October 27, 2011

SnoWest Steve Janes Blog - Oct. 27

Give Me A Cold One

Steve Janes

Fall is a great time of year. Something in the air tells you winter is just around the corner and you need to take advantage of the time left to celebrate the passing of summer and prepare for oncoming winter season.

There’s nothing like a crisp fall day. Everything is better, cleaner and calmer. The air is pure and fills your lungs. The colors of trees are vibrant. The sky is a richer blue. It’s just the perfect time to enjoy life.

But what I like best about fall is although the days can get nice and warm, you literally feel the temperature change every time the sun ducks behind a cloud or sets in the evening. And every morning you have a chill in the air to the point of literally being able to see your breath.

This is the time of year where you gleam the weather forecasts searching for cold fronts packing a lot of moister. It’s the time when each cloud could be packing snow—and this is the kind of snow that anticipates lingering in the higher elevations for the next six or seven months. It is base snow … the foundation of great riding.

Yes, I love Fall. I love the beautiful days, the brilliant colors, refreshing morning air. It’s the time to put away the summer toys, lawn mower and garden tools and prepare to be tucked in for winter. And when the sun goes down after a nice pleasant day, the night gets long …please, give me a cold one.


Views 113
October 27, 2011

SnoWest Ryan Harris Blog - Oct. 27

Fall is... Show Season

Ryan Harris

We've been going the rounds at the fall snowmobile shows, just finishing up the Intermountain Snowmobile Show last weekend. As much work as one show is, I really feel for the carnies who hit every major fall show from Hay Days to the World Snowmobile Expo. That's dedication.

 What most show goers don't realize is what goes on before and after the regular show times. Like two days before the event, trailer vendors deliver trailers and park them in the exhibit hall. The day before the event, vendors show up early for setup and stay all day. Setup doesn't conclude until the next day, about five minutes before the show is scheduled to open. After that, the vendors stay throughout the show and don't leave until about half an hour after the show ends for the day. Then it's dinner time.

Most vendors are back at the exhibit hall half an hour before the second day of the show opens. For the next 8 to 10 hours, its talking, selling, listening and standing. Knowing the whole time that when the show ends, the work begins. It takes another one to three hours to tear down most booths and get them loaded in the truck, depending on the facility. Maybe they come back the next morning to finish up. And after all that is over, they get to drive home. It doesn't matter which show we're talking about--somebody's got a 20-hour drive back home.

But if you think about it, you don't come across a grouchy face while you're at a show. These guys and girls love what they do and love meeting the people who drive the sport by buying their stuff.

There's a few more shows yet this fall, including the Idaho Snowmobile Show in Boise, Idaho, November 18-19. Don't miss out.

Views 132
October 27, 2011

SnoWest Newsletter - Oct. 27

Getting Ready For Winter

            You could see the bags loaded with snowmobiling accessories go out the door during the Intermountain Snowmobile Show this past weekend in South Jordon, UT. There was a lot of enthusiasm as snowmobilers showed that a slow economy isn’t going to slow them down this winter.

            The two-day Utah snow show provided a great opportunity for snowmobilers to visit with key industry people about sleds and other products. All four major snowmobile manufacturers had people on hand to answer questions about the new 2012 snowmobile line.

            Even one of the radio DJs who was at the site to promote the show got into the action as he purchased a new snowmobile. This shows us that when we expose people to the great sport of snowmobiling, people get converted.

            For those who haven’t had a chance to attend one of the several shows around the West, plan now to attend the Idaho show which will be held in Boise on Nov. 18-19.

SnoWest Newsletter - October 27, 2011

Views 90
October 18, 2011

Thacker Update:

Getting back on two feet

Monster Energy/Slednecks athlete Paul Thacker was seriously injured in late 2010 with a back injury that left him with little or no feeling from the chest down.

Since then, Thacker has had an amazing rehabilitation process and has been able to attend several events, keeping close ties with his favorite sports.

Thacker sent us this update at the end of August:

Hello all! Its PT checkin’ in!

Wow things are crazy as usual. I have been traveling all over. I have been doing physical therapy daily and rehab like you read about. Things are really going well. Things are improving and I am doing my best not to let this injury slow me down one bit.

I was able to get to Craig Hospital and trial the eLEGS. Berkeley Bionics has developed an exoskeleton that helps people in my similar situation actually get up and walk! I spent a week walking around and getting used to the device. Very cool for sure. I am looking forward to working with Berkeley again in the future in some sort of ambassador aspect. Not going to lie, I rather enjoy walking around!

After Denver I was able to sneak over to LA for summer X Games. Summer is always a great time to relax and take in the events without the pressure of actually competing like we have at Winter X. This year was no different. Great to catch up with friends and get a chance to check out how far everything is progressing. It’s is pure insanity now. The athletes in every sport are pushing the limits like we have never seen. Crazy!

After Summer X, I headed back to AK where I currently am. Enjoying this great state and wishing we would get a little more sunshine than what we have seen. But staying busy with the gym and trying to stay in the best shape I can. I have been mixing in a bit of fun and lake time as well.

Very much looking forward to this new upcoming season. Things may be a little bit different for me at the moment but I plan in tackling it head on. We have all kinds of things in the mix already. Shows, events, definitely planning on being at Winter X in an athlete capacity as well as several other ideas brewing! Hay Days is right around the corner and I will be there in body and spirit. Can’t wait!

Until next time, keep ripping!

Views 69
October 18, 2011

All-Star Summer Backcountry Ride

Big Names, Big Mountains, Big Competition

What happens when you get pro hillclimbers, pro freeriders, ride instructors, industry experts and a hillbilly with a camera together for a summer ride? Well, after three broke or bent sleds, buried trucks and getting off the mountain after sunset (in June), most would say that all hell breaks lose. But honestly, it was a pretty typical ride for these guys.

In what’s becoming an annual event put together by Boondocker and Chris Burandt, this year’s ride was over June 30 and July 1, near Afton, Wyoming.

On day one it rained as soon as we fired up the sleds at 11:45 am (otherwise known as first-thing-inthe- morning Preston time). It hailed so badly that you swore your face was bleeding. People who stuffed a jacket into their pack were scrambling to put it on. But no one was about to run for cover a tree—let alone slow down. So you just had to squint your eyes and take it on the cheek.

By 2 p.m. it was so hot and sunny you wanted to stick you head in a waterfall and sit in a dark closet for an hour to rest your eyeballs from the sun’s glare off the brownish snow surface. It was almost like riding through all four seasons in the space of a few hours. But that’s mountain riding—even in June you can’t count on the weather.

Day 2 was high 80s and sunny, even as the group was unloading dirt bikes up a canyon near Afton. Dust, mud, rivers, logs and snow. Riding bikes with this group is enough to make you take up knitting.

Most of the crew from the sled ride came back for the dirt ride. Plus a few new additions that didn’t make it out on sleds the day before.

The first half of the day was total hillclimbing carnage. Bikes looping out, the sound of cracking plastic ringing down the canyon, guys nearly being run over. And then, on the afternoon singletrack mountain ride, things got interesting. Apparently taking fellow snowmobile competitors away from sleds and sticking them on bikes is like taking sticks away from fighting kids and handing them aluminum bats.

Afton sits at the south end of Star Valley. Star Valley is an absolutely beautiful slice of North America, one of the best locations in the mountain west if you ask us. It’s stacked with Warren Miller-ish mountains on both sides, lined with the Salt River that flows south to north up the valley. The trails and public lands make it an outdoor motorsport enthusiast’s dream destination.

We stopped at the Alpine Market on the way through town to grab breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, waters, Styrofoam cooler and bug spray. Typical weekday morning stuff.

At the fuel check stand, this sweet gray-haired woman is working the til. As I’m standing there while she’s ringing stuff up, a cell phone behind the counter rings. I can tell by the way she ignores it that it’s not hers. It rings one normal ring, and then the ringtone changes to a familiar song: Rodney Carrington’s Don’t Look Now, Mama’s Got Her ----- Out. The polite elderly lady tried not to let it disturb her as she continued to bag our items.

But the song kept playing, quite loudly, and we weren’t exactly pretending that we didn’t hear it. Finally, during the chorus line, she looks up at us, pretty well embarrassed, grins a little and shakes her head. But she just kept on bagging and let the phone ring until voice mail picked up.

Leaving Alpine, it’s about a 40 minute drive south to Afton. Past that, we arrive 13.2 miles up Smiths Fork road around 11am to a parking lot of diesel pickups loaded with sleds. Up the road a hundred yards is Rasmussen’s F450—buried to the frame rails in a 40-footlong snow bank. Keith Curtis pulled him out a couple times. But Bret would just hit it again until it was so stuck wouldn’t even budge with a good jerk. Not one sled had been unloaded yet and already everyone’s beginning to worry about following Rasmussen.

With all six tires freely spinning on the high-centered 10,000- lb truck, Rasmussen shuts it off, gets out and unloads—leaving the truck to deal with later.

The last guys didn’t get back off the snow until close to nine that night. The day was full of big jumps, tight tree lines and sketchy descents that should have smashed sleds against trees but didn’t.

Phatty had a phenomenal line up and over an exposed cliff band. Curtis, Burandt and Cowett all did some sidehilling that had no escape line. It was either make it up and over or get the cameras ready for a cool 300-foot cliff drop. They made it.

Dan Adams launched his sled over a roller jump and followed the contour of the backside dang near all the way to the bottom transition. It was huge. He popped over the top of the roller and then just floated for days down the backside. And he did it two or three times.

Rasmussen was leading a small group into some new area and dropped into a steep ravine that probably is a waterfall in the summer. His speed accelerated so quickly that he and the sled parted ways to avoid the rocks. When he returned to the main group, his sled was covered in snow like he had been busting powder in January. He just pulled up, shut his engine off and sat there quietly like the rest of us were weird for not having snow on our hoods in 70-degree weather.

If you want to see more shots from the ride, find SledHeads on Facebook, click the Like button and check out the gallery. There’s also a thread with lots of photos on the SnoWest forums in the General Snowmobiling section. Join for free if you haven’t already. Only nine more months until the next All-Star Summer Backcountry Ride!

Views 89
October 18, 2011

New Mtn. Tamer Suspension

(208) 255-5644 -

Timbersled has raised the bar on quality and innovative design of lightweight aftermarket suspensions. The all-new 2012 Mtn. Tamer has been re-engineered with all-new technology.

This new suspension will exceed your expectations in design quality, tuneability and smooth ride that you have come to expect from an aftermarket suspension. The kit now offers an infinite coupling control adjuster knob that can be adjusted on the fly. This allows your sled to feel light on the skis for fun playful boondocking and then can be adjusted in seconds to give your sled total control when hillclimbing.

Views 73
October 13, 2011

Letters to the Editor

Getting Unstuck

Dear Editor:

A technique I’ve been applying when stuck helps a lot in lifting your sled out of a hole or from being stuck.

When you get your sled stuck, take two minutes to clear the snow out from under your running boards before you try to lift your sled out. You only need a few inches of clearance. Once this is done and you’re ready to lift, do a count (so you all lift together) and right before 3, like 2.5, give the sled a good strong push down so that on three the sled is already on its way upward, like a compression push.

This may seem minute, but it makes a world of difference when lifting a heavy wet sled out of a hole. The suspension helps get that initial movement you need to get a good lift on the sled. If you think about it, the freestylists do this all the time when going off ramps. You will see a compression push right before they launch off their ramp. This is to have the suspension give them an extra lift off the ramp.


Deven Serr

Mapleton, UT


You Went To The Wrong Side

Dear Editor:

I recently just got the September issue and saw that you guys went to the Flattops area [“Don’t Let The Name Fool You,” SnoWest, September, 2009, page 38]. I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but you totally went to the wrong side of them. Just kidding about that, the whole area is a kick in the dairy-ere.

I will say though that you guys should come and ride on the north side of them. We have some awesome riding over here. My friends and I would love to be your guides this year if you can make it down this way again. I promise, you won’t be wasting your time.


Brandon Craig

Oak Creek, CO


(ED--Thanks for the e-mail. I will tell you it never fails. After I write a travel feature someone contacts me and tells me I went to the wrong place, rode with the wrong people, went at the wrong time of year—you get picture. If I ever get to the Flattops again, I’ll be sure to look you up.)


Why No Ski-Doo Alpine Anymore?

Dear Editor:

I want to know why Ski-Doo went away from the old Ski-Doo Alpine. My dad drives a 1986 Alpine and it can go more places than my Ski-Doo 800. It can back right up a hill. It can’t turn and sidehill very well but they could have worked with it and made it better.



Via e-mail


(ED—We asked the folks at Ski-Doo to tackle this one, seeing as Josh is directing his question more to the company rather than SnoWest.)


Ski-Doo’s response:

The new Skandic series is better in just about every way. The Skandics offer great flotation with wider, longer tracks and much better steering with two skis.


Stock/Mod Comparisons?

Dear Editor:

It’s great to read how the big boys compare against each other, but what about the comparison AFTER they’ve been modified (intake, exhaust, suspension, etc.) to the level an “average person” might go?

Also, how about comparing the stock version against the modified version? For example, a new Dragon places third in head-to-head testing, but what happens when you take a modified Dragon up against a modified Cat, all else the same? Thoughts?


Steve Allen

Leavenworth, WA


(ED—Steve, Are you talking about like the Deep Powder Shootout when we went head to head with the mountain 800 class?

A mod shootout has long been in our discussions but to try and make a fair comparison would be very difficult for a lot of reasons. For example, what does the “average person” do to mod his sled? Modding to one is not the same to another, usually. To some, modding a sled is a tunnel bag or a windshield bag, while to others it’s a pipe, silencer, maybe a turbo. It’s all over the board. So it’s tough to nail down just what a mod sled is.

If we were to pick just one product, say an intake system, and go with that for our testing and one sled came out victorious over another, then all the aftermarket company would have to say is we installed the product incorrectly or it doesn’t do well in this or that specific conditions or whatever the excuse might be. We’ve already experienced that very complaint when we install something on our project sled and then write that it didn’t do as well as we thought it should or as it was advertised and the company has come back and said, well, you didn’t do this or that right. When the sled is stock, it all goes right back to the snowmobile manufacturer. Either the sled performs or it doesn’t.

Now if we were to just add some mod parts like an intake or pipes or whatever and take the sleds through the paces like we do the stock sleds, we could get radar results and the like but it’s not a fair comparison to match these sleds up against each other. It would probably make for good reading, but not for a fair comparison.

We have, in the past, allowed snowmobile dealers involved in our dealer shootout to bring one of their favorite mod sleds and put the radar gun on it and then reported the results. But it isn’t a fair comparison against the other modded sleds that were brought because the mods were all over the board.

I’m sure that doing something with mod sleds will continue to be something we talk about and maybe even try someday, but we’ve got to figure out some way to make it fair.)


Here is Allen’s response: 

Head-to-head with factory sleds is always fun to read about and you all have this covered quite well. 

My curiosity, however real, is now obviously difficult for you to put on paper. Your points were made very clear (thank you). I hadn’t thought about all the “aftermarket” vendors and their issues. I see how/why you would like to, but probably can’t find a way to compare fairly (and make everyone happy).

It’s always been my curiosity to see how  “simple modifications” (intake/exhaust type stuff) stack up against not only the “other guy,” but the stock version. Suppose that would lead to a vast host of other questions, issues, arguments, etc.

I guess, I’ve always wondered “how good,” “how big” and “when does a modified sled lose its factory dependability” when you start down the road of modifications. 

Views 44
October 13, 2011

SnoWest Ryan Harris Blog - Oct. 13

Second Ride

Ryan Harris

There’s a lot of talk of first rides with the storms that left parts of the West under several inches of snow last week. We’ve heard of several people from Colorado and Wyoming who got their first ride logged already.

Personally, I don’t like first rides. I’d rather do my second ride first and skip the first ride altogether. 

            Why? My first rides go something like this:

             Around 11 p.m., I start frantically searching for all my riding gear, which I thought I put away at some point a few months ago. Turns out, I left most of it in a gear bag inside the trailer.

The morning of the first ride, I have this overwhelming feeling that I’ve forgotten something. I reassure myself that it’s just first-ride jitters and hop in the truck with the guys and leave for the hills.

            When we get to the unloading zone, I discover that I did in fact forget something. Over the years, that list has grown to include: gloves, goggles, boots, snow pants and helmet. And there have been years where it’s been a combination of two or more of those items.

              So the first ride ensues with me cruising down the road with a coat, work gloves, helmet with sunglasses, jeans and Merrell running shoes.

Even if I bring everything, I will undoubtedly do one of the following: get stuck on a wet log, tip over going around a closed gate, back up with ice scratchers down, get lost, get stuck driving up the loading ramp on the trailer, blow a corner on the trail, spit rocks on the sled behind me or succumb to the temptation to carve through a meadow I know is covered in tree stumps. That one gets expensive real quick.

To all you people bragging that it’s October 13th and you’ve already ridden can take your first ride and shove it.

I can’t wait for my second ride.


Views 129
October 13, 2011

SnoWest Steve Janes Blog - Oct. 13

What A Tease

Steve Janes

When you start seeing those big flakes of snow floating down from heaven, it’s hard not to get your hopes up. The throttle thumb starts twitching and the need for speed flows through your veins.

            But alas, Mother Nature is just doing that thing she does—teasing us.

Let’s be real, no matter what we want to think, winter doesn’t come in October. Any flakes of snow we see in the valley will be gone before we can even put fuel in our sleds. Snow before Halloween is pretty much no more than an obnoxious rain.

True, the higher elevations might hold on to a little of the accumulation, particularly in those areas that are sheltered from the sun. But unless you are ready to ride the moment the snow stops falling and the sun breaks through the clouds (and willing to chance the rocks, stumps and whatever hazards that are lurking under the snow), even this snow only serves as a glance at what’s to come.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like to see those big flakes stacking up on top of each other … even though it does create havoc with my golfing plans. But I’ve come to understand that snow in October is much different from snow in November. Although snowmobilers get excited by October snow, it is actually meant to stimulate the hunters. They are the ones who best benefit by these harvest storms.

So for now, I’ll just sit back and wait until the golf courses reopen for the last few weeks of the season. I’ll keep the sled stowed away, perhaps taking a few minutes to polish the hood or tinker with some suspension adjustments.

The time is short. Winter will be here. There’s just no need getting too excited until it’s our turn to enjoy what Mother Nature offers.


Views 125
October 13, 2011

SnoWest Newsletter - Oct. 13

Steve Janes

White Outs … (Staff Blogs)

Snow Show Time

            Well, we’ve already enjoyed the first snowmobile show for the season in Colorado. And this weekend will be the Washington show in Puyallup. Then it will be the Utah show on Oct. 21-22.

            The season is upon us. It’s time to start making winter plans, and winter purchases, as we get ready for what looks to be a fantastic winter.

            If you haven’t been to a snowmobile show, you are really missing out on an opportunity to expose yourself to some of the best people in the world—those to spend their time make sure you will enjoy your time on the snow. At these shows you will actually rub shoulders with those people to create the products that enhance your snowmobiling experiences. You can talk face-to-face with those who drive this industry. Why, if your lucky, you might even get a chance to bump into Lane Lindstrom, editor of SnoWest (no, not in the show … but perhaps in the parking lot while your driving your truck.)

            Actually, Lane is at most of these shows, along with the SnoWest staff. We are here because that’s where we want to be—mingling with you, the people who make this sport so great.

            So plan now to get to one of the shows scattered throughout the West this fall. You can go to the to find the dates of the various shows. Take advantage of the great pre-season specials available at the shows.

            We’ll see you there … and please don’t hit Lane with your truck.


Views 102
October 06, 2011

SnoWest Steve Janes Blog - Oct. 6

The weatherman says “chance of snow”

Now we’ve all heard it before … a storm front is moving down from the Northwest and will bring unsettled weather for the next few days with temperatures dropping and a chance of snow.

You can feel that nip in the air. Early in the morning there’s a chill. The first ray of sunlight isn’t warming up the air as it does during the summer. The leaves are changing colors. Mother Nature is preparing for winter.

When you add the signs offered by nature to the crates being delivered to snowmobile dealerships across North America, there’s no denying that it will only be days before somewhere, someone will post the first photos of tracked snow.

Just yesterday I was out wandering around my shop, making sure my tools are in their right places and cleaning up a few lingering summer projects so the work bench would be ready for what’s surely to come. I noticed there were a few holdover projects from last winter—some clutch parts and drive belts—still left out over the long summer and waiting for renewed attention before that first ride.

My neighbor had a couple of sleds loaded on a trailer and headed for the dealership to be traded in for this year’s models. Apparently, he too was sensing the change in the weather.

Although we may have a few more days, perhaps weeks, before that first big storm puts down a cushion of white fluff, one thing is for sure: We know it’s coming.

And the smell of fall isn’t complete until we blend it with the smell of two-stroke oil. After all, the weatherman says there’s a chance of snow.


Views 121
October 06, 2011

SnoWest Ryan Harris Blog - Oct. 6

Smells Like Winter

As pulled into the local dealership yesterday to pick up a UTV, my mind was focused on meaty tires, four-wheel-drive, sand dunes and sunscreen.


I pulled the truck and trailer alongside a row of freshly uncrated 2012 sleds. I didn’t so much as blink at the new winter hardware sitting there on the asphalt. I got out, walked around and opened the back of the trailer.


Nearby, a shop technician rolled a new 2012 sled out of the shop door on a dolly. He parked it next to the building, still on the dolly, and pulled the rope. The sound caught my ears, but didn’t divert my attention.


I walked back to the truck, closed the door and started walking to toward the shop entrance to get my UTV.


A puff of white smoke drifted off the propped-up 2012 sled as the tech blipped the throttle. The odors of two-stroke exhaust hit my nose.


It was over.


I stopped in my tracks. Flashbacks from unloading in parking lots on sub-zero mornings as the sleds idled with rhythmic tune nearly took me off my feet.


Forgetting where I was going, I walked over closer to the machine as the tech wicked the throttle a few more times.


Fumes of new paint burning off of an exhaust pipe time filled the air. You could smell a hint of rubber as the track paddled through the open air and sniff a new belt glazing against the clutch sheaves. Here and there you could pick up odors of the new seat cover, the fresh hood paint, the decals and grease that had oozed out of the spindle.

It was euphoric. I couldn’t see anything but scenes from last winter’s rides: Being wedged against a tree as I struggled to climb through chest-deep snow to the front of the stuck sled; frozen air stinging a quarter-inch strip of my cheek skin as we raced toward the mountains. I felt a tree branch strike my arm as I blasted through a tight gap with snow flying everywhere.


“HEY MORON!” The shop tech yelled at me as he backhanded my arm. “What are you doing?”


“Oh. Uh… wow, I uh, I’m not sure,” I stammered.


Un-amused, he shot back, “Get off the damn sled then!”


“Oh. Oh, uh, sorry… I uh, I didn’t realize I was…”


He cut me off. “Why was your face buried on the gauges?!”


“Oh, that? That, uh, that was... I guess I was just smelling—uh, I mean…”

“Get lost, you freak!”


I walked off as quickly as I could. I’ll come back for the UTV tomorrow, I told myself.

And the truck.


Views 124
October 06, 2011

SnoWest Newsletter - October 6

Steve Janes

Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the snowmobile industry is a program sponsored by BRP to support local snowmobile clubs across North America.

The Ski-Doo Club Support program, that has been available for the three previous years, is designed to allow clubs to raise money for trail development and maintenance. BRP donates $10 per each club member who takes the time to submit a certificate at their local Ski-Doo dealership. And it doesn't matter what brand of sled they ride.

Over the previous three years BRP had donated $2 million to snowmobile clubs across the United States and Canada. Each club is eligible to receive $1,500 ($10 x 150 club members). All it takes is club members taking the time to go to a Ski-Doo dealership and filling out a coupon.

The program also serves as a good reminder as to the importance of snowmobile clubs. It's by the effort of these clubs that not only the rights of snowmobilers are ensured, but that the quality of trails is maintained. Being part of a club provides strength and unity of the snowmobile communitym.


SnoWest Newsletter - October 6, 2011

Views 123
September 22, 2011

SnoWest Steve Janes Blog – September 22

Looking back into the future

Steve Janes

Occasionally as I visit with snowmobilers around the country I hear someone say that the sport of snowmobiling is in decline. The sport isn’t reaching the next generation and as the current “baby boomers” age, there will be no one left to take their place.

            Often I hear the younger snowmobilers are good at going fast and jumping … but they don’t know how to actually “ride” a snowmobile in technical terrain.

            What is the future of snowmobiling?

            Let me assure you that the future is in good hands. For those who think the “next” generation doesn’t know how to ride, apparently you aren’t paying much attention to the next generation.

            This past winter, on one of our weekend rides with my close group of hard-core riding buddies, we had a 16-year-old that was tagging along with his older brother. The best way for me to describe this teen was as though I was looking in a mirror and I could see myself back 40 year ago, when at that age I was in my early stages of a snowmobile addiction that has lasted a lifetime.

            This boy wasn’t as polished on reading terrain and picking lines. But what he lacked in experience he made up in energy and enthusiasm. There wasn’t a moment during the entire day he wasn’t out on the throttle and tracking up snow. The only time he was off the throttle was when he would bury his snowmobile in the deep mountain powder. And then even before help could reach him, he in the snow, tugging his skis and rolling his sled over and out of the hole.

            I was getting worn out just watching.

            He was non-stop riding … and non-stop talking about riding for the next two weeks. And he wasn’t alone.

            We’re seeing young kids, many out riding with their dads, and getting addicted to the sport we love. Sure there are a lot of other distractions in life for these kids—video games, internet, etc. But once we get them on a sled, once they grasp the concept of carving through the snow and climbing steep hills, you can see in their eyes that these kids have found one of the pleasures in life that they can enjoy for decades.

            True, we’ve had some tough years in our industry. Sales have declined and the price of play has greatly increased. But both these factors can be attributed to the weather and economy.

            As long as we have snow, and as long as we continue to take our kids out to experience winter, our sport has a bright future to look forward to. After all … I just looked back 40 years in the mirror. Not only did I see my past, I saw a 16-year-old’s future.


Views 110
September 22, 2011

SnoWest Ryan Harris Blog - September 22nd

Time for New Skis?

Ryan Harris

As the design of mountain sleds has changed over the past few years to adapt to current riding styles, I’ve been left wondering why ski design has been left in the dark ages.

Now maybe you don’t think that the riding-on-one-ski, wrong-foot-forward riding methods are anything more than a fad. You probably don’t care about what I have to say anyway.

But after taking sawsalls and belt sanders to the outside edges of my skis for the past five years, I can’t help but wonder why some aftermarket company hasn’t picked up on it yet.

Think about it: If you spend the majority of your riding time crawling along steep sidehills, exploring untracked terrain, then you need to look at how your sled is interacting with the snow.

You basically have three contact points in the snow on a slow, “wrong-foot-forward” riding position: 1) inside rear section of the rear suspension, 2) inside ski, 3) your foot.

The rear suspension can greatly affect how the sled handles in this situation, but more on that later. Your foot is a continuous variable. But how the ski works and what it does is critical.

Break it down even further. On a sidehill, the outer edge and rear section of the ski are really where the contact is being made. How those aspects of the ski are designed dictates how the ski will hold the sidehill and if it will have tendencies to climb or fall off the slope. Also, the tail section of the ski dictates how the handlebars react in the rider’s hands and vice-versa. Too much material in the tail section will make the ski want to straighten out on a sidehill, pushing the ski tip into the snow which will make the ski want to climb up the slope.

There are a lot of design functions to consider, like rocker vs straight keel, where the keel is in regards to the centerline of the ski, where the keel is in regards to the spindle, how much material hangs out on each side of the keel, ski tip width, curve and shape, ski tail width, curve and shape… the list goes on.

But what I’m essentially getting at is that mountain sleds need specifically-designed left and right skis. It’s been tried in the past, but under the premise that both skis are contacting a flat plane. Obviously, that’s not how we’re riding.

Something to think about until it snows…

Views 127
September 21, 2011

Runnin’ On Empty

Lane For Rent

I know most of you have probably heard of Rain For Rent. Well, there’s a new service on the market: Lane For Rent. This new service is similar to Rain For Rent except that when you use Lane For Rent, it’s just about guaranteed to snow if I go along.

I’m not really bragging or complaining, but lately it sure seems like when I head out to snowmobile and I pack my camera along, it’s bound to snow.

It seems like the last few travel feature trips I’ve gone on it has snowed and snowed—at least when I take my camera. On the few occasions when I have left my camera at the office, it has been bluebird skies and you could see forever.

Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Rabbit Ears, CO, two winters ago: I was pretty excited to ride Rabbit Ears as I’d never been there before. We didn’t even unload, though, because it was a raging blizzard. You couldn’t even see across the highway.

Rabbit Ears, CO, one season ago: I was determined to ride Rabbit Ears and this trip proved to be a little better as it only snowed one day of the two we rode there.

South Fork, CO, one season ago: It snowed one day of the two we rode there, although the mountains were a little obscured the one day it didn’t snow and definitely obscured the second day. That was some incredibly deep snow, though, and had we had some visibility, well ….

Grangeville, ID, last winter: We rode this area one and a half days last winter and it snowed just about every minute we rode. The folks I rode with swear there are mountains around Grangeville and I guess I believe them but I never saw them.

Central Oregon (west of Bend near Mt. Bachelor), two seasons ago: Rode here one and a half days too, and never once did I actually see Mt. Bachelor, the centerpiece mountain in central Oregon. Of course, the snowstorms obscured most other mountains as well.

I heard the riding was phenomenal right after I left. Lots of new snow and blue skies.

Indian Creek, WY, last winter: This was a late season ride (April 27) and the only thing that kept this from being one of the best rides of the season was some snowfall early in the day and low clouds. The clouds lifted later in the day and it was amazing.

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

And I know what you’re saying, “Well Lane, this isn’t rocket science, just leave your camera at home.” I hear you but I also hear the powers to be here at the office who say, “You need to come back with good photos.”

So I pack my camera along and hope for the best.

You don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Wow, the riding was awesome right after you left.” If those people were trying to make me feel good, well … I guess maybe I should take credit for providing them with such good riding conditions.

Remember, Lane For Rent.

Don’t think I’m complaining about the snow. Not hardly. You’ve rarely ever heard me complain about snow. I love the snow. I’ll even put up with it as it’s falling on me while I’m riding, trying to take in the views of the amazing scenery in the West and cocked and ready to shoot (with my camera) if there are any breaks in the clouds.

So next winter when you’re looking at the weather patterns in the West and you see a storm brewing and snow is predicted you can just about bet that’s where Lane is riding. With his camera. Lane For Rent.

Views 97
September 21, 2011

Letters To The Editor

Don’t Care What We Think

Dear Editor:

I’m sure that you will not read this because you’re like every other company—you don’t care what we think, you only want our money, not our opinion.

Ask yourself, “Why is our mag dying?”

In my opinion it’s because your readers are getting tired of your bias *&%$*.

For example, when you do the new sled shootouts, all manufacturers except Yama Pig give their weights. They should not be in the shootout without complete disclosure.

Have you ever ridden a Yamaha? Without $10,000 of upgrades, they are the worst handling sleds, heavy pigs. Junk and yet you keep encouraging people to buy.

You should be ashamed. Give us the truth.


Jeff Gay

Montrose, CO

(ED—Wow, where to start. Ironically, the same week I received this note from Jeff Gay, I got a call from a Yamaha rider who said we “pick” on Yamaha too much and are unfair to that brand. Anyway, we haven’t included Yamaha sleds in our Deep Powder Challenge for years now, mostly because it’s not apples to apples. It’s not fair to put an 800 up against a Yamaha four-stroke, which has about the same horsepower as a 600. And as for the weights, Arctic Cat no longer publishes their sled weights, either.)


What Really Works In The Steep And Deep

Dear Editor:

While I have known for many years that you are mouthpiece for “Brand S” (e.g., “while you cannot sidehill this machine on a million dollar bet and it track steers in anything either side of 6 inches of snow it is a damn nice handler”), you said something in your Volume 38, Number 3 magazine [“Riding Style Reigns,” SnoWest, page 22] I find I must comment on.

The comment was, “Brand A needs a lower windshield so you can see its skis.” My first question is, How many times a year do you destroy a machine? Here’s the math: At a mere 10 miles per hour, you are traveling at 880 feet per minute. Or from a different perspective, one city block in under 40 seconds. If you factor in the time it takes to recognize a hazard, react to the hazard and get your snowmachine to properly react to the hazard, you need to be looking at least one-half a city block ahead. Remember, that is at a mere 10 miles per hour. At 20 mph, you need to look at least one city block ahead and at 60 mph you need to look ahead at least three city blocks. If you are looking at your ski at even 10 miles per hour, you will crash on obstacles you never saw.

I personally have ridden my “Brand A” machine in enough new powder that the snow rolling back past the belly pan and hood tried to push my legs off the running boards. If the windshield had been lower, my lap would have been buried in snow—standing up—and no amount of gloves or handwarmers would have removed three feet of snow off the top of the gas tank.

I really do not think that “cookie-cutter” images of “Brand S” will be an improvement. I do think that over time the best features of each brand will be incorporated industry-wide. But this means Diamond drives, mechanical reverses, Polaris-type suspensions and high windshields—because these are what really work in the “steep and deep.”


Frank Yoast

Craig, CO

(ED—Here is the exact line from our article that you’re referring to, “As for the windshields, the M8 offered the most protection, but the big windshield blocks your vision of what the skis are doing. Here a smaller windshield like the Summit or Pro RMK offers the best visibility.” I think good mountain riders constantly scan the snow for obstacles far and near.)

Views 135
September 21, 2011

Polaris West Opens Gallatin Recreation In Belgrade

Polaris West has announced it is expanding by opening a new dealership in Belgrade, MT. Gallatin Recreation is the name of the new dealership, Polaris West’s second location. Polaris West is the Polaris dealer in West Yellowstone, MT, for the past 17 years.

Gallatin Recreation is a full line Polaris dealership and will carry Victory Motorcycles as well as other Polaris powersports products. Gallatin Recreation is located at 387 Floss Flats Road in Belgrade, MT. The phone number is

(406) 388-5454.

Gallatin Recreation will carry Klim, Castle, Polaris and Victory lines of clothing and products.

Gallatin Recreation will be managed by former RMSHA racer Jason Adams. His staff has been involved with Polaris products for many years.

Views 147
September 21, 2011

Crazy Mtn. Unveils New Snowmobile For 2012 CMX-X latest creation

The crew at Montana-based Crazy Mountain Motorsports has been pretty busy the last few months, working to fine tune and perfect its latest creation, the CMX-X.

Crazy Mtn. completed its CMX Project X prototype sled last season and test rode the turbo charged rocket every chance they got. CMX Project X was the company’s first CMX A-arm sled, creating the sled by grafting the front of a Polaris Dragon chassis to the front of a CMX chassis. The engine was moved back about one and a half inches and the steering post forward about four inches.

According to Crazy Mtn., the ergonomics and geometry of the new sled turned out great and handled and carved even better than the crew had hoped. The company claims the ergonomics of this new machine are the same as the Pro RMK.

In the spring of 2010 Crazy Mtn. began development work using the new cast aluminum bulkhead and over-structure to develop the all-new bottom to top, front to rear CMX-X. Polaris uses a lightweight cast aluminum bulkhead and aluminum tubes that are joined to cast aluminum head stocks to create the lightweight over structure. Polaris also uses aerospace technology, using epoxy along with bolts and rivets to put assemblies together. Crazy Mtn. uses these same procedures to produce the CMX-X. This makes the machine lighter, stiffer and stronger.

Crazy Mtn. starts with the Pro RMK bulkhead and over structure, but from there it is pure CMX. The new sled features titanium A-arms, a CMX custom suspension front and rear with Raptor Performance Shocks with remote reservoirs in all four spots. The new CMX chassis accommodates the new Camoplast Peak 2.5-inch track (16 inches wide and 163 inches long).

Then there is the CMX-X Turbo Rockets. Crazy Mtn. has had zero engine failures to date in three seasons with its CMX Turbo Rockets. The company has its own CMX “private label” tuning box, built by Dobeck Performance. It also uses a CMX head to optimize combustion with the turbo as well as a few other little features that all work together to make a reliable package. With only 10 lbs. of boost Crazy Mtn. hits 260 hp.

For more information, visit

Views 248
September 21, 2011

SLP Single Pipe Set

This SLP Single Pipe Set for the 2011-12 Polaris 800 Pro chassis delivers an additional 7.6 hp peak with good midrange gains, which equates to crisp, clean throttle response and quicker acceleration with more top-end speed on the trail.

As an added bonus, this pipe set drops 3.7 lbs. of weight. In the deep snow, this added horsepower and weight loss gets you up on the snow quicker, allows you to climb higher and boondock better.

Contact Starting Line Products (208) 529-0244 or

Views 147

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