anything on the snow.

Of the three, the HCR is probably the most predictable in terrain riding. The Assault is so quick to respond, it has a tendency to over-react to the rider. The Freeride’s chassis is designed to not trust the rider’s intentions and it wants to correct itself—pushing the sled parallel to the terrain.

All three feature the best suspensions and shock packages in their respective model lines. Ski-Doo has the narrowest ski stance of the three, which doesn’t seem to affect it in either a positive or negative way.

To best understand the nuances of each of these three models, it’s important to see how they evolved from their respective mountain line.

 

Freeride vs Summit X

According to Ski-Doo specs, the Freeride is 30 lbs. heavier than the comparable Summit X 800 with a 154-inch track. This weight likely comes from the beefed-up suspension to improve the ride and the wider stance.

The Freeride has an overall width of 50.7 inches (compared to 44.3 inches). Both the front and rear suspension packages features KYB Pro 40 shocks (compared to HPG Plus shocks).

When you hop from the Summit to the Freeride, the first thing you notice is the rear suspension. The Freeride tames the big bumps. With a little wider front, the Freeride feels much more stable. Featuring reservoir shocks with clickers, the Freeride allows its rider to fine-tune the ride with a twist of a knob.

 

Assault vs RMK

Polaris lists its Assault 15 lbs. heavier that the comparable Pro RMK. Again, most of the weight can be traced to improving the ride in the suspension.

The Assault uses Walker Evans Needle shocks up front and Walker Evans rebuildable/Needle shocks in the rear suspension. The Pro RMK uses the basic Walker Evans shocks. The Assault has a 48-inch (compared to 46.5 of the RMK) overall width. The track is also a little different, featuring a 2.125-inch profile (compared to 2.4-inch). It is designed thicker and stiffer for competition.

The bigger the moguls, the bigger the jumps, the more impressive the Assault. With a stiffer track, the Assault will have better hookup in packed snow conditions. But that will require the rider to show a little throttle constraint in deep dry powder.

Since the Assault is so responsive to the throttle, it will be a much better fit for a younger aggressive rider.

 

HCR vs M8 SnoPro

For Arctic Cat, the HCR’s front suspension uses lightweight aluminum Fox Zero Pro gas shocks with titanium springs, while the SnoPro uses Fox Float AirShocks. The only difference in the rear suspension is in the shock valving.

The HCR has an overall width of 48 inches (compared to 46 inches). The HCR track, although the same pattern and design as the SnoPro track, is stiffer. The HCR also uses a more aggressive ski that features a deeper keel.

The HCR is probably one freeride sled that rides as well if not better than its mountain counterpart in any kind of terrain.

 

Market Segment

So where do these three machines fit into the industry? Well, aside from being the unofficial hillclimb machines for each OEM, you really only need to look at the latest freeriding DVD films. That type of rider—younger, aggressive and teetering on the edge of control—has flocked to these three models over the past few years. We have to think Ski-Doo had this segment in mind when it dropped the Summit X-RS name last year for the 2011 Freeride moniker.

Each of these three models has something to prove for 2011—that they are the most aggressive, durable and versatile weapons for backcountry freeriding rebels.

The Ski-Doo Freeride and Polaris Assault just have more to prove than the Arctic Cat HCR. 


Views 85
November 13, 2010

17 Tips: How to Be a Better Rider


Steve Janes

(ED—This is part two of two in a series on how to ride in the West. The first part—Nos. 1-8—appeared in the October issue of SnoWest Magazine.)

So you are a good snowmobiler. You’ve ridden for a number of years, mostly staying on established trails and riding with the same group of friends. But now you are planning to go somewhere new, somewhere more exciting and challenging. And you are starting to wonder if you will be up to the test.

Well, the editors of SnoWest have established a western riding guide featuring 17 tips on how to snowmobile in extreme conditions. We recognize that despite how good a snowmobile rider may be, once you leave the comforts of your familiar riding area, you may face certain conditions that are new to you. Understanding some of the basics will help you to cope with your new environment.

 

(9) Sidehilling. The art to sidehilling can be both very simple and yet very complicated. In a nutshell, sidehilling is simply the ability of keeping your snowmobile level while traveling across a very unlevel slope.

What makes this so challenging is usually the terrain itself. You have to make a commitment that has basically two options: either you cut the sidehill and get to where you want to go or you wash the sidehill and end up somewhere you probably didn’t want to go. Washing the sidehill means that your sled started to head down and you didn’t have the strength or ability to pull it back up. And once a sled starts down, only the very best of snowmobilers can pull it back out. For the rest of us, we just try to recoup our losses and figure the best route down.

A key to sidehilling is to set your track. This means combining throttle control with body position to get the track pointed in the right direction and getting the machine as level as possible. Too much throttle can do two things: dig down too deep or pack too much sled speed. Too little throttle will do the opposite: If your track isn’t level, it’s more apt to wash; and if you’re going too slow, it’s harder to maintain the right balance (sort of like trying to ride a bicycle too slowly … it’s just too easy to tip from side to side).

Your body position plays an equal part in setting your track. If your weight is over the middle of the sled, it will automatically be transferred to the downhill slope by the laws of gravity. You need to keep the weight centered on the uphill side of the snowmobile. For example, if the sidehill is such that left is uphill and right is downhill, you need to have your center of weight somewhere on the left slide of the sled, depending on the degree of slope. The steeper the slope, the farther to the left. Some skilled riders will literally have all but their hands and right foot hanging out on the left side (their right foot is positioned on the left side running boards).

With your weight into the hillside, you pop the throttle, which spins the track into the snow, thus setting the track at level, with the left side being several inches deeper in the snow that the downhill side. Your right ski is likely dangling in the air while your left ski is dug down. You may even have a degree of counter-steering working for you (see counter-steering).

Now you are in position to cut across the hillside. Again, it is important to keep your momentum moving in the direction you want to go and your speed controllable. By standing on the uphill side of the running board, you’re in great position to hold the sidehill. The steeper the slope, the more you need to hang off your sled. Again, this is where good riders will stand off the sled with a leg dragging in the snow for balance. (Stay with me here … an example would be if the uphill side of the sled is the right side, you place your left foot on the right side running board, which frees up the right leg to dangle out into the snow, putting more of your weight into the sidehill.)

 

(10) Hillclimbing. Many western riders like to do what’s known as “highmarking” to see who can climb higher on a steep mountain slope. Two things should happen—you go up, and you come down. Anything else is probably not a good thing.

There are several unwritten rules of highmarking. The first is that if you get stuck, your mark doesn’t count. The critical part about hillclimbing is to not get stuck on the slope … this is when all the bad things can happen, such as the mountain coming down on top of you. So when you highmark, it is important for the rider to decide when it is the proper time to turn back down. Too soon and you didn’t reach your full potential. Too late and you don’t have enough momentum to make the turn and you get stuck.

This “knowing when to turnout” is not necessarily an easy thing to grasp. You have to have a good feel for how your clutches are working and how your sled will react to downshifting. You need to be positioned on the uphill side of the turn in order to pull the uphill side into the sidehill and cut the snow enough to allow the sled to level out before turning down. All of this is performed in a matter of feet and seconds.

Another unwritten rule is against “poaching” … this is using the tracks of another highmark attempt to allow you more initial speed up the hill. In other words, if someone places an impressive mark on a side slope in fresh snow, you must make your mark outside of his tracks. (Now if everyone poaches due to the condition of the hill, that’s legitimate.)

Then there’s the safety rule—only one sled on the slope at a time. You need to wait your turn. Any hill steep enough to invite highmarking is also steep enough to slide. Many avalanche fatalities are caused when multiple riders are on the mountain and one rider sets off the slide that catches the other riders unprepared. And never highmark when another rider is stuck on the slope. He’s in a compromised position and has zero protection from a slide.

When someone is stuck on the slope, you sit, watch and wait. Unless it is absolutely necessary, you don’t go up to help. Just the added weight of a second person on the slope moving around can touch off a slide. Let’s just say it’s the penalty of an unsuccessful highmark. The rider stuck on the hill is on his own. It may be a little more work for him, but it’s a lot safer. And most of us would prefer working a little harder to get out on our own to being buried by a mountain of snow from an avalanche.

 

(11) Descending Hills. We all know that what goes up must come down. What we sometimes fail to take in to account is that when you’re coming down on a 500-pound chunk of metal on hardpack snow, the power of gravity takes over. Basically, you are going down. You are going straight down. And you are not going to stop until you either reach the bottom or hit an unmovable object … like a tree. Steep slopes (or objects that are on them) are the No. 1 one cause of snowmobile damage.

Ironically, on some descents, the only control over your snowmobile is with the throttle, not the brake. When a track is locked (not rotating … a condition caused when you have a fistful of brake), the lugs in the pattern fill with snow. Once the pattern is full, you’re basically sliding on snow with no traction. Also, if the track isn’t turning, you have no control of the sled … gravity is in charge.

If the track is turning, it will push the sled in the direction it’s pointing. Now if you’re going down hill, you may be able to get the front to point from one side to the other. Then, by grabbing the throttle, you can at least alter your downward direction by going even faster downhill, but at an angle. (This can come in handy when you have to hit a gap in the trees somewhere along the descent.) But this does require quite a bit of conversation between the brain, the thumb and the eyes.

Brain: “What are you doing? You are already going too fast.”

Thumb: “But I have to power to the left to hit that gap in the trees.”

Brain: “But if you don’t hit that gap, you’re definitely going to hit something.”

Eyes: “That gap ain’t that big. And those trees are.

Brain: “Shouldn’t we be grabbing for that left-hand lever thing?”

Thumb: Trust me on this one. Speed is a good thing right now.”

Eyes: “I can’t take this anymore. I’m closing.”

Brain: “Hey, everything went dark. Are we dead?”

Butt: “I don’t know about you guys, but I just sucked up a seat.”

Once you understand your limitations on a descent, it’s easier to accept what you can and can’t do and keep your head about yourself when you realize you have little control over your sled.

The first thing you should understand is that the decisions you make on the top of the descent will have the greatest impact at the point of descent where speed and gravity take over. So here are a few things to know.

First, knowledge of where you want/need to end up is useful. If there’s a run-out, it’s just a matter of picking the line to your run-out. If not, you need to know how you’re going to slow your sled down before the bottom.

Let’s say you’re dropping off a hill where you’re not quite certain what’s below or there’s an obstacle like trees, rocks or a creek that you must avoid. The first thing is to start your descent as controlled as possible. 1) Look for fresh snow. Hardpack becomes a slide on a steep descent. Powder lets the sled sink in a little deeper and slows you down. 2) Turn so your sled has a wider profile. This also takes some of the severity out of the slope. Just like downhill skiers, by going side-to-side you can work your way down slowly. 3) Look for flat spots in the terrain where you can literally stop on your descent and assess your status. 4) Look for small trees. That’s right, hitting a small tree that bends does a lot less damage than hitting a big tree that doesn’t. 5) Ski brakes. This is a lost art that has been much forgotten since the advent of deep lug tracks. By putting loop chains or belts on your skis, the drag will greatly reduce the rate of descent. The only problem is ski brakes also reduce your ability to steer your sled. 6) Reverse. No, we’re not saying you need to go down a hill backward. But on some models, if you put your sled in reverse just as you start your descent, you can use the throttle to dig the track into the snow in the opposite direction that can allow you to literally stop on severe slopes. (Keep in mind you don’t just grab throttle while your track is rolling in one direction and spin it in the opposite. This can strip gears. You need to stop the movement of your track with your brake before spinning the track back up the hill.)

Now all of these suggestions can help you out of a lot of tight spots … but they are all types of maneuvers that do require a little practice to master. They’re not necessarily hard; they are just different. You need to know under what circumstance to use each.

When all else fails, there’s always that old adage, “every man for himself.” In other words, if your descent is out of control and you’re likely going to hit something hard in the process, you’re better off bailing. Both your body and your sled will fare much better without the other. And sled parts are a lot easier to replace than body parts.

 

(12) Plan B. The greatest asset any snowmobiler has is the ability to think, act and react. Whatever you do, you need to be prepared to make sudden calculated adjustments.

For example, when you are highmarking, before you put yourself in a compromising position on the slope, you should think through the “worst possible scenario” first. What if I can’t make it over the top … do I have a clean return run-out. What if I lose traction on wind-crusted snow, will I have enough momentum to make my turn-out … and will I have a clean run-out. Is there any element I have to beat (rock ledge, group of trees, etc.) that creates a point of no return? Do I have different options of turn-outs depending on how high I make it up the mountain? What do I do if the top portion of the mountain decides to become the bottom portion of the mountain?

If you have attractive alternatives, you’re likely not going to experience unattractive results. But most importantly, be committed to your plan. The difference between excitement and tragedy is only a split second hesitation or indecision.

(13) Adjustable Thumbs. An old experienced racer once told a rookie: “I can adjust your clutching, your jetting and your suspension … but it’s up to you to adjust your throttle.”

The point here is that regardless of how much power you have, if all you know how to do is grab a fistful of throttle, you’re probably going to have issues with mountain riding.

Too many riders don’t understand the difference between horsepower and powerband. Too many snowmobilers ride 800cc or larger/modified snowmobiles with no concept of how to adjust the thumb. Although the most experienced riders can feather the throttle to get just the right amount of response, most other riders go from full throttle to full brake throughout the ride. Big horsepower sleds are difficult to control because once you crack the throttle, they explode out from under you. They go from nothing to way too much, putting you out of position and in a stage of just trying to hold on.

Snowmobiles with less horsepower feature a powerband that tends to wind up. Although they still seem quick and snappy, they are predictable and manageable. In other words, it is a lot easier to control your sled.

While big horsepower sleds tend to have so much power that it causes the track to engage with such force that it breaks from the snow (resulting in trenching), smaller sleds engage much softer, maintaining grip in the snow and climbing on top.

So first, if you struggle keeping control of your sled, in other words, you feel like a rodeo cowboy riding a bull, you would likely be better served riding a smaller sled. (And I promise you that you will actually become a better rider and have less problems keeping up with the bigger sleds.) As a side benefit, you will find that your sled doesn’t trench nearly as much … and when you do get stuck, it’s a lot easier to get out a 600 than an 800.

The simple test to see if your riding style would be better served on a smaller sled is this: If you’re using your brake to maintain control rather than your throttle, you’re on too big of a snowmobile.

But if you’re determined to ride big hardware, learn to feather your throttle so your track is always turning … but avoid grabbing a fistful which causes you to break traction. You have to think quickly, because things will happen a lot faster on a big sled.

 

(14) Up, down, on your knees. To most snowmobilers, if the manufacturers design a seat for the sled, then it seems to make sense that you’re expected to put your butt on that seat when you ride. Well that doesn’t hold true in the mountains.

There’s a time to sit. But there’s also a time to stand. And there are multiple times to get on your knees if you ride in extreme areas.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that the more on top of the sled you are, the more control you have over it. That’s why all new mountain snowmobiles are designed with a taller riding platform.

The younger generations have embraced the concept of upright riding and are always standing. Aggressive riders recognize they have more leverage and can absorb the big bumps better with their legs if they are standing. So that just leaves the rest of us who are old, timid, new to the sport or just plain lazy who spend the bulk of our time on our derriere.

For some, spending a lot of time standing is hard on the knees and legs. That’s understandable. You get tired. You need to rest. Sitting is a good way to take the load off the legs. But you need to recognize when you’re in terrain you can afford to rest and when you really need to be on top of your sled. Rule of thumb is that if you’re moving uphill, you need to be in position to react quickly. You need to be standing, or at the very least, kneeling on your sled. If you’re going downhill, you can be resting on your butt. If you are moving across a sidehill, you need to be standing on the uphill running boards.

So what if you are descending on a sidehill? Do you stand? Do you sit? Do you kneel? It all depends on the terrain and how much change of direction is going to occur. But know this: If the control of your sled is even slightly unpredictable, you better have your butt off the seat. The time it takes to get on top of your sled could be the difference between making a turn and washing a corner, especially on a downhill sidehill.

Balance is the key to controlling your snowmobile. You have to be able to adjust your weight position while maintaining balance. Your balance represents your leverage. You are trying to distribute your weight and strength onto a specific location of your sled that will keep it level while traveling over not-so-level terrain. As your snowmobile darts through the snow, you must be able to stay perfectly balanced and in control of your weight distribution. All it takes is to be caught “high-sided” (where your weight is actually on the downhill side of the snowmobile) for your sled to either roll over or lurch down the hill. And once it starts going down, you’re pretty much committed to the descent.

You must anticipate and act. That’s why you stand. If your buns are planted on the fabric, you will most likely be in a position to react or over-react.


(15) Way to go. A group of friends go on the same ride about a half dozen times each winter. We start at the same parking lot. We take the same trail. And we travel back to the same mountain. We’ve done this ride more than 50 times in the past 10 years. And yet, there’s not a time when we don’t end up a bit confused on where we are or when someone comes up missing sometime during the ride.

Although we do the same ride, we usually peel off the trail at various locations where we take not-so-short cuts through the trees and over the mountains. We constantly explore different drainages and canyons. Yet we’re seldom more than a mile away from our basic course.

So how can a group of riders get confused or separated in country they travel dozens of times?

Well, for one thing, snow changes things. Even from day to day, new snow can erase old tracks and cover trails and landmarks. Things look different. Then when you add to the mix the common winter conditions of flat light or low visibility due to falling snow, it’s easy to see how people can get turned around or lost.

Another factor that occurs with riding groups is people getting separated from the pack. When you try to retrace your tracks, you see tracks going in every direction. It’s hard to tell which ones are new or what direction they’re traveling. You may even hear other sleds passing through and think that it’s your group. By the time you realize they’re not, you may be two more drainages removed.

How can you prevent these types of situations from happening?

Well, you can’t. That is, unless you decide to sit in the truck while everyone else goes riding.

So the next best thing is how are you going to be prepared to deal with such situations when they happen?

The first rule is to know your riding group and establish some common guidelines that allow everyone to be on the same page. Such as, if you ever get separated, go back to the last place where everyone was together and wait. The idea is that once the group realizes someone is missing, the most logical thing is to backtrack to the last point where the group was at.

Problems tend to arise when someone separated from the group assumes nobody will be looking for him and heads back on his own. What normally happens then is that the group spends the rest of the day looking for someone on the mountain. In western riding, we’re usually calculating our planned route by the amount of fuel we carry. If we spend a lot of extra fuel running back and forth looking for someone separated from the group, we may not have enough to make it back off the mountain. A good day’s riding can be ruined by the frustration of searching for someone who has actually bailed on the group.

Often, it’s not a situation of someone getting lost from the group, but rather the entire group getting lost. Let’s face it, many times when we ride we don’t know exactly where we are at all times. And perhaps that’s not really that important. All you need to know is where you are trying to go and what direction you need to be traveling to get there. That’s where a good GPS or compass can be very important.

Some people just have the ability to know their bearings. But you have to have some confidence in yourself and not be afraid to make a commitment. The important thing to be good at is using common sense.

Don’t drop into a canyon if you don’t know whether you can make it out the bottom. Snowmobilers who tend to spend the night on the mountain are those who drop down into an area where they can’t come back out. The farther down they go, the more problems they have. Sometimes it is a situation where most of the group are capable of making the climb back out. But there’s one or two that either have incapable sleds or inadequate skills to make it out. So before you drop down into trouble, take a moment to assess the skills of your group. Often we have a couple of the more capable riders drop into problem areas to see if there is another way out. It’s easier to get the best two out of a jam than to get the worst two out of the jam, especially when the other sleds may have trenched out the best lines, making it even more difficult.

 

(16) Biorhythms. Just like any other athletic activity where you can have good days and bad days, snowmobilers can also experience off days in riding. You know, when you tend to be slow to react and always on the wrong side of your sled.

And just like in other activities, once you start making mistakes, it’s hard to stop. Face it, there are days when you’re not in sync with your sled. You do something stupid and you start to lose confidence in your riding abilities. This happens often when you are riding in unfamiliar terrain or with unfamiliar riders. (For the staff at SnoWest where we ride in both situations often, we’re constantly fighting to maintain our confidence.)

In these situations, it is important to take just a little more time, try to ride with a bit more control. Let others do the showing off. It you’re having a rough day, the more you press, the harder you work, the more tired you become and the more you increase your odds of making mistakes.

Yet when you slow things down a bit, you give yourself a chance to get back in control of your biorhythms. You gain confidence as you become more comfortable with the terrain and the people you’re riding with. And you experience a much better day on the snow.

 

(17) Avalanche. If you ride the mountains, you have to be aware of the inherent risk of mountains falling on top of you. Basically, when the snow starts to stack up on steep slopes, it will reach a point that there’s more vertical weight than horizontal strength. In other words, something’s got to fall.

Due to the technology of new snowmobiles, we are able to access areas where the snow is deeper and the slopes are steeper. We are becoming more exposed to avalanche terrain.

Now, many snowmobilers can go their entire life without encountering an avalanche. Other riders tend to find several avalanches each winter. It’s obvious that those who encounter avalanches more frequently probably put themselves into those kinds of situations while those who never encounter avalanches try to keep themselves out of those situations.

Regardless of where you may fit into the mix, if you ride the mountains, you will still be at risk. So this is what you need to know.

First, there are three important items that should be part of your riding gear—a beacon, shovel and probe. The beacon can save your life. The shovel and probe can save your friend’s life. Yet many riders will only carry one or two of these items. So let me ask: whose life isn’t worth saving?

The beacon is the most expensive of the three and can cost $300-$500, depending on how fancy you want to go. It serves just two main purposes: it sends a signal out so if you are buried, others can locate your position; or it is switched to receive a signal, so you can locate the position of another buried person.

The shovel can come in handy in a number of situations … so it’s a very common tool carried by snowmobilers. But if someone gets buried, the shovel can mean the difference between life and death. The probe has only one purpose … and that is to probe. It is invaluable to you when finding someone buried because it will literally tell you if the person is two feet under the snow or eight feet under. Without it, you could literally quit digging after four or five feet thinking you’re looking in the wrong place when your friend is only another foot or two down and dependent on you finding him immediately.

So again, which these three tools are you willing to do without?

Before every ride into the mountains, check with all in the riding group to see who’s wearing beacons and if they are turned on. You might be surprised to find one or two in the group who have returned from a day of riding and didn’t have their beacons turned on.

Second, the most important thing you can do when riding in the mountains is to be aware of avalanche conditions and try not to put yourself in harm’s way. Remember, when a mountain falls on top of you, there are several ways you can die … and suffocation is probably the cleanest. Many avalanche victims die from trauma, which means while they’re being tossed about in a tumble cycle, they are smashing into rocks, trees and other dense objects. Not the best way to go.

You should always be looking out for death traps—areas where the terrain offers no escape or run-out. A big bowl with plenty of run-out at the bottom tends to allow the slide to disperse its debris. Usually anyone caught in an avalanche here has a fighting chance of staying on top of the snow, or at the very least, only being partially buried.

But areas with little or no run-out tend to allow the snow to stack up on top of the victim or slam the victim into the trees or rocks at the bottom. These areas are death traps.

Usually, any slope with trees tends to indicate that historically the snow is stable through these areas. That’s why there are trees. Open slopes with few or no trees usually indicate that the a slope slides often … that’s why the trees aren’t there. As long as you can recognize the risks, you’re likely to be a little more prepared.

Third, if you or someone in your group is caught in an avalanche, somebody needs to take charge. You first need to assess the situation and if there’s an existing danger (has only part of the slope come down or does it look like more can come down). Next you need to find out where everyone is … and where anyone who’s missing was last spotted.

Then, you need to make certain all beacons are turned to receive or turned off if you are not involved in the immediate search. And make sure any other electrical devices (like cell phones) that may interfere in picking up the signal are turned off.

Organize your search patterns. Keep your group focused on each individual task. Staying organized may be the best hope of things turning out well. The greatest chance for survival is with the group at the scene. If you leave the scene to get help, you’re changing the situation from rescue to body recovery.

There are books, videos and seminars available to teach avalanche awareness. Anyone who rides the mountains should take some time to become educated to the signs, risks and what-to-do’s. 


Views 51
November 13, 2010

Idaho Snowmobile Show

Date Changed to Later in Fall

We hope you didn’t show up at Expo Idaho in September, the month we have traditionally held the Idaho Snowmobile Show in Boise, ID. If you did, you probably enjoyed the Stamp & Scrap Fest but there was nary a snowmobile in sight.

Yes, after some hand-wringing, we changed the dates of the Idaho Snowmobile Show to mid-November.

The place to be Nov. 19-20 is the SnoWest Idaho Snowmobile Show.

But you really don’t have to just believe that because we wrote it. Clearly, we at SnoWest Magazine are biased. We put on the show, so of course we want you to come. But we wouldn’t go to the effort of putting on a snow show if it wasn’t sure to give you the premiere look at what every exhibitor has to offer for this sledding season.

The gates will be open Friday from 3-7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Expo Idaho, located at 5610 Glenwood in Boise.

At the door tickets will set you back $7 a pop, so you’ll want to get them in advance online for $5.50. Kids under 12 get in free, so feel free to bring the family and make it a bonding experience. All of the riders at SnoWest are big on families and we know firsthand that families that sled together are families and stay together … until one of the smallish ones falls off the back onto a pile of powder, that is … but we like to think it builds character—at least that’s what our moms always said to us.

At any rate, there will be the hottest new snow clothes for the women to check out, a SnoWest Vintage Snowmobile Show for the old timers and for the hard core riders we will have the best new sleds from the major manufacturers, including Polaris, Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat. You are on your own as far as talking the OEMs into a test ride, but we say go for it.

We’re just like kids in an octane-scented candy store as we walk through the show packed with sleds, aftermarket parts, graphics kits and vids. The exhibitors are always happy to show off the trick new stuff they’ve spent the year perfecting just so SnoWest Magazine editor Lane Crashcratic Lindstrom can take it on the slopes and break it in as only he can.

You can get the cheaper tickets online at www.intermountainshow.com where you can also take a peak at the floor plan so you can map out your route beforehand.

We’re also again hosting a show within a show with the Western Power Sports/Ultimax Belts Mod Show for the coveted title of “Most Magnificent Mod.” Winners will have their sled on the pages of Sledheads Magazine and there’s about $2,500 in loot and prizes for winners to walk away with.

The Idaho State Snowmobile Association is a big part of the Idaho Snowmobile Show and will be there in force to help you learn all you need to know about snowmobiling in the Gem State. The Cougar Mountain swap meet will be back again this year, with the swap meet held just one day: Saturday. It will be a great opportunity to pass your beloved sled onto the next rider so you can cruise away with a new ride or parts. But be sure to pre-register at the snow show website.

Last year we brought in expert mountain riders such as Dan Adams, Chris Burandt and Bret Rasmussen to give seminars on hillclimbing and boondocking. We’d like to think you come to the show just to see us, but after watching Burandt signing autographs for ages, we’ve come to accept that you might like him more. It’s ok. We watch his movies, tears filling our eyes just wishing we could do that stuff too. Really though, we are 100 percent, diehard in love with the motorsports bliss that is snowmobiling and we think it’s important to pass that love and passion on to the next generation of Amber Holts. What better way to ignite the joy in them than to bring along your friends and family to the snow show and then later for a weekend ride?

For all of the would-be sled mechanics out there, we’re also working towards another sled build this year and we’d like to hear how yours turns out as well. So chat us up while that’s going on.

We’re all concerned about safety and even Lane tries to avoid getting hurt (most of the time). So the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department will be there giving pointers on avalanche safety.

You may not have noticed but we really like attention, so in your travels through the expo halls, please stop by the SnoWest booth and introduce yourselves. It’ll make our day, especially if you ask for an autograph. You don’t have to keep it or anything, but we’d really like you to ask. Just one or two of you…?

We hope this season brings you breathtaking rides to the summit of mountains where you’ve never been. We’d love to hear about your riding adventures, so come see us at the show.

Happy sledding. 


Views 42
November 13, 2010

SnoWest Holiday Gift Guide

You May Not Need it, But You Know You Want it

Cordless Teth-Air

The Cordless Teth-Air is comprised of a wrist-worn transmitter and a vehicle-mounted receiver/control module. If the rider falls off and gets separated from the machine, the motor will stall, which avoids a run-away condition, especially bad when the throttle sticks open.

Retail price: $299

Source Innovations 

(403) 444-5457    

www.sourceinnovations.ca

 

Lead-Dog Helmet Light

Look, see and be seen with the Lead-Dog Helmet Light. See where you are looking, not just where your sled is pointing. It is easily hooked up to your helmet and fits in your pocket when not in use.

Retail price $84.95

Lead Dog

(907) 277-4433

www.helmetlight.com

 

Float 30 Avalanche Airbag

Excavation time is the biggest contributing factor in avalanche fatalities. By reducing or eliminating burial depth you increase your chances of survival. The Float 30 is the first airbag that is both affordable and easily reusable.

Retail price: $699.95

Backcountry Access

(303) 417.1345

www.backcountryaccess.com

 

Spot Satellite GPS Messenger

Spot provides personal satellite messaging with the push of a button for peace of mind and emergency assistance when you need it. 

Retail price: $170. Basic service is required at $100 per year.

Spot

(866) OK1-SPOT

www.findmespot.com

 

MTX Extreme Snowmobile Skis

These skis feature rounded outer ribs and a contoured center keel for easy maneuverability when mountain trail riding. The 8-inch width provides maximum flotation and agile steering in powder.

Retail price: $429.95 per pair

C & A Pro Skis

(888) 321-6789

www.caproskis.com

 

Bret Rasmussen Signature Series Titanium Springs

Renton Coil Spring and Bret Rasmussen have teamed up to develop a series of titanium suspension spring packages to optimize the ride characteristics of Arctic Cat’s M-Series mountain sleds.

Retail price: $599.95 to $1,099.95

Renton Coil Spring

(800) 255-1453

www.rentoncoilspring.com

 

Mtn. Horse Snow Bike Kit

This is the first-ever snow bike conversion kit for dirt bikes that is designed for the mountains and deep snow conditions. The kit offers the most fun you can have on one ski. 

Retail Price: $5,000

Timbersled Products

(208) 255-5644

www.timbersled.com 

 

Sno-Skinz Snowmobile Cover 

Sno-Skinz has custom tailored covers to fit specific snowmobile models with each cover constructed of durable polyester fabric with double-stitched seams. The covers are made in the USA and backed by warranty.

Retail price: $209.95-$219.95 

Zskinz

(800) 355-3136 

www.snoskinz.com

 

Super-Glides

New Super-Glides allow your sled to glide with ease and/or you and your ATV to have traction in all conditions. The development of channel slots in the Super-Glide and the supplied custom shoulder on the screws allow Super-Glides to expand and contract, minimizing buckling and ensuring your Super-Glides stay flat for years of use.

Each kit contains eight pieces of Super-Glides (20 feet) with hardware and instructions.

Retail price: $114.95

Superclamp

(403) 203-2210 

www.superclamp.net

 

Sidehill Jacket

Performance-ready Toray Dermizax fabric helps put the Sidehill jacket in a class of its own. Loaded with distinctive features and styling, this jacket is a welcome sight to its non-conformist fans. Like the saying goes, “Business up front, party in the back.” The Sidehill jacket features 2-way armpit vent zippers, a powder skirt, fleece neck lining, double-stitched seams, reflective 3M Scotchlite trim and a kill switch D-ring.

MotorFist

(877) FIST-411

www.motorfist.com


Sled Graphics

Aftermarket snowmobile graphics are available worldwide with the most designs for the most models. The company offers fast shipping and the highest-grade vinyl products.

Retail price: $299

ArcticFXgraphics

(586) 786-9851

www.arcticfxgraphics.com

 

Storm X Glove   

The glove for the hardcore backcountry boondocker, the Storm glove works well for cold-weather dirt-biking, 4-wheeling, hunting, and sports where a lightweight glove is needed. The glove offers Pittard WR100X leather, Hipora insert, 40 gram Thinsulate C insulation, permanently attached liners and comfort panels on the index and little fingers. The Schoeller Dynamic fabric sheds even more water and snow.

Retail price: $59.95

True Adventure Gear

www.TAGear.us

 

Cylinder Core Exchange Service

Millennium Technologies has a huge inventory of stock cylinders and can often ship a remanufactured cylinder the same day you call.

Retail price: From $214.95

Millennium Technologies

(888) 779-6885

www.mt-llc.com

 

Speedwerx Exhaust Systems

Speedwerx offers a full line of exhaust components for most Arctic Cat models, all made in the USA. You will see a 4-11 horsepower gain, depending on application. Fat Daddy Single Pipes, High Flow Y-Pipes, lightweight mufflers are all available.

Retail price $250-$625 depending on application.

Speedwerx.

(651) 982-6020

www.speedwerx.com

 

Running Board Inserts

Running Board Inserts feature traction cleats that are replaceable while allowing the user to customize height and location. All models feature extra large openings to prevent snow buildup.

Retail price: Aluminum $159.99/black $174.99

JT Sports

(406) 885-3677

www.jtpanels.com

 

1080p HD Wide-Angle Video Camera

This wearable sports camera with professional-quality high-definition filming makes a fantastic gift. Totally self-contained, the camera comes with a lithium-ion battery, waterproof housing and a variety of mounts for versatility and convenience.

Retail price: $299

Snobunje 

(877) 250-2015

www.snobunje.com

 

Amsoil Quickshot SE

Amsoil Quickshot SE is a premium fuel additive formulated to clean and restore peak performance in small engine and powersports equipment. It also stabilizes fuel between uses and during short-term storage periods.

Retail price: $8.35 8-oz bottle

Amsoil

(715) 392-7101

www.amsoil.com

 

Klimate Parka

Facilitating comfort, even in the most frigid temperatures, the Klimate Parka will keep you warm with Thinsulate insulation. Gore-Tex fabrics are guaranteed to keep you dry. The Parka is available in black, blue, red or orange.

Retail price: $279.99

Klim

(208) 552-7433

www.KLIM.com

 

Zurich Snowmobile Protection

When your sled breaks down, it won’t break your budget. Nationwide acceptance is available, it is transferable and there are parts and labor with zero or $50 deductible options. This all-risk mechanical comprehensive breakdown plan has 2- to 5-year terms

Call for details and special pricing (208) 656-7639.

Rexburg Motor Sports

(208) 356-4000

www.rexburgmotorsports.com


Views 43
November 13, 2010

Cat Hits 1 Million Mark

Barreling down on its 50th Anniversary (1962-2012), Arctic Cat has reached a special milestone since the company was brought back to life in 1983 as one of the leading snowmobile manufacturers under the name Arctco.

A 2011 Crossfire 800 LTD marks the 1,000,000th snowmobile built since August 1983.

Along the way Arctic Cat has set the industry standard with new innovative products, most of which have been copied by their competitors--all of which have made Arctic Cat one of the strongest brands in the recreational vehicle industry.

Arctic Cat CEO Christopher Twomey said, “This milestone is heartfelt in several ways; industry-leading innovation is important, but it’s special knowing generations of Arctic Cat enthusiasts have enjoyed our products. These enthusiasts push us to innovate for future generations.”

To commemorate the occasion, the Crossfire 800 LTD made its way through the assembly line and more than 1,100 employees signed their names while a group photo was taken after production.

The Crossfire will be prominently displayed in the factory lobby for all visitors to see and will be placed on several show tours throughout the season.

 


Views 42
November 13, 2010

Ski-Doo Revises Fuel, Oil Consumption Figures

Just before we went to the printer with this issue, Ski-Doo sent out a notice revising some previous figures on fuel and oil consumption on its E-Tec 800R engine.

Ski-Doo states that after “extensive testing, specific to how the vehicles will be used, we have revised the fuel and oil consumption rates for 2011 Ski-Doo snowmobiles with the Rotax E-Tec 800R engine.”

The company noted that the E-Tec version of the 800R produces “noticeably more power” than the PowerT.E.K. version. Third party testing at Dynotech Research last spring showed the E-Tec 800R generating 163.9 hp.

As for the fuel economy on the E-Tec 800R, based on internal BRP testing, the trail version of the sleds with that engine—MX Z and Renegade—should get up to 19 mpg, which is about 14 percent better in fuel use versus the 800R PowerT.E.K. Oil consumption is up to 30 percent less at 176 miles/qt.

As for the E-Tec 800R in Summit configuration, due to its specific use, it will get up to 12 percent better fuel economy while the oil consumption remains about the same, versus the 800R PowerT.E.K.

 


Views 39
November 13, 2010

BRP to Donate Up To Ca$1 Million to Snowmobile Clubs

Based off the huge success of the program in 2008 and 2009, BRP and its Ski-Doo dealers will again donate up to CA$1 million to North American snowmobile clubs for snowmobile trails through the Ski-Doo Million Dollar Club Support Program.

Regardless of the brand they own, every snowmobiler will be able to participate in this fundraising program.

Last year, the program delivered $720,000 to more than 1,600 North American clubs: 12 percent of active snowmobilers actually participated in the program.

For each snowmobiler submitting a certificate at their Ski-Doo dealership, BRP will donate $10 to their snowmobile club through the program. Program certificates are available online at www.snowest.com in the news section on Oct. 15 as well as at fall snowmobile shows and on www.ski-doo.com. A television, public relations and direct mailing campaign will also be launched come the fall of 2010 to reach every snowmobiler.

“The sheer volume of letters received praising BRP and our dealers for the program over the last two years is proof enough for us that this program worked wonders,” Yves Leduc, vice-president and general manager of the North America division, said. “It is simply amazing to see how many people went out of their way to write to us and share what they did with the funds and how it impacted their club and how important that contribution was to the upgrades they did to the trails’ infrastructure.

The top club in each of the regions listed below will receive a 2011 Ski-Doo MXZ TNT or Summit to use for additional fundraising activities: Canada East (Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, PEI, Nova Scotia); Canada West (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Alberta, Northwest Territory); USA East (Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin); USA West (California / Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming).

There will also be parts, accessory and clothing incentives for clubs that reach 75 percent or more participation from their membership.

 


Views 38
January 08, 2010

Western Racing Schedules

Racing Schedules


Views 34
January 07, 2010

Polaris 800 CHI Billet Head

CFI Billet HeadHanson Racing Engines is offering a Polaris 800 CFI billet head kit for 2008-2010 models. The head pockets come in sizes of 0-3000, 3000–6000 and 6000–9000. With the use of the billet head there will be a 3-4 horsepower increase. The kit does not require any ECU modification. Prices for the billet head start at $390; any additional head pockets are $80 each. Turbo head pockets will be available soon.

Contact Hanson Racing (651) 765-2405 or www.hansonracingengines.com.


Views 37
October 20, 2009

Zbroz Racing Exit Shocks For EZ-Ryde Suspension

ZbrozZbroz Racing is now offering a complete set of Exit shocks for the EZ-Ryde suspension. EXIT shocks have been tested and tuned on the race course and in the backcountry. The company worked with select dealers and riders over the 2008-09 season to get the perfect setup for any rider weight and horsepower application.

Exit shocks are a larger bore than the competition, allowing for better control and overall better ride in all conditions. They also feature much more durable spherical bearings at each mounting point. Exit shocks also allow for easy pre-load adjustment and clicker adjustment with the turn of a knob. They’re available individually or as a complete suspension.

Contact Zbroz Racing (435) 753 7774 or www.zbrozracing.com.


Views 37
January 07, 2009

Foremost Insurance Partners With Outdoor Ethics Organization

Leading specialty insurer Foremost Insurance recently announced its Bronze Sponsor relationship with Tread Lightly!, a non-profit organization dedicated to responsible outdoor ethics.

Tread Lightly! aims to educate people on how to enjoy the outdoors without harming it. It also organizes efforts to restore damaged habitats and improve natural areas that need attention.

“TreadLightly! promotes a message that we’re proud to support,” Debora Peters-DeVerney, affinity group manager, Foremost, said. “Tread Lightly!’s audience is really our audience, too. We want to target outdoor enthusiasts with our insurance. This sponsorship will get our name in front of outdoor enthusiasts. Most importantly, we are collectively educating the public on how to use their off-road vehicles and boats responsibly.”


Views 22
December 10, 2008

Absolute Power & Performance Billet Wheels

AP&P wheelsAbsolute Power & Performance has stylish billet wheels for increased look and performance of your snowmobile. The 8-inch wheels retail for $109.95 and the 5.38-inch wheels retail for $99.95. AP&P also has various other sizes available at competitive prices.

Contact APP (780) 460-9101 or www.abspow.ca.


Views 41


Skinz Protective Gear
Pioneer Country Travel Council


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