January 27, 2012

Letters To The Editor

Vintage Readers

Dear Editor:

I just perused the latest issue and had somewhat of an epiphany. You are a bright fella; I hope it struck you as well.

I think you found the guy to write about older sleds, junkyards, and “antique” performance parts. His name is Mike Lundberg [“How About Some Stories For Us?” SnoWest, October, 2011, page 10]. Your back-and-forth with him showed an eloquent writer, a passionate sledder and an overall intelligent man. I think an occasional quip or “article” in the mag from him would be a very welcome addition. It sounds like he has come up through the ranks in much the same way as most of our community has.

If nothing else, please forward this mail to him. I want him to know that some of us love and embrace the nostalgia … even if we have moved on to keep up with the Joneses. We all have roots somewhere. It’s nice to remember them on occasion.

Jeff McClure

Via e-mail from Wyoming

Closure Of Granite Mountain In McCall To Snowmachines

Dear Editor:

I am a resident of McCall and an avid rider. Following is my personal letter regarding the closing of Granite Mountain—our mountain. Please note that there are 4 million acres in Idaho closed off to snowmachines, but 0 acres closed off to backcountry skiers. This proposal will ruin our already dwindling economy as well as our businesses.

Angie Rittenhouse

McCall, ID


Rittenhouse’s letter:

Snowmobile Use On Granite May Become A Thing Of The Past

Originally Squaw, Granite and Hitt mountains were all open to any and all public use which included motorized recreation. Around 2004, Squaw and Hitt mountains were closed to all motorized use and only available to backcountry skiers. The Payette National Forest gave Brundage exclusive rights to the southeast side of Goose Lake and Soldier for their cat skiing program, later giving Brundage mixed use rights to the south side of Granite for the same purpose.

Most importantly, the south and east sides of Granite are the areas used for motorized recreation. Granite offers riding for beginners and intermediate riders as well as plenty of recreation for advanced riders. Its surrounding areas can be used by everyone in any skill set or at any age, local or tourist. The rest of the mountain is too steep or totally inaccessible for riding and much too dangerous for beginners and intermediate riders as well as children or those riders getting up in age to ride. Few snowmobiles and riders have the capability to ride this steep and rugged country.

Neither Squaw nor Hitt can offer enjoyable riding to anyone but very experienced riders. They are unfriendly areas to beginners, intermediate, young and older riders. Squaw Mountain is too steep for anyone not at expert level. It is dangerous for anyone who is unfamiliar with the area. Hitt Mountain is almost twice the distance of Granite and Squaw from the parking lot and will require extra fuel as well as extra time to access it. Most people will be too exhausted and cold once they reach Hitt to enjoy any of it. A select few will be able to enjoy the riding on Squaw and Hitt while the rest of us will have to park our machines and watch.

• This proposed “trade” will close Granite almost entirely.

• From Goose Lake up the mountain will be off limits.

• There will be no route to the Lookout.

• You will not be allowed to ride up the chutes from Twin Lakes.

• Granite is popular and enjoyed by all.

• Squaw is rarely used and by experts only.

• Hitt is not used at all and will require a whole day and extra fuel to enjoy.

The backcountry skiers who got Squaw and Hitt closed in the first place have complained for years that their areas were too far away from the parking lot on Brundage. With this proposal, they will give back what they took away in the first place and also take away a mainstay area for all snowmobiles, both local and tourist.

This closure is not year-round. It is only from January 15-March 30, which is the best snow conditions for snowmobiles as well as Brundage’s busiest time for the cat ski program. This move will further profit a private company, privatize public lands, thus denying the public the right to recreate in an area convenient, safe and well known with their families and friends.

During Segregation, most public businesses had signs that stated, “Whites Only. No Blacks Allowed.” There is already 451,200 acres of public land closed to motorized recreation. This draws a line on a map that states, “Skiers Only. No Snowmobiles Allowed.” These closings vastly limit a specific user group and are similar to discrimination and segregation.

We need to make a stand or give up our rights entirely.

(ED—For a little background information on what Rittenhouse is talking about, visit and navigate to the Sept. 22, 2011, news update titled, “Payette National Forest To Host Public Meeting On Proposed Special Order For Management Of 2011-12 Winter Snow Season.”)

I Feel Mike’s Pain

Dear Editor:

I feel Mike’s [Lundberg, “How About Some Stories For Us?” SnoWest, October, 2011, page 10] pain. I love looking through your magazine and going to dealers to check out the new sleds. I even check out the new reveals that manufacturers do when hyping a new sled.

The hard truth is I can’t afford to buy these cool new machines. I have a family of five and other obligations so buying new is just not an option. All my kids ride their own sleds but what they ride is at least twice as old as they are and nearing how long I have been kicking around.

I wish this side of the sport was looked at a little more--old sleds that have proven their worth, modifications that make old sleds perform better and what sleds work well for kids learning to ride. It’s lame, but I got excited to see an older sled in the pictures of your article about Routt County [“Routt County: Powder Heaven,” SnoWest, October, 2011, page 41].

Please just don’t forget about the guys who are in it to enjoy time with family. My kids will be the next readers and buyers of snowmobiles in the future as long as the sport does not cease to exist.

Also, tell the manufacturers they need a good mid-size sled like the old 340s.

Clayton Karp

Belgrade MT

Views 80
January 27, 2012

Yellowstone Will Be Open For Sledding This Winter

NPS to implement one-year rule for 2011-12 Winter Use Plan

National Park Service planners will implement a “One-Year Rule” for the upcoming 2011-12 winter season, in order to allow time to better address significant public input regarding the proposed long-term regulation.

More than 58,000 responses were received during the 60-day public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that closed on July 18, with significant input on the long-term proposal’s requirements and approaches. The goal had been to have a new long-term final Winter Use Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and regulation in effect for the park by December, 2011.

Among the issues that NPS wants to analyze further before issuing a long-term regulation are:

• Variable preset use limits

• Air quality and sound modeling assumptions

• Proposed Best Available Technology (BAT) for snowcoaches

• Adaptive management framework for emerging technologies

• Costs of avalanche mitigation efforts on Sylvan Pass

• The 10:30 entry time requirement included in the preferred alternative

• Opportunities for non-commercially guided access

In the near-term, the NPS plans to issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) that will select only the “transition year” portion of the preferred alternative. In addition, the NPS will issue a final rule—allowing winter use for one year—allowing the same use levels with the same restrictions as the interim rule that was in place the past two seasons.

The rule will allow for up to 318 commercially guided BAT snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches per day in Yellowstone for the 2011-12 season. It will also continue to provide for motorized oversnow travel over the East Entrance road and Sylvan Pass.

Following the issuance of the ROD and one-year rule, the NPS will immediately begin work to supplement the FEIS. The NPS intends to have a final supplemental EIS, a long-term ROD, and a long-term regulation in place before the start of the 2012-13 winter season.

Views 68
January 27, 2012

10 Ski-Doo Models BAT Certified For YNP

Sleds also meet BAT for GTNP

BRP has 10 2012 Ski-Doo snowmobile models certified for use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks where some of the toughest emission standards are enforced. These BRP products stand alone as the only 2012 models to be certified with no modifications or kits.

Snowmobiles must be certified as Best Available Technology (BAT) by the National Park Service to enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. BAT certification is one of the most stringent standards for air and noise emissions in the world, requiring hydrocarbon emissions of less than 15 g/kW-hr, carbon monoxide emissions of less than 120 g/kW-hr and sound level limited to 73 decibels.

These 10 Ski-Doo snowmobiles are all equipped with four-stroke engines, either the ultra-quiet and efficient Rotax ACE 600 engine or the more powerful Rotax 4-TEC 1200 powertrain. The certified Ski-Doo snowmobiles require no modifications or throttle limiters to meet the BAT standards.

“BRP is committed to providing responsible recreational products that meet or exceed our customers’ needs while being as environmentally friendly as possible,” Robert Lumley, vice-president, sales and marketing, Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo, said. “Unlike our competition, these 10 machines require no modifications. All customers using these models across North America are getting this same kind of fuel economy and efficiency, not just sleds limited to Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks.”

BRP’s Rotax ACE 600 engine was designed for efficiency, with every aspect focused on maximizing output, minimizing fuel consumption, reducing maintenance and extending longevity. Fuel economy on some models is an industry-leading 8 L/100 km (29 mpg).

The Rotax 4-TEC 1200 engine is designed more for performance. This engine meets the demands of experienced riders across the world by delivering a lightweight and powerful four-stroke package that translates to easy handling and quick acceleration in the Rev-X chassis.

Ski-Doo models certified for BAT are offered in one-rider and two-rider configurations, including: the Grand Touring SE, Grand Touring LE with the Rotax 4-TEC 1200 engine, and the Grand Touring Sport, MX Z Sport, MX Z TNT, Renegade, Tundra LT, Tundra Sport, Expedition Sport and Skandic WT, all equipped with the Rotax ACE 600 engine.

Views 110
January 27, 2012

Chris Brown Signs With Yamaha Motor Canada

Chris BrownSlednecks rider Chris Brown is one of the world’s best backcountry freeriders and Yamaha Motor Canada announced recently that Brown will be riding an FX Nytro MTX this season.

“I want the most reliable, most capable sled out there,” Brown said when asked about his desire to ride Yamaha. “I sometimes ride 100km from the nearest road and breaking down is not an option. Getting there and back is crucial to our sport.”

Google “Chris Brown” and you will see some very impressive and highly skilled maneuvers on a snowmobile. He’s headlined many of the industry’s best films, including Sled Heads, Thunderstruck and Nitro Circus. He bought his first snowmobile in 1996 with intentions to use it for sled-skiing. It wasn’t long before he ditched the skis.

“I love it,” stated Brown about his passion for backcountry snowmobiling. “Once it gets into your blood, it’s with you forever. This winter I hope to ride at least 150 days and show people that a 4-stroke snowmobile is more than capable of doing things that I did on a 2-stroke.”

As you can imagine, it takes a high amount of courage and skill to do what Brown does. Fortunately, for others, they can speed up the learning process by attending one of Brown’s riding camps.

“Riders may sign up for one-on-one sessions or you can arrange a group ride through your local Yamaha dealer,” Brown said. “We’ll work on everything from technical boondocking to exploring untouched powder. It’s all about having a good time and trying something new.”

For more information, visit or get in touch with your local Yamaha dealer. Brown does recommend that everyone who rides in the mountains enroll in an avalanche safety training course. For Canadians, refer to; Americans visit

Views 99
January 27, 2012

Lincoln County Customs Now Offering Snowmobile Training Courses

Lincoln County Customs owner Troy Johnson is offering a variety of snowmobile training classes at his Greys River location in Alpine, WY, just minutes from the Greys River Snowmobile trailhead.

Enrollment is currently open for Avalanche Awareness, Basic First-Aid, Backcountry Safety and General Snowmobile Repair/Maintenance classes. Customized classes are also available to cater to your specific private group or snowmobile club needs.

A class group ride will be conducted at the conclusion of the class, free of charge, so you should bring your sled to participate.

“We have a strong snowmobile community locally and coming through Alpine, WY,” Johnson said. “I would like to share my knowledge of 20-plus years snowmobiling so people can have a more memorable, enjoyable and safe experience in the backcountry.”

LCC specializes in the customization and performance enhancement of snowmobiles, motocross race bikes and side-by-sides and services Yamaha, Polaris, Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, KTM, Kawasaki and Honda makes and models.

Space is limited. Call (307) 654-6637 or visit for more information.

Views 84
January 27, 2012

DynoPort Summit E-Tec Pipe

DynoPort’s E-Tec Summit Big Volume Pipe can pump up your sled by 3 hp at peak rpm and 5 hp at mid-range. The pipe offers strong torque and horsepower and holds rpms on long climbs. Add a port matched, symmetrical Y pipe for 2 hp and more torque. DynoPort pipes offer real world heat soaked horsepower.

Contact DynoPort (315) 253-9631 or

Views 97
January 27, 2012

TAGear Handlebar Bag

TAGear’s Handlebar Bag securely attaches to most mountain bars and sleds with bar risers. TA Gear has attached the bag to the handlebar and number plates on dirt bikes and to racks on both dirt bikes and ATVs as well.

It’s also a fanny pack. New stretch Cordura pockets and a stretch cord on each end will hold a small water bottle. New quick-release accessory strap and webbing loop allows for a better fit on more sleds. All zippers on the HandleBar Bag are YKK water-resistant. Large padded main pocket hold cameras or tools. There are also three smaller outside zip pockets and an interior zip pocket and key hook. This bag gives you lots of ways to attach extra gear.

Outside dimensions are 12 inches wide by 9 inches high by 4 inches deep

The Handlebar Bag retails for $59.95.

Contact True Adventure Gear (208) 562-1391 or

Views 127
January 27, 2012

EVS SV1 Trail Vest

EVS Sports has launched its first line of snow vests. The SV1T is perfect for the trail or mountain rider who is looking for great protection without sacrificing comfort.

The outer shell of this vest is constructed of durable ballistic nylon and ballistic mesh. It has an extremely compact and lightweight design with a zipper front closure for easy on/off applications. The removable wind stopper fleece is great for those cold and windy ride days, but is easily removable for warmer climates.

For precise torso fitment, the adjustable side straps make the vest perfect for your body shape. It is also equipped with puncture-resistant internal EVA and polypropylene armor construction and the RECCO Avalanche Rescue System. Lastly, the SV1T has an ignition kill tether attachment as an added safety feature. The SV1T retails for $200.00.

Contact EVS Sports (888) 873-8423 or

Views 235
January 27, 2012

Rear Bumper Upgrade For Pro RMK

Holz Racing Products now offers a new aluminum bumper for the 2011-12 Polaris Pro RMK and 800 Assault. This is an affordable direct replacement for the stock carbon fiber tube.

Made of 6061 aluminum, this part won’t break. The bumper features a knurled surface for better grip, black anodized finish and includes replacement rivets for installation.

The replacement part retails for $34.95.

Contact HRP (360) 398-7006 or

Views 174
January 19, 2012

SnoWest Steve Janes Blog - Jan 19th

Finding Snow

Steve Janes

 Last week I actually spent three days out on the snow … and the riding wasn’t too bad. One day I was in Togwotee, WY, where the higher elevations have about as much snow as anywhere around. The downside is that there was no fresh snow so you had to look hard to find areas without tracks.

Later in the week I was riding along the eastern Idaho/Western Wyoming border. Again, the snow was marginal in the areas under 7,500 feet elevation or on any south-facing slope where the sun and wind could cut it.

In the tight canyons that don’t get much sunlight (and many snowmobilers), there was some pretty good riding. But you had to work to find it.

It will be nice once winter finally arrives when we don’t have to search to find good snow. But until then, the best riding is for those who work the hardest to find it.


Views 104
January 19, 2012

SnoWest Ryan Harris Blog - Jan 19th

Stupid kill switch

Ryan Harris

Having something stupid happen when you're doing something stupid isn't much of a shock. But when something stupid happens when you least expect it--such as riding cautiously through a meadow in marginal snow--it really catches you off guard. Apparently, after all the tree limbs I've run through blindly with the throttle tapped in the past 12 months, brushing one at 20 mph did me in last Friday.

Views 81
January 05, 2012

SnoWest Steve Janes Blog - Jan 5th

Balanced Winter

Steve Janes

            So far I’ve done a fairly good job at balancing out my winter. I’ve spent one day of the new year on the mountain slopes, and one day on the golf course. To be honest, I know I’ll get about 100 rounds of golf in before the end of the year … that means I’m really going to need to pick it up if I expect to get that many snowmobile rides in.

The beauty of both golf and snowmobiling is that you can usually always find grass or snow somewhere, it just depends on how hard you’re willing to look.

Usually during January, we tend to have to search harder for a golf course than we do for a mountain loaded with snow. However, this year it seems to be just the opposite … at least for the time being.

On January 2 I was working hard trying to tune some ski lift out of my snowmobile. On January 4 I was trying to fix a shank from my chipping game. I think right now I’m more content working out the ski lift and letting the shank sit idle for a couple of months.

Although there isn’t a lot of snow in the higher elevations, there are some pockets of pretty good riding. But after saying that, I must also include that there are also a lot of pockets with unstable snow. And we’re likely to battle those unstable snow conditions for quite a while.

So be careful as you take to the slopes.    


Views 90
December 23, 2011

SnoWest Steve Janes Blog - Dec 23

Failing The Test (Part 2)

            Last week we talked about the job of product testing here at SnoWest … and some of the risks that go along with it.

            One time we were asked to test a digital thermometer that is attached a key chain. This is a simple enough test—certainly our crackpot crew could hand this product review. So one of our SnowTest riders attached the thermometer to the key of his snowmobile and we went for a ride.

Well, apparently the manufacturer of the thermometer didn’t foresee the vigorous jiggles and jolts associated with being affixed to a snowmobile. So somewhere along the ride our thermometer key chain morphed into your basic key loop with a chain that was at one time attached to something. (I guess it could have been worse … we could have kept the thermometer and lost the sled.)

Another time a turbo manufacturer asked if we wanted to install and test his turbo. I asked how difficult of an install it would be. His reply: “It’s about like putting in a car stereo.”

So he shipped us the turbo for testing.

When I opened the package, I swear there was over 200 parts and an installation
manual about the size of a Los Angeles phone book. And he thinks that guys who screwed up a thermometer test could install this thing?

Well, after collecting dust in my shop for about a year, I gave the turbo to a local snowmobile mechanic and told him if he ever used it to let me know how it worked out. About two years later I bumped into him and asked him if he was ever able to install the turbo.

“No … I could never figure out the instructions. But I did use a few of the parts to repair my car stereo.”


Views 89
December 23, 2011

SnoWest "12 Days of Snowest" Blog

12 Days of SnoWest Winners

The 12 days of SnoWest giveaways are in full motion.  LISTED Below are the winners for the past seven days leading us to the Ski-Doo Summit and Carl Kuster’s Camp getaway.




View winners

Views 83
December 18, 2011

Product Test: HPS Muffler

HPS mufflerOne of the easiest and most affordable ways to improve the performance of your snowmobile is to add a lightweight muffler. This past winter we installed an HPS muffler on our stock Ski-Doo Freeride and were extremely impressed on how simple it was to bolt on performance.

The HPS muffler is 12.2 lbs. lighter than the stock muffler and takes up about half the space. You will find it more challenging to remove the stock muffler than to install this one. And once you fasten it in place, you have accomplished two things—reduced frontend weight and increased performance.

We could talk horsepower numbers, but what really matters is what you actually feel when you grab the throttle. What we found was that once the rpm hit around 6,000 then the sled really comes to life. It makes maximum power (on the 2011 Freeride) between 7,900-8,000 rpm.

We were able to put about 80 miles of hard deep powder riding on the HPS muffler at elevation. This is where you want performance instantly. And by taking 12 lbs. off the nose, you find it easier to throw your sled around.

The HPS muffler is a little louder than stock. In deep snow, you will hardly tell the difference. It has a nice base tone yet not too loud. On pavement or a hard surface, however, it does get your attention.

Installation is very basic. It fits right in with plenty of room to spare. The biggest challenge was removing the stock pipe on the Ski-Doo. There is one spring that is nearly impossible to reach since it’s inside the pipe and has no good access.

The lightweight HPS can costs just less than $350. For more information contact Scott Hillam at (208) 357-3343.

Company: HPS

Views 134
December 17, 2011

Product Test: JT Sports Bumper

JT Sports BumperSnowmobile bumpers are designed for two specific purposes: first, to withstand a bump; second, in case of a big bump, bend before the bulkhead.

However, you still want a bumper that can take a modest bump without bending. And we found the strength of Ski-Doo’s bumper just a little on the light side. That’s why we were pleased to discover JT Sports Rev XP Heavy Duty Bumper.

Made from one-inch square aluminum, the JT Sports bumper is about twice the thickness of the stock Ski- Doo bumper. Bumpers come with a semi-gloss black powdercoat finish or you can request an unpainted bumper that you can polish.

The bumper design provides an additional 1.5 inches of nose clearance, making it a little easier to get a hold of it. It also offers a unique design that is very attractive, yet designed to give some bump absorption in case of impact.

The bumper was easy to install. It offers excellent handles for grabbing the front of a sled in case you need to roll your sled out of a hole. It costs about $135. JT Sports also offers a uniquely designed rear bumper as well.

Company: JT Sports, Kalispell, MT

Views 135
December 17, 2011

Avalance Airbags: Keeping You On Top

Brian Beck

Avalanche airbags work by the principle of Inverse Segregation. Or for those who are unfamiliar with that term, the “Brazil Nut Effect.”

Let’s say you have a can of mixed nuts and all the different sizes of nuts are dispersed equally throughout the can. If you shake that can of nuts back and forth, the Brazil nuts (or any of the relatively large nuts) will eventually end up on top. This is because the smaller nuts fit into the void spaces and sink to the bottom, thus making the bigger nuts “float” to the top.

In an avalanche, snow particles act in a similar way. The smaller pieces sink to the bottom and the bigger pieces tend to float to the top. This is why it’s common to see large chunks of a cornice on top of an avalanche debris pile.

If an avalanche victim has an inflated airbag during the avalanche, not only is he much larger than the surrounding snow particles, but he is also much lighter and less dense, since about six cubic feet of air is contained inside the airbags.

Avalanche airbags have been around since the 1980s in Europe and SnowBigDeal has been selling them in North America since 2004. They have grown immensely in popularity over recent years, due to their very high success rate in keeping avalanche victims alive. Statistics show that since airbags have been on the market, around 98 percent of avalanche victims who deployed an airbag have survived.

However, the exact success rate for avalanche airbags in general is unknown, due to the fact that many avalanche survivors do not report their incident to the airbag manufacturer.

We at SnowBigDeal have worn each type of airbag and are thoroughly familiar with each one. Here’s a very brief review of each brand currently in production, in the order they were introduced into the market.


ABS is headquartered in Germany and has been making avalanche airbags since the 1980s. The company started with a single airbag design, but now all ABS packs have dual airbags. The dual airbag system has two airbags attached to the sides and inflates to a total airbag volume of 170 liters.

The activation trigger contains an explosive charge that punctures a canister filled with compressed nitrogen that fills the bags. ABS uses nitrogen to fill their airbags because nitrogen prevents the system from freezing up at extremely low temperatures and it has a fast expansion rate. The new ABS packs have removable storage packs that can be purchased individually and docked to the base unit that contains the airbag system.


This will be the fourth season for SnowPulse airbags in North America. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company manufactures a 150-liter single airbag that is filled with compressed air. The SnowPulse airbag is attached to the shoulder straps and creates a U-shaped airbag around the head and upper body of the user. This design is intended to float an avalanche victim face-up and to provide more protection for the head, neck and upper spine.

A large number of avalanche victims die from trauma. Many even die before the avalanche stops moving, so Snow- Pulse has addressed this issue with the added trauma protection of its unique airbag design.


WARI LLC of Minnesota is the manufacturer of the AviVest. This will be the third year of the AviVest on the market and the company makes two types of avalanche vests: the original AviVest and the Impact Vest. Both are very comfortable since weight is evenly distributed due to the fact that they don’t have narrow shoulder straps like the backpack models do.

The AviVest has storage for a shovel, probe and other gear in the back and also two pockets in the front for goggles, radio, GPS, etc.

The Impact Vest has storage in the back, but not in front. The Impact Vest has a protective plate over the sternum of the user to offer protection from tree branches, handlebars, etc. Both AviVest packs use a compressed air canister with a pressure gauge, so it’s easy to see if the canister is full. One single airbag is attached to the back of the vest, filling with 150 liters of air.

BCA Flato30 airbagBCA

In 2010, Backcountry Access, located in Boulder, CO, became the first company to release a $500 airbag pack to the market. Since then, the pack has increased in price, but so has the performance. The BCA airbags use compressed air to fill a 150-liter single airbag that is attached to the top of the pack.

The BCA “Float” airbags are deployed by pulling a cable on your right shoulder strap, so snowmobilers can pull with their left hand while keeping their right hand on the throttle to outrun an avalanche. BCA packs come with several O-rings so you can refill the canister and additional refill kits are cheap.

Editor’s Note: Beck is sales director at

Views 70
December 17, 2011

Product Test: Simmons Skis

Simmons SkisWe had a chance to try out a prototype trail ski from Providence, UT-based Simmons Skis that took the Gen3 concept of the modified dual keel/concave design with a shorter outer keel. The ski was about three inches narrower than the Gen3’s 8-inch width, which made it a little more attractive.

We put them on our Ski-Doo Summit Freeride to see how they would affect handling and sidehilling.

We found the narrower skis were tremendous for sidehilling and handling down the trail. However, once seeing how aggressive the skis performed, we dropped the limiter strap all the way to reduce ski pressure. This reduced some of the steering effort without sacrificing any of the handling or control.

TSimmons Skishe big test for the skis was in the powder and across sidehills. In dry snow, although we did feel less flotation, the skis still functioned as you would expect they should. However, since we were testing them in the spring, as the day progressed and the snow turned to a wetter texture, the handling became heavier, requiring more effort that what we were experiencing with our stock skis.

Our conclusion is the narrow skis were perfect for sidehilling. When it came to cutting through the powder, the skis also performed outstanding. However, since these are the narrower skis, flotation was compromised. Late in the day when the snow started to soften up, the skis had a tendency to dive a bit. This would make us conclude the Gen3 version would probably perform better when it comes to flotation. Perhaps the standard Gen3 skis are the best of all worlds.

Company: Simmons Flexi-Skis

Views 106
December 17, 2011

Don't Break the Bank

Five lightweight mods that won't trash your wallet

Jarrid Juse

SilencerIn recent years, factory snowmobiles have evolved from common 500 plus-pound/135 hp machines into 450-pound/165 hp sleds. As a result, the inexpensive light weight parts like chromoly and aluminum have become standard issue for the manufactures, making lightening your sled harder and more expensive.

The great news is, there are still products available that will lighten your new sled and not “break the bank.”

The first thing I would look at would be an exhaust Silencerpipe and lightweight silencer. Typical weight savings are 10-15 lbs. in some cases and you will see an increase of 5-16 hp, depending on the model. The cost of this mod will run $600-900.

Next I would look at a lightweight seat. The ergonomics of new snowmobiles have improved over the years with a more forward rider position and higher seating, resulting in a more comfortable riding position. With that said, there is always room for improvement. I feel Boss Industries has the leading edge when it comes to aftermarket seats. With a little Seathigher seating position on some models and, of course, lighter seats you will see a 4-9-pound weight savings at a competitive $400 price tag.

Plastic have evolved with new materials and processes to form and mould lighter hoods and panels. Changing out a set of panels or a hood can result in 6-16 lbs of weight reduction with a trick personal look to your new toy. Cost is around $300.

HoodTitanium has always been an exotic material left for the elite sled builder with a price tag most would cringe at. As I said earlier, with the evolution of new materials and processes it has become surprisingly affordable. A lightweight bolt kit with a typical 3-pound weight savings will cost about $370. Titanium will not tarnish or rust while providing excellent strength and good looks. I use it on every build I do now and have had excellent results.

BoltsHiperfax sliders are a great way to increase slider life and shed some weight. Hiperfax material has a melting point of 750 degrees F compared to the factory ones of 300 degrees F. This increase allows the user to remove inner wheels on the rear suspension, dropping anywhere from 4-8 lbs of unsprung weight and also giving you even slider wear. You will need a set of rail mounted ice scratchers to provide some cooling and lubrication for those long trails to the alpine.

I have used this upgrade myself for 10 plus years and Sliderstypically Hiperfax last 3-4 1000-mile seasons. Cost will run $178.99 for the Hiperfax and $39.99 for scratchers.

For more information, contact Juse, owner of Absolute Power & Performance, (780) 460-9101 or

Views 65
December 17, 2011

Mountain Freerides Put the Hurt on Mountains

Lane Lindstrom

Polaris Assault "the grandfather of the Freeride segment"What started out as a curiosity when the Polaris Assault was unleashed on the mountains just three model seasons ago has evolved into a full-blown mountain class that has quickly become one of the most popular, right behind the 800cc sleds.

Arctic Cat introduced the HCR the same model year— 2009—as the Assault but the Assault seemed to get all the attention that first year. Ski-Doo came a little late to the party—model year 2011—with its Freeride sled but made a pretty big splash when it did arrive.

Now much more than a curiosity, the mountain freeride sleds are different things to different people. For professional hillclimbers, the freeride machines are their weapon of choice when competing in hillclimbs. For the serious backcountry rider, these sleds offer beefed-up suspensions (and chassis in some instances), stiffer tracks and different handlebar setups, all designed for all those riders to pound the bumps and jumps a little harder than your stock mountain 800.

We knew this segment was going somewhere after Polaris sold a bunch of Assaults when those machines first came out. Now with Cat and Ski-Doo in the mix, the mountain freerides are one more exciting option for western riders.

For 2012, the mountain freeride class offers a full complement of sleds to choose from, including (with available track sizes) the Arctic Cat HCR (153-85 durometer track), Arctic Cat M1100 Turbo HCR (162-85 durometer), Polaris 800 RMK Assault (155) and Ski-Doo Summit Freeride 800 (137, 146, 154).

We should mention at the outset of the following questions that Arctic Cat didn’t bring a M800 HCR to the annual photo shoots so most of the answers will be between the Polaris Assault and the Ski-Doo Freeride. We did ride the HCR M1100 Turbo so that will be in the mix on some questions.

Ski-DooWhich sled has the most significant changes for 2012?
Once again, Arctic Cat wins the prize in this area, as it has in the mountain 800 and four-stroke segments. The name is the same for the Cats in the freeride class but that’s about it as the two HCRs are the newest in this segment. New from the bumper to the snowflap, not only does Arctic Cat come to the mountain with a new M800 HCR, but also an M 1100 Turbo HCR. We’ve detailed in previous issues this season all the new features on Cat’s mountain sleds (ProClimb chassis, Arctic Drive System, ARS front suspension, new running boards, new skis and the list literally goes on and on), but we definitely should make a point to highlight the new M 1100 Turbo HCR, which is a whole new animal for the freeride segment.

Ski-Doo thinks the freeride segment is a big enough deal that it decided to just create a new segment in its lineup for the Freeride. New for 2012 are three track lengths: 137, 146 and 154. The new Rev XP seat on the Freeride also features a small storage compartment and the shocks used for 2012 are KYB Pro 40 piggyback easy adjust racing shocks. The new easy adjust compression damping adjustment knob does not require tools, similar to the rebound adjustment knob on the front shocks.

The big news with the Assault is that there is now a model (not mentioned above) in the Switchback brand, the Assault 144. Whereas the Assault 155 sits in the Pro RMK chassis, the Assault 144 uses the Rush front end and Rush steering post and has lugs only 1.352 inches deep compared to the 155 which has 2.4-inch deep lugs.

Arctic Cat HCR M 800 naturally aspiratedWhich sled feels the most powerful?
It’s hard to argue against the M 1100 Turbo HCR with its 177 hp. Straight up, the turbo wipes the other three sleds in the class, including the M800 HCR. If we’re just going with the 800s in this class, then the nod goes to Ski-Doo’s Freeride.

Which sled makes the least power?
This year we didn’t (at least yet) get any seat time on the M 800 HCR, this decision boils down to the Polaris and Ski-Doo and the Assault just doesn’t build as much horsepower as the Freeride.

Which sled’s powerband is best for climbing?
Again, comparing just the naturally-aspirated sleds, if you’re going straight up the hill, the Freeride has long legs and scampers up the hill. Throw some turns in there or trees on a hillside and the Polaris Assault is tough to beat because of its broad powerband and nimble chassis that allow for some maneuvering.

Which sled’s powerband is best for boondocking?
Not to sound like a broken record, but having not had a chance to ride the naturally-aspirated HCR, this comes down to the Polaris Assault and Ski- Doo Freeride. It may not have the most power in the class but the Assault allows you to use every bit of power you need when you’re working tight trees on an off-camber hill. It’s smooth and useable power. For the record, the HCR Turbo is a bit much in tight trees. This is a hillclimber.

2012 Ski-Doo FreerideWhich sled has the smoothest powerband for all conditions?
This question’s not so easy to answer. Throwing all kinds of western riding into the mix from hillclimbing to boondocking to busting powder, it’s a tossup between the Assault and Freeride.

Which sled has the best front suspension?
One of the best features about all the sleds in the freeride segment is that they use premium shocks and the suspensions are set up for pounding the moguls. You can ride these machines hard and they just come back for more. They all have pretty sweet setups but the sweetest just might be the Freeride with its KYB Pro 40 R easy adjust shocks although a couple of SnowTest staffers made a pretty strong argument for the Assault and its Walker Evans compression adjustable needle shocks. Cat uses Fox EVOL shocks on its Arctic Race Suspension front end but it was a little hard to get a good feel for the ride on the HCR Turbo because of the weight on the front end.

Which sled has the best rear suspension?
Again, Ski-Doo has the KYB Pro 40 easy adjust shocks in the SC-5M 2 rear suspension and got the nod from most of the SnowTest staff. The Assault’s RMK coil-over rear suspension is no slouch with its Walker Evans compression adjustable needle shock (rear track shock) and coil-over shock (front track shock). The HCR/HCR Turbo have the M rear suspension with Fox Zero Pro (front arm) and Fox Float (rear arm) shocks. It does well but both the Ski-Doo and Polaris are better.

2012 Polaris RMK Assault 155Which sled has the best track?
This is not as easy as the pick we made in the “8 Is Enough” story in the October issue because the tracks on three of the four sleds in this class are different than the 800s.

Tracks in the freeride segment tend to be stiffer (stiffer durometer) for hillclimb competition, which is usually on a hardpack course with nasty ol’ ruts, not deep powder.

Arctic Cat uses an 85 durometer track, compared to an 80 durometer track on Cat’s other mountain sleds. Polaris’ tracks are also stiffer. Ski-Doo’s track is the same as on the Summit but it also has the deepest lugs off the three brands in this class with its PowderMax II 2.5-inch.

Tracks chew up the snow. That means there is a little tradeoff with the mountain freeride sleds. Generally speaking you get a more premium shock package so you can hit the holes a little harder but if the powder is soft then the stiffer tracks trench more. Cat’s Powerclaw works well in all conditions, even with the stiffer durometer which, interestingly, works better in deep powder than Polaris’ stiffer track.

Which sled has the best seat?
The SnowTest crew couldn’t agree on this one. Some like the narrow Assault seat, others the new Rev XP seat with storage and still others the Cat seat. This one boiled down to personal preference.

Which sled has the best running boards?
Cat’s new running board design works really well in the deep snow with the other two playing catch up.

Which sled has the best skis?
Ditto on what we said in the mountain 800 class: Polaris … no contest.

What sled feels the lightest on snow?
At 446 lbs., the Polaris Assault rides lighter and is lighter than the Ski-Doo Freeride (489 lbs.). Again, we don’t know about the Cat M 800 HCR. The HCR Turbo definitely isn’t the lightest on snow.

What sled feels the heaviest on snow?
The M 1100 Turbo HCR has the most power but it’s also the heaviest.

2012 Arctic Cat ProClimb M 800 HCRWhich sled sidehills on open hillsides the best?
Polaris gets the nod here. The Pro Ride chassis is one nimble piece of engineering.

Which sled handles the best on rough single-track trails?
Even though we think Ski-Doo has the edge in suspension both front and rear, the Assault handles better on those shelled-out backcountry trails and that’s thanks once again to the chassis.

Which sled handles the best on groomed trails?
The Ski-Doo Freeride.

Which sled is our top pick for this class?
The edge—and it’s the slightest of margins in this class—goes to the Polaris Assault over the Summit Freeride 800. In fact, it wasn’t a unanimous pick on the SnoWest SnowTest staff. Ask us again later in the season after we’ve had some more seat time on the M 800 HCR and that might change, but for now we’re going with the Assault.

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