March 15, 2012|
|Steve's Blog Mar 15th|
This is the time of year I have to keep reminding myself that my winter work isn’t yet complete. My problem is that I suffer from a warm weather disease called golf. And when the weather turns nice, I feel the need to pull out my clubs and beat the tar out of a little white ball.
However, I still have some product testing and reviews to complete … and I need to be out on the snow to get those jobs done. So I have to remind myself that even though the good days are great for pasture pool … they are also good for product reviews.
In fact, when it comes down to it, the only thing good days aren’t good for this time of year is being in the office; except on paydays. (Hate missing out on paydays.)
The trick is to convince myself that I have all summer to golf, but when the snow goes … it’s gone. This may sound easy to some, but it really is a challenge to convince your brain that your body wants to remain in deep freeze while the grass is starting to green up.
It’s nice to know I have a few riding buddies who are willing to drag me off the course and up to the mountain. And I must admit, once on the mountain, then it’s easy to realize how right of a decision that was.
March 08, 2012|
|Steve's Blog March 8th|
Good Rides, Bad Rides
Last week I experienced different ends of the snowmobiling experience—good snow and bad snow. And this came from back-to-back rides from the same trailhead.
The difference between the rides was simple: On Friday I head to the higher elevations. On Saturday I decided to explore the riding in the lower elevations. Friday’s ride was in deep fluffy powder. Saturday’s ride was in crusty baseless snow.
Actually, Saturday’s ride wouldn’t have been so bad if Friday’s ride hadn’t been so good. It’s hard to top a 75 mile day of boondocking in fresh snow.
Everything about Friday was perfect. The sun was out, the weather was calm. The snow was deep. I wasn’t sitting in an office pounding on a keyboard. My riding group included five very good riders on new machines. We kept moving and we kept together.
As for Saturday, things started off bad when three miles before the trailhead we noticed vehicles turning back and/or parking on the side of the road. Then some guy said the road was drifted in and a bunch of trailers were all stuck in a drift.
So we pulled over and unloaded, necessitating a three-mile ride along the edge of the road to the trailhead. (And for the record, there were no vehicles stuck on the road and the largest drift wasn’t big enough to slow a truck and trailer in even adequate tires.)
Choosing a lower elevation ride in March can be risky. Since we had been riding all week in great snow, we carelessly assumed all snow would be good. But once we got into the trees and broke through the crust, the snow was all crystalized and provided no compaction for base.
For those wondering, higher elevation means between 7,500-8,500 feet and lower elevation is between 6,000-7,000 feet in this particular riding area.
However, I don’t want to leave anyone with the wrong impression—Saturday’s ride, by itself, would have been a great day because we were out snowmobiling. It just merely had the misfortune of following an epic day.
After all, a bad day of riding is still better than a good day at work.
March 08, 2012|
|Ryan's Blog March 8th|
Snowmobiling: More than Riding
For as long as I can remember, winters have been marked by three things: The riding season, The World Snowmobile Expo, and the World Championship Hillclimbs at Jackson Hole.
A season has yet to pass where those three aspects of snowmobiling haven't culminated in what I call winter. You ride--deep snow, crusty snow, deep snow, packed snow, then spring snow. Around that time, you spend a weekend at the Expo, watching races from behind the orange snow fence with snow pants and a t-shirt, walking up the road through slush and puddles of water to the convention center where the sound of electric fans blend in with chatter from thousands of sledders talking about next year's new stuff. Then a couple weeks later, you show up in boots, jeans and a jacket to watch the craziest dudes on sleds climb Snow King at the Jackson hillclimb. Charilift rides to the wooden decks at the top of the mountain, walking down the steep slope in the trees while a drunk spectator tumbles head over heels past you, kicking out a 12-inch-by-12-inch square platform next to the snow fence to watch the Open Mod sleds come screaming by, diving for cover when one of those takes a b-line for the crowd, then sliding down the hill in wet, frozen jeans after the race is over.
It's those types of experiences that make snowmobiling so much more than a riding activity. And it gets underway with the World Snowmobile Expo in West Yellowstone, next weekend (March 16-18). I can't wait...
March 01, 2012|
|Steve's Blog Mar 1st|
This is the standard question I get this time of year after riding all the 2013 snowmobiles. And it’s a good question. After all, it’s getting close to those snow check days when you have to make a monetary commitment on what you’re going to ride next year.
If you invest nothing, you will be riding the same hardware as this year. In you invest a lot, you might be on shiny equipment which will make next winter one to remember.
The big question is: Is there something worth sacrificing Johnny’s braces or Sally’s dance lessons?
This past week we’ve spent a good portion of the time in fresh powder with the latest and greatest from all four snowmobile manufacturers. Like a kid in a candy store, we were jumping from one sled to the next seeing which one held a sidehill, absorbed the big bumps and carved through the trees.
It’s like being able to take bites out of candy. You ride one sled for 10-15 minutes and move over to the next. If you drop into the trees, you move on to the lighter sleds. If you come to a section of rough trails, you move to the snowmobiles with the best suspensions. If you want speed, you go to the four-stroke turbos.
So back to that question: What’s new?
Well, since this blog is expected to be short and to the point, I don’t have time to get into the details here. But the March issue of SnoWest (which is being shipped within the week) will let you know which manufacturers stepped up this season.
As for Johnny’s braces and Sally’s dance lessons … maybe it’s time for you to have the bright smile and sing for joy when you put your name down on a shiny new 2013 snowmobile.
February 28, 2012|
All the major snowmobile manufacturers have their own line of snowmobile clothing and you definitely see sledders wearing clothing representing their favorite brand of sled. It’s not too often that we test snowmobile manufacturers’ clothing, but we do on occasion.
Last winter, Ski-Doo, which is making a big push in the West with its line of winter clothing, asked us to try its Advanced Tec Helium 30 jacket and highpants.
We sent the first jacket back to the company.
Hold on, hear us out on why. Some of Ski-Doo’s clothing uses magnets as the fastening device, you know, like instead of a zipper, etc. Magnets are a bad choice if you wear certain avalanche beacons as they can interfere with the signal of the beacon. If you don’t wear a beacon it’s not a big deal, although we have found the magnets wreak havoc on hotel keys with a magnetic strip (we found out the hard way) and batteries on iPods, etc. Ski-Doo does have a warning tag on the clothing with magnets alerting the consumer about this.
We got a new set of clothing which offers a zipper and Velcro fastening. No more issues with an avalanche beacon. So be aware when you purchase as to which fastening system you want.
The Advanced Tec Helium 30 jacket and highpants are designed with mountain riding in mind. We would add mountain riding during “specific times of the year.” The jacket and pants are a lightweight, breathable shell with no insulation, which means you wear them for spring riding or, depending on the temps where you’re headed, varying amounts of layers.
On our first ride wearing the Advanced Tec Helium 30 gear, we didn’t layer enough for the temps and while the jacket and pants were definitely windproof and waterproof, we got cold. We take the blame for that one as we didn’t prepare properly for the ride. Rides after that were much more comfortable as we layered for the ride and later in the season, just wore the jacket and pants as almost a windbreaker. We really appreciated the light weight of the jacket and pants during spring riding. If it’s really cold—and we won’t say how cold because some people tolerate cold better than others—you might have to layer quite a bit to stay warm. These clothes are designed for the active rider, not someone who sits on the seat all day.
To Ski-Doo’s credit, it doesn’t market the Advanced Tec Helium line as anything but a shell and urges consumers to layer.
Features of the jacket include: Sympatex Performance 3-ply brushed poly membrane, sealed seams and logos, underarm and back venting, stretch fabric at the shoulder blades, three water-resistant and zippered outer pockets, powder skirt and micro-polyester collar. The pants have the same shell/membrane as the jacket, along with sealed seams and an inner mesh and fleece-lined seat. The pants also have integrated knee pads and storm gaiter and reinforced crotch.
The Advanced Tec Helium line also features the Recco Avalanche Rescue System, which is basically radar technology built into the garment making a quick location of an avalanche victim possible. Recco is a “passive system,” meaning it never needs batteries or maintenance. It’s always on.
The Sympatex Performance material allows moisture (read: sweat) to escape. The technical verbage is, “The hydrophilic components of the Sympatex membrane absorb moisture from the body and expel it outwards.”
We liked the fit of Helium jacket and pants and most enjoyed wearing them during spring riding because they are so lightweight and still offer some protection from the elements. We also like the looks of the jacket (ours is red).
Downsides? While the labeling is fairly small and indiscreet, the clothing does still say Ski-Doo so if you ride a different brand you probably won’t be interested. The price tag, listed below, might raise some folks’ eyebrows. If you are not an aggressive mountain rider who works a lot while riding, then you’ll want to look at Ski-Doo’s other clothing options as this line is definitely just a shell with no insulation.
The jacket retails for $369.99 while the pants are $329.99.
For more information contact your local Ski-Doo dealer or www.ski-doo.com and navigate to the online store section.
February 28, 2012|
The following information was provided by Jason Koskela, product development and testing coordinator for Team Industries.
1. Using the stock belt removal tool, you open the sheaves of the secondary clutch so you can remove the belt.
2. Loosen and remove retaining nut on the backside of the jackshaft bearing.
3. Remove oil fill plug and remove the bolt that retains the top sprocket.
4. Tap on the end of the shaft to start removing it. Use a long screwdriver or 3/8 extension hold pressure on the shaft until it is out of the chaincase housing. This will keep the chain and sprocket together and hold up the spacer that goes on the back side of the sprocket.
5. Remove stock clutch and shaft assembly and set aside.
6. As long as you leave the socket extension in place, it will hold the sprocket and chain in place until you install the jackshaft. By holding up the sprocket and chain, it eliminates the necessity of removing the exhaust pipe and chaincase cover and all the mess that goes with that.
7. Slide new hollow shaft in slowly and align in sprocket, make sure other helper holds tension against shaft with the tool holding the sprocket and spacer up. Once the shaft is started in the sprocket you can tap on the end of the shaft with a dead blow hammer until the shaft is flush with gear.
8. Once the shaft is in place, you can install bolt and re-install the oil fill plug.
9. Reinstall OEM bearing retainer and tighten nut on the back.
10. Attach the jackshaft retainer.
11. Now it’s time to install the secondary spring in tied clutch. The spring is supplied in the clutch kit.
12. Using team compression tool to compress spring and install snap-ring makes the job simple and easy.
13. Now install the helix in its recommended setting.
14. Now comes the fun--removing the primary clutch. You must have the proper clutch puller to insure you don’t cause damage to your crank shaft during the process.
15. Once the primary clutch is removed, use the clutch puller to separate the two halves. Tap on the end of the puller until the two halves separate, then remove puller from clutch.
16. Make sure to have button retaining clips installed before removing outer clutch half or all the buttons will fall out during removal.
17. Install spring tool and remove the three screws holding the spring cup on.
18. Now install the new primary spring supplied in the kit.
19. Use the spring compression tool to compress the spring and reinstall the three screws that hold it in.
20. The curved part of clutch arm is always facing up and the cotter pin head faces out.
21. Remove the cotter pins and stock clutch pins.
22. The new Team adjustable pins are 10.5 grams empty. Add weight to make them 13.8 grams for the kit.
23. Now reinstall the primary clutch and torque it to OEM specs.
24. Sliding the outer primary half together, align the arrow on cover with marks on sheave.
25. Reinstalling the primary.
26. Use a recommended alignment bar to align and shim properly. This tool is not supplied in the kit.
27. Finally, install the mounting plug that allows the clutch to float side to side.
February 28, 2012|
Have you ever wondered why some sleds are easier to ride than others? In the following sections I will discuss how sled design has evolved over the years. For riders in the West the snowmobile manufacturers have taken the sleds originally designed for riders in the flatlands and evolved them into a whole new “species” to make riding in the mountains natural, especially for women.
So let’s talk about this evolution in design and show how the latest 30 percent geometry concept like the ProClimb chassis from Arctic Cat might well define how sleds will be built in the future by all manufacturers.
Sled design in the last 10 years has focused on the engineering term of “centralized mass.” This fancy term refers to what riders know as “weight.” Weight = MASS (matter) X GRAVITY (9.81 m s - 2).
The feel of weight is manipulated “away” from a rider when both sled and rider achieve balance into one common point together. This manipulation of weight is achieved through chassis design, suspension performance and rider position. Believe it or not, this is even more important than the sled’s actual weight.
When a rider crosses a common point while counter steering (skis turned opposite the direction of travel), he no longer feels the weight of the machine. We refer to this “feel” of eliminating weight as a pivot point of reference that a rider crosses over and finds himself in a balanced area between the two. The pivot point area is where the relation of the rider’s input is working in unison with the sled’s center of gravity. This balancing act allows the sled to “tip and roll” or handle with minimal rider input.
Since early 2002, the manufacturers have established a new objective when designing sleds. This objective has been to improve sled performance by managing centralized mass. This is a concept now employed throughout the powersports industry, including motorcycle and ATV designs. For the rider, these changes now require us to change the way we provide input to the machine as well as our body position while riding. Changing our riding style allows us to take advantage of this new relocated “pivot point.” The benefit is increased confidence and considerably less energy expended when riding western terrain.
In older chassis designs, the pivot point was more of an area or region and not defined as a single center point at one location. The older design required more strength and rider input to keep up with these pivotal balance points as they continually changed with terrain and snow conditions and were not conducive to someone like a small framed female rider to handle easily.
The newer and more advanced chassis designs became, the more these two points became more localized, stable and predictable. The circumference distance between the right and left pivot points became a smaller radius area between these two points as well. There have been three angulated points of reference toward chassis structure and design—60, 45 and 30 degrees—over the years. As these chassis angulations have become smaller, we found it reduces the need for rider movement and exertions. A rider must complement these angulations through rider input to achieve correct rider-to-sled angulations.
This isn’t as complex as it may sound. Let’s look at what has happened over the years.
There have been three major chassis designs in the last 10 years.
1) The oldest design is the trailing arm and torsion spring design. This design required a rider to apply a great amount of physical extension, positioning adjustments and initial input to bring the sled up into the “pivot points area” and was not easily ridden by a small-build male or typical female rider. This sled design had zero to very little centralized mass and a primitive suspension design that came from an existing trail sled chassis. The actual geometry of older trailing arm chassis had really not been drastically changed from the trail version models. The result could not achieve a constant centralized point of gravity needed for a mountain sled. The front and rear suspensions of the trailing arm designs from those trail chassis sleds hindered overcoming steep terrain or deep snow technical riding performance. To reach and maintain a pivot point on this chassis required an enormous amount of rider effort and 60-degree rider-to-sled angulated input.
2) Following the trailing arm concept, the industry migrated to the A-arm design and the rear torsion spring design was replaced with air and/or coil-over shocks. When Arctic Cat released and refined the M Series in 2006, this design had the backcountry mountain rider in mind. This design was an industry leader, changing the market. Because of the demands of the old chassis designs, snowmobiling was a male-dominated sport, due to the cumbersome handling design. The easy riding Arctic Cat M7 opened the gates to the smaller framed riders along with bringing women into the industry to a greater degree. By going to the A-arm design it created a stable pivot point area that stayed between the spindle and the foot well region. This predictable pivot point reduced rider input and exertion. Taking this new approach on a sled’s suspension design allowed effective performance in deep snow and steep terrain for even the smallest riders like a 10-12-year-old. Simple but important changes allowed the front suspension to crawl and overcome terrain initially while the rear suspension maintained a healthy track speed by eliminating heavy snow buildup between the track and tunnel area. All OEM A-arm style chassis until 2011 were referred to as a 45 percent chassis because now a rider’s angulated input only required 45 degrees of motion.
3) The new 2012 Arctic Cat ProClimb chassis has taken the 45-degree concept and opened a new era of refined design by narrowing these angulations even further to 30 degrees. What I think is the most noticeable achievement is this latest chassis from Arctic Cat has completely stabilized the pivot point location to one spot located at the newly designed front suspension spindle. Forward of the side panel and bulkhead region, this taller spindle allows for clearance to angle the sled steeply on a slope while supporting the sled weight—now only requiring angulations input of 30 degrees. Just look where you want to go and the sled will take you there with ease.
A challenge riders are up against with the current 45-degree A-arm designs is the wider side panel and bulkhead belly region behind the spindle, which lies against the snow while sidehilling or turning in deep snow. The pivot point located normally at the spindle would jump rearward as it would now be a factor in supporting the machine and rider.
Sometimes this characteristic would actually lift the sled off the snow, wash out the track and even sometimes throw a rider off to the downhill side of a sled. All previous 45-degree A-arm sleds with the shorter spindle designs and A-arm placement could not perform on a steeper sidehill without turning the skis downhill to “catch” the pivot point as it transferred to the rear of the ski and sometimes as far rearward as the foot well region. The rider and machine’s weight was no longer centrally located on the spindle as the weight had shifted from the spindle and transferred to the side panel and belly area of the chassis. These changes sometimes happen quickly, back and forth between these pivot locations, sometimes jumping so quickly the rider would get out of sync with the sled and lose control.
The ProClimb’s narrower chassis and forward arms now move freely in front of the side panel and bulkhead area and so these two areas no longer lift the sled off the snow when the sled is in a steep sidehill or turning in deep powder snow. A gained result is a stabilized pivot point (center of gravity) that requires very little aggressive rider effort to maintain sled balance. A rider can sidehill without straining as they no longer have to “bite” into a more aggressive counter steered attitude to maintain steep sidehilling control. Instinctually, this will be very hard to overcome for many riders used to other chassis designs. For the less experienced or female riders, it is a huge attribute as no upper body strength is required. Just “look, tip, balance and drive.”
By going to a 30 degree chassis from the original 60 degree chassis, it has created a 30 degree gain in performance. Doing the ProClimb math for a 7-hour ride day: 30 degrees gain X 7 hours riding = 210 percent enhanced design.
How many women are always given the husband’s “old sled” as he upgrades over the years? He rides easier while she fights to keep up. She ends up not progressing, getting tired and frustrated, and stays home more. Is it not time for the lady of the house to upgrade to a 210 percent easier chassis? That might equate to getting her unstuck 210 fewer times in the future.
I can vouch that at 130 lbs. and 5-foot-6, Arctic Cat took note and put enormous value on what the smaller and not-as-strong rider segment out there needed and then produced it.
As an instructor, I spend an enormous amount time explaining the relationship of rider angulations and how they complement the centralized mass of a snowmobile’s design. This is a direct result of the fact that I grew up amongst three generations of engineers and a father who was a retired professor of engineering.
As a result of my upbringing I was able to reach back into a foundation principle that was handed down to me by my dad when I was five. While spending a summer day with him as he built my first swingset out of lodge poles and timber bolts, I remember him instilling this concept I use today for my students. “The importance of any structure’s strength is manipulated through polygonal angulations.” Now, you’re probably thinking, “I don’t think he said that to a 5-year-old.” You are 100 percent right. However, he did say it in such a way that a 5-year-old could understand it. “Make things out of triangles to support it or move it without effort.”
The simplicity of “making it a triangle” is even used today within highly sophisticated engineering departments like that at Arctic Cat.
Look at the Arctic Cat ProClimb. You can you see those articulated triangles throughout the design. Can you pinpoint the obvious points of those triangles that support the centralized mass (weight) as one as they move together between rider and sled? How many individual and combined 30-degree angulations do you see? Now complement that with your effortless rider input and some nice smooth throttle input.
February 28, 2012|
This information was supplied by Jason Koskela, product development and testing coordinator for Team Industries.
1. Take your “belt removal tool” from your tool kit and thread it in the clutch far enough to get sufficient slack in the belt so it can be removed. Then loosen and remove stock retaining bolt and remove OEM Team clutch from machine.
2. Here we are installing the spring in the new Tied clutch.
3. Next you need to align the raised X on the roller assembly with the raised X on the sheave
4.Now locate the recommended angle on the helix. There are two different cuts pin-stamped 90 degrees from each other.
5.Make sure the selected helix angle numbers line up with the X on the sheave when installed.
6. Now you need to line up helix angles on the roller assembly. Start rollers into milled slots leading up to the pin-stamped angle.
7. Tighten the four t-27 torx screws with supplied L-shaped wrench hand tight.
8. Now install new clutch and re-install stock retaining bolt
9. Once you change clutches, you need to check your belt deflection. There are two set screws on the side of this clutch. Set belt deflection with first screw; once you have desired amount make sure to set the other screw to the same height.
February 28, 2012|
In snowmobiling there is the social side where we like to ride with our family and friends and then there is what we’ll call the product side. Snowmobilers love new products, even if those new products aren’t in their budget right now. We like to look and one of the best things about snowmobile shows is that you can look and touch.
Here at SnoWest Magazine, we’re no different. We like to look at new products, too. So we picked out a handful of new and/or changed products from the snowmobile shows in Salt Lake City, UT, and Boise, ID, this past fall that caught our attention.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Mesh hoods have been around for a while but some companies have a better fit-and-finish than others. This mesh hood from Diamond S Manufacturing (www.diamond-smfg.com) is a dandy for those riders who want to give their sled better air circulation and a way for the heat to escape on those warm spring rides. This Diamond S mesh hood for the Polaris Pro RMK retails for $425 but the Utah company has hoods for all four major manufacturers’ mountain sleds.
On today’s mountain sleds storage is pretty much nonexistent; we’re looking for some place to stow some gear without having to carry it all on our back. Mountain Addiction (www.mountainaddiction.com) has a pretty nifty setup where you can carry your lunch, drinks, additional fuel, spare parts, whatever.
There are custom snowmobile trailers and then there are custom snowmobile trailers. The Trails West Burandt Edition RPM model trailers are custom with a capital C. Trails West teamed up with Chris Burandt to offer the new package.
In addition to all the cool features that come standard on RPM model trailers, the Burandt Edition will feature a forced air furnace, PVC laminate flooring, a stereo system with Kicker speakers, fold-down benches, exclusive aluminum wheels, traction blocks on front and rear ramps, enclosed diamond plate cabinets, 12-volt battery and a 110-volt power converter with outlets.
Additionally, RPM Burandt Edition goosenecks will get a Kicker subwoofer with amp and dual batteries.
To see Burandt give a tour of his namesake trailer from Trails West (www.trailswesttrailers.com), go here: http://www.snowest.com/snowmobile-news/display.cfm?ID=3220.
Okay, so this doesn’t exactly qualify as a new product but this Yamaha racer looks pretty cool nonetheless. This drag racer was built by Michigan-based One Stop Performance (http://onestopperformance.com/).
Klim (www.klim.com) created a new product for show goers as they watched during SnoWest snowmobile shows in Salt Lake City and Boise. This was one of our favorite sayings that was spray painted onto a hat and then given away.
Avalanche bags are gaining popularity among the snowmobile crowd and are one more safety tool that a sledder can take advantage of when riding in the mountains and areas prone to avalanches. This Float avalanche airbag is offered by Backcountry Access (http://www.backcountryaccess.com/).
You can give your snowmobile just about any kind of look you want with today’s sled wrap kits. Here are just a couple of the many we saw at the snow shows. The red/green wrap is by Arctic FX (http://www.arcticfxgraphics.com/shop/) and the skull with a headdress is by SCS (http://scsunlimited.com/). Sled wraps are just about as creative as most paint jobs you’ll find today.
Well known for its turbo systems, Aerocharger (http://aerocharger.com/) now has a turbo kit available for the Arctic Cat ProClimb chassis. The list of features in the new Aerocharger kit is shown in the one picture with a kit installed in the other photo.
We came across this pretty unique trailer at the Intermountain Snowmobile Show in Salt Lake City. You can tow it behind a snowmobile or ATV as it can be used with skis or wheels. You can use it to carry gear to your cabin or to a camp site and you can change the one side to a bench so you can carry passengers as well as gear. The change is made just by flipping the side rail into a bench. The trailers are manufactured in Utah by Kingdom Trailerz. To find Kingdom Trailerz, go to Facebook and search for the company.
The Performance Enhancement Kit is designed to minimize scuffing of the cylinders that can be caused by turning a sled off when the engine is hot and then restarting it. Most Wanted Performance, Jackson Hole, WY, designed a coolant bypass to eliminate the problem of piston scuffing and contraction of the cylinders. Most Wanted Performance (www.mostwantedperformance.com/) offers a detailed explanation of the benefits of its Performance Enhancement Kit on its website. The kit is available for select Polaris sleds with development of a Ski-Doo kit now underway.
February 28, 2012|
|Great Riding in Every Corner of the County|
We wouldn’t exactly make the claim that the snowmobiling in Wyoming’s Sublette County is an island unto itself, but if you were stranded … it wouldn’t be a bad place to be stuck snowmobiling.
We say it’s not an island unto itself because the trail systems that enter and exit the county on the east, north and west sides all lead to great riding, but if you never left the county, then you’d be in for some spectacular riding as well.
Spectacular because the county is nearly surrounded by mountains. The Wind River Mountains form much of Sublette County’s eastern border while the Wyoming Range flanks the western border. On the north side of the county sits the southern part of the Gros Ventre Range. Those are three of Wyoming’s most famous and spectacular mountain ranges. High desert makes up the southern portion of the county.
While it would be nice to say that snowmobiling is wide open all across the 4,886-square mile county, that’s not the case. Much of the Wind River Mountains are in the Bridger Wilderness and off limits to snowmobiling. Part of the Gros Ventre Wilderness fills the northcentral portion of the county and there are several winter ranges set aside for wildlife scattered across the county. There are a handful of trails that go through the winter ranges but sledders are restricted to the trails through those areas, which are clearly marked on the snowmobile trail map. On one of our rides through a winter wildlife range while sledding on the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail we were able to watch a large herd of elk being fed from a horse-drawn sleigh.
Plenty Of Riding
Even with the Wilderness areas and winter wildlife ranges, there is still plenty of riding opportunities, especially over near the Wyoming Range, which stretches for 150 miles north to south in western Wyoming. This area is probably the most popular riding area in the county—we’ve sledded there several times—partly because there are fewer restrictions, i.e., Wilderness, winter wildlife ranges, etc., here than in other parts of Sublette County.
Several criteria usually high on a snowmobiler’s list of what makes an area ideal for riding combine to create a stellar experience in this part of Sublette County. The Wyoming Range is rugged, very scenic and has plenty of mountains, hills and bowls for climbing. Horsepower junkies love this area for its challenging hillclimbs. Technical riders like the area because there are plenty of trees and lots of drainages that are demanding.
Of course, deep snow appeals to all snowmobilers and that’s one of the Wyoming Range’s most impressive attributes. The snotel site at Blind Bull Summit (elevation 8,650 feet) showed the snow depth last winter passing the 75-inch (6.25 feet) mark Jan. 19, 2011 and not dropping below it again until June 7. The powder is light and dry and makes for awesome riding and boondocking.
We mentioned the great tree riding but there are also lots of open meadows and play areas that cater to riders of any skill level. Then there’s the groomed trail system. One of the things we like about the groomed trail system is the variety—along creeks, through mountain gaps, low elevation, high elevation, long and straight and tight and twisty.
All this is the ideal combination of conditions that appeals to the entire gamut of snowmobilers.
Local Point Of View
Here’s how one local rider, Sandy Sletten, describes the spot in the Wyoming Range side of Sublette County he likes to ride. “Horse Creek is the favorite place for everyone to ride. Snow is always early and stays late. It’s an amazing place to ride. The Wyoming Range Mountains have awesome 360-degree views where you can even see the Teton Mountains. There’s lots of trail riding and endless boondocking that keep everyone happy.”
We chronicled one of our most recent rides in the Wyoming Range a year ago in the September, 2010 issue of SnoWest Magazine (“No Time For Highways,” page 36). We rode from Bone, ID to Merna and the Timberline Lodge in Sublette County and then rode back a slightly different route. We crossed into Sublette County at McDougal Gap, headed north, shadowing the groomed trail and then went east to Merna. On the way back we headed toward Blind Bull and then back to Bone.
As amazing as it is to ride in the Wyoming Range portion of Sublette County, it’s not the only riding in the county. Wyoming’s longest and most famous snowmobile trail, the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail, goes through portions of the county.
We’ve ridden most of the nearly 600-mile CDST from one end to the other, starting at the Sinks Canyon parking area south of Lander, crossing through Sublette County and the town of Pinedale on our way to Togwotee Pass and finishing at Grand Teton National Park. When we took that snowmobile trip, you could still ride a groomed trail through Boulder and Pinedale, turning north at Highway 352 and continuing on to the northern part of Sublette County on your way to Brooks Lake and then Togwotee.
Admittedly, it was tough for the state of Wyoming to maintain the groomed trail from east of Boulder up past Cora because snow conditions weren’t always ideal. It might be hard to fathom that there wasn’t always enough snow around Pinedale, which sits at about 7,200 feet and has an annual snowfall of 62 inches, but it is true.
The trail the day we rode through Boulder and Pinedale wasn’t bad but there could have been more snow. Even today, you can still see signs near Pinedale indicating that you can ride alongside (in the right-a-way) the highway (U.S. Highway 191), assuming there is snow. It just won’t be groomed.
Today, Wyoming maintains a groomed trail from the Sinks Canyon and Atlantic City areas to the Irish Canyon parking area, which is up Highway 353 from Boulder. That section of the CDST is in the Wind River Range.
North of Pinedale, grooming on the CDST starts near The Place and Green River Guest Ranch. Lots of side trails—groomed and ungroomed—branch off the CDST in northern Sublette County.
Your best bet, if you want to ride the CDST is to trailer between Irish Canyon and the Green River Guest Ranch.
From where the grooming starts near the Green River Guest Ranch, the CDST goes between two Wilderness areas so the riding is somewhat limited but it opens up the farther north you ride. It’s in this area that you’re riding between and on the Wind River and Gros Ventre mountain ranges, which means stellar mountain riding and amazing views.
A couple of highlights from our ride on this portion of the CDST were the aforementioned elk feeding and seeing a glacier. According to glaciers.us, there are 25 (of Wyoming’s 38) named glaciers in the Wind River Range. The glacier we saw wasn’t very big but it was a glacier and it was kind of cool to see it. Still another highlight was the incredible snow, which was deep and plentiful on our ride. In fact, we’ve ridden many areas of Sublette County and the snow has always been great. Sometimes the white stuff was falling as we rode and the visibility was less than great, but the snow has always been good. That’s why we keep going back.
We think of it as our own little island of snowmobiling fun.
February 28, 2012|
The belt on your snowmobile is an integral part of the drive system and can dramatically affect how the sled performs and feels. The belt drive system is designed to balance off-the-line performance with top speed, while optimizing backshifting and upshifting.
Proper installation of the belt will help accomplish the best transfer of horsepower from the engine to the ground. By following the recommendations below you will achieve maximum performance and extend the life of your belt.
Selecting the proper belt. A belt that is too long or too short robs the drive system of efficiency. A short belt causes damaging stress on the drive system. A belt that is too long won’t allow the clutches to work as they should.
If you are not planning to use your belt right away or if you’re putting your sled in storage, be sure to store you belt properly. Keep it in a cool, dry environment.
Proper clutch alignment is a must. Clutches that are not aligned properly due to worn engine mounts, misaligned shafts or worn out drive components will cause problems and can shred your belt quickly. Remember, there is only one proper center-to-center distance for any given driver, driven and belt layout. Make sure yours is correct.
Install the belt making sure it sits within the sheaves correctly. The cord line is the backbone of the belt. This should be set at or just above the outside circumference of the secondary (driven) clutch. As your belt wears you need to readjust it so that it stays in this position. This will give you the maximum rpm range and ensure that your sled does not lose top-end performance as the belt “seats.”
Belt noise is usually a sign of improper belt installation. If you have a constant squeal, the tension may be too tight. You can fix this by lowering the belt in the secondary. If you have a chirping noise your belt may be too loose. Raising the belt in the secondary should remedy this problem.
Every new belt needs to be seated to the clutch faces. To accomplish this, Carlisle recommends that you run your sled for the first 30 miles at half throttle or less. This will allow the belt to conform to the angle of the sheaves, producing more surface contact, thus enabling the belt to transfer the most horsepower at the highest efficiency.
If for any reason you have to take the belt off your machine, put it back on with the same rotation direction it was going when you removed it. An easy way to remember this is to always put the belt on so you can read the label on the belt.
Inspect your belt and drive system at regular intervals. Your belt and clutches will talk to you if you take the time to listen. You will be able to see where the belt rides on the sheaves to make sure there is not excessive ride-out in the primary. Also, the belt surface should not appear glazed or overly worn in any particular area. The belt should be uniform and smooth with no broken cords or cracks.
Glazing on the belt sidewall is usually caused by slipping. Even a properly installed belt can slip. Acetone and brake cleaning fluids are used to clean the clutch faces, but should NOT be put on the belt. These chemicals will break down the compounds used in the construction of your belt and result in shortened belt life. For this reason, Carlisle recommends against the use of any belt dressings.
Allow the sled’s engine to warm up so the belt gets warm before riding. Also, don’t try to move your sled if you think the track is frozen to the ground. Break the sled free or run it on a stand before riding.
(This information comes courtesy of Carlisle Power Transmission Products. For more information, visit www.ultimaxbelts.com.)
February 28, 2012|
Built by Power Addiction Racing, these tunnels are a solution to the weak running boards on the Polaris Pros. The tunnels are 1.25 inches wider in the back and have a footrest you can use. They come in 155- and 163-inch tunnel lengths for the 2011 and 2012 Polaris Pro chassis.
Custom powdercoating and hydrographics are also available.
The Polaris tunnels retail for $569.
Contact Power Addiction Racing (435) 881-6665 or www.poweraddictionracing.com
February 28, 2012|
The planetary, sun and ring gears have been redesigned to take the thrust load away from the thrust washers of the planetary cage, which was a weak point for all those customers with big bore and turbo kit applications. The torque rating is 12 percent more than stock gears. Lastly, the input and transfer gears are windowed to improve oil flow to the rear bearings, enhancing reliability.
The kit comes in three common ratios: 55/65, 57/63 and 59/61. It can be applied to the 2004-06 Diamond Drive (all models) forward gear case and the 2007-11 Diamond Lite Drive gear case (M and X-Fires).
The kit retails for $554 or can be ordered in the Diamond Lite case assembly for $799. Contact Black Diamond Xtreme (507) 824-9966 or www.bd-xtreme.com.
February 28, 2012|
The unique formula of eco-friendly Oil Eater Original cleaner/degreaser quickly and easily dissolves oil, grease and grime from engines, tools, concrete floors, walls and much more. The cleaner eliminates the need for multiple cleaning products and can also be used in cleaning parts and pressure washing machines.
Oil Eater is a water-based, high-powered cleaner that is biodegradable, non-corrosive, non-toxic and non-flammable. It contains no acids, abrasives or petroleum solvents. The low VOC cleaner quickly and safely encapsulates grease and grime into a solution that rinses off easily, leaves no residues and will not harm the skin.
Oil Eater is available in a 32-oz. spray and 1-gallon bottle.
Contact Kafko International (800) 528-0334 or www.oileater.com.
February 28, 2012|
The story of Arctic Cat’s 50 years is told through a combination of classic race and company footage mixed with photographs and interviews from legendary racers, employees and industry personalities. From the glorious highs of snowmobiling in the early 1970s to the grave lows of Arctic Enterprises shutting its doors, followed by the stunning rebirth of the brand, 50 Years of Arctic Cat is a 90-minute documentary that tells the story of an iconic company.
The new book 50 Years of the Cat highlights both the human and vehicle history of Arctic Cat. The collectors-quality, 160-page hardcover book is loaded with more than 400 photos, many of which are published for the first time ever.
Chapters cover everything from racing legends and the greatest snowmobiles, to never-before-seen prototypes and innovative ideas that have shaped the sport, with emphasis on the people who built and ride Arctic Cat.
The MSRP is $24.95.
Contact Arctic Cat (800) 3-ARCTIC or www.arcticcat.com.
February 28, 2012|
Nextech has new tunnel stiffeners made of composite materials. These ultra-light tunnel stiffeners are very strong with awesome memory to reduce running board sag and bent tunnels.
Available for several late model snowmobiles.
The stiffeners retail for $169.95 CAD per pair.
Contact Nextech (780) 983-5389 or www.carbonsled.com.
February 28, 2012|
Designed to look great now and five years down the trail, the new men’s Road Hog Jacket from Drift Racing delivers high performance features at a great price. The waterproof/breathable D-Tex-coated nylon outer shell features 360-degree reflective trim and is matched by 100 grams of Unifil insulation for warmth and dryness.
A removable zip-out liner also features 100 grams of Unifil for added versatility. Dual hand warmer pockets are matched by an internal MP3 player pocket with a tangle-free neck cord system.
Available in black, lime, orange, red or blue, the MSRP is $199.95 (S-3XL).
Contact Drift Racing www.driftracing.com.
February 28, 2012|
Sure Grip Traction Strips are an affordable way to improve traction and add more stability to your sled or ATV. The kit includes eight strips and 16 mounting rivets which are enough for both sides of a standard sled. Extended length tunnels may require additional Sure Grips. Sure Grip Strips are 2 inches long x 1.25 inches wide x .5 inches tall.
The compact design allows for easier positioning on the more complicated snowmobile running boards. The Sure Grips also work great on utility ATV floor boards. The grips may not work on sleds with cooling systems under the running boards.
Contact PowerMadd (651) 462-8465 or www.powermadd.com/
February 28, 2012|
BRP has updated its base layer line of winter wear to offer everyone the right clothing for their style of riding, from an ultra active mountain rider to the long distance touring rider.
There’s plenty of talk about layering clothing and the advantages offered to everyone who enjoys the outdoors in winter. BRP has examined today’s advanced fabrics to offer what a winter enthusiast needs: moisture wicking ability and thermal insulation to fit their activity.
The new BRP base layers are offered in three segments to fit the wide spectrum of riders and temperatures, from spring mountain riding to cold January mornings. The Active and Ultralight base layers combine with a mid-layer of fleece wear, like the Technical Fleece shirt and pants and an outer shell, like the Helium or X-Team race jacket, matched to climate and riding style, to give a rider the most comfortable experience possible.
The Thermal Base Layer is constructed of high filament polyester with slight brushing for a soft feel and Spandex for easy movement, ideal for the touring rider and those experiencing the coldest climate conditions.
Ultralight Base Layers use a combination of polyester and coconut fiber for construction. The coconut fiber promotes evaporative cooling and absorbs odor while moving perspiration out and trapping warmth in. Spandex and mesh panels in key areas allow easier movement and promote faster drying and better ventilation. This mid-weight base layer is ideal for most trail riders who vary their riding throughout the day.
The Active Base Layer is compression fit for added comfort and enhanced with X-Static in the fiber to thermodynamically regulate body temperature. Permanently treated for antibacterial performance, the Active garments also feature silver woven into the fibers to eliminate odor. Extra panels in specific areas help improve ventilation and promote faster drying.
The Thermal Base Layer top retails for $64.99, the bottom retails for $49.99 and socks retail for $19.99. The tops are available in three colors for men and two colors for women, and the bottoms are available in charcoal grey only.
The Ultralight Base Layer top retails for $39.99, the bottom retails for $29.99 and socks retail for $9.99. It is available in charcoal grey only.
The Active Base Layer top retails for $59.99, the bottom retails for $54.99 and the socks retail for $24.99. It is available in black only.
Contact BRP www.store.ski-doo.com.
February 28, 2012|
|2012 Ski-Doo E-Tec 800R Summit X|
This year’s SnoWest project sled has been a long time coming. We changed up our rotation a couple years ago when Ski-Doo was developing the 800 E-Tec engine but hadn’t released it yet. We waited for the engine to hit the snow and prove itself—which it did—as a top-tier powerplant. We also waited for the turbo makers to develop a kit for the 800 E-Tec and get some time on it.
The wait is over. So let us introduce Project X, a 2012 Ski-Doo 800 E-Tec Summit 154 (www.ski-doo.com) http://en-us.ski-doo.com/showroom/summit/overview.aspx ready to plant itself among the best of our builds.
We’re keeping with the new format of building the sled (for the most part) at the Intermountain Snowmobile Show and the Idaho Snowmobile Show. Building a high-tech mountain sled inside a convention center with crowds, bad light and time constraints provides some interesting challenges, but it’s a great opportunity to see how a sled like this gets built one piece at a time.
We approached this sled with a few goals: give it the best ride, a one-of-a-kind look and rideable power that will get its rider anywhere in the backcountry. And we enlisted the skills of Lincoln County Customs’ Troy Johnson to build and oversee the project.
Horsepower comes in many forms. The Rotax E-Tec 800R engine is the peak of engine technology in modern mountain sleds. It’s clean, fuel efficient and powerful. To make a high-horsepower backcountry tool capable of running with the crowd of mod sleds, we’re adding a Boondocker E-Tec 800R Turbo Kit (www.boondockers.com) http://www.boondockers.com/turbo/skidooetec.html. The BD turbo kit features a Garrett 2860 charger with self-contained oiling system and vented no-spill tank, intercooler, tubular torque-building air box with auxiliary fuel injectors, TPS-Smart Electronic Boost Control and Fuel Control Box with stat screens and 3D tuning. The kit also comes with all the necessary clutch components to get you on the snow immediately.
The turbo mounts to the stock exhaust pipe’s exhaust flange so there’s no cutting or welding to the pipe. Tuning is easy thanks to the Control Box’s 3D tuning with uses throttle position, rpm and boost to give the engine precise fuel delivery.
For the top-notch ride quality that we’re after with a big mod sled, we installed an EZ-Ryde Rear Suspension (www.ezryde.com) http://www.ezryde.com/store/c-19-153-skids.aspx. The EZ-Ryde skid is a complete suspension that replaces the stock rear suspension. The race-proven EZ-Ryde suspension has been a part of winning teams on the RMSHA circuit for years. The long swingarm gives the EZ-Ryde a unique response feel to every type of terrain, from small stutter bumps to huge shelled out holes.
The front suspension has been upgraded to ARS FX A-arms with triple-rate Exit Shocks (www.exitshocks.com) http://www.exitshocks.com/Front-Suspension_c_98.html. We also added Exit Shocks to the rear suspension to complement the EZ-Ryde. Exit Shocks were designed by the Zollinger brothers, the faces behind ZBroz Racing. This family of world-champion hillclimbers knows what it takes to deliver a race-winning ride (just ask 2011 Stock 600 World Champ Nate Zollinger).
We added a set of Starting Line Products SLT Skis (www.startinglineproducts.com) http://www.startinglineproducts.com/catalog.cfm?pageID=detail&catalogID=4&catID=32&productID=434, as well as SLP’s Ski-Doo Aluminum XP Spindles http://www.startinglineproducts.com/catalog.cfm?pageID=detail&catalogID=4&catID=34&productID=1343. The spindles are designed to decrease steering effort on the XP and the SLT skis should give us the perfect blend of precision steering and sidehilling control you want out of a backcountry sled. We also went with some Stomp Grip Pads and Seat Cover from SLP and a billet pull rope handle.
Speaking of the pull rope, we swapped out the stock pull rope for the unbreakable red Fantom Rope.
We put together a custom color scheme with ArcticFX Graphics (www.arcticfx.com) http://www.arcticfxgraphics.com/shop/index.php?cPath=76_144 that gives Project X a one-of-a-kind look. And yes, that’s pink on the sled. Ace Powder Coating took care of the color on the hard parts.
Being aggressive in the backcountry means you have to rely on your footing. We worked closely with Lincoln County Customs on its new LCC Hard Parts Running Boards (www.lccwy.com) http://www.lccwy.com/snowmobile_running_boards_and_tunnels.html. These boards feature 1/8-inch thick aluminum with a long sidewall section that rivets to the tunnel side, reinforcing both the tunnel and the running board. The treads are positioned on the rear of the crossbeams in the foot bed, allowing for easy snow removal through the large evacuation holes.
In order to carry extra fuel for the long distance rides, and to give ourselves some additional storage capacity on Project X, we installed a Mountain Addiction TrackRack (www.mountainaddiction.com) http://mountainaddiction.com/trackrack.html with a few different storage options.
To get the most out of the sled’s clutching, we’ve enlisted a Team Industries Team Tied Secondary and Conversion Shaft Kit (www.teamaftermarket.com) http://teamaftermarket.com/parts-catalog/product/jackshaft-conversion-kit-520179-TH .
We have smashed a stock Summit bumper a time or two, so we know the value of adding a few extra ounces where it counts. Front and rear Bumpers from JT Sports (www.jtpanels.com) http://www.jtpanels.com/bumper.html give the sled a couple more places to grab onto and offer a little more protection for those rides when you’re exploring and there’s a big stick in the way.
For a custom look and feel at the helm, we installed RSI Handlebars and Risers (www.rsiracing.com) http://www.rsiracing.net/catalog/ , complete with grips, heat elements and RSI’s new 5-stage digital heater controller.
Project X Parts List:
• 2012 Ski-Doo Summit E-Tec 800R 154
• Boondocker E-Tec 800R Turbo Kit
• Boondocker Control Box
• Boondocker Electronic Boost
Controller with TPS Smart
• EZ Ryde 153-inch Rear Skid
• EZ Ryde Aluminum Wheel Kit
• Exit Shocks X0 Piggyback
• Exit Shocks Rev XP Summit
X0 Center Shock
• Exit Shocks X1 Rear Shock
• ARS FX 36-inch A-arm Kit
• RSI Racing Aluminum
Handlebars & Grips
• LCC Running Board Inserts
• Team Tied Driven Clutch
• Team Conversion Shaft Kit
• Starting Line Products Angled
• SLP Billet Pull Rope Handle
• SLP Hot Air Elimination Kit
• SLP Stomp Grip Seat Cover
• SLP Stomp Grip Tunnel Side Traction Pads
• SLP Rev XP Aluminum Spindles
• Starting Line Products SLT skis
• JT Sports Rear Bumper
• JT Sports Front Bumper
• Arctic FX Mainframe Wrap
• Ski-Doo Accessories Yellow Snow Guard
• Mountain Addition TrackRack
• Phantom Rope
Companies and Contacts:
ARS-FX & ZBroz
Starting Line Products
Ace Powder Coating
Lincoln County Customs
Crooked Creek Guest Ranch